Hey folks, Harry here with the first Picks & Peeks of 2015, it’s 11th year of attempting to cover all the cool and neat releases ranging from all genres and types of films, based upon them playing before my eyes. Again apologies for my absence of late, between not having a good writing head on my shoulders, I just felt like a bit of an absence was necessary to let Eric and crew take the show and run with it a bit.. The columns are again feeding into the PicksAndPeeks Android and iDevice app. Just know I’m fully charged and enthusiastic about writing the column again. It feels absolutely thrilling to be back doing it and it coming with such joy. So again, thanks for your patience and understanding. As usual, the images and links in the column take you to Amazon where you can learn more or purchase the title in question. All purchases have a small portion of their revenue going to support the best efforts of this column. And believe me, financially, it wasn’t wonderful to not be doing the column. I’ll feel that slack for the next two months. Think there’s some really great releases this week, but next is maybe even better!
Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
BOYHOOD Blu Ray
For 12 years, Richard Linklater and his fellow band of gloriously insanely talented, patient and aging members of the crew tooled away on a film that could be the very beating soul of American cinema. There was a point in history where films at the theater were not mostly Pop Genre flicks. Where film was meant to reveal things about life and existence. Here, Linklater attempts to bottle “boyhood” into a film. Now, I kinda feel the same way about HARRY POTTER, in that… we saw those kids grow, their childhood… it seemed to be HARRY POTTER. But this isn’t a story of a magical Harry, it’s the story of a boy growing up raised by a single mother, with a cool Dad, that seemed more into his toys and being a kid to really properly raise a child. But he’s so cool to his son, because… well he’s Dad and he has an amazing car and there’s a longing there. I’m a child of Divorce. The first 10 years of my life had both parents… I had both for another 11 years, but by 21, mom was gone. I’ve always had problems with my mother after the divorce, mainly due to her alcoholism and abusive nature, but watching a film like this… I do miss her. Now this movie isn’t your childhood, nor mine. It is this boy’s… and in someways he reminded me of my nephew growing up. I’m sure if you give this incredibly highly regarded film a shot, you’ll find truth in it too. Truth… heh. That’s something missing from a lot of film these days! Now, the Blu Ray gives you a nearly 20 minute look at THE 12 YEAR PROJECT – and further amazes you with the cast aging behind the scenes without the aide of a master like Dick Smith or Rick Baker. Instead, Richard used patience and time. There’s so much grace and beauty in this one folks. Also on the Blu, is a 52+ minute Q&A with Richard Linklater, Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke talking fully about the filmmaking process, the acting and aging together and having a MAN at the end of the film. Just, fantastic. I hope somebody does a Harry Potter series on OMEN like this. One child annointed by Hollywood to one day be the Anti-Christ. That'd be really kinda freaky. FOX should make it.
THE SWORD OF DOOM Criterion Blu Ray
Made in 1966, THE SWORD OF DOOM is still easily the most dire Samurai film I’ve seen. The screenplay was adapted by the amazing Shinobu Hashimoto, who wrote the great films of the genre, including SEVEN SAMURAI, THRONE OF BLOOD, RASHOMON, IKIRU, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS… so, in that respect, we owe Hashimoto for some degree of STAR WARS existing… .and MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and Gene Kelly’s LES GIRLS… SWORD OF DOOM is also peppered with a cast drawn from the Samurai greats… From KAGEMUSHA and RED BEARD and KWAIDAN and 47 SAMURAI… oh… and TOSHIRO MIFUNE is the master that teaches our main character to exact revenge! I love this movie. I have it on DVD – and have long longed for Criterion to give it the Blu treatment and boy have they! It looks spectacular, sounds spectacular! One of our great scholars of Cinema, Stephen Prince does a feature length commentary giving us so much we might otherwise never know about THE SWORD OF DOOM and those in it. Outstanding Blu Ray!
