November 16, 2018

MARY PICKFORD Comes Home

https://www.flickeralley.com/  https://www.flickeralley.com/

LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY
Starring Mark Pickford, William Haines, Walter James, Gordon Griffith, Carlo Shipa, Spec O'Donnall, Vota Vale. Directed by William Beaudine. (1925/94 min).
FANCHON THE CRICKET
Starring Mary Pickford, Jack Standing, Lottie Pickford, Gertrude Norman, Russell Bassett, Jack Pickford, Milton Berle (supposedly). Directed by James Kirkwood. (1915/94 min).

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM

Review by Mr. Paws😸

According to the press release, these two films are the first of several restored Mary Pickford films Flicker Alley plans to bring home on Blu-Ray. One is far more entertaining than the other, but from a historical standpoint, both are worth checking out and the transfers are outstanding.

LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY: PURR-R-R
Of the two, Little Annie Rooney is definitely the keeper. Pickford plays the titular character, a scrappy 12-year-old (though she was in her 30s at the time) who frequently brawls with the other boys in the Irish slums of New York. The film is, by turns, funny, silly, charming, tragic and ultimately poignant. Having never actually seen a Mary Pickford film until now, I was thoroughly impressed with her emotionally complex performance, especially considering the narrative limitations of silent films. The same can be said for the rest of the cast. Though we seldom know what most characters are saying, the story is consistently engaging, helped immensely by a newly-commissioned music score by Andy Gladbach

"...and I'll kill you last."
FANCHON THE CRICKET: MEH.
Fanchon the Cricket is far less engaging. While visually impressive, there's little characterization and the story itself is too slight to justify a feature length film. There are long stretches with characters dancing, frolicking, chasing and bickering. Since this one has even fewer title cards than Little Annie Rooney, we seldom know specifically what everyone is squabbling about. In fact, it's a long time before anything resembling a plot reveals itself: Pickford plays a local young outcast who lives with her grandmother, whom everyone in the nearby village thinks is a witch. Things get complicated when she falls for a local boy who's already engaged. During the duller stretches - and there's a lot of 'em - I found myself trying keep a sharp eye out for Milton Berle, who was seven at the time and supposedly appeared in the film. I never spotted him, though.

It goes without saying every self-respecting cinephile should check out at least one Mary Pickford film before they die. After all, she was the era's biggest movie star. Of these two initial Blu-ray releases, Little Annie Rooney best showcases her talent, while Fanchon the Cricket is too shapeless to leave any kind of impression.

EXTRA KIBBLES
DVD COPY (Both Films)
23 PAGE BOOKLET (Both Films)
LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY also includes a brief featurette in which musician Andy Gladbach (who looks about 12) discusses the challenge of creating new music for a century old film.

Rest in Peace, William Goldman

November 13, 2018

THE POOP SCOOP: Noteworthy Upcoming Blu-ray Releases

The Poop Scoop features news and press releases related to upcoming movies, Blu-rays & DVDs and anything else film-related that makes us purr. For more information, feel free to e-mail us at freekittensmovieguide@gmail.com.
 
HELL FEST ON DIGITAL 12/28 AND ON 4K ULTRA HD COMBO PACK, BLU-RAY COMBO PACK, AND DVD ON 1/8/19 FROM LIONSGATE

A group of friends are bound for a horror-themed Halloween event at a local amusement park — a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. But for one visitor, the ghoulish carnival of nightmares is not the attraction — it is a hunting ground. On the night the friends attend, a masked serial killer turns the amusement park into his own playground, terrorizing attendees while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowd continues to rise, who will fight to survive the night?

http://uni.pictures/NightSchoolTrailer
VIEW THE TRAILER
NIGHT SCHOOL ON DIGITAL 12/11, ON DEMAND 12/28, 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY & DVD 1/1, 2019 FROM UNIVERSAL PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Successful salesman Teddy Walker’s (Kevin Hart, Jumanji, Ride Along 1 & 2) life turns around after getting fired for accidentally destroying his workplace. Forced to attend night school so he can finally get his GED and find another job, Teddy soon finds himself amongst a group of misfit students, a teacher with no patience for grown up class clowns named Carrie (Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip, Uncle Drew) and his high school nemesis-turned-principal Stewart (Taran Killam, Killing Gunther, Ted 2) who will strive to make sure he fails the course. With every rule in the book about to be broken, Teddy and his new friends find themselves in a battle of pranks and wit that you can’t simply learn in the classroom.

