Hey folks, Harry here with the 32nd Picks & Peeks of 2013 - and if you go to that link, you can find a decade of these columns organized in a beautifully searchable and addicting iDevice. Currently the Android version is in Beta Test mode – but folks seem to be digging it thus far! More details as they become available! Now I know some of you were expecting the Bruce Lee set from SHOUT!, but it was recalled and set for a later release. Not sure why exactly, unless it was to fix some design flaws in the packaging, but we’ll find out in a few more weeks when they will be releasing it. One things for sure, you’ll see it here. As always the images and links take you to Amazon where you can learn more or purchase the item, which gives a bit toward keeping this column going, so thanks to each and everyone of you that do! Now – here’s a great week of releases:
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
OBLIVION Blu Ray
Alright, so we all agree that OBLIVION looks and sounds amazing, only… the plot is very, let’s say influenced by a lot of great Sci-Fi before it. Me, I’m 100% fine with that. Tom Cruise’s character is a good old fashioned mind fuck – and I love that. BUT – let’s say you can’t imagine ever wanting to listen to all that over again… That what you really and truly need is a version of this film with just the M83 Score – and it sounds awesome! Also, the story of how they made the film, I like Joseph Kosinski and the way he thinks about making a movie… It’s out of the classic Hollywood effects book, but by modifying with modern tech in a manner that is kind of just breathtaking. At the end of all the extras, you’re convinced that Kosinski is one to really watch. As a fan of visual effects – OBLIVION is severe eye candy in a very cinematic way. Kosinski has done very well with his first two films in my book. This is a very nice Blu Ray!
ROBIN HOOD Blu Ray
The first Disney film I ever saw in a movie theater was FANTASIA, but my first first release Disney Film was ROBIN HOOD, by the time I saw that film – my parents & “Uncle Bob” had shown me ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD about 15 times – and I loved it – and yes… I was just a 2 year old, but I’m told I loved the music and would get quite excited by Korngold’s score. But after seeing ROBIN HOOD, my Bed became a host to Sir Hiss stuffed snake from Sears. When this Blu Ray arrived, a friend around my age came to hang out and basically drink and watch Disney’s ROBIN HOOD – because we badasses can totally have the BEST time with Disney’s ROBIN HOOD. There is a deleted scene on this disc – that caused 3 minute long hysterical outburst… then… we replayed it and howled for maybe 5 minutes… And then a discussion came up about how Sir Hiss was definitely a firmly stuffed Snake toy. Which caused even more laughter. One of my favorite aspects about Disney’s ROBIN HOOD – is to me, it’s a very Southern United States telling of ROBIN HOOD. In fact, I used to watch this and SMOKEY & THE BANDIT as a double feature because they just fucking feel right. There’s a perfect country spirit to ROBIN HOOD. Andy Devine and Roger Miller are just great – and Peter Ustinov is AMAZING! Also, gosh I love the animal casting of this film. This film hits a particularly primal early memory. This is a very nice Blu Ray release of a Disney classic that I’ve loved my entire life!
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES Blu Ray
I feel like the weirdo that didn’t drink the Kool-Aid on this one. Love the beginning sequence and the end sequence, but the middle I found tedious and telegraphed what was to come. That said – the strength of either end of this makes the film still, really really good. I just think it was a bit overhyped to me. Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes are terrific in the film. Then once Dane Dehaan enters the film, wow. I just love those sections of the film. It isn’t that Bradley Cooper does a bad job, it’s just that I don’t care much for what his character is doing in the movie. It’s kind of a thankless character that just serves as a pivot for the story, but a pivot that causes all this tragedy by really being a bit of a weasel – and I hate watching weasel stories. Yes, I’m aware I’m insane and THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is absolutely super genius. Don’t mind me, very odd individual here.
THE SWORD IN THE STONE Blu Ray
This was the first Disney film I went to with a little sister theatrically. I had already seen John Boorman’s epic EXCALIBUR, once you’ve seen EXCALIBUR… it kinda underlines the childlike pure family fun of SWORD IN THE STONE… the strange magic incest tones of Boorman’s film are but a distant memory when watching Arthur and Merlin shape shift and learn wisdom together. And come to develop that Bond… that we see grown up in EXCALIBUR. Makes for a hell of a whiplash double feature – Personally, I say you end this Arthurian evening with PRINCE VALIANT with James Mason, cuz… why not have a great fun night with the Arthurian legend! As for how the disc is? It’s a beautiful transfer and has a nice group of extras. I just don’t have the crazy emotional connection to this like I do ROBIN HOOD.
