KINO LORBER Boutique Blu-ray Label Overview PART 2: FIVE FOR FRIDAY

Last installment I covered some recommended titles from Kino Lorber’s ‘While Supplies Last’ sale. This time I just wanted to cover five titles in general that caught my attention and are on my ‘to buy’ list.

Without further ado, here they are!

p.s. As a hint I generally do not purchase films that do not offer special features. At a minimum I need a film commentary.  Physical media should give you more than you can get from just watching it on streaming, or why pay for it.

So yeah if I own it, or recommend it, it has special features. The only exception for that is titles that may not be available streaming, or 3D titles, or other scarce titles, where we are just lucky to still have the film.

Okay, now we get to it!

 

 

Very interesting sounding film from the Director of DUEL AT DIABLO. And since I have that film, I have to get this one.

This one just sounds bonkers in all the right ways. Not because the movie is going to be great, I have my doubts about that. But just the backstory behind it, namely getting relatives of famous stars to star in an exploitation movie. The commentary on this one seems poised to be full of amazing Hollywood anecdotes and backstory.

This movie sold me on its names. Name One: Director Budd Boetticher, I am now interested in seeing more of his films after picking up Arrow’s sold out FIVE TALL TALES boxset. Name Two: Jeff Chandler who has never given a bad performance and was great in a jaw dropping performance in TEN SECONDS TO HELL Name Three: Sidney Poitier. Hell you could have led with that. I have picked up every single Kino Lorber release with the great Sidney Poitier (DUEL AT DIABLO, almost sold out, Gals and Ghouls! 🙂 ). So yeah, this one is a must buy.

I love the films of John Sturges, and not only have I never seen this film, I have never heard of this film. And another film that is sold by its names: the aforementioned John (MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) Sturges! Richard (One of my favorite Movie and radio actors ever) Widmark! And Borden (I wrote two of the best westerns ever, RED RIVER and WINCHESTER 73) Chase!! What?!!! This is an easy must buy.

I did not love this film the first time i saw it, however it is possible i did not give it the attention it deserved. And considering this is one of the most ‘special feature’ rich releases, from the typically bare bones Kino Lorber, this is a must buy, for the special features alone.

Honorable Mentions:

I can not recommend this Blu-ray because it does not have any commentary or special features, but it sounds incredibly interesting. I’m going to look on streaming for this one. I really want to see if it is as good and interesting as it sounds.

 

I do not currently have an affiliate link with Kino Lorber, however you can click on the images above and they will take you to the item on Amazon. If you use the link you get a great item, and this blog gets a very appreciated couple of pennies. A win-win!

Criterion Blu-Ray of the Day : George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

Night of the Living Dead

I’m watching George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on Criterion’s beautiful newly released 2-Disc Edition.

 

DISC 1: THE FILM

I’ve seen the movie before, years ago, as well as other Romero films. And while understanding the significance of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, I have never been a fan of the zombie/ghoul genre. Most likely due to its over-saturation by lesser filmmakers just regurgitating Romero’s novel approach, as well as simply not being a fan of gore.

Romero’s re-imagining of the Zombie as a flesh eating corruption never stood well with me. It was the myth of the ghoul, rather than the older Haitian mythology of the Zombie. A Zombie, as understood from Haitian lore, was something dead, that had been transformed into something beyond death and beyond corruption, more in common with the Jewish Golem, and seen most visually in the Val Lewton produced I WALK WITH A ZOMBIE

Romero’s flesh eating, rotting monstrosity, that was all corruption, could not be more different than the idea of the Zombi. However, to Romero’s credit he did identify the creatures accurately in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD as ghouls, but for whatever reason ; the press or marketing latched onto calling them by the incorrect nomenclature of Zombie. If I had to guess, I would think the more exotic sounding Zombie, simply appealed to them more, than the more crude (but accurate) term of ghoul.

So while I appreciated NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, I was never the biggest fan of it. It’s a little too strident for me, and argumentative, filled with unlikable people, which may or may not be accurate in such a situation; but was for me, not what I wanted to spend time viewing, and was a bit plodding because of it.

However, re-watching the film, on this Criterion release I have a new appreciation for the film. 

First thing that strikes you is how stunning this film looks, in this Museum of Modern Art remastered edition. The Black and White cinematography is beautiful, and I see now exactly how stylish the film was in its use of camera angles and shadows. It may be Romero’s most beautiful film because of its noirish and dutch angle filled aesthetic.

