Hey folks, Harry here… SHOCK! First off, I’d like to deeply apologize for the Picks & Peeks column’s absence on the site. For the past 3 months, I’ve actually had a pretty severe case of writer’s block. This was brought on due to the fact that I wasn’t allowed to discuss what was going on with the new season of my show. However, now that all the Kickstarter folks got sent the latest press release and the teaser for the new season… I feel like an incredible weight was taken off of my shoulders and I settled in to do this column which covers all of December 2014 and it felt great to be writing it. As usual, all the links take you to AMAZON where you can learn more about a given title, or if so moved, you can purchase the title and a small portion of the purchase price helps to keep the column going. Which will be very regular for the foreseeable future. Now - Here ya go…
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: CAESAR’S WARRIOR COLLECTION 3D Blu Ray
If you’re like me – you’re madly deeply in love with this new PLANET OF THE APES series that we’re two deep into now. This is a special set that include a DVD & BLU-Ray for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES and the Blu Ray and 3D Blu Ray of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. OH – and it goes in the Simian Noggin you see above, along with a 32 page book on the building of the franchise and 4 Ape cards? I was kinda hoping for a Banana. Now, the head is real sweet – and the 3D BLU of Dawn? Fantastic. I’m fascinated to see the impending war that I’m sure the next film will explode into. The growth from the first film into this second, has me really pulling to see how far they’re going pursue this slow burn origin of the PLANET OF THE APES. I mean, at some point, there’s gonna be Ape Fashion... and I can’t wait for that. Giggle. Now – the extras on the DAWN Blu are pretty great, there’s the audio commentary by Matt Reeves – which goes into great detail about how to shoot a film this way, and when you see the integration of the Mo-Cap stuff with the environments and you’re just flummoxed at how perfect it is in this film, Reeves tells you just how hard it was and how they made it easier. Then there’s a few minutes of deleted scenes, a bunch of featurettes, how to move like an ape, a 20 minute piece on WETA’s contribution and more! I really dig the Gallery section – as it reminds me of the sort of fun that was common place on LASERDISCS back in the day. Though with Blu, I really would love even more extended galleries. But I get the idea that you folks that love these films would appreciate this set, it’s made for the fans.
MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON Blu Ray Book
During my hiatus from the column, I revisited my fave Capra films and this Blu Ray was one of the triggers. First off, this is a 4K Remaster – and the Blu Ray is flat out super stunning! Capra – the existence of his films – makes me feel secure in the feeling… I’m not alone. Once you’ve watched MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, you have to believe. Things are going to be, OK. People still believe in the right things. Jimmy Stewart’s Jefferson Smith is one of my favorite film characters. A grown man that cherishes the wide open wonder that kids can see the world and has preserved it for all time inside of him. That our politicians are out to make this country stronger, safer and happier every day of the year. While lots of people talk about the Capra-corn, the gosh gee whiz Americana of it all, there’s that otherside of Capra. I mean, Edward Arnold’s Jim Taylor is one of the cruelest, most manipulative and amoral monsters in film history. Claude Rains plays the white knight of the Senate, Joseph Paine – and this I believe to be the portrait of too many that sit in power over this country. He’s a man that at some point, perhaps had ideals, but the practicality of getting things done, slowly, gradually made him kill all his babies, one after another, settling for an occasional victory they believe in, but too often, signing off on things they don’t believe in to curry favor and unfortunately – they never have their third act coming to God. Then there’s Saunders. If you’re lucky in life, you know someone like Saunders, and if you haven’t. Start searching. Jean Arthur plays an amazing gal, SAUNDERS… a tough city gal that pals around with the boys, never puts her heart on the line and believes in nothing, then in walks her Jefferson Smith… that person that suddenly makes them do everything they’d never do, I love Saunders. It’s easy to be cynical, but when you find that thing that makes you believe in things you find impossible to consider now. THAT IS THE RIGHT PATH! The film captures the ideals and the darkness of America. That’s what Capra saw so clearly. He tries to remind us of what we’re supposed to be like. Now – the Blu Ray comes with Frank Capra’s American Dream, a feature length documentary hosted by Ron Howard – and is outstanding. There’s also a lot of cooperation with Frank Capra Jr, including lending an Audio Commentary. This is one of the finest films ever made. If you don’t love this movie, something is broken. See somebody about it.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION Season 7 Blu Ray
I was angry at Paramount during this season. They cannibalized the team that made this show amazing, and put them on DS9, then they cut the budget on ST:TNG… and at the same time, they’d under-financed the Classic Trek films… and well, it seemed like they were starting to phase things out. BUT – I still loved it, the show. I felt the studio was ushering the Classic Trek crew off, rushing ST:TNG which could have never stopped running on Television as far as I was concerned. The cast was and still is genius. Their character dynamics are precious and should absolutely still be utilized. ALL THE TIME! Yes, I still miss this show. It was pushing all the right buttons for me. It’s amazing that they don’t see they could be creating a multi-tiered cinematic Star Trek franchise that is so much more than just the JJ-verse. Sigh. There’s some great episodes, but I felt the show should have been allowed to go out with the season of the ages… Still, ALL GOOD THINGS is a helluva final episode. Paramount has done a great job with this run of Blu Rays. Now they just need to convert them all in 3D and do the next release. I’m ready.
