Diary of a new at Home 3D Blu-Ray Fan or How to get Started with 3D at Home Part 1!

Okay, so my 3D projector, that I spent HOURS deciding on before making the purchase, arrived yesterday. I set it up, placed it appropriately. Now my 100″ screen had not arrived yet, but I decided to go ahead and test it against my walls. My walls are a subdued blue-grey and surprise/surprise, I don’t think I need a screen!

Now, Not to jump the gun, but the projection against  the wall—I’m overjoyed by the result.

I’ll make the final decision when the screen gets here, but I don’t think the screen is going to be needed. Let us put it this way, if the screen was not on its way, I probably would be in no rush to order one.

Ok, once the projector was in place and manual read and my 3D All-Region Blu-Ray player connected, I grabbed 4 films to try with the Native 1080p 3D projector. GUN FURY 3D, THOR RAGNAROK 3D, MAD MAGICIAN 3D and THE LIFE OF PI 3D.

All these films with the exception of THE LIFE OF PI, I had seen previously  in 2D, and liked them all. The Rock Hudson vehicle GUN FURY is a serviceable western, and MAD MAGICIAN starring Vincent Price is an enjoyable (if not one of Price’s better) films. THOR RAGNAROK I have seen both 2D, and in the movie theaters in 3D.

Ok,so putting in GUN FURY, I started it first in 2D, and quite liked the picture. Coming from a standard LCD TV, just the size and detail and color via the projector, everything looked surprisingly great. I started smiling, but hold on, now comes the real test, the reason i went the projector route, how would the 3D look?

So I put on the 3D glasses I selected (which I had charged the day before, and these glasses I had spent quite a bit of time selecting as well) switched the Blu-ray over to 3D, and…initially looked at the screen nonplussed. ‘I don’t see any 3D’, I murmured to myself, then it occurred to me, I had to turn the glasses on. I turned them on, and I smiled.

My jaw dropped.

I put this film on, because being a film from the 1950s I was not expecting much out of it. I had heard and read no reviews on this film, so figured the 3D would probably be mediocre.

I was incorrect.

The picture, the 3D depth on this is astonishing. You can look way into the screen, and the screen protrudes out toward you, but mostly it is the unbelievable depth that makes you feel you can toss something into the screen and it would bounce and roll into the background.

The distance between people, foreground to middle-ground to background is all starkly delineated, like you could walk between the characters. Just tremendous.  The effect of the 3D was to make me MORE engrossed in the moments of the film that I liked previously, but was not overly enamored with.

Now however, looking at the people in the background, the imagery of the foreground, the strengths of the middle ground. It all worked together not as a gimmick, but to grab your attention, and ground you in a film, that in 2D, I listened and looked at, but in 3D I still listened to, but rather than looking, I saw.

That’s the best way I can describe the … appeal of really great 3D. I was floored by this 3D film, GUN FURY. I had to force myself to stop watching so I could check out other 3D films. Based on the little bit I saw I give it an initial impression of A. Yes, that is a HIGH initial impression grade and may fluctuate when I watch the whole film in 3D, but yeah initial impression is a solid A, bordering on A+.

I next tried THOR RAGNAROK which is regarded as one of the best converted 3D films, and I can see why. It looks ASTOUNDING. However, it is a tad dark for some reason compared to the GUN FURY presentation, I remember it even being too dark in the theater when I watched it in 3D. However the 3D strikes me as more impressive here in my home than it did in the theater. Now of course I do not have a better system than you will find in a theater, however if they under-light the scene, which is common with 3D projection in theaters, you can have a worse experience in the theaters and their $100000 systems, than you have at home with a $1000+ system. That is all I am saying.

Darkness aside the picture looked less dark than I remember it being in the theater, and the 3D more apparent and effective, here with my cheap system, than the misaligned system of the theater I went to. Initial impressions on THOR RAGNAROK was a solid B+/A-. And I had to tear myself away from it to sample another film.

I then went to the black and white 3D film MAD MAGICIAN. It gave me a headache and the 3D had some depth to it, no projections, but I seriously could not watch it too long, it began to stab me in my left eye. It is not the hardware, or 3D exhaustion, as I immediately went to 3D film after it, which I am about to get to, and had no viewing issue.

