Hey folks, Harry here… PS3 is back in the shop for Blu Ray Laser replacing, as I’ve run through my second. That probably says loads about just how many Blus I’m putting through that machine! It’s just one day, but I’ve already got a twitch… I mean, MOTEL HELL came on Blu today, and I can’t watch it! FUCK!!!! Anyways – as usual all the links and pics will take you to AMAZON where you can learn more on the given title, and if motivated, you can purchase the item which helps to do stuff like fix my PS3 so I can review MOTEL HELL in like 3 weeks… If you haven’t picked up the Picks & Peeks App – then you should. It’s available in iOS and Android – and joins together over 10 years of content in a really sweet way! Now onto the column…
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
BLUE RUIN Blu Ray
This was my pick for best film of 2013… it absolutely took my breath away. Every now and again it is important to see something just completely outside of any system you’re aware of. A new filmmaker, making a film with actors that you don’t really know what to expect from. You’re completely naked, there’s nothing that’s really preparing you for what is coming. You only know it isn’t a giant film… but for the next 90 minutes it’s gonna be everything you care about. Over the course of the movie you’ll learn things that will just capture you with both hands and every second that follows becomes more intense… This is a revenge story – but that is grotesque simplification, because… well… the film just builds and builds and builds and builds and the situation is excruciatingly intense and I JUST LOVE IT! I understand, I’m writing spastically, but you really don’t need to know anything other than the fact that if you take the chance and buy it – you’ll FREAKING LOVE IT – if you love things like TRUE DETECTIVE… This film just is tremendous!
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION Blu Ray
If you have not seen WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, I envy you this first viewing. If you know the movie, then I know you’re probably picking it up, because it is absolutely one of the great Agatha Christie tales! It’s crazy to be aware of a 57 year old twist, but there are so many great movies, great twists… and if somehow this title is before you and you don’t know anything about this film. CONGRATULATIONS! You just won the lottery. The film features just flat out jaw-dropping turns from Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester, Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich. The film is one of the great courtroom mysteries – and upon multiple viewings you really get to marvel at it all… In particular I absolutely cherish the chemistry on camera with Charles Laughton and his real life wife Elsa Lancaster. This was also the last film performance by Tyrone Power… who is GREAT in the film. This is one of my fave Billy Wilder films – and he’s a director that you should see every single movie for. Incredibly gifted director! This Blu has a 6+ minute feature with Billy talking about stories from this movie – and you just want to hear more! The film transfer is great – and like I said, if you haven’t seen this one yet… ooooooh boy, it’s a great one!
GINGER SNAPS Blu Ray
I love that Shout! picked up GINGER SNAPS for release, because this is just one of my favorite flicks that has gotten release in the history of AICN’s time covering cool genre flicks. This Canadian Horror just rules! First, that’s because Elimy Perkins and Katharine Isabelle are fantastic as oddball sisters into the strange and weird… but when this becomes a werewolf film – it hurts in that same awesome way that AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON does. Seriously. It just feels real like that. No CG… old school awesome werewolf flick but with so much soul. You really love these sisters. Now, because SHOUT! watched the movie and realized – WOW – THIS IS FANTASTIC! They’ve really done a great job on the extras here… You get new interviews with just about everyone. You’ll see a WOMEN IN HORROR Panel discussing GINGER SNAPS. We get a commentary by director John Fawcett, and another commentary with Karen Walton, the screenwriter! Together they do the Deleted Scenes commentary. There’s also a VFX feature too! GINGER SNAPS is just a personal fave of mine. I can’t wait to show Yoko this one! So great!
ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE Blu Ray
This could be the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer feels like on Acid. As the title promises, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE… and then it really gets interesting! Like Don Coscarelli’s JOHN DIES AT THE END, there’s a bit of random what the fuck going on in ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE! That said, no matter how weird and wtf it gets, I couldn’t help but enjoy the hell out of every second. You can feel directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson’s revisiting a film they first made as kids, still letting that youthful spirit to make wild crazy awesome leaping off points. My wife did point out though that the Cheerleaders’ skirts were too long, and that they would be a tad dangerous at this length. So. Yeah, skirts are a tad long. My wife says so. That ain’t coming from me. Giggle. I love that this is MAGIC HORROR. That’s just fun!
SABOTAGE Blu Ray
This film left me flat. All the elements were there. I liked the cast, the director, kinda fucking hated the script though. It just was so busy being cute that it forget to be a good movie. There’s one action sequence that is brutal, they unleashed it online about 2 weeks before release… and the film had nothing else. Oh there’s some nasty stuff here… it’s got grit to it, but it just doesn’t come across as satisfying at all. That car chase/gun fight scene was just embarrassingly bad. HATED IT! Everyone is a piece of shit – and at the end of the day – I didn’t care to spend the time hanging out with them. There’s a couple of alternate endings, and enough deleted scenes to show they were a bit confused with this film – and that really shows with the film too. The making of isn’t that illuminating, but this is a pass for me.
INSOMNIA Criterion Blu Ray
17 years ago, AICN was in its second year of operation, and INSOMNIA blew everyone here away! When Christopher Nolan remake happened, I was less enthused. Looking at the two now – I find myself wishing that Nolan had rewritten the whole thing and made it more of his film. But this original INSOMNIA is just electrifying, centered upon an amazing turn by Stellan Skarsgard. If you love Nolan’s version, fantastic. Check this out! It’s just absolutely perfect. A great Noir! Criterion sat down with Erik Skjoldbjærg and Stellen Skarsgard to discuss the film for over twenty minutes, then you get two of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s short films… both of which are quite interesting. Just give this version a watch, I promise you it is MUCH BETTER!
