Hey folks, Harry here with the final Picks & Peeks of March 2015! There’s some jewels here, especially DAVID & LISA – do not let that film pass you by, it is one of the great mostly unknown films in the world. Discover it. There are titles that will never be that giant draw film, no matter how much I scream about them. But I’ll say this – if you take a chance on DAVID & LISA – it’s the sort of film that people proudly show others. Who show others and so on – and maybe one day it will be revered by a proper portion of the population of Earth. It deserves it. So beautiful. Anyway, as always the Picks & Peeks links and pictures will take you Amazon, where you can learn more on a title or… if so motivated, you can purchase the title and a small portion of the price goes to help keep the best efforts of this column going, so thank you for that. Now on with the list:
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
INTERSTELLAR Blu Ray
If you saw the IMAX presentation of INTERSTELLAR, that’s about what you’re going to get on the Blu – the film will be going between full 2:39:1 aspect ratio and the more full screen IMAX shape of 1.78:1. I still find this a distracting phenomenon, especially when Nolan is flipping back and forth between the different Aspect Ratios in what feels like a random choice. C’mon, just let Nolan shoot all in IMAX so we get one aspect ratio. I know, it’s a small pick, but it is something I find personally annoying. INTERSTELLAR, like all of Nolan’s films is an incredibly handsome production, and while INTERSTELLAR science fiction is amongst my favorite genres of science fiction. The idea of mankind reaching that pinnacle is something every kid that has watched STAR TREK, has dreamt of. That said, by the time McConaughey and his robot companion are floating in a Library of memory to communicate… I was just checking out. Actually, I prefer Jonathan Nolan’s ending in the script he wrote for Spielberg. That said, INTERSTELLAR is a very watchable flick, but what makes the Blu Ray awesome, to me, is the extensive BONUS section, which begins with a 50+ minute look at the science of INTERSTELLAR which gets narrated by McConaughey and I dug the hell out of it. Then there’s a whole host of mini-Inside Interstellar featurettes, about 14 of them, ranging in length from 1:20 to 13:22. This covers Plotting the film to Life on Cooper’s Farm, to The Dust, to Tars & Case, to the Cosmic Sounds, to the Space Suits, to The Endurance and on and on and on. It ends with a FINAL THOUGHTS piece where we hear what the filmmakers hope the influence of the film will bring to humanity and future generations here on Earth. Yup. I applaud the ambition and science that was used, ultimately though – Matt Damon’s space crazy, the Gravity Ghost stuff and really the bummer attitude that plays in the film. I mean, if society has gotten to the point where they’re teaching that Technology is evil – and you have to keep the mission to save Earth secret – Just let the planet die.
THE IMITATION GAME Blu Ray
I absolutely loved THE IMITATION GAME – and every time I’ve watched it, I like it even more. I loved Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing, loved Kiera Knightley’s Joan Clarke… and I love how both of their brilliance makes them aliens in the world around them. They are both people out of time, they would be contemporary geniuses in today’s world and celebrated. But in this story – we watch as they try to crack one of the most impossible puzzles ever placed before human beings… created by a gifted machine crafted by the Nazis to be impossible to solve. This is the story of the team of people that were never celebrated for their awesome brilliance, but more directly shaped WWII than possibly any other figures. Not only that, but once you see how they used that information and how they used it, it’ll make you wonder about everything we learn today. What percentage of the truth can we as a people handle and who decides? Who controls our reality now? I mean, WWII was a few mathmaticians… what about today? Great film. Also isn’t Mark Strong just great in everything he does? Same with Matthew Goode! Don’t forget Alexandre Desplat’s fantastic score for this one! Outstanding stuff. You’ll get a Audio Commentary from Morten Tyldum and the screenwriter, Graham Moore. There’s a 22+ minute making of, a pair of deleted scenes and Q&A from Telluride, that also has a Hollywood Reporter SAG piece with the actors, then another Q&A group with behind the scenes folks – in total, these 3 come to about 30 minutes. Really wish they’d included something dedicated to Alan Turing in a historical sense on the Blu, but you seemingly can’t get everything. Still a great Blu!
GRAVITY Diamond Luxe Blu Ray
Alright, I’m completely happy with my GRAVITY 3D Blu. There’s a couple of reasons you may want this Diamond Luxe version. 1st, if you happen to have a Dolby Atmos receiver and speaker set up – you will be getting the sound in that format, which I am sure would be amazing. I, however, do not yet have that kind of sound system so I can’t test that. However, there’s a GRAVITY: SILENT SPACE version of the film to check out, which has an introduction from Alfonso Cuaron explaining that this isn’t his preferred version, but was an interesting experiment to see what removing all sound that didn’t have a hearable source in space. So, you won’t hear the explosions or the ships being torn apart and you also won’t have the score. The result is something pretty extraordinary. I found myself engaging with the film at a completely different level than I have in 3D with all the sound and fury. The silence in the midst of furious disaster all around the frame is… powerful. It is how it would be – and it fills ya with a degree of additional dread. In addition to this unique experience with the film – all of the extras, which can mostly be found on the second Blu Ray in this really snappy case. They’re all in HD. They include most everything from the previous disc, but you also get LOOKING TO THE STARS: THE EVOLUTION OF SPACE FILMS which is a 42 minute history of Space films. Very cool. Then there’s a GRAVITY: THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE where you get The Cuaron Brothers, David Heyman, Clooney and Bullock with author Mary Roach and astronauts Dr. Dan T Barry, Mike Massimino and Catherine Coleman discussing space travel and their experiences and what all have learned about space together. Then the last exclusive is SANDRA’S BIRTHDAY WISH – which was a thing she sent to Alfonso – that’s really quite fun. SO – how much did you love GRAVITY? For me, the Silent Space version of the film was quite captivating from beginning to end. I might show it to a couple of friends, but I still prefer my 3D print.