THE STRAIN: The Complete First Season
Guillermo Del Toro’s reinvention of the Vampire apocalypse is a creepy fucking show. The first episode is about setting up the atmosphere and visual splendor of Del Toro’s scary vampire-verse that we’re plopped into. I like how novelistic the series is, how it exists on multiple time frames, how you see the story from all perspectives and it just keeps getting creepier. There are stunningly indulgent gore moments that are really first class monster work. Everything about this place feels creepy, but it has silly things too, just enough to keep it all from imploding under the “FUCK ME I WANT TO RUN FROM THIS UNIVERSE BEFORE A WORM GETS ME!” feeling you get. Now the best news is, 2nd Season is happening! Which means, when you get to that final episode and you’re screaming “WHAT THE FUCK NOW!!!!????” – well, you can either read the three novels to find out, or wait for SEASON 2 to start. This one’s a keeper for horror fans!
TALES FROM THE CRYPT / VAULT OF HORROR Blu Ray
Adapted from the same EC COMIC sources as the great ol HBO TALES FROM THE CRYPT show, but told with a 70’s grit. I mean, you’re talking TALES FROM THE CRYPT starring Sir Ralph “Fucking” Richardson as the fucking CryptKeeper. And he definitely looks more like the comic version, though… I’d love Harvey Keitel to play the full Jack Davis CryptKeeper… Then, you get Peter Cushing, Joan Collins, Patrick Magee and a group of scary ass Blind men! LOVE IT! As great as it is, VAULT OF HORROR is even better. For one, you’ve got the great Hammer man of Horror… Roy Ward Baker helming the trilogy. Daniel Johns is especially creepy in this – and Tom Baker is great, as always too! However, my fave actor in Vault is Curd Jurgens… I first discovered him as the bad guy in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I’ve always had a habit of tracking down and watching other films by the actor playing the villians, and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one, but Curd Jurgens he’d been brilliant for years at that point and he is great in VAULT OF HORROR! Which is actually getting it’s very first uncut release on Home Video! Absolutely worth checking out!
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION Blu Ray
I can watch this movie. The idea of Joe Dante directing a Looney Tunes loose in the world is a great great great idea. Had the studio just left him 100% alone and just let him go nuts – this would probably be one of our favorite films. Instead, I watch for the 50,000 in-jokes that Joe Dante put into this film to make film obsessed monkeys like me pick our armpits and fling our poo. I mean… you have Robby The Robot, Tom Woodruff Jr as The Metaluna Mutant, the Robot Monster, A Dalek, The Man From Planet X, Peter Graves, the voices of Mel Blanc, Will Ryan, Stan Freberg, Frank Welker, Casey Kasem, June Foray and more! Then you get folks like Ron Perlman, Robert Picardo, Vernon Wells, Bill McKinney, Mary Woronov, Roger Corman, Dick Miller and the great Kevin McCarthy. And then there’s the main cast, which are disappointing, mainly because of the words coming out their mouths and the plot moving this insanity forward. This disc has a whole lot of extras. As a film geek, I can appreciate the film, I just wish it was a whole lot better.
THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT Blu Ray
This film was most commonly known in the United States as THE CREEPING UNKNOWN and had a really ugly movie poster… but if you looked past that bizarre child scribble of a 3 ape handed cloud panther… there was a great little film here. This was made in 1955 by Hammer Films and was based on the BBC called THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT. And was the first of the Hammer Series which I dearly love. ENEMIES FROM SPACE was after this, and then Quatermass and the Pit. And I would love Edgar Wright to rebirth this series. I’m waiting on my copy of this to arrive as I can’t wait to revisit it soon. Great smart science fiction!
THE EMERALD FOREST Blu Ray
John Boorman was one of those directors that I was just brought up to love. Dad became intoxicated with POINT BLANK and HELL IN THE PACIFIC, I grew up in post DELIVERANCE & ZARDOZ – where my parents went to repeatedly, like 8 or 9 times, and you can never get that red diaper off the fuzzy body of Sean Connery once you’ve seen it on an enormous Drive In Screen. Then, he went to director jail after EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, but EXCALIBUR – 1981… there are few movies I’ve watched as many times as EXCALIBUR… It’s better than anything we really get anymore. It has just the right amount of madness and insanity to be genius. Then… he made THE EMERALD FOREST. I saw this in Wichita Falls the first time at the Sykes Center Mall theater and I longed for the 70mm Presentation that my father saw at the Americana Theater back in Austin… Now, Powers Boothe… just the year before this, he kicked my ass apart with RED DAWN, I loved his character through and through, and here where he’s playing the indomitable father hunting for his son stolen by an aboriginal tribe… It is GREAT! GREAT! Part of that absolutely rests on the brilliant eyes and technique of Philippe Rousselot, whose cinematography is the absolute reason above all others that this belongs on Blu Ray! It’s just that great! If you’ve never seen this film – you really do owe it to yourself to discover this amazing film. This is how to see it… Unless a 70mm print magically ends up within your ability to view… but really – this one is a keeper!
THE PACKAGE Blu Ray
Remember when Andrew Davis made really good action films like this one. I mean, CODE OF SILENCE is a nifty Chuck Norris flick. ABOVE THE LAW and UNDER SIEGE are two of the best Segal flicks. Then CHAIN REACTION came along and imploded him. Pretty much everything after that has been… not cool. It’s sad, cuz you put THE PACKAGE on starring Tommy Lee Jones and Gene Hackman and with Pam Grier, Dennis Franz, Joanna Cassidy and John Heard backing them up. This is a taut political thriller that I really do enjoy. But it leaves me wondering… where’s this Andrew Davis? C’mon – make a lean and mean action flick again. Blow us away.
THE CONGRESS Blu Ray
The most powerful and amazing film about uploading your essence was… THE CONGRESS, directed by the great Ari Folman, director of the equally amazing WALTZ WITH BASHIR. Now, in Pfister’s TRANSCENDENCE, they went ridiculous with the storyline, instead of actually exploring this coming inevitablility in a mature and whimsically wondrous manner. Here… Robin Wright plays Robin Wright. The studios offer her a deal to upload her consciousness and self into their corporate hands. She’ll no longer be able to act or create in person, her digital self will do that. What happens? YOU MUST SEE! This film is one of the truly visionary films of the past year. The Blu comes with a commentary by the director, production designer and the animation director! Plus a nearly nine & a half minute interview with Robin Wright reflecting upon the themes of this amazing and thought-provoking work of Indie-Cinema!
WITNESS TO MURDER Blu Ray
Made the same year as REAR WINDOW and starring Barbara Stanwyck, who nailed suspense in the brilliant SORRY, WRONG NUMBER comes a film called WITNESS TO MURDER. Now, the films isn’t as great as those two brilliant films, but Stanwyck witnesses a murder out her apartment window and well, things go swimmingly from there… wink wink… I love that George Sanders is playing the super smooth murderer, he was made for that role! All that said, it’s a pretty nifty thriller and the gender swap on the REAR WINDOW style story, is a delight to see – especially since Stanwyck did the victim in a wheelchair thing long before Hitch got Jimmy to do it! Print looks as solid as can be expected, but Kino didn’t do a thing for extras on here.
