The greatest moment of this past Oscars finally hits on DVD today. For long term fans of Forest Whitaker – this film and the love shown the performance by the Academy Awards – just went to an actor that wasn’t only brilliant in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND about General Idi Amin Dada, one of the most evil people to walk the Earth – but to a career that is consistently brilliant. From FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH to his work in THE CRYING GAME and GHOST DOG… Whitaker has always been dead on in his roles. Never moreso than here though. This frighteningly humanizing look at the inhuman is stunning. The disc is loaded with extras – like director Kevin MacDonald’s commentary, the deleted scenes, a documentary on how they formed Whitaker’s performance and much more. Really Great Film!
As frightening as Forest Whitaker was as General Idi Amin Dada… Judi Dench is the quiet evil that could very well lurk in every neighborhood. That quiet mean older lonely school teacher. Be fucking afraid. I instantly thought about one particular Freshman History Teacher I had in High School while watching this film. This is the Judi Dench that I marvel at… not so much the James Bond – Dench. And Cate Blanchett? Well, I really wish she had been my Art Teacher that took an interest in me. DAMN, what a teacher! This is a film about bug nuts crazy people – and then there’s normal Bill Nighy, who is just caught in the midst of it all. BRILLIANT little film. The disc is loaded with extras – from the Commentary – to – multiple docs – to – Webisodes and trailers. If you missed this film at the theater during the crowded Oscar race – check it out here. Superior film work.
Joe Carnahan is fucking awesome. And SMOKIN’ ACES is his latest piece of asskickery. Now admittedly, the film is bug nuts crazy, but it’s supposed to be bug nuts crazy. Here on the dvd, he’s loaded up with Extras like the alternate ending, various crazed bits – and sadly… no Carnahan singing Happy Birthday BNAT extra. Sigh. Well, you can’t expect perfection out of the gate… heh. But if you didn’t see it when it was released earlier this year, here’s your chance to set things right. I know gun crazed violence isn’t necessarily a popular form of entertainment given the acts of the last few days, but dammit, this film is just fucking fun. Enjoy it as it is.
Ok – so you’re going into tweaks, because SPIDER-MAN 3 is almost here and you just have to see additional Spider-Man footage… well, this DVD kicks a whole bunch of ass. First of all… as great as the additional battle elevated train stuff is… it was the little tweaks that made me go, “AWESOME.” Like… you know when his landlord takes the $20 that Aunt May gave him… there’s this subtle little moment where Peter goes in his room and sits on his bed. Well in this edition, he turns on the police scanner and just listens. It’s a subtle little thing, but it adds so much to the masochism that Peter puts himself through. SO fucking good. Like the scene between Peter and Harry at his Surprise Birthday party. It completes Harry’s character so much. Very good stuff. The sneak peek at SPIDER-MAN 3 isn’t really much more than you’ve already seen. But the extras are nice. The commentary with Laura Ziskin and Kirsten Dunst is… well interesting isn’t quite the word… but it’s hard to shut off. You love SPIDER-MAN… you’ll definitely pick up this puppy!
Goodbye gray skies, hello blue… I love HAPPY DAYS. I’ve been lucky enough to get to spend some decent time with Ron Howard – and I have to say… Every moment that I talk to him – I just can’t fucking shake how cool it is to be talking to what I considered a big brother when I was a little kid watching HAPPY DAYS. I got this set about a week ago, along with the LAVERNE & SHIRLEY season 2 that also hits this day, but I’m more of a HAPPY DAYS kinda guy. The episode where Fonz sells Richie a stolen car is kinda awesome, but the one where Richie moves out of the house to his big brother’s college place… well, it’s just amusing as hell. This disc also has a great Halloween episode… along with the rest of the second season. Remember… these are our Happy Days!
Jules Dassin’s BRUTE FORCE is hands down – one of my all time favorite Film Noirs ever made. Everyone pops to life in this one, from Burt Lancaster’s granite solid performance – to the rest of the cast like the luscious Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blythe… and my single favorite Hume Cronyn role. I recommended THE NAKED CITY last month and if you took me up on that offer – RUN TO GET THIS! It’s that much cooler. An essential for all lovers of Noir!
Sometimes there are films so raw, it feels like an ice pick in the brain… just a quick sensory overload that makes you just go limp from exhaustion… immediately afterwards. To me, that LA HAINE. It is an angry, visceral, pissed off work of film that just does not quit. Again you have another fantabulous title from Criterion and again they give it the best of treatment. What happened to this Mathieu Kassovitz – and as much as I love Vincent Cassel in everything he does – this is just fucking amazing. Another essential.
OVERLORD is a brilliant, mainly forgotten film that was rediscovered through the wondrous documentary on the fabled Z CHANNEL – a film that also introduced me to the brilliant LE MAGNIFIQUE. However, I have to honestly say…. I’ve never seen a film like OVERLORD by Stuart Cooper. It is a brilliant dream of war. A 20 year old’s impressions of boot camp to landing upon D-Day – flawlessly edited with stock footage from the war – into this mesmerizing film that shows you just how small it is to be a pawn in a global chess game. Criterion should get some sort of award for making this title available. It will soon become a fave in every fan of cinema’s collection.
Do you love 70’s Michael Caine? I do. Here, he’s teamed up with Mike Hodge (GET CARTER) and they’re sort of making the exact opposite tonal film to that. Caine is in his cheeky campy bastard mode, and it’s awesome. He plays a pulp writer investigating a murder for use in his fiction- only to find himself caught up to his ears in “pulp” set-ups. It is a very very very fun movie. Co-stars Mickey Rooney – who is awesome in the film. Doesn’t have much of anything in terms of extras, but I’m betting you’ve never even seen it, so – see it, then gripe. Heh. PULP is having fun with Pulp.
This is a micro budget early eighties action film with Mel Gibson, Sam Neill and John Phillip Law that is all about an Australian Special Ops team going in to rescue some folks that got shot down in enemy territory – aka the Japanese. First off – while the budget is tiny, the film is fun as hell. I love John Phillip Law, Mel Gibson and Sam Neill – and love the Aussie John Waters (no, not that one, the one from Australia.) If you’re a B-action fan – this is right up your alley. If not, you’ll hate it, because you can’t have fun, you fucking asshole! Heh. Just kidding, but I have a blast with this.
Want over 1200 minutes of Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo on the classic Japanese Television show, SHADOW WARRIORS? If not, what’s wrong with you? This is a legendary series from Japan, that has just now become available here in the U.S. and in this awesome box set. Learn the backstory of Hattori Hanzo as only Sonny Chiba could play it!
Do you love buxom cute asian girls? Love HELLO KITTY? Yet would love to see an erotically charged Japanese girl fighting evil with love instead? Well, HONEY FLASH!!!!!!! Yeah… you don’t have a clue do you? This is just nudity shy of being an absolutely awesome fetish video. Instead, it is merely an awesome fetish film. From the anime director of Neon Genisis Evangelion – you have a live action cute as hell anime translation to live action that is just non-stop glee. It is awesome, and I swear – you don’t have to be marrying Asian to love it. But that adds all sorts of fun to one’s enjoyment of it. HONEY FLASH!!!!!!!Sorry for the lateness of the columns – Moving is a real nightmare when it comes to a regular column. Never fear, I’m back on track!