2nd, the very structure of the film, while commonplace today, at the time the ‘house under siege’ motif was new, most notably seen in 1964’s Vincent Price vehicle THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD managed to build on that premise, and deepen it, by adding group dynamics to the mix, as well a claustrophobic ‘you are there’ intensity, in its cinema verite shooting style. Not to mention the creation of a whole new breed of monster.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, taken in context of when it was made, is ground breaking in terms of how it is filmed; the mixture of science fiction, horror, group dynamics and intended irony and unexpected social commentary, along with the running commentary of the media helping to tell the film’s back-story. And just the general bleakness of the film is astonishing, even watching it today. Given how truly threadbare and Indy this film was, in a time before the concept of Independent film even existed, its nihilism still has the power to impress.

Duane Jones gives a compelling performance as Ben, and is the bedrock upon which the film cements itself as a classic. But all the performances are surprisingly intriguing, from Russell Streiner and Judith O’Dea and William Hinzman (lead Ghoul) who effectively open the film in a now iconic sequence, to on-screen couples Keith Wayne and Judith Ridley and Karl Hardman and Marilyn Eastman, and Kyra Shon as their daughter.

A word on Marilyn Eastman who plays Mrs. Cooper, she gives, in a small role, one of the best performances of the film, up their with Dwayne’s work. You can not take your eyes off of her when she is on screen, she is so nuanced and compelling in a very contained performance, that plays all the more effectively in counterpoint to the histrionics and testosterone around her. She also was part of the crew and is on this commentary, and her insights are always an informative part of the commentary.

DISC 1 SPECIAL FEATURES

Regarding the Special Features, Co-producer Russell Streiner in the INTRO TO NIGHT OF ANUBIS feature, explains NIGHT OF ANUBIS was the working title for the film as it was under production. NIGHT OF ANUBIS was actually the 2nd title for the film, they originally wanted to title the film THE NIGHT OF THE FLESH-EATERS. However a cease an desist order from a studio with plans to release a movie called FLESH-EATERS led to Romero coming up with the title NIGHT OF ANUBIS.

So the movie would go all through production with the title NIGHT OF ANUBIS, however once the film wrapped the distributors did not like the title ANUBIS, found it too esoteric no doubt, so the name was changed for the last time for its release, and the film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was born.

FIRST COMMENTARY

Romero and select Crew- It’s not the most interesting commentary, one reason is because there are so many voices on the commentary, and they are all going in different directions, and largely they are discussing minutiae even by commentary standards. Whether eye-glasses were supposed to be half on or all on, and discussions like that.

It is initially a very pedantic, pedestrian, minutiae focused commentary. However the commentary does pick up in moments, and becomes quite incisive, such as about 25 minutes in as they discuss the actors, among them the lead Duane Jones. and the thoughtful changes he made to his character. One intriguing thing is, it was colorblind casting. The role was not written for a Black guy, they actually had another actor, a White Actor, they were going to go with, but then Dwayne Jones came in an auditioned. His audition impressed everyone and he got the part.

It was a threadbare Pittsburgh production, and for the character of Ben they just needed a big guy to play him, as initially he was supposed to be a Brutish trucker. So largely they lucked out with Duane, as they got an actor who brought so much more to that character, than was on the page.

Necessitating rewriting that character for the more erudite and thoughtful presence that Duane brought to that role.

That in hindsight the film is notable for a Black protagonist, I think overlooks the stronger blessing of that casting; which is that they were lucky enough to get a great actor for that role. Duane Jones ended up bringing a unique variable to that performance, that would have been lost –  not just by an actor of a different ethnicity, but an actor of lesser sophistication. By any actor that was not Duane Jones.

There is a humanity Duane brings to a brutish character, that careens it away from the facile, surface level histrionics— to instead explore someone captivating and heroic and flawed. The takeaway from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is not that they cast a Black actor in the role, but rather that the best actor for that role, was a great actor, who was also Black. It is a subtle distinction but I believe an important one, that is still not quite embraced today.

Another interesting segment on the commentary, is an hour into the film, where they discuss the making of one of their more involved shots, the Washington DC based tv coverage, where the crew drove down to DC, and play the roles of reporters and military personnel. Involved, because for all intents and purposes this was just a very small Pittsburgh production, done by the crew, in any free time they could carve out, around their full time jobs.

The commentary than segues into discussion of Duane Jones before his passing. From this point to the end, the commentary gets far more intriguing. Overall, while not always fluid, this commentary gives you historic insights into the film and the performers that otherwise would have been lost to time. For this reason while not a great commentary, there are gems in here that make it an essential commentary.