AS ABOVE SO BELOW Blu Ray
I dig archeological supernatural horror. I mean, technically that’s THE EXORCIST genre… but don’t set your expectations there. The film is ultimately a youngster adventure that sort of wants to be 1st person with a camera… and there’s crazy leaps of logic… but ultimately, you’re in the catacombs under Paris with the ultimate goal of finding a Sorcerer’s Stone that is necessary for all your best alchemy needs. That said… FUN. You’ll yell at characters on screen and your friends will laugh at you. It’s that kind of horror flick. I mean, if you’re on a path to Hell, you’re probably pretty fucked, no matter what you’re gonna do, but I love this hokey fun stuff. This isn’t a torture death spectacle, it’s more of an adventure to come out the other side… But I found the film adequately neat enough to really recommend for folks that dig archeological supernatural!
THE OFFENCE Blu Ray
Wanna see Sean Connery act his ass off? Well, look no further than Sidney Lumet’s THE OFFENCE. In a way, I like this as a prequel to UNTOUCHABLES… sure, totally different periods and locations… Connery is a Brit Police Detective… but that savagery you see in UNTOUCHBLES, this is where DePalma saw the root of it in Connery, I bet. Connery goes fucking insane in an interrogation – and he’s making some dire decisions in traking down a repeat child molestor praying upon… well the kids. This movie is a tremendous film. If you love Connery, this is one of his films that not nearly enough people have had put in front of them. Change that.
HICKEY & BOGGS Blu Ray
I’ve seen this film, pretty much throughout my life. Quentin Tarantino programmed it at one of his Austin Fests and it killed. I love the movie, but rewatching it in the wake of what has been alleged. Some of the jokes now stab ya. That said… This film was written by Walter Hill in 1972 and was directed by Robert Culp, who kicked ass with Bill on their I SPY show. But this is an R-rated Crime Thriller. Walter Hill’s script and Culp’s very interesting tone with which he directed this still makes it one of the most interesting theatrical modern noirs we’ve seen. That said, I totally understand if you have no desire to be entertained by Cosby. But this and MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED are my favorite films of his. Both leave bad tastes today. And he’s really ruined FAT ALBERT now, which is a complete shame. Never thought I wouldn’t use Fat Albert as a teaching tool if I get the joy of raising a kid, but instead… I’ll teach those lessons another way.
HERBIE RIDES AGAIN Blu Ray
Here’s the 2nd in the classic HERBIE series. I like to think that Reed Richards used spare parts from this HERBIE to make that Robot that replaced Johnny Storm on the animated show… But then, I’m often confused with the insane. Have we really decided what HERBIE even is? I don’t think this is an A.I. robotic situation… there’s magic at play here – so that puts HERBIE in the same category as THE CAR and CHRISTINE – and it is only due to the fine craftsmen at Volkswagon that HERBIE adheres essentially to Asimov’s laws. Also – HERBIE RIDES AGAIN is a huge step in Disney’s history about moving into a cohesive cinematic universe. You think I’m crazy? First off, fuck you. Second off, I’m totally not. Keenan Wynn plays Alonzo Hawk, the same character he played in THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR and SON OF FLUBBER… now imagine HERBIE if he had FLUBBER TIRES!!!! He coulda been bouncing all over those San Francisco hills! Why didn’t they do that?!?!? Well, this is a Disney exclusive Blu, and is currently out of stock at AMAZON, but come the New Year, they claim it’ll be back in stock… This is important cinema here! It even has Huntz Hall, one of the original Bowery Boys in it! Giggle.
