TONY SCOTT

“You Writers live too much out of the world.”— THE THIRD MAN

Tony Scott dead?

I don’t really know how to take that in right now, and the speculation of suicide, is also beyond my ability to grasp. Tony Scott as I’ve said often in this blog I consider one of the best Directors working, right up there with Michael Mann. I’m a huge fan of his films MAN ON FIRE, DEJA VU, and UNSTOPPABLE to name a few. Every movie he just gets better.

Still present tense, because I don’t know how to talk about him in the past tense yet.

I’ll have more on Tony Scott later, for now you can go here, for more on the available news.

TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 1 of 3!


“She loved me. That’s the root of the business. But she knew… she knew I thought more of my wife’s footprint in the mud, than I did of her body and soul.”
— A fantastic performance by Ciaran Hinds as Jim Browner, telling Holmes about the sister-in-law who connived to destroy his marriage, with tragic results. From THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES adaptation of THE CARDBOARD BOX.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

In this age of streaming and Netflix, the DVD/Blu-ray is still the format of choice for those who want to do more than ‘see’ the movie, but explore it and enjoy it. I’m speaking of special features.

Specifically Director’s Commentaries.

As a rule I don’t purchase DVDs/Blu-rays, unless it is a movie or series I intend to watch more than once. And as such a director’s commentary is an essential part of the DVD for a film fan such as myself.

I can watch the DVD once for the program, then go back and watch it for the cast/crew insights into the film. So that said, what are the best DVD/Blu-ray commentaries?

Best is a problematic designation, so let’s go with favorite… here are my 15 favorite DVD commentaries:

Images
The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s IMAGES/THE LONG GOODBYE- I put these two films together as one, because they are Robert Altman at his most experimental, and to my mind, while not his biggest or most lavish or most acclaimed films, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE are his most interesting and stylish and surreal films (and they also sport two of the most amazing, experimental scores).

They are my favorite Altman films. And while endlessly watchable on their own, the excellent special features push them over the top. While not really a commentary, the films instead sport brief interviews with Robert Altman, but such informative and formative interviews. Altman gives a great insight into the division of labor between Director/Writer and Actor, and how as a writer a work is 2D, and it is incumbent on the actor and others to make it 3D, to bring it to life. Between the film and the interviews, it’s a class on film-making, for the price of a DVD.

And next…

Michael Mann and Tony Scott are two of my favorite directors, they make fantastic films, and their commentaries are full-on clinics in film-making. So just about any movie they make, I purchase as much for the commentaries… as the film. So you can easily fill a top ten or twenty list with just these two directors.

But for the sake of brevity we’ll limit each director to just one:

Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER [There are numerous DVD and Blu-ray versions of this film, but the link below is the only DVD that sports the Michael Mann DVD commentary.]
Manhunter (Restored Director’s Cut Divimax Edition)

[And as honorable mention check out Michael Mann’s COLLATERAL, from covering using the digital camera to the landscape of mercenaries, to the actors, it is just a riveting commentary. Collateral (Two-Disc Special Edition)]

Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE showcases two excellent commentary tracks.
Man on Fire

Another one of my favorite directors is Werner Herzog, and his commentaries are always things of high drama and art onto themselves. Everyone of his films are worth owning as much, and in some cases more for his commentary. Just a fascinating director, and a fascinating man.

Like Mann and Scott, every one of his commentaries could fill a best of list, but again for the sake of brevity we’ll narrow it to one.

AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD- cause it’s always entertaining hearing him discuss Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski: A Film Legacy

Werner Herzog Collection

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS- Put together a novel from one of my favorite writers, a few of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite directors in Carl Franklin, and you have a movie that makes anyone’s purchase list. Add a riveting commentary from director Carl Franklin, and you have DVD as film and film-experience.

Devil in A Blue Dress

And rounding out the first five for this list of 15 Favorite commentaries is

THE COMPLETE FARSCAPE- People who are fans of this show, a show that at its heart is this great love story, are fans because they are so connected to the characters that the actors and writers bring to life. Outside of possibly BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE is the most emotional and best acted show of the fantastic (Browder giving wrenching, award worthy performances). So the chance to reconnect with these shows, especially by listening to Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who obviously have as much chemistry off screen as they do on… is just a joy. Even lukewarm episodes of FARSCAPE, rare but they do exist, are made ‘must-haves’ by the commentary. A fantastic series, adorned with fantastic commentaries.

Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Farscape: The Complete Series

So that’s it for the first five favorite commentaries. Join me in the next installment as we cover #s 6-10! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries.

UPCOMING FILMS (1st Thoughts) 2012: HOBBIT, REDTAILS, PROMETHEUS

“You’re so… My Girl.” FARSCAPE’s Crichton Scorpius

Well I told you what trailers and upcoming films I’m not interested in, usually the mainstream pa-lava, so what is rocking my boat?

