Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movies Worth Buying!

So.  It’s three weeks in, and I’m still putting these out.  I’m not sure how many people are actually reading, but I’m putting them out.  But this week, there’s a problem.  You see, This is a really crappy week for new releases.  And next week isn’t great either.  I get it.  Everybody wants to release their stuff ahead of Christmas so it can be bought as presents, or after Christmas so people can use the money they got…nobody wants to release stuff when nobody’s paying attention.  Still, it doesn’t exactly make for a very interesting article.

And so, I decided to do something I’m very good at: pad the hell out of what I’m writing.  In addition to the normal stuff I pull from Amazon’s new release list, I’ve decided to add a few movies that I think are almost “required viewing” for the geek set.  They are all in desperate need of a really super-keen cleanup and release as a badass Blu-Ray, and one of them I don’t think has had legitimate release in the US at all, yet.
Join me after the break, and we’ll go over the stuff I DID find.  As usual, I’ve linked each to Amazon, where they can be bought…but that’s just because it’s convenient.  Feel free to support your local store.


For the week of 12/20/11
I’m not sure I understand it, but MMA fighting seems to really resonate with geek culture.  Obviously not with all of us…personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of any sport that requires people to pummel the crap out of each other; but the appeal is there, and so it’s worth talking about.  So here’s the story: Brendon and Tommy are brothers.  Brendon’s a married science teacher, about to lose his house; Tommy is more of a mystery, having only come back to town after their mother’s death.  Because it’s in the trailer, I’m not giving anything away when I say they end up fighting each other for a five million dollar prize…and that’s about the extent of what I know.  Nick Nolte’s in the movie as their dad/trainer.  Also, this was the last movie Tom Hardy did before moving on to playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises…so there’s probably a bit of a preview of what we’ll be seeing in that movie here.  Other than that, if you don’t already care, I’m probably not going to be able to convince you.  Like I said, it’s not really my thing either.
Do you really need me to tell you that Futurama is awesome?  Really?  Even when it’s not at its best, it’s still better than a lot of the other crap out there.  This particular set has episodes like “Yo Leela Leela”, where Leela becomes a children’s author despite having no imagination, “Tip of the Zoidberg”, where we find out more about the history of Professor Farnsworth and Dr. Zoidberg (a personal favorite), and “Reincarnation”, which has so much awesome I can’t even describe.  At the very least, these are worth seeing.
From what I can tell about this movie, it seems Zoe Saldana’s character is basically a female Batman, without a costume, who kills people.  Actually, she’s more like the Huntress…but not everyone may get that.  Written by Luc Besson, word is that it was originally going to be a follow-up to his Leon: The Professional, which is what introduced Natalie Portman to the world back in the early 90’s.  I can only imagine that the original plan was for the character of Colombiana to in fact be Portman’s character of Mathilda from Leon…it’s a fairly safe guess, but it’s still a guess.  Still, word is this is actually a pretty fun movie, and I plan to check it out eventually.  Though I’m not sure it needs to be in my personal collection.  I’ve got too much stuff to get as it is.
I like Shakespeare.  Sue me.  However, there’s a trick here.  This is the last movie writer/director Julie Taymor did before she basically torpedoed her entire career with the Spider-Man broadway show.  It even has original members of the Spidey cast Reeve Carney and Alan Cumming (Cumming was originally going to be Broadway’s Green Goblin, but he left the show) in supporting roles.  The story itself is pretty straightforward.  Hell if you’ve seen Forbidden Planet, which is a sci-fi classic that you should really see if you haven’t, then you’ve actually already seen The Tempest.  The biggest departure from the original story is that in this version, Miranda’s father Prospero is Miranda’s mother Prospera.  Also, there’s like, one black guy in the cast, and he plays the “deformed monster” Caliban.  I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it, but it does seem kinda off.  Also yes, this is where the X-Men character Caliban got his name.  (actually, there’s another guy, but even though if memory serves it’s an exposition heavy character, he’s not important enough to get an actual name, and is just known by his position)  The play is great.  The cast is promising.  I mean, Helen Mirren as Prospera.  Other cast members like Djimon Hounsou, Chris Cooper, Alfred Molina, and Russell Brand…along with the aforementioned Carney and Cumming.  Julie Taymor before the craziness?  It’s probably worth watching.  Or, you could just get Forbidden Planet, which has a “before he was funny” Leslie Nielsen doing a great job.  
The Underworld movies are cool.  It’s vampires versus werewolves, and nobody sparkles.  Though if you want to see a fan of the Underworld movies explode, tell them their movie is just Twilight without the sparkly shit and high-schoolers.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I bet it could at least piss somebody off.  This set is all three of the Underworld movies, plus some animated episodes that were done to bridge between them.  I own the first movie, and have seen the second.  I’m not familiar with the third, but I’m not sure I need to see it.  Still, the first one’s not bad at all, and the movies definitely have fans.  If it’s your thing, then here you go!
I really want to see this movie!  Starring Simon Pegg and a rare non-motion capture appearance by Andy Serkis, this movie has been around for quite a while, but hasn’t been readily available (at least here in the US) as of yet.   Our two main characters are down on their luck guys in the 1820’s who suddenly find their fortune in selling cadavers to the local medical school.  From there’s it’s a sordid tale of grave-robbing and murder…and it’s all based on a true story.  The first real movie directed by John Landis since Blues Brothers 2000, it’s supposed to be very dark, and pretty funny.  With those name attached, it almost HAS to be worth watching.  My only problem is that there’s no Blu-Ray release yet, just DVD.  I hate to sound like a snob, but I’ve gotten to the point that I really prefer buying Blu-Rays now when I can…so I may wait.  Still, I really want to see this.
This is another movie I know next to nothing about.  But it’s a Christmas-themed slasher flick, and that can’t be a bad thing.  Okay, actually it can.  And it probably is.  According to the specs on Amazon, it’s in Dutch, with both subtitles and a dubbed track.  So you can make sense of it if you don’t speak the language, but you know how that works.  Their version of “Saint Nick” sounds more like a demented, murderous, Krampus than Santa and the movie itself covers three time periods: The 1600’s, where Nick and his crew are murdered by the townspeople for killing the town’s bad kids; the 1960’s, where Nick comes back and kills everybody save one kid; and today, where that kid is back and ready to kick some ass.  The notes say the gore is pretty good, and it's funny…so take that for what it is.  It might be worth seeing, but if you haven’t seen Rare Exports yet, you might want to do that instead.

