Three Essential 3D Blu-ray Movies to Purchase, while they are still available! September 2020 Edition!

 

Ang Lee in THE LIFE OF PI, uses 3D as masterfully, as you will likely see it used. Like cinematography, or the score, 3D here is not a gimmick, but is ingrained in the way the story is told. Absolutely essential to see this film in 3D. In a properly setup home system (or commercial system) the experience of watching this in 3D  feels like— a moment of grace.

 

For Anybody who has issues with films post converted in 3D, direct them to FORCE AWAKENS. This Post Converted film looks vastly better than some films shot with 3D cameras (such as RESIDENT EVIL:AFTERLIFE and TRANSFORMERS:THE LAST KNIGHT). It is clear it was photographed and shot, with 3D in mind. Because it uses that depth, masterfully. The film looks like  you can step into it, and more, in moments like it can push out toward you.

One moment, a little more than 36 minutes into the film, comes a stunning and awe inducing moment of 3D projection, as one of the Star Destroyers appears quite effectively, and repeatably, to extend out of your TV.  And more than that one scene, 3D here is used as immersive and involving storytelling. A winning 3D film. I wish the 3D in THE LAST JEDI (my favorite of this new era of Lucas Films, and right up there with  THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK as my favorite of any of the Star Wars films) was as well done.

 

 

I saw GUN FURY first in 2D. It was ok in 2D, but after watching it once, I had it in my to sell pile. I had seen it, let someone else enjoy it. However I then watched it in 3D, this 70 year old film, and I was blown away. I mentioned before, the 3D in THE FORCE AWAKENS being better than some natively shot 3D films. This is not one of those films.

The 3D in this film, magnificently restored by the 3D Film Archive, is a revelation. That 3D from 7 decades ago could look this good, this immersive, this grand, is a revelation. And kudos to the filmmaker, the great Raoul Walsh, one of the great Director’s of the golden age of Hollywood (I’m very partial to many of his films, including THE ROARING TWENTIES, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON and HIGH SIERRA).

Here, the reportedly dashing former stuntman, turned actor, turned (due to an accident on a shoot) one-eyed Director, delivers his only 3D film; and for a man who could only surmise the effect of his shots in 3D, he delivers a movie that is gripping in its use of stereoscopy; replete with breathtaking endless vistas of an untamed America that seems to go on forever.

This is the power of 3D, to make a film more involving; just like great sound design,  or a great score, 3D is a tool, to make a film work better. 

In  the hands of a great filmmaker, 3D is more than a gimmick. 3D elevates GUN FURY from a film I thought was good but disposable, to a film that nearly every scene captivated me, and it will now —  not leave my collection. That is the power of well applied 3D.

 

Hope you found this helpful. Click on the images to view the films in question. Purchases through the links are appreciated and earn this blog always appreciated pennies. Thanks for looking and on the way out, go ahead and like, subscribe, and share the link to this site.

Be well out there!

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.

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!

Amazon Prime DEAL of the Day! SOLAR POWER GENERATOR

After hundreds of hours of research here is my recommendation for a sub $400 Solar Accepting Generator to purchase. I should not have to sell you on the need for having a generator or multiple generators.

 

LOOKING AT THE WORLD OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR  SHOULD DRIVE HOME THE NEED TO BE … PREPARED.

Our DEAL OF THE DAY is:

Now Ideally if money is no object you want something that will support as many watts as possible, at least a 1000 watts. However most of us, can not “fly into flying”, to take a line from COMING TO AMERICA; Meaning most of us have to start smaller and more affordably.

In that case the BEAUDENS is a nice starter system for a few reasons. Most notably is the type of battery it uses, LiFePO4 will last for more charges than conventional lithium-ion batteries. You arguably will get a third more life out of this unit than comparable units using the more conventional Lithium-ion batteries found in other generators.

The other thing is it uses pure sine wave circuitry, meaning sensitive DC equipment running off the beaudens’ DC circuitry is not in danger of being under-powered.

AND CHARGING WISE, YOU CAN CHARGE IT FROM THE INCLUDED POWER ADAPTER OR A SOLAR PANEL (NOT INCLUDED) OR IN A PINCH FROM YOUR CAR’S CIGARETTE LIGHTER. SPEAKING OF THE SOLAR PANEL IT HAS A BUILT IN MPPT CONTROLLER MEANING IT IS MORE EFFICIENT AT CONVERTING AND USING THE ENERGY IT GETS FROM YOUR SOLAR PANEL, COMPARED TO A SYSTEM THAT DOES NOT HAVE A BUILT IN MPPT CONTROLLER.