Silent Cartoons rule… they exist before the rules of animation were solidified. It’s where greats like Max Fleischer, Walter Lantz, Otto Messmer, Paul Terry and others figured it all out. The first is called LIGHTNING SKETCHES from 1907 and is more about the amazing illusion of quick drawing that Animation could give ya – and it is racially insensitive, but it was the era. CARTOONS ON TOUR (1915) combines Live action bookends the animation… I liked this quite a bit. COL. HEEZA LIAR, DETECTIVE (1923) came from the Bray studios, where Col. Heeza Liar must retrieve a stolen chicken alive…. Fun stuff. BOBBY BUMPS STARTS SCHOOL (1917) Bobby is a total animated brat, long before Bart perfected it! Next is Out of the Inkwell short starring KoKo the Clown trying to train a horse, that is an old nag. I love Fleischer animation so naturally this is one of my favorites on this set, I just wish there was a full OUT OF THE INKWELL Blu Ray set of what exists. They are some of the trippiest cool cartoons ever! The rest are Paul Terry’s THE JOLLY ROUNDERS (1923), Dick Huemer’s MUTT and JEFF in FIREMAN, SAVE MY CHILD from (1919) Then there’s a Bray anti-Commie toon from (1920) called… THE BOMB IDEA about dirty Commie Bombers! Next we get Felix The Cat in Otto Messmer’s FELIX COMES BACK which foreshadows TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE… you’ll see… Then Paul Terry’s SPRINGTIME starring love sick Farmer Al Falfa. Next is Krazy Kat helping a Taxidermist catch animals to skin in SCENTS & NONSENSE. Krazy Kat is great, love that character! Next is Dinky Doodle in Walter Lantz’s LOST AND FOUND, Lantz actually is a character in this, pretty damn nifty. Next is Binko the Cub in HOT-TOE MOLLIE and it has a Tex-Mex Saloon – so it feels like early Austin animation to me. Giggle. Next is THE MILKMAN, which I didn’t love. The final one is THE FARMERETTE, who is a visiting Flapper that visits this Van Beuren lazy farm and gets jazzy! This last one is 1932. I like this set, but it is a sampler platter. I’ve VHS tapes loaded with Bray and Van Beuren and Paul Terry and Max Fleischer and Otto Messmer cartoons from this era, but we just haven’t had a big push for that material on Blu, hopefully this does well and helps change the landscape a bit. I hope.
Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 3D Blu Ray
Favorite new movie of the year, easily. I love what it means for James Gunn as a filmmaker. He’s a fascinating character and this kind of success can become transformational in a career. I hope it does. I love this film. I saw it around 6 times in the theater and the second it was available for purchase digitally, I got that. Then a BNATTER gave me the 3D Blu for my birthday and I’ve now watched that 5 times – and I could watch it again right now. Chris Pratt is just a huge star in this thing. Mega-wattage of charisma. He actually charms the bad guy! Amazing. And I absolutely accept and love every bizarre twist and turn we go on. Plus… HOWARD THE DUCK! I gave my sister’s BF the complete HOWARD THE DUCK OMNIBUS hardback collection so he can understand, beyond Lucas’ film, why my sister and I fucking worship Howard the Duck. It’s the comic man! Every character works, the music is blissful, Baby Groot is the cute of the year! Drunk nihilistic Rocket Raccoon bitching about existence… WE SAW THAT SHIT! We saw his modifications and felt bad for the lil critter! Love this in 3D! That opening dance on the planet where Starlord starts off… great in 3D. Love the extras, but I’m nowhere near satisfied with this disc. I want like 2 extra Blu discs of extras. I want a set in the thing that holds the Infinity Stone and I want it to glow purple from within… Or a big tree ball of WE ARE GROOT with yellow glow inside… or… SOMETHING COOL!!!
CALVARY Blu Ray
Want a swift kick in the nuts kinda film? A movie, where from the beginning – you have Brendan Gleeson as a priest sitting in confessional as an unseen confessioner tells him that because he was serially abused by a Catholic Priest, that in a week’s time, he will KILL Brendan Gleeson, even though Gleeson is not that man. As a result, we watch that week play out. The acting is absolutely superb… you’re going to feel this one. Great cast keeps your attention, and if you’re bad with voices, you’ll be trying to figure out who it was, throughout. The film wallows in the dark, but does it very very well. Just not a very happy film. Powerful stuff!
INHERIT THE WIND Blu Ray
This is one of my favorite movies. I grew up with INHERIT THE WIND, both my parents loved it and I often saw this movie with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD as early courtroom stories. Mr Hyde vs The Werewolf of London… Hyde takes Darwin’s side and The Werewolf takes The Bible’s side. Stanley Kramer directed this in 1960. Our history books tell us this wonderful moment in Legal History, where we finally started to escape the long shadow of Biblical ignorance and Science won… this was the Scopes “Monkey” Trial movie. Spencer Tracy is playing the Clarence Darrow-like “character” and Frederic March is playing William Jennings Bryan-like character. The film is great! I grew up with this movie, so I believed everybody grew up with this film, but as I’ve grown older – it seems more and more people still think this is up for debate. Fucking amazing. Watch the film! Read the history. Twilight Time put this out – so you get the isolated music and effects track – plus a trailer. Would’ve loved modern legal discussion about the Scopes “Monkey” Trial which is what allowed for Darwin’s Theory of Evolution to be taught in schools in the first place. This great film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards – it’s amazing that Spencer Tracy didn’t get the oscar, but Burt Lancaster knocked ELMER GANTRY out of the park and took the Oscar that year. This is such a great film!
