July 24, 2024

THE POOP SCOOP: Black & Chrome Edition

🚗FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA BLACK & CHROME EDITION and MAD MAX 5-FILM 4K COLLECTOR’S EDITION on Digital August 13, and 4K Ultra HD September 24 from Warner Bros Discovery.
George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, which reveals the captivating, never-before-told origin of Furiosa and her unrelenting drive to find her way back home, will be released in a Black & Chrome Edition for purchase Digitally at home on August 13 and on 4K UHD on September 24. Black & Chrome Edition is a version of the theatrical film which has the color removed in favor of a black a chrome aesthetic. The Black & Chrome Edition will feature an introduction by director George Miller. The Mad Max 5-Film 4K Collector’s Edition will include 1979’s acclaimed post-apocalyptic action film Mad Max, 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road and 2024’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. In addition to the 5 films, the Collector’s Edition also includes special features from the five films along with the Black & Chrome Editions of Mad Max: Fury Road and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

 

📼THE RING 4K Ultra HD and 4K SteelBook Coming October 15
from Paramount.
The Ring (2002) is the critically acclaimed, smash hit thriller David Ansen of Newsweek says "raises some serious goosebumps!" This cinematic thrill ride will keep you on the edge of your seat from the stunning opening to the astonishing conclusion! It begins as just another urban legend - the whispered tale of a nightmarish videotape that causes anyone who watches it to die seven days later. But when four teenagers all meet with mysterious deaths exactly one week after watching just such a tape, investigative reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) tracks down the video...and watches it. Now, the legend is coming true, the clock is ticking and Rachel has just seven days to unravel the mystery of The Ring. Directed by Gore Verbinski, The Ring also stars Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, and Jane Alexander. 


☃WIND RIVER arrives 9/10 on 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital SteelBook from Lionsgate.
Wind River – written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, creator of the hit series “Yellowstone” – arrives September 10 on 4K UHD + Blu-ray + Digital SteelBook from Lionsgate, exclusively at Walmart. The story of a murdered Native American girl, Wind River explores the tensions that arise when a rookie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen, “WandaVision,” “Love & Death”) is sent to lead the investigation, aided by a game tracker (Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker, “Mayor of Kingstown”) with a haunted past. SYNOPSIS: After game tracker Cory Lambert (Renner) discovers a murdered Native American girl’s frozen body on federal land, rookie FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen) is sent to lead the investigation. As the ghosts of Cory’s past return to haunt him, Jane’s attempt to treat the case as a homicide is thwarted, and the two soon realize that what unites them – bringing the girl’s killer to  justice – isn’t an outcome sought by everyone in Wind River.


😺Jean-Luc Goddard’s Classic ALPHAVILLE on 4K Ultra HD August 27 from Kino Lorber.
From Jean-Luc Godard, the influential filmmaker behind the French New Wave classics, Breathless, Contempt, Band of Outsiders and Pierrot Le Fou, comes this futuristic noir masterpiece. American secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine, Attack of the Robots) is sent to the distant space city of Alphaville where he must find a missing person and kill the inventor of fascist computer Alpha 60. Anna Karina (The Nun) and Akim Tamiroff (Touch of Evil) co-star in this cockeyed fusion of science-fiction with pulp characters and surrealist poetry. Godard’s irreverent journey to the mysterious Alphaville remains one of the least conventional films of all time. Beautifully shot in glorious black-and-white by Raoul Coutard (Jules and Jim, First Name: Carmen).

July 23, 2024

SEVERIN Does SHERLOCK


SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE (Blu-ray) and
SHERLOCK HOLMES (Blu-ray)
Review by Mr. Paws😼

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation has never been a stranger to adaptation…from movies & TV shows to plays & stories written by other authors. Sherlock Holmes has been played by a variety of actors over the years to varying levels of effectiveness. Basil Rathbone, of course, remains the standard, though Nicol Williamson in The Seven-Percent Solution and John Neville in A Study in Terror weren’t slouches either.

Even horror legends Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing had a go at Holmes back in the 1960s, the former starring a movie, the latter taking over the role for a single season of a BBC series. Both of these obscurities were previously released by Severin Films as part of boxed sets dedicated to lesser-known films from each actor, but are now available separately.


SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE DEADLY NECKLACE

1962 / 86 min

This German-Italian production features Christopher Lee as the titular detective. He squares off against his nemesis, Professor Moriarity, whom he suspects has mastermined the theft of a priceless necklace once worn by Cleopatra. 


Very loosely based on one of Doyle’s novel, The Valley of Fear, the film transplants Holmes into a modern day setting, which might strike the ire of purists. But what’s particularly off-putting is, despite its English star, both audio options on this disc (German & English) feature dubs by other actors, meaning Lee’s distinctive voice (a significant part of his legend) is missing, undermining efforts to make the character his own.


The film is efficiently directed by Hammer Films veteran Terrence Fisher and features decent production values. Ultimately, it is an interesting curio for Lee fans, but hardly an essential Sherlock Holmes adaptation.


EXTRA KIBBLES

ENGLISH & GERMAN DUBS

FEATURETTES - Tony Dalton Interviews Terrance Fisher; Tony Dalton on Terrance Fisher.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By film writers Kim Newman (who’s always worth listening to) and Barry Forshaw.

TRAILER



SHERLOCK HOLMES

1968 / 308 min

Taking a more traditional approach, BBC’s Sherlock Holmes first aired in 1965 with a different actor as the title character. Peter Cushing took over the role in 1968, but unlike Lee, he’d previously played Holmes in a film and had a better grasp of the character. He even resembles the detective as I always pictured him when reading the stories.


Much of the series has been lost by the cruelty of time and the six episodes on this disc are apparently all that’s left. Time hasn’t been particularly kind to these episodes either. Despite restoration, the video quality is sometimes pretty terrible, though overall, it sounds pretty good. 


Most episodes are adaptations of Doyle’s novels as opposed to his short stories. The best ones here are probably the two-parter, The Hound of the Baskervilles (Cushing was also in the 1959 movie adaptation), and A Study in Scarlet (based in the very first Holmes novel). Though somewhat hampered by budget-conscious production, Cushing is enjoyable as Holmes, though co-star Nigel Stock is an occasional scene stealer as Dr. Watson.


EXTRA KIBBLES

BBC COUNTDOWN CLOCK OPTION - Literal countdown to the start of each episode.

AUDIO COMMENTARIES - For every episode. Kim Newman participates in all of them. He’s intermittently joined by authors Barry Forshaw & David Stuart Davies.

AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH PETER CUSHING

LOST SEGMENTS - Surviving clips from lost episodes.


Neither of these releases rank among the best Sherlock Holmes adaptations, nor are they gold stars on Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing’s lengthy resumes. But they might be of interest for completists, who’ll also probably appreciate the accompanying bonus features.


July 22, 2024

TERMINATOR: THE BEGINNING

EVEN SKYNET STARTED SMALL...

A PREQUEL BY FREE KITTENS

STING: No Space Needed For This Spider


STING (Blu-ray)
2024 / 92 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat😼

Maybe I’m in the minority on this, but when it comes to horror movies, sometimes no explanation makes things just a little creepier. That fact that it’s simply happening is enough. When the dead rise up to attack the living, I don’t always need a plausible reason. 

Admit it…aren’t masked killers in slasher movies a little more terrifying without a motive? Weren’t the xenomorphs in the Alien franchise scarier when we knew less about them? And when it comes to spiders…do these eight-legged beasties require additional exposition to make us piss our pants?


Still, Sting explains-away its killer arachnid in the prologue. This is no ordinary spider, but a space spider that crashes through an apartment window inside a tiny meteor/egg. It’s a wholly unnecessary introduction to a creature that’s not only super-intelligent, but grows rapidly. Personally, I think presenting it as a simple freak of nature would have sufficed.


Other than that, Sting is a pretty decent killer critter feature that takes place entirely in a run-down apartment. Charlotte (Alyla Browne) is a 12-year-old who finds the spider while sneaking around through the vents. Naming it Sting, she puts it in a jar and feeds it whenever it “sings,” which is often. The more it eats, the faster it grows, and before long, the spider escapes the jar for bigger prey…including people.


John McClane was here.
The film then spends considerable time (maybe too much) introducing the supporting characters, including stepdad Ethan (Ryan Corr), a struggling comic artist who also maintains the building, and Charlotte’s mom, Heather (Penelope Mitchell). Others are basically one-note characters whose fates you’ll predict within seconds of their first appearance. Overall, the performances are satisfactory, though Jermaine Fowler steals the movie as a snarky exterminator. 