AND LASTLY I DID MY HOMEWORK AND RESEARCHED THE FEEDBACK ON PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY PUT THIS GENERATOR THROUGH ITS PACES.

ADD ALL THAT UP, ALONG WITH THE COMPETITIVE PRICE THIS IS SELLING FOR,  AND IN MY OPINION THIS IS A MUST BUY.  THIS IS NOT WHAT I WOULD RECOMMEND FOR YOUR REFRIGERATOR OR INDUCTOR BASED KITCHEN EQUIPMENT (I WILL CREATE A SEPARATE POST FOR A GENERATOR TO SUPPORT YOUR KITCHEN EQUIPMENT), HOWEVER TO KEEP IN YOUR LIVING ROOM OR BEDROOM IN ORDER TO POWER YOUR LAMPS, OR PHONES, OR RADIOS, OR  TV OR ROUTER OR LAPTOP IN THE EVENT OF A POWER OUTAGE; WELL THIS BEAUDENS IS GREAT TO OWN AND KEEP CHARGED UP FOR JUST SUCH AN EMERGENCY.

IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, KEEP ONE CHARGED UP IN EACH MAIN ROOM OF YOUR HOUSE, AND ONE IN YOUR CAR. BUT I WOULD RECOMMEND AT LEAST OWNING ONE.

IF YOU FOUND THIS POST USEFUL PLEASE LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, AND IF MOVED TO, USE THE LINKS BELOW. YOU GET A GREAT ITEM, AND THIS BLOG EARNS A FEW WELCOME PENNIES TO KEEP THE PROVERBIAL LIGHTS ON. 🙂 .

 

 

 

 

CLICK ON THE IMAGES FOR MORE DETAILS OR TO ORDER.

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!

 

Streaming Movies of the Day : Amazon Prime Hits and Misses!

NOT WORTH FINISHING:

Mark Heap, Sean Verey, Danny Kirrane, David Mumeni, and Timothy Renouf in Fubar (2018)

GOOD:

It stumbles in the 3rd act, but most of it keeps your attention, and plays initially like a smarter and less gory SAW.

GREAT:

Riveting and dangerous and endlessly surprising viewing experience. A great debut feature film by writer, director Marvin Choi, and marvelously performed by Darnel Powell and Joseph Price. All of these men, are talents to watch. Grade: B+. Highly Recommended.

Currently Watching : Criterion Blu-Ray KISS ME DEADLY (1955) by Robert Aldrich

Cloris Leachman, Marian Carr, Maxine Cooper, Ralph Meeker, and Gaby Rodgers in Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

There are a lot of GREAT film Noirs. From John Huston’s anointed ground zero of Film noir, 1941’s MALTESE FALCON to the works of Billy Wilder (1944’s DoUBLE INDEMNITY),  Edward Dmytryk (1944’s MURDER MY SWEET). Howard Hawks (1946’s BIG SLEEP), Orson Welles (1947’s THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI), Anthony Mann/John Alton (1948’s RAW Deal), Joseph H. Lewis (1950’s GUN CRAZY),  Jules Dassin (1950’s NIGHT AND THE CITY), Richard Fleisher (1952’s THE NARROW MARGIN) to name just a few, There is perhaps no genre to in so brief a time, create such a wealth of iconic films, and galvanizing films.

Going on 80 years after some of these films were made, they are as crowd pleasing and watchable as ever. You can’t say the same for many of the A films, or serious films of the time, that tend to creak under the manners and etiquette and issues of the day—of a passed time. Whereas the genre films, particularly film noir, lived in this short-hand, heightened Americana of Extremes; of lust and betrayals and passions, that remain timeless and relatable and incendiary. Film Noirs, though of their time, lived in a world of light and shadows, that felt always ever present, and indeed almost prophetic… almost ahead of its time.

And perhaps no Film Noir highlights this as much, as Robert Aldrich’s 1955 masterpiece… KISS ME DEADLY. From the opening sequence, which remains one of the best opening sequences of any film, to the last scene of a world put on notice, Aldrich’s KISS ME DEADLY, in a genre that is style codified, stands out as the most stylish, and yet does so while also being one of the most substantive Film Noirs.