All I can think is there is something about the mastering of this particular 3D release, seriously it became an ache in my left eye. Based on initial impressions I have to give it a solid F,  I’ll come back to it when I’m feeling braver and see if I have a better viewing experience with it, but for now, on the bottom of the pile it goes.

Next I put on THE LIFE OF PI, mentioned by a couple reviewers as their best, and not mentioned at all by other reviewers. Me and Ms HT watched the whole film. Ang Lee has been a hit and miss director for me so i went in with no particular expectation. And— the scales fell from my eyes. To be overly dramatic. 🙂

My favorite 3D experience in the theater was AVATAR back in 2009. It was everyone’s favorite 3D experience.  It became the golden standard by which all theatrical 3D would be judged. THE LIFE OF PI , with 4 films under my belt, is the gold standard of 3D for home viewing. It is sublime. Truly jaw-dropping. And what makes it one of the greatest 3D experiences is not only how expertly the 3D works, but how expertly it is applied, to further the story.

The 3D is not jus a superfluous gimmick, and after thought, as you can argue it is with most films. It is used, by the filmmaker, like the costumes, or the set design, or the actors, Ang Lee, uses the 3, to help tell the story. The 3D isn’t just a veneer painted over the film, he constructs the film, that the immersive nature of 3D actually is a framework of the film.

You can make the argument not even AVATAR made the 3D as necessary a component to the film. Scenes where the sea becomes the sky, and the sky becomes the sea, to highlight being lost and adrift, is something that cannot quite be conveyed in 2D. I said I had no expectations going in to this film, that’s not quite right; I expected for whatever reason to be underwhelmed, to find it over-hyped. I’m not sure why, just something did not fill me with confidence in the title or its whimsical artwork. I was wrong. 3D is a tool, it is an effect, and at its best, it is storytelling. THE LIFE OF PI is 3D at its best, not just in terms of mechanics, but in terms of a master storyteller, using 3D masterfully as part and parcel of a masterful story. For that reason it is the best implementation of 3D I have ever seen, and it is arguably the best implementation of 3d, I can imagine seeing.

You need a filmmaker of vast imagination, a story of crushing beauty, and performances ravishing, to be in the league of this film as a film. And because the 3D is not tacked on, but is indivisible from that storytelling, it elevates the 3D, just as the 3D elevates the storytelling. 3D is about immersion, and you would have to have all those things to create a film as immersive as THE LIFE OF PI. Grade: An unqualified A+. One of the gems of my collection.

 

So that has been my initial introduction to Home 3D. And the final verdict, by both me and the far more pragmatic and less easily impressed Ms HT … “What the heck took us so long to get a 3D projector???!!!” :).

Guys if you like 3D, and have been thinking about a home system, don’t wait. Jump in with both feet. Do your homework, get the right player, the right projector, the right glasses, and the right content, and get to watching!!! And now is the time to do it, because everything is starting to disappear and/or go up in price. Buy the stuff now, while you can.

If I get 7 likes on this post, I will do a follow-up post breaking down what I use for my system. I can tell you the system I have built, that works for me, and it should work for you as well!!!

If you found this post useful, definitely, share, like, comment, and click on the images above to purchase the reviewed films.

Roku Youtube Channels pick the Best/Favorite/Recommended/ Must Own 3D Blu-Rays!

I, in the last 48 hours, have decided to jump into 3D TV. I’ve had a 3D capable Blu-ray player for several months. and just this week ‘engaged the engines'(yeah that’s going to catch on) on getting a 3D projector that does native 1080p. Should be here next week.

And along with that, I have begun compiling a list of recommendations of must own Blu-Ray titles.(ie I jumped on Youtube, via Roku, and found a bunch of recommendations)

And a word on that region free Blu-ray player, I picked up.

I purposely sought out a Blu-ray player that, in addition to being region free, also does 3D; as I knew eventually I wanted to cross that bridge. In fact, being I have been a life long 3D fan, from stereoscopic comic books and Art-books, to the old Anaglyph 3D presentations that would come on tv, every blue-moon, when I was a kid (Invariably the 3D over the tv, never worked great; using those funky red and blue glasses) it is funny that it has taken me this long to jump into 3D.