Well, first the list of trailers I spent good time viewing, in order to determine the good from the bad:

IN HER SKIN- Interesting trailer, not something I would see in the theater, has a lifetime channel feel, but this thriller about a missing daughter looks intriguing

DARKEST HOUR- 20something yuppie-lites in peril. I could not care less.

PROJECT X- A suburban take on House Party? If I was 10 maybe. Not interested.

THE HOBBIT- I loved the first LORD OF THE RINGS movie, I thought it was brilliant, the two follow-up movies not so much. In fact I dislike both of them and only own the first movie. It is not the first failed trilogy (cough– MATRIX— cough), and probably won’t be the last. I do think the trilogy broke Peter Jackson a bit, as the movies since… not good.

Having seen the trailer for the HOBBIT, I don’t know if it will be a great film. It’s not going to be a trilogy… which is good, but it is a bit hard perhaps to invest in the prequel, when the follow-up films are so fresh in everyone’s head. The absence of surprises and jeopardy (I mean we know Bilbo makes it out okay) maybe making it a bit by the numbers. I’ll probably go see it, but in no way enthused, or excited by it. Time will tell if it proves me wrong.

PROMETHEUS- This is a summer film, but I have to mention the trailer… it looks GREAT! I mean we all know Ridley Scott does visuals exceptionally well, but with the exception of AMERICAN GANGSTER, I have not loved a film he’s done in the 21st century.

Not a fan of GLADIATOR, BLACK HAWK DOWN, BODY OF LIES, etc. It’s odd how he and his brother are on different and opposing trajectories for me.

Ridley Scott’s masterpieces were all at the beginning of his career, from ALIEN in 1979 to BLACK RAIN in 1989, every single one of the films he did in that decade are absolutely AMAZING, beautiful, and gorgeous and also just great, challenging, imaginative and fresh films, but his films since have, for me at least, tended toward the formulaic and uninteresting and a bit tired and propagandistic (think Bigelow). ROBIN HOOD isn’t bad, it just isn’t very good, or interesting, or re-watchable.

Whereas Tony Scott, is the exact opposite. His early films were good, if a bit formulaic and forgettable. But the films he’s done in the last decade or so… I adore. Films such as MAN ON FIRE, DEJA VU, UNSTOPPABLE, SPY GAMES. He is one of my favorite directors currently working, and I’m looking forward to his upcoming film EMMA’S WAR.

That said, AMERICAN GANGSTER has shown that Ridley Scott can still knock it out of the park when he needs to, and the trailer for PROMETHEUS looks… EPIC! It looks really, really great. So yeah that’s one of the few films I’m really excited about in 2012.

RED TAILS- I’m going to see this movie, because I like to support any non-comedy film with more than two characters of color, since there are just not enough of these films. Hollywood suits tending to enforce their quota of two or less people of color per mainstream film So I’m always enthused to support an OBSESSED or a TAKERS (both of which I loved), that flies in the face of this cinematic glass ceiling/tokenism.

So I’m going to give RED TAILS my money in the theaters. That said I’ve watched the 2nd trailer, and while the story looks good, the action scenes fun, my problem is, as I’ve said before, the leads. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding. Particularly Terrence Howard seems horribly miscast. No offense but whatever it takes to get men to follow you into battle, Terrence Howard does not project it. I wouldn’t follow this dude across the street, much less into battle. :) So in the trailer when he gives those rousing speeches… doesn’t really work. He doesn’t have the gravitas of an Elba or Washington or even Cheedle to sell those speeches and that authenticity. And if he can’t sell it in a two minute trailer, there’s no way he can carry a 2hour movie that requires those speeches.

So yeah I’ll see the film in theaters, but I’m afraid it’s going to underwhelm (hopefully not to the extent of Spike Lee’s MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, which is one of the worst, most disappointing films I’ve ever seen, on top of being a financial failure, grossing only 7 million dollars, on an investment of 56 million. 4 yrs later and Spike Lee’s career has still not recovered from it).

Here’s hoping I’m wrong.[I was completely wrong. Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr were great. See my full RED TAILS review!]

BENEATH THE DARKNESS- Nice title, and Dennis Quaid is typically good. But there’s more than a bit of been there, done that. 20 somethings in jeopardy by the crazy killer no-one suspects. Nothing at all interesting about the young actors, and they annoy me in a 2 minute trailer much less a 90 minute flick, so I can’t really give a good care about them or the story. This one is an avoid.