 

SECOND COMMENTARY

Commentary Two has even more people involved, so lots of similar voices overlapping. Russell Streiner (producer/actor ‘He’s coming to get you, Barbara!‘), helping to sheep-herd this conversation, gets it off to a more compelling, entertaining start than the first commentary. And it places this commentary in time, to hear them discuss the upcoming laserdisc release. As someone who remembers laserdisc and still own some, it is a nice nostalgic touch.

And I like that, in this commentary, they reassert that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was not made as a social message film, they were simply making a horror film, and Duane was hired simply because he was the best actor who auditioned for the role. Add to that a running gag about Marilyn Eastman and lumber, and it is just a fun, affable commentary.

 

DISC TWO : A WHOLE DISC FULL OF SPECIAL FEATURES

Holy cow. Is this a loaded, feature rich release. This disc includes over 12 special features. Including interviews with the cast, and new documentaries made just for this release. It is just  wonderful grab bag of content that you can revisit and dive into at your leisure.  Including just a wonderful 1987 audio interview with Duane Jones recorded with Tim Ferrante.

“That moment, the total surrealism of the racial nightmare of America, being worse than whatever we were doing as a metaphor in that film, lives with me to this moment.”

-Duane Jones, 1987

 

SUMMATION

All in all, is a must own physical media release. In terms of beauty of the product on your shelf, and the content itself, and booklet. I came to this release a bit hesitantly, because as I mentioned I was never a huge fan of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Revisiting this film, and listening to the commentaries, and going through the special features, I have to say this is one of the treasures of my collection. Highly Recommended.

 

Get your copy here!

 

Currently Watching : WINTER KILLS via Streaming/VOD

‘God, has made a way for you, you unalterable fool.

And all you have to do, is walk the path.’

WINTER KILLS (1979) Movie Review

I’ve been toying for some time with buying this 1979 film on DVD/Blu-Ray, based on its description alone. On paper it boasts a stacked cast (Jeff Bridges, John Huston, Elizabeth Taylor, Anthony Perkins, Eli Wallach, Ralph Meeker, Richard Boone, Tomas Milan, Sterling Hayden, Toshiro Mifune, the list goes on) and an intriguing premise.

Finally viewing it today courtesy of Streaming (believe it is on both KANOPY and AMAZON PRIME) and it is not a crowd pleasing film, but I like it despite itself. It is awkward, and spastic, and off kilter, and more than a little strange, this take of a family and nation marred by an assassination, which obviously reverberates with writer/director Richert’s theories on the Kennedy Assassination.

I like the way the film thinks, the way it breathes, patient and without hurry, the morose wit of the film, of a nation lost, slowly rolling, longing and loathing, in its sin.

I like the odd view it gives of power and the absence of privacy, and though the technology is outdated, the gist of it, over 40 years later is prophetic (or perhaps timeless is the better word), in its viewing of the lie of democracy in an age of Robber Barons.

It is compelling viewing, that I am richer for having seen. And yeah this is one to own in Physical media, because I can not wait to listen to the commentary by Writer/Director William Richert. This was Mr. Richert’s first feature film, and,while not a hit at the time, is an intriguing debut, and the cast alone make this a must own. Unfortunately  it would be followed by only 3 more films by Richert, and they would be progressively less well received.

But we still have his debut fan, WINTER KILLS.

Get your copy HERE!

Bluray DVD Physical Media Label Overview : TWILIGHT TIME – COWBOY Review

Today’s Review : COWBOY Blu-ray

Cowboy (Blu-ray)

COWBOY – Engrossing and entertaining Western starring Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon. What makes this Twilight Time version worth picking up is the picture is well mastered,  great sleeve art, and the always excellent Julie Kirgo booklet/essay that comes with the Blu-ray. The one minus for me is the commentary with Julie Kirgo, Paul Seydor, and Nick Redman. Paul Seydor, has a tendency to plow over the other speakers.

I completely recognize he is a wealth of knowledge, but it is very annoying when someone is so impatient to get their voice heard. It makes for a frustrating commentary, especially when the speaker seems to be dismissive of a lot of what he is discussing, he is dismissive of Boetticher, dismissive of 3:10 TO YUMA (the remake). On top of that, I think his interpretations are just off, such as not recognizing a character was stealing someone’s boots, and arguing that the film made the cowboys look too grimy. Yes, men on the trail would be grimy, and they would stink. And over a hundred years ago, many of them would not take a bath for a very long time. For the commentator to call the film out for the Cowboys being ‘too’ grimy, seems unsound.

