Hey folks, Harry here with the 2nd batch of PICKS & PEEKS and it’s a good one I feel. But then I love this day, it’s my wife’s birthday!!! AWESOME!!! Had to get this one done earlier, so I can spend more of the day with her today… As usual, the images and links will whisk you to Amazon, where you can learn more about a given title or purchase it which gives a small portion of the purchase price to help support the best efforts of this continuing column which is now in its eleventh year! Crazy! Now, let’s drill right on through this list with a very awesome first title!!!
Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
AT THE EARTH’S CORE Blu Ray
I would just about kill for the studios to dive back into the Edgar Rice Burroughs world and more fully adapt his various adventure fantasy novels like AT THE EARTH’S CORE, set in Victorian times, it’s just a complete delight. Of course, that’s to me. It came out Summer of the Bicentennial in 1976, even in July. If you remember that period, you’ll remember that every commercial on Television had powdered wigs and incorporated the founding fathers of our nation, and there were constant specials on the founding of our country and it bled over into Sesame Street and Electric Company – and American Flags were everywhere… So when I watched AT THE EARTH’S CORE, it felt a part of those times for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, my parents and all their friends loved taking me to these movies, but they bitched incessantly about all the dinosaur and monster effects in the series. They loved the machine that bored through the earth, but the rest… drove them nuts. Why didn’t they get Ray Harryhausen or some other stop-motion genius to do it up proper? But for me… I couldn’t understand their hate at that time, because they all loved GODZILLA movies and that was man in suit wizardry – so I simply accept it. Always have, always will. Sure, I’d love for higher production values, that’s why I want these films remade… pretty much all the Doug McClure movies. Rewatching this at home on Blu Ray takes me back to those times. A simpler time. Now, this blu kicks ass. First, director Kevin Connor is down for a commentary, there’s a 22+ minute interview with him where he talks about his career beginnings and work. Then there’s a blessed interview with Caroline Munro, who has had a lasting effect on my continuing interest in every film in which she has ever starred. Caroline Munro smolders on screen and it catches flame in our minds. She is breathtaking. And there’s an all too short period featurette about the making of the monsters at Pinewood. This disc makes me very very happy!
GONE GIRL Blu Ray
I quite enjoy GONE GIRL. I hadn’t read the book when I saw the film theatrically, though it was a book that Yoko read as part of her Future Movie Book Club that she’s a part of. She missed the screening I attended, so when the Blu showed up at the house for review, we enjoyed it together. Now, usually she tends to have problems with all movies adapted from the books she reads, but she thoroughly enjoyed GONE GIRL. I like it, but within the genre of spousalcidal mysteries… I probably love PRESUMED INNOCENT or FRANTIC – but that’s got quite a bit to do with how much I love Harrison Ford and the direction of Roman Polanski and Alan Pakula. The production is very very handsomely produced, very well performed piece, but it never blew me away like it did so many others. It felt like a bit of an ordinary thriller to me, but I think that has more to do with the source material. Fincher does provide a light upbeat commentary for the film along with a fun bit of “reality” from the film, AMAZING AMY TATTLE TALE… it’s quite filled with irony and a wicked sense of humor. That said, Fincher’s past two movies… GONE GIRL and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – they’re exceptionally well made and told stories, but not at all what I wish I was getting from David Fincher. He’s a director that should be pushing the medium, not adapting best sellers. I want him to take us places we haven’t been. Actually, I really want Fincher to start playing with cyberpunk in a big way. But that’s probably just me. Just imagine him loose in the realms of William Gibson? Right?
A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES Blu Ray
When AICN got its start, the director of this film, Scott Frank was one of the highest in demand screenwriters in the town. He’d written DEAD AGAIN for Kenneth Branagh, LITTLE MAN TATE for Jodie Foster, GET SHORTY for Barry Sonnenfeld. Once this site popped along, he wrote the fantastic OUT OF SIGHT for Steven Soderbergh, then adapted MINORITY REPORT for Spielberg. Shortly thereafter he caught the directing bug. He wrote THE LOOKOUT and directed it and it was an alright Crime Thriller. That was 8 years ago. Last year he directed A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES… a film that’s about unleashing Liam Neeson into the cesspool of society and watching him kick ass. Liam’s playing a private dick working for a man who wants the men responsible for abducting and brutally killing his wife. Only, this man who is distraught about his wife, he’s a man that traffics in heroin. So you’re instantly plunged into a world that hopefully isn’t your own. It is a solid film. My only point with it is that I would like to see more variety coming from Liam. As an actor, he has such incredible power and charisma. He can do anything. Kinda want Wes Anderson to base a film around him. There’s a special Blu Ray exclusive MATT SCUDDER: PRIVATE EYE… it’s alright, but really it and that “A LOOK BEHIND THE TOMBSTONES” are very superficial extras. Solid flick though!