THE MISSOURI BREAKS Blu Ray
Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando starred in only one film together. Arthur Penn, the director of BONNIE & CLYDE, directed it. This is CHINATOWN/ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST Nicholson, and Brando was coming off THE GODFATHER… Jack is a horse thief that Brando’s bountyhunter type is contracted to deal with… and well, it’s more complicated than that… Brando’s Bountyhunter is unlike anything you’ve really seen – and Nicholson is awesome. But the film also gives us a great turn by Randy Quaid, very early in his career. Harry Dean Stanton plays Jack’s closest pal… plus you have the brilliant Frederic Forrest being great! Now – this also has a score from JOHN WILLIAMS!!! Alas, no isolated score here – or anything more than just a really great print of the film in HD. The talent involved demands your attention, and if you love realistic westerns, this is a great one.
YENTL Blu Ray
My mom hated Barbra Streisand, so I wound up actually having a crush on Babs, at least in films like WHAT’S UP DOC and THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT and THE WAY WE WERE… but that’s pretty much it. I’ve been very selective with what I’ve liked of hers. YENTL is a pretty solid film, but it isn’t personally resonate to me. But the few times, including when I watched Bab’s director’s cut on Blu here at TWILIGHT TIME’s lovely limited edition disc… I can’t help but admire the film. Although my personal favorite immersion into all things Jewish is the Coen Brothers’ A SERIOUS MAN. This Blu is filled. You get the theatrical and Extended cuts. Babs does a Commentary, and she filmed an introduction. There’s neary 17 minutes of Deleted scenes. The Special Features get a special Babs intro. There’s about another hour of stuff on here. So, if YENTL is your thing, definitely seek this sucker out!
SLAUGHTER HOTEL Blu Ray
Fernando Di Leo directs madman genius Klaus Kinski as a mad Doctor at a hospital for “Disturbed Women” and… well, it gets fucking insane. Fernando Di Leo’s Italian Crime films are the best things he ever did… but as a Klaus Kinski freak, I’ve always loved this film… mainly because Rosalba Neri nudity is a Blu Ray must. I really don’t believe that’s a sexist thing to say, cuz I know no man or woman, that when shown Rosalba Neri naked wouldn’t just gasp. She’s stunning. Personally, I’m just happy to have one more Fernando Di Leo on Blu and another Klaus Kinski on Blu! All with the same film!
BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS Blu Ray
There are folks that just never get Robert Altman… If you watch this film and don’t just kinda love everything about it… Maybe, Altman just isn’t for you. I hope not. I mean, by no means is this Altman’s best, but this is one of the quirky flicks where if you go with it. If you dig the vibe that Altman is giving you with this film… you’ll smile a whole lot! In fact, I think the movie is very nearly hysterical. But you could stare sideways bored to tears. I know, that used to be me. Then… one day… after I’d seen POPEYE… I got it. It clicked. Then I watched MASH and then NASHVILLE and they clicked too. KINO didn’t give us any extras. Damn shame.
THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE Blu Ray
When many of you started watching HARRY POTTER films, you have probably assumed that Maggie Smith has always been ancient, but that’s not exactly true. She has always been teaching it seems, but in 1969’s THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE… the Dowager Countess of Grantham is pretty damn fetching! Maggie Smith won Best Actress for this film. But mostly, this film will let you see this amazing actress in a different timeframe. I really loved having the opportunity to see this one. She’s amazing in the film.