Again, nothing horrible in the commentary, but I tune in to the commentary for ‘informed’ opinions, from people who were there, or knew the people who were there. Uninformed opinions, un-researched opinions, do not make for a good commentary. I had to turn the commentary off a little more than an hour in, because I simply was not enjoying it.

I would have enjoyed this commentary a lot more, if it was just Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman. The bumpy commentary aside, a  rich film, and a great Blu-ray /physical media to own. GRADE: B. The film is a B+, but the disc loses a notch for that commentary.  Despite that, still a good addition to anyone’s library.

Get your copy here!

 

If you found this post fun, please like and subscribe, and purchase using the links. Thanks!

Streaming VOD Movie of the 2nd Week of 2020 : MANDY Shudder Amazon Prime

 

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MANDY (2018)– Finally catching this 2018 released film courtesy of SHUDDER. And I have to say… stunning. A lurid and at times lucid nightmarish primary color tinged, cosmic fueled descent into the Maelstrom; a revenge flick that goes to damnation and beyond. Panos Cosmatos has created a singular vision of the places that wait beyond our reason, places horrid , and awe-inspiring, and unrelenting. And all we must offer up… is everything.

A stunning film by Cosmatos, fueled by a great score by (I have just found out) the late and uber talented Johann Johannsson (composer of one of the best scores of recent memory, SICARIO… he will be missed), and powered by transformative performances by all; but particularly by Nicholas Cage, who takes us into the maelstrom with him, into hearts of darkness.

Nicolas Cage has really been taking some rough roles, brutal roles recently. That will take much out of any actor, and he does it again here, but going further than anyone should have to, into places dark and demanding. And it is so great to see the legendary Bill Duke in a film, he just raises the bar of everything he is in, and does so here. Panos Cosmatos (the son of George Cosmatos who directed one of my favorite films, TOMBSTONE, also an iconic film, with revenge, pushing the wrong man too far, at its core conceit)  with only his second film, the first the equally magical realism imbued BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW, has cemented himself for me, as a director to seek out, and to purchase his films when available.

And Kudos to producers Elijah Wood and Daniel Noah for helping champion these criminally underused (and in one case, seemingly blacklisted) visionaries, and working with them to get their films out to a wider audience again. MANDY is very much a gift, from a filmmaker who we have not heard from since 2010. Also very much looking forward to their collaboration with Richard Stanley.

Final thoughts on MANDY… Hypnotic and an experience, that is… compellingly watchable and re-watchable. It is a rabbit hole, and will suck you in. Highly recommended!

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When you have viewed it courtesy of streaming, ‘tried before you buy’ so to speak, and are as impressed as I am, then I suggest buying on Bluray. However I would hold out until they release a steel-book or digi-book with special features to include commentary. The Bluray on the market now lacks any commentary or really notable special features, which I think is a big misstep, to release a bare-bones disc. These days I do not buy a disc, unless it is loaded with special feature to include a commentary track.

In the age of streaming you really need to step up your game with the special features to make the Bluray worth it. Here’s hoping a full fledged disk will be released soon, this film deserves it.

 

Must own Bluray/DVD in the age of Streaming : THE QUEEN OF SPADES (1949)

https://cdn.cinematerial.com/p/500x/cyas1p6h/the-queen-of-spades-movie-cover.jpg?v=1456685350

QUEEN OF SPADES

Thorold Dickinson made 13, by all accounts , WELL RECEIVED FEATURE films in his career, most dealing to some degree with guilt, and the horrible vagaries of the human heart. The queen of spades is by all reports his masterpiece.

I have not seen most of those other films (exception being 1940s GASLIGHT another phenomenal Gothic, horror tinged period piece) , but I have seen his 1949 THE QUEEN OF SPADES… it is by any standards… a masterpiece. A visual feast, with haunting use of sound, to tell a tale of an officer grasping for riches and status, at any cost.

Anton Walbrook, as that central figure, delivers one of the great performances in cinema, as a man scraped raw by his own desire for… more. It is truly a brilliant film, a florid drama/fable, made gothic and horrific by the stunning visual flourishes and cinematography. The feature rich Kino Lorber/Studio Canal Bluray looks phenomenal and is a must own.

I’ve seen this film three times now, once to listen to the Nick Pinkerton commentary, and while I don’t like the commentary (can get a little droning, monotone and bloated and chaotic) the film itself, simply just gets better everytime.

A highly recommended film and Bluray to own in the age of streaming. Highest Recommendation!  Grade:  A/A+.

 

Get it here!