And that’s all I found this week that I thought was worth mentioning.  It’s really not much, even if I did go on about it at length…so to make up for the lack of stuff, I thought we’d go over a few movies that really need a new and totally badass release.  I’ll be honest, to decide what movies to pick, I just went to my DVD cases here in my apartment and pulled out the stuff that I really wanted a better copy of.  The hardest part was narrowing it down to just three because I didn’t want to do any more work than that.
If you’re a geek, and haven’t at least SEEN this movie, then you’re missing out.  A true cult classic in every sense of the phrase, it’s got everything.  The main character is a physicist, neurosurgeon, rock and roll star and head of the Banzai institute, where all manner of greatness takes place. (ask about the square watermelons) Buckaroo gains the attention of evil aliens, while meeting the separated-at-birth twin sister of his dead wife, and we’re off to the races.  This movie is really hard to describe without just telling you how it works scene for scene, which is no fun.  The cast is great: Peter Weller, Clancy Brown, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, and Ellen Barkin, among others.  There’s also a real sense of backstory, even though they don’t really give us much.  It’s as if this were one of the pulp novels from the old days, and we just picked up one in the middle of the series.  You know or find out everything you need in order to enjoy the movie, but there’s definitely a sense that there was more story to tell.   A couple years ago, it got a really nice 25th Anniversary release, but I’d really rather not wait until 2014 for the 30th in order to get a hi-def version.  Even if they just upgrade the movie and release it with all the old extras, it’d still be pretty packed.  Who knows if there’s anything left that they haven’t included, though I’m sure there’s always something.  I think part of the problem is that the movie is owned by MGM, and MGM has an agreement with FOX for all of their Blu-Ray releases…so it may just come down to who wants to spend the money to get it done.  If FOX did it, it would likely just be as a catalog title, but I’d imagine MGM would want a better release.  Who knows if we’ll ever see it at this point, but I promise that if they make one, I’m buying on release date.
This is one of the only movies that have actually given me nightmares.  This is, in my opinion, one of the best horror-type movies of all time.  And it was made in 1932.  The story centers around a circus, and its inhabitants, many of which were real-life circus performers.  A beautiful trapeze artist schemes to marry little person Hans for his inheritance, something the other sideshow performers don’t exactly take kindly to.  The best part about the movie is that the titular “freaks” aren’t the sideshow performers, but the normal people who surround them.  They’re mean and judgmental, and just generally horrible people, while the sideshow folks really close ranks to protect one of their family.  It’s a fascinating movie, and like I said, really disturbing.  If you’ve never seen it, I give it one of my highest recommendations.  There’s a DVD out there that went a long way towards restoring this classic film, but I’d really love to see what somebody like the Criterion group could do with it.  It’s exactly the kind of thing that they excel at, and I’d kill to see what kind of supplements they could come up with.  I doubt it will happen, as the movie is owned by Warner Bros, and they’d probably rather make money for themselves on something like that than let someone else do it, but it’s probably not real high on their priority list.  Especially seeing as it’s not exactly politically correct.  
From 1985, this was the first movie that the Evil Dead crew did after Evil Dead, and before Evil Dead II.  It was directed by Sam Raimi and written by the goddamn Coen Brothers.  The way I understand it, there was a lot of…studio involvement in the movie, and it shows.  The studio supposedly kept Bruce Campbell out of the starring role, and made them do a new begging and ending, among other things.  It’s still a pretty fun movie…even though there’s no possible way I could have seen it, since there’s never been an actual US release.  I want there to be a US release, dammit!  Clean up the footage, do a commentary track with as much of the cast and crew as you can put together, and release it to fans that will snap it up just because it’s got Bruce’s name on it.  I mean it.  Somebody please make this happen.