Tuesday December, 16th, 2014
THE MAZE RUNNER Blu Ray
Some folks hate this film. Me, I just knew there was a film about kids waking up in a terrible enormous Maze in the future with terrible beastie things chasing them – and that’s all that I had gathered from the trailers… and I decided, I didn’t need to read this… but when the Drafthouse hosted an event, I went and I can’t help it… the fantasy of this post apocalypse kinda of grabbed me, and the practicality of a society that would spend the resources to make this maze… is just, INSANE. I agree, I doubt it would ever happen, but if you accept that, sure, this shit went down… I kinda dug it. I’m curious where it goes from here, cuz I’m kinda pissed about who died already.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURLES 3D Blu Ray
The reason my sister and I love each other is TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES… it is kinda our thing. I took her to all the films, bought her all the toys, took her to the Comin’ Out Of Their Shells Tour Arena Shows… Bought her animation cels, introduced her to Kevin Eastman… It’s still a big deal for us – and she’s amazing because of them. This film, is less the live action characters, and not at all the comic books. These characters are much more of the animated show characters. That level of silliness. I instantly accepted that, have fun with that… but I fucking hate Shredder in the film. Hate every scene having to do with him. It’s terrible. We need the cooler things of the TMNT universe and giving us Shredder yet again was just LAME. LAME LAME LAME!!! That said, it looks really cool in 3D Blu at home! I’ve shown it to my nephew and I’ve watched it once on my own. It’s crazy that we get films like this.
TOOTSIE Criterion Blu Ray
Criterion delivers a fantastic TOOTSIE Blu Ray. The print and sound are just perfect. It’s hard for me to place this film as coming out the year after my sister was born… but that’s when it hit. I don’t think I saw this one in theaters, but I remember it playing on HBO and CINEMAX. Mom loved the film, and I found it very curious. My Uncle Charlie did some cross-dressing, but nothing like Dustin’s cross-dressing in TOOTSIE, which is just astonishing to watch. I love Dustin in this film. Sydney Pollack really hit a home run here. Also, how can you not love Jessica Lange in this one. My God, she’s just amazing! Criterion really went crazy with the extras here. You get a 69 minute doc about the making of the film, 11 minutes of Extra scenes, another 34 minute doc, plus interviews with many of the folks behind the films. It’s a great Blu! You just have to love TOOTSIE!
LORD OF ILLUSIONS Blu Ray
I’m not gonna claim that this is a great film. What I love about it, is that it’s not necessarily like any other film that I can put my hand on. First off, I love that Scott Bakula plays a Harry character in a Film Noir Fantasy Horror environment – and… it’s just insane. I don’t think it is nearly as good as it should be. That said, there’s so few Clive Barker horror films, that I kind of have an appreciation for them all… Though HELLRAISER and NIGHTBREED reign supreme. If you can accept the film, good for you. If you come away with light misgivings, good for you. However, it’s a whole lot malarkey to most.
BATMAN: THE COMPLETE SERIES Blu Ray
I watched all of this. This is actually the first time in my life that I’ve ever watched this series from first episode to the last – and… I have to confess, I thought I knew this series much better than I did. Turns out, most of what I had seen was second half of the incredibly long second season and all of the third season, but the early part of this show was absolutely brand new to me. Now this is a link to the deluxe edition, which comes with a die cast Batmobile, a reprint of the Gum Card Set, and the box when pressed properly will play the Neal Hefti BATMAN theme… and you will groove! The show has never ever looked better and I’ve had episodes on 16mm, which is what most channels received originally to broadcast from. And this is just stunning! Now on this date, a JUST THE DISCS version was released, but as of the time of this posting, the Limited Edition with all the frills is actually a bit cheaper!!! I found, watching all the episodes that I suddenly had a completely new respect for Adam West and Burt Ward. It wasn’t all jokes, there was actual comic book tension and fun in this show. The guest appearances were just amazing, but that Liberace episode is just WOW. Watching the man with candlelabra do his best Edward G Robinson… just cracked me up. I had no idea. So great! Now where’s my GREEN HORNET Blu Rays?!?!?!?!
AT THE DEVIL’S DOOR Blu Ray
I played this last movie night with my movie loving gal pal, and she flipped out for this horror film. As a single girl, the film crawled under her skin, that the story involved sisters… well that messed with her even more, and she can’t wait to unleash this film upon her sister, cuz it’ll really “mess her up!” I love this! There are stories across a significant period of time being told. It’s done in a manner that is in fact creepy and scary… unless you just don’t flow with the scare in which case, aren’t you so cool? I was really surprised by how well this played!
