Movie of the Day : SOMETHING WILD (1961) Criterion Blu-ray — not on Streaming!

Click The Image Above to Purchase your copy today. Any purchases through the above link earn this Blog much appreciated pennies.

 

Something Wild (1961 — not the two decade later Melanie Griffith comedy vehicle)- Is a Criterion film I have heard virtually no one mention or talk about, Which is odd given it stars Carroll Baker and Ralph Meeker (one of my favorite actors) , and sporting some of the legendary Saul Bass’ best and most effective title credits.

Indeed the title sequence alone sells me on the film, and I’m worried once its over the film will not live up to the succinct but powerful storytelling in that credit sequence, as it tells wordlessly the fast paced, regimented, almost automaton like, lacking real connection, breakneck race on a rat wheel… that industrialized life has been broken down to.

It infers, the title sequence, of the individual being lost in the unending grinding of the wheels of industry and progress and the masses.

So I’m worried the film will falter from the title sequence.

Thankfully it doesn’t.

The opening sequence is as effective, and giving the time period, as groundbreaking and striking and shocking a bit of film-making as you can think of.

So to wrap up the non-spoiler section, I highly recommend seeing this film. Carroll Baker gives a raw, game changing performance, in a convoluted, messy, masterfully directed tale.

Special Features are limited but are excellent.

A rich, vibrant, informative, moving 2016 interview with Director Jack Garfein conducted by film critic Kimberly Morgan.

“I programmed it in 2010 on Turner Classic Movies, and never have I received so much email from viewers. And then we showed it in Telluride, and I spoke to you at Telluride and the  audiences there were really taken aback, really, in fact, shocked by the film in many ways.” Kim Morgan

‘So was I, you remember?” Jack Garfein

“Yes, I do remember.” Kim Morgan

“I was sitting next to you, and almost had a breakdown. Because, I suddenly… I looked at that film… I made that film, but any kind of real creation is a subconscious process. The artist himself doesn’t quite understand. I didn’t realize that this film… is me. This character of the girl… is me.

When I arrived here in Manhattan I feel the same pain, the complete isolation, in the sense I tried to connect but it was very difficult to connect. I had to keep everything in myself and go on. When I was liberated in Bergen-Belsen I weighed 48 lbs, I couldn’t walk. I was 14 years old.”

A riveting, must watch interview, about a Director I was unfamiliar with, and unfortunately he would not do another film after SOMEWHERE WILD failed to make an impact at the theater.

The loss is cinema’s.

And then a wonderful, deeply entertaining and humorous 2016 audio interview with star, the effervescent and lovely Carroll Baker. I am now on the lookout for all her films.

 

And lastly a video interview with Historian Foster Hirsch who breaks down the history of the Actor’;s Studio and Roots of Method Acting.

Watch the Blu-ray then come back and read the rest of this review.

You’re back… good.

Minor spoilers follow.

It’s a film about assault, about a rape. And you have to understand the time period this film was made against, for the protagonist behavior to be… properly framed. In an age where rape was something that happened to other people, not good girls from a good upbringing, was not talked about in polite company, much less admitted to or shared or confronted or reported, SOMETHING WILD tackles the assault in a frank, and in your face way, that no film before and very few since, have really captured.

Again, wordlessly, like the title sequence, in Baker’s performance, we see someone having been robbed of their own sense of their body… as their own; portrayed in the way she lays down and is afraid to even touch herself.

It is a striking bit of direction and an even more striking performance, of a woman in a world where there was no concept of ptsd, or believed avenue for redress for such a violation, that this was something to be hidden and buried, and you see the effects of this unrelenting trauma, like a fissure running through her, breaking everything apart.

The subway scene, again a master class in direction, and performance, as it imbues in the viewer a sense of that press of human bodies, the rising panic, the nausea. It is really powerful film-making. And then at about the hour mark or so, it deviates from where I thought the film was going (I do not read descriptions when blind buying a movie, just so I can walk into surprises like this film had for me), and becomes something different.

Something unexpected,

Something strange.

And something that just keeps getting stranger. It’s a deeply morally problematic film, especially viewed from a modern lens, I can see this film being… taken to task for its choices. They are not admirable or sensible choices, and arguably that is the point. Trauma breeds trauma, and damaged people make imperfect choices.

