BLU RAY Highlights of 2012
Before 2012 passes into history we wanted to compile some of the fantastic Blu Ray discs released this year that we highly recommend to all the furious cinema enthusiasts out there. The films we’ve chosen span many different decades, cover a wide variety of genres and ultimately hold their own unique places in cinema history. The list features everything from Westerns to Sci-Fi, Comedy, Horror, Crime Films, Experimental cinema and much more. If you’d like to help support this website’s continuing efforts you can do so by ordering any of the following titles through Amazon by just clicking on their Blu Ray covers. In closing we hope all our readers have a great 2013 and keep celebrating those amazing movies! – The staff of Furious Cinema
BLUE VELVET (1986, Dir: David Lynch)
David Lynch is an auteur known for his truly bizarre cinematic visions and Blue Velvet is the kind of movie that slowly pulls you into its dark, surreal world and doesn’t let you go until you’re in above your head. It also features one of Dennis Hopper’s most memorable performances as the silly-gas sniffing maniac Frank Booth. When you see Hopper babbling, ranting and screaming “Mommy!”, you’ll never forget it. Get ready for one insane ride into the mind of one of film’s most interesting artists!
THE CONVERSATION (1974, Dir: Francis Ford Coppola)
In an underground world of conspiracy, surveillance and mystery, the film follows expert wire-tapper and spy Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) during a routine investigation. With a haunting past tormenting his every move, Caul makes it a golden rule to stay far outside of each project. However, his latest job turns out to be more than he bargained for when he’s caught inside a web of murder and secrecy that threatens his safety – and his sanity.
DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993, Dir: Richard Linklater)
If American Graffiti was the film that defined the sock hop/car culture/drive-in scene of the early 60s then Dazed and Confused is the film that represents the 70s in all its long haired, pot smoking, free-wheeling, bell bottomed beauty. In the early 90s Writer-Director Richard Linklater produced an indie feature about a group of Austin, Texas high school students (based on his own experiences/friends) and the result was one of the most honest, well made movies of its kind.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI (1998, Dir: The Coen Bros.)
His birth name is Jeffrey Lebowski but he goes by the mellow moniker “The Dude”. Star Jeff Bridges seemed to be born to play this role with his easygoing personality and that’s a big reason why people love it so much. The Dude could be be best described a mixture of Phillip Marlowe (the film is loosely based on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep) and Cheech and Chong. After his beloved rug is peed upon, The Dude finds himself involuntarily used as a pawn in a money scheme set in motion by the other Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston) a rich philanthropist who despises deadbeats like El Duderino. The Coens’ eccentric characters and memorable dialogue have made this movie a treasure for fans of their work.
LITTLE BIG MAN (1970, Dir: Arthur Penn)
Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) directed this humourous revisionist western epic about an man named Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) who tells the story of his unique life (in a Forrest Gump type fashion) to a reporter. Crabb recounts stories about how he came to meet several famous people on his adventures including “Wild Bill”; Hickock (Jeff Corey) and General George Custer (Richard Mulligan). Although the comedy is ever present, the film also takes a serious look at the treatment of the American Indians during the Civil War. This film, along with others such as Ralph Nelson’s Soldier Blue were largely anti-establishment works that portrayed the US military in a negative light and were used as a commentary on The Vietnam War which was raging at the time. Little Big Man is a gem of early 70s Hollywood filmmaking and features another memorable performance from acting chameleon Dustin Hoffman who holds the record for portraying such an extensive age span onscreen. He plays Crabb from 17 y/o to 121! Co-starring Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam.
12 ANGRY MEN (1957, Dir: Sidney Lumet)
The late great Sidney Lumet’s directorial debut was a furiously intense court drama set in one room where 12 jurors must figure out if a young boy accused of murdering his father is guilty or innocent. The direction is taut, the performances sharp as switchblades and features several great character actors you’ll certainly recognize if you love classic movies. The story is really about these men and how their prejudices and backgrounds direct the outcome of the judicial procedure. Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam. This film stands up so well because of its timeless quality which people from any generation can watch and get into the story.