TRANSCENDENCE Blu Ray
Wally Pfister’s directorial debut is a fascinating little film with grand film ambitions. It sort of wants to be a film like BRAINSTORM… big picture science fiction. Next stage of mankind sort of thing. However, the film has this tech-terrorist angle, which I found exceedingly lame. Basically I’m all about Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall part of this movie – and I’m with Paul Bettany until he switches sides to Kate Mara and gets stupid. Basically, once explosions happen, I’m tuning out. The things this film is tossing around are the things that will change mankind and existence as we know them right now. They made a silly movie with them, but let the movie pique your interests and do some fun reading. They race past all the cool stuff for intrigue plot purposes, which is just all so typical Hollywood bang bang. What’s cooler – it’s all the tech that Depp’s character is playing with. The special features here could have been amazing, but it’s all BS PR prattle. This could have been a great film. There’s great things in there. But there’s a mess too. The Blu Ray is a great print, but the extras are just trash.
THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN Blu Ray
This movie was a film I watched countless times because I fell madly in love with Helen Slater at a very impressionable age. I mean, she’s freakin’ SUPERGIRL for crissakes! My sister fell in love with the little brother character played by Christian Slater… and she dug Billie Jean’s story – so we watch this all the time. And I can’t help but think of TURK 182! When I think of THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN… They both came out in 1985 and seemed to play together a lot on cable. Where’s the Blu on that one?!?! But yeah – I will always love Helen Slater – and Blu Ray is the correct resolution! She’s great in this – she’s even recorded a COMMENTARY for this! Swoon. Matthew Robbins did a great job on this one. But then I love his DRAGONSLAYER too!
SHOGUN Blu Ray
I fucking love SHOGUN! I can remember every evening of watching it with mom and dad in their room at the age of 9. Peering up at that TV on that carved cabinet and it was my introduction to Toshiro Mifune and John Rhys Davies…. Two actors that would remain favorites for the rest of my life. This miniseries felt like the most important thing ever when we were watching it – and when this Blu Ray arrived at the house, I stopped everything and time traveled. I sat cross legged, leaning forward watching SHOGUN look so much better than it ever did before. I mean, beautiful transfer that highlights what a lovely production this was. I love Maurice Jarre’s score throughout! Watching Richard Chamberlain teach Toshiro Mifune’s magnificent Tornaga to dance like a drunken English sailor! Love that name, TORNAGA! But watching Mifune attempt to try the dance is just one of those things I’ve loved for a very long time. Most of all, watching SHOGUN brings my mother’s cooing love for Richard Chamberlain and his hairy chest. I can’t promise you’ll nostalgically love it like I did, but I’m betting there’s a lot of you out there that remember watching this every night it aired. Now I really want MASADA on Blu!
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES Blu Ray
If you’re seeking an impenetrable mystery, look to Billy Wilder’s WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION earlier in this column. But for me, I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan – and to me it honors Holmes that Billy Wilder would take a turn at bat! The title makes you think we’re in the third season of SHERLOCK, but actually this is a case of missing midgets and how is that not just perfect all on its own? For me the best part of Sherlock Holmes stories aren’t the mysteries but the interplay between Holmes and Watson – and Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely are wonderful together. Now, they are by no means the best pair to play the roles, but under Wilder’s guidance they’re perfectly delightful. The question of homosexuality is toyed with, bantered about and dodged. This isn’t Wilder firing on all cylinders, but I’ve always been fond of the film, probably because I worship at the altar of Miklos Rozsa… and he will not be denied, LOVE THIS SCORE! There’s some solid extras on this too! Love the Wilder Featurette, and Christopher Lee. Deleted Scenes! Sigh! They did this one up right!
SABATA Blu Ray
Used ta, Movie posters were a tone poem for the movie that followed – and look at that image. That’s exactly how awesome SABATA is! First – if you’re a fucking punkass bitch that can’t respect Lee Van Cleef, then you just need to leave right now and properly educate yourself upon the man. Hopefully you know his face from the Leone Westerns or ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, but SABATA is all Lee Van Cleef! He’s a badass from top to bottom. Everyone wants him dead, but he’s left smiling. I hope this means we’re going to be getting ADIOS SABATA and THE RETURN OF SABATA, because I can’t get enough SABATA! There’s just something awesome about Lee Van Cleef shooting people. He does it so well.
THE SCALPHUNTERS Blu Ray
Roger Ebert’s review of THE SCALPHUNTERS has long been one of my fave Rog reviews, because at the beginning he’s kinda bitching about the critic community’s insistence that everything isn’t a masterpiece as being a reason to be CONSTANTLY NEGATIVE about the state of cinema. I adore THE SCALPHUNTERS, I actually discovered it when I was reading through Ebert’s reviews a decade or so back, and realized… Holy shit, a Burt Lancaster flick to see, because I love me some Burt Lancaster on film. He’s just always very present. Alive in a scene and probably having a grand time at it. He’s just a damn enthusiastic man… and he’s surrounded with TELLY SAVALAS!!!! Oh, and Ossie Davis and an amazing Shelly Winters. It’s also directed by Sydney Pollack, which is what makes this such an interesting kinda-western work. Oh and Dabney Coleman shows up! This is a crazy movie, but everyone is having such a good time, you’ll find yourself having one too. Looks great on Blu!
Next Tuesday we’ll be looking at TWIN PEAKS Blu, NOAH Blu, THE BIG CHILL Blu, MARTY Blu, CURTAINS Blu, SEPARATE TABLES Blu, HERZOG: THE COLLECTION Blu, DUEL AT DIABLO Blu, WOODSTOCK Blu, THE PROTECTOR 2 3D, ONG BAK TRILOGY BLU, PARIS BLUES Blu, CUBAN FURY Blu and more! Till then, keep watching your screens!