Part of it is, even though I was in the theaters, with everyone else that snowy winter, when AVATAR made its way onto our screens and became a world wide phenomenon, kicking off this latest 3D craze; I didn’t hop aboard the 3D train. While a fan of AVATAR, and thought its 3D was ground breaking; I was never sold on the idea of everything needing to be in 3D. I am still not. However I am far more compelled by the idea of being able to also do 3D in the home. Not all the time, but occasionally. 

In the 10 years since AVATAR’s success, while hundreds of films have been foisted on us at increased ticket prices, I probably went to see easily less than 2 dozen films in the theaters. 3D is great for 45 minute IMAX films (in real IMAX theaters that are in science centers, not the retrofitted baby Imaxes that are in your local multiplex) but for (closing in on 2 hour) blockbusters, it has to be done well; and not everything lends itself to 3D.

3D when done brilliantly needs to be in the movie theaters, not in our homes, and needs to be done sporadically. At least that was my feeling for the past 10 years since AVATAR, and in the theaters I have seen some good uses of 3D since then.

However these days while I still believe a real theater is the best place for 3D, and that viewing should be sporadic, what supercedes that… is me being a collector. And no, I refuse to use supersede, I am going with supercede. It was good enough in the 17th century, it is good enough now. :).

Being a collector (which I have been since my grade-school days of comics and books and vhs tapes and records),  I like having the ability to not rely on gatekeepers. if I do choose to revisit an especially impressively made 3D film on my Blu-ray player, in my home, I don’t want to have to vet that choice through anyone else; or wait on licensing agreements for movies to become available.

I do not like having to rely on gatekeepers for anything, not my entertainment, not my news, not my liberty. 3D tvs have in the US gone the way of the Dodo, and the older models that you can get are prohibitively expensive. Manufacturers of Blu-ray players, are closing up shop. Big business has obviously passed around a memo, “let’s phase out this physical media nonsense, and make them come to us for everything; where we can monitor, we can control, we can edit material, as necessary.”

A noble memo. But I don’t think they got my memo.

“No.”

So job one, was to pick up a multi-region Blu-ray that could also do 3D. I saved up and got that done a few months ago. ‘What about 4K?’ I hear someone asking.

 

4K? I don’t really care about 4K.

 

“What?? Oh no he didn’t??!!! Get me a knife, I’m gonna cut this fool!!!”

Wait. Bear with me Trumpian mob.

Let me explain,

I do not care about 4K, as it is really negligible improvement over a well mastered Blu-ray.

“What??? But…”

Shhh. Adults are talking.

There is a difference between a well mastered 4K and a well mastered Blu-ray, viewed on the median residential monitor display size of 55″ to 65″, at a viewing distance of 8 to 10 feet; but that difference is not pixel density, is not screen real estate. That difference is not 4k pixel count, vs 1K pixel count.  With 20/20 vision viewing any modern display of the size I listed, from the distance I listed, if you can see a difference at all… it will be negligible at best.

You have to remember you don’t actually see very well, even with 20/20 vision. That’s why the illusion of movies even works. Because our brains are very good at taking the upside down nonsense our eyes sends them, and crafting a world view that makes sense.

That is the reason 24 static images, moved at speed (a movie), can fool us into believing there is motion going on. If our eyes were really any good, we could never fall for the lie of motion, we would register movies for what they are, 24 static images , flipped one after another.

We would be, how Alan Moore, that mad scribe, describes the Flash.

One of the most beautiful, and horrible lines I have ever read, I read at a time when we read most of the horrible things that form us. I had read Flash comics as a kid, and thought them and the character way cool. And with scant lines, Alan Moore taught the young tike I was, the meaning of existential dread.

‘There is a man who moves so fast that his life is an endless gallery of statues.’

I understood then, a concept I had not thought of till that moment, the horrible constraints of perfection.

However we, perhaps thankfully, do not perceive the world clearly, we as a species, even the best of us, see relatively poorly.