Commentary on the Anti-SJW movement, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Captain America, the antics of Racists, worst Youtube Channels, and the collusion of social media in the ‘dismantling of reason’ and ‘Black Hitler’ claims

 

 

 

Okay that is a long unwieldy title.

But I have a few things to say.

I was on a small discussion board  that has absolutely nothing to do with hate speech or politics, but was just a nice board on comics, specifically hardcovers and collected editions.

People just there to post on what they have bought or are thinking of buying. Nice little low key discussion board that I had been active in for a month or two.

In the last week a new poster had popped up.

And from a couple seemingly innocuous posts the topic was quickly brought to Captain America, and all of us were happy to suggest various story-lines to try. But the poster was not there to praise the good, they came to rant on Nick Spencer and ‘Black Hitler” and getting on an anti-SJW platform

They were going on about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ as yet unwritten run on Captain America, and his unfitness, because of his view-points, and calling him a ‘Black Hitler’.

At this point I responded with a post that shut the poster down. Leaving the poster not a leg to stand on, and the board to its credit also let the poster know in no uncertain terms, this far no further. And that was one troll/hate-monger disguised as a comic fan sent packing, and the good nature of the board restored.

Here is the thing, however.

Everyone has an opinion, that is fine. Where the issue comes in, is people have the belief they have a right to a platform to share that opinion. And that is blatantly incorrect.

You have a right to share an INFORMED opinion. If you are in a packed theater and have a hot flash and are of the opinion there could be a fire, you are not allowed to jump up and share that at the top of your lungs. If after looking around and informing your opinion with observations from those around you and actual facts, such as ‘hey there is smoke in the aisles’, and ‘your neighbors are also smelling something’, you have now INFORMED your opinion and it is worthy of sharing.

An uninformed opinion, also known as bs, will get you thrown in jail because it leads to anarchy and damage. An informed opinion, adds to this conversation we deem culture and is additive rather than destructive, enriches people, even when the viewpoints are opposing.

An uninformed opinion is completely destructive, it is consensus by fear and intimidation, it is the bloodthirsty howling of the mob. It is rule by the lowest common denominator.

Freedom is not mad dogs pissing and shitting where they may and broadcasting that for all, on Youtube or Facebook or twitter.  Freedom is not consensus by this mob, is not policy being made by the loudest and lives being ruined by the vilest.

Freedom is being able to live your life not constrained by another man’s fear of his mediocrity being out-shined by your greatness.

Outrage and ignorance is no substitute for reason.

But is it often used, by those fearful of reason.

In the absence of a moderated platform, outrage and Ignorance has nothing better to do than waste time and waste words and create noise, and the signal, the measured, thoughtful, humanist, additive, cultured conversation is lost, drowned out by the baying of loons.

And that is what has happened to the state of conversation on and off line. A whole generation of people who have never learned how to reason, and think it is enough to speak without thinking, and attack instead of listen.

We are raising as a nation and a world, rabid dogs wallowing in their own stupidity, dogs meeting with derision any concept that aspires to something more than the mud. And a nation that has no perspective on history, or respect or decency, or measured response, lives perpetually in the mud, with those who are, like pigs, at home there.

I come back now to that poster’s attack on Coates, and their hope for a storyline he had not yet started to be canceled quickly. And attacking him using the appellation ‘Black Hitler’.

Again outrage and insults and ignorance, as i told that poster, are no substitute for reason.

First you want to call out a person you use their actual words, not what you think they have said, or have heard third or fourth hand they have said.

Second, a difference in politics or opinion is not a reason to viciously attack a person or call for their firing or loss of livelihood.  Especially over a storyline they have NOT WRITTEN YET!!! If you do not want to read a storyline by this writer do not read it, but to openly go out of your way to try and stop the story from being written, by attacking a talented gifted writer with lies, and innuendo and hate, going so far as to call him ‘Black Hitler’ says incredibly more about the stupidity of this anti-sjw crowd than it could ever say about their targets.

Now , regarding the Youtube and blogosphere people who tend to go on endlessly about “sjw this is bad”  and “sjw that is bad”.

Here’s the magic advice: try using the whole word and you will know what you are really arguing against.

Social Justice Warrior, acronyms only serve to try and denigrate a position you do not understand. If you do not like Social Justice Warriors, you should not be reading Superhero comics. The origins of Superhero comics is about Social justice Warriors sticking up for the little guy, against the fat cats and exploitative, evil regimes.

Superman in his beginnings is very much a Social Justice Warrior. So is Batman. They all are. And none more so than Captain America.

