Hey folks, Harry here with the last two columns of February’s PICKS & PEEKS. No, this wasn’t delayed due to any writer’s malady. This was due to not having all the product available, then getting tons of material all at once, but needing the time to watch it all. Sometimes I don’t get the product sent at all, and I have to wait till I can afford to buy the discs myself to watch. All of that happened here, but things seem to be speeding up again. It’s weird how things come, days of nothing then 22 Blus in a day – and for every title you see, there’s several that I’ve watched that just didn’t make the list, because they didn’t make the cut. If you’ve followed this column for the past decade you’re aware of this. It does happen – and I just try to do my best and hope you good folks can be patient, so thank you. The Picks & Peeks iOS & Android app has collected all of these into an easily searchable and fun app. Check it out. As usual, the images and links will take you to Amazon, where you can learn more about the title or purchase it if the mood hits – if you do, a portion of the price goes to help keep this column going, so thank you! It’s wonderful when everything clicks. I hate being late. I really do.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
CAVEMAN Blu Ray
Directed by Carl Gottlieb, the co-screenwriter of JAWS, CAVEMAN is one of those meta-perfect films from my childhood. Starring Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid, Shelley Long, Barbara Bach, Houston Oiler John Matuszak and Richard Moll as the Abominable Snowman! This film, I’ve watched, a grotesque amount of times. First off, I love stopmotion animation and was raised to love the process by my parents, but the Dinosaurs of CAVEMAN are not like those of Ray Harryhausen or Willis O’Brien or Jim Danforth… they’re more cuddly, funnier, zanier… and they rule! That said, these are technically Jim Danforth dinos, as he was the uncredited 2nd Unit Director, but we had Danforth, David Allen, Randy Cook all at work bringing the critters to hilarious life. Then there was Lalo Schifrin doing an amazingly fun score to the film, which gets stuck in my head beautifully often. Now – don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic to have this available upon Blu Ray… but the fact that there are no extras pisses me off. I mean, this film screams for an isolated score track. I want interviews with the VFX people and by all means get friggin Carl Gottlieb chatting about the making of the film – and get RINGO!!! This movie holds up tremendously! This is the great Harryhausen spoof flick for me. The animation is done with such loving character and an eye for giggles! The print looks fantastic, but so much more should be done for this movie! This is a hilarious flick!
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1989) Blu Ray
I remember going with Dad to see PHANTOM OF THE OPERA in 1989. I was a kid that had a Freddy Krueger sweet dreams banner poster hanging at the foot of my bed. I also love PHANTOM OF THE OPERA movies, beginning with Lon Chaney Sr.’s silent classic, to Claude Rains’ turn, to Herbert Lom’s turn, to William Finley’s electric performance… and it’s been fun tracking down the others… but in 1989, the reviews for this one were toxic. Critics of that era that I was exposed to, despised the “GORE” of this version, but to me… I loved it. I was shocked that the ‘through time’ thing works as well as it does, but then one thing that cinema has proven is that this particular story is quite robustly flexible for those that wish to adapt it. I liked Jill Schoelen quite a bit in this. Molly Shannon is quite fun as well! Robert Englund is eating the film up with a spoon though. He’s not channeling Freddy, even if they put a variation of Freddy makeup on him, which annoys the hell out of me. BUT – I’m still good with it. There’s a nice nearly forty minute doc on the making of the film, plus an audio commentary with the director and Robert Englund! Scream Factory nails it again!
THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA Blu Ray
Of the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature this year, THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA was my favorite. One, I found it to be a stunning legend. Then there’s the precise style of animation which feels all at once beautifully its own vibe. The character animation on the baby Princess Kaguya had me gasping in places. The physical beauty of the animation is consistently breathtaking – and when watching the change of nature; beautiful. Isao Takahata’s latest may in fact be my favorite of his films. You’ve never seen an animated film quite like it. At times impressionistic, always beautiful. The Blu comes with a feature length Standard Def, making of, running 86 minutes, the sad thing though is this is edited down from a longer doc, so… not totally awesome, still pretty great. There’s a 40 minute press panel about the Completion of the film. But more than anything, the transfer and sound are great on the feature, which is a too rare jewel of classic animation technique! Beautiful.