However,  our brains are fantastic for compensating for our deficiencies. Making a truth, out of the lie of our eyes. And with television and the difference between pixel count between 1080p and 4K that occurs at speed in real time, our brain is just as adept in that situation, at lying to us. You are unlikely to see any difference in pixel count.

“But I’m telling you I see a clear difference between 1080p and 4K when I watch BOO BOO GOES TO HOLLYWOOD!!!!!”

Yes, I know. But that difference (using the parameters previously stated) is not pixel density. The difference you are seeing is color grading and picture processing applied by technologies such as HDR. That is why HDR is there, to give you the difference that 4K by itself cannot.

But here is the thing, they could have just as easily applied HDR to work with Blu-ray, made HDR an evolution of Blu-ray, solidify Blu-ray as a format, and help it finally supercede Dvd, as the most popular format. But then they could not sell you new tvs, and new incompatible 4K media, which requires all new players.

 

4K is a cash grab. And it is a road of diminishing returns.

While concepts like 2k and 4k and even now 8k, have a useful and needed place in production and mastering and editing, and real theatrical showings. On the residential/consumer side it is simply superfluous. And companies harangued into tying up limited resources re-releasing the same 10 titles in yet another format, just take money and resources away from titles that are still awaiting… their first Blu-ray release.

 

So that is why 4K is not a priority for me. I don’t hate it, I’d just rather solidify the formats we have, than further fragment an already fragmented market. However if studios can make 4k work for them, and make money off it, a niche of a niche, good for them.

I don’t care if 4k, 8k, 16k players exits, there will always be people putting the stupidest things in their homes (“So let me understand this. Every device inside my house will now have a microphone built in, that can not be hardware disabled? And a camera? And be able to call out back to it home servers? And all data is potentially saved? Is this a Bob Newhart skit? A Bill Cosby skit? I’m sorry son, no one is going to believe that science fiction story. 1984 is one  thing, but that story you are talking about would have required an entire generation to not have the common sense that God gave a rock. Next thing you are going to tell me is they let a reality tv star steal the election and run the country into the ground!!! Ha! Ha! What an imagination!”).

Leave me the ability to watch what I want, when I want. Without having to vet my viewing through gatekeepers and their servers; and the rest of the world— can keep spinning.

Yeah give me region-free Blu-ray any day. And yeah, I’ll even take a side of 3D. :).

 

If that is not the longest digression in the history of the world, it has to be in the top 3. But finally, you made it to what you really came for. The tits— oh wait, I meant the list. There are no Mammary glands below. I repeat, there are no Mammary glands below. Go ahead and unsubscribe, see if i care!!!

Yes, yes. It has been a long week.

Oh ps, the items in bold in the lists below, are titles that in my research I think are the ones to start with, and they just so happen to be ones that I have ordered and are on the way. So if you can’t find em, I bought the last ones. HA! HAAHA! HA! HA! HHAHA! HA! HA! HEE! HO! HA— hmm this is surprisingly difficult to keep going. You get the picture, maniacal laughing. Sheesh!

Humor, look it up.

 

TOMMY BOY
HUGO, JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF EARTH, KONG:SKULL ISLAND,JUNGLE BOOK,STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS,PACIFIC RIM “Could have been one of the number one 3D movies of all time”,JURASSIC PARK, POLAR EXPRESS, LIFE OF PI, AVATAR -2020 LIST

THE FAILED JOURNALIST

TRON LEGACY, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, HOBBIT BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES, AVATAR, HUGO, POLAR EXPRESS, GRAVITY, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, THE WALK, LIFE OF PI
-2018 LIST

3D BLU-RAY BUNKER

NEED FOR SPEED, INFERNO(1953), THE WALK, HERCULES(2014), THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (2014), AVATAR, STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS, XXX RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER DAY OF RECKONING – his 2020 selections

BRASS TAX

A quick caveat about BT. You think I’m offensive, I’ve never known anyone use the term b*tch as often as he does. 🙂 Seriously, his early videos I left thinking, “Did they delete the other words from the dictionary?”. Joking. But seriously, stick with this show, they are informative and fun. His BLACK PANTHER 3D Blu-ray review is hilarious, and he rates it as superior to the 4K. He hasn’t done a 3D review in 11 months, but I hope new ones are on the way.

