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Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - 2nd week of April DVDs: THERE WILL BE BLOOD, Houdini, Nessie, the Environment and Munchausen!!!

Hey folks, Harry here… I’m betting y’all were betting I wouldn’t get this done for today, but personal problems are not really an excuse to not get the job done – but an excuse to get the job done… right? I hope y’all enjoy this week’s column – and as usual the DVD art and titles are clickable to their Amazon page where you can learn more on the titles or if you feel like it, you can click-through to purchase and help support the column. Now – let’s get to this week… Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 –



THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2-disc Special Collector’s Edition)
Hands down the best film of at least 2007 – I’ve watched my DVD of this film 5 times now and everytime – I get enraptured by the story, the acting, the choice of how to film certain scenes, the musical choices…. This isn’t a paint by numbers film. This is high cinema – about grand themes – put together in a mesmerizing masterpiece by Paul Thomas Anderson. The behind the scenes extras are well worth it – and a glimpse at how PTA does what he does. An absolute necessity – and is it me – or does this DVD cover look like it was Criterion Inspired?




THE WATER HORSE – LEGEND OF THE DEEP
This is actually a very fun film – now there were some critics that went a bit insane and equated it with E.T. – it ain’t that… but it is a very very fun kid’s film. In the realm of Nessie-esque stories – it is the best. The director, Jay Russell made a film, that nearly everybody ignored (including me) called MY DOG SKIP – that if you actually checked out – was the exception to the shitty dog movie – and is a film that my nephew and I enjoy a lot. No wonder that THE WATER HORSE works where so many films that try the E.T. type of thing fail. You have to get the kid right. And little Alex Etel sells the whole thing.




RESERVATION ROAD
Here’s a rock solid film that simply wasn’t “big enough” to make a dent in the modern movie goer’s brain pan via a trailer to go see. However, if you checked who directed… Terry George – and realized, oh hey… wait, didn’t he direct HOTEL RWANDA – well, you would’ve gone and seen this. It is totally different, yet absolutely captivating. Joaquin Phoenix is just an actor that I like seeing work – and he does wonderful work here. Don’t miss this film… it’s a story of guilt, obsession and revenge. And it handles the three themes excellently.




LIONS FOR LAMBS
This is one of those films that’ll find its audience on Home Video, Cable and that people will enjoy far more – once we’re away from the feelings we have about the world around us today. That said – this is an excellent movie, which isn’t really surprising… Redford is amazing. And Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep’s performances are… uniformly great. But like all of the Iraq films… the public sees enough and hears enough stories from the media… they don’t seem to want to pay for another. Its sad, there’s some really wonderful films that have been coming out on the subject.




WALK HARD – THE DEWEY COX STORY
I love the run of stuff from Judd Apatow… And this film is funny, but frankly… and maybe it is just me… the Comedy made of parodies of other movies is tired. This isn’t the brilliant type of parody that Mel Brooks did in his best days. Don’t get me wrong, Reilly fucking sells this – and there’s lots of laughs… but rather than ape another film – I’d preferred a film that didn’t take the steps of another. It is a very very good chance you’ll love and enjoy this movie. I’m just not convinced this sort of film, done this way, is appealing to stuffed shirts like me. That said – Reilly rocks!




THE 11TH HOUR
DiCaprio’s passion project – to me – spends too much time yapping on the problems – and not nearly enough time on the solutions. It’s a problem that most of the Environmental Doom docs have. They spend so much energy explaining why we’re all utterly fucked – don’t get me wrong. I really like this film. It basically tells me, what any environmentally conscious human being knows. And there is a message of hope – but it doesn’t spend its time selling that message as hard as it sells the DOOM. If I may – let me suggest a far better document about the problems facing our world – and the ways to solve them…




