On The Shelf (3.23.09) James Bond BluRay, Venture Bros return, and Deneuve's 'Last Metro'
Plus Andy Richter's cult comedy, more pre-code Hollywood, and indie Kristen Stewart
I'm a wee bit frustrated right now as I'm coming up short, week after week, unable to afford all the films I'd like to add to the collection. I hate having that itch gnawing at me, especially since the rational part of my brain knows I already spend all my time behind on my viewing stack. Doesn't matter. The film nerd side of me simply wants to possess as much as possible, just in case of a random whim, and just to satisfy my OCD. And I'm headed to Amoeba later today just to make it worse for myself.
For example, "Quantum Of Solace" was released on DVD and BluRay this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again. I am baffled by anyone who ranks this at the bottom of the series, or even in the bottom third of the series. There have been some wretched, stupid, unwatchable James Bond films over the years, and a few of them even starred someone besides Roger Moore. But "Quantum Of Solace" would be enjoyable even away from the series. As part of the series, I love what it does, and I think it makes a tremendous bookend to "Casino Royale." I look forward to adding the BluRay to my Bond collection, which I suppose I'm rebuilding now.
I was so happy when I finally got every Bond film on DVD, and now they're putting them out in these new BluRay transfers that are even better, particularly the early gorgeous '60s stuff, and I find myself ready to start buying them again. This week, "Goldfinger," "Moonraker," and "The World Is Not Enough" are all added to the list of available titles. I may trade up only the films I consider the classics of the series, meaning "Goldfinger" gets the upgrade. I don't think I ever need to spend another dollar on "Moonraker" or any of the Brosnan titles. And I think I'll pick up "Never Say Never Again" on BluRay as well, since I have a real soft spot for it even if it's sort of a dud. Connery's good in it, and he really sells the character one last time.
[more after the jump]
It's a big week for Toshi, and I expect "Bolt" to be the immediate favorite when it arrives here at the house. I thought the film was okay, a fun if slight Disney comedy, but I am overruled because Toshi absolutely loved it. He was a little creeped out by The Man With Green Eyes, the film's pretend villain, and anytime he's creeped out by something, he loves it even more. I think rewatching the film until he can recite along with it is probably a given, since that's his new pattern with any film he loves, and since it's Disney, I'm sure the BluRay transfer is going to be a knock-out. I'm hoping he's equally interested in "Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird," since he's recently started watching vintage episodes of "Sesame Street" on DVD after school. It's interesting to see how he responds to characters that were so integral to my own childhood development. I don't think I'll bother picking up the new deluxe edition of "Lilo And Stitch" on DVD. I'd rather wait for the inevitable BluRay, since it feels like they've already milked the movie as hard as possible, which sort of bugs me since the charm in the first place was that it felt like an accident, like something that got snuck past Disney, and now it's just another cash machine for them.
I love "The Venture Bros." wholeheartedly. What started out as a crazy riff on "Jonny Quest" has evolved into one of the greatest, craziest tributes to pulp culture ever constructed. It's post-modern playfulness ever bit as clever in its way as Alan Moore on his best day, but with a fat side order of silly. Season Three only underlines just how robust the show's premise is, and I'm dying to play a BluRay version of one of the best designed animated shows I've ever seen.
More of the "Watchmen" ephemera lands this week, and if you watch "Tales Of The Black Freighter," "Under The Hood," and the behind-the-scenes featurette that talks about how it all fits together, it's just over an hour of material. The animated segment is eye-popping in BluRay, while "Under The Hood" looks appropriately video and crappy, like something that really was taped in the '80s and stored since then. It's all interesting stuff, but I'm sure it'll be part of some super-deluxe package later this year with the full-length final director's cut.