OLIVER & COMPANY Blu Ray
1988, I was watching FULL METAL JACKET, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, CLOCKWORK ORANGE, FLESH & BLOOD, was seriously exploring Shaw Cinema on my satellite dish – and just had no desire to see OLIVER AND COMPANY. In the time between 1988, I never saw the film, until the other night. Yoko grew up with this one, me… I was a blank. Once I saw it, I just had no idea it was such a heavily Bakshi influenced Disney film. Set in New York, a locale that Bakshi came to define visually in the animated format… Well, it seems lots of the influences played out here. It is OLIVER TWIST as told by Disney’s team. It is fun, but it also feels like a misstep. A year later they were about to rule the world though. This is a bit of a weird Disney flick. In some oddly subversive ways.
ISHTAR Blu Ray
Like BLOOD SIMPLE, the director’s cut of ISHTAR is shorter – this one by two minutes. I know I risk a knife fight with Mr. Beaks, but I’m not a fan of ISHTAR. It always played to me like a sandy less successful SPIES LIKE US, without the obvious brilliance that SPIES LIKE US has. For me, the film just lays there flaccid and worthless. Just not a fan.
SWAMP THING Blu Ray
Man… I really wanted a Christopher Reeve and Dick Durock cross-over feature as the resident successful D.C. Movie characters in the dark ages for Comic Fans. I like SWAMP THING a lot, but the film you see is still nowhere near what Wes Craven wanted or had planned for this film. Budget, limitations with effects at the time and really… the budget on this was almost nothing. All accounts of the shoot was fairly by the seat of their pants – the roughness has a charm all its own. This PG film is one of those early 1980’s PGs – where when you watch it – it really makes you smile how good us kids of the 80s had it. When Swamp Thing is peeping on Adrienne Barbeau having a Swamp Bath… life is good. There’s more poetry to that shot than most anything in modern superhero flicks… but that’s also to the heart of Swamp Thing for me, he is a more adult, metaphorical work… To see a modern fully rendered Swamp Thing / Alan Moore style tale done to perfection. It’d be bliss. I love the Len Wein extra that SHOUT! Put on here! Really would love more comic professional interviews on the superhero movie extras, not just editors, but the guys that defined the characters all commenting upon those adaptations. I love evil Louis Jourdan. I really do. Very happy with this Blu! Just imagine if they could really capture Wrightson’s take on the character! Perhaps in JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, eh? Adrienne Barbeau is made for high definition!
SILVER STREAK Blu Ray
Always wanted to do a Train film festival on a Train and watch this along with THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, RUNAWAY TRAIN, DARK OF THE SUN, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE LADY VANISHES, the un-Harvey Scissorhands version of SNOWPIERCER, PLANES TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES, DUMBO and SOURCE CODE. SILVER STREAK is a bit of a warm blanket comedy for me. Just watching Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor on screen fills me with joy. Even Arthur Hiller couldn’t entirely fuck this up. And I enjoy this film more than I love it. You know it could be better, but I’m just thankful to have an additional film with these two.
WEST OF MEMPHIS Blu Ray
Just a tremendous documentary. And very likely the most important film produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh. Their interest in this case righted one of the great wrongs in recent U.S. Judicial history. Sadly, our system still reveals it’s blindness from time to time, but it’s the other areas of our society that keeps the system honest, sometimes it takes too long, but that these things can be righted is something to be proud of. Even while you’re outraged by the power of WEST OF MEMPHIS. Amy Berg’s doc is amazing, powerful stuff. You must see this one!
A BOY AND HIS DOG Blu Ray
The first World Premiere I ever attended was for A BOY AND HIS DOG, which took place here in Austin. It took place at the Dobie Mall Theater, back when the chairs were of the Bean Bag variety – and there was open pot smoking in the theater that held Don Johnson and L.Q. Jones. I have fuzzy memories on this first viewing, Dad and Mom loved talking about the screening though – and A BOY AND HIS DOG was a film we had very early on VHS – and it was my favorite talking dog movie and still is. Mostly, I’m thankful for this movie leading me to read Harlan Ellison’s novella, and then the adaptation of that novel that Harlan had Richard Corben illustrate. And yeah, this should totally be readapted. There’s a bigger and possibly better film to be had here. But you really do deserve to experience young and horny Don Johnson. I also LOVE Tim McIntire’s BLOOD voicework. Just amazing fun. This is a great one to watch with ROAD WARRIOR! You get a In Conversation between Harlan Ellison and LQ Jones! Ahem. And a commentary with LQ Jones,his DP and film critic Charles Champlin!!! Gotta love it!
