Criterion Blu-Ray of the Day : Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)- FOLLOW-UP REVIEW

DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)– It is not till rewatching DO THE RIGHT THING after any period of time, that you understand just how strong a film, not only that it was for its time, but it remains. While Lee’s 2nd film (after SHE’S GOT TO HAVE IT, which was his first feature length. JOE’S BED-STUY BARBERSHOP iS CLOSER TO A VERY LONG SHORT THAN A FEATURE FILM ), DO THE RIGHT THING does not feel like a 2nd film.

DO THE RIGHT THING feels like what it is, not a 2nd film, not a follow-up, but the only film. A fixed point in time, a galvanizing screed against the moment, all moments. it really is a filmmaker who has fully found his voice and vision and audacity, and all of that is in display in that opening title sequence; with the astonishing introduction of Rosie Perez, over stylized lighting and backdrops, and her thrusting and gyrating, which is as much about war as it is sex. All done to the strains of the, at the time, most ground breaking and political band of the day, PUBLIC ENEMY.

It is nice to have this film on the Criterion roster in a truly gorgeous semi digi-book packaging with scintillating, vibrant art and accompanying book. However, the Blu-ray (released on the 30th anniversary of the film) while stellar in packaging feels underwhelming in actual special features.

That is until you look at the SECOND Disc, which is chock full of additional interviews and features done just for this release. Highlights being TWENTY YEARS LATER (absolutely a must watch), and THE ONE AND ONLY DO THE RIGHT THING.

Which makes this film not just great to have on Blu-ray, but great to have it accompanied by current reflections on the film.

Here, well into the 21st century, streaming has quickly made itself King. However what physical media offers is 1/sumptuous content, mastered in pristine quality, that will not change due to bandwidth throttling, or ISP load caused bit-rate fluctuations, or political games, or the screeching of the uninformed mob and 2/extensive special features that show a love and concern for the central film.

This Criterion release succeeds in both those broad areas. And in this release competes with other labels, including stellar non-us labels, that are stepping up their game and giving us simply jam-packed releases with often multiple new commentaries and special features.

Final Grade:  While I still miss an up to date commentary done for this release, on the whole — Criterion continues to make a physical object that cries out for a place on better bookshelves and display cases everywhere. A+ for the film. B+ for the Criterion release.

 

Get your copy here!

CASH ON DEMAND Blu-Ray Movie of the Day! US vs UK version!

CASH ON DEMANDPeter Cushing never gave a bad performance in his beloved career, and this is another standout great performance, by Hammer’s most bankable star. This Indicator Bluray boxset (click on the image) is the way to get this film (as well as three other great films). As the name implies it is about a bank robbery, more than that I will leave you to discover, except to say Andre Morell is brilliant, and there are two versions of this film. The shorter 68 minute UK theatrical cut, and the 12 minute longer 80 minute US Extended cut.

Typically, rightly or wrongly, the US cut is assumed to be the ‘censored’ or ‘edited down’ cut. In this case that thinking is 100% incorrect as the US version is VASTLY superior to the UK theatrical cut. When given the choice between the two, always go for the US Extended cut, it is just a stellar example of great writing, great direction, and great performances. Click on the image above to purchase.

Grade: One of the best and essential HAMMER crime films. I adore this film. B+/A-.

Spoilers: Read the following after viewing the film-US Extended Version

Comparison of the Two Versions

CASH ON DEMAND- UK 68 minutes, A tight, nail-biting, brilliant 68 minutes. Leading to a stitched up ending, that because of how well the protagonist is stitched up, seems a bit truncated unrealistic, even rushed ending.

The US cut adds 12 minutes, that now empowers that final scene in a way that was missing in the UK version. It adds three notable scenes. One, a scene prior to Cushing’s arrival, which I think is helpful for fleshing out the Bank workers, and this mentioned holiday party.

Two, some initial business about Peter Cushings character being tyrannical and dressing down his subordinates. Just heightens the irony, and the rough justice in Cushing’s character suffering what he does.

Third, a nice addition with a firetruck siren, and the fantastic Andre Mrrell discussing Cushing’s character over a drink, and his… absence of mercy.

All of these additions gives more weight and nuance to the movie as a whole, in that you are not firmly in Cushing’s corner the way you were in the UK version, which downplayed his abuse of his subordinates. The US version, there is more grey, and the viewer to an extent enjoy Cushing’s character getting back some of his own, and the teaching of a man without mercy,.. watching him learn the value… of mercy.

