Hey folks, Harry here… I’m so completely distracted with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY that it was way late till I even came out of my stupor of worshipping that fucking magnificent movie, that I realized… Oh shit, Monday night… THE COLUMN, so I have powered through on water and all the music of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which kept the film dancing in my mind, even as I pondered so much more of cinema. As usual, the images and links will take you to Amazon where you can learn more on a given title, and if so motivated… you can purchase it, which gives a small portion of the price to help support the best efforts of this column. If you like the column, be sure to check out Our PICKS & PEEKS app for iOS and Android! It is updated weekly with the column, but also allows for great ease in searching the 10 year history of the column.
Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
TWIN PEAKS Blu Ray
I have never watched TWIN PEAKS. There. I’ve said it. Having said that, I got through the first two discs of the set – and I’m hooked, it’s every bit as fucking brilliant as every friend of mine has told me for years. The image quality is pretty spectacular. There’s both the U.S. and International Pilots… It has TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME which has an hour and a half of extra scenes and all the bits that were excised. There’s a ton of work, that has gone into this, that I can never really fully appreciate, simply because… this is how I’m discovering the show for the first time. This is one of those series that I just decided to keep from myself, while I obsessively watch film after film after film… because that’s my main focus. But at the same time, the cinema lover in me dearly loves David Lynch… it’s always been odd that I didn’t dive in. It is so Lynch! Kyle MacLachlan…. Oh my god, what a joy to discover this role for him. I just… I love it. He’s amazing. I also don’t know what’s ahead of me – or what the film is. Now, the presentation of this set is pretty outstanding. The Box lifts up, and each sleeve flips up, it screams class. It’ll take me a while to devour this whole thing, but I’m starting to chip my way through it. So much fun! There’s a ton of extras, but I’m saving that for after I just get through the episodes. If you’re a fan… you certainly don’t need me to tell you how great the show is, you know far better than me. Picture upgrade is apparently exquisite. It is looking gorgeous on my screen! How’d that fish get in the percolator btw?
NOAH Blu Ray
The Bible is a strange thing, just like all religious texts. It’s all in the interpretation – and no two people will ever imagine exactly the same thing when reading those texts… and just like it’s hard for people to agree about BATMAN and SUPERMAN and GODZILLA movies. We all have different personal experiences with everything in life. Foods we love and hate, whether we drink, whether we do drugs… the whole damn experience of life is a singular experience, unless you’re an artist that creates these things, makes the food, brews the drink – but then, you can never really experience your work through others’ minds… no matter how eloquently we may attempt it. But – this NOAH… this is the story that Darren Aronofsky has been struggling to communicate since he was a boy. The first thing in his life that he every was singled out for was a poem he wrote in Elementary School about NOAH. It helped shape who Darren Aronofsky has become… I’m strange with religion, I find great meaning and allegories that are applicable and sometimes feels incredibly true, but… Aronofsky’s NOAH is a spectacular singular vision. Like Star Lord spreading the truth through a film he found profound out in the Galaxy… Aronofsky has retold the tale of NOAH and he told it as an epic fantasy with Rock Encrusted Higher Beings of Gigantic size. They had become as bitter and unchanging as the rock they had become a part of. I’ve seen NOAH 3 times now… I’m frustrated that I can’t see NOAH in 3D domestically – but later in the month, an international version will become available for purchase and I’ve pre-ordered one, and after I get it, if it blows me away, I’ll add it to a future column. But having said that, NOAH has only been screened in the U.S. flat. And there may be a reason for that, I don’t know. But the film looked like it’d be an amazing 3D experience… The extras on this Blu Ray really start to give you a great look at the reasons behind the decisions – and what the story personally means to Darren Aronofsky, one of our great filmmakers working in film today! It’s easy to cast stones… I was always taught not to. I hope NOAH finds a larger audience at home. Helluva version of the tale. Though, I really do like the adaptation with Donald Duck too.