When Jack Kirby and Joe Simon decided to have Captain America punch Hitler, that was in the time very dangerous, as you were dealing with an America that had segments of the population that did not want to oppose Hitler, and other segments that actually supported Hitler. And the creators received Death Threats and name calling. Sound familiar? 🙂

This Anti SJW crowd, are comprised of people who if they were alive back then, would have called Kirby and Simon ‘Jewish Hitler’. Because that is the level of what they think passes for discourse. It is a tact racists have used of late, taking what they are, and labeling others with the failings of racism and bigotry that they posses. The jackal, trying to place himself as victim, while his teeth are at your neck.

 

And even to use the appellation of Hitler, a  racist and mass murderer, responsible for the death of millions, who sought to slaughter marginalized people; to use that appellation to object to  someone writing a comic book, shows a level of delusion and hostility and hate that is completely out of bounds with the relatively innocuous and unimportant world of comics.

It is also to insult the large population of people, Jews, Russians, Canadians, Islanders, and quite a few Americans, who lost lives in the real world, to a real person and movement. And for you to minimize all those murders by using it to try and win an argument over a comic book, marks you as particularly vile and immoral piece of work, with no sense of value or values.

So yeah it is this type of rhetoric of hate that people spew out at the least provocation of an opinion beyond the mob, that is the real comparison ground for talks of a Nazi Germany. And it is a self inflicted designation.

Another trick of racists, appropriating and coining acronyms for the sole point of, using that as a base to attack.

So you have channels like:

DIVERSITY & COMIXX (which is definitely not about diversity. This is using an innocuous title to spread anti-diversity rhetoric.)

JUST SOXX GUY

COMICARTISTPXX SECRETS

CAPN CUMMINXX

DOUGLXX ERNST

YELLXX FLASH

MICAH CURTXX

[And fun fact, any of the idiots saying they are boycotting CAPTAIN AMERICA  were not buying or reading the book in the first place. These racists don’t read comics, they regurgitate other racists half formed opinions about a medium, comics, and a character Captain America, that if he were alive, would be on the side of Mr. Coates, rather than on the side of these basement Red Skulls.]

 

It is funny, how ignorance perpetuates. These racists in 2018, are very similar to racists a hundred years ago in 1918. Back then the Minstrel show, White people performing in Black face, occurred because they were scared of a changing America, with changing roles for many, and the Minstrel show was created as a way to denigrate the startling advances occurring at the time for many, particularly people of color. Rather than seeing changing times as an opportunity for everyone to advance, rising waters lifting all ships, certain people wanted to concentrate on stopping advancement and turning back the clock.

That hundred year old mentality of lynchings and minstrel shows, and step n fetch its, field negroes who buy into their master’s racist dogma, is unfortunately alive and well in  2018 America, except our lynchings are more sophisticated, we do it courtesy of the 24 hour news cycle and Twitter, and our Minstrel shows are Youtube channels and bloggers,  who can only denigrate the things they fear, rather than expend energy telling us of the things they love.

If you are subscribed to any of the above channels, you can do better,

 

 

Much, much better,

 

You can see with better eyes than that.

Check out some of the other channels I mention in previous posts.

 

As far as Ta-Nehisi Coates, I quite enjoyed what I read of his Black Panther run in singles, and intend to pick it all up in trade.The nature of Captain America is change, and is challenging the status quo, from Steve Englehart’s run, from his time giving up being Cap, to being Nomad, to being the Captain in Gruenwald’s run, to Dimension X in Remender’s run, to Falc Cap in Nick Spenser’s run, to Kirby’s Bicentennial run, to a resurrected Bucky in Brubaker’s run, there is no one Cap for all seasons.

There is a bunch of story-lines for this 80 year old character, some which work, some which may not, but all worth the trying. Ta-Nehisi Coates Cap seems like it will be much of Don Glut and Gerber in it (they did one off Cap stories, but were some of my favorite cap stories) so I am looking forward to it. Will he hit a home run or strike out? I don’t know, but like this country we should give people the opportunity to excel. To succeed or to fail on their own merits, not on our bigotry and our baggage.

I’ll probably make an exception to my Marvel pricing hate and pick up the first few issues of his run in singles and then switch over to cheaper trades or digital. But yeah, getting me to do that, is already a win in his column.