THE LAST JEDI, FORCE AWAKENS, BLADE RUNNER 2049, BLACK PANTHER, THOR RAGNAROK, AVENGERS ENDGAME, KONG SKULL ISLAND, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, XXX THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, THE GREAT WALL, GHOST IN THE SHELL, DOCTOR STRANGE, TRANSFORMERS THE LAST KNIGHT

 

**************************

All humor aside, there are a lot of great selections, and great videos to peruse . Do me a favor, if moved to, and not offended by my whimsy… like, subscribe, and support using the links below. Further go subscribe to all four of the channels listed above. They possess just a monumental amount of info on 3D Blurays. I am subscribed to all these channels and consider them, essential. I’m first in line to like their new 3D related videos.

 

DEAL OF THE DAY!

DEAL OF THE DAY 2! Like I said I don’t find 4k a necessity, however I found this player that includes necessities like region free, and 3D, but it also includes 4K at an affordable price. At this price it is a bit of a no-brainer.

DEAL OF THE DAY 3!

This one has steadily increased in price. The model 700 is cheaper, but what I like about the specs on this one (the 706) is it is a short throw, which just means placement is easier as you can place it right near the screen or wall to be projected on.

DEAL OF THE DAY 4!

 

DEAL OF THE DAY 5!

 

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!

 

GREAT FILMMAKER SERIES : The Essential Cinema of Carl Franklin

 

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTc4MzM0NDkxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDUwMzk0OA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,672,1000_AL_.jpgMorgan Freeman and Ashley Judd in High Crimes (2002)Renée Zellweger, William Hurt, Meryl Streep, and Tom Everett Scott in One True Thing (1998)Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy (1989)

 

Carl Franklin is one of these filmmakers, much like Kasi Lemmons, or Johnnie To or Richard Stanley or Ben Ramsey or John Hyams, or the Hughes Brothers that I am always desperate to see a new film by. I think these are unique Directorial voices, visionary voices, that give us cinema that lingers and excites. These directors not cranking out a new film every two years, not able to create their auteur body of work, the loss belongs to us the film fans.  I hope to interview Mr. Franklin this year, who has kept busy with television work, and inquire when we can expect a feature film from him.

Currently Watching : Criterion Blu-Ray THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957) by Mikhail Kalatozov

Letyat zhuravli (1957)

“I believe in poetic cinema. Poetic cinema is the cinema created in especially vivid form… by great masters like Eisenstein, Pudovkin, and Dovzhenko. In my own work I strive to affect a viewer’s consciousness and soul by means of poetic cinema.”
-Kalatozov in a 1961 interview. Available on the Criterion Blu-ray

Tatyana Samoylova in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Tatyana Samoylova in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957)-Three things period Russian films do just about better than anyone else, is tragedy and beauty and grandeur, and Director Mikhail Kalatozov’s THE CRANES ARE FLYING is overflowing with all three. You get the deep focus cinematography immortalized by Orson Welles married to a balletic, spiraling, intimate ground breaking, “you are there” camera movement, that is uniquely Russian. what kalatozov himself would call— poetic cinema.Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Almost 7 decades later and without any need for CGI, and 20 years before the invention of the Stedicam – the cinematography in this film (by the equally acclaimed Sergei Urusevesky) remains— both unbelievable and sublime. It is a film that draws you in from frame one, and holds you and the characters like a lover— deeply, afraid to be parted.Aleksandr Shvorin in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

All in all, a transfixing and haunting viewing experience, greatest of which is the beauty of Tatyana Samoylova, whose beauty captured here for all time, is so great –- and her performance so affecting—- that at times looking at her – is like looking at the sun.

One of the great Russian beauties, she becomes the mythical Helen – whom all young men seek to impress with war; and ‘changed by the war’ young men; seek only to hold in peace. THE CRANES ARE FLYING is up there with I AM CUBA/SOY CUBA (another Kalatozov cinematic achievement, with this time a stunning Cuban beauty) as a milestone of Russian cinematography, and by extension a milestone of world cinematography; up there with Welles CITIZEN KANE and Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS. There is no putting this movie on, and not being captivated by it.