THE BIG CHILL Blu Ray
I’m not the kind of fan that asks what have you done for me lately. Most people can not possibly imagine just how fucking impossible it is to get a movie made in the modern era of Hollywood… but back in 1983, the business was working good enough to let Lawrence Kasdan, this bright kid that had worked on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK… and they let him direct Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Nova Prime, Meg Tilly, JoBeth Williams, KEVIN KLINE and they were playing folks in their mid-thirties going through a loss of a mutual friend to suicide… and spending a weekend revisiting the memories of being kids together, catching up on life today… and the soundtrack is fantastic – and yeah, it has its share of melancholy downerness… but it hits all the right notes! Fantastic writing, directing and performances from all. Criterion has made a beautiful 4K transfer working with the DP John Bailey and Kasdan… and it is perfect! Deleted scenes, cast reunion from last year’s Toronto Film Fest, and a great sitdown with Kasdan. The guy writing and advising on THE FUTURE OF STAR WARS – respect youngsters! He is a master!
MARTY Blu Ray
Don’t believe there’s someone for everyone? Watch MARTY. Go ahead. Put it on and watch Ernest Borgnine steal your heart like you’ll never believe. Sweet, real and Borgnine, who has never known love… you see, used to… in America… there were movies about men that weren’t shamed by others for their lack of sexual experience, that was an individual doubt. Some people just have other priorities, they’re shy… they’re different from the action heroes and romantic leads we see in film… and THE FADING GIGILO with Woody Allen and John Turturro, plays with some of this beautifully – but Marty has no crudeness to it. It’s just the whole story about what happens when a guy that’s been single & not dating his entire life suddenly finds “that girl” and introduces her to his world of people… and what happens when those life long friends turn a cold shoulder to the light of your life. Watch MARTY… see what a fucking man does! I love MARTY! KINO’s release is essentially just the film and there is some controversy about the aspect ratio… but this is the best we have. It isn’t surprising to me that MARTY isn’t getting the superstar treatment. I mean, it only won BEST PICTURE in 1956, when Borgnine picked up his Oscar for Best Picture, along with Director Delbert Mann and Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. And… IT DESERVED EVERY SINGLE AWARD IT WON! It’d be amazing if this Blu Ray did spectacularly – and a wave of rediscovery claims MARTY for the brilliant work it is – and get it in theaters on screen again – and remind people that the stories can be amazingly human. If you’re a fan of Ernest Borgnine, this is a must. If you’re not, you’ve got a whole slew of problems that being a fan of Ernest Borgnine will help ya with. Trust me.
CURTAINS Blu Ray
From the sweaty screaming nightmares of Georgia O’Keefe comes the cover art to the movie CURTAINS. I mean… right? With that art, you just have to put it one and see how it is. Turns out… it’s a real fucking scary film. It’s one of those stories about someone that commits themselves to the looney bin, to… this time get background for a part that Samantha Eggar’s Samantha is auditioning for. Very Meta. But if there’s one thing SHOCK CORRIDOR convinced me of… never go undercover at an Insane Asylum, because I’m pretty sure we’re all technically crazy if put to the test. I mean a lot of you didn’t see PACIFIC RIM! Fucking lunatics. Or if you did, you can keep me company in my asylum. Anyway, the film becomes a descent into madness movie. Along with some other lunacy and hijinks – and the Old Woman mask is so bleeding creepy – and any film about murder and insanity and filmmaking… well, this is better than you’d expect, the director is played by the great John Vernon – and also, spot a very very young Michael Wincott in this! Love that guy! Synapse did a great job with this release, from wisely using the original poster art for the creepiest awesome inappropriate, yet TOTALLY MAKES SENSE IF YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE… and creeps you out even more after. There’s a making of, audio commentary and Interviews. If you dig horror, dig this!
SEPARATE TABLES Blu Ray
I have read about this film, but never seen it. But I’m excited to be getting it on Blu Ray. It’s based on a pair of one act plays by Terrence Rattigan, which would be performed the same night, with two different stories told upon the same set, the Hotel Beauregard… but the parts were played by the same actors in each part. But in the film adaptation they stick to the conceit of cast playing dual roles, only… the stories have been interwoven… and that sounds fascinating to me. Especially when David Niven and Wendy Hiller won Academy Awards for their parts, but that the film has Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth, Burt Lancaster and ROD TAYLOR and was directed by the director of MARTY!!!! Holy shit! This is one I’m very much looking forward to!