CAPRICORN ONE Blu Ray
I have a rather dramatic love-hate relationship with CAPRICORN ONE. First, I adore the movie as a “WHAT IF…” comic tale of what if we didn’t land on Mars. Second, I fucking hate that anybody could possibly take this crap seriously. Now wait… you mean we didn’t put people on Mars? Right, that still hasn’t happened, but this film is one of those movies that folks that seem to get some degree of satisfaction out of feeling everything is bullshit. Now, why do I love CAPRICORN ONE? First, it’s a film by Peter Hyams – and I’m a big fan of his. This, HANOVER STREET, OUTLAND, STAR CHAMBER, 2010, RUNNING SCARED, THE PRESIDIO, NARROW MARGIN, TIMECOP, SUDDEN DEATH, THE RELIC, END OF DAYS and THE MUSKETEER all give me a degree of joy while watching. They tend to play as B-movies, but I love B-movies. They’re solid, fun and adventurous movies. That I can like 2010 at all is a bleeding miracle. And, it was a combination of CAPRICORN ONE and OUTLAND that got him the gig. This film is just overdosing on Government Conspiracy and that the Government is the scariest evil we can imagine. So… if you love a fun paranoid thriller, you’ve gotta pick up CAPRICORN ONE. The print is great, looks outstanding, but what isn’t outstanding is the special features. There’s next to nothing on here. Trailers and a Photo Gallery. We should have had a Peter Hyams commentary and interview about making CAPRICORN ONE. Sigh.
RIVER’S EDGE Blu Ray
This is a fucking great movie! Based on an absolutely true and tragic real world murder of a girl from California. If, by chance, you’ve never heard of RIVER’S EDGE, then click above… buy this film, get it home and without reading a damn thing, dive in. It’s from 1986 and starred Crispin Glover, Keanu Reeves, Ione Skye, Joshua Miller, Daniel Roebuck and Dennis Hopper. The story is told to perfection, giving you genuine chills and if you happen to be in your teenage years when you see this movie… it’ll speak volumes… maybe. It did to me back then. I first saw this film when I was a Sophmore in High School and my friends discussed what we’d do if one of us murdered someone and would we help or turn them in. It’s a question you never really want to have to answer in your life. But director Tim Hunter made a film that just felt real feeling to me as a kid. Keanu and Crispin and Ione… I felt like I knew them then, and I remember knowing them now.
SEX WORLD Blu Ray
This is the 1978 porn parody of Michael Crichton’s WEST WORLD… It is a solid parody, beginning with a group of folks on a bus headed for SEX WORLD, where all your hidden desires come true. That said, nobody going has any crazy fantasies, they are all just… fairly straight forward desires. Also, there’s no twist, ie the sexbots never really turn the tables and fuck these people to death. It’s basically just some basic porn fantasy and that’s all there is. Still, it is a porn parody of WEST WORLD and I’m betting you might not have known about it. That has changed. The inter-racial sex was probably much more of a big deal in 78 than it is now. Overall, the film is pretty basic, nothing to go crazy about.