MUNICH Blu Ray
Just a tremendous film for Spielberg. I love MUNICH. Watching it now and realizing… holy shit, this was 10 years ago already. Look how young everyone looks! Everyone looks great here! Then there’s Spielberg’s introduction where he seems to be going very far to underline how he is not attacking Israel with this movie. Personally, I feel the entire situation difficult to discuss without getting somebody offended, but at the end of the day, Spielberg’s MUNICH is not, to my eyes, inflammatory, but rather sombering. I watch the film and find it to be one of the most breathtaking of Steven’s career. That Hotel sequence is just… whoa. But then that initial dinner sequence is one of my faves he’s ever done for really getting characters talking and not spouting exposition, but really relating. It’s great. MUNICH is also why I want Spielberg to direct one James Bond film. Badly. With Daniel Craig. Really. C’mon! The Bonus features take you inside the film, the adaptation of unknown exactly history is a fun theme they explore and talk about. Nice Blu Ray!
BIRDMAN (OR THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) Blu Ray
Michael Keaton’s KNOCK KNOCK flick is BIRDMAN. It is a stand out and shout about performance. One that he threw his everything into. Some people seemed surprised. I find these people hilarious. Michael Keaton has been the real deal for a very long time, whether or not he’s dancing for us regularly or not. It’s like Jack Nicholson. Sure, it’s been a bit. But you know and I know that if he finds something to give a shit about, we’re going to lose our minds. Keaton is going to be on the scene for a while now. He seems enthused, inspired and genuinely digging the support. This is a great thing. Keaton can play sweet, crazy, injured, maniacal and disarmingly adorable – but it’s scary Keaton that I love. He’s got demons and in this he gets to let them knock us on our ass a bit. It’s great to see. I can’t wait to see him continue to kick ass. That said – all the acting is top notch here. That’s cuz Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu is one helluva director! He peels his actors onions and we’re bound to cry about how great they all are. Just watch how loyal his actors are to him, it’s because he knows how to play with them! I’m there for all of his movies, always. The extras are ok… but let’s get real, this winning what it did at the Oscars means there will be a more elaborate edition down the road, but you still get almost an hour’s worth of features, but yeah… this needs more!
GAME OF THRONES: THE COMPLETE 4th SEASON Blu Ray
Yeah, it’s getting real good… watching this season is such a surefire way to feel every second until that Season 5 gets going! Right? I love where every character is left, and I’m dying to see how it plays out. Then there’s those last two episodes, which are going to go high on rotation after you finish rewatching the season. I love those two! Frost Giants are just amazing. This next season will be missing Bran, from what I’ve heard, but where his character ends up…. His story is the one I’m dying to see more from, but I suppose that’ll have to wait for Season Six. I wish Peter Dinklage had won for this season – he’s just getting better every single season. His “Confession” and his “Privvy” scenes have been nothing short of brilliant. This has been my favorite season thus far. We’re going to see some crazy action this season – and I’m wildly curious to see how things go in the North. Strange things are afoot. The season is beautifully preserved on Blu Ray, lots of extras – and the only gripe I would have has to do with the 3 stages of unsheathing your season, but it should be an epic endeavor! Fitting!
THE INTERVIEW Blu Ray
This movie is not just a simple movie any more, it’s a historical footnote about modern paranoia and those that prey upon it. All, over a movie that lands its fiercest punches upon Eminem, and actually manages to make Kim Jong Un seem like someone that just really needs the proper medication and the permission to love Katy Perry and Margaritas. Is that so wrong? The film is very fun, but you may ask – why buy this – it practically hit NETFLIX instantly… well, because there’s a ton of deleted and extended and alternative scenes, a very funny gag reel, Commentary by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg – but from the sound of it, this commentary was recorded prior to the film’s release, or they just decided to ignore the insanity. Then there’s like 10 additional special features – you’ll probably laugh at every single one. SO – fight tyranny – BUT THE INTERVIEW and laugh at the absurdity of the world we live in.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Blu Ray
First time I watched this… I hated it. Despised it. The reason was something that had nothing to do with the film, it had more to do with my own anger and frustration over my own time in the chair. I saw a completely different story when I watched this by myself, but when a dear friend came over and said they really wanted to watch this… I gave it another shot. It is strange sometimes, the transformative experience of just sharing a film. Alone, I felt the movie did nothing to celebrate this amazing man. All my eyes were focused on was the breaking down of the man physically. But as I watched it with a friend, it allowed me to get out of my own head alone and see the story with fresh eyes and an open mind. That’s when I really saw the movie. A story of a man that should not have been able to live into my lifetime. Predicted to die in the late sixties, Stephen Hawking dogged tenacity to not only simply exist, but help the rest of us to greater understand existence at all… well… amazing! Eddie Redmayne is great in the role. Felicity Jones is pretty great in this too. However, after you watch THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, put on Terry Gilliam’s THE ZERO THEOREM – and have an amazingly smart evening of entertainment that will blow your mind! The Blu has a rather dry commentary from Director James Marsh, a short featurette on Redmayne’s transformation to become Stephen Hawking and Felicity’s turn as Jane Hawking. There’s also a few Deleted Scenes. Odd that they did no special feature about the man himself or his theories. I would have liked more of that.