http://www.sonypictures.com
WHITE BOY RICK ON DIGITAL 12/11, COMING TO BLU-RAY & DVD 12/25 FROM SONY PICTURES HOME ENTERTAINMENT
 

Enter the corrupt world of 1980s Detroit at the height of the War on Drugs in the compelling father-son story, WHITE BOY RICK, debuting on Digital and available via the Movies Anywhere App. on December 11 and on Blu-ray and DVD December 25 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Based on true events, WHITE BOY RICK tells the moving story of a blue-collar father, played by Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey (2013, Best Actor, Dallas Buyers Club,) and his teenage son, played by newcomer Richie Merritt. Fifteen-year-old Rick Wershe Jr., dubbed “White Boy Rick”, becomes the youngest FBI informant in history, and later a drug dealer, manipulated by the very system meant to protect him, abandoned by his FBI handlers, and sentenced to life in prison.

THE PREDATOR ON DIGITAL, 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY AND DVD DECEMBER 18 FROM 20TH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT

The hunt has evolved – and so has the explosive action – in the next chapter of the Predator series, from director Shane Black (Iron Man 3). Now, the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before….and only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biology professor can prevent the end of the human race.
With the special edition Predator 4-Movie Collection, fans can experience four times the terror with a killer collection of action-packed Predator movies, plus four collector cards of the original film poster re-issue with some of the franchises most iconic quotes on the back. In Predator, Arnold Schwarzenegger wages an all-out war against an extraterrestrial that hunts humans for sport. Then in Predator 2, Danny Glover battles the fearsome creature in the urban jungle of Los Angeles. In Predators Adrien Brody leads a group of elite warriors on an alien planet targeted by a new Predator breed. Finally, in The Predator, Boyd Holbrook discovers that the most lethal hunters in the universe are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever.


November 12, 2018

THE EXORCIST - LIMITED EDITION SOUNDTRACK Brings the Noise

http://www.perseverancerecords.com/
Featuring Mike Oldfield, Jack Nitzsche, Anton Webern and others. (2018/45 min). 

AVAILABLE ON CD FROM

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

I should start by stating that The Exorcist is, in my opinion, the greatest horror film ever made. Everything about it is note-perfect, including the music, which only serves enhance the eerie atmosphere and slow-burning dread.

That being said, as an isolated listening experience, that same music leave a lot to be desired. Placed front, center and out of context, many tracks are just shapeless atonal noise, featuring screeching strings, weird sound effects and abrasive percussion. The longer tracks - some of which run ten minutes long - are the worst offenders.

Worse yet, the volume leveling is all over the place. Case-in-point, the first track, "Iraq," begins ominously before pointlessly tacking on the audio clip from that scene, at a jarringly higher volume. Other tracks have long segments which are barely audible. The most iconic piece, the piano segment from Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells," takes a full minute to fade in. The original tune didn't do that, nor is it presented that way in the movie. Anyone considering picking up the disc for that track alone should seek out Oldfield's album instead.

As effective as it is in The Exorcist, some soundtracks simply don't lend themselves to casual listening. This limited edition re-release might be of interest to collectors, but others are better off enjoying the music where it was meant to be heard.

KITTY CONSENSUS:
MEH.

Rest in Peace, Stan Lee

November 11, 2018

Rest in Peace, Douglas Rain

THE 7TH DAY is Memorable, Whether You Like It or Not

https://olivefilms.com/
Starring Starring Juan Diego, Jose Luis Gomez, Jose Garcia, Victoria Abril, Yohana Cobo, Eulialia Ramon, Ramon Fontsere, Carlos Hipolito. Directed by Carlos Saura. (2004/100 min).

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM

Review by Fluffy the Fearless🙀

One of the great things about this gig is I'm often given the opportunity to review films that I would never have discovered on my own. Quite frankly, there's a good reason I've never heard of a lot of them, while a few have become personal favorites I enjoy spreading the word about. Then there are movies like Spain's The 7th Day.

Consistently downbeat and occasionally plodding, this isn't what one would call a fun time at the movies. Still, its most powerful and tragic moments are likely to stick with the viewer long after it's over, especially when burdened with the knowledge it's based on a true story.

In true Shakespearian fashion, The 7th Day presents a decades-long family feud that begins when Luciana Fuentes is shunned by Amadeo Jimenez, the man she was expecting to marry. Her psychotic brother, Jeronimo (Ramon Fontsere), avenges her by stabbing him to death. While he's sent to prison, the Fuentes' matriarch is killed when their home is burnt down. It's suggested that this was in retaliation for Amadeo's murder, but we're never 100% certain who the culprit really is. The Fuentes's are mostly ostracized from Extremadura, the village where both families have always lived.