MY LEFT FOOT Blu Ray
Part of the reason I just didn’t quite fall in love with THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, was that I’d seen the brilliant MY LEFT FOOT with Daniel Day-Lewis, who picked up his first Best Actor Academy Award for the role. This film is a powerful story of a man born with cerebral palsy. All he has going for him is his left foot and leg. He was born in 1932 in Ireland and for a good portion of his life, everyone, including his family is incapable of understanding the man trapped in the inflicted body. As his story is revealed, your heart soars for the man. I’ve always been a huge fan of director Jim Sheridan and this was that first film where I discovered him. Watching him follow this up with the amazing film, THE FIELD, then the great IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER which reunited him with Daniel Day Lewis, whom he made their next film together… the equally great THE BOXER. After that, he made IN AMERICA which was great, then he did GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’ – which was pretty forgettable. Next was the underrated BROTHERS, which I liked and seemed to bring him back into form. I had high hopes for DREAM HOUSE, but it ultimately wasn’t the thriller I was hoping for from Jim Sheridan. Sheridan has a new film coming out this year… One that stars Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave playing the same character at different points in their time in a mental institution. It also has Eric Bana starring and I really want it to blow us all away. Watching MY LEFT FOOT again for this column just served as a reminder that we have a great great filmmaker that has begun to falter ever so slightly, but man… If that man can make the great films he’s made over his career, he absolutely deserves our respect and best wishes. The Blu looks alright to me, very much how I remember the film when it came out the year I graduated High School… The Blu does have a look at the real Christy Brown along with a 10 minute making of. There’s a photo gallery and film reviews of the movie by Pauline Kael, Elvis Mitchell, Charles Champlin and David Denby. Classy. Solid release of a great film.
SUPERNOVA Blu Ray
This film… it had a pretty terrible rough incubation from script to screen. Walter Hill directed it. They brought in Francis Ford Coppola to try and fix it, and then nobody wanted to put their name to it – and at the time of release back 15 years ago – most everyone online, myself included, kinda shat on the film for the crappy vfx and insane insane twists to the story, but now… 15 years always from the focal point of the film’s critical annihilation and a lot of the details of the disaster lost to the field of irrelevance… well, sure, it’s bad CG, that they paid out the nose for, but now… watching this film. The bad effects make me laugh. What I’m left with is a kinda dopey sci-fi thriller with fun actors throughout and VFX that just leave you wanting for something wilder or better. BUT… the film just sort of played as a funky genre effort that I could have fun with now. That was a surprise. I actually debated even rewatching it, but ultimately, my curiousity got the better of me and it went in. So – join Robert Forster, the captain – and the sexiness of Lou Diamond Phillips and Robin Tunney’s nakedness, plus James Spader and Angela Bassett and Peter Facinelli. Also, I dig Wilson Cruz in this too. I worship at the altar of Walter Hill – and you can see aspects of his direction throughout. I just wish he’d gotten to finish it the way he wanted so he’d been happy to put his name to the film. Instead, this is one of those… not quite enough experiences. Ya know? The Blu has a 25 minute fascinating making of, along with Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending that can show you a bit of what was going on. That the disc has this sort of honesty is a bit rare, so I highly support checking it all out.
FITZCARRALDO Blu Ray
FITZCARRALDO is amongst my most favoritist of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski collaborations. You will believe the madness that you see come from Klaus Kinski… you believe it because it rages in his eyes like an unstoppable storm. I’m also a huge fan of films that are about hauling impossible things. Double feature this sucker as the second bill along with Stanley Kramer’s THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION and you have a helluva evening. In Kramer’s – it’s about hauling an impossibly heavy cannon over crazy terrain. In FITZCARRALDO, crazy ass Klaus Kinski makes people haul that big ass ship you see on the cover there… OVER MOUNTAINS to get to another river – and it is madness… madness… Crazy crazy crazy! And Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale and crew make this one of those stunning films that make you wonder… how was it made, then you realize… Herzog is wonderfully mad… they just… did it. This is a must own in any collection. It’s about magnificent mad obsessions and few are ever as mad as this one! SHOUT oddly didn’t go nuts with extras, but they did give you the only extra you need… it’s the one that makes it all worth it. Two Commentaries by Werner Herzog, one in English and one in German (subtitled). Listening to Herzog talk about making this film is one of those inspiring things that makes you complete the tasks before you. Greatness!