It’s a deeply troubling film, but I have to say, while I watched the latter half of the film slack jawed and disbelieving, not agreeing with any of the choices made, I found it a captivating, daring, incredibly strange, movingly performed and strikingly filmed movie about broken people caught in regimented, grinding wheels from within and from without.

I can understand, particularly if you are a victim of trauma, not jibing with this film. It does not give us the resolution we want, all of the people in this film have feet of clay, but maybe that is why I do, appreciate it. It shows us people in the way we seldom see them, or ourselves, as victims of our unfaced traumas.

It is a horror film of a sort. But it is the horror of real life.

A deeply interesting film, that I am very glad I have viewed.

Movie of the Day : SLAYGROUND (1983)

“You come highly recommended.”

“I know I do.”

“Do you know what is required?”

“Vengeance, I believe.”

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With those lines, balefully delivered, you know everything you need to know about why you should run out and watch or buy the 1983 film SLAYGROUND, right now.
I picked up this film on a bit of a whim, during the recent Kino Lorber sale. Kino Lorber introducing me to this almost 40 year old film, that I had never heard of. The price was right, and the cover and blurb… caught my eye.
Boy am I glad I purchased this film.
From the opening scene, with that wonderful soundtrack, it grabs and does not let go. Peter Coyote has never been better, and it is masterfully directed by a director, that like the film, I was unfamiliar with, Terry Bedford.
This would be his first and only film. What a debut and what a denouement. The 1980s was very much the age of the iconic boogeymen, from halloween’s michael  myers to nightmare on elm streets freddy kreuger, to friday the 13th’s jason, to the end of the cycle with 1992’s candyman. slayground is a far more mature, complex and both sophisticated and convoluted, laconic film which explains why it flew under the radar and the tastes of the ‘get to the point, show me’ 80s.
however this film very much creates an iconic boogeyman for the ages, an implacable shadowman, played by philip sayer, once heard, once glimpsed… is every bit as terrifying and arguably more disturbing, than the more supernatural tinged monsters of the 80s.
there are good movies that are pushed over into great, by that exact perfect voice casting. james earl jones in star wars, his voice is pivotal in establishing the character of darth vader as iconic, and establishing that character is essential in establishing the film as iconic. the same with his voice in CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Other examples of great voices that helped carry/elevate movies are liam neesen in dark man, stephen mchattie in ponty pool, aDRIENNE BARBEAU IN THE FOG, And virtually anything orson welles has starred in.
to that list you can add philip sayer‘s voice acting in slayground. he creates an iconic villain, largely with his voice, and kudos to the filmmakers for their top notch direction and decision, to create their villain largely by suggestion.
and Praises to boutique Bluray Label KINO LORBER for rescuing this film from obscurity. I would have preferred more special features, but I am happy just to have this wonderful slice of period Americana available on Bluray.

 

The interview by Peter Coyote (done when he was 77, and we should all look as good as Mr. Coyote does at 77) is as essential as the film. It is a film class in one informative and engaging interview. A great special feature.

“Well I mean Terry’s {the Director] a really genial guy, you know I liked these guys… he was easy to get along with, … he made it fun, but there is such … the English have such class consciousness that the actor is one step above a peon, unless he is banking the film. And I certainly wasn’t banking the film. I was a Jew with an animal name, that they hired from somewhere…probably because I was cheap. So, you know, I was frustrated oftentimes being asked to do things that made no sense whatsoever… they just defied logic. And, you know, at a certain point it’s like you can fight everyday and get fired, or throw it in. I didn’t care, I tried my best, I gave it my 2 cents.”

Get your copy by clicking the image below:

 

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Essential Films for Black History (or any) Month : Today’s Entry… EL BENNY!

 

EL BENNY

Based on the life of Benny Moré, the film concentrates on a period in the early 1950s when Moré leaves the orchestra of Duany and starts his own ‘Banda Gigante’. In flashback we learn of his success in Mexico. Moré is caught in the events connected to Batista’s coup in Cuba. Also, he tours Venezuela, where he suffers the machinations of a vengeful businessman.

Movie Diary : 2022 Day 1- 01012022- UNDERWORLD AWAKENING 3D and PINA 3D from Criterion!

 

 

 

So my first movie viewing of 2022 is one that came into my 3D collection in the last couple of weeks of 2021, and I am just now getting a chance to give it a spin on my 3D projection system.