(Quick aside: At $4 a pop Marvel has priced themselves out of the Monthly Market for sequential books for me. I made the rare exceptions for Ta-Nehisi Coates BLACK PANTHER and David Walker’s POWER MAN AND IRON FIST. But yeah Marvel has definitely made itself a trade only company for me, As well as digital if the price is right, I just refuse these days to pay more than $2.99 for a comic from the big two. And damn you Bendis!!! You go over to DC and all of a sudden they are doing away with their $2.99 books???!!! I smell trojan horse! 🙂

I was buying quite a few books from DC, and DC was beating Marvel in terms of interest, and suddenly Bendis arrives, and no more ‘holding the line at $2.99. Man, if this is Marvel’s idea of a trojan horse, to stop DC’s comic momentum, it certainly succeeded with me. I’ll be a trade waiter for this company as well, since they are also ruining Priest’s run on DEATHSTROKE by putting the character in Snyder’s JLA.

And further swimming against the tide, when it comes to DC,  I completely cannot stand any of what I’ve read of Tom King’s BATMAN. Loved his VISION. Really enjoyed his OMEGA MEN. Liked what i read of his MIRACLEMAN (waiting for it to be traded), absolutely do not like his take on BATMAN.

Now, Unlike the Coates haters I picked up the first four volumes of his Batman run, before coming to that decision. Tried it not for me. Some people love it, so not boycotting it, not hating it, not hoping it gets canceled, I’m just quietly not buying it. If you like it I’m happy for you. See, that’s how adults do it. 🙂 )

 

Okay, that was longer than i thought.

Hope you can make sense of all that, but long story short, stop subscribing to the haters. It is a sad indication of how poorly we relate to each other as a society, that the people who are sharing their hates, have larger subscriptions than the people who share their loves.

We are the things we obsess over, the things we devote time to.

Devote time to raising things up, and un-subscribe from those who wallow in tearing things down,

 

Here Endeth the Lesson!

BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

What I’m Watching : SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) Revisited after 10+ years!

Dracula Movie Poster

Recalling this is Frank Langella’s Birthday and how much I’m enamored of his performances (particularly his DRACULA I think is hypnotic and astounding), I went looking for films courtesy of streaming/VOD and I came across SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

Superman Returns Movie Poster

Unlike the vocal few, I’ve always liked Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is not perfect but its weaknesses are minor, and its strengths… deserving of praise.

Watching it today, over 10 years after its release, the film holds up. It is visually stunning to look at, gorgeously filmed and sumptuously framed, outright beautiful. Going for and achieving that feeling of awe, that particularly the first Richard Donner Superman was able to achieve, And it has that romanticized feel, and familial pacing, and doe-eyed optimism that both of the first two Donner Superman movies were able to achieve. But all of this lensed through Bryan Singers unique and ambitious take, his more otherworldly, take on the Man of Steel.

Where some people only saw ‘stalker’ Superman, those of us acquainted with reason, saw an obvious moral quandary tackled head-on. You want a being that can hear you when you call? The price and burden of this means he is always listening and always watching. So the film plays wonderfully with this idea of mensh unt Ubermensh. Of Man and Superman, and the burdens and trials of both.

The film does lose itself toward the end, but not enough to keep the journey from being rewarding, and memorable and fun.

This film falling in solid Bronze medal contention as one of the best Superman Movies of all time, beat out only by those two films that it is a natural sequel and follow-up to, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.

MAN OF STEEL, as well as the other post Donner Christopher Reeves films are all left far in this films wake.

My grade after revisiting SUPERMAN RETURNS after 10+ years?

Well, Great Bryan Singer Direction, excellent visuals, stunning production design by Guy Hendrix Dyas, great performances by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois’s son.  Also the flying scenes (all of them but particularly, That flight with Lois, a definite homage to the iconic scene in the first film, and I think it’s great),the plane scene, the yacht saving scene,the Daily Planet globe scene, the eye scene, the car scene that is a homage to a classic comic book cover, the mensh unt ubermensh overtones, and just the sheer fun of it, all of that is a solid A.

If you watch those scenes and don’t feel a sense of awe, possibly you shouldn’t be watching a film called SUPERMAN or there may be something fundamentally broken in you. 🙂

Now in the minus column you have that the Lois Lane performance sometimes grates and the general denouement/climatic battle/wrapup didn’t quite work for me (through I appreciate it more on re-watching then when I initially saw it in the theaters), those are a C- at best.

So averaged together the film as a whole is still a solid B+.

