“These Aren’t Kids. They’re Morons!”
Alamo Drafthouse’s The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA), the world’s largest non-profit film archive, have teamed with Something Weird Video to bring us a lost film from the so-called world’s worst director. You either know writer/producer/actor/director Ed Wood from the Tim Burton film or from his magnum opus Plan 9 From Outer Space. You may have even seen his films skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
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There’s always an abundance of DVD and Blu-ray offerings for the holiday season, many of them in box set form. Complete series, various season collections, and standalone seasons – whatever you’re looking to grab for someone, there’s something waiting. Here’s a rundown of some recent releases that should be solid gifting for the pop culture tv geek in your life:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Complete Series: Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Buffy The Vampire Slayer has once again been compiled into a complete collection. I say once again, as there have been a few different sets over the years (I know, as I had at least one of them). While hardcore fans can probably skip out on this one, it is definitely a beautifully put together package for anyone you want to introduce the world Buffy and the Scoobies to. This set features the extras from previous separate individual season collections, along with a reprint of the Dark Horse Season 8 Issue 1 comic book and a page to colour, illustrated by Season 8 artist George Jannety.
The Strain The Complete Series: Speaking of vampires, the recently completed FX series The Strain is now available in a no frills, nice boxed set of its four seasons. Created by Guillermo Del Toro, Carlton Cuse and Chuck Hogan, the series lasted for four successful seasons. The DVDs feature a variety of extras, and also some attractive slipcases for each individual season. For fans of episodic gore, The Strain is your choice this holiday season. Read the rest of this entry
When the Museum of Modern Art announced they would be doing a 4k restoration of Frank Henenlotter’s 1982 Basket Case, my reaction was “it’s about fucking time.” I relayed this news to someone nearby and they rolled their eyes hard. Fine. Basket Case is that kind of movie, I guess.
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Are you curious about the film that made Clive Barker throw up his hands and start directing his own story adaptations? Rawhead Rex is that film.
As always, I’ve been playing catch up with a few films that have been sent my way for review. Here are three – two worth watching, and one must avoid:
CHIPS (Warner Brothers) – This big screen film based on the beloved tv series from the late 70s got zero audience and poor reviews when it was released earlier this year, but guess what: this Dax Sheppard-directed film, that co-stars Sheppard and Michael Pena is a hell of a lot of fun. The two have genuine chemistry together as reluctant highway patrol partners who wind up as friends, as they work to take down corrupt members of the California Highway Patrol, led by the always entertaining Vincent D’Onofrio. The humour is fairly low brow, but there are some genuine laughs, and the cast definitely give it their all. While far from a classic, CHIPS deserved better than it got in theaters, and now is the perfect time to catch up with it. And I don’t think you’re going to hear a better line all year than “Shut up and turn down the fucking Toto.”
I’ve had a ton of Blu-rays and digital movies come my way the last few weeks, and I’ve wanted to highlight a few of them, in case you’re looking for something to watch this weekend or over the next few weeks.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO Films): I’m not going to sugarcoat this. I’d never heard the name Henrietta Lacks or her amazing story before. This was simply one of those films sent my way which I thought I’d give a chance. I’m certainly glad I did, as the legacy of Ms. Lacks is remarkable – she was an African American woman who, in 1951, had her cancer cells immortalized in the HeLa line of cells. Basically, these cells have been used countless times in major medical breakthroughs over the last 60 years. Sadly, nobody asked Ms. Lacks if her cells could be taken or used, and neither her nor her family ever received any sort of compensation for what essentially is her immortality.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the book by Rebecca Skloot, who is portrayed in the film by Rose Byrne, who wrote a series of articles on Ms. Lacks and her family. Oprah Winfrey plays Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, and is absolutely captivating on screen. Deborah is hesitant to share her mother’s story with any reporter, and Oprah delivers the character as guarded but loving. It’s a bravura performance that can’t help but overshadow the rest of the film, which sometimes gets muddled as it moves across various timelines. However, Byrne and Winfrey have a great chemistry together, and help The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks rise above some of its pacing and script issues.
Take one novelist making her screenwriting debut.
Add in the magical world she created some twenty years ago, but in a new continent and era.
Throw in some of the best actors in the world right now, including an Academy Award winner and star who shines in an ensemble.
Top it off with the director behind some of the most successful fantasy films of the decade and what you get is something….
Who would have thought that the Merc with the Mouth would outperform two of the most iconic characters in history at the box office, but that’s exactly what went down this past winter when the R-rated Fox/Marvel film Deadpool raked in and incredible $361 million in North America, making it the fifth highest grossing film of the year, the highest-grossing R-rated film in North American box office history, the most successful film in the X-Men franchise, and trumping Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s $327.7 million by a significant margin.
Incredible, right? Read the rest of this entry
As the holidays approach, many of us wish we’d had the time to watch all those movies and TV shows that people have been talking about all year. With so many great things appearing on the big and small screens, it’s easy to forget about how many books there are waiting to be read, too. But not just any books; I’m talking about those which would make the perfect side dish to your main course of movie and TV entrees (or vice versa, if you prefer).
Here are four book and Blu-ray/DVD combo meals to whet your appetite.
True Detective, Season 2 DVD/Blu-Ray and James Ellroy’s White Jazz: While folks are still divided on whether or not True Detective Season 2 was on par with the HBO show’s first season, I still think it’s worth watching (and rewatching) not only for its complex narrative and the terrific acting of the cast, but also because it is the spiritual brethren to the Los Angeles noir fiction of James Ellroy. To get a good feel for the seedy underbelly of L.A. that seems to have inspired the show, check out Ellroy’s White Jazz. True Detective Season 2 won’t hit shelves until January 5, 2016, so you’ve got time to read this gripping fourth installment of Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet before then. (White Jazz on Amazon.ca; Pre-order True Detective Season 2 on Amazon.ca) Read the rest of this entry
The wonderful thing about writing these Holiday Gift Guide lists is that they not only help out you, the mighty reader, find that perfect gift or stocking stuffer for a pop-culture loved one, but it also helps the writer of this column (me, in this case) with loved ones picking our gifts to give (me)!
This particular Gift Guide, a short list of select movies and television shows in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats, should prove enticing. I’m betting that there’s something on this list that your loved one doesn’t have just yet. (And, if anyone is asking, I have none of these – yet!)
Now, I know we live in a digital age where film and television programming is available on demand, but it’s still nice to add that hardcopy artifact to an increasing library of hardcopy artifacts. It’ since to know that you actually own something, doesn’t it?
Plus, some of the items on this list come with…well, extras.
Without further ado, here is your first-rate, first-class, handpicked, Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Blu-Ray & DVD Selections: