Jul 30, 2006

DVD Review: Road House (Deluxe edition)

Road House (Deluxe edition)

Ok, Roadhouse, starring Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Ben Gazzara, Sam Eliot, Kevin Tighe and Red West, is a guilty pleasure of mine. This is not my proudest declaration, but it is a fact. I like the damn film even as I'm aware of its glaring faults and they are legion. It's generaly as subtle as a groin kick, cartoonish, and overdone. It has achieved "Cult Classic' status which usually means it's not very good but a lot of people like it. It is the Western brought into the eighties and hit with a carnivals' paint palate. I watch at least part of it most every time it's on.

Swayze plays Dalton, the super bouncer (Cooler) brought in to clean up the Double Deuce saloon owned by Kevin Tighe, the kind of dive that gives dives a bad name. Dalton, it is mentioned more than once, has a degree in Philosophy, but makes $500 a night banging heads together (keeping the peace) so you know this is no Bozo, and falls in love (and some dandy lust) with the ER Doctor, Kelly Lynch. Ben Gazzara is awful as the villain, and I mean this in a good way. You'll hate him.

There are a lot of good elements here but they are not quite strung together right to make a first rate movie.

You can skip the extra features for my money, they're no bonus. The interviews with real Bouncers sounds like a better idea than it is.

Still, for me this film's got legs. Directer Rowdy Harrington went over the top a bit much, but if the object was to entertain--he did.

Lee Crawford

The Marketing of George Pelecanos.

As Little, Brown unfolds its marketing campaign for “THE NIGHT GARDENER” I’m sitting on the side lines reading reviews, reading profiles and crossing my fingers ….. big time.

It is no secret I am huge fan of this Washingtonian’s work. When my husband Jon put together a book of author interviews called INTERROGATIONS I was honored he allowed me to do the introductory essay on Pelecanos’s work. And it was perhaps the hardest thing I’ve ever written. There’s so much to say about the layers of any Pelecanos read. If I was going to write about him in a print format it had to be perfect. Naturally it wasn’t but I spent over a week obsessing on 800 words.

And now Little, Brown is doing much what I did 4 years ago, giving it everything they’ve got because Pelecanos needs to be presented to the entire reading community. They are backing the work of a one of this generation’s most gifted writers with their entire arsenal. Little, Brown believes in the books. Their assumption is that if the numbers (sales) aren’t what Pelecanos deserves the fault lies within the house, the marketing. Not the writer or the writing. And so the push. It makes my cynicism about the publishing world abate. How much does Little, Brown believe? My first e-mail from the publicity department about the work came before the book had a title. Every e-mail I sent was returned within twenty four hours. The A.R.C. came the first week in March. Enough time for me to read it twice before deadline. Keep in mind Crimespree is not Entertainment Weekly. L,B. is excited. Rightfully so.

If I call Pelecanos a “cult” read within the mystery community would anyone disagree? After all, even in our community we should be able to do better for him. 20,000 hard covers (a high estimate)? But we are a diverse community and I have friends who’ve confessed to me, “His work’s a little too real Ruth” or “I only read British” “The dialect, I can’t get past the dialect.” We all have preferences and peccadilloes.

So here is my rally call. In an insular community where we look at publishing with bewilderment, let’s reward Little, Brown for their efforts. Let’s all buy a copy of THE NIGHT GARDENER. Each and every one of us. It’s a good investment.

THE NIGHT GARDENER is an excellent book. With the Pelecanos style that has made him a cult figure and a story that crosses over to contemporary fiction with an élan that only a truly gifted scribe could manage. If you haven’t read G.P. lately , this is the one to pick up. New characters allow those of us who are truly anal to shut our eyes to the overwhelming backlist of what came before. This book revolves around three entirely different personalities. The two cases, one old and one new take a distinct look at two time periods with an eerie insight. Pelecanos’s Washington is again a central character but in THE NIGHT GARDENER he also moves into the suburbs with the same truth that has made his Washington THE Washington in Crime Fiction. In THE NIGHT GARDENER the human condition with all of its strengths and fallibilities is again primal. And hope, hope is in the family. A family with all the day to day concerns and conflict of our own.

Are you still unconvinced? I have a secondary argument. Everyone who reads has friends who read. And not necessarily within the “mystery genre”. Give them this book. Wrap it up with a bow and say, “You’re welcome,”. THE NIGHT GARDENER (roll eyes with me everyone) transcends the genre. Truly. If you’ve a friend who reads “literary novels” by all means, gift them. “Best-sellers”, ditto. This novel will be enjoyed by all.

Are you a library reader or perhaps someone whose collection has outgrown their book space? Buy it anyway , read it and then pass it along. This is his time. This is the book with which the mystery community can share George Pelecanos with the rest of the reading population. Little, Brown has a tradition of taking the very best of Crime Fiction and nurturing their writers. Connelly, Rankin, Mina, Meyers, Mosley. And George Pelecanos. Now it’s time for us to return the favor. We can all go to our local bookstores, spend the 20 odd dollars and say thank you to Little, Brown for continuing to back quality product in a market that becomes more by the numbers every day. And it doesn’t hurt that when Pelecanos becomes a household name we can know we found him first.

Ruth Jordan

Jul 29, 2006

DVD review: Pinky and the Brain season one.

Pinky and the Brain season one.
Warner Home Video

Yes, this is cartoon about lab mice, but they are scheming to take over the world. What could be better suited for us? If the Brain were human, he would be the perfect Bond villain. Well, you would have to dress him in some stylish duds, but other than being naked, he has everything one could ever want from a fiendish villain.

The Brain, along with his insane sidekick Pinky, spends each night trying to take over the world. While they invariably fail each time, they succeed in providing wonderful entertainment for all that watch.