NOBELITY
In the interest of complete disclosure – I know this filmmaker. His name is Turk Pipkin – and I’ve known him, pretty much, my entire life. He was a street clown – a long time ago here in Austin – working on “The Drag” here in Austin, where my parents were Arts and Craftsmen. However, you might know his work as a writer on NIGHT COURT and as an actor on THE SOPRANOS. His documentary has a simple premise. Turk’s kids began asking scary questions – as a result of watching the news… and Turk decided to seek out the answers by talking to the smartest people on planet Earth and documenting it. The film shows his conversations regarding the toughest issues facing mankind – with 4 Nobel Peace Prize winners – and Nobel Prize winners in Economics, Chemistry, Physiology & Medicine, Physics… oh and another Chemistry genius. The result… absolutely the most hopeful and inspiring film on the big issues facing mankind. In my opinion – it isn’t as “Showy” as THE 11TH HOUR or AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH – there’s no abundance of graphs and cg. Instead, it is brilliance talking to you – in terms you can absolutely grasp. This DVD isn’t out this Tuesday – it has been out. But my recommendation is… Get This One! It has the answers.




THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (Blu-Ray)
A bit too weird for a lot of people – but as odd and as all over the place as Munchausen is… I love it. It’s one of the most richly detailed films of Gilliam’s life and to get to see it on Blu-Ray was magnificent. You pick up on detail lost in the foggy memory of that original theatrical experience… God… nearly 20 years ago. We’re all getting old, but the films are looking better than ever!




Classic Musicals From The Dream Factory, Vol. 3 ( HIT THE DECK / DEEP IN MY HEART / KISMET / NANCY GOES TO RIO / TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE / BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 / BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 / BORN TO DANCE / LADY BE GOOD )
I’m in love with Eleanor Powell… my wife knows this. It’s permitted. But goddamn, that woman is not of this earth. In BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936, BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 and in BORN TO DANCE – she is simply unreal. She’s a figment of a black & white era – she only made 12 films – but nearly everyone agrees – she’s the best female dancer of all time. And a very strong argument has been made – by some of the greatest dancers of all time – that she could be the very best… period. I know to me, she’s the loveliest. Her eyes sparkled, her softness translated from the screen to your eyes. Her dynamism electrifies still to this day. And her dancing. Well, it’s the best. With the issues of the past week, I’ve only watched her 3 films as part of this set. I’ve seen and loved KISMET – as it was one of my mother’s favorites – but the others… I’m looking forward to discovering.




THE 6TH DAY (BLU-RAY)
One of those Clone-ophobia films – about the evils of cloning. This isn’t one of the better Arnie films – but even his worst films are entertaining – and this isn’t anywhere near his worst. It is merely ridiculous. But sometimes ridiculous is fun, and this is quite a bit of fun. I’m fond of the future they have here – I like the guns – and I love the whole clone deal. Though THE PRESTIGE is a better take on the material.




P2
Sue me, I liked it.




Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection ( ALL ABOUT EVE / HUSH…HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE / THE VIRGIN QUEEN / PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER / THE NANNY )
For $37 you get three truly great Bette Davis films in ALL ABOUT EVE, HUSH…HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE and THE VIRGIN QUEEN. With ALL ABOUT EVE being the very best film of her career (in my opinion). As for PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER and THE NANNY – again – the travails of this week caused me to not get to them. Bette Davis was one of our very best actresses of all time – and there’s at least 3 of her very best films here. Well worth it.




DAY OF THE DEAD
Apparently they decided to buy ads on AICN… Warning – Complete Piece Of Shit – Avoid at all costs – I am totally serious.