LONDON RIVER- A film that completed in 2009, but like too many intriguing films, beyond film festivals, has taken a long time to get any theatrical release/DVD release, however it seems to be making some headway in 2012. Still, it will probably not make it to a theater near you, but just as probably is better than most of the films that will. An intriguing drama about 2 parents, an act of terror, and two missing children. This is a definite one to try and track down at an Indie Theater or on DVD.

EXPENDABLES 2- Another one that doesn’t hit until late in the year, but man the trailer did the same thing as the first flick. It made me shout/cackle out loud! Just like the first EXPENDABLES it’s a dream come true to see all these names in one movie together. Applause to Stallone for putting this cast together and making this film happen while all the actors are still with us. I am a huge fan of the first Expendables and definitely looking forward to seeing this one. Another MUST SEE film!

DJANGO- And speaking of phenomenal casts. Just the cast list for this Tarantino film, reads like a who’s who of great actors. Whether this will be a great movie, or a Tarantino miss, I have no clue, but the cast alone makes it a theater watch.

SILENT HOUSE- I don’t like the idea of trying to sell a film by trading on someone’s ‘real’ horror. I don’t like the sleazy based on true events tag. I’m not objecting to it being ‘true’, but based on a 1940s anecdote in a different country, by the time the American filmmakers get their hands on it I’m not sure if there is anything reasonably close to ‘true’ left.

No, what I object to is what the trailer seems to be selling. It’s selling you, like a carnival barker, the chance over ‘real time’ to watch someone suffer, to watch someone’s world end. It is precariously close to the same allure one would no doubt use, to sell a snuff film.

I didn’t like it. The trailer.

I didn’t like it when I saw it in movies like THE STRANGERS (which I walked out of the theater on) and I don’t like it here. There is something of me, inherent in me, raised on older ideas of dragons slain, and maidens rescued… that objects.

That objects…. to evil… rampant.

I think as an audience, such films appeal to what is worst in us. They are not about journeying with the victim to get out of the situation or be rescued or the bad guy put down, they are about reveling with the predator or rapist in terrorizing, mutilating and then killing his victim. They are snuff films in spirit if not in fact, and I don’t like that. I don’t like it at all.

And I think the prevalence of such films hints at a widening hole in the fabric of the audience, a hole that just might be our decency and our humanity and, perhaps even, our collective soul… falling away.

That is if anyone in the world, besides madmen and writers, still believes in anything as naive and old fashioned and archaic… as a soul.

GONE- If SILENT HOUSE is what I don’t want to see in a thriller, GONE is what I do. It’s quite a refreshing take on the thriller genre, with the young female protagonist having to race against time to save her friend, and bring down the monster. I quite like the trailer.

If it has any fault, it’s that it probably gives away too much of the movie. But I think it almost had to play its hand to get the attention of people like myself who would have written it off as just another slasher flick if a more mysterious trailer was used. But yeah they have me intrigued enough to see this in the theater.

Wow. That was a lot more writing than I had intended when initially starting this post. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you have got a kick out of my rambling craziness, please support this blog by donating or shopping through the handy links located throughout the posts.

Thanks, and till next installment… be well.

Tony Scott and Denzel Washington are UNSTOPPABLE!

Well a while ago I promised the 2nd part of my Scott Brothers’ Retrospective, well I don’t really have time to do it now, but I did want to say a few words on Tony Scott’s latest movie to hit theaters… UNSTOPPABLE.

Saw the trailer for this, looks frigging great! And while I wasn’t a fan of Tony Scott’s TAKING OF PELHAM 123 (see note 1), I remain a huge fan of Tony Scott, particularly with his collaborations with Denzel Washington.

I consider him one of the top ten directors currently working. And Denzel Washington long ago proved himself, one of the best actors of our age. So together, in films MAN ON FIRE, DEJA VUE, they are making for me… cinema for the ages, one film at a time. And outside of Michael Mann, no one does better DVD commentaries than Tony Scott (Werner Herzog, also does very interesting DVD commentaries). He takes you to school in every single one. If you buy DVDs, make sure you don’t get the walmart crap that come without commentaries, get your DVDs, with the DVD commentaries, otherwise you’re leaving money on the table.

A good DVD commentary for me, is at least as valuable as the movie itself. And if the movie is something you wouldn’t sit through at least twice, once for the movie, once for the commentary, why buy the DVD?

All that to say, Tony Scott is a filmmaker who is well represented in my DVD collection, and if the film is as strong as the trailer, I may need to save room for UNSTOPPABLE on my DVD shelf. (After of course seeing it on the big screen first, support your local theaters people).