The US version makes the ending resonate more, because all of them, even the criminal(s), ultimately show more mercy than Cushing’s character does. The suave bank robber, knows and cares more about the people Cushing’s character works with than he does.The US version is the superior version. It is in certain ways the story of Scrooge, but told without ghosts and the clanking of chains, and tells us ultimately something canonical… about treating our fellow man, and the measure of mercy. The UK version is a good film, the US version is a great film.

Streaming VOD TV Guide for Today 1 April 2020 : Youtube DVD/Blu-ray Edition

 

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All these videos are great. Quick word on this last one. CRITERION, I guess bouyed by the competition from other labels such as ARROW and INDICATOR is really starting to step their game up. I think they are aware that while Criterion has made its name by providing quality curated, feature packed releases of significant titles; today some of these newer labels are really, not just on Criterion’s heels, but have surpassed Criterion in some areas. ARROW has better regular releases, with tons of features, and great books (as opposed to Criterion’s booklets in some cases), INDICATOR has absolutely jaw dropping boxsets. And then you have Shoutfactory and MillCreek and Universal killing it with their line of Steelbooks. There is just a lot of great competition out there in 2020, which is surprising considering how everyone keeps shouting the sky is falling for physical media. I have to tell you, I’ve been in this game quite a while, the physical releases we are getting today, are absolute works of art. Here in 2020 this is the golden age of Blurays/Physical media.

And CRITERION is appropriately stepping up their game. Because this RED RIVER 2018 Blu-ray reissue, of a 2014 release, that Cinema Dave introduces us to… is a must own. Though even here, you can argue that, they shortcut in that none of the special feature are new or original to this release. They use several year old interviews and commentaries, as opposed to ‘new for this release’ features that you do get with companies like ARROW and INDICATOR. Still I do see CRITERION putting out ever more impressive releases to maintain their position, as the most august name in Physical media.

 

 

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Bluray DVD Physical Media Label COMPLETE Overview : POWERHOUSE FILMS Indicator Boxsets

While a lot of people keep foretelling the death of physical media, since 2018 i personally have noticed an upswing in interest in physical media.

physical media seems to be getting, in the words of eric stoltz in the fly 2… “better!”. i think part of this upswing in physical media interest, has to do, strangely enough with streaming channels, namely youtube and youtube content providers, helping share knowledge and spur interest in these little known boutique bluray labels and releases.

i know personally youtube content providers, re-spurred my interest in physical media at the end of 2019, and is how i became aware of blurays to seek out and purchase.

further spurring this golden age of physical media releases, is (what we could consider) boutique labels making very  collectible and attractive physical media into something that is tactile art object as much as content, it very  much seems as the bluray medium has grown up, moving away from the hideous blue case branding of the bLU-RAYS (i have always hated the flimsy plastic blue ray cases), to now actual attractive, display worthy boxsets and individual titles.

it is as if physical media producers have finally realized, in the age of streaming, you have to emphasize the value of the physical media not just in the video and sound quality (which arguably streaming can compete with) but in the quality of the things streaming cannot compete with, packaging and associated specials features and booklets.

this installment we cover one of the best boutique bluray producers, and one i recently discovered at the end of 2019… namely powerhouse indicator label out of the uk.

The Indicator PowerHouse Blu-ray Boxsets, if you can get them on-sale, before they sell out, are actually one of the best deals in physical media. You can get these feature packed Blu-ray boxsets , that contain roughly 3 to 5 films per boxset for roughly $15 per film.

Which is just a fantastic deal, when you assess that you get the feature packed Blu-rays, with photographed filled and research packed limited edition booklets with each film, and the wonderful exclusive beautifully made slipcases for the films.

These boxsets are generally limited to 6000 editions. So in a planet of 7.8 billion people (according to the 2020 World Population clock) that is pretty darn exclusive. And even in the limited population of physical media lovers like myself, it is still a pretty exclusive and affordable collectible.

As of this writing PowerHouse Indicator has produced 15 boxsets and only 4 of them are no longer available. So as of this writing you can pick up the existing 11 boxsets for on average $15 per film, which is a STUNNING deal.