Fast forward thirty years...Jeronimo is released from prison and immediately stabs Amandeo's brother, Jose (Jose Garcia). While he survives, Jeronimo goes back to prison and dies shortly afterwards. The remainder of the Fuentes family - certain Jose killed their mother all those years ago - soon decide to act on their decades-long resentment of, not only the Jimenezes, but the entire village.

Jeronimo is a little too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
When the story focuses on the Fuentes family, The 7th Day is morbidly fascinating. Led by Luciana and Antonio (Juan Diego), they turn out to be as dangerously unhinged as their murderous brother, and it appears that this ongoing feud has been largely one-sided. These scenes are often disturbing, creating an increasing sense of dread as the film progresses. We just know something awful is about to happen.

Less interesting are the various subplots involving the village dynamics. As the troubled Jimenez patriarch, Jose is sympathetic and likable, as is his beleaguered wife Carmen (Eulalia Ramon). However, too much of the film features oldest daughter Isabel's (Yohana Cobo) relationship with Chino (Oriol Vila), a hunky local drug dealer. And unfortunately, most of the narrative is presented from her point of view. There are other scenes featuring peripheral characters, but few figure that prominently into the primary story (do we really care about an unfaithful wife's tryst with a truck driver?).

On the other hand, maybe presenting the tedium of their lives was director Carlos Saura's intention all along. Despite The 7th Day's rambling episodic structure, the final act is tension-filled and disturbing. The shattering climax may indeed seem inevitable, but every character is caught completely off-guard. Since we've gotten to know most of them - albeit superficially - how can we not be haunted by the denouement?

Whether one likes The 7th Day or not, its conclusion is undeniably potent and ultimately memorable. That alone make it worth checking out at-least once, which will probably be enough for some viewers. 

KITTY CONSENSUS:
 PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS 

November 7, 2018

Can Mike Tyson Save GIRLS VS. GANGSTERS?

http://www.wellgousa.com/
Starring Fiona Sit, Ivy Chen, Ning Chang, Mike Tyson, Tiantian Fan, Son Bao Tran, Shuilin Wang, Elly Nguyen. Directed by Barbara Wong. (2018/114 min). 

AVAILABLE ON DVD FROM
WELL GO USA

Review by Stinky the Destroyer🙀

Is it a mere coincidence that Mike Tyson happens to appear prominently in two of the worst movies I've reviewed this year? Probably. It isn't as though he's the reason they happen to be awful. Not even Daniel Day Lewis could save either China Salesman or this execrable comedy, Girls vs. Gangsters.

Of course, Tyson can't act, but he's no worse than anyone else in the cast. Girls vs. Gangsters is a Chinese rip-off of The Hangover, with three young ladies who plan a wild weekend before one of them gets married. After getting drunk at a crime boss' party, they wake up naked on the beach with no idea how they got there. Two of them are also handcuffed to a suitcase of gold bricks and, worse yet, the gangster's leather-clad henchwoman is after them. Most of the film has them trying to piece together the events of the previous night while running for their lives.

"If only your ears were meatier."
The film is a sequel to 2014's Girls, which I haven't seen. But if this one is any indication of writer/director Barbara Wong's abilities, I dodged a bullet. Girls vs. Gangsters is not-only laugh free, it's narratively vapid and offensively stupid. Every attempt at humor feels labored and desperate, with an abundance of scatological humor, leering shots of cleavage and even a rape joke for those who still think that shit is funny. The three lead characters are shrill, obnoxious and irritating caricatures who generate zero empathy and even less likability.

Again, none of this is Tyson's fault. In fact, his brief appearance ironically ends up being a welcome break from the three leads' constant whining, crying and shrieking. He's still terrible, but the fact he's arguably the best part of the movie should tell you all you need to know.

EXTRA KIBBLES
DIRECTOR INTERVIEW
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
BLEH...LIKE COUGHING UP A HAIRBALL

November 4, 2018

MR. CAPRA GOES TO WAR: Yeah...He Did That

https://olivefilms.com/
Various Directors. (1942-1945/310 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM
OLIVE FILMS

Review by Mr. Paws😸

Imagine if Steven Spielberg decided to drop everything and serve his country by using his talents to make films supporting the war in Afghanistan. That's essentially what Frank Capra did at the onset of America's involvement in World War II. Granted, it was a different era and collective attitudes regarding war have changed, but you get the idea.

