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Harry's DVD Picks & Peeks - 3rd wk of Aug: Hannah Montana, teen murder/rape, Simpsons, Toho, Xur & more!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with a new week of releases for you. You will find a few things of interest here – and as always you can purchase them by clicking on the images or title links which take you to Amazon, where you can learn more on each title… but if you buy it through the link, this column will see a small percentage of that purchase price, which would help keep it going. Hope you like! Tuesday, August 18th, 2009



HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE
Ok – yes, I really did watch this. I actually watched it after a very disturbing film. Which made this happy, lighter than air film feel like sunshine. This isn’t a bad film, it has a real director with Peter Chelsom helming. That’s the man behind HEAR MY SONG, the amazingly great FUNNY BONES, the tender bittersweetness of THE MIGHTY, the better than its rep TOWN & COUNTRY and SHALL WE DANCE, which I enjoyed as well. Now – of all his films – this is the lightest. But it was designed as such. The film is essentially an ANDY HARDY movie. Young Hannah/Miley goes back home, where something needs to be saved, so she breaks out with a show to raise the money to protect the town. As we all know, if there’s ever a problem, “Let’s throw a show!” Now – it isn’t nearly as good as those, but it kinda feels like a redneck one of those. And I couldn’t help but wonder… does Billy Ray Cyrus really have musician relatives – and do they sit around playing songs? This is just such a weird little film. There’s almost zero sexuality… but there is a boy character that you know… two weeks after these events… he’ll be shacked up in a hay loft with this girl and it’ll get hot. But… at this point, it’s just ‘looks’ and ‘interests’.




THE SIMPSONS: The Complete Twelfth Season
As with all the Simpsons’ season boxes – this is loaded with extras. Click over to Amazon to see an exhaustive listing. This is of course the best looking box of any set yet. Really cool. Plus it has the Worst Episode Ever. Really. How can you miss that?




ICONS OF SCI-FI: TOHO COLLECTION ( THE H-MAN, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE & MOTHRA)
3 outstanding films – released in full wide-screen, each with its own disc (making 3 dvds in total). Just about all of us know how awesome MOTHRA is – and the Mothra girls and the Mothra song! Yet fewer still know that BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE is a crazy ass awesome bit of Ishiro Honda insanity. If you’re a fan of TOHO’s outer space work from the Godzilla series – you wouldn’t believe how insane the effects work is here. Then there’s THE H-MAN which is a nice low-key film noir-esque flick that suddenly turns into something quite a bit more. This is the jewel of the set in many ways that I’ll let you discover.




LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009)
Ok – so the disturbing film I watched before HANNAH MONTANA THE MOVIE? This. The remake is rough, but in no way, beyond production quality, is it superior to the original. The thing about the original LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was that it felt real. Here, it is always a movie first. It is a good movie though. One that isn’t pleasant to watch, the acts in the film are repulsive, but if you know the original, you know what I’m talking about. I liked it more than I was expecting.




THE LAST STARFIGHTER (Blu Ray)
Personally a cover that just shows Alex playing the game… well that would have been my pick for a cover. But we don’t typically buy this stuff based on the cover art, do we? It is kind of crazy to think that 25 years have gone by since the fucking LAST STARFIGHTER, but it is true. I love this movie. LOVE LOVE LOVE this movie. The transfer is an improvement on the HD-DVD, but that’s only because there seems to be a new transfer here. There’s nice extras – my fave being Ron Cobb and Nick Castle chatting about the film. It’s neat to hear Ron Cobb talking about his work. There’s also a look back from today. This is well worth it.




KAGEMUSHA – Criterion (Blu Ray)
One of my favorite Akira Kurosawa films. Stunning transfer. There’s a part of me that would have loved it had Lucas and Coppola, the executive producers of the film, had done a feature length commentary to celebrate and pass on their memories of the film. But alas. That was not to be. We do get a nearly 20 minute interview with both of them about KAGEMUSHA and Kurosawa. We also get a 41 minute doc about the making of the film. There’s also a 44 minute video made up of Kurosawa’s painting and sketches which tells the story of KAGEMUSHA – and is my favorite extra by far! There is a commentary by a Kurosawa expert. But as is typical of Criterion – they really do do it better than everyone else – and this is a great disc for showing that.