Okay just wanted to share my take on the trailer. You can view it for yourself here:

http://geektyrant.com/news/2010/8/6/check-out-the-new-out-of-control-trailer-for-tony-scotts-uns.html

1- TAKING OF PELHAM 123, The original, was just far better, and the remake just kinda paled in comparison. My opinion don’t remake home runs/masterpieces, those films has been done, and done well. If you HAVE TO remake something, remake something that’s a challenge, that was a solid idea but didn’t quite work the first time. If you try to remake GONE WITH THE WIND, or PSYCHO or THIRD MAN or something that was just perfect the first time around, in my opinion you are a moron. If Hollywood is too vapid to back a vaguely new film, at the very least remake something that gives the filmmaker room for improvement. Kinda like what Tony Scott did with MAN ON FIRE, taking an okay Scott Glenn vehicle, and making a GREAT movie out of it.

Speaking of which, there’s talk of him wanting to do the same thing with Walter Hill’s THE WARRIORS. Uggg… I don’t know. THE WARRIORS isn’t a masterpiece, but what it is is a perfect encapsulation of its time and its place, it was lightning in a bottle, and i just don’t think it can be translated/re-imagined to any good or useful effect.

Time I guess will tell.

Ridley and Tony: The Scott Brothers! A movie making dynasty! ROBIN HOOD & UNSTOPPABLE! Pt 1 of 2!

Ridley Scott’s ROBIN HOOD and Tony Scott’s UNSTOPPABLE.

The Scotts, brothers Tony and Ridley, are a movie making dynasty. Having really defined the look and beats and high points of cinema for three decades now.

Ridley Scott, in his seventh decade, has over fifty producing credits to his name and has directed over twenty feature films. His influence on cinema, in a variety of genres cannot be overstated. Before Michael Bay (love him or disparage him, you can’t argue that he is technically an innovative and stylish director) or David Fincher he was very much the crafter of this new, innovate, sensory intensive, style of filmmaking.

His best films are his early painterly, saturated, stylish, and somewhat aloof films, particularly THE DUELLISTS, ALIEN, BLADERUNNER (I’ve always preferred the voice-over version myself), SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME (his most underrated film, but a personal favorite), and BLACK RAIN.

Going into the 90s, starting with THELMA AND LOUISE, and continuing in films such as GI JANE and GLADIATOR and BLACK HAWK DOWN, and pretty much everything he has done since (with the exception of AMERICAN GANGSTER) the magic of his earlier work tends to be absent. To put not too fine a point on it, I don’t care for them.

I think the quality difference is analagous to the difference in Brian Depalma’s early work to his post 90s work.

I think Ridley Scott’s later films lack true heart, while appealing to the simplest most jingoistic terms of the audience. There’s a slight slant to Ridley Scott’s latter-day work, that doesn’t appeal.

However 2007s AMERICAN GANGSTER was a welcome return to greatness for Ridley Scott, and 2008s BODY OF LIES a good if not great followup. He still uses the camera as good as anyone in the business, and better than most.

So now we have his latest offering breaking on theaters this week, 2010s ROBIN HOOD, reteaming him with Russell Crowe. And that can be a problem. Because I wasn’t a fan of their first teaming, and from initial trailers it really looks like Russell Crowe is sleepwalking through this one. He comes across as very uninterested and uninteresting in the trailers.

But hopefully I’m wrong and the film offers the energy, and interest and vibrancy that seems missing from the trailer.
Hopefully with writer Brian Helgeland, who is known for providing quality screenplays (MAN ON FIRE, THE ORDER, GREEN ZONE, LA CONFIDENTIAL, TAKING OF PELHAM 123) Ridley should have the necessary framework/substance, to apply his visuals to, while maintaining an interesting/rousing story.

Going to see the film in a couple days, so time will tell. Though for my money the definitive Robin Hood will always be the 80s BBC series, ROBIN OF SHERWOOD.

Check back next time as I bring you the review on ROBIN HOOD, as well as the second half of this article, where we take a look at Tony Scott’s astounding body of work and his upcoming UNSTOPPABLE with Denzel Washington.

And speaking of Tony Scott, In many ways I find his arc is in opposition to his Brother. I think Tony’s early films were good, but his later films (starting really with 1998s ENEMY OF THE STATE) are a marked improvement, being brilliant. I think it’s a rare and special thing when the right director and the right actor team up, and together they produce cinema that is more than the sum of its parts. You get that with the pairings of Ford and Wayne and Woo and Fat and Leone and Eastwood and Hitchcock and Grant and Capra and Stewart.

And you get that with the pairings of Tony Scott and Denzel Washington. Together these two make films that get me in the theater and me buying the DVDs ( I love listening to Tony Scott commentaries, outside of Michael Mann’s commentaries they are the most insightful, interesting and brilliant commentaries you’re going to hear).

Wait, I’m supposed to be leaving some of this for the 2nd half. :) . Check back soon for part 2!