I am speaking of UNDERWORLD:AWAKENING. The 3D Blu-ray reviews on it were mixed, so I thought I would find out for myself. Generally the 3D is very similar to the quality of the movie, okay but nothing great.

I am a fan of a good creature feature, and even CGI laden werewolf transformation scenes are always fun to watch. You kinda know what you are getting with this UNDERWORLD franchise and this one delivers what you would expect.

Regarding the 3D, a couple of things really work against stereo imaging, even for natively shot 3D. Dark or underlit/dreary/ low contrast scenes, particularly night scenes, being one of the nemesis of good stereoscopy and poor shot compositions that flatten out the depth rather than accentuating it, being the 2nd one. A film like the first DOCTOR STRANGE… people tend to confuse great visual effects with 3D, when in actuality DOCTOR STRANGE has (for the most part) deplorable 3D, sporting both dreary, underlit scenes and poor/flat compositions.

This film, UNDERWORLD AWAKENING, is not flawed to that degree; it actually has good shot composition– designed to make use of 3D, but is hampered by the fact that 90% of the film takes place at night or in low light situations, effectively undermining the very separation you are trying to get in a stereoscopic movie.

Still there is enough 3D to be noticeable and given the choice I would much rather watch this film in even muted 3D, then without. So worth a look. Grade: C- for the movie and C- for the 3D.

Now onto PINA.

 

I knew very little about the film PINA, before watching it today. I knew it was the only 3D release that seminal Boutique Blu-ray company Criterion has released. I knew it was in some way to deal with dance.

Now having seen it, I completely do not understand how this film is virtually never mentioned, even by die-hard Criterion experts and fans. This is clearly one of Criterion’s best and most essential releases.

PINA, by the great director Wim Wenders, is at once a love letter to a calling — a vocation, while also being as moving an eulogy as one person has ever had. It is a dance troupe’s love letter to their guiding star, choreographer Pina Bausch, and as great and effective and affecting a use of 3D as I am likely to see all year.

What LIFE OF PI was able to do for a fiction film, PINA does for documentaries/performance art, making the 3D more than a gimmick, but an indispensable part of the storytelling process.

The doorway sequence close to the end is one of numerous excellent uses of stereo imaging, but may be my favorite of the whole film, as they break rules in that shot, moving the camera, as the actors move, as all the layered doorways seem to move, it is a brief moment, but it helps your idea of reality tremble for a moment, and what more is magic but that.

As a fan of theatre, great theater is hard to translate to great film. While a fan of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI the film, it pales to the power and immediacy of the theatrical presentation I saw. The same with nearly every version of RICHARD THE III I have seen, they pale to the experience of having attended a walking theatrical play of RICHARD III , conducted at night, in the rain, following the actors in an out of decaying edifices, with roofs gone, and nothing to stop the heavens to bearing witness. Great theater is hard to match.

Very rarely does that happen the other way, where the film can capture or surpass the theatrical presentation.

A few come quickly to mind, Branagh’s HENRY THE VTH (1989), Anthony Harvey’s THE LION IN WINTER (1968) and this film, Wim Wender’s PINA (2011) while not an adaption of any one performance, but rather the overview of a troupe’s body of work, offers an immediacy in how the camera is used, and the stereo imaging is used, that allow the artists to communicate with you in a way that transcends, perhaps by a little — perhaps by a lot, anything that you can experience sitting in the best seats of the best traditional theater.

PINA becomes therefore great film, and even rarer a great and essential 3D film. Grade: A. a film that must be experienced in 3D, and a must own film.

p.s. THE CRITERION RELEASE OFFERS A MAKING OF, THAT IS ALSO IN 3D (SOMETHING I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE), as WELL AS A COMMENTARY. THIS FILM HAS A WEALTH OF CONTENT FOR NUMEROUS VIEWINGS and REVISITS. A RELEASE I LOOK FORWARD TO ENJOYING FOR YEARS.

 

“Dance. Dance! Or otherwise we are lost.”

–Pina Bausch

 

These reviews were conducted using 3D Blu-rays, a region free 3D compatible Blu-ray player, and a short throw, full HD, 3D compatible short throw projector (Essential for a flexible/portable system) offering at least 3000 lumens, and high contrast, and active DLP glasses (one of the most important parts of any system)..