TYSON
Completely separate from the recent tragedy that hit Iron Mike’s life – James Toback’s documentary is incredibly revealing about a man that many of us wrote off as just being a Cartoon character. He is, in reality, much more complicated than that. He really delivered in THE HANGOVER earlier this year, but this is a truly great performance, sure it is a documentary, but in being himself he gave us more than we expected.




HUSBANDS (Extended Cut)
If you love Cassavetes work as a director, this will not change a thing – you’ll still love him. The 3 principle actors of the film, Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk are all outstanding here. But a warning for those of you that may not be familiar with Cassavetes, he was a very improvisational actor and director. Allowing himself and his actors to riff and go off on tangents. Sometimes it is fucking gold. Sometimes, not quite. But it is always at the very least interesting. A wonderful film.




PLAYTIME – Criterion (Blu Ray)
Bored the hell out of me. If you choose to watch this – you have to do nothing but watch this. It is a comedy of observations… in otherwords you have to watch to find the jokes, because they’re not really verbally delivered. Tati is an acquired taste that I haven’t quite acquired. The look of this film is gorgeous. The production design, shot selection – all of it is quite compelling to look at. I just don’t know if I’ll watch it again. The visual detail is lovely. It is a film that I respect, but don’t really appreciate. To each their own.




DONALD IN MATHMAGIC LAND
If you have WALT DISNEY TREASURES Vol. 4, you already have this. If you do not, then… here you go. This is a great film to have – especially if you have young children and want them to playfully get a grasp about math. Not nearly as brilliant as LOOK AROUND YOU’s MATHS… but then that would probably confuse your children to no end. Disney great, Hamilton Luske does a wonderful job of making the film anything but boring. Really great educational entertainment. Something we don’t get much of these days.




PETE’S DRAGON
I fully expect Disney to remake this with a CG dragon… and while that might make sense to a suit, it is absolutely unnecessary. There’s something magic about that damn dragon being a cartoon instead of anything else. It automatically makes him not scary. The traditional animation makes him cute as can be. The film is quite a bit of fun. There’s a good deal of extras – including how the effects were done, a deleted sequence in storyboard form, a song that isn’t in the film, demo recordings and much more. Quint is getting this one I bet! He really loves this film!




HARDBODIES Collection
Important serious work that no cineaste would be without! Where’s Criterion now?




THE 5 DEADLY VENOMS
I’d press that button in THE BOX 5 times to get this on Blu Ray! God damn I fucking love this film. Nice transfer – but seriously… as great as these DVD releases are – somebody better be fucking doing some high quality transfers for the eventual High Def releases. There’s many release version of this film. Only get this if you don’t have it and like me, you have no faith that it is coming to Blu Ray anytime in the near future. Easily one of the greatest martial arts films ever made. Pure joy!




GO (Blu Ray)
I remember not liking this film, but upon watching the Blu Ray – I found myself liking the hell out of the movie. Don’t you love that when it happens. When a film pleasantly surprises you when you thought you didn’t like it? Love the sound that came out of my speakers on this one. Such a great soundtrack. Pre-pod-person Katie!!!! God I miss her.




INGLORIOUS BASTARDS 2: HELL HEROES
Total fucking bullshit – do not waste your money!
That’s it for this week, next week we’ll be looking at DUPLICITY, ADVENTURELAND, SUNSHINE CLEANING, FIGHTING, The Complete BILLY JACK collection, THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO Criterion, CHILDREN OF THE CORN (Blu), BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD Vol 1, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD: THE COMPLETE SERIES, MY WEAKNESS IS STRONG, HOW BRUCE LEE CHANGED THE WORLD, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Nikkatsu Noir – Criterion, HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS, SCREWBALLS, STUNT ROCK, TEENAGE MOTHER, The Gorehouse Greats Collection, SUPERMAN Cartoons Collectable Tin and more! See you next Tuesday!

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