HERZOG: THE COLLECTION Blu Ray ( EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL / LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS / FATA MORGANA / AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD / THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER / HEART OF GLASS / STROSZEK / WOYZECK / NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE / FITZCARRALDO / BALLAD OF THE LITTLE SOLDIER / WHERE THE GREEN ANTS DREAM / COBRA VERDE / LESSONS OF DARKNESS / LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY / MY BEST FIEND )
I think of Werner Herzog as my favorite primal filmmaker. At first, I knew him as that guy that made the really great Klaus Kinski films. I saw AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE and FITZCARRALDO… but as my life’s passion met profession, I dove in rather seriously into the more complete world of Werner Herzog movies. He does all sorts of things. But I think now, at this point in my life, as much as I love those three movies along with his other narrative features… but… Werner Herzog, documentarian… I FUCKING LOVE HIM! His perspective delivered in that adorable Herzog voice and charm! He’s now a character that I can imagine’s perspectives upon things and while I don’t always agree with every thing he says… I love the way he says it. This only came about a week ago, but I’ve been sampling the discs and the image quality is frankly quite impressive. Like… EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL… it has an English commentary where Herzog is talking with Norm Hill and Crispin Glover. RIGHT? Exactly! I dare you to not feel and think as you watch BALLAD OF THE LITTLE SOLDIER… I mean. This is actually on BLU RAY now! This is a $150 set… most of this debuting on Blu for the first time! But watch BALLAD OF THE LITTLE SOLDIER and imagine Werner Herzog behind the lens… all just to share the story. Fucking amazing. The greatest thing about film is the ability to share experiences and places and thoughts and dreams and to feel empathy with all the kinds of people that we have on this planet of ours. HERZOG has done so much to expose the not so convenient truths of the world. Would there be a VICE with out Herzog to inspire? I don’t know. To be 100% truthful, I know Herzog, because I watched Siskel & Ebert religiously and there was no filmmaker that Roger spoke of that I loved hearing him speak about than Werner Herzog. It was fucking breathless. Because that’s what Herzog does. He cuts right through the bullshit to ponder some truly beautiful notions in the midst of fucking hell. He’s brilliant with his every breath – and if you claim to love cinema without this set… I hope, it is gifted to you, saved up for – this is a set that teaches you what can be done when you’re a filmmaker with initiative, vision, perspective and big fucking brass balls! This has been a dream to go through! He’s the filmmaker I’d love to have making films forever. I just don’t want a world without his commentary and vision. This isn’t everything, he’s done… not by a long shot… but these are definitely some of his best work. Herzog is the heart of cinema and all that means.
DUEL AT DIABLO Blu Ray
James Garner is gone – and that feels fucking weird to say. I’m not quite used to the idea of it, I was watching DUEL AT DIABLO the other day and thinking how cool it was that we still had Garner and Poitier… then… gone. He’ll always be “The Scrounger” from GREAT ESCAPE or Rockford. Heh. Loved that show. But DUEL AT DIABLO is a damn good action western that had it’s mind on race in our culture! Next time I see Tarantino, I’m gonna get his take on the film. Not at all like DJANGO, but playing in a similar wheelhouse for sure. Plus, I just fucking love Dennis Weaver! The print is solid, but man I wish KINO had managed to get these two greats to have put together a commentary for this. Also check out that youthful Richard Farnsworth driving that one wagon of Ammo through dreaded Apache country! Heh. He was never credited, but there he is. Miss him too.