 

 

 

If you would like to purchase your own pre-assembled system you can use this link as well as clicking the images in this post to acquire the items depicted.

If you found this post useful please like, subscribe, and patronize the attached links.

 

Streaming TV Guide of the Day 4 Aug 2021- Youtube Edition!

MOVIES AND PHYSICAL MEDIA RECOMMENDATIONS AND INSIGHTS

 

GREAT MOVIE TRAILERS OF THE DAY

Sports and Competition

AUTO AND HOME IMPROVEMENT NEWS AND INSIGHTS

INSIGHT AND NEWS YOU CAN USE

ART BOOKS AND COMIC BOOKS

 

Collection Overview: 3D Bluray Collection Marvel/Disney

Here is my complete Marvel/Lucas Films Blu-Ray/3D  collection. These are, in my humble opinon, must own releases.

 

All these releases have been selected and vetted by me. On top of which, for my personal collection all the tacky, bottom dweller blue cases that any of these may have come with, have been replaced with stylish, bookcase ready, clear or black cases.

Only thing worse than a person displaying Blue Bluray cases is… oh yeah, that’s right— there’s nothing worse. 🙂 .

 

Most of these are still, while getting pricey, available. You will need, at a minimum, a multi-region blu-ray 3D player, 3D projector and 3D glasses.

Check the Links, and best of luck!

2009’s WATCHMEN Trailer, 2020’s JUSTICE LEAGUE Trailer, Zack Snyder, Alan Moore, DC, Broken Agreements and the Films!

To this day, my favorite trailer of all time is the 1st WATCHMEN movie trailer, with the simply haunting SMASHING PUMPKINS song. You have to understand, that 2009 trailer represented the culmination of over 20 years of attempting to get that iconic book to screen.

And I have to say — I was one who was happy with the graphic novel, and just didn’t think a filmed version was feasible or needed. And I’m typically not that guy/gal who complains if someone wants to make a movie, or cartoon, or whatever from a successful book or movie. I say, more power to them, that’s just business. That is the nature of film, since the dawn of film.

Sometimes adaptations work out great (quite a lot actually) where the movie is actually superior to the source material, example of this would be Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER being superior to the original novel RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris. Or the Russo brother’s CIVIL WAR being superior to the over-bloated comic-book version. So yeah I’m always game to be pleasantly surprised by an adaption.

I guess where Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN differed for me, is the creator made an agreement with the publisher, that would have given him the rights to WATCHMEN, once the book went out of print, He made this deal in a time where there was no such concept as an ‘evergreen’ graphic novel. Everything went out of print in the Comic Book world. Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN became the first book, that DC would never let go out of print.

 

So while Alan Moore is known for being historically difficult, the reason may be that he has been hoodwinked more than a time or two. And WATCHMEN perhaps being the most painful of the many various conflicts he has had with publishers and other creators, would notoriously be a sore subject with Mr. Moore.

At the end of the day, 35 years removed from Moore’s heyday in comics, he is still that name we reach toward when we think of what is best in comics. So to have the medium’s best writer, our modern day Shakespeare (a writer, writing in a castigated medium for the mob, works that would stand the test of time) not involved with the adaptation, and not wanting the adaptation of his most acclaimed property; well you tend to understand, as a fan of that writer and that property, and not really need to see that adaption.

So I wasn’t calling for a WATCHMEN film, and I was not boycotting it either, I just had no interest in seeing it. Two things started to excite me about the film, One/ that Zack Snyder was attached as Director (coming off 300 he had skyrocketed as one of the most exciting directors, and one of my favorite directors) and Two/ then seeing that first trailer in 2009. The first trailer with the Smashing Pumpkins song… holy cow!!! 

For someone to take a long un-filmable project, that had been gestating for decades, and bounced between different writers, directors, production teams, and finally land with one of the most stylish action directors to come along since Sam Peckinpah and John Woo, and to produce a trailer like that— mic drop.

That trailer, as someone like many, who loved Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN; that trailer completely screamed Alan Moore’s WATCHMEN. And more than that it screamed iconic, it screamed visionary, it screamed Zack Snyder.

Visionary is a high compliment, but when looking at the visuals of Zack Snyder, it is well earned. And that vision and love for the source material was all on display in that trailer, and add that perfect song…and you have something that highlights the strengths of Zack Snyder, his visuals, and replaces dialog and plotting, with the pure emotion of the right song.

