Showing posts with label 1986. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1986. Show all posts

1 January 2018

5 October 2014

Jarmusch Collection Blu-ray Review - Down By Law (1986)

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Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Distributor:
Soda Pictures
BD Release Date:
6th October 2014 (UK)
Rating: 18
Director:
Jim Jarmusch
Cast:
Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni
Buy:Jim Jarmusch Box Set [Blu-ray]

Down by Law was Jim Jarmusch’s third film, his best and most popular. It was also recently re-released in the UK cinemas. Jarmusch’s most ambitious film to date, it marked the beginning of a long collaboration with the cinematographer Robby Müller. It’s an absurdist noir black comedy and remains the only film Jarmusch has used “American money” in it’s funding.

The story concerns three different men who are unknown to each other until they are thrown into jail together in New Orleans. Zack (Tom Waits) is a disk jockey, Jack (John Lurie) is a smalltime pimp, and both are innocent of the crimes they are imprisoned for. Their cellmate is Bob (Roberto Benigni), an Italian tourist who is imprisoned for manslaughter. They eventually hatch a plan to escape and end up in the swamps of the New Orleans Bayou.

Tom Waits, who was almost always a bit player, gets a co-lead here and you really get to see how good actor he can be. John Lurie is great as well and it’s a shame he hasn’t done much acting work since the 80s except some work on the TV show OZ, although this is partly down to illness. Benigni, however, steals the film: he gets all the biggest laughs, his character constantly misunderstands his cellmates to hilarious effect.

Robby Müller, one of the world’s best directors of photography from the 1970s to the early 2000s, shot Down By Law. He hasn’t shot a film in over 10 years, but his influence it still felt around the world. Down by Law contains some of Müller’s best work, the scenes in the Bayou are absolutely beautiful. The nearest comparison would be some of the scenes in Tarkovsky’s first film Ivan’s Childhood. He would end up working with Jarmusch on all his features up to and including Ghost Dog, with the exception of Night on Earth.

Almost 30 years after its release, Down By Law remains a high water mark of Independent cinema, and also of Jim Jarmusch’s career. It’s a surreal farcical trip and even on second and third viewings it still works its strange charm on you. It’s also full of great performances and a great soundtrack supplied by Tom Waits and John Lurie.

The film’s transfer onto Blu-Ray, from what I gather, comes from the same masters as the Criterion Blu-Ray. It looks the best I’ve ever seen, it’s crystal clear throughout but regains the right amount of film grain. The disc features a series of phone calls Jarmusch made to the cast for the original Criterion DVD which are funny and insightful regarding the film and their relationship.

★★★★★
Ian Schultz

16 December 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

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Genre:
Fantasy, adventure, comedy
Distributor:
Arrow Video
Rating:
12
BD Release Date:
16th December 2013
Director:
John Carpenter
Cast:
Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun, James hong
Buy Big Trouble In Little China: Steelbook Blu-ray or Blu-ray [Amazon]

Big Trouble in Little China was made John Carpenter when some Hollywood success had came his way with Christine and Starman. Carpenter had redeemed himself in the eyes of Hollywood after the financial disaster of the now acknowledged modern classic The Thing. Carpenter was allowed to make the mad cap Big Trouble and in many ways he paid for it. It was dumbed by the studio in question 20th Century Fox and was a flop but as usual with Carpenter has became something of a cult classic in the following years.

Big Trouble stars Carpenter’s alter ego Kurt Russell as Jack Burton, a sort of an absurdist John Wayne type character. He meets old friend Wang and wins a card match against him. Wang doesn’t have the money and needs to pick him his fiancée from the airport but she is kidnapped for her green eyes and is selected to be a Chinese sorcerer David Lo Pan who is over thousand years old. They must rescue her before it’s too late.

It’s one of Carpenter’s most bizarre films, which is partly due to W. D. Richter’s re-write who was the director of the equally madcap The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. It was originally a western set in 1880s but Richter totally rewrote it only using the original idea of the sorcerer. It’s just truly ridiculous from the beginning to the end and that’s a lot of the appeal. It’s not trying to be serious and knows it’s stupid and ridiculous but that’s what appealed to Russell and Carpenter in the first place.

It’s a really fun film but John Carpenter would follow it with his anarchist masterpiece They Live! which becomes more and more relevant as the years pass. Kurt Russell gives a very fine almost screwball comedy esq. performance in the vein of Cary Grant in Howard Hawks’ films. The real star however is Dennis Dun as Wang who carries the film.