Here are the 15 Boxsets Power House Indicator has currently released as of this writing:

  • HAMMER VOL 1-5
  • WILLIAM CASTLE VOL 1-2
  • FIVE TALL TALES
  • RAY HARRYHAUSEN VOL 1-2
  • THE SINBAD TRILOGY
  • SAMUEL FULLER AT COLUMBIA
  • BLOODY TERROR
  • MARLENE DIETRICH
  • JOHN FORD

And for my money, while all are great to have, if you can swing it; the absolute best, and must have ones, in terms of beauty of the slipcase, quality of films, etc; in my opinion are the following (you can click on the pictures below to purchase):

 

HAMMER VOLUME ONE: FEAR WARNING! - LEHAMMER VOLUME FOUR: FACES OF FEAR - LEWILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA, VOLUME ONE - LEWILLIAM CASTLE AT COLUMBIA, VOLUME TWO - LETHE WONDERFUL WORLDS OF RAY HARRYHAUSEN, VOLUME ONE: 1955-1960 - LETHE WONDERFUL WORLDS OF RAY HARRYHAUSEN, VOLUME TWO: 1961-1964 - LETHE SINBAD TRILOGY - LESAMUEL FULLER AT COLUMBIA, 1937-1961 - LEFIVE TALL TALES: Budd Boetticher & Randolph Scott at Columbia, 1957-1960 - LE

Now regarding boxsets that have sold out. I do think Powerhouse Indicator will in due time re-release popular sold out boxsets such as RAY HARRYHAUSEN VOL TWO and THE SINBAD TRILOGY in subsequent editions with new artwork, just because it makes no sense for them not to.

Why leave the profit to the secondary market if the demand is out there? From a business standpoint, by changing the boxset artwork, they differentiate from the 1st pressing of the boxset, insuring the uniqueness of that first pressing for their die-hard fans, yet creating subsequent pressings that are unique and attractive in their own right to people who may have missed out on the first pressing.

Lets be frank, it is the boxsets that are the selling feature of Powerhouse Indicator. The individual Blurays by themselves, I don’t find them as compelling as Criterion releases or Arrow or Eureka or ScreamFactory Steelbooks, etc, but as boxsets, currently Powerhouse Indicator is the best Boxset maker in the business.

Well guys I hope you enjoyed that coverage of Powerhouse Indicator.

 

Please use the links provided above (click on the pictures of the boxsets), as they help you get great items, and generate a couple needed and appreciated pennies for this blog. Enjoy!

 

 

5 Films that need a Blu-Ray Release : Films at Home Cereal at Midnight Youtube Lists!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

 

 

I stumbled across this interesting Youtube Blu-Ray/DVD discussion collaboration between Youtube channels FILMS AT HOME and CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT.

 

The topic was simple enough, basically… ‘what 5 films need a Blu-Ray Release?’.

They had interesting choices. You can see links to their videos below, but it made me consider what films would I like to see get a quality Criterion or Arrow or Shout factory or indicator level Blu-Ray release.

 

Without further ado here they are:

  1. MISTER FROST

Everyone knows Jeff Goldblum is a great actor, and most would point to his work in David Cronenberg’s justly acclaimed THE FLY remake as one of his stellar films, as well as one of the better Blu-ray releases of last year. However one of Goldblum’s best films has never had a Blu-ray release, the absolutely ahead of its time, done back in the 80s, and wholly unsettling and effective… MR. FROST. Go in blind, knowing nothing, and the film will reward you. Would love a commentary and special features rich release for this film.

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2.Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset

I have quite a few boxsets. Have recently picked up the Powerhouse Indicator HAMMER Boxsets. Definite gems. Managed to just snag the BFI’s PIONEERS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA boxset before that went out of print.

Okay, so with that lead in, I am going to cheat with this second one and make it a boxset. One boxset I would love to see on Blu-ray (heck I would love to even see it on DVD) is the Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset, consisting of a loose 4 part filmic parables on Colonialism and resistance. The first feature EMITAI, is 1 hour 43 minutes and was released in 1971, and takes place during World War II.

Emitaï (1971)

The 2nd feature film in this quadrology is 1977’s CEDDO (120mins) and takes place around the late 15th, early 16th century.

Ceddo (1977)

The 3rd film, the only one to receive a DVD release (now LONG out of print) is the longest of the four, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and comes a whole ten years later in 1988’s CAMP DE THIAROYE, and this film returns to the theater of World War II to tell its tale. This film is absolutely riveting, with a haunting wailing score to accompany this tale of calamitous decisions and barriers of language, of nationality, of prejudice, of mores, and wars fought on too many fronts.

