Hey folks, Harry here with my 7th Wedding Anniversary Edition of my Picks & Peeks. It isn’t a long one, that’ll be next week, but it’s a pretty damn solid group of films – besides, you must discover the greater glory of RAT PUPPIES!!! It’s just too great for words! As usual the images and links take you to AMAZON where you can learn more or purchase the desired title, which leads to supporting the efforts of this column as we start to head into its 11th year of existence. Now – let’s get to it, shall we?
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
DEADLY EYES Blu Ray
Alright… so at first glance, you’re having to resolve that I’m listing an enormous rat movie at the top of my list this week – and you might be cynically smug enough to just fucking dismiss me… But this was directed by Robert Clouse, the man behind ENTER THE DRAGON & BLACK BELT JONES… so he’s no hack. But… DEADLY EYES is a terrible title. This movie should have been called RAT PUPPIES!!! You see, the filmmakers made giant rat costumes that they put on puppies and… it might just well be the most adorable puppy film ever made. I put it on and my wife, 7 YEARS TODAY!!!, well Yoko wanted no part of DEADLY EYES, but once I began laughing at the RAT PUPPIES… she came in, I explained this movie had puppies in RAT COSTUMES… I couldn’t tear her away from the movie! It’s kind of fucking genius! RAT PUPPIES!!! You can totally tell too, it’s just amazing. I’m sure there were characters and storylines… but… RAT PUPPIES were going on… Because this is a Scream Factory release – they have some how managed to locate the Special Effects geniuses behind RAT PUPPIES!!! You must learn everything about how RAT PUPPIES was made! Oh – it also has SCATMAN CRUTHERS in it too! I mean, technically that’s all you needed to know… or should have needed to know. SCREAM did a great job, there’s interviews with 3 of the actors and the writer and the art director. It frankly embarrasses the studios on so many of their classic releases. This is just superb work and a tribute to the dedication they have for their audience!
PICKPOCKET Criterion Blu Ray
For years I was an arrogant little monster that thought the classic French New Wave was a bunch of hooey… Then I actually watched them. There’s only two realms of thought. The uninformed and that that of someone that has seen them, not because they were told to, but because you want to see what the deal was. And it’s only really a big deal if you know what cinema was before the New Wave hit. If you love Richard Linklater, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino – you need to watch the films of the French New Wave. Now amongst those that belong in that category… Bresson stands as very prominently upon its Mt Rushmore and not Teddy. Bresson’s PICKPOCKET is an incredible direct influence upon Paul Schrader – and watching the film and getting taken away in the world of pick pocket culture… under Bresson’s watchful eye… it’s absolutely fantastic! The world is so raw and real! Criterion again brings us the best! The 2k Restoration is revelatory… I’ve never had the opportunity to see PICKPOCKET screened theatrically, but I have to imagine this is the best it’s looked! Really is a stunning transfer! Paul Schrader actually does an introduction to PICKPOCKET and what it meant to him and his career. There’s also nearly an hour of interviews with Martin LaSalle, Marika Green and Pierre Leymarie sharing their memories and experiences of working with Bresson… this is a treasure. Criterion has even more surprises in store for you! It’s a really great Blu!
SCANNERS Criterion Blu Ray
I originally saw SCANNERS on a double bill at a DriveIN with TELEFON… and SCANNERS won the bill. I can absolutely remember the first time I saw that head go kablooie. I was 9. The idea of starring at someone until their head exploded was like… the greatest superpower ever. Fuck Vader. This is using the force to EXPLODE A FUCKING HEAD! Now… here’s an interesting thing, when I did my special SUPER 8 screening, JJ Abrams programmed SCANNERS to be one of the films playing with SUPER 8… so he’s a fan… but would Disney let him have Luke Skywalker make a person’s head EXPLODE? Probably not… but we can dream. And we don’t really have to, because we have this magnificent film from David Cronenberg… and you MUST own this cuz you know you want to see how they made that head explode – and folks – BEAUTIFUL! As an extra, Criterion has actually placed Cronenberg’s very first feature film STEREO (1969) – it’s quite relevant to SCANNERS and very awesome to have, Thank You CRITERION!!! There’s also many other extras including a new interview with the amazing Michael Ironside… but the real dream is the transfer. When I played SCANNERS – boy… that print was beat to living hell. This – OUT STANDING!!! Many many levels better than the last actual print I saw. Sad, but true. Criterion has done a great job on this 2K transfer that Cronenberg supervised! This is a geek jewel this week!
UNDER THE SKIN Blu Ray
Do you remember just how captivating SEXY BEAST was 14 years ago? That was that Ben Kingsley flick that just blew everyone that I know that saw it completely away. Then 10 years ago, Jonathan Glazer came out with BIRTH a complicated and absolutely captivating film on its own right. Well, this is his third feature film – and it is one of the oddest and most captivating films I’ve seen in a long time – and it’s not just that Scarlett Johansson is one of the most beautiful women in film and this is by far the most erotic thing she’s done since Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, but ENTIRELY different. In many ways she’s a the ultimate film fatale, although – this is by no means in that genre. She’s the honey you don’t chase. And putting your finger on exactly what is going on isn’t entirely the point. I found the film to be a tone piece – and that tone was captivating like everything Glazer has done thus far. She’s a hunter and she’s the bait. I found the film shocking and confounding and yet I’m absolutely driven to watch it a bit more, it’s something I want to understand better – and that isn’t necessarily a one or two screening accomplishment. At the same time, I have to say – I love Scarlett’s choice of material and commitment to the role. She’s really something special! There’s over 42 minutes of special features, but I’d have killed for a commentary!
