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Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - 4th week of Sept DVDs: Godfather, Sex, Lumet, Aldrich, Cocaine, Cops & more!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with last week’s column almost a week late. And don’t worry, I’m staying up tonight to get this week’s out by tomorrow! Fantastic Fest has a lot of duties for me. And I didn’t have nearly enough time to look at enough of these titles to do the column justice and for the past 4 days I’ve been non-stop DVD watching to catch up. As always, the titles and box art are clickable to AMAZON where you can learn more on the title in question – or if so moved, you may purchase it – and a small percentage will go to support this column’s continued existence. Hope you enjoy… Tuesday September 23, 2008

WTF? Ok – So there I was in the midst of FANTASTIC FEST and I came back one night at 2am, wired by the lovelust for film that fest gives me and I decide… WTF… I’m putting in the BluRay of SEX AND THE CITY – THE MOVIE that I got sent. And I didn’t hate it. In fact I completely get the appeal. It’s very much a gal flick, but the part that drives me nuts is this. They’re all the exact sort of woman that I feel all men should avoid – except the gal with the adopted child… she’s sensible, kinda. They over-react to EVERYTHING. Decide to be spiteful in a heart beat. And the MEN characters – who the fuck are these men? What sort of clusterfuck leaves his bride at an Altar. What sort of Bride doesn’t get that he was heading back to the wedding to marry her – and instead goes Harpie-She-Bitch on his ass. It’s a lovely production – but these women I sure as hell are being used to LAUGH at and not associate with, because they’re the furthest thing from being sane.

The BluRays of THE GODFATHER & THE GODFATHER PART II... are simply the very best image quality that I’ve seen yet projected here at home. The restoration of the first two chapters of this epic crime saga are unbelievably brilliant. The color and contrast – the quality of the blacks… SO RICH. Needless to say, the first two films are simply as great a film as has ever been made – and while I watched these two films, I seriously felt as though I hadn’t seen a better film since I last saw these two films. Not only that, the greatness of this film is in how through it’s crime tale it tells you all the rules of life, family and how to handle crisis with honor and exquisite planning. Everything about being a man and being honorable with your family and friends can be found in THE GODFATHER. Then there’s GODFATHER part 3. And yeah… it’s GODFATHER 3 – the oddest part is that the film hasn’t been cared for as well as the first two chapters. So it’s just not quite as radiant, but is that really a job of restoration… or a reality of lessor craftsmanship? I’ll let you judge.

Wow… It’s been a while since I’ve watched L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, but I put it on earlier tonight and what a great film. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL was part of that first big summer where AICN was being noticed by the various powers at be. We screamed at Warners for the half assed initial release and terrible trailers – and helped to start a movement to get the film re-released that Fall and push for that ACADEMY campaign. At the time, Warners was far more concerned with the gargantuan turd bomb that was BATMAN & ROBIN, that they barely pushed this truly great film. Watching it now – it is so filled with talent, so filled with gorgeous production design and a script that just snaps. It’s a shame that we haven’t seen much of anything like it since. I’m still hoping we’ll see Curtis make something with its feel again. Damn I love this film. The BluRay comes packaged with some music for ya. Pretty nifty surprise when I opened it up.

A Screwball Comedy about the very beginnings of Professional Football… before it had hard rules and standardized officials. George Clooney made one heck of a fun flick, every since I was a kid and read in a History class about Red Grange, The Gallopin’ Ghost – I’ve been fascinated about the birth of Football and the world around it. Now sure, this film doesn’t seriously show me that world, but it shows me enough to make me anxious to see a serious film about someone like Red Grange. But then, I’d love a great Babe Ruth film too.

This is a pretty keen collection that gathers all the election and political parts of SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK into a single collection, that comes packaged with the above election map and red and blue stickers to mark the states as they are declared on election night. And if you’re a friend of Sarah Palin… give her one of these, it’ll teach her a lot about the Federal Government… seems she needs pointers.

Now I know that you’re thinking you already have these… but this time they have been seriously remastered. The colors are so vibrant and rich – completely worth it, although I wish they just went ahead and did the Blu Rays of these classics! And make no mistake about it, they are absolute classics.

My wife hates it, yet I love this goofy fucking movie. In particular – the penguins rule… and then the Ben Stiller/Lon Chaney Jr take on a Lion learning to be savage – and the personification of bloodlust. It’s kinda classic. That said, a whole lot of the film is forgettable. I still enjoy it though and it looks really great on Blu Ray.

Directed by David Schwimmer and starring our mutual hero… SIMON PEGG. Having said that. Simon Pegg is not a FATBOY. And calling him a fatboy is a grotesque use of the term. In my first film role in BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFÉ, I played a character named Fatboy – and let me tell you… I filled the role. Simon should have put on at least 60lbs for this role. This is a nice little Romantic Comedy – and is just further evidence that Simon Pegg is a god.

BLOW (Blu Ray)
If you love Cocaine, You’ll love BLOW! And even if you believe Cocaine just creates fucking assholes that you can’t stand… you’ll probably love it. This was the last film from director Ted Demme, about two months prior to release (if memory serves) I was in Los Angeles and Ted asked me to check out the just finished film. It blew me away. I was lucky enough to know Ted, we had even done an episode of Politically Incorrect together and it is a downright tragedy that he was taken from us just as he’d made his very best film – as he had so much more to give us and his family. BLOW is filled with great performances – in particular Johnny and Penelope. Finally we can see the film as beautifully as Ted mastered it. He was extremely proud of the look and feel of this movie – and you can see the care and beauty he took with this BluRay.