THE PAGEMASTER Blu Ray
When Harry Potter first came out on the scene, my initial hesitance about it came from THE PAGEMASTER. I really just do not like this film – but I’m betting some of you were perhaps young enough and big enough Macaulay Culkin fans to dig this – and the Joe Johnston stuff is kind of fun. But really, you can eeek out enjoyment through the voice cast work alone. Frank Welker! Leonard Nimoy! Patrick Stewart! Whoopi Goldberg! And even more. However, the story is just bleh. And now, it just looks way weird cuz you’re wondering why Macaulay Culkin was a Harry Potter fan before JK wrote it. Well, he was THE PAGEMASTER… or was he?
CAVALCADE Blu Ray
CAVALCADE won BEST PICTURE out of the crop of films that gave us KING KONG, THE INVISIBLE MAN, DUCK SOUP, 42ND STREET, LITTLE WOMEN, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, DINNER AT EIGHT, SHE DONE HIM WRONG, SONS OF THE DESERT, QUEEN CHRISTINA, WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD, ROMAN SCANDALS, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF HENRY VIII and THE EMPEROR JONES! Well, it probably starts with Noel Coward’s play. When you go into watching CAVALCADE with that kind of introduction – it can do nothing but disappoint – unless you just let go of that prejudice… This is a film that does not fully exploit that Noel Coward charm, the film feels a tad stagey, but really… any film with Una O’Connor is a film worth watching. This is a hard and fast rule in life, btw. You really should find a way to track down those two TALES OF TOMORROW episodes she did. LOVE THEM! If you collect Best Pictures – here’s another to prove the Academy rarely knows what it is fucking doing.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 35th Anniversary Blu Ray
I can’t remember if it was the Christmas trip of 77 or the Spring Break Trip of 78, but my parents and I saw this in an amazing theater in Mexico City, before the series was even hyped in the U.S. and I fell instantly and madly in love. I was humming the theme before it played on TV and sounded like a soothsayer to my friends when I told them that it was like STAR WARS, but with these things called Cylons and the ships are called VIPERS and they sound so bleedin cool when they get launched! Well, essentially that’s what we’re getting here, the theatrical release version of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA that was basically the Pilot. I believe this is that 1978 version and not the 1979 version. But I can’t confirm cuz I don’t yet have this disc, I will shortly!
SMILEY’S PEOPLE Blu
Now – have you ever wondered who would win in a face off… Obi-Wan Kenobi or Picard? Here’s your chance as Alec Guinness followed his brilliant and defining role of George Smiley in TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY with this adaptation of John Le Carre’s SMILEY’S PEOPLE – and his opposite with the KGB is Karla, played by Patrick Stewart! You’ll also catch Michael Gough and a young Alec Rickman and the always welcomed Ingrid Pitt! This is a masterful 6 hours of instense intellectual spyworks. For big fans of the genre! This is a miraculous release!
THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE… Criterion Blu
Max Ophüls’s THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE… is one of the romantic masterpieces and my personal favorite film of his career. Boyer is just an amazing character – if you’re a big Mr. Darcy fan… fuck Mr. Darcy, Boyer is infinitely more charming – but is miserably stuck in a relationship with someone utterly unworthy of him. Then you have Vittorio De Sica wooing Madame… and he is just killer to watch in Ophuls’ masterpiece. Criterion continues to just pick great great cinema and this is no exception my friends. In particular I love Paul Thomas Anderson’s introduction! But the disc is filled with content. Digest it!
ACTION JACKSON Blu Ray
There’s just something wrong with Hollywood. I really wanted a lot of films starring Carl Weathers as the main character. Became a huge fan of his through the Rocky series, loved him with Arnold in PREDATOR. This film is fun as hell, but he never had great directors giving him big roles other than a couple rare treats. And he was great with Han Solo in FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE… But man, that 10,000 watt charisma just was not properly used in the 80s. It’s a real travesty. But I love me some ACTION JACKSON, it puts me in the mindset of TANGO & CASH which is always a good thing. Oh yeah, this is a late 80’s Joel Silver R so, it’s fun stuff!