As usual with Arrow Video it boosts a fantastic transfer along with new interviews with Carpenter, Russell along with the cinematographer, producer Larry Franco and even a stuntman. It also includes the commentary, vintage featurette, deleted scenes and music video that were on the previous release.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


22 November 2013

Blu-Ray Review - Betty Blue (1986)

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Genre:
Drama, Romance,
Rating:
18
Distributor:
Second Sight
BD Release Date:
25th November 2013 (UK)
Director:
Jean-Jacques Beineix
Cast:
Jean-Hugues Anglade, Béatrice Dalle, Gérard Darmon
Buy: Betty Blue: Deluxe 2 Disc Edition [Blu-Ray]

Betty Blue since its release has became one of the most iconic films in World Cinema. The poster just itself is easily recognizable with that picture of Béatrice Dalle as the title character. Jean-Jacques Beineix directed it and he was considered one of the leading lights of the Cinéma du look along with Luc Besson, Leos Carax and to an extent Jean-Pierre Jeunet. These filmmakers rejected the Cinéma vérité of some of the French new wave films of the 1960s and took much inspiration from the American films of the 1970s and specifically the stylization of films like One from the Heart and Rumble Fish by Francis Ford Coppola.

Betty Blue was Beineix first film after the disastrous commercial and critical reception of his film Moon in the Gutter. Beineix was for many the lead lighting of Cinéma du look due to his stunning debut film Diva that took not only France by storm but also the UK and the USA. It was a truly stunning splash and still is a marvel to watch, Beineix was even compared to Orson Welles by noted critic Pauline Kael. Beineix was a “wonder kid” so his next film was deemed to fail naturally not unlike Welles’ own 2nd feature The Magnificent Ambersons.

Betty Blue is a 3 hour long doomed love story about Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglad) and Betty (Béatrice Dalle) who are madly in love quite literally. Zorg has been working as a handy man on a beach chalet when Betty arrives. She arrives and they fall madly in love in more ways that one. Zorg has been writing a novel and has given up on it till Betty discovers his manuscript and tries to get it published. Betty turns increasing insane and self-destructive and Zorg tries to save her before it’s too late.

Betty Blue isn’t as good as Diva because that film is so contained and so meticulously made. It’s also an hour shorter than the director’s cut of Betty Blue, which helps. This blu-ray also includes a shorter version than is missing around an hour but I only watched the director’s cut.

It’s a sprawling film of what love does to people and how it drives people to madness. The film told though Zorg’s character but the real star of the show is Béatrice Dalle whose performance has left an undeniable mark on cinematic culture. The film comes from hands down the most interesting time for films from France since Godard went downhill after his divorce from Anna Karina. Overall it’s worth getting a copy of it especially since Second Sight has a done a very nice blu-ray package including both cuts and a documentary on the film and Béatrice Dalle’s screen test for her role.

★★★★

Ian Schultz



23 October 2013

Tobe Hooper Double Bill - Lifeforce & Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 Blu-Ray Reviews

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Rating:
18
Release Date:
14th October 2013
Director:
Tobe Hopper
Cast:
Steve Railsback, Mathilda May, Peter Firth
Buy Lifeforce: Blu-ray



Rating:
18
Release Date:
11th November 2013
Director:
Tobe Hooper
Cast:
Dennis Hopper, Caroline Williams, Jim Siedow
Buy Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: Blu-ray


The great Arrow Video has re-released two mid 80s Tobe Hopper films, both were part of his 3 picture deal with Cannon films. The films in question are Lifeforce and the unthinkable sequel to his masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He got the deal after the massive success of the overrated Poltergeist, which we all know Steven Spielberg really directed anyway.

Noted British occult, sci-fi and crime writer Colin Wilson novel The Space Vampires is the basis for Lifeforce. When he saw the finished film he famously called up John Fowles who cited his the adaptation of his book The Magus as the worst film adaptation ever, he told him there was a new one Lifeforce. I have never read Wilson’s source novel so I can’t comment if that’s the case.

Anyhow the film is a pretty naff bit of horror sci-fi, it was suppose to be a big budget franchise starter but it bombed quite badly. It’s about a group of astronauts who discover some space vampires in this spaceship hidden in the corona of Hailey’s Comet. Everything goes to shit and a rescue mission is launched and the 3 bodies they found in the spaceship but they look human.

They start to operate on them but they are actually still alive. Despite everything going to shit and the rest of the crew dying, one escape pod gets back to earth (it all seems to be a matter of days) with Colonel Tom Carlson. The Colonel is flown to London (which seems to be only a matter of hours) and warms them of what happened and has a psychic connection to the girl who is one of the bodies. The Space vampire girl breaks free and sucks the souls out of people for energy and England brings in Martial law. It’s called Space Vampires but they more resemble Zombies than vampires.