BATTLE ROYALE (2000, Dir: Kinji Fukasaku)
In dystopian future Japan, unemployment skyrockets leaving millions out of work. Fearing that their children will rebel and cause chaos, the government passes the Millennium Educational Reform Act. Under this new law, school students must take part in an annual “Battle Royale” which is a game that requires them to wear explosive collars and fight each other to the death until only one is left. If any of the kids try to escape, happen to enter a specific “death zone” or break the rules, their collars will be detonated. The film stars Takeski Kitano (Sonatine) and Chiaki Kuriyama (Kill Bill) and is based on the Japanese novel.
THE BOND 50 ULTIMATE COLLECTION
The Bond 50 collection includes over 130 hours of bonus features for die hard 007 fanatics to keep them satisfied. You really can’t ask for much more than that if you love these classic spy movies.
CHINATOWN (1974, Dir: Roman Polanski)
Set in the late 1930s, Jack Nicholson plays J.J. “Jake” Gittes, a Los Angeles gumshoe who is hired to keep tabs on Hollis Mulwray an engineer for the cities’ Department of Water and Power. After Mulwray is later found murdered, Gittes decides to continue investigating and find out who was responsible for the killing. As he delves further into the dealings of Mulwray, he finds himself in the center of a storm of corruption and mysterious family secrets. Filled with great performances, superb direction and a magnificent screenplay by Robert Towne, Chinatown is a classic movie that fans definitely should see and add to their collection. Co-starring Faye Dunaway, Burt Young, James Hong and John Huston.
THE DEER HUNTER (1978, Dir: Michael Cimino)
Michael Cimino’s second film is his finest hour as a filmmaker. Unfortunately he would never again reach the same kind of critical acclaim he received from it. The story is an equally beautiful, haunting and tragic look at the effects war has on people’s lives. It’s very much about innocence lost as three friends (Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, John Savage) become forever changed by their experiences in battle.
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999, Dir: Spike Jonze)
Filmmaker Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman took movie audiences on a new kind of existential adventure with this film. What’s so great about it is the fact it is one of the most interesting works of cinema from modern times with a concept that is so absurd, yet highly entertaining and very unique. Combining fantasy, dark comedy, puppeteering, John Malkovich and a cast of eccentric personalities, it’s just a wild cinematic excursion to places you definitely haven’t been before. Thanks to Criterion, the film has been now been remastered in high-definition and comes packed with extra features that fans of this cult classic will surely enjoy every minute of!
JAWS (1975, Dir: Steven Spielberg)
It is legendary today as the movie that nearly sank Steven Spielberg’s career due to the myriad of production problems with the mechanical shark they nicknamed “Bruce” (after his lawyer). The rookie filmmaker later had to employ more Hitchcockian techniques to make the movie work the way it did. I think it’s safe to say that what it finally became was something of a motion picture miracle. The way it was edited along with using shots from the shark’s point of view and of course John Williams’ ingenius score, it took audiences on a truly thrilling, edge of your seat ride and became a beloved film favorite. Ultimately JAWS did for the ocean what Psycho did for showers!
BARBARELLA (1968, Dir: Roger Vadim)
A young Jane Fonda plays the sexiest space adventurer ever to explore the galaxy in this 1968 Roger Vadim cult classic. A very trippy sci-fi excursion with amazing costumes and set designs. Co-starring John Phillip Law. FC’s Sebastian loves it because it totally captures the artistic spirit of the time. It is absolutely non-explicit even though Fonda screws herself through space, and it is incredibly psychedelic and atmospheric.
JEREMIAH JOHNSON (1972, Dir: Sydney Pollack)
“Watch your top knot!” – Robert Redford plays a Mexican-American War veteran who decides to become a mountain man in the dangerous, uncivilized Colorado territory of the 1800s. On his travels trapping and living off the land he meets several different friends and foes as he tries to survive in the wild. A highly entertaining classic movie masterpiece from the late director Sydney Pollack. Co-starring Stefan Gierasch, Delle Bolton, Paul Benedict and Jack Colvin.
DOWN BY LAW (1986, Dir: Jim Jarmusch)
In this Jim Jarmusch indie comedy classic, three strangers (Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni and John Lurie) from different backgrounds are arrested and thrown in a New Orleans prison together. They later escape and go on an adventure through the murky Louisiana bayou country and it turns out to be one strange journey.
BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY (1989, Dir: Oliver Stone)
Based on a true story, Tom Cruise stars as outspoken Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic a man who fought for his country and was later paralyzed in battle. It’s a harrowing look at the conflict between Kovic’s patriotic idealism (something he shared with so many soldiers like him) and his fight to overcome the many hardships he suffered due to the war (which stemmed from lies the US government told) during one of the most unpopular periods in American history. Co-starring Frank Whaley, Willem Dafoe, Jerry Levine, Josh Evans. Directed by Oliver Stone.
THE ENTITY (1983, Dir: Sidney J. Furie)
Based on a true story, Barbara Hershey plays Carla Moran, a single mother who is terrorized by an unseen poltergeist in her home. The suspense is heightened as the violent invisible attacks occur randomly. Carla’s only chance at removing this threat from her life is getting help from a group of paranormal scientists. It’s a cult classic that supernatural horror film fans will want to add to their Blu collections! Co-starring Ron Silver.
FULL METAL JACKET (1987, Dir: Stanley Kubrick)
A movie that portrays the insanity of war in two parts. The first half is the boot camp experience and the wrath of a sadistic drill seargent (R. Lee Ermey) on his men including Pvt.”Joker” (Matthew Modine) and an overweight oaf named Leonard aka Pvt. “Pyle” (Vincent D’Onfrio). The second half is the foreign wartorn setting of Vietnam where Joker and his fellow soldiers are thrown into a hellish fight for survival. A thoroughly enthralling masterpiece from one of our greatest filmmakers.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956, Dir: Don Siegel)
One of the best and earliest alien invasion movies focuses on a small town that is overrun with vegetable like pods which contain clones of the citizens. Only one man (Kevin McCarthy) knows the alien’s secret plan to colonize the Earth and must warn others of the impending doom. His main problem is figuring out who’s a pod person and who’s not! A classic sci-fi, edge of your seat thriller. Look closely for a cameo from Siegel protege and future director Sam Peckinpah.
ECLIPSE SERIES: UP ALL NIGHT WITH ROBERT DOWNEY SR
When you watch a film by Robert Downey Sr. it’s really an experience like no other. His brand of underground experimental cinema was completely no holds barred and like a Cassavetes or Godard, was wholly unique. The works he crafted were often hilarious, extremely witty commentaries on politics, race and consumer culture. This special Eclipse box set features seminal works like Babo 73, Chafed Elbows, No More Excuses, Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight. It of course includes his landmark cult hit: Putney Swope, a hysterical satire about the world of advertising. If you love avant garde/arthouse cinema of the 60s and 70s, there’s no doubt you’ll want to have this in your collection.
42ND STREET FOREVER
For grindhouse fanatics Synapse’s 42nd Street Forever series is simply a must own. These trailer compilations really are like The Deuce transported right into your home. You get a taste of so many cool genres ranging from Horror to Blaxploitation to Martial Arts to Sexploitation and much much more. We’re more than happy about how Volume 1 has been given a release on hi-def. New trailers added to the original edition include: Super Manchu. Chained Heat, Eye of the Cat, Salo, Honky, Flesh Gordon, Antropohgpagous, Act of Vengeance, Fairy Tales, Mark of the Witch. This re-release also features a brand new audio commentary with exploitation film scholars Chris Poggiali, Edwin Samuelson and Michael Gingold, which makes watching these colorful trailers all the more entertaining. Pick up interesting film geek facts that you never knew about and feel like you’re hanging out with friends.
A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1966, Dir: Damiano Damiani)
You probably know what a spaghetti western is by now but there’s a subgenre within those that you may not be as familiar with. They’re called Zapata Westerns and are set exclusively during the Mexican Revolution. Some other examples include Companeros, The Mercenary and Duck You Sucker. In Damiano Damiani’s A Bullet For the General (aka Quien sabe?) Gian Maria Volonte (Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More) plays a wily Mexican bandit called El Chuncho who leads a gang of men that rob weapons for federale General Elias. During one of their heists on a train they meet a young American named Tate who surprisingly aids them in their cause. On their adventure, El Chuncho and Tate get along exceptionally well but what the bandito doesn’t know is that his new found friend has alterior motives of his own.
SPAGHETTI WESTERN DOUBLE FEATURE
In the Euro-Westerns American actor Lee Van Cleef really found a new life. He made several classics overseas including Giancarlo Santi’s The Grand Duel (1972) in which he plays Clayton an ex-sheriff that champions the cause of a criminal (Peter O’Brien) who is accused of killing a local patriarch. One of the things that make this entry in the genre so much fun is how it completely blurs the lines between “good” and “bad” guys, which was actually one of the themes in spaghetti westerns that made them different than the American films. With Keoma (1976), Enzo G. Castellari directed his old protege Franco Nero (Django himself) in this story of a half breed Indian-American who returns to his home town after serving in the Civil War only to find out there’s been a plague and the remaining survivors have been sent to a camp. In another unique story twist, Keoma’s main enemies are actually his own half brothers, who have turned their backs on their father and become corrupted by the evil Caldwell (Donald O’Brien). This is a very somber and nihilistic Spaghetti Western, with an almost post-apocalyptic feel, that was a perfect way to close out the genre in the mid 1970s. It also features a very strange score inspired by the works of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan with its moody, droning vocals. Both these movies are essentials for spaghetti western aficionados and come highly recommended.
JOHNNY GUITAR (1954, Dir: Nicholas Ray)
This mid 50s Western really flipped the entire genre on its head at the time it was made. Joan Crawford stars as Vienna a staunchly independent, unfriendly saloon keeper who must readjust when her old flame Johnny “Guitar” Logan (Sterling Hayden) an ex gunslinger turned musician shows up in town. As the two rekindle their lost love affair, things become more complicated when Vienna’s latest fling The Dancin Kid (Scott Brady) and his gang of outlaws rob the local bank causing the townsfolk to seek revenge on him and Vienna. This movie was one of the earliest Westerns that re-invented the genre with its use of colorful visual motifs and inversion of the genre’s typical male-female archetypes. Co-starring Mercedes McCambridge.
WALKING TALL TRILOGY
Based on the life of legendary Tennesee Sheriff Buford Pusser (who died in 1974), this trilogy actually stars two different people in the main role. In the original Walking Tall (1973), Joe Don Baker played Pusser and we learn more about his background and aspirations to be a lawman. Upon his induction as Sheriff, he became intent on taking down The Dixie Mob, who were basically the Southern hick version of the Italian mafia organizations in New York and Chicago etc. Pusser was a man who was deadset against any law breaking in his county whether it be bootlegging or illegal gambling so he decided to put a stop to the underworld by using brute force (and a huge stick). He really made a name for himself and ultimately became a local legend. Pusser was something like the South’s version of Serpico, i.e. a rebel with a cause that wanted to uphold law and order any cost. In the two sequels to Walking Tall, the role of Pusser was taken over by actor Bo Svenson who turned in an equally memorable performance. The first movie is especially tough action wise and emotionally and if you love hard hitting violence, it delivers big time. The films with Svenson are a bit more toned down in terms of brutality, yet are still very entertaining. For those who love furious Hixploitation cinema, these movies about fighting corruption are for you!
THE STING (1973, Dir: George Roy Hill)
In their second collaboration following Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969), Director Hill, along with actors Paul Newman and Robert Redford decided to tell another tale about two outlaws, this time set in Depression era Chicago of the 1930s. Johnny Hooker (Redford) is a young grifter that lives on the edge. Together with his friend Luther (Robert Earl Jones) a veteran flim flam man, the two make a big score after pulling a scam on some schmuck. What they don’t realize is that the money they jacked belongs to a feared crime boss named Doyle Lonegan (Robert Shaw). The word soon gets out that two low life grifters were behind the robbery and Lonegan sends a hitman to kill them but only Luther (who has decided to retire from criminal life) gets knocked off. Seeking revenge, Hooker goes to Luther’s old friend Henry Gondorf (Newman), and the two set up an epic sting with the help of a gang of colorful characters that want to help get them get payback for Luther. The score by Marvin Hamlisch is wonderful, as he covers classic ragtime music by Scott Joplin featuring The Entertainer, which the main theme of the film. The Sting is an American cinema classic. Co-starring Ray Walston, Charles Durning, Dana Elcar, Jack Kehoe, Harold Gould and Eileen Brennan.
THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940, Dir: John Ford)
Based on the best selling book by John Steinbeck, this American classic stars Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, an ex-con who returns to his family’s Oklahoma Dust Bowl farm only to find that the government is evicting them as well as many of his ‘down on their luck’ neighbors. The Joad clan decides to pick up and move to California the promised land to start over again. Troubles soon arise when they get stuck working at a fruit picker camp and must live in a cramped cabin eating scraps. To make things worse, the locals resent the poor pickers and give them a hard time seeing them as unwanted outsiders. Meanwhile Tom decides to join other weary folks as they spread word of an organized labor movement to change their situation for the better. The Grapes of Wrath is a timeless story about the American spirit and endeavoring to perservere. Co-starring Jane Darwell, Russell Simpson and John Carradine.
DELIVERANCE (1972, Dir: John Boorman)
Four friends (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty) decide to take a vacation canoeing down a Georgia river. Their wild weekend adventure soon becomes a fight for survival when they encounter two deranged hillbillies that kill their freewheeling buzz completely. This film features two memorable sequences that will forever be a part of cinema history. One involves a banjo, the other: squeeling. This is not only an American classic but it inspired an entire subgenre of movies to come after it known as the “backwoods thriller”.
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DJANGO KILL! IF YOU LIVE SHOOT! (1967, Dir: Giulio Questi) There’s no doubt that spaghetti westerns are really an acquired taste for film fans simply because of their offbeat style. This title was one of the many unaffiliated sequels to the original Django (1966) and has to be one of the strangest spaghettis to come out of that period. Tomas Milian plays The Stranger (he’s not called Django) a member of a gang of thieves that stole some gold. After a conflict within the faction, The Stranger is buried alive and left for dead but somehow survives and sets out to get revenge on his old gang. When The Stranger finally catches up to the bandits in a small town, he finds out they’ve all been killed and the stolen gold is being fought over by two warring gangs. Now, this is just a very basic plot outline and definitely doesn’t give you the entire picture of just what youre in store for with this bizarre Italo-western. There’s a whole lot of weirdness such as bloody scalpings, homosexual thugs, a parrot who doesn’t mimic but really talks and other odd details such as bullets made of gold and that’s just to start. If you’re into 60s/70s experimental/surreal cinema like Greaser’s Palace or El Topo, then this film will surely captivate you with its unique psychedelic/hallucinegenic qualities.
THE COLOR OF MONEY (1986, Dir: Martin Scorsese)
25 years after The Hustler was released, Director Martin Scorsese was hired on to direct this sequel about the main character of that film “Fast Eddie” Felsen (Paul Newman) a master pool shark who walked away from the game he loved after a personal tragedy. What Scorsese brought to the mainstream Hollywood studio project was a unique vision and style that he developed in his earlier classics such as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Paul Newman went on to win an Oscar for his second portrayal of an older, wiser Felsen, a man who tries to help a young wreckless rookie pool player (Tom Cruise) learn how to hone his talent.
BLADE RUNNER: 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1982, Dir: Ridley Scott)
If you never bought the last multi-disc release of Ridley Scotts sci fi masterpiece (or if you want to double dip since buying a Blu Ray player), the 30th Anniversary Edition of the film will surely satisfy your needs. This four disc Blu Ray/Ultra Violet combo set contains five versions of the film: the rare workprint version, the 1982 domestic and international theatrical cuts, the 1993 director’s cut, and the 2007 Final Cut, which contains additional revisions not present in any of the previous versions. Includes an All-new bonus disc featuring the existing extra content from the Ultimate Collector’s Edition, a Photo gallery with 1,000+ new images, Feature-length Dangerous Days documentary and Over six behind-the-scenes featurettes. The discs also come packaged in a collectible 72-page digibook with never-before-seen Ridley Scott sketches, poster art, and photos from the set alongside a concept spinner car and action Lenticular hologram.
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948, Dir: Charles Barton)
This is easily one of, if not the most enjoyable of the Abbott & Costello films. Not only did it feature Frankenstein (Glenn Strange) but Dracula, the Wolf Man AND a special cameo by Vincent Price as the voice of The Invisible Man. (40 years before The Monster Squad which did a similar team up). The movie does an amazing job of juxtaposing the screwball comedy antics of Bud and Lou with the horror scenes which aren’t necessarily played for laughs and are at times pretty brutal for the time it was made. Trivia: Walter Lantz the cartoonist who created Woody Woodpecker did the animation of Dracula transforming into a bat.
