I'm back again and this time for a daily dose of reviews from the very spectacular Twilight Time library that is just getting bigger and better. Since I missed reviewing April's releases, well you get two for the price of one this time around with some really special titles. Starting off with one of my all time favorite comedies leading the way...
"Used Cars" Starring Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Deborah Harmon, Frank McRae, Michael McKean Directed By Robert Zemeckis 1980/1 Hour 53 Minutes./Rated R/Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1 Non-Anamophic English 5.1 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Score Track - The Film Score by Patrick Williams / Isolated Score Track - Unused Score by Ernest Gold / Audio Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis, Writer Bob Gale, and Actor Kurt Russell / Gag Reel & Outtakes / Radio Interview & Radio Spots / And more!
This is one of the most audacious, energetic and most overlooked outrageous comedies of the 1980's along with the very underrated, "Top Secret!" starring Val Kilmer. The film was director Robert Zemeckis' second feature after the bomb, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and after co-writing the Steven Spielberg comedy, "1941" with friend and co-writer Bob Gale (with whom they would collaborate on the unforgettable "Back To The Future" franchise). The film co-written by the duo is a raunchy, in your face comedy that definitely takes many chances to do anything for a laugh and it truly succeeds on every level. Kurt Russell (in a brilliant performance) stars as Rudy Russo, a conniving used car salesman with personal political ambitions (yes, he even has a safe in his fridge covered by celery sticks) working for the brother of a rival, who happens to be his twin brother named Roy L.Fuchs (Jack Warden, in a dual performance which is hilarious). He has a nafarious plan to take over his brother Luke's lot so that the county can build a freeway overpass that would lead directly to his sales lot. When Luke dies, Rudy and his bumbling associates (Gerrit Graham and Frank McRae) try everything to conceal the truth knowing how desperate Roy is to get the property. Rudy comes up with a plan to promote the lot in everyway possible to keep it in business which includes dancing strippers and interrupting the President Jimmy Carter's presidential speech by blowing up a car on national television. All of this while Rudy falls in love with Luke's daughter (Deborah Harmon) who discovers his plan, but then Rudy has to bail her out after Roy sets her up with a bogus promotional tape that leads on of the more rousing finales since "Fast And The Furious".
The film was released in the Summer 1980 after scoring very high during test screenings with very little fanfare and advertising, which was a major mistake by Columbia Pictures which should've capitalized on the success Paramount Pictures had with their unforgettable "Airplane!". The film is a little dated, but almost every single joke, moment and punchline really hits the mark. It's a very rare comedy that really does work and isn't afraid to go for broke and that's what I absolutely love about it. Russell is alot of fun to watch here and you can tell that he was having a great time as was most of the cast. This marks the first Blu-Ray release of the film which is in fine form and looks good despite its' age and this is a film that deserves to be apart of this catalogue. A great highlight included here is the commentary track by Russell, Zemeckis and Gale which is one of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard. They're having a great time throughout sharing their personal experiences on the film 20 years after the film was made (this was happily ported over from the DVD along with all of the special features) It's not a perfect film, but it has some really big laughs throughout and give credit to Zemeckis for his deft and entertaining direction that would make his future films all that much better. Thumbs way way up. (****)
"Rollerball" Starring James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn and Ralph Richardson Directed By Norman Jewison 1975/2 Hours 5 Minutes/Rated R/1:85.1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen English 5.1 DTS-HD MA / English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Director Norman Jewison / Audio Commentary with Writer William Harrison / From Rome to Rollerball: The Full Circle / Return to the Arena: The Making of Rollerball / TV Spots / Trailers / MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer/Extensive Julie Kirgo liner notes and film art packaged with the Blu-Ray disc
Another outstanding release by Twilight Time and without a doubt one of the best films of the 1970's. Norman Jewison's stark, dark and very frigid world almost dictated by a future of 2018 where Corporations rule just about everything. Their biggest capitalistic prize is the very deadly and brutal game: Rollerball that is all the rave throughout the entire world along with its' poster boy hero, Jonathan E (Caan, in a brilliant performance) who is the game's fiercest competitor and ultimate teammate. However, the Global Corporation has other plans for the sport which involves forcing Jonathan to "retire" from the game which he takes a major exception to. While the Corporation's icy CEO (John Houseman, "Three Days Of The Condor", "The Paper Chase") gets an overwhelming approval to eliminate him, Jonathan has his own plans to defy them which involves his most deadliest Rollerball game ever: no time limit and limited substitution.
The film was way ahead of its' time and holds up exceptionally well today. Caan has never been better here and the supporting cast including Houseman, Bond beauty Maud Adams, John Beck and Moses Gunn are very solid as well under Jewison's solid direction. The Blu-Ray features an array of Special Features for what seems to have been a planned but abandoned DVD Special Edition of the film when the remake was released which is great to see for this special film. A brilliant film not to be missed! Enthuastic Way Way Thumbs Up!!! (*****)
"Mr. Hobbs Goes On Vacation" Starring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, John Saxon and Fabian Directed By Henry Koster 1962/1 Hour 56 Minutes/Unrated Special Features Isolated Score Track by Henry Mancini / Movietone News / Original Theatrical Trailer
This is an overlong, at times cheerfully pleasant comedy reveals an intriguing darker side in its tale of a family get-together gone awry especially for it's cantankerous breadwinner (Stewart). The kids are a pair of monsters, while the older kids suffer from self-esteem problems and grown-up kids have marital difficulties of distressingly diverse natures including martial infidelity. He continously wages familial wars with a more idealistic helpmate (Maureen O’Hara) at his side to play referee.
The film is one of those that falls under the category of love or hate. While the late Jimmy Stewart and Maureen O'Hara really shine in this film, it's a little over long and overblown for its' own good. There are a few contrived and rather unpleasant moments in the film that feel not only forced, but should belong in another film and not what is perceived as a family entertainment. This film was all over the place from the get go and while it's great to look at (shot in a beautiful color pallete that is just great eye candy especially on Blu-Ray), it doesn't hold up as well as it should. Marginal thumbs down. (**1/2)
"Wild At Heart" Starring Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Harry Dean Stanton, Willem Dafoe, Isabella Rosselini, Crispin Glover, Grace Zabriskie and Diane Ladd Directed By David Lynch 1990/2 Hours 7 Minutes/Rated R Apect Ratio of 2:35.1 Non-Anamorphic Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Love, Death, Elvis & Oz: The Making of Wild at Heart / Original 1990 Making-of EPK / Dell’s Lunch Counter (Extended Interviews) / Specific Spontaneity: Focus on David Lynch / David Lynch on the DVD / 4 TV Spots / Motion Gallery / Original Theatrical Trailer
Following the dark underworld of the much controversial "Blue Velvet" and reveling in the short lived success of the ABC series, "Twin Peaks", David Lynch returned to the big screen to direct the adaptation of Barry Gifford's best selling novel. The film stars Oscar winner Nicolas Cage, the real Nicolas Cage before slumming in films like "Trespass" and "Seeking Justice" and the ultra sexy Laura Dern (especially in this film just checkout the scene when she paints her nails and does her little dance on the bed) as Sailor and Lulu a pair of star crossed lovers on a road trip through America against the wishes of Lulu's domineering and spiteful mother (Ladd), whose advances were scorned by Sailor. Doing anything in her power to destroy their relationship along with their happiness, she hires an eccentric (that's putting it midly in a David Lynch film) hit man (the always great Dafoe) to track and kill him.
The film was very stylish and over long film that works in spirts and unfortunately its' tone is a little inconsistant to enjoy in one sitting. There are great performances throughout especially Cage and Dern, who were an item during the making of the film and it's one of the reasons I'm recommending the film. Surprisingly, it is also (for this time period) one of Lynch's most accessible films with "The Straight Story" being his most commericial and successful earning lots of Oscar nominations later in the decade. This is a very entertaining film for what it is and Lynch's fans will no doubt enjoy it in this wonderful Blu-Ray which is sparkling. Thumbs up. (***1/2)
"Broadway Danny Rose" Starring Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Nick Apollo Forte, Morty Gunty and Milton Berle
Directed By Woody Allen 1984/1 Hour 26 Minutes/Rated PG Shot in Black and White Aspect Ratio of 1:85.1/English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer
Before Woody Allen was writing uneven material with films such as "To Rome With Love" (which I rather enjoyed alot), "Match Point" and "Scoop", he was writing very strong material and in particular during most of the 1980's including this film which I remember seeing when I was younger until revisiting this Blu-Ray. The film stars Allen as his usual nebbish self playing a good-hearted talent agent Danny Rose, who represents the most pathetic acts in show business. Among these is Lou Canova (Forte), a corny lounge singer saddled with a drinking problem and a temperamental mistress, Tina Vitale (Farrow, Allen's wife and scene stealer in this film). When Lou asks Danny to be his beard with Tina, the wimpy agent suddenly finds himself in hot water with the Mob and with the very feisty and sexy Tina, herself.
The film was gorgeously shot in real and black-and-white by cinematographer Gordon Willis, which follows Allen's excellent Black and White ode to New York, "Manhattan" which he also masterfully shot. The film is very charming and frothy for Allen before changing to a more serious comidic tone later on before striking out with films such as "Alice" and the abysmal "Shadows And Fog". Fans of Allen, will love this film and I do recommend it for its' charming spirit as well as the fact that Allen could actually direct his own great material without being over the top with it. Thumbs up. (***1/2)
"Rita, Sue And Bob Too" Starring Siobhan Finneran, Michelle Holmes, George Costigan, Lesley Sharp, Willie Ross, Kulvinder Ghir Directed By Alan Clarke 1987/1 Hour 33 Minutes/Rated R Aspect Ratio: 1:66.1 Non-Anamorphic/English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track featuring Michael Kamen / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
This is a dark cynical and somewhat gloomy film that is cheerfully devoid of any warmth or sense of enjoyment. The film is a sex farce about two teenagers (Finneran and Holmes) who enter into a sexual misalliance with a married man (Costigan). The film paints a depressing point of view of British youth in an age devoid of dreams during Margaret Thatcher's reign in Britain.
The film is one that I felt a little uneasy to watch at times and the leads were pretty good, but it just didn't click with me for some reason. I don't mind films of this type like "Transpotting" for example, but this one just didn't work for me and I think it is mainly due to the films rather grim view of things. Thumbs down for me on this one (**)
"Thunderbirds Are Go/Thunderbird 6" Starring Jeff Tracy, Scott Tracy, Virgil Tracy, Alan Tracy, Gordon Tracy, John Tracy, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, Parker, Brains, Kyrano, Tin-Tin, The Hood Directed By David Lane
Thunderbirds Are Go: 1966/1 Hour 33 Minutes/Unrated/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1 Non-Anamorphic English 5.1 DTS-HD MA / English 1.0 DTS-HD pecial Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Jeff Bond and Nick Redman / Audio Commentary with Producer Sylvia Anderson and Director David Lane / Excitement Is Go! - Making Thunderbirds / Cliff Richard & The Shadows - Unseen Test Footage / History and Appeal / Factory of Dolls and Rockets / Epics in Miniature / Photo Montage / Come with Me to the Rushes / What Does F.A.B. Mean? / Original Theatrical Trailer / MGM 90th Anniversary Trailer
Thunderbird 6: 1968/1 Hour 29 Minutes/Unrated/Aspect Ratio: 2:35.1 Non-Anamorphic English 5.1 DTS-HD MA / English 1.0 DTS-HD Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Producer Sylvia Anderson and Director David Lane / Lady Penelope / Building Better Puppets / Tiger Moth / Photo Montage / A Call from Stanley Kubrick / A Television Tribute / Original Theatrical Trailer
The Thunderbirds were the cinematic evolution of Gerry Anderson’s hugely popular British TV series, Thunderbirds (1965-66) featuring a mix of puppetry (via the patented Supermarionation process, which allowed synchronization of dialogue with marionette movement), sci-fi futurism, action-adventure, and undeniably fabulous Sixties-era design. Both films weave tales of the adventures of the Tracy Family, a father and five sons who, with the assistance of the glamorous British agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward, run International Rescue, an elite team who roam the globe and beyond in a humanitarian effort for the entire world.