THE CRANES ARE FLYING is another masterpiece lovingly provided by the Criterion Blu-ray label. I am on a hunt now to see the other available Kalatozov directed films, as well as Tatyana starring films. Kalatozov,while IMDB lists 20 directing credits for him, most of those appear to be documentaries or shorts or state sponsored work. It really appears he only has 6 or 7 feature films to his name, all coming toward the end of his career, especially once he found a kindred spirit in his cinematographer, Urusevesky.  So I look forward to adding THE FIRST ECHELON, LETTER NEVER SENT and RED TENT to the list of Kalatozov films to add to my collection. Grade: It is a simple enough story, but the visuals just make it, cinema undeniable— A+.Aleksey Batalov in Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Click the image below to get the best price on the feature rich Blu-ray, and you also earn a few very appreciated pennies for this blog! A win-win!

Letyat zhuravli (1957)

Currently Watching: CANDY SNATCHERS Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome

 

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

One of the hardest things I find a film to be, is almost immediately engaging, exciting, and surprising. THE CANDY SNATCHERS is the first film I picked up from Blu-Ray Boutique label VINEGAR SYNDROME, and I picked it up because 1/it was given good reviews on a couple online outlets 2/ it had a stunning slipcover and 3/it was on sale.

I personally did not have high hopes for the film, it is not my genre of film. I don’t like extreme cinema, it is not my cup of tea. The torture/porn variety of cinema, just not for me.

I have seen the extreme films of Directors such as Miike Takashi, and I have seen their subtle films, and particularly with Takashi, his subtle films I find vastly better and more entertaining and well told, such as THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA and THE NEGOTIATOR.

But I do appreciate crime films. So it is a tricky tight rope for a film to walk, to ride that line between telling a tale of criminality and not going overboard into atrocity and gore for gore’s sake. That said, it is no walk in the park. If you do not like challenging films, and films about and showing a certain amount of violence and sex and abusive behaviour, you will want to avoid this film. At the end of the day, you have to be the barometer for where that line is for you.

I spent the first 10 minutes of THE CANDY SNATCHERS with my mouth agape, saying “WTF?!!!” and I spent my last 10 minutes of the film with my mouth agape saying “WTF?!!!”

And in between that ending and that beginning, i was completely riveted, and impressed by the quality of the performances, and the adept, stylish excellence of the Direction.

The performances are all excellent, all the actors are great, but particularly Tiffany Bolling as Jessie and Cristophe who plays Sean Newton are revelations for entirely different reasons. When they are on screen they are riveting; Tiffany Bolling for her beauty which is honestly mesmerizing, and her performance which is galvanizing, and Cristophe for his performance.

 

“1973 was the Mt. Everest of the ‘MADE for TV’ years. It was a pretty stunning period. So bear in mind, you could go to the theater and see this film [THE CANDY SNATCHERS] then you could turn around come home, and you could see something like DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK or COLD NIGHT’S DEATH.”

—from the pretty compelling Audio Commentary on the Blu-ray by film Historian Nathaniel Thompson

 

It is a film that veers wildly between suspenseful, horrific, disturbing, distasteful, riveting and just plain strange, and even rare bits of awkward levity. I was doubtful, very doubtful of this inane titled THE CANDY SNATCHERS being a good movie, however now having just fished it — I’m hard-pressed to find a reason not to call it a great movie.

I don’t want to oversell this little known crime oddity from 1973, but if my reviews have not steered you wrong in the past, they will not do so now. Pick up Guerdon Trueblood’s THE CANDY SNATCHERS, this was the director’s first and only feature film. Great Gaia, what a debut! It adds him to that list of great one time Directors (such as Charles Laughton, Saul Bass and Patrick McGoohan) that you wish had gotten the chance to direct more.

It is a must own. And get it with the stunning embossed Slipcover if you can.

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

There is a lot of Negative in the World — This surprisingly made me feel great

There is a lot of negative in the world.

Particularly now, when seemingly the proponents of hate and intolerance have wormed their way into places of trust and power. From the police force, to the president.

We have somehow, transitioned from a nation that fought Nazis, that gave the lives of Fathers, Brothers, Sons, Uncles, Wives, Daughters, toward this pursuit of Liberty, and the dream of America; to now where the grandchildren and great grand children of the greatest generation, have put on the yolks of ignorance, and stupidity, and bigotry and hatred — have become the Nazis that, at great spill of blood, we pushed into the sea.

That’s fine. Nazis fell before, they will fall again.

What is not fine– is that you can not resolve a problem; if you can not grasp, or define, the scope and depth of the problem.

So a racist media, selling only fear and outrage, but never really concerned with resolving the issues they bring up (to garner ratings); they are concerned with profiting from the criminal and the caustic and the egregious, but never punishment or closure.

A racist media, which in many ways is a membership campaign for more racism; makes the problem amorphous, and too big for us, makes it an unchangeable reality, rather than what it is, a problem— to be understood, and worked, and fought, and solved,

Organizations that start putting into perspective the problem, specific locations, specific organizations, specific patterns, that tangibility of the problem, that definition of it, makes it something you can work. Something you can fight.

Particularly when we begin highlighting the ties between movements of  stupidity and corporations. When we start tracing the money and the history, we can then start attacking the finances of these movements of hate, and that is when you start having results. There are a lot of companies no person of color should be giving money to, just for their historic, and in some cases present ties to movements of intolerance.

If you are a person of color, or just a person of conscience, patronizing companies like SHELL and KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN, you may want to do your homework and add them to your “sanctions/do not do business with” list. Otherwise the bullet that ends you, or the rope that lynches you– you may have paid for. Yes, I have no tact. 🙂

Now helping to clarify the problem, that is not an ending, it is not even a solution, but by helping to define the problem, that is the only way to begin to work a solution.

I went to SPLC’s website, and signed up to be a member immediately. I already donate to NAACP, and EFF, and Catholic Charities, but I really, after an incredibly stressful day at work, looking at the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER’s webpage, looking at the work they put in, looking at their hate map, and don’t take this the wrong way, but I felt— empowered, I felt better.

I don’t love the name, HATE MAP, it is to the point, but I think it gives these organizations the ‘bad boy’, fear inducing glamour they are looking for, call it ANTI-AMERICAN MAP call it TERRORIST MAP, and now you are painting these enemies of liberty with the brush, they would paint others with. Now you truly are defining them.

I felt in an age of fake, racist news, and public servants murdering the public, that  finally these — repeated failings of our nation, someone is taking the time to map them, to define — however rudimentary—the scope of the problem.

And God Almighty, give me a foe I can see, and a problem that I can understand, and that understanding is both lever and weapon, give me a big enough lever and I will move the world, to borrow a quote; that is how it felt finding the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER and becoming a member. 

I’m going to be reaching out to them, because I think a Think Tank approach, devoted to resolving the issues of intolerance and hate and malfeasance in our law enforcement and elected officials ( I would love to see a JUSTICE or LIBERTY map, showing off organizations doing good, as a counterpoint to their hate map), is a great idea and can use contributors.

Do your own homework before donating, but heck you can donate for as little as $25, and just the good feeling I received from their website existing, is worth that $25. Do your own homework, donate, get involved.

And for people who do not like using credit cards or paypal online (especially with one time or new purchases), I can not blame you, I do not either. Do what I did, print out their donation form, fill it out, get a money order from the post office, and mail it in.

View the site here!

And if you choose Donate Here!

WEDNESDAY’S WORDS was postponed to bring you this post. I think it is a worthy substitution.

Thanks and enjoy!

And when you sign up, tell them HT sent you!!!

 

And if you found this post useful, if it made you breathe a little easier, or stand a little straighter, or feel not alone in the night. then do me a favor. Like, subscribe, comment, and share this with others.

You do that and in little ways and in big ones, we win. We win the moment, if not the day. And win enough moments, well who can say.

I’m going to keep shouting out people and organizations that I think our winning the moment, Come shout with me.

The silence of good men and women, is all evil needs to triumph.

So reach out, and make a joyous noise. Join me here, as we speak in these— Heroic Times. 🙂

 

Thanks and enjoy!

 

5 favorite audio books NOT available via streaming, spotify or Audible! Book #5 WOLFEN!