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Blu Ray
I wish I could transplant Peter Lorre into this film, because I love Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day in this remake of his own earlier work. This time in Technicolor! As a fan of Hitchcock – I like watching this with the earlier one, which Criterion did a brilliant Blu Ray on! Here – not so much, colors look a bit muddy, it is watchable, but you know this could look better, especially if you’ve seen it projected in 35mm like I have… It’s a placeholder title, cuz you will want a better release than this one some day. But I can’t have a missing hole in my Hitchcock Collection that long.
FREAKED Blu Ray
Mr. T is the Bearded Lady. But that doesn’t even begin to touch upon the awesome that directors Tom Stern and Alex Winter have in store for you with this amazingly insane hilarious film. But the reason you have to go with Blu Ray for this film is to appreciate some of the insanity of Screaming Mad George! This is just the really really good fun. Have friends over and watch one of the strangest films around. So much fun!
AFTERSHOCK Blu Ray
One, I love how uncool Eli Roth is in this film. He’s fairly clueless. But I find myself loving all the characters around him, specifically Ariel Levy. The notion of a friend visiting old college friends in their native lands – going out seeking a great time, but then civilization as you know it falls apart when a truly terrifying and true life Earthquake changes everything. Violent criminals flood onto the streets from a prison that cracked open. THE NIGHTMARE NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES. I had a blast with it. I know people that can’t stand it, but I can’t explain their reaction. To me, watching Nicolas Lopez bringing his very real energy and charisma to a horror/adventure/disaster/buddy film… it’s a spectacular combination. This is one of those incredibly sucky vacation movies. I’m so happy that in all my travels, civilization kept its shit together. Knock on wood, ya know?
THE PICK UP ARTIST Blu Ray
Robert Downey Jr and Molly Ringwald in a wacky romantic comedy from 1987, surely it’s great. Um… no. Nope, not at all. OK, there’s nostalgic holy shit value from just watching Robert Downey 26 years ago trying to survive romancing Molly Ringwald, but this is one of those movies to stare at whilst wondering what you really want to watch.
QUICKSILVER Blu Ray
In 1986 when I heard there was a movie starring Kevin Bacon called QUICKSILVER, I was wondering how Marvel was gonna do a stand alone QUICKSILVER movie. Obviously, that isn’t what happened, instead it’s kinda like Norma Rae but with Bike Messengers and Bacon as Sally Field, but with nailbiting biking through New York like that Joseph Gordon Levitt movie, but less intense than that… but with a really good soundtrack. Glad to see this on Blu!
TOM & JERRY’S GIANT ADVENTURE Blu Ray
There are two reasons this TOM & JERRY Jack & the Beanstalk adaptation is being featured. 1. A whole bunch of REALLY TRULY talented animators that no longer have a home base for their 2D talents decided to work on this… and what they were animating was Paul Dini’s personal exploration of this wheelhouse… And he’s not only giving us Tom & Jerry, not just Droopy & Red… but we also get Screwy Squirrel!!! Not only that, but the animation is way better than this direct to Blu animation gets. If you’re a fan, you’re gonna love it. And kids will delight to it! This might not be on your radar, but if you love classic animation and Paul Dini’s talented noodle… this is very very good stuff.
EDDIE THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL Blu Ray
I love death influenced art films. Mainly because Dick Miller’s awesome turn in BUCKET OF BLOOD! This is a horror comedy about an artist with a bit of a moral quandary about what he’s willing to allow to have happen, just so he could be inspired to greater artistic heights. I mean, what would you do with a sleepwalking cannibal that was otherwise a completely sweet person? Obviously… ART!!!
ANTIVIRAL Blu Ray
Brandon Cronenberg’s premiere directorial feature is triumphant! ANTIVIRAL will mess with you. It will change how you look at celebrity culture in the best most twisted ways – and Caleb landry Jones is AMAZING to watch in this film! Wow! More than that, this pushes the New Flesh to a new generation and a new subversive twist. Try not to discover too much before seeing this. It’s Speculative Future Fiction at its most wicked. It will also give you the heebie jeebies like his father’s more twisted works. This one played at Fantastic Fest and is indeed Fantastic!
Back next week with OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN Blu, EMPEROR Blu, THE MUPPET MOVIE Blu, SHANE Blu, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP Blu, GIRLS second season, HATCHET III, SECONDS Criterion Blu, WHAT MAISIE KNEW, FLASHDANCE Blu, THE HOT SPOT blu, PRESIDIO Blu, THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC Blu, SHAFT Blu, A BAND CALLED DEATH Blu, THE GUILLOTINES Blu, THE ODD ANGRY SHOT Blu, SUNRISE Blu, CASTLE FREAK Blu and that’s about it! Man, this week sure is a good one!