DUMB & DUMBER TO Blu Ray
You know what’s more fun than this movie? Inserting a dirty crazy straw like a catheter. Have fun. Wanna see aging comedians get it right, watch ROAD TO HONG KONG below!
ST. VINCENT Blu Ray
I’ve known men like St. Vincent. As a kid, when my parents were artists selling out on the Drag here in Austin, I met a number of men that had served bravely in Korea and Vietnam, that decided to LIVE the rest of their lives on their terms and damned be anyone to tell them otherwise. They were openly cantankerous, thought taking young men to highly inappropriate places was the finest in character building. I happen to kind of agree, within reason. I was taken to dog racing tracks, horse racing tracks, allowed to fire machine guns and even was with some of these guys when they discharged weapons in the direction of weapons fired in our direction. BUT – these men commanded my respect. Just as Vincent earned this kid’s respect – and really… for me… this movie is all about Vincent and that boy… except, it isn’t. It’s about a single mom trying her best to raise a child alone and needing the kindness of convenient strangers… even if she has to bribe them – and I love that part of this story too! I loved Melissa McCarthy in this. She was allowed to play a more complete human being – which anyone that watches GILMORE GIRLS knows she’s fantastic when the material allows her to be more than just a joke. In this – you’ll absolutely fall in love with her. I love Jaeden Lieberher as young Oliver in the film. He held his own with Bill Murray and that’s something towering. The Toronto Film Fest Q&A is the best extra. Other than the Deleted Scenes here, but I really enjoyed this film quite a bit. Check it out!
THE HOMESMAN Blu Ray
I saw this movie, knowing nothing beyond the notion that Tommy Lee Jones was directing and starring with Hilary Swank in High Plains tale that on the surface might sound like a take on AFRICAN QUEEN, only without a boat, the river or Germans. However, instead – they have a wagon with 3 crazy disturbed women in manacles, there’s Indians and bad folk on the trail and the story has twists and turns that I didn’t really see coming. Swank and Tommy Lee Jones are equally amazing in the film. Just go in knowing, this is about as far away from LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE as you’re gonna get. This film is not always happy. Heh. The extras include a nice 20+ minute special feature on the ORIGINS of the project, then 27+ minutes on the SHOOTING THE FILM and lastling a nearly 12 minute featurette on trying to go BEYOND THE WESTERN with the film. If you love tales of the Old West, do not, under any circumstances, miss this movie. It really is quite great!
HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE Blu Ray
I watched this with Yoko. Giggle. She so didn’t approve. Yet, I found it incredibly sweet. Sure… there is a plot to murder a wife, but the film is so splendidly conceived and spun, that much like the joy of discovering Preston Sturges’ UNFAITHFULLY YOURS… it’s just. Well, here. Jack Lemmon plays a daily comic strip artist named Stanley Ford who believes in living out all the impossibly awesome adventures of Bash Brannigan… super spy, before he draws them, with the aide of actors and his amazingly awesome man servant played by the great Terry-Thomas. The man actually doing to comic strip work you see in the film is none other than Mel Keefer who did the Perry Mason & Rick O’Shay strips. This film can run from mildly offensive to having the woman you love standing in the living room shouting at the movie… which… is awesome. I had never seen this very bizarre hilarious movie. I wasn’t familiar with Richard Quine, other than having seen and loved his BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE with Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak and Jack Lemmon. With this film, I’m now curious to see his other work. There’s no real extras on this disc, but the movie is prize enough as is. The courtroom scene alone is worth it. It is not often that a movie can propel my wife to scream passionately at it. That ruled!