WORKING GIRL Blu Ray
Mom grew up watching likes of Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn and when she saw WORKING GIRL, she fell madly quickly for Melanie Griffith. At the time, I was a tad disappointed in the film, cuz I thought everyone knew what “Working Girl” was a phrase for and after having seen BODY DOUBLE 20 times on Video at that point, I had the major teenage hots for Melanie. Instead, mom taught me what she liked about the film. Mom loved the story of an attractive hard working woman having to circumnavigate this “Man’s World” and come out on top. Mom even developed that haircut, which I’d show you photos of, but since Mom died in a fire… can’t do that. But she had me record this off of HBO for her, and she watched it incessantly… this and SWEET DREAMS (man she watched the hell out of that one.) Now the print looks solid and that catchy theme song has never sounded so good. Film is such an amazing medium. I just think about WORKING GIRL and I can hear my mother talking about how Harrison Ford is a typical bastard of a man. I’d say he was Indiana Jones, but she’d remind me that he took advantage of Marion when she was just a girl… and well… it’s weird when your on-screen heroes have apparently statutory rape in their background. Another great release from Mike Nichols!
HORNS Blu Ray
So, Yoko is a part of this book club that reads books that are being adapted into upcoming movies. She loved reading HORNS, and was quite excited about seeing the movie at FANTASTIC FEST… Personally, I loved the film, but as a lover of Joe Hill’s novel, she just couldn’t go there with me. Alexandre Aja’s HORNS focuses almost exclusively upon Daniel Radcliffe’s Ig Perrish, whereas the book also gives you a hefty look into the life of another key character, that I won’t go into here, cuz that’s spoiler territory – but I mention it for those of you that have read the book and are curious about the film. Like most film adaptations, it has been streamlined into a quicker narrative. I LIKE IT. Love the cast, I think all the Harry Potter in-jokes work terrifically in the film. Daniel Radcliffe is great, so is Juno Temple and Max Minghella! Also, I do seem to love an awful lot of movies with James Remar, David Morse, Heather Graham and Kathleen Quinlan in them. Joe Anderson is absolutely terrific as Daniel Radcliffe’s brother in this! This is a wicked Black Comedy with some bloody great fun in it. I would enjoy this particular super power! Just imagine the fun you would have! Giggle. There’s a really lame making of on here. Wish Aja and Joe Hill had done a commentary together.
THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL Blu Ray
From the Author of A KISS BEFORE DYING, ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE STEPFORD WIVES, DEATHTRAP came THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. If there was an author with the gift for the creeps and the tingles of dread, it was Ira Levin. Mom and Dad took me to see THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL in 1978 and it creeped me out. But it also intrigued me. I mean… If one could be cloned, and if we can learn to take memories out and place memories in… then we could all have our little clones growing so that when we hit our Forties, we could transfer our mind’s into younger, fitter versions of ourselves… but that isn’t at all what this film is about. This film is actually creepy. In particular what creeped me out about the film, was the conversation with dad, which told me that the character that Gregory Peck played was a real Nazi Scientist… this Dr. Josef Mengele guy was real?!?! That’s heavy news to a kid. He then told me all about this very real Mad Scientist who just screams to be turned into a great exploitation villain… The On-Going Menace of Dr Mengele! Then Dad told me, nobody knows what happened to Mengele, he could be out there right now. And the fucker was. Lawrence Olivier plays a Nazi-Hunter in the vein of those from the Simon Wiesenthal center, but what he finds… SO CREEPY. I recommend after watching this classic fucked up thriller, that you listen immediately to Weird Al’s I THINK I’M A CLONE NOW. It definitely helps. The film looks and sounds amazing, but for extras – all we get is… a trailer. Shame, this movie deserve more. Also, this is the great double feature to play with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD… so you can illustrate quite simply… just how amazing Gregory Peck was. The cast is outstanding. In addition to Peck and Olivier, they’re joined by James Mason, Lilli Palmer, Bruno Ganz, Denholm Elliott and the greatest of them all… STEVEN GUTTENBERG!!!