While Sting begins playfully, numerous scenes focused of Charlotte’s combative family dynamics tend to drag down the mood. But when focused on the creature’s hungry rampage, the movie is kind of a hoot. There are creative false scares and jolting real ones, along with some graphic nastiness punctuating attack scenes. As for the spider itself…I’ve yet to see CGI-created bugs that are very convincing and this movie’s no exception. But fortunately, Sting looks a lot cooler as it gets bigger because that’s when good ol’ practical effects take over…used sparingly but effectively.


Though the climax is clumsily foreshadowed way too early, it’s pretty exciting and comes to a satisfying conclusion. Pointless prologue notwithstanding, Sting is a well made, entertaining film that’s creepy without ever being truly terrifying. There are better movies featuring killer spiders, but this one’s far from the worst.


EXTRA KIBBLES

FEATURETTES - Creating the Monster; The Director; The Cast (titles are all self-explanatory.

TRAILER


July 19, 2024

SWINGERS Still Swings...Just A Little Differently


SWINGERS (Blu-ray)
1996 / 96 min
Available at www.MovieZyng.com
Review by Mr. Paws😺

Swingers is almost 30 years old. For some of you of a certain age, it’s become a nostalgic part of your youth. Now you know how this guy felt when The Breakfast Club turned thirty. But don’t fret too much…the passing of time has been much kinder to your movie. Swingers still swings, though a little differently these days.

The film, of course, helped make stars out of Jon Favereau (who also wrote the screenplay), Vince Vaughn, Ron Livingston and, despite a relatively small role, Heather Graham. It’s also the first notable film directed by Doug Liman, who’s since made some great action movies over the years. Just about everyone involved with Swingers would go on to bigger and things, so revisiting something from their salad days is an interesting experience…especially if you haven’t seen since 1996.


"Squirrel!"

Speaking of which, Swingers captures a moment in time in the lives of four LA buddies, all struggling actors, who go to parties, play 8-bit video games, frequent jazz nightclubs and try to help their friend, Mike (Favereau), get over his old girlfriend. With its iconic LA locations (some not around anymore), clever references to other movies and frequent use of swing music (which was enjoying renewed popularity at the time), the film has since evolved from something fresh & hip into more of a period piece…kinda like American Graffiti for young male Angelenos.


Because of its laid-back tone, congenial performances, witty dialogue and a killer soundtrack (one of the best of the 90s), Swingers is still enjoyable. Perhaps not as laugh-out-loud as one might remember it, but it’s consistently charming and the friendships between these guys, especially Mike and his more confident & outgoing pal, Trent (Vaughn), feel authentic. 


This is a re-issue of a previously released Blu-ray, with the same picture, sound, bonus features and pre-menu trailers (I almost forgot that Epix even existed).


EXTRA KIBBLES

MAKING IT IN HOLLYWOOD - This is a great 50-minute, multi-chapter documentary featuring many interviews with the main cast, director Doug Liman and others.

2 AUDIO COMMENTARIES - 1) By director Doug Liman and editor Stephen Mirrione; 2) By Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.

“SWINGBLADE” - Short film.

THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR - Unused footage.


July 17, 2024

Revisiting NORTH DALLAS FORTY


NORTH DALLAS FORTY (DVD)
1979 / 118 min
Available at www.MovieZyng.com
Review by Mr. Paws😼

I hadn’t seen North Dallas Forty since I went with my parents to catch it back in ‘79. It was likely my dad’s idea, because he’s always been a sports guy and probably read the book by ex-footballer Peter Gent. Though I wasn’t yet the sports enthusiast Dad was, I certainly loved movies about sports.

There were three things I remember about the movie. One, it was the first film with a sex scene that I watched with my parents, which was sort of uncomfortable since Mom kept glancing over at me. I tried to act like it was no big deal, but at that age, naked women were astounding (they still are). Still, I doubt she knew beforehand that the movie had any grinding.


Second was Charles Durning as foul-mouthed assistant coach Johnson. Almost everything he said was loud, abusive and absolutely hilarious, such as “This is national TV, so don’t pick your nose or scratch your nuts.” But my favorite line occurred when a priest was leading a locker room prayer before the game, and Johnson interrupts with “Take off your fuckin’ hats!” I must have laughed for five minutes after that one.