HOOP DREAMS Criterion Blu Ray
I think I will love HOOP DREAMS for the whole of my life and I blame that almost entirely upon the affection foisted upon HOOP DREAMS by Siskel & Ebert both of whom were evangelical about this movie – and I love that Criterion realizes that and has put together a series of excerpts over S&E’s advocacy for the film. Also, Criterion has a LIFE AFTER HOOP DREAMS, which is a new doc focusing upon the kids and their families. But as always the star here is the film, which has two commentaries – one by the directors and the other from Arthur Agee and William Gates, the subjects of the film. Haven’t watched that track yet, but I’m looking forward to it. If you love basketball or if you’re raising someone that loves Basketball – this is something you must have in your collection. Also, if you just love Documentaries that follow a subject for a bit of a lifetime, you’ll dig it. I’ve never been huge on Basketball, obviously, but this doc is really about life and dreams – that’s something we all have.
DAY OF ANGER Blu Ray
Imagine, you’re working in a dusty old west town as a garbage man, but you dream of being a gunslinger like you read about, but you’re a garbage man… you can’t even earn enough money to sharpen up your appearance, much less by a gun, then… one fateful day LEE VAN CLEEF comes to town and takes a shine to ya… and nobody has snake eyes like Lee Van Cleef… the man in black, consummate badass. He’s in town cuz there’s a fella that owes him money and the great Giuliano Gemma begs him to train him as a gunslinger, which he eventually does. I have loved DAY OF ANGER from the moment I saw it at QT Fest 5 back in 2001 – and the movie just kicks so much ass! Gemma and Lee Van Cleef are great together and the energy and chemistry keeps this movie a badass western! The blu is nice and sharp, but the surprising thing is the amount of extras. There’s Interviews with the director Tonino Valerii, Screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi – that total 25 minutes, then you get Robert Curti who is an expert on Italian Cinema talking for 44 minutes – fascinating stuff! Over all – awesome addition to the Spaghetti Western collection!!!
CRIES AND WHISPERS Criterion Blu Ray
CRIES & WHISPERS is one of my fave Ingmar Bergman films – one – it is a beautiful and lushly photographed film, it won Best Cinematography at the Oscars. Better than that – is the examination of the women in this film and their psyches. It’s exquisite, touching and feeling work. This film garnered 5 nominations for Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Costume Design and of course Sven Nykvist got his deserved Oscar for Cinematography. The extras are uniformly outstanding here. You get an intro from Ingmar Bergman recorded in 2001, an interview with actress Harriet Andersson, Behind the Scenes footage, a 52 minute interview with Bergman – and more. I only wish someone at Criterion had sat down Roger Corman, who distributed the film domestically to recall his memories of bringing the film to the U.S. Otherwise, outstandingly beautiful transfer and solid Blu!
WILD CARD Blu Ray
Remember HEAT? No, not that one, the one with Burt Reynolds that was written by William Goldman? Well, WILD CARD is essentially a remake of that starring Jason Statham in the Burt Reynolds role. And it isn’t a bad flick, I still prefer the Burt Reynolds film, mainly out of an undying love of the stache’d one! This is helmed by Simon West, who brought us CON AIR, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER and THE MECHANIC remake with Statham – along with his EXPENDABLES 2. Film sports a pretty great little cast. Micahel Angarano, Milo Ventimiglia, Stanley Tucci, Jason Alexander, Anne Heche, Sofia Vergara – and lots of stuntmen for Statham to demolish. Check it out, but also… give HEAT with Burt Reynolds a chance.
WITHOUT A CLUE Blu Ray
So here’s the film with Michael Caine as Sherlock Holmes and Ben Kingsley as Dr. Watson. But this isn’t at all like other Arthur Conan Doyle adaptations of the great detective. In fact, this one postulates that Dr. Watson was the real genius detective and that Sherlock Holmes as a drunk actor Watson used to distract everyone. It’s kinda super endearing – and a flick that too many seem to have forgotten. Co-Stars include Jeffrey Jones as Lestrade! Paul Freeman as Moriarty!!! And also has Peter Cook, Nigel Davenport as Lysette Anthony (you remember her, the princess from KRULL!!!) As a Holmes freak, I’m willing to check out most every adaptation and have an awful lot here at home. This is a very fun twist on the characters – and the cast makes it all just work really well. And the Mancini score doesn’t hurt. Looks great on Blu, but all they have for extras is a Trailer.