HIGH NOON (1952, Dir: Fred Zinneman)
In this Western classic Gary Cooper plays Will Kane a newly married ex-Marshal whose quiet life is thrown into turmoil when he is forced to face off with a criminal who returns after getting a reprieve to seek revenge on him. Not without social/political subtext, it was also seen as a commentary on the controversial government blacklisting which was occurring at the time. Co-starring Grace Kelly and Lloyd Bridges.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011, Dir: Gareth Evans)
What began as a buzz around this film later turned into a full on furious wave of geekgasms across the globe. Director Gareth Evans brought back a relentless fury to cinema with his modern Indonesian actioner and it’s even drawn comparisons to classics like Die Hard (1987). One thing is for sure, this is the type of movie that is pure entertainment for those times when you’re in the mood to just chill out in your home theater with the surround sound cranked to 11 and watch people being kicked, punched, sliced, diced, cracked, smacked and punted.
UNIVERSAL’S CLASSIC MONSTERS
Not only are each of these classic Universal titles benchmark works of cinema, they’re really the crown jewels of the different subgenres they represent. All of them have been given a glorious hi-definition treatment, so get ready to view them in a whole new extremely fresh light. We’re simply thrilled to see these treasures finally being released on Blu Ray and while the price for this mega monstrous collection might be a little steep we can say with all honesty, it’s worth every penny.
INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES
These classic American action adventure films conceived by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg took concepts based on early film serials from the 1930s/40s and reinvented them into something fresh and exciting while establishing a new iconic character (an amalgam of the older heroes) called Indiana Jones played by Harrison Ford. The saga begins in the 1930s with Raiders of The Lost Ark and ends with Kingdom of The Crystal Skull which is set in the 1950s.
THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK MASTERPIECE COLLECTION
Fans of The Master of Suspense should get their credit cards ready because Universal Home Video has delivered a mega boxset of some of the pioneering genius filmmaker’s greatest hits. The newly remastered hi-def collection also contains hours of extensive bonus features and includes the following Hitch classics: Saboteur | Shadow of a Doubt | Rope | Rear Window | The Trouble with Harry | The Man Who Knew Too Much | Vertigo | North by Northwest | Psycho | The Birds | Marnie | Torn Curtain | Topaz | Frenzy | Family Plot.
ED WOOD (1994, Dir: Tim Burton)
Before his full on descent into what I call “emo goth cinema”, Tim Burton made this terrific black and white homage to one of the true auteurs of low budget B-movies. Johnny Depp’s comically unique take on the man who created such cult classics as Glen or Glenda, Bride of The Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space is a real testament to his talents as a chameleon actor. Martin Landau turns in a memorable performance as the legendary Bela Lugosi (he won an Oscar for it). The cast also features an array of colorful oddball personalities including Bill Murray, Sarah Jessica Parker, George “The Animal” Steele, Jeffrey Jones. and many others. What’s great about this movie is that it actually became a cult favorite in its own right and is one of Depp and Burton’s best collaborations.
MEAN STREETS (1973, Dir: Martin Scorsese)
Every movie geek has a collection of crown film jewels that they go back to when things are getting too watered down, fake or boring. These are like gifts that keep on giving and can be replayed over and over and always deliver that much needed dose of cinematic excitement you need. The characters are your friends, so when you see them again it’s like hanging out and reliving your favorite memories. Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets was essentially a look at his life growing up in New York in the 60s. The two main characters Charlie (Harvey Keitel) and Johnny Boy (Robert DeNiro) were based on his father and uncle and their group of friends were alot like the people he knew. Where GoodFellas was a authentic look at mobster Henry Hill’s life, Mean Streets was equally realistic with its depiction of the wild inner city Italian world Scorsese lived in. 39 years after its debut this early classic from the master filmmaker remains just as powerful and entertaining as it did when it was made. That is a testament to his vision and pure cinema storytelling he crafted from the heart and soul.
THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (1972, Dir: Ronald Neame) – One of the 1970s classic disaster movies which starred a young Gene Hackman as a new age preacher who must lead a group of passengers on to safety when a storm capsizes their ocean liner. What made this film so special wasn’t so much the SFX and action but the group of lovable actors that were thrown into the critical situation together. Ernest Borgnine, Shelley Winters, Stella Stevens, Pamela Sue Martin, Red Buttons, Jack Albertson and Roddy McDowell all gave memorable, heartfelt performances as the group of regular folks who must find their inner faith to help each other get out of the deadly predicament alive.
ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968, Dir: Roman Polanski)
A pair of happy young newlyweds Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes) have moved into a new apartment building where they plan to start their life together. Soon after they arrive they’re introduced to a kind old couple who live next door: The Castavets (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer). While Guy, an up and coming actor seems excited about a potential part on a TV show and their new neighbors, Rosemary begins to sense something isn’t quite right. When she becomes pregnant instead of being healthy and happy, she begins to lose weight and feel sickly. She also hears strange things going on next door and discovers the charming, nurturing Castavets aren’t what they appear to be. Roman Polanski leads the viewer on a disturbing journey in his cinematically enthralling way, as we become caught up in Rosemary’s growing paranoia of the people that claim to be looking out for her. The interesting thing is that Polanski constantly juxtaposes the macabre atmosphere with humor. It’s truly a one of a kind experience.
SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950, Dir: Billy Wilder)
A down on his luck screenwriter named Joe Gillis (William Holden) finds himself caught in a strange situation when, while on the run from some repo men, ends up at the secluded Hollywood mansion of a silent film star named Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). It’s clear that Desmond has become a delusional recluse since her departure from the movie business years earlier. Gillis catches a nice break when she offers him a temporary residency in return for helping her complete a script shes been working on that she hopes will be her grand comeback to the business. Only Joe’s outside life begins to disrupt his relationship with the fragile Norma who grows more jealous as she falls in love with him. This is a film that slowly pulls the viewer into its grasp just like Norma’s hold on Joe. Once you get caught up in this story you’ll never forget it!
THEY LIVE (1988, Dir: John Carpenter) – A very funny science fiction/action/thriller hybrid that is, underneath its genre story, a commentary on our own mindless culture. It’s alot like Dawn of the Dead and its own themes of consumerism hidden within the zombie plot. They Live is my favorite Roddy Piper performance and it’s very cool that he’s right in the same lineage as older Carpenter rebels like Napolean Wilson (Assault on Precinct 13) and Snake Plissken (Escape From New York).
THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY
Christopher Nolan’s three part epic Batman saga took the character in a more grounded, serious and respectful direction. This is something comic book fans needed and truly appreciated. In Batman Begins, Nolan retells the origin of the character (played by Christian Bale) from his training in The League of Shadows through to his transformation into the masked vigilante of Gotham City. His foes include the diabolical Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and his own League mentor Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) who team up to destroy Gotham’s corruption through a citywide cleansing. In the second part of the story, The Dark Knight, Batman is faced with stopping a psychotic anarchist called “The Joker” (Heath Ledger) who has no specific goal except causing mass chaos. In the final installment The Dark Knight Rises, we catch up with a reclusive Bruce Wayne eight years after the previous events. He has long since given up his crime fighting duties but is forced out of retirement when a new terrorist called Bane (Tom Hardy) emerges looking to overthrow the city and hold its residents hostage. There may be another reboot of the character, but as of now this trilogy is the greatest cinematic adaptation of Batman there is.
THE AVENGERS (2011, Dir: Joss Whedon)
Super hero fans got a really special present with this long awaited big screen team up of some of Marvel Comics’ most loved icons. The story takes place following the events in the standalone films and picks up after Thor’s evil adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes a deal with some intergalactic baddies called the Chitauri to help him take over Earth. All that stands between him and his plan of being an all powerful ruler are a band of super misfits including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and SHIELD agents Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Joss Whedon & Co. gave audiences young and old a supremely entertaining action packed rollercoaster ride through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fans were very happy to know this was just the beginning of the adventure!
TARANTINO XX: 10 DISC/8 FILM COLLECTION
It’s amazing to think it’s been 20 years since Writer-Director Quentin Tarantino burst onto the film scene. In that time he has become a true superstar auteur whose love of pop culture and movies has inspired audiences across the globe to celebrate along with him. This retrospective includes Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds. It’s a perfect chance for longtime fans who want a single set of his stellar work to get it in a high def format with some very nice bonus features added!