And that's it for this week!  Next week really is pretty light also, so there will likely be more of me begging for better releases of stuff I've already spent money on...because I have a problem.


  1. When I was a kid, I had insomnia far worse than I do now, and it was quite difficult because I grew up in a conventional family where certain movies and channels were off limits. I would sneak downstairs and watch TV to try to get through the long hours of the night awaiting the sunrise. Now granted it would always come with a risk but seemed worth it due to some of the bazaar movies I was able to see. My favorite was a movie called The Stuff, where after being marketed drives everyone into zombies. Scared me silly and although considered a B movie at the time as a kid it had an impact on me so it has always stayed with me in my mind as one of those weird freaky movies that I would not watch now as it would ruin the magic. There are many really good movies out there that I would like to get my hands on and for the longest time that was very difficult. It may sound bizarre but I like movies that have such an effect on me that they produce nightmares, as I know the movie was good enough to have influenced my subconscious. Buckaroo Banzai was fabulous and my brother named his top favorite movie when he saw it as a kid. Now Pulp Fiction is movie worth buying even though with the Blockbuster Movie Pass I no longer need to buy movies, I bought Pulp Fiction. A colleague of mine who also works at Dish Network turned me on to this fantastic movie lover’s madhouse of fun. It is a package but not an ordinary package. It has a movie package it comes with but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I enjoy thousands of titles from Dishonline as well as any games, TV shows or Blu-ray disks for no extra charge. Why this is significant is because I was overpaying with Netflix and rental fees and that was getting old. I love getting old movies when I want them and the answer lies within the biggest and most elaborate movie package I have ever seen.

  2. I was introduced to "The Stuff" just earlier this year, actually. I have no idea how I'd never seen it until that point, and it's really is pretty awesome. Buckaroo Banzai is one of those movies that movie nerds will judge your level of commitment based on whether or not you've seen it. Pulp Fiction isn't one of my favorites, but I understand its importance as a quirky, very smart, well-done movie that actually resonated with a mainstream audience in ways that those kind of things usually don't. As for the ad for Blockbuster movie pass, well...to each their own, I guess. I prefer to have a physical copy of media I enjoy. Besides the fact that if something goes wrong with my connection, I'm SOL, there's also the fact that those metrics are TRACKED by movie companies. It's not that I necessarily care that people know what I'm watching, but I do care that they use that info to try and sell me things, and screw that noise. But hey, to each their own. There are definitely upsides to rental programs, they're just not for me.