There's stuff I'm interested in, but not crazy about, and that's the stuff that really torments me at the store. I'm never sure if I should buy it or not, but the movie nerd in me compels me to pick things up sight unseen more often than not. Like the HBO series "In Treatment," or the Eddie Izzard/Minnie Driver series "The Riches," which I liked when I saw some of the first season. I'd like to pick up "Andy Richter Controls The Universe" at some point, and while I'm not rabid about it, I did enjoy what I saw of that oh-so-short-lived show. I'm a Dana Gould fan, so I'd love to see "Dana Gould: Let Me Put My Thoughts In You," his new stand-up special. And some part of me is drawn in horror to the notion of Rob Schneider starring in a movie written and directed by Rob Schneider, especially when I read that it's a rape comedy called "Big Stan." Seriously.
I'm only going to upgrade my movies from DVD to BluRay if it's something I feel should be preserved in as pristine a form as possible, something I know I'll rewatch. "The 400 Blows" by Francois Truffaut is definitely one of those movies, and I'm dying to see what Criterion's BluRay transfer for it looks like. It's a film that grows and expands every time I see it, a movie that kicks off a series about one of cinema's most singular characters. I'm equally excited about picking up "The Last Metro," a Truffaut film I've never seen. Set in Nazi-occupied France, as a theater troupe prepares a play designed to both distract from the war and comment on it. It's a Catherine Deneuve/Gerard Depardieu film from 1980, an interesting era for Truffaut as a director, and it's one of the last major works of his that I haven't seen. Can't wait to finally fix that.
I'm not sure I need to watch all three of the previous films in the series to be ready for next Tuesday's screening of "Fast and Furious," but I'll bet they look and sound fantastic on the newly-mastered BluRay versions of "The Fast And The Furious," "2 Fast 2 Furious," and "Tokyo Drift."
There are a few indie titles out this week worth your attention. Guy Maddin's a unique voice in film, a total freak, and his third film "Careful" is as good an introduction to his work as any of his others would be. An absurd tale of life in a village built in the perpetual shadow of a potential avalanche, it's a great exaggerated look at lives lived in fear of any kind. Mary Stuart Masterson makes her directorial debut with "The Cake Eaters," which features Kristen Stewart in one of those the-role-before-the-roled-that-made-them-famous roles, playing a girl with a heart disorder, living as hard as she can on borrowed time. Screenwriter Jayce Bartok also appears in the film, which got decent reviews. I'll most likely give it a spin. Who knows... maybe it'll knock me out like "Gardens Of The Night" did. It's a raw, ugly little film about a girl named Leslie who gets kidnapped by a creepy pedophile named Alex, played by Tom Arnold. And before you laugh, it's a genuine, wrenching, brave piece of work by him. He plays a despicable character and never shies away from the worst parts. It's unguarded. The work of Ryan Simkins as eight-year-old Leslie is mind-bogglingly good, but part of me is ashamed to have seen it. That's how convincingly upsetting it is. The fifteen-year-old Leslie, played by Gillian Jacobs, is just as heartbreaking, and Jacobs is both stunningly pretty and very good at tapping the deep emotional wounds of this character. Great stuff. Very powerful. It's almost impossible for any parent to imagine this sort of thing happening to their own child, much less sit through it as a movie, but it's worth seeing.
And finally this week, there's the "Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 3" from Warner Bros., a release of six pre-Code pictures directed by William Wellman. I love that studios are putting out collections from the pre-Code days, and I love trying to imagine seeing these movies in context, at the moment they were released. I was watching the new Universal box set like this earlier today, but as soon as I can, I'll grab this Warner release as well. Six movies by William Wellman? "Other Men's Women," "The Purchase Price," "Frisco Jenny," "Wild Boys Of The Road," "Heroes For Sale," "Midnight Mary," plus cartoons and trailers and more? 600 minutes of content for around $35? Sounds great to me.
That's it for this week. Next time we'll have a look at this year's Best Picture Oscar winner, "Marley & Me," "The Matrix" on BluRay, and more. See you then.
On The Shelf appears here every Monday. Except when it doesn't.
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