HOUDINI: THE MOVIE STAR (Three-Disc Collection)
Did you love the movie, THE PRESTIGE? Do you love magic? I’m not talking about the rubbish you see from the “sick” magicians of today… but the old school – hard as fuck – contortionsit and mechanical wizards back in the day. I’m talking about folks like Harry Houdini. To many he is merely Tony Curtis… but to a lucky few – he has a shadow caught on celluloid nitrate that has survived the ravages of time. This box set is the middle east oil supply of this week’s column… that’s right, it’s something some would invade over. It’s a real treasure! Here’s what you get: This Kino DVD set includes all of Houdini s suriving films as an actor, rare footage of actual handcuff and straitjacket escapes, and a wealth of historical information. Includes: THE MASTER MYSTERY (1919, 238m, Color Tinted) TERROR ISLAND (1920, 55m, B&W) THE MAN FROM BEYOND (1922, 68m, Color Tinted) HALDANE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1923, 84m, Color Tinted) THE GRIM GAME (Fragment, 1919, 5m, Color Tinted) - SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE: Filmed records of Houdini escapes (ca. 1907-23) - Audio recording of Houdini speaking (1914) - Excerpts from the NY Censor Board files - Slippery Jim, a 1910 Houdini-inspired comedy - The illusion Metamorphosis performed by Houdini s brother Hardeen and others.




MYTHBUSTERS – COLLECTION 3
Right up there with THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT as my favorite stuff on television – the adventures of Jamie and Adam fascinate me with every episode. I love their FILM episodes – but more than that – I just love the crazy Old Wives tales that they prove right or wrong – and I love that you can’t really guess what’s gonna be real and what isn’t. Like that Tesla Earthquake Machine episode that scared the shit out of them. That was classic. Here’s another great set!




SPACE ACE (Blu Ray)
I fucking loved this game – and the idea of playing it… in 1080p on my 9ft by 12ft screen is giving the 12 year old version of myself chills – and that fool is still plunking quarters into the machine. The schmuck. The world is so much more badass in the future! Muahahahahahaha




FOG CITY MAVERICKS: THE FILMMAKERS OF SAN FRANCISCO
While not a truly great documentary – it pieces together a history of the Bay Area’s contribution to the history of cinema – which goes back a lot further than most would guess. All the principles are interviewed and you actually get your best look at Skywalker Ranch. The story of how it all came to be is fascinating – but the music kinda got on my nerves… but if you love Lucas, Coppola, Lasseter and Zaentz… man, you owe it to yourself to hear this story.




TIME SLIP aka GI SAMURAI – 2-disc Special Edition
Here’s what they say at AMAZON: A squadron of Japanese soldiers find themselves transported through time to Japan s feudal period...400 years in the past, where rival samurai clans are battling to make their leader the supreme Shogun. The squad leader, Lt. Iba sees this as the perfect opportunity to realize his dream of becoming the ruler of Japan. To achieve this, he teams his troops up with those of Kagatori, a samurai who also aspires to become Shogun, using their high-tech weaponry to rule Japan. Well – doesn’t that sound fun as hell? I thought so – I should have it tomorrow!




Legends Of Hollywood – KINGS OF HORROR: Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi
Here’s what you get: Scared to Death, White Zombie, Devil Bat, The Ape Man, Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome, The Terror, The Mysterious Mr. Wong, The Ape, Black Dragons, Human Monster, The Death Kiss, Boys from Brooklyn, The Snake People, The Invisible Ghost, The Gorilla and The Corpse Vanishes!!! OK – the quality of the transfers suck – but what do you expect for $11. There’s several wonderful performances from Karloff and Lugosi there – with the real jewel of the set being WHITE ZOMBIE – which is one of Lugosi’s very bests. Personally – it’s worth it to me for the Hirschfeld portraits of Karloff and Lugosi. They rule.
That’s it for this week, which is better than last week – and I’m hoping the same can be said of my life. Next week we’ll be looking at: JUNO, ALIENS VS PREDATOR – REQUIEM, LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, PREDATOR (Blu-Ray), INSIDE, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, ALIEN NATION – Ultimate Movie Collection, WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS CLASSIC CARTOON COLLECTION VOLUME 2, A PASSAGE TO INDIA (Blu Ray), WAR DANCE, COMMANDO (Blu Ray), BLAST OF SILENCE, LOCH NESS TERROR, THE BACKWOODS, THE MINUS MAN, EMANUELLE COLLECTION, THE CURSE OF LIZZIE BORDEN II – PROM NIGHT, RUNNING WITH ARNOLD and more! See you next week…

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