December 23rd, 2014
UNION STATION Blu Ray
Directed by master Rudolph Mate, UNION STATION is a first rate film noir involving a train station kidnapping plot that is expertly filmed and played out! This is a great flick, Rudolph Mate. That’s the DP on THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI for Orson Welles, but right before this film, Rudolph directed D.O.A. which is a classic Film Noir, he helmed WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE for George Pal, and later he helmed THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, which was outstanding! As a Cinematographer, he shot THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, CAMPYR, DANTE’S INFERNO, DODsWORTH, FOREIGN CORRSPONDENT, FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS and TO BE OR NOT TO BE. UNION STATION is a solid well produced film noir. Great print on Blu!
DARK CITY Blu Ray
This is Charlton Heston’s first feature film! More importantly, this is a film directed by the great William Dieterle. If you haven’t dove into his career, I highly recommend it. His THE DEVIL & DANIEL WEBSTER is genius, PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA, KISMET, JUAREZ, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1932) and his A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (1935)… these films… they’re just brilliant, each and every one. Heston plays a character running an illegal booking joint. The cinematography in a William Dieterle film is always outstanding, this is no different. This is a solid Film Noir Thriller, follow this up with TOUCH OF EVIL to really watch Heston grow in the genre. Lovely print!
ROPE OF SAND Blu Ray
ROPE OF SAND is also directed by William Dieterle and is an even better Film Noir than DARK CITY. This one stars Burt Lancaster, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid! This Noir is set in South Africa and deals with the Diamond smuggling. I reviewed this title in a Film Noir set a few years back and when I saw the film it blew me away. The Blu Ray is far crisper and sharp. But the film itself is still that outstanding film that I remember. Trust nobody. Way better than BLOOD DIAMOND.
SKIDOO Blu Ray
This movie could cause you to lose your sanity. There’s no possible way to adequately describe SKIDOO. Director Otto Preminger went balls deep insane on this one. The cast, which besides a bevy of hot naked hippie chicks is fluffed by Groucho Marx, Frank Gorshin, John Philip Law, Slim Pickens, Burgess Meredith, Ceaser Romero, Carol Channing and Jackie Gleason who you’ll see on LSD and you will never forget it. Just allow the movie to drive you insane. Crazy.
Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
TUSK Blu Ray
Kevin Smith unleashes the genius he’s been saving up just for this movie. TUSK is my favorite non-CHASING AMY Kevin Smith film. TUSK delights me completely. You watch the film knowing that at some point you will see Justin Long get transformed by Michael Parks into a WALRUS. Some would call that a spoiler… but no sentence can spoil the greater joy of THE WALRUS. Kevin Smith so didn’t give a shit when he made this film what anyone thought and he stayed on target and the film that came out the other end is just BLISS! This is also the very best film by Johnny Depp this year, his Guy Lapointe is terrific here. Actually, Haley Joel Osment is a lot of fun in this too, but really – this is all Justin Long and Michael Parks’ show. These two are given the front and center treatment and the result is hilariously disgusting and fucked up… EXACTLY AS IT SHOULD BE!
THE EQUALIZER Blu Ray
This film is weak sauce next to JOHN WICK. Denzel seems bored to me in this film and the action is all by the numbers. The film just kind of sits there with no real emotional investment. I like Denzel a lot, but this character just felt limp. There’s no flourish or sense of flair. It seems a lot of folks dug THE EQUALIZER, JOHN WICK was just so fucking great though that it made me wish Denzel had more LIFE to his performance. Still, it is watchable… just not completely satisfying to me.
Well that’s it for December and 2014. Next Tuesday, I’ll be back with the first PICKS & PEEKS of 2015, where we’ll look at Linklater’s brilliant BOYHOOD Blu, Ratner’s fun RUSH HOUR 2 Blu, Kihachi Okamoto’s THE SWORD OF DOOM on Criterion Blu, WORKING GIRL Blu, THE GOOD SHEPHERD Blu, CANDYMAN 2: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH Blu, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL Blu, THE GUEST Blu, CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR Blu, HORNS Blu, GET ON UP Blu, THE CONSTANT GARDENER Blu, GIRLS 3rd Season Blu, LEFT BEHIND (2014) Blu, NO GOOD DEED Blu, HEARTBREAK HOTEL Blu, DINOSAUR 13 Blu, 88 Blu and more! Till then keep watching the screens…