It’s a passable bit of sci-fi/horror fluff. It has some nice matte paintings and special effects, some terrible acting but it’s about 30 minutes too long for it’s good and is quite a chore at times to get though. The end space vamp zombie apocalypse is gleefully batshit crazy which it gets some props for that. It’s one of many misfires in Tobe Hopper’s career every since his made such a splash with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which brings us too…



The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is one of the strangest sequels ever made. It is much in tune with something like Evil Dead 2 than its almost cinema vérité style of the source material. It takes place 13 years after the events of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It starts with almost parody voice over of the first film which gets increasing fast telling you what has happened in the 13 years. It many ways like Evil Dead 2, it’s a retread of the first film. The family having a chainsaw killing spree across Texas and it even has a redo the famous dinner scene from the original.

The film starts with Leatherface killing a bunch of yuppies on the freeway an obvious political statement. The yuppies are harassing a local female radio dj called Strech (Caroline Williams) who records their death on tape. Dennis Hopper than shows up in probably one of his most unhinged performances ever and this is a guy who made a career out of them. He is Lieutenant Boude "Lefty" Enright who is the uncle of Sally and her brother (the guy in the wheelchair) from the original film. The police have been incompetent in bringing the Sawyer family so he is on a mission to find the killers of his niece and nephew.

Strech plays the tape on air so the police are forced to listen to it but the Sawyers hear it and Leatherface and his acid casualty Nam’ veteran Chop Top comes to kill her at the radio station. The film becomes a total bloodbath from this point onwards. She survives and teams up Lefty to finish the Sawyer family for once and for all. Lefty brings a lot of chainsaws.

The film is fascinating mess of a film in the best possible way. It’s a deliberately surreal film from the get-go, which is as different as you can from the original. This may be one of the many reasons why the film was probably panned when it first came out. It has a great 80s aesthetic, which is partly inspired by his previous film The Funhouse, The Sawyers live a disused theme pack out in the desert. It’s all day-glow and obvious a good chunk of the budget when on the almost German expressionist esq. design of their underground home.

TCM2 is a deciding more political film as well even though the original is very much a post-Nam/Watergate film as much as any other 70s film. It is damning on everything from the treatment of veterans, 80s greed, consumerism and so on. In an interview with Tobe Hooper says he considers it one of the finest political films of the 80s and the guy has a point. Horror a genre not known for being particularly political if not somewhat dodgy politically it’s refreshing for a film of this kind to be so political. The award winning human chilli scene definitely brings back memories of Soylent Green.

Dennis Hopper is so insanely unhinged it’s almost mindblowing he was directed if at all. It’s also worth noting this was after he got “sober” he seems to have had a cocktail of blow and Frank Booth’s helium. It’s kind of a glorious bit of over acting to other side and then some. This was after all the same year as Blue Velvet.

It’s misfires often with it’s zany but extremely black humour. It often does Felliniesq retrends of scenes from the original film but it has a certain bizarre 80s charm that make it worth while and it’s only like 90 minutes. It’s probably his best film since the original film as well.

Both discs include loads of bonus material including feature length docs on Lifeforce and TCM2, numerous interviews, 2 different cuts of Lifeforce (theatrical and director’s), commentaries. TCM2 also includes early films made by Hooper including a rare bland comedic short and feature length film on hippies. I recommend TCM2 but if you’re a fan of Lifeforce you will be overjoyed with it’s blu-ray.

Ian Schultz


Lifeforce


★★½☆☆



Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2


★★★½

23 August 2013

Competition - Win Cult Fantasy Horror Link Starring Elisabeth Shue and Terence Stamp On DVD

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From the director of Cloak and Dagger, Terence Stamp (The Limey) is single-minded professor Dr Steven Phillip who sets in motion a terrifying chain of events for Elizabeth Shue (Hollow Man) in the UK DVD release of Link (15). Available as a brand-new transfer from the original film elements, it is available to own on 26 August 2013.

Jane (Shue), an American zoology student, takes a summer job at the lonely cliff-top home of a professor who is exploring the link between man and ape. Soon after her arrival he vanishes, leaving her to care for his three chimps: Voodoo, a savage female; the affectionate, child-like Imp; and Link – a circus ape trained as the perfect servant and companion. Soon a disturbing role reversal takes place in the relationship between master and servant and Jane becomes a prisoner in a simian house of horror. In her attempts to escape she’s up against an adversary several times her physical strength – and the instincts of a bloodthirsty killer…

With a score from Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen), this suspense thriller from Richard Franklin is a horror classic which will make you go ape with fear.

Part of “The British Film” Collection and courtesy of our friends at Network Distribution Link can be part of your collection we have 3 copies of the film on DVD To Give Away. To win a copy please answer the following Question:

Q.Whose 'song' did Terrence Stamp recently star in with Gemma Atkinson?




Deadline to enter this competition is Sunday 15th September 2013 (23:59pm) and you must be 15 or older to enter

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