Capra was one of the most successful directors working in Hollywood at the time, yet put it all on hold to oversee a series of documentaries for the military. His salary? A little over $300 a month. Man, that's some serious patriotism.

This disc from Olive Films collects five of those films, two from the Why We Fight series and three others, all originally produced by the U.S. War Department. Capra didn't exactly "direct" them - most consist largely of existing footage shot by others - but oversaw their assembly and narrative. Being wartime, these films were obviously made to generate support for the war effort, as well as inspire those who were sent to fight.

"We need a love scene right here."
The best of the lot, Prelude to War, explains how and why the U.S. got involved, and provides detailed histories of its enemies (Germany, Italy and Japan). Using stock footage and animation, the film is a chilling example of how easily fascism can spread through fear-mongering and propaganda (sounds familiar, doesn't it?). Also interesting are The Negro Soldier and The Battle of Russia, mainly because they often paint a decidedly different - and sometimes inaccurate - picture than history eventually did.

Speaking of history, the MVP of this disc is undoubtedly Joseph McBride, a film historian and Frank Capra biographer. Not only does he discuss Capra's film career before, during and after the war, his informative introductions to each film provides valuable historical context. Seeing them prior to the films is highly recommended.

Mr. Capra Goes to War isn't indispensable, especially since it's by-no-means a complete collection. However, it is an interesting curiosity for Capra fans who might have wondered what he was up to for four years. The documentaries themselves range from historically informative to archaic & silly. Sometimes what we learn about them is a lot more interesting.

EXTRA KIBBLES
"FRANK CAPRA: WHY WE FIGHT" - Analysis of Capra's early career and involvement in WWII by biographer Joseph McBride.
INTRODUCTIONS - Intros to each film by Joseph McBride.

KITTY CONSENSUS:
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS

November 3, 2018

THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS: Misery May Not Always Love Company

http://www.wildeyereleasing.com/
Starring Daniela Love, Jorge Mota, Mafalda Banquart, Ligia Roque, Lilia Lopes, Tiago Jacome. Directed by Jose Pedro Lopes. (2017/71 min). 

AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY FROM
WILD EYE RELEASING

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

The fictional forest of the title is a place where people frequently go to commit suicide, which we learn during the very first scene when a young girl swallows poison, then wades into a lake and silently dies.

Later, grieving family man Ricardo (Jorge Mota) visits the woods to do the same thing, only with a knife. He meets Carolina (Daniela Love), another young girl who he says reminds him of his own daughter. She's apparently there to kill herself, too, and during their conversation, while coming across various other dead bodies, they make fleeting attempts to talk each other out of suicide. Ricardo's mind is made up, though, but uses Carolina's poison - with her permission - to avoid any pain.

At this point, The Forest of Lost Souls gives us two revelations. First, the girl who killed herself in the opening scene was one of Ricardo's daughters. Second, Carolina takes his knife and viciously stabs him anyway, assuring an agonizing death. Afterwards, she takes his phone and car, using both to find what's left of his family with the intent of killing them, too.

"Eeew! Something touched my leg!"
Deliberately paced and visually intriguing, the film's use of black & white effectively reflects the film's tone, not-to-mention the overall despair most of these characters feel. The Forest of Lost Souls is beautiful to look at and the interaction between Ricardo & Carolina is quite engaging - even funny at times - holding the promise of exploring the nature of sadness and what leads one to choose suicide as a way out.

However, the interest level wanes once the story leaves the forest to focus on being the horror film it's promoted as. Ricardo's dysfunctional family isn't as interesting - or likable - as Ricardo himself and we spend a lot more time around them than we'd like to. Caroline is a chillingly cruel character whose cold-blooded apathy is unnerving, but writer-director Jose Pedro Lopes doesn't give her much to do during the second half besides stalk her prey. He maintains the same dark tone, but in the long run, that might actually work against it. The film's unrelenting nihilism defuses any attempts to create tension because we're pretty sure how things will turn out long before the end credits roll.

Still, The Forest of Lost Souls certainly earns points for presentation. It's visually arresting and atmospheric, particularly during the first half. Had the narrative been more consistently compelling - perhaps focusing entirely on Ricardo & Carolina - this could have been a slow-burning stunner. But as-is, the film is watchable.

EXTRA KIBBLES
FIGHT SCENE REHEARSALS
DELETED SCENES - With Commentary
AUDIO COMMENTARY
SHORT FILM - "St. John"
TRAILER
KITTY CONSENSUS:
NOT BAD. LIKE CAT CHOW.