Finally, Dad loved the movie because he hated the Dallas Cowboys. Though North Dallas Forty is based on a novel, it’s a thinly disguised account of author Peter Gent’s time with the team. Both the novel and film offer an incendiary look at the Cowboys and football as a business - the players being mere equipment - as well as plenty of off-field debauchery. 


Bodies by Bud.
Gent played wide receiver, just like the film’s protagonist, Phil Elliott (Nick Nolte). After the movie, Dad told be head coach B.A. Strother (G.D. Spradlin) represented Tom Landry, while quarterback and Elliott’s best friend Seth Maxwell (Mac Davis) was supposed to be Cowboys QB “Dandy” Don Meredith. I knew who those guys were because Dad rooted against them whenever they were on TV (which seemed like every Sunday, since they were supposedly “America’s Team”). 

Revisiting North Dallas Forty decades later, I still find Durning hilarious, but the rest of it isn’t as funny or uproarious as I remembered…not like The Longest Yard or Slap Shot anyway. And I could've sworn the film had more football scenes than it actually does. In fact, only one game is depicted, which doesn’t happen until the final act. The rest is mostly Elliott partying with teammates and clashing with coaches while trying to stay stitched-up and injected in order to keep playing.


But even back then, I knew the movie was supposed to be sort of a revealing expose on the realities of pro football and not your typical underdog sports flick. And I suppose it was pretty eye-opening at the time. North Dallas Forty is still enjoyable and probably remains topically relevant. However, the players’ drug use & treatment of women, as well the film’s depiction of teams & owners as corporate monsters, doesn’t really surprise us anymore.

This is a re-issue of a previous released DVD. There are no technical upgrades or additional bonus features.

July 16, 2024

CHALLENGERS: Surprisingly Unchallenging


CHALLENGERS (Blu-ray)
2024 / 131 min
Review by Pepper the Poopy😽

I can’t honestly say I was disappointed. With the possible exception of the decision to present the story through a non-linear narrative, Challengers is more or less the movie I thought it was gonna be. Being equally honest, romantic dramas aren’t really my thing, so perhaps my expectations weren’t all that lofty to begin with. 

However, this one is directed by Luca Guadagnino, which piqued my interest a little. He’s the guy who had the audacity to remake Suspiria, which continues to spark plenty of love it or loathe it debates (Personally, I thought it was a bold reimagining of a classic). I also also appreciated the warped sweetness he brought to his cannibals-in-love drama, Bones and All, which was nothing if not unusual.


So I guess I am somewhat taken-back that Guadagnino seems more in love with aesthetics than the actual story, which is surprisingly straightforward and ultimately pretty predictable. Challengers is about a 13-year love triangle between tennis pros. Tashi Duncan (Zendaya) is a young hopeful touted as the next big thing, later sidelined by a career ending injury. She comes between two lifelong buddies, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist) and Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor), both of whom develop individual love-hate relationships with her over the years…at the expense of their own friendship.


"So I guess the Mario Party tournament is off?"
Tashi becomes Art’s coach & wife, the two being a famous power couple, though Art’s age and injuries have taken their toll. She enters him into a lower level tournament to get his confidence back before competing in the next U.S. Open. Concurrently, Patrick’s pro career hasn’t panned out. He lives in his car and survives by entering similarly minor tournaments. But despite becoming estranged, he and Tashi are still attracted to each other, whereas her marriage to Art appears to be more practical than loving (at least on her part).

Naturally, Art and Patrick square-off in a final match, around which the entire narrative is based. Their story is presented out of sequence, jumping back and forth throughout the years, which actually keeps things interesting for a while, as does some creative camerawork depicting tennis matches. The film is sometimes sexy (with a few dashes of homoeroticism), made palatable by the three attractive leads.


However, none of these characters are particularly sympathetic…or even all that likable. Nor do they really change throughout the entire narrative. While that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, the movie is far too long for its own good, especially since the story features no real surprises or character revelations. The climax feels especially exhausting, when Guadagnino drags-out the final match with an unholy amount of slow motion. By then, I was kind of tired of hanging around these people. 


Still, Challengers is certainly watchable, especially for Zendaya fans, since she definitely confirms why she’s a star. The non-linear narrative is well assembled and the performances are excellent. But coming from a director like Guadagnino, the film is almost shockingly conventional. I guess I expected something a little more provocative and less Bull Durham-ish.