GET ON UP Blu Ray
Produced by Mick Jagger… GET ON UP, a film about the story and life of the irreplaceable Godfather of Soul, James Brown. I love Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of James Brown. It’s exciting, touching, electric and I could never quite peel my eyes away from him… and this was before I knew he was playing T’Challa for MARVEL! I love Dan Aykroyd in this film… shit, I love Dan Aykroyd just as a point of fact in my life. I discovered Jack Webb thanks to Aykroyd – and have always ignored writing “Just the Facts” ever since. The thing though… is my entire life, Mom and Dad have praised James Brown. I was raised on the music, and when he sang LIVING IN AMERICA in ROCKY IV, that was the moment where I got it… even moreso than BLUES BROTHERS… cuz Cab Calloway and Aretha Franklin stole my heart. Although, I have screamed in my most futile attempts of James Brown impersonation, “CAN YOU SEE THE LIGHT!!!” and then started shaking like Jake… Cuz… I’m a fucking geek. Now, this is one of those can’t miss Blu Rays. You get all the extras that are on the DVD and PPV, but exclusive to this Blu are the deleted and alternate scenes, but better… are the Full Song and Extended Song performances and a great extra entitled THE FOUNDING FATHER OF FUNK ON STAGE WITH THE HARDEST WORKING MAN… in showbiz, natch! James Brown is gone, but he’ll never ever be forgotten. What Mick did with this film was great. Such a great followup to THE HELP by director Tate Taylor!
CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH Blu Ray
When I saw GODS AND MONSTERS at it’s premiere at Sundance back in 1997, I realized I was watching a film by a director that I wanted to see and watch everything that he ever made. That director was Bill Condon and while I haven’t yet tracked down his TV directing work, I have seen all his films beginning with SISTER,SISTER, along with those films he wrote like STRANGE BEHAVIOR and STRANGE INVADERS… but most people know him for his script for CHICAGO, or his films KINSEY, DREAMGIRLS and the BREAKING DAWN part 1&2, along with THE FIFTH ESTATE. One of my highlights that I’m looking forward to seeing in 2015 is his MR. HOLMES with Ian McKellen as the ancient Sherlock Holmes solving a final mystery… I love the script and I’m dying to see the film. BUT – that’s all a whole lot of text about the director of CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH – and not a bit on the film itself. I love this sequel. I quite enjoy the original CANDYMAN with Tony Todd, but Condon made it all a bit more wild to me. I love the New Orleans setting pre-Katrina, it was actually refreshing to see a New Orleans shot flick back then. But – my favorite part of the film… it’s the horrifyingly brutal flashback to what we’d only ever imagined. And I’ve heard it’s a tad much for folks… but they’re wusses. Bill Condon gives us an Audio Commentary, we get over 25 minutes of Tony Todd talking about Candyman and his acting career. You Get Veronica Cartwright for a little over 10 minutes doing the same kinda reminisce. An excellent Blu Ray with great extras… that’s what makes everything SHOUT FACTORY releases… amongst the best discs released all year! Tremendous job.
THE CONSTANT GARDENER Blu Ray
I love THE CONSTANT GARDNER… it is an absolute class adaptation of John le Carré novel. Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz… love, tragedy, mystery and romance all exquisitely touching and intriguing. Fernando Meirelles made a beautiful film here. I didn’t get sent this Blu, but I have one on order. He’s a filmmaker you should never stop looking at. He’s got the chops!
THE GUEST Blu Ray
I’m totally going to do a THE GUEST & JOHN WICK Double Feature at some point. They’re almost opposites, except in attitude and style and sense of humor. Adam Wingard made a damn fine Special Forces Badass movies, with a twist. Love the twist. So much fun. The cast are all folks to be looking out for. The Blu is really sharp. After YOUR NEXT and this, it’s no wonder the film blogging genre crowd do the “We’re not worthy” dance. We really aren’t. He’s kicking ass and making it look easy peasie! Extreme Genre lovers… don’t drop the ball and miss this one. It’s one of the fucking fun ones! Disc comes with Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett commentary. Around 15 minutes of deleted scenes, but just because this didn’t hit a theatrical release, don’t think of this as a direct release. It’s a movie that plays real fucking well!
GIRLS Season 3 Blu Ray
I love this show. We watch it here at the house, as it airs and then again when it hits Blu Ray. Haven’t cracked this set yet, it’s a couple time thing or… a Girl’s night where I get to be the token dick. Being a part of that ongoing commentary as the episodes play and end… is a wonderful thing and something I really can’t nor want to separate from my experience with the show. Plus, I can totally pretend like I was fucking scouting talent for mutherfucking STAR WARS 7 where I believe in the menace of Adam Driver! Giggle. I have to say though, these girls see each other as various characters at various times. It’s fun to see that dynamic and perspective. Also, I just adore Lena Dunham. She also terrifies me and freaks me out and I love her for that. I quite enjoy this season.