You just feel the tension ratcheting up from scene to scene, never knowing where it is going, and whether it is prelude to calm or chaos. But there are also moments of lightness here, and easy languid touch to the film-making. It is a long film, around the 80 minute mark, it is like the whole film takes a downtime with the soldiers, a languid time of reflection, but it works, and is needed that intermission of sorts, and 10 minutes later you begin to know why. Calm, before a storm.

A masterpiece by a filmmaker who pulled these films together in a time when every foot of film, cost a fortune. It’s not like today when every ‘want to be’ filmmaker can grab a digital camera and put something up on youtube. In the age of film, particularly in a continent beset by the still caustic and crippling effects of colonialism, apartheid, civil war and corporate and international malfeasance… CAMP DE THIAROYE is a film made in blood and sacrifice.

It is a compelling film about injustice and tragedy, and the search for identity, separate from the imposed identity of the colonizing forces. And it is a film about the thanks of an ungrateful nation. And staggering corrupt decsions on one side, breeding horrendous bad decisions on the other, snaking its way to an ending that seems both inevitable, and totally avoidable. This should be talked about in the same breath as the best and most incisive of world cinema, up there with films such as ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS and RASHOMON and THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. The fact that this great film, 32 years later still has not received a wonderful feature packed CRITERION or ARROW release, is a small injustice and tragedy of its own.

p.s. If you do get the sold out DVD, the Danny Glover interview on it is simply essential viewing.

 

Camp de Thiaroye (1988)

And finally in 1992, a present day commentary on the long shadow of colonialism and religious factionism, GUELWAAR (1 hour 55 minutes) is Sembene Ousmane’s last film in this loose daring quadrology and comment on colonialism. Whereas his more innocuous films, that could not be perceived as overtly anti-colonial, are available, arguably his most provocative and compelling works have remained, throughout his life, and now even after his death, steadfastly and ‘un-officially’ banned.

Guelwaar (1992)

 

-UNDER CONSTRUCTION-

Closing out Jan 2020 – Here is Steelbook/Blurays of the Day/Month!

Closing out Jan 2020 – Here is Steelbook/BlurayS of DEC 2019 to end of january 2020!

If you do not have these Blurays, and you care about great physical media, then you are going to want to pick up these disks. ideally before they sell out, and go for more on the secondary market.

You can click on the pictures or the names of the films to view their current prices/availability.

 

https://images.static-bluray.com/movies/covers/251625_large.jpg?t=1568652110The Fly Collection (Blu-ray)Ultraseven: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Temporary cover artUltraseven: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) Temporary cover artPioneers of African-American Cinema (5 X Blu-ray Set)PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA – I dislike the term African-American, it is a bit too much of a misnomer. Just say Black. But semantics aside, this is an ESSENTIAL purchase. This one is actually an older release, however it made the Youtube rounds last year and is very close to selling out everywhere, so as a public service announcement… if you have an interest in this title, you need to get it now!  🙂 .

Black Angel (Blu-ray)

That is it, thankfully December/January wasn’t too stacked as far as MUST OWN Blurays.

If you have found this list helpful, give a like, use the links, subscribe.

Till next installment… be well!

 

Must Watch Videos of the Day : 9 Jan 2020

The PORFLE POPNECKER Youtube channel always has great and oft obscure tidbits from the heyday of old Hollywood. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on classic cinema, however… even I… typicaly am always introduced to something new when watching his channels. I am a huge stop-motion fan, but had never heard of the 1957 movie, BLACK SCORPION. Thanks to the above clip I now know about it, and will definitely keep an eye out for it, to view it when possible.

 

Roland Romero shows off his recent Blu-ray purchases, to include a sought after Indicator Hammer Boxset. Love this channel. As those of you reading this know, while I have fallen off of most Blurays, I am a huge fan of Steel-books and Boxsets. I think while major American companies have under-served the physical media market, boutique specialty companies and foreign companies are filling the void by producing, some of the finest physical media releases ever. Quality mastering, with quality special features, with quality presentation and packing. These releases are works of art, as much as the actual film itself. The ‘dead’ physical media format, has never looked more alive, and more attractive. :). I bought more Blurays in 2019 than just about any year… ever (part of that has to do with the rise of Steelbooks) , and 2020 is already gearing up to surpass that.

 

 

 

Earl Grey released his BEST TRADES OF 2019, and like any of his best of videos, it is a must watch to my fellow bibliophile’s out there. Just a consistently great channel.

 

 

 

TOP 5 scariest Horror Manga You Need to Read! What else is there to say, love this channel.