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Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - 2nd Wk of April: Musicals, Religion, Next Year, Stallone & Russell, Donkey Punch & more!!

Hey folks, Harry here… This is a really lame excuse for why this week was late. Believe it or not, after that STAR TREK screening – I didn’t sleep for an additional 24 hours… and I couldn’t think straight – I was just replaying parts of STAR TREK over and over and over again in my head and talking with friends about it – and well… I was useless. Couldn’t focus. This week’s is a long one as you can see, so it took me a while to sort it all out. That said – as usual the Box Art and the Titles are linked to AMAZON – where you can learn gobs more on the titles and you can even purchase them – thus supporting this column with a small portion of the price! And we thank you tons for the support. Anyway – without further blah blah blah, here ya go… Tuesday, April 7th, 2009



DOUBT
Fantastic film about the evils of “rumors” and the power of unanswered suspicions. Great performances by all and easily one of the best films of 2008. It has relatively few extras, the best being the commentary by John Patrick Shanley. Wonderful work.




BEDTIME STORIES
This isn’t a great film by any expectations, but it is light and fun imaginative family friendly flick that isn’t a remake. While watching it though – I honestly wish to God it had been made back in the late 40’s or early 50’s and starred Danny Kaye. Because it really feels like that sort of film – and as much fun as Adam Sandler is, he’s just not the physical comedian that Kaye was… but then… who is? Only pick this up if you have kids.




THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX
This is just a really fun movie for kids. I dig the style and look of the film – and I like the story to boot. Contrary to the above film – you don’t have to have kids to really enjoy this. The animation is strong enough that any fan of animation can enjoy it – along with the great voice cast like Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Frank Langella, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, Willim H Macy amongst others. This is just a fun little film.




The Really Bad DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL
Wow… A steaming pile of shit that soaked in piss juice for 30 days before being poured into either eye socket. I watched this tonight. Everybody whose name isn’t Kathy Bates, Jennifer Connelly and John Cleese just does the minimalist approach to such a level that you couldn’t give two shits about the human race. They not only don’t connect with the other actors, the sets or the vapid material – but they just flat out suck. The kid? Eek. As for the update to the story – at the base level, it’s got several zombie like moments where it is almost recognizable. The best non-Weta moment is the scene with John Cleese. Everything else is pretty much infuriating. SO – why have the film on the list? Well it sells for $24.99 – which is just $5 more than the Original’s Blu-Ray… and Fox did package the real DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL in with this one – but ya know… this new film isn’t worth $5. The only emotion I felt after watching it was Anger. Some of the FX work is nice, but anything that looked good was damaged by the inanities of the adaptation. At the end of the film – as Klaatu’s sphere leaves – without saying anything to humanity – I began to think about the reality of the film. If an alien presence came, destroyed a few cities on the Eastern seaboard – and even a few million died. But it just ended. Poof. If there was just 1 person that knew and told the world that “We all had to make sacrifices or the big storm ball and metal fleas would return to finish us off.” How long do you think it’d take before she’d be ignored. Doubted. I mean – giving a direct recorded statement with your giant flea robot behind you definitively stating – “We’ll be watching” that really makes a difference. Because there’s cause & effect and someone you’re scared shitless of saying get your shit together. Instead – he just goes away. Perhaps FOX had a notion of doing sequels to this turd – but who the fuck would want that? Much less this?




2010 Blu-Ray
You know – can you imagine being saddled with making the sequel to 2001? I can’t. What an impossible clusterfuck of a task. But Peter Hyams did as solid a job as you could possibly have hoped for. I love Roy Scheider and John Lithgow in this film – and it’s just wonderful model work – and ya know… I just love the film. It isn’t the masterpiece that 2001 was, but it’s a real solid straight forward film that looks wonderful on Blu Ray!




YES MAN
This was directed by Peyton Reed. And I like it quite a bit. I hated the trailers so I stayed away, and I think I had plum never noticed this was being helmed by Peyton Reed, and if you’re fuzzy on that name – don’t worry – unless you’re a huge DOWN WITH LOVE geek, the only other main reason you would know Peyton’s name – is for a brief history of time – Peyton was set to make a much much better FANTASTIC FOUR movie than the shit we were served. And while his filmography might not scream FF – he makes good films. This is one of them. Now the key reason to like this movie is the greater glory that is Zooey Deschanel. I just love her – and she’s wonderful in this. Plus, Jim is wonderful…. But best of all… Rhys Darby of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS is fucking great in the movie. Btw – it also has Terrance Stamp! Who you must kneel before and say “YES!”