There is so much in this film, from how it is shot, to its location, to its soundtrack by the great Nat King Cole, to its performances led by the great Ralph Meeker, to its wealth of diversity, showcasing a city peopled with a diverse range of colors, and nationalities and ethnicity. People of color, with speaking parts, not shown as stereotypes but just as intriguing people, to the wealth of memorable female roles, to its brutality, to its depiction of its protagonist— that continues to make KISS ME DEADLY, unique.

Even in a genre of morally ambiguous anti-heroes that people Film Noir, Ralph Meeker’s Mike Hammer takes the cake. He is mercenary, brutal, sadistic, a user of women, he is a thug and a cad, but despite that, there is also something still magnetic about him, Ralph Meeker plays him in a way that I’m not sure any other actor could have quite pulled off, that makes you see him, as reflected nin the great performances of the four women that pine for his attention throughout the movie:  a cad yes, but a cad with something Quixote like somewhere beneath the smirk. That here at the end of the day, is a man who would if he could, fight dragons. This realization that despite MIke hammer’s failings, the things he fights against— are worse.

And something that is lost, even to ardent fans of this film, and because of just how much happens in every moment of this film, is everything that happens from the protagonist’s release from the hospital till the conclusion, happens in just four days. The amount of horror and blood and beatings and ultimately loss that happens, is a whirlwind, and becomes even more impressive when you take the time to realize this is a 96 hour period, from him getting out of the hospital till the end of the film.

Robert Aldrich made a lot of acclaimed films, this is without doubt my personal favorite of all his films. It is a masterpiece, full stop, owing its revolutionary plotline less to the source novel by Mickey Spillane, and by all reports (including the included 2011 alex Cox featurette) almost entirely to the groundbreaking changes and innovations introduced by screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides.

And Criterion has released this game changing film, in a definitive Blu-Ray presentation, from the mastering, to the extras, to the packaging and art design, it is a work of art, worthy of the film.

Yes you can purchase it on streaming. But for a few dollars more you can own it in a format, that does honor to your book shelf or media center, or living room.

Grade: A+. Highest Recommendation, for the movie and for the Blu-Ray.

And no, I won’t be upgrading this to 4K, or 8K, or 16K. I’ve got an up-scaling multi-region Blu-ray player, 20-20 vision, on a less than 65″ screen, this Blu-ray satisfies the needs of my TV, and of my eyesight. Beyond a certain point the search for more is a game of pixels and real estate, and moving the newest shiny model (to use car talk), and not quality.

Click the image below to get your copy, while still in stock.

Currently Watching : DEATH IN THE GARDEN (1957) by Luis Bunuel courtesy of Kanopy Roku Channel!

Georges Marchal and Simone Signoret in La mort en ce jardin (1956)

One of the pioneers of surrealism, specifically cinematic, LUIS Bunuel is most well known for his early experimental films such as UN CHIEN ANDALOU and L’AGE D’OR and THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL, However what tends to get lost is that he did over 30 films, and did a few adept, straight narrative films as well. LA MORT EN CE JARDIN aka DEATH IN THE GARDEN stands as one of his strongest straight narrative films, and plays a little like Bunuel’s quasi-reimagining on the themes of Clouzot’s WAGES OF FEAR, with a smattering of huston’s THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE thrown in.

While not on the level of those two iconic films, this film is very good, and deserves better than its nearly forgotten status.

It is hurt perhaps a bit by its meandering nature, and the lack of a charismatic lead actor in the central role, but as the movie goes on the lack of stars, makes the journey they endure more compelling and impactful, and surprising. Ultimately the film goes surprising, unexpected places; Journeys external,  paled only BY even vaster journeys internal. And what must also be applauded is the beautiful use of color in this film, vibrant and rich and painterly.

Grade: A very good film that deserves far more attention. B+.

Also as a bit of trivia, the film may be the earliest to display a character giving someone the finger. 🙂 . Watch it for free courtesy of the Kanopy Roku Channel, and when suitably impressed, get the Blu-ray by clicking on the image below.

Special Features: Audio commentary by film critic Sam Dhegihan | Booklet essay by film critic Peter Tongue-tie | Interview with film critic Tony Rains | Trailers

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.