I remember watching and loving these when I was very young and they are still pleasantly enjoyable to this very day. They were way of their time and they also inspired South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's gleefully over the top, "Team America: World Police" which takes alot of riffs from this show to cruder heights along with the forgettable live action film directed by Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes, which came out from Universal ten years ago. This Blu-Ray is fantastic and one of the best ones along with some of the earlier ones mentioned in this review. It's great to see the Thunderbirds back in the fold! Enthusastic Thumbs Way Way Up!!! (*****)
"Two Rode Together" Starring James Stewart Shirley Jones, Richard Widmark, Linda Cristal, Andy Devine, John McIntire Directed By John Ford 1961/1 Hour 49 Minutes/Unrated/Aspect Ratio:1:85.1 Non-Anamorphic/English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Original Theatrical Trailer
This revisionist Western starring Hollywood's most respected actor in James Stewart features the star working with legendary director John Ford for this vehicle. Stewart plays a rather unnerved former Marshal who reluctantly teams up with a Cavalry officer (Widmark) to search and rescue a group of hostages from a group of cunning Comanche Indians.
The film is a tough Western film and the type that John Wayne would've been proud to have starred in. Stewart dominates and chews up scenary (and beautiful one at that) with a bravado performance that would lead him to work with Ford again on "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" years later. A very underappreciated film for what it is and it's very appropriate that Twilight Time would be the one to restore it as part of their series. Western fans will no doubt enjoy this for its' tough and gritty performances especially Stewart. Thumbs up! (****)
"Fate Is The Hunter" Starring Glenn Ford, Jane Russell, Rod Taylor, Nancy Kwan, Suzanne Pleshette Directed By Ralph Nelson 1964/1 Hour 46 Minutes/Unrated/Aspect Ratio 2:35.1 Non-Anamorphic/English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Special Features: Isolated Score Track with Commentary by Actress Nancy Kwan and Film Historian Nick Redman / Original Theatrical Trailer Also included: TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: Ka Shen’s Journey (2010) Documentary Directed by Brian Jamieson Running Time: 1 Hour 46 Minutes.
The film is a curiousity as well an interesting mystery of sorts which revolves around a horrific plane crash in which there is only one survivor (Pleshette). A determinted investiagator (Ford) tries to piece the together the cause of the crash as he looks into the lives of the doomed pilot (Taylor), his grieving girlfriend (Kwan) and deeper into the lone survivor resulting in a rather intense finale that brings everything together.
A film such as this one is rather tough to watch especially after 9/11 and its aftermath and for most it would still hold true. It's a well acted and directed film that just gets better as it reaches its rather thoughtful conclusion to this mystery. You can say in a way that this film inspired "Unbreakable" starring Bruce Willis as that film used a plot point similar to this to become a different and stronger person after the result of a tragedy both physically and emotionally. This is a tough and engaging film that is a great discovery for those who want to look into it. Recommended (***)
That's boat load of options from the label this time around and to recap:
Used Cars - Thumbs Way Up!
Rollerball - Thumbs Way Way Up!
Mr. Hobbs Goes On Vacation - Thumbs Down.
Wild At Heart - Thumbs Up.
Broadway Danny Rose - Thumbs Up
Rita, Sue And Bob Too - Thumbs Down
Thunderbirds Are Go - Thumbs Way Up!
Thunderbird 6 - Thumbs Way Up!
Two Ride Together - Thumbs Up.
Fate Is The Hunter - Strong Thumbs Up.
So pick up Rollerball and Used Cars!! They're definitely not lemons by any means!
So that's it for this month for Twilight Time. So until the next installment, please head over to the Screen Archives website to order any of these titles and their latest ones @ http://www1.screenarchives.com/display_results.cfm?category=546
Until then...my Blu-Ray player is now off!