WILD ANGELS Blu Ray
I love the Biker genre. I once wrote a script called SEX MACHINE that was to be a FROM DUSK TIL DAWN prequel, that was all about Sex Machine’s Biker Gang and what happened to it, and why we find him in the Titty Twister. Before writing that, spent a lot of time hunting down every biker flick that I could get my grubby man paws upon. There’s a ton of them. WILD ANGELS is one of my faves. It may not be brutally realistic like Kenneth Anger’s very real SCORPIO RISING, but WILD ANGELS does get dark! American International was responsible for some of my fave flicks – and Roger Corman knew how to capture things the studios wouldn’t touch. That’s WILD ANGELS. You’ve got to check out Bruce Dern in this! Seriously! Also, I love Nancy Sinatra in this! The print is pretty sharp, but this is another barebones disc from Olive, Would’ve been nice to get Corman or Fonda or Dern to chat about the making of the film, it really is an important work in the Biker genre! This is a good one!
BEACH BLANKET BINGO Blu Ray
I never really got to see the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello Beach movies, mainly because my father kind of hated these movies. He took his Rock-n-Roll a bit more seriously, than this. He was also becoming politically aware rather seriously by this point and while he’s confessed fond memories of Annette’s Mickey Mouse Club days when he was a kid, by this point… he had moved on. Of course, he was 20 when this hit. It is fun watching a film as harmlessly charming as this, but to someone from the era, that was seeing the Civil rights movements, the increased realith of Nam and the change in music that was beginning. But, I grew up loving GREASE – and for me, this movie is exactly from that kind of happy go lucky universe. I mean, Frankie cracks me up… just… the way he is. Then there’s just the awesome of Paul Lynde, Don Rickles and Buster Keaton on display – which just gets me going! I find it disappointing that OLIVE puts this out with just a standard def trailer, but I suppose tying this to the world of GREASE was something the folks at PARAMOUNT didn’t aim for. That’s a shame. It’s cut from the same cloth! Well, GREASE has way better songs.
PSYCH-OUT Blu Ray
Produced by Dick Clark – PSYCH-OUT is a trip. I’ve always been attracted to films about the counter culture scene, simply because my Mom & Dad were definitely of the type. Directed by a badass by the name of Richard Rush, shot by Laszlo Kovacs, with Susan Strasberg as a young deaf girl that wanders into the Haight Ashbury district in 1968’s heyday! Shot there, using San Francisco psychedelic locales and 2nd hand shops and made to be as trippy as can be… She runs into a group of hippies including Max Julien, Adam Roarke and the Don Juan of the group, Jack Nicholson! One of my favorite aspects of this flick is simply looking at everything in the shot! Here they use lightshow techniques and the DP of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND trys to show you what Acid is. Shooting psychedelic imagery through kaleidoscopic lenses and playing with everything from trippy color saturated naked ladies to artwork, nature, Rock art, then there’s Prismatic lenses and well. It must be seen. And Blu Ray is how to do it. Drugs are not necessary for the film, it is trippy all on its own. Best? The Kaleidoscopic Bad Trip Zombies with a near ASH moment! I wish to everything that somebody would sit down Jack Nicholson and have him record a no holds barred commentary for this movie! That’d be OUTSTANDING! If the culture has fascinated you and ya love films like CANDY, EGGSHELLS, SKIDOO, THE TRIP, 200 MOTELS, FRITZ THE CAT, GHETTO FREAKS – well this is for you! Or maybe you just want to see a different side of Jack Nicholson, the year before EASY RIDER! I mean, you’ve gotta see the psychedelic love scene between Jack Nicholson & Susan Strasberg, utilizing kaleidoscopic lenses and lightshow projection upon their naked bodies as they undulate. Really crazy visuals. Also look for Dean Stockwell and Bruce Dern too! Really enjoy this flick!