THE DARIO ARGENTO COLLECTION: THE CAT O’NINE TAILS / DEEP RED / INFERNO Blu Rays
Ok – this is just a packaging deal – all three of these have been reviewed and offered before, but are being packaged together to sell under $23 for all 3! For that you get 3 of the master’s early works and they’re terrific! Which is a hell of a savings. So, if you’ve been holding out for a way to score these at a better deal, here it is!
ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD Blu Ray
This is a six-pack adventure, meaning… before you can begin to watch it, you need at least that amount of alcohol to laugh and giggle like a maniac through the grotesque mediocrity that is ALLAN QUATERMAIN AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD. This was a reaction film to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, that simply illustrated just how ahead of the game Spielberg was. Monkeys could see, but those Monkeys certainly couldn’t do. That said – I can’t help but laugh at this thing, I mean, with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone, with folks like James Earl Jones and Henry Silva… it’s just… an absurd film. The print is alright, but no real money was put to putting this one out. Just a Trailer – buy only if you a funky predilection for goofy funky shit. Cuz that’s what this one is. At least for me.
NIGHT GAME Blu Ray
Here’s a nice little Texas film that I’d never seen! And bonus, it’s a Roy Scheider thriller – and he’s one of my fave working class actors, he’s playing a detective that’s trying to solve a case that involves a serial killer that is evidently either a very big baseball fan or not. So – you get to see 80’s era Astros and some of the Galveston and Houston area – and yes, the poster art does have something to do with the movie – and it’s pretty grisly. This film deserves to get rediscovered. Scheider is really good in it – and the final confrontation was pretty outstanding.
THE LUCIO FULCI COLLECTION: CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD / THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY / THE NEW YORK RIPPER Blu Ray
Like the above Dario Argento set, this is another repackage which nets you 3 fun as hell offerings from the Maestro Lucio Fulci for the low low price of under $23. That’s a whole lotta gore for that amount, can you take it?
STRANGE AFFAIR OF UNCLE HARRY Blu Ray
I’ve been eyeing the movie poster on this for years, actually – ever since 2000 when I became an Uncle Harry. But I’d never seen the movie. That has now changed. George Sanders plays the titular Uncle Harry – and Uncle Harry works at the local textile mill designs patterns for mass production. Little roses, lines, colors, nothing too bright or loud. And he takes care of his hypochondriac sister, until he meets a girl from the big city, one that challenges him to be more daring… and well, suddenly Harry feels like he’s never felt before – but his sickly sister keeps getting in the way of the happy life, until his happy life…. Well, just see the movie, it’s good stuff! Really good Film Noir here!
DAVID AND LISA Blu Ray
Psssst, this is the best film released this week! Honest Abe! There was a point in time, when Dad and I were actively hunting 16mm film collecting circles and when I realized this was a film with Keir Dullea, prior to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, where he was also playing Dave, the geek in me had to see it. I didn’t know that Time Magazine had declared it the best film from 1962, but that shouldn’t really mean anything other than… hmmmm, I’ve never heard of this movie, maybe I should see it, type of thing. Janet Margolin and Keir Dullea play the titular DAVID AND LISA – they’re two emotionally disturbed teenagers that fall in love at their mental institution and it’s hard. You’ll see, and then you’ll never ever forget! This movie is one of the most romantic and beautiful little stories you’ll ever come across and the performances are simply brilliant. I’ve only ever seen this in 16mm copy I have and I’ve shown it often in my life. This is a film to introduce to people that devour cinema with both hands. PLUS – you realize Dave was a mental patient sent to Jupiter! How perfect is that? Giggle.
HOW TO BEAT THE HIGH COST OF LIVING Blu Ray
There’s something about a 1980 film titled HOW TO BEAT THE HIGH COST OF LIVING – that is just profoundly ironic from this side of 2000. I do wonder from time to time just how intense the age of inflation has hit society. But the sheer number of $.65 Gas Station signs is enough to get you to pull your hair out. I get it, in all times, people have it hard. This is a fun comedy starring the oh so lovely Jessica Lange, Jane Curtin and Susan Saint James. I love these three – and they’re so good! They each have money troubles of a kind. When a mall has a giant money ball giveaway – they decide to hatch a perfect crime of stealing the money – and pssst, they’re plan involves hilarity. Plus Jessica Lange is married to a sex addicted Richard Benjamin. So funny. I miss this type of film, there’s nothing crude here, but they’re still awesome women making you laugh with situations instead of being gross. This is such a refreshing comedy, part of why I loved it was this was a fave of my mom’s. She loved these three and thought this was right up her alley. I’d forgotten about it till the Blu ray showed up, so glad I saw it again.
That’s it for this week, next, I’ll be looking at HOOPER Blu, INVADERS FROM MARS Blu, EMPIRE RECORDS Blu, DETROIT ROCK CITY Blu, SHARKY’S MACHINE Blu, SILENT RUNNING Blu, IMITATION OF LIFE Blu, JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN Blu, MASSACRE GUN Blu, THUNDER ROAD Blu, BREATHLESS Blu and A MOST VIOLENT YEARS Blu! Till then, keep it cool!