LEFT BEHIND Blu Ray
Oh I just adore a cast of sinners! I love Lea Thompson going to Heaven, while her Swinging Air Captain Nick “I married a crazy God woman” Cage… and when he puts his lying God Christian Daddy face on for his daughter in the airport, I just about fucking started crying laughing. I mean, this is a HOOT. Oh hell yeah, it’s preachy… but at least in this movie, the shit God does isn’t the half measures of trying to have it both ways Ridley Scott… Oh no. God up and snatched the good believers and innocent of the world and the rest of us will be fucked in a world where it’s like Apple never happened. We took the Apple and now God is taking it back. With all the sweet folks gone, this world would suck a rock. But NICK CAGE in a series about Sinners trying to make right in a world meant to test them all before… our planet’s entire existence has become pointless and meaningless. And that’s sad. A bizarre experiment come to an end – but it could be an ALIEN GOD!!!! C’mon ALIEN GOD!!! Great Giggltainment! Or YOUR LAST CHANCE…
DINOSAUR 13 BLU RAY
You know that T-rex Skeleton at O’Hare, that one’s a fake, but anyone that’s gone through O’Hare and been caught in the nightmare hell of delays after delays… part of the joy is checking this baby out. I never knew the story behind “DINOSAUR 13” but now, I can’t wait to get delayed at O’Hare. First, I learned, that T-Rex, it’s name is Sue. There’s a really wonderful reason why… the woman that found was named Susan, and she alerted the team that excavated and preserved the finest T-Rex skeleton ever found on Earth, then… the fucking Government, man! I do love the epic nature of this tale, along with just seeing the story of this great skeleton come to life. A must for all Dino geeks and folks curious about the story of the T-Rex named Sue!
NO GOOD DEED Blu Ray
So Nelson Mandela escapes in a bloody prison transfer escape. He’s compared to Jeffrey Dahmer, but he’s more of a Cody Jarrett… albeit, I love Idris Elba – but this character wasn’t written to be at that epic level, few ever have… but… This is a Film Noir to me. Mainly takes place at Night. Convict has an accident seems to show up randomly at Taraji Henson, she’s a retired Homicide specializing Prosecutor, now very sweet Mom type of character, home alone with her two kids, one an infant, when fucking psycho Nelson Mandela goes knock knock and flirts with those Heimdall peepers of his and she gets a little charmed. Oh – and this is all on a dark and stormy night. Now here’s the thing, it’s directed by one of his LUTHER directors, Sam Miller and is very rooted in that crime tale on a dark and stormy night, escape killer on the loose. I let this film get me a bit silly and it paid off. And fuck anyone that says Idris Elba can’t be James Bond. He’s got the swagger, the charm, the killer eyes and in this film, his sexuality is on display and with Chris Hemsworth they make like 16 abs of insane development. Ladies, it might feel like it is headed in a rapey area, but it doesn’t. I found this quite enjoyable in a pulp fiction manner (the books, not the movie). There’s a couple of extras on the disc and it just further reminds me… Idris can do anything he wants, but man I’d love his John Stewart in the Corps.
That’s it for this week, next I’ll be looking at: AT THE EARTH’S CORE Blu, SEX WORLD Blu, GONE GIRL Blu, A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Blu, CAPRICORN ONE Blu, RIVER’S EDGE Blu, FOXES Blu, THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT Criterion Blu, SUPERNOVA Blu, MY LEFT FOOT Blu, FITZCARRALDO Blu, THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN Blu, FOXES Blu, HONEYMOON Blu, DANCES WITH WOLVES Blu, RAZOR’S EDGE Blu, JERSEY GIRL Blu, SCORPION KING 4 Blu, PARENTHOOD Blu, THE TWILIGHT SAGA EXTENDED BLU, REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS Blu, JESSABELLE Blu, ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI Blu, DEAD MAN Blu – so that’s a helluva Tuesday of releases… wow. Alrighty, keep watching your screens!