THE ROAD TO HONG KONG Blu Ray
I’d never seen the last ROAD TO movie. It was one of my shames. I love this series. On VHS, Mom & Dad had recorded all of these. So I was well familiar with the schtick… I’ve known about the film, cuz the entire time that Dad and I were in the collectibles business, we had the one sheet for this film, but NOBODY but NOBODY wanted it. Now, had I but seen the movie, I could’ve sold it, but now I’m glad I didn’t because ya know what? THIS FILM IS AWESOME! Sure, Hope & Crosby are in their late Fifties, but they still rule! That said, this movie is so… um… awesome! In a LEGO MOVIE kinda way! Ok – so the first HOLY SHIT of the movie is… ok, when Bob Hope loses his memory, Bing, playing Harry, sets out to help his partner find his memory. At one point they’re in India, when who should appear? PETER FUCKING SELLERS as an Indian Memory specialist!!! What happens next? You see this amazing collision of comedic super powers and Peter Sellers is running laps around Hope & Crosby – and throughout the scene, they seem ACTUALLY DAZED by Sellers’ proto-BIRDIE NUM NUM work! Then Bob Hope scores a supermemory drug from the Grand Lama, which leads to him memorizing some stolen rocket propellant plans necessary for a Moon shot, and that brings them to a crazy awesome Robert Morley as a futurist force for evil – and it hits Science Fiction!!! I love this crazy f’n flick! Also, I met Bob Hope at a Sykes Center Mall Book signing in Wichita Falls and he was awesome! So go Bob Hope!!!
Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
BIG HERO 6 Blu Ray
There’s still no word on a domestic 3D Blu of BIG HERO 6, but it looks like April 8th, there’ll be an import disc that may work. However, this version delivers a perfect presentation of the film in 2D. Which is beautiful all on its own, I just can’t wait to have this in 3D at home. This is our Oscar winner for BEST ANIMATED FILM of last year. The whole process of ranking something like this or an animated film like CHEATERS… they’re completely different endeavors. And I love them both. I was surprised by this film in theaters and it really did have my favorite post credit scene last year, that tickles me so. The Blu comes with the awesome short that played before BIG HERO 6 at the theaters, FEAST, that’s all about an adorable little doggie who loves to eat, and loves his pet Human. It’s adorable! You get the alternate opening for the film times two, then two deleted scenes! There’s the adaptation HIRO’S JOURNEY, then another featurette about some of the folks behind the film, but that’s it. I’m hoping that Disney puts out a really robust edition of this domestically with 3D and all the extras they scattered to the four winds of exclusivity to retailers.
WHIPLASH Blu Ray
Why do I refuse to be closed-minded about the new FANTASTIC FOUR flick? One of the main reasons is… MILES TELLER. Now, don’t get me wrong, J.K. Simmons is a bastard of a hurricane in this movie… but watch MILES TELLER! I’m telling ya, he’s just amazing to watch in this movie. Like in EVERY movie he’s done. He is one of THE key talents of his generation – and I am so curious to see what his Reed will be like. There’s a common character trait that Reed Richards shares with Miles’ Andrew Neiman… they’re DRIVEN men. Neiman to be the best jazz drummer of all time, and Reed to his pursuit of Science and to restore his best friend Ben. That focused brilliance you can see in Miles here. Now, otherwise, get FANTASTIC FOUR out of your head, because for me WHIPLASH was one of the best films of last year. The debut film for Damien Chazelle, but check out the great GRAND PIANO that was written by him! Also great! I love the family dinner scene in this movie… A LOT!
WATERSHIP DOWN Criterion Blu Ray
I saw this in 1978 upon initial release at the age of 6, that next Easter, mom and dad decided to raise rabbits – and I named them after all the rabbits in WATERSHIP DOWN, Hazel was my favorite character and my fave of my rabbits. On my 1979 Birthday, I had 18 friends spend the night, which involved all night 16mm projected movies and Atari 2600 gaming! A friend that woke up that next morning, wanted to feed the rabbits and asked my mom for a carrot. He went into the backyard and came back white faced holding the carrot with a blank stare. “Mrs Knowles, something is really wrong with Harry’s Rabbits!” – Sometime in the night, when we were in the upstairs playing games or watching movies, a wild dog found its way into our yard and ripped the cages apart, tearing the rabbits to pieces. There were pieces of rabbits everywhere… I found Hazel’s head in the rose bush. Twitch. Twitch. I know, I didn’t review Criterion’s Blu – but I can’t hear that title and not tell that horrific memory. Yes Doctor Lecter, I can still hear their screams! All that said… I fucking love WATERSHIP DOWN, that it is as fucked up a story as it is, fits PERFECTLY with my own Rabbit raising experience. It also taught me not to love things, obviously! Heh. But I always considered this movie a kid’s movie. THIS film is part of why I’m insane. This movie prepares you for loss and moving forward. It teaches you about believing in things. That even rabbits believe in something, that we need to feel special, we need fables in our lives. I’ve ordered the Criterion disc of this, and it hasn’t yet gotten here. I’m dying to see Guillermo Del Toro’s 13 minutes upon WATERSHIP DOWN, because we’ve discussed this awesome film at length – and he knows the above story. There’s 17 minutes with director Martin Rosen talking about the film! A 13 minute period featurette, storyboards and more. So excited to get this, hopefully tomorrow!