Pre-Code Hollywood Collection ( THE CHEAT / MERRILY WE GO TO HELL/ HOT SATURDAY / TORCH SINGER / MURDER AT THE VANITIES / SEARCH FOR BEAUTY )
How can you not buy a set of films that has a film entitled, “MERRILY WE GO TO HELL” that stars Fredric March and Silvia Sidney! Like the Forbidden Hollywood sets that TCM has put out, this Pre-Code set is all about the wild and awesome craziness that happened in Hollywood pre-Hayes Code – which was a hardline censorship set up that kept a gag and shirt and pants on Hollywood. Now that doesn’t mean these films will be all swinging dicks and disemboweled gorey corpses. In fact, there’s nothing of that sort here… it just means that subject matters get broached. As you can see from the box – this has a host of great performers, but I have to be honest – I haven’t cracked this open yet, but I can’t wait to. I can’t wait to discover these little known films.




AMERICAN HISTORY X (Blu Ray)
It’s hard to believe this movie is 11 years old now, but it is. If you haven’t seen this very powerful and brutal film – you’re missing out on one helluva performance from Edward Norton as pretty convincing neo-Nazi and everyone should be real glad this guy couldn’t turn into THE HULK, cuz he hulks out just fine as is! Best reason to get this in Blu Ray is… now you can make out all those tattoos!




PAPER CHASE: Season One
Believe it or not, there was a very serious part of my life where I fully intended to go to Law School. I had the grades and I loved to hit the books. Debate was amongst my favorite extracurricular activities at school – and well… when I was a kid, my parents never missed THE PAPER CHASE – I think it was John Houseman’s fault. They loved him. This first season is brilliant dramatic television work. If you love legal dramas – it doesn’t get much better than this, finally on DVD.




TANGO & CASH (Blu Ray)
I know you’re purchasing this. It’s Stallone and Russell. And it is pretty goddamn fantastic. Sly is the one playing against his element as a nerdy smooth operator – very against his type as a monosyllabic grunter… It is a very nice change of pace for him. Kurt is hilarious and in the middle of his element. $14 for perfection? Absolutely!




A SONG IS BORN
This is a remake of an old Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck flick called BALL OF FIRE, but this time out – it’s much better… and with music! And what music – folks like Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey and then you have DANNY KAYE and the lovely Virginia Mayo! This is a beautiful musical, very cool big numbers and then you have Louis Armstrong – who… one can never have enough of in my opinion. This is all about the Big Band musical era – and this one swings.




THE WEDDING SINGER (Blu Ray)
This is my favorite of the Adam Sandler comedies. I think mainly because I love the 80s vibe, Drew Barrymore is well… she’s um… Drew Barrymore. Here Adam Sandler is at his best. With that horrible hair and his karaoke smooth singing.




ABOVE THE LAW (Blu Ray)
Seagal’s first film is pretty damn awesome to me. This was Andrew Davis fine tuning his action film skills. He’d done Chuck Norris’ CODE OF SILENCE, but he was in even better form here… nowhere near as good as THE FUGITIVE, but miles better than his later CHAIN REACTION. Nico Toscani was a damn good character and a helluva debut. It isn’t the best, but it is damn good.




Disney Animation Collection 1: Mickey & Beanstalk
The day Disney starts putting these sorts of things out on Blu-Ray will be a great day. Nice beautiful perfect editions of these cartoons. What is included? 5 great Mickey toons. MICKEY AND THE BEANSTALK, THRU THE MIRROR, THE BRAVE LITTLE TAILOR, GULLIVER MICKEY and MR. MOUSE TAKES A TRIP. Beautiful transfers and really great cartoons.