FOXES Blu Ray
Want to know what it was like to be a teenage girl living life on the edge of Disco and Pop? That travels in girl packs that have your back? When Jodie Foster turned 18, she made this film with Adrian Lyne for his first feature film. Before FLASHDANCE & 9 ½ WEEKS & FATAL ATTRACTION & JACOB’S LADDER & INDECENT PROPOSAL, Lyne made this film that started his career. It’s the least fully exploitive film of his career and absolutely serves as a time machine back to the era that it is showing us. Joining Jodie Foster in this flick is Cherie Currie, from the RUNAWAYS! Cherie’s pretty great actually as the girl with the most pressing problems. Also, you’ve got Scott Baio, Sally Kellerman and Randy Quaid adding to the overall awesome of this flick. My favorite thing about the film though… and that’s ahead of Lyne’s fuzzy awesome focus… it’s the score by Giorgio Moroder!!! This movie has some honesty and truth to it. If you’ve never checked it out, you definitely should! The film looks great, sounds great and even has a commentary by Adrian Lyne, curious to give that one a listen, haven’t yet. Also, there’s a 9+ minute interview with Sally Kellerman, you must watch that if you get the disc. I love Sally, don’t you?
THE RAZOR’S EDGE Blu Ray
Tyrone Power is one of those stars that I feel people don’t nearly go on and on about nearly enough. He had megawattage charisma, but wasn’t afraid of playing difficult characters… or downright abhorrent characters. Here in W. Somerset Maugham’s THE RAZOR’S EDGE, Tyrone Power plays a man trying to find himself after World War 1. The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actor and did win Best Supporting Actress for Anne Baxter, who is a complete marvel in the film. Actually, so is Clifton Webb. Just great. Everytime I’ve seen THE RAZOR’S EDGE, I completely forget that Elsa Lanchester is in the film and every time that wondrous woman appears I smile hugely! Gosh I adore her. Also, if you love the film LAURA, Laura is in this, Gene Tierney – and she is just stunning! The film was later remade with Bill Murray in the lead role. That film is a very solid film, but I do prefer this original.
THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN Blu Ray
Scripted by Steven Zaillian, directed by John Schlesinger and starring the very young Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn – this was a film about a true-life spy story about two young American’s trying to see “Secrets” to the then Soviet Union. The young Americans discover their country is exacting its will upon other countries and subverting the will of those innocent countries. It was the Seventies and the folks didn’t believe much in their country. Vietnam and Nixon left a bad taste in these two and they carried out to betray their country. Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn rule in this movie. Now, this movie could use a little more tender love and care with its digital master, but it is thoroughly watchable, I would just prefer for a better print. Great flick though!
JESSABELLE Blu Ray
There’s not nearly enough handicap horror films for me. My fave has to be SORRY WRONG NUMBER with Barbara Stanwyck, but the titular character played by Sarah Snook, a lovely redhead in a wheelchair in a southern gothic house – and I have to say… I think she fares better than I would’ve in this exact set of circumstances. That said, this doesn’t hold any really great moments of horror. But, just having her in a chair had me thrilled trying to pick up any wheelchair survival techniques when dealing with the supernatural. Good stuff. Passable stuff! Watch as a double feature with that last CHUCKY movie that came out!
THE SCORPION KING 4: QUEST FOR POWER Blu Ray
Exhaustingly awful, with moderate moments of self-induced hilarity at the sheer weakness of the stench on screen. Open a vein rather than watch.
REVENGE OF THE GREEN DRAGONS
Be afraid of evil immigrants seems to be the overriding theme of this film. Which I didn’t much care for. There’s a nice level of production here, but it ultimately left me flat. Shame, as Martin Scorsese is an Executive Producer – and his name alone made me want for something far better than what I ultimately got. Don’t be deceived. It’s actually a bit weak. Going in with that attitude, the film could surprise you. But do not rush in with high expectations. You’ll see.
Alrighty, that is it for this 2nd week of the New Year, next week we’ll be looking at LUCY blu, FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) Blu, THE DROP blu, ON GOLDEN POND blu, THE PALM BEACH STORY Criterion Blu, ANNABELLE Blu, THE ZERO THEOREM Blu, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO Blu, THE BOXTROLLS 3D Blu, WAR AND PEACE Blu, BREAKING AWAY Blu, THE BRIDE WORE BLACK Blu, MY WINNIPEG Criterion Blu, ADUA E LE COMPAGNE Blu, WORLD FOR RANSOM Blu, TRACK THE MAN DOWN Blu, LOVE IS THE DEVIL Blu, THE WEAPON Blu, THE PIRATES Blu, THE MULE Blu, WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED Blu and more!!! Till then, keep watching the screens!!!