GOD TOLD ME TO Blu Ray
I’d never seen Larry Cohen’s GOD TOLD ME TO from 1976, until this Blu Ray arrived and I’ve seen his BLACK CAESAR, HELL UP IN HARLEM, IT’S ALIVE, IT LIVES AGAIN, Q, SPECIAL EFFECTS, THE STUFF, IT’S ALIVE III, RETURN TO SALEM’S LOT and the rest of his films since that point. But this was his film after IT’S ALIVE… how could I have not seen this. So that night, I slap it on the screen and holy wow! I’d be hard pressed to touch upon the specific “wow” of this film… the movie isn’t easy – it doesn’t answer the questions it raises, it’s left to your perceptions – but… apparently doing something because GOD TOLD ME TO… if you have that experience and it involves killing lots of innocent people? Your God may be a fucking asshole! Or… maybe that’s just God, the OT one smited often, but I hate to think of mass murderers as actual smiting for God, but this is something this movie puts to ya. I mean, if there is a God, he allows those things to happen. Andy Kaufman is a Police Officer in this! The awesome Sylvia Sydney (smoke from neck lady in BEETLEJUICE) (Grandma Norris in MARS ATTACKS) (and in Hitchcock’s SABOTAGE in 1936) The film is as raw as anything Cohen made, but shot in a wonderful New York City before it got all cleaned up. This comes with 55 minutes of featurettes, plus an Audio commentary by Larry Cohen. This movie kicks ass!
FELLINI SATYRICON Criterion Blu Ray
Have you done your run of Fellini flicks? I love his films cuz they have a spirit – every single one of them, and its driven by its gloriously mad man of a director. Blessedly like nobody we really have today save for possibly Terry Gilliam. This film has some extreme sex and violence, but… it isn’t like that. It’s based upon a novel written by Gaius Petronius Arbiter sometime during NERO’s rule in Ancient Rome. A satirist’s view of mad NERO’s Rome? But the film isn’t so much that novel, as much as it is the dreams that the great Fellini had upon reading that work. SATYRICON is a must see for folks that have a passion for cinema! It is simply unlike much of cinema at all. It’s its own amazing experience. Fellini did refer to this as a documentary of a dream – and that’s a perfect description of the film. The Commentary is actually a reading of ON THE SET OF FELLINI SATYRICON: A BEHIND THE SCENES DIARY by Eileen Hughes! There’s 61 minute doc called CIAO, FEDERICO! There’s about 16 minutes of interviews with Fellini. An 8 minute interview with the DP, Giusseppe Rotunno! A 24 minute doc about Fellini and Petronius and there’s even more! Criterion is again doing the Lord’s work for cinema!
NEW YEAR’S EVIL Blu Ray
Shout Factory brings us 1980’s NEW YEAR’S EVIL – and any film with my Birthdate on the cover can’t be all bad, can it? First good sign? It’s a Globus and Golan production, Cannon Films… which basically means… it rules. Ok, it’s New Year’s Eve at a Televised Punk Rock New Year’s Eve party/countdown… which means Cannon Films Punks!!!! Which rule! This film isn’t great, but it is a whole lot of fun! Plus, you’ve just gotta see some of the looks of characters in this film! They’re to die for! Then, I just love that as each time zone hits the New Year, the host is going to lose a loved one to this psycho killer. If Slasher films are your thing, ya gotta have it! If you love Cannon films, it’s a must! If you love weird Punk cinema, its there for ya again! So pretty much, this is pure fun!
52 PICK UP Blu Ray
This is not the hottest of Elmore Leonard adaptations, but it is directed by James Frankenheimer, even if it isn’t one of his finer films. It stars Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret as his wife, but it is a film with a lot of elements I like, that just don’t come together as well as you’d hope those elements would. Does that make sense? Oddly, when I see a film with this much talent, I always feel disappointed in myself for not liking it more. But then films that dive into the porn world often come up short. It’s cool to see Doug McClure in this, simply because he was in all those Edgar Rice Burroughs flicks! Also, Roy plays a Harry in this, so it’s like he’s begging me to like it. Sigh, I just don’t. Kino puts this out with just the trailer. Sharp print though.
EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN Blu Ray
This was the first Ang Lee movie I saw that I absolutely loved! I’d seen THE WEDDING BANQUET the year prior and appreciated it, but EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN was my cup of tea! As you can guess, I’ve always been a FOODIE – and the food in this movie will make you feel like you’re starving! You’ll become ravenous! Also, you’ll fall in love with these characters, three wonderful women living with Mr. Chu, the father. They each have their own headstrong sense, and all of this is done in vignettes really around eating at these Sunday feasts. Love that structure. It also strengthens the unity between hunger and sex and how we all have those passions. Olive put this out without a single extra. That said, it is a beautiful transfer of a wonderful film!
WILD ORCHID Blu Ray
This film and 9 ½ WEEKS represent the peak of Mickey Rourke’s sensuality in cinema… both films are just erotically charged in an irresistible manner. Adrian Lyne did 9 ½ WEEKS, but this was Zalman King, the director that went on to do all those RED SHOE DIARIES that only the most honest of us admit to having studied intensely on Showtime in the 90s. King knows his eroticism – and even co-wrote NINE ½ WEEKS. If you need a triple feature of hot with Rourke, I suggest adding Alan Parker’s ANGEL HEART. Yeah, that’s a hella good triple feature for ya! Also – this is many times hotter than FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Sadly, there’s no extras.
THE FRANK DARABONT COLLECTION: SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION / THE GREEN MILE / MAJESTIC Blu Ray
For a little more than $21, you get SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, GREEN MILE & THE MAJESTIC in this “Collection” that repackages THE GREEN MILE & SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION DVDs with the previously unreleased MAJESTIC Blu Ray. You can find MAJESTIC separately, but if you don’t have the other two films, this is the best deal on the three you can get. Now I know a lot of folks seem to be sticking to some memory that THE MAJESTIC was bad, but what’s bad is that memory. That feeling was more about the anticipation that we as critics and audience goers had for Frank Darabont – and honestly – if put to the sword for the truth, we all would say that Frank Darabont should just be put in charge of Stephen King adaptations for all time… But I’d love to see Darabont do a Bradbury adaptation – loved that FAHRENHEIT 451 script he had a long time ago. That said, I’ve loved THE MAJESTIC from the moment I set eyes upon it. First, there’s a movie in the movie and that movie is an Arabic Adventure starring BRUCE CAMPBELL – (btw there’s an extra on the Blu that assembles as much of that film as Frank and them shot!!!) Then, it has a story about a town rising up to save a classic movie palace… which just as a film geek – that’s one of our sacred duties, to help preserve the awesome of cinema’s history for the future! Then you have the Red Scare aspects where Congressional Hoodlums beat this country into a Commie on every street corner hysteria and conducted televised trials of these Enemies of American Free Thought, how dare they think differently, that’s just un-American. Ahem. Riiiiiiiight. Ultimately a movie that loves movies as much as this one does – and that gives folks a glimpse into the dark history of Congress Republicans running witch hunts… well that’s a good thing to be reminded of, and it’s just a solid damn film!
THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKY’S Blu Ray
William Friedkin’s love letter to a time gone by… the heyday of Burlesque, the film is a marvel to watch. One, Friedkin’s editing and fascinating attention to detail will capture you from Rudy Vallee opening narration, reputed to be the last audio recording of him alive! Produced by Norman Lear, this is absolutely not what happened in reality, but is merely a fictional account of how it might’ve gone down. It stars Britt Ekland as the hottest Amish girl in the history of film. She’s an innocent gal going to the big city to be a dancer – and well, as the story goes, invents STRIPPING!!! So obviously this is important historical shit about this country! Now, you got Elliott Gould, Jason Robards, Denholm Elliott and BERT “The Cowardly Lion” Lahr to bring this particular vision of the Burlesque world. I love it. Not at all like Friedkin’s other work, unless you think… oh yeah, it’s all great! That’s a great thing to have in common! And did I mention how awesome this flick is? The cover art which comes from the movie poster is drawn by none other than Frank Frazetta btw. No significant extras dammit!
Ok – that was it for February! I’ll be finishing up last week & today’s column after REHAB later tonight. Once again, sorry for them being late, but there’s only so much watching I can do without having product on time. I like being able to actually check these all out as best I can. See ya shortly!