WOODSTOCK 40th Anniversary (Director’s Cut) Blu Ray
You get a spectacular 4 hour director’s cut of WOODSTOCK – which is… absolutely worth every penny. Not only is it unleashed power of cinema to document spectacular music on display… but WOODSTOCK was more than that. It started things that we’re still benefiting from at every fabric of our culture – while still having too many of the same problems! Being raised by hippie comic movie loving parents… I’ve seen WOODSTOCK… more than I can easily remember… but Mom and Dad… every chance they could! The music feels like childhood. Mom & Dad’s music of choice was psychedelic and eclectic… Everytime I think of being angry at the older generation, I watch this, MONTERREY POP, GIMME SHELTER, THE TAMI SHOW… and I think there’s plenty of great brilliantly open minds in this country across all generations, races, sexualities and we’re all young once, we all dream and we all love music. We will forever live in the wake of Woodstock, thank the drug that LUCY took that made all our cells to divide and make us! Now, the real jewel here beyond that amazing 4 hour cut is that the two additional discs of content are all every bit in 1080p. Love that Scorsese and Thelma worked on this back then! So awesome. I’m gonna have Dad over on the Anniversary and listen to some hellawesome stories!
THE PROTECTOR 2 3D Blu Ray
Sometimes having a pet Elephant seems a lot harder than it ought to be. Heh. Ok. Full self parody mode here! That said, the funky effects and the outrageous holy shit in 3D is worth it for me. I mean. Tony Jaa leaping in my living room? Cool beans. Holy shit, RZA’s in this! That man is so fucking busy doing what he loves it makes me think nobody is living their geek dream quite as awesomely as he. Though JJ does have STAR WARS. But then… so does a whole bunch of other directors… but I mean, RZA is fighting Tony Jaa here – and it is so fucking ridiculous. Eyes rolling out your asshole plop plop ridiculous & in shitty 3D!!! Outstanding!
ONG BAK Trilogy Blu Ray
First – the good news. If you have bought these films individuality, your work is done. You have this set, minus the slip cover. That is all you are paying for. The same exact discs as in the individual releases… which were awesome and revealed existential asskicking at a level never before dreamt of. Tony Jaa is a wind him up and let him go asskicker like none other. He’s beautiful to watch kick ass. If I had to rank the trilogy in order of faves, it’d be 2,1,3. But I’ve never seen a martial arts trilogy quite like this. I find it… endlessly thrilling and metaphysically compelling. That’s a lot for a martial arts film, but it is also everything a great one should be. That said, I’m dying to complete my RAID TRILOGY and in the darkness bind them! Oh that’s a great future day! Now if you’ve been waiting on a trilogy deal, you get all 3 for $25. So there ya go!
CUBAN FURY Blu Ray
Probably the best film you haven’t seen this year that isn’t coming out Friday. I love every detail about this movie. Nick Frost is a force of magnificent nature. Chris O’Dowd is a magnificent cock in this film… he’ll destroy you. And… it’s just the great capper of a double feature with MARTY! Love how it works out some weeks, you get two movies divided across the great expanse of film history – and MARTY is that great film and CUBAN FURY does that… & FUCKING SALSAS!!!! It’s kind of one of the great revelatory performances of Nick Frost’s already awesome record. This film is just a blast! Nick Frost will instruct you how to dance SALSA on the extras! What do I hear for this blu ray? $100,000? HA! Easily worth twice that, but those idiots at Amazon aren’t quite charging twenty bucks! There’s a Q&A with Nick Frost from a CraveOnline screening that’s very fun. The dance off between Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd is still one of the remarkable scenes in film this year. You’ll cry laughing. Awesome!
That’s it for July, next week’s column will be slightly delayed due to travel, if a couple things come in before Friday, I’ll try to get it out early… but that’s dependant upon the mail. But we’ll be looking at DIVERGENT, NEED FOR SPEED, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE Blu, WITHOUT WARNING Blu, OCULUS Blu, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE Blu, THE FULL MONTY Blu, THE MACK SENNETT COLLECTION Blu, TARZAN Blu, I’LL FOLLOW YOU DOWN Blu, IRONCLAD Blu, THE WAR AROUND US Blu and NINJA APOCALYPSE! The week after is AMAZING! So keep watching your screens!