To this day, that first WATCHMEN trailer remains my favorite trailer of all time. And while the movie was not the trailer (meaning it could not maintain that level of perfection and excitement over 2+ hours, but arguably no film can), the film while definitely having issues (overlong, pacing issues); at the end of the day, flaws and all, it is an achievement of film-making.

You could not cast that film any better than it was cast, it starts great, it ends great, and in-between it is compelling if overlong (but given the depth of content, it was the length it needed to be). And let us speak of that ending, I spoke earlier of adaptions that are better than the original; this film is not better than the graphic novel, but there are moments in this film, that are. One of those moments is the ending. The culmination of Ozymandias’ master plan makes far more sense in the film than in the Graphic novel.

All in all Zack Snyder’s WATCHMEN is a flawed masterpiece, and I’ll take that every day of the week. And the trailer… flawless. Check out the below review.

Watchmen: An HBO Limited Series (Blu-ray + Digital)

Since then others have taken a crack at Alan Moore’s seminal work, to surprising (and I would say impressive) effect. I still wish Alan Moore’s name was on all these  adaptions, and he was getting paid, since he is making corporations quite wealthy milking his ideas.

Part of this is Moore’s own ‘line in the sand ‘ attitude, but seriously I really wish fences could be mended, as Moore is not getting any younger, and it would be nice if people would laud him, monetarily and credit wise, while he is alive, rather than empty speeches after he, like we all must, passes off this mortal coil.

Anyhow that was just a quick aside about how much i love the 1st 2009 WATCHMEN trailer, and while Zack Snyder has been hit and miss for me film-wise, his visuals (with the exception of the stupid costumes/CGI for the FLASH and CYBORG) are always top notch; and the trailers… genius.

I just saw the trailer for JUSTICE LEAGUE THE SNYDER CUT, and once again, that marriage of iconic visuals as only Zack Snyder can do it, with the perfect song– it makes me excited now to see this, when I had no interest in a ‘Snyder Cut’ of a film that did not work for me the first time.

“You won’t let me live, and you won’t let me die.”

In a very impressive trailer weekend for DC/Warner Brothers, the SNYDER JUSTICE LEAGUE may be my favorite trailer, just edging out both THE BATMAN and WONDER WOMAN 84. Now I definitely think both WONDER WOMAN 84 and THE BATMAN are going to be vastly better films than this re-cut JUSTICE LEAGUE CUT (I don’t see the edit substantially being able to change/better the film. Change it a little, yes. Better it a little, yes. But substantially? No.); however based just on trailers, the Snyder Cut hearkens back to his successful 1st WATCHMEN trailer, and that formula (for the trailer) just works.

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!

Intriguing Looking Movies catching my eye as we head into the 3rd Quarter of 2020!

Falling Movie PosterTwo great actors in Henriksen and Mortensen

Tenet Movie PosterI always want to like Christopher Nolan’s films, but more often than not I don’t. Not a fan of MEMENTO, BATMAN BEGINS, THE PRESTIGE, INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, INTERSTELLAR— not a fan of any of them. I like THE FOLLOWING but don’t love it. I’m looking forward to trying DUNKIRK eventually. The only film he has done that I think is a masterpiece is THE DARK KNIGHT. So as you can see, Nolan is far more miss than hit for me, but I’m hoping TENET is a hit. I don’t love the trailer, but I go into a film always hoping it is going to be great.

The New Mutants Movie PosterI would like it to be good, but none of the trailers I have seen fill me with confidence.

Books of Blood Movie PosterI read these books when they first came out (yes I am ancient) and absolutely loved them. I still remember the blurb on those grisly and beautiful paperbacks (which I am happy to say I still have). Stephen King’s quote on the cover of the book was ” I have seen the future of Horror, and his name is Clive Barker.” He was right.

The movies made from those books have been hit and miss, but I am always happy to see someone take a try. So really looking forward to seeing this, and seeing if they can do the books justice this time out.

.Murder in the Woods Movie PosterJazz on a Summer's Day Movie PosterSputnik Movie PosterBlack Is King Movie PosterThe King's Man Movie PosterCanción sin nombre Movie PosterThe Vigil Movie PosterThe Tax Collector Movie PosterDiabolik Movie Poster