[possible spoilers]Too bad Bryan Singer didn’t get to follow this up, as I would have liked him exploring the dynamics of a SUPERMAN with a family, and a kryptonian impervious to kryptonite, and just some of the other ingenious ideas touched on in this film.[spoilers done]

Revisit it yourself on Netflix or better yet get the Blu-ray with Directors Commentary. The film will stand the test of time against the cynics, romance always does. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

Superman: The Movie / Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut / Superman Returns [Blu-ray]

Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Drácula (Blu-Ray) (Import Movie) (European Format – Zone B2) (2013) Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald P

Movie of the Day: THE LION IN WINTER (1968)


Eleanor: I adored you. I still do.
Henry II: Of all the lies you’ve told, that is the most terrible.
Eleanor: I know. That’s why I’ve saved it up until now.

—LION IN WINTER, 1968

 

lioninwinter3

These lines from 1968’s THE LION IN WINTER, delivered by two of the greatest actors of all time, at the height of their powers, Katherine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole… is a small sampling of why this remains arguably one of the best films of all time… and without argument, one of my favorite films. Here closing in on the 50th anniversary of this film, I thought the time was right to revisit it.

Written by James Goldman, the older Brother of legendary writer William Goldman, THE LION IN WINTER would be James Goldman’s first produced work, and incontrovertibly his best.

James would never match the scope or longevity or popularity or prolific nature of his Brother’s career and output. William’s BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN, MARATHON MAN, A BRIDGE TOO FAR, MAGIC, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS all films deserving of their acclaim, and films any lover of cinema should watch often and repeatedly, and in comparison James Goldman only lasting mark, would be the first thing he ever did… THE LION IN WINTER.

I call it a draw.

That’s how brilliant a script, and brilliant a film, that single film, THE LION IN WINTER, would be, and is. A theatrical sensation, that would go on to birth a film, even greater than the play.

It is an example of all the stars aligning, to create this marvel of a movie.

In 1969 the film would garner three Academy Awards, and sweep the Golden Globes nabbing the 4 most coveted awards. All in all it would win awards for Actress, screenplay, score, actor, director, and picture. It was a filmic juggernaut, and here in 2016, looking at the almost 50 years of best picture films awarded since, I’m hard pressed to think of a single one that is as good as TLIW, and none come to mind, that better it.

But perhaps there is a cost for such perfection, some alchemic cost, that would have to be paid in the careers of the makers of the film.

 

lioninwinter

A great script, arguably it is the best script ever written in the English language, by a first time screenwriter, James Goldman, who would do only a few other feature screenplays after it, and none nearing the impact and import of TLIW. The script was so great he earned an Academy Award for it, for what amounted to his first time at bat.  A staggering achievement. Which makes his virtual disappearance from the scene… curious. Did he say everything he had in him to say? it’s possible, it happens. Or for some reason was work simply not offered to him, post TLIW.

A young, brash new director (and largely untested, making the jump from acclaimed editor, to the Director’s chair), Anthony Harvey, itching to push the width and breadth of cinema. He did a MASTERFUL job on this film, was nominated for an Academy Award for it, in what was only his 2nd film as director. But like James Goldman would be unable to leverage that Academy Award spotlight, into future opportunities.

He would go on to do only  a handful of features after this, and none of them would posses the scope or brilliance or lasting accolades as THE LION IN WINTER. It would overshadow the rest of his career. Which sometimes is the price of creating something truly great.

That said cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, editor John Bloom, and composer  John Barry , as well as the principal actors would all go on to have stellar careers. Though without argument from me, you want to see the best performances of Peter OToole, Katherine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, John Castle, Timothy Dalton or Jane Merrow (exquisite as Alais) you’ll find them in this film.

They rise to the language. We all do.

If you haven’t seen THE LION IN WINTER, you haven’t seen cinema, as it can be… when all the gods are kind. And if you have seen it, it is a film that rewards, and like a missed relative, engenders revisits.

See it via DVD here (with wonderful and essential Director’s commentary):

The Lion in Winter

And hopefully there will be a Blu-Ray Disc on the horizon in the next year or two, to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary!

 

 

lioninwinter2

 

 

 

Director, a cast of veterans and young hungry unknowns who ALL would end up doing the best work of their lives, in this film, score, editing…. all aligning to produce one of the best films of all time.

It is essential viewing.

There is seldom a day in the years since first seeing that movie, probably 15 or 20 years ago, that some line from that film doesn’t pass through my head. Like the best of all writing, it indelibly marks us and shapes us, and leaves its impression on us.

It has done so with me.

Prince Richard: [the sons – in the dungeon – think they hear Henry approach] He’s here. He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.

Prince Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool… as if the way one fell down mattered.

Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is, it matters.

—THE LION IN WINTER, a script that would make even Shakespeare envious.