RIO 2 3D Blu Ray
Tried to watch it but my PS3 is on the fritz… so I’ve got to take it in to have the Blu Ray laser replaced with a new one. 2nd time, but then I’m a monster on my equipment – I mean… they’re constantly running seemingly! Looking forward to checking this out – though I’ll probably still prefer GANG’S ALL HERE.
THE NORTH STAR aka ARMORED ATTACK! Blu Ray
In 1944, THE NORTH STAR by Lewis Milestone (ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT) picked up 6 Academy Award nominations – including writing, cinematography, Art Direction, Sound, VFX and Musical Score! This is an American made film about a Ukranian small town that is tormented and abused by the Nazis and the resistance that rises up to fight it…. But only after Eric Von Stroheim’s evil fucking Nazi Doctor does experiments on the CHILDREN! Seriously! Eric Von Stroheim is the man you loved to hate… but that’s ok, cuz the film has a cast of equally great actors in every other role. It’s crazy – you get Anne Baxter and Dana Andrews. You get Walter Huston and Walter Brennan. There’s Dean Jagger and Jane Withers and friggin Farley Granger!!! This Blu has the original cut that was nominated preserved for us all to appreciate – but almost equally great is the incredibly deliberate studio hack job all meat to Commie Bait! ARMORED ATTACK! Is a 40-minute shorter version of THE NORTH STAR – where all allusions to the Communists being an Allied Partner in WWII was cut – and instead – a brutal narration is added to smear and blacken our former Allies… I mean… Those Commie Bastards!!! Wait… no this was AMERICAN STUDIO BASTARDS DESTROYING ART FOR PURE PROPAGANDA’S SAKE here in the good ol U.S. of A.!!! Discover this movie and its story – can’t forget this stuff! Great movie too!
OPEN GRAVE Blu Ray
At this point, I can like a movie solely for Sharlto Copley being a part of the film! I just find him endlessly fascinating – and when he’s waking up in a horrifying mass grave with no memories of who he is, what he is or what has happened… well that’s definitely enough to engage me. Then add to this the great work of Joseph Morgan and the always great Thomas Kretschmann… well, it’s pretty good stuff – and I have to say – that final shot is the stuff that nightmares are made of. How can we be such monsters. Seriously.
ARCH OF TRIUMPH Blu Ray
Woo Hoo – another Lewis Milestone classic – this time eaturing Charles Boyer as a German Surgeon in pre-Occupation Paris, a man who had escaped the nightmare of torture that the Nazis visited to him – and he saves Ingrid Bergman… always a good idea in my opinion, but it sets things in motion. Add to that mix a Charles Laughton pulling an acting powerhouse of a performance… and I could say it’s easily one of his best turns. Incredible I found. I mean… just wait! He’d give Hans Landa a run for his money! Loved this film!
I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL’S ISLAND / THE FINAL OPTION Blu Ray
Produced by Roger Corman and directed by Serial and B-Western legend William Witney, came this Prison Escape flick starring James Brown and Christopher George. Witney has nearly 150 films, TV shows and Serials to his credit as director… and he certainly knew how to craft exciting and gritting entertainment and with Roger Corman egging him on, I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL’S ISLAND does not disappoint! I really have no idea why it was teamed up with a piece of shit like THE FINAL OPTION though. Didn’t receive a screener for this, so can’t speak to the quality of the transfer… but I ESCAPED FROM DEVIL’S ISLAND is what you’re buying, unless you run a bad movie night series, in which case, THE FINAL OPTION can wait until the title is exactly that.
SX TAPE Blu Ray
It wants to titillate at the beginning, but doesn’t really… later, it’s wanting to spook or creep you out, it doesn’t. I got lured in by the “Director of CANDYMAN” and “Producer of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” and perhaps something a bit sexy too… but it didn’t deliver on any of those fronts. I found it actively fucking annoying as hell. It gave me a headache and if I can save you that I will. Does not work at all.
Well that’s it for this week – next we’ll be looking at GODZILLA VS MEGALON Blu, SABOTAGE Blu, GINGER SNAPS Blu, original INSOMNIA Criterion Blu, TRANSCENDENCE Blu, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION Blu, THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN Blu, SHOGUN Blu, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES Blu, LAST ACTION HERO Blu, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS Blu, SABATA Blu, BLUE RUIN Blu, THE SCALPHUNTERS Blu, DONNIE BRASCO Blu, FLATLINERS Blu, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE Blu, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE Blu, THE ANGRIEST MAN IN BROOKLYN Blu, CESAR CHAVEZ Blu, THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG Blu, MAKE YOUR MOVE Blu, LOLA Blu, BAY OF ANGELS Blu, THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT Blu, FOREVER FEMALE Blu, DONKEY SKIN Blu and whew… isn’t that enough? Man, good thing I’ve already screening 2/3rds of it! Still a helluva write up. Until next week, keep watching your screens!