There are about two dozen truly great audio actors, whose work on audio books, is a MUST OWN. Among them are Orson Welles, David Birney, Harlan Ellison, Roddy McDowall, James Mason, Michael Boatman to name a few.

Some of these guys work, for various reasons such as rights etc, are not available via streaming or in some cases even on CD. But these are preeminent works, of the greatest voice actors of their respective era, giving their greatest deliveries. And they can still be picked up via LP or cassette, at affordable prices, and deserve to be.

Once bought on LP or cassette go ahead and digitize it so you have these must own works in a preserved format. Here then without further ado, is the first of our 5 must own audio books!

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41-EAZMm3fL._SX295_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg Roddy McDowall reads WOLFEN- I am a huge fan of the 1981 WOLFEN film, I think it is a flawed, but unjustly overlooked masterpeice. However, I love this audio book version as much, perhaps even more, and that iis down to Roddy McDowall.

Roddy McDowall, a prolific actor with over 250 credits to his name, who is likely only remembered by a younger generation for his turn in FRIGHT NIGHT (1985),  gave some of the great, humanistic performances of cinema in his abundant career. From Academy Award winning turn in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941)  to his immortal role as Caesar in PLANET OF THE APES (1968) to THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) to the aforementioned FRIGHT NIGHT (1985), and everything in between, Roddy McDowall, despite the quality of the film or script, never gave a bad performance. The consummate actor, he always carried his role, you always believed him; and he brings that veracity to this audio book, and paints with his voice the hallowed and harrowing world of WOLFEN.

Click on the link below to acquire this essential bit of audio book history.

 

The Wolfen Audio Cassette – June 1, 1990

Material Type: Fiction, Audio book, etc.
Document Type: Sound Recording
All Authors / Contributors: Whitley Strieber; Roddy McDowall

ISBN: 1558002227 9781558002227
OCLC Number: 21983678
Notes: Abridged from the author’s book of the same title.
Performer(s): Reader, Roddy McDowall.
Description: 2 audiocassettes (approximately 180 min.) : digital, Dolby processed, 1/8 in. tape
Responsibility: author, Whitley Strieben.

STRANGER IN TOWN – Enjoyable Capraesque Litte Drama/Crime Caper – Movie of the Day!

 

Great little film from 1943. You would not think a film from 77 years ago would be so timely and entertaining, and even laugh out loud funny in places, and dire in others, and say something so clearly current about corruption and obligation. A great little film.

“The great liberties by which we live, have been bought with blood. The kind of  government we get, is the kind of government we want. A government of the people, by the people, for the people, can mean any kind of government. It is our duty to make it mean only one kind. Uncorrupted! Free! United!”

Currently available courtesy of Amazon Prime. But you never know when these movies will disappear off streaming, get the DVD here.

Stuck at Home? Currently Watching: HIGH MOON streaming on Roku via Amazon Prime Channel/App!

Stuck at home? Well here is a suggestion:

 

HIGH MOON aka HOWLERS(2019) – I like Westerns and I like Werewolf movies, so combine the two and I’m definitely the audience. Add to that this Josh Ridgeway directed flick is actually not the campy parody the title would suggest (HIGH NOON being one of my favorite Westerns).

Smartly written, also by Josh Ridgeway, with a nice mix of horror and wit, and excellently performed by a cast of solid actors, this movie is surprisingly good. Matthew Tomkins, who I have never seen give a bad performance, is his usual rock solid self, and the whole cast delivers. Chad Michael Collins is great as the primary protagonist, the time tossed Cowboy, Colt. Tom Zembrod, as his furry nemesis is the type of scenery chewing villain, that puts a smile on your face. Sean Patrick Flannery also keeps the film flying with his portrayal as a Mayor, quite a few steps beyond corrupt. And the ladies likewise, Chelsea Edmunson and April Hartman have roles of some complexity to dig into.

Add in good makeup effects, solid action, and characters you care about and you have a rip-roaring monster mashup. Man, did i have a lot of fun with this movie. A solid B+.

Howlers (2019)

Really glad I caught this courtesy of Amazon prime, and this one goes on my ‘to own’ list.

No Blu-ray at this time, but you can snag the DVD here!