Disney Animation Collection 2: Three Little Pigs
Same deal as the above Mickey set, only this time with the Pigs and other animals. Here’s what’s on the set: THREE LITTLE PIGS, THE BIG BAD WOLF, THREE LITTLE WOLVES, LAMBERT THE SHEEPISH LION, CHICKEN LITTLE, THREE BLIND MOUSEKETEERS and ELMER ELEPHANT. This is a great set. It is missing some appearances of the 3 little pigs, most notably the wartime bond toons – but hey – this is meant to put on and entertain your kids – and it is A+ material for exactly that!




Disney Animation Collection 3: Prince & The Pauper
This is the last of these Disney sets for this Tuesday – and it starts off with the most modern of all the toons featured here, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, which I’m fond of – but then follows it up with other similar period toons like THE PIED PIPER, OLD KING COLE, A KNIGHT FOR A DAY and YE GOLDEN DAYS. What’s great about these sets is the assembly and grouping of material. You should enjoy these sets as much as any kid around. They’re the good stuff.




Max Fleischer’s Superman: 1941-1942
This has all the great SUPERMAN cartoons of the Fleischer era. They are… simply… the best cartoons ever created in the genre. The animation quality is unbelievably beautiful. The cartoons’ animation is AWE-INSPIRING. The music is thrilling. And watching Superman in this period… well, it is a dream. This is fantastic. That said – let’s get into the quality here. These are the very best that they have looked thus far on Home Video. I can say that with certainty as every time they’ve appeared – I have bought them in the past. The remastering though was not, in my opinion, fully completed. They didn’t do a digital clean-up on the cartoons. The sharpness and color is vastly improved, but the damage to the original elements. The lines, scratches, dust – and at least for a bit… a hair even appears. I hope, before these hit Blu-Ray – and they will hit Blu-Ray some day, that they do a final polish to rid the cartoons of these blemishes.




IT’S A PLEASURE
Around the same time as Esther Williams hit MGM, Sonja Henie also hit. The difference was, she wasn’t as awesome as Esther – and the Ice Skating just wasn’t as catchy to the world as Esther’s one piece bathing suits and wet gorgeous skin. That said, I find Sonja charming – from a period when being the best at something could land you a film contract and a few flicks. This is the only one of her films that was ever in Technicolor – and the film and Sonja are certainly a sight in 4-Strip.




THE GOLDWYN FOLLIES
Starring Candice Bergen’s little Older Brother Charlie McCarthy and her father, Edgar… along with the whole American Ballet of the Metropolitan Opera… well this film is another stunning Technicolor musical. I’m also a bit of a Ritz Brother fan. They were never as sharp as the Marx Brothers – but they had it going on. You also have Adolphe Menjou and Gershwin tunes! I found the musical to be a throw back to the style of musical that I actually am fondest of, the old Busby Berkeley ones. It isn’t at that level, but the framework is similar. But if you’re a fan of that type of musical – definitely give this a peek!




DONKEY PUNCH
Here’s a FANTASTIC FEST film from last year that I just could not work into my schedule last year, but damn I fucking loved it when I caught it last week! Magnolia has an incredibly sharp eye for Genre material coming out of the independent sector – and this is one of them. If you have any utterly retarded friends – I mean the type that watch JACKASS and try to do the shit those jackasses do – DO NOT SHOW THEM THIS MOVIE, because the titular act is the sort of thing that a jackass would do – and the movie that follows is a likely scenario that could follow – and TRUST me, you wouldn’t want to be in what follows. This is an incredibly well made fucked up movie. Isn’t it time for you to learn what a Donkey Punch is?




VINYAN
A tremendous film that isn’t strictly horror, but belongs in the genre, no doubt. This – along with DONKEY PUNCH – is a film that if you love stuff that you can’t believe you’re witnessing… you’ll love. If you’re easily disturbed, both should be avoided. But this is oh so good!
Next week – stay tuned for: THE READER, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (Blu Ray), THE SPIRIT, SLAUGHTER HIGH, MY BEST FRIEND’S A VAMPIRE, MEAN GIRLS (Blu), IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES, AMERICAN SWING, 8 MILE (Blu), ANNA KARENINA, PILLOW TALK, THE CALLER, THE LAST KISS, REPOSSESSED, RED CLIFF Pt 2, MR SUPERINVISIBLE and not much else. Till then, watch em if ya got them! Till then follow me on Twitter!!!

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