Here’s a wonderful Sidney Lumet film that I feel is too often forgotten in Sean Connery’s career. First off, it is a very early film of the Techno Thriller sub-genre. Then there’s the cast. In addition to the great Sean Connery, there’s Martin Balsam, Ralph Meeker, Alan King, an incredibly young Christopher Walken, and the impossibly aged Margaret Hamilton…. Yes, the wicked witch of the west! But if you love movies like THE BANK JOB and THE ITALIAN CONNECTION – then you’ll really enjoy this. It’s just a really great film from an outstanding group of talented folks. Also look for an amazing score from Quincy Jones!

First off – the film is directed by the great Richard Fleischer and starring the hardass of hardasses… George C Scott. Then there’s Stacy Keach, not to mention… Erik Estrada – and believe it or not – for many people in the profession of being a police officer… well they feel this is the very best film to ever cover the subject matter. It’s basically your new recruit (Stacy Keach) on the beat with an elder officer (George C Scott) and the film goes into their lives, as well as the work of their careers. Fantastic film, finally available on DVD!

This is a ridiculously awesome exploitation flick which isn’t a hair on the bush that was SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, but this flick is still heaping loads of funky fun. Basically the whole film builds up to Linda Blair looking like that for the last act. Assholes do assholey things – and she dons a hot outfit and breaks out the crossbow to kick ass and take names. I like to dream of Miley Cyrus remaking this.

Another Quincy Jones scored flick – this time being directed by Richard Brooks and starring Goldie Hawn and Warren Beatty when they were crazy young.. the year I was born. This is basically just a crazy heist comedy yarn where Goldie is Goldie with a heart of a hooker – and then there’s Beatty’s criminal mastermind. This is truly a thrilling and funny flick – again – finally coming to DVD and by the way, it’s directed by the great Richard Brooks! This is worth all the Dollars they’re asking for it!

You either love Rita Hayworth, or you’ve never seen a film with her. Films like MS SADIE THOMPSON, GILDA, COVER GIRL and this are the reasons why. Rita was an incredibly lovely, gorgeous and desirable woman – who on camera glowed and radiated like few we’ve ever seen. This is a kind of Mata Hari type of story – very much the type of film you’d expect from a director like Hitchcock . And man, if you ever had a beautiful spy trying to cozy out some info from ya, you’d want it to be Rita Hayworth! That’s for damn tootin’!

The great thing about this Eclipse line from Criterion is that they’re giving you a complete heavy duty dose of a great filmmaker, whom most of you would never have heard of, if Criterion didn’t release these sets. This time out it is the great Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki – a master of slow burn deadpan humor. And this set has what are generally regarded as his three best films. You should definitely give this a look!

Directed by Robert Aldrich and starring Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) and Lee J Cobb – well you’ve got one hell of a film. This is one of those UNION INTRIGUE films – Where strong arm Union dealing results in dire situations. It’s played as something of a Film Noir type of thing. This whole Martini Movie collection that came out is pretty damn solid stuff – glad I have them all!

Not a great piece of exploitation horror – but still quite a bit of fun. If you like messed up – what the fuck – horror – you’ll dig this. Severin always finds quality depravity.

Ok – yes, I get it – you all prefer Wong Kar Wai’s asian films – and the idea of him making English language tales of longing and aching… well, it just isn’t what you want. But goddamn it… I adore this film. It’s stunningly beautiful. Wong Kar Wai could make a two hour film starring SHIT and it’d be beautiful and compelling. And here – he has some of the most beautiful people we have today in Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. The cinematography by Darius Khondji is hypnotic and that I didn’t miss Wai’s usual DP was nice. I also am a huge fan of Ry Cooder scores – and he just doesn’t get to do nearly enough of them anymore. One of those films to show off HD with!

This movie was on heavy rotation in the late seventies. It was made in the late sixties, but the fear-mania about how KILLER BEES were coming to destroy the United States… well, it was the big scary thing before Al Qaeda. The film is fun, but in reality – the film is quite good – give that to Robert Bloch, the brilliant genre writer! This film comes from the Amicus Films group which gave HAMMER a bit of a run for their money as the cool place to be in British film at the time. It’s great to finally have this on DVD!

This year at Fantastic Fest we had an onslaught of fantastic Danish cinema, but nothing like SEXUAL FREEDOM IN DENMARK and SEXUAL LIBERTY NOW! Two “documentary” films from 1970 and 1971 that pulled back the sheets upon the sexual deviancy of those awesome Danes. Dealing with what happens to a society that sexually… lets it all hang out. This is kinda awesome in a time trip kinda way.

Then there’s this documentary – which interviewed John Carpenter, John Landis, Joel Schumacher, Len Wiseman, Leonard Maltin and some fucking hack named Harry Knowles to chat and talk about the evolution of Vampire cinema. I think this doc was shot a bit early, as we’re about to have a new renaissance of blood sucking cinema, what with TWILIGHT, that HBO series TRUE BLOOD, the Danish Masterpiece LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and the upcoming Spierig Brothers film, DAYBREAKERS which should be hitting next year! And that’s just off the top of my head. That said, it’s a nice little doc – and besides you can make fun of how fat I was at the time I shot my part in this.
This is where I’d usually tell you about next week’s column, but since I’ll be writing it all night tonight – you can wait till the morning! Again, sorry my Fantastic Fest duties took me away from the column.

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