Pinky and the Brain is an exceptional series that while being great fun for kids, is also smart enough that adults can enjoy it as well. Really a great series that you can’t go wrong with.

Jeremy Lynch

Jul 28, 2006

DVD releases for August 1st

Mr. Moto Collection: Volume 1
Four-disc set with four "Mr. Moto" films starring Peter Lorre: "Think Fast, Mr. Moto" (1937), "Thank You. Mr. Moto" (1937), "Mr. Moto Takes a Chance" (1938) and "Mysterious Mr. Moto" (1938); $59.98. Extras: Profiles of Lorre, "Mr. Moto" director Norman Foster, producer Sol Wurtzel and stuntman Harvey Parry. (Fox).
Most remember Lorre as a creepy little fellow that usually played an oily sidekick of the villain, but he also starred as Mr. Moto in several films in the late 30s. Here are the first four, along with a few extras.

V for Vendetta (2006) Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Roger Allam, Ben Miles, Sinead Cusack. Available as a single disc and as a two-disc special edition. Extras: "Freedom! Freedom! Making V for Vendetta" featurette. Special edition adds "Designing the Near Future" featurette, "Remember Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot" featurette, "England prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave in comics," "Cat Power" montage. (Warner).
This film got a bit of negative publicity when the writer of the graphic novel it is basedon went public with his unhappiness regarding the changes that were made to the story.Comic geeks fears were unfounded as James Mc Teigue and crew have delivered a thrilling, visually impressive ride into the future that is inspired by Orwell.

Trailer for Brian De Palma's The Black Dalhia is online.

On Sept 15th, Brian De Palma's take on Jame Ellroy' s The Black Dahlia will come to a theatre near you. The trailer is now available for viewing.
Click here to view The Black Dahlia trailer.

Jul 27, 2006

The Case Of The Procrastinating Publicator

I should be working.
I should be doing layout on two issues of Crimespree.

I've started. The covers are done and to the printer already. And the insides are well under way. I'm just hitting a wall. I want to watch some DVDs, or read or do something that doesn't need doing.

But I have coffee and smokes. And three days to finish.

Then I'm going to do some things that don't need doing.

DVD Review: Murder Room: The dark beginnings of Sherlock Holmes

Murder Room: The dark beginnings of Sherlock Holmes
MPI Home Video

Ian Richardson as Dr. Joseph Bell, Sherlock Holmes prototype, in Murder Rooms The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes (BBC series), made clear to me while I'd like to be Holmes, I'm not at all sure I'd like to hang out with him. Bell is Holmes with feet of clay and I found him hugely appealing because of it.

The two disc set holds four ninety minute stories all of which are quite good, and nothing else. While nothing else is required, I would have liked some extra something. The final two, 'The Kingdom of Bones' and 'The White Knight Stratagem' are the strongest in my estimation, although this may be because the characters are well established by then.

Charles Edwards as Arthur Conan Doyle is perhaps a bit too muted at times, conveying a wounded quality consistent with his intendeds murder and his fathers illness but bordering on flat. Still this does not seem to get in the way of the tales and presents a likable enough sort (what sort that is I've never been sure. Ah, the English).

The tales are populated with Circus folk, Spiritualists. syphilitics, grasping Physicians, Damsels in distress who may or may not be mad, Mummies, Terrorists, walking wounded, drunken fools, damn fools, and of course, murders. May be thin gruel for the hard core Holmes fan but I doubt it. Great fare for those who find Holmes' perfection a touch tedious.

Lee Crawford

Jul 25, 2006

Bouchercon 2008 - Baltimore

Official Baltimore Bouchercon Website

Register Here

So what are you waiting for?? An invitation from Laura?

DVD Review: Basic Instinct 2

Basic Instinct 2: The instinct was wrong.
Sony Home Video

In 1994, Sharon Stone became a star when she appeared, opposite Michael Douglas, in Basic Instinct. Ask most people what the film was about and they will likely be a little vague…something about a killer, Douglas is a cop… Stone uncrossed her legs and is not wearing underwear. That last part has become legendary.

Fast-forward 12 years, Basic Instinct 2 is here. Michael Douglas is nowhere to be seen and, quite frankly, neither is any of the elements that made the original an entertaining thriller. I could take another 100-200 words to go off on this film and Hollywood’s tendency to either remake or do a sequel for every successful film that has ever existed. Instead, I will simply say you would be better off saving your money for a more worthy dvd.

Jeremy Lynch

DVD releases for July 25th

July 25th
Ask the Dust (2006) Dir.: Robert Towne; Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland, Eileen Atkins. Extras: Commentary by Towne, Hayek and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel; "From Novel to Film: The Making of Ask the Dust." (Paramount).

Hudson Hawk (1991) Bruce Willis, Danny Aiello, Andie MacDowell, James Coburn, Richard E. Grant, Sandra Bernhard. Extras: "The Story of Hudson Hawk" featurette with Bruce Willis, "My Journey to Minerva" with Sandra Bernhard, deleted scenes, trivia track. (Sony).
If, in 1991, you had suggested to me that this film would see a special edition release…well, I would have been confused because we didn’t have DVDs in ’91, but if we had, I would have thought you crazy. Yet, here it is. Hawk is a comedic caper film that was a Bruce Willis pet project. As you can see, it features a solid cast and, in all honestly, is not all that bad.

Jag Season One $64.99 Extras: Commentary on Pilot Episode by Co-Creator/Executive Producer/Writer/Director Donald P. Bellisario, How The Series Took Flight, JAG: An Inside Look, The Military Accuracy (Paramount)
This set shows how it all started for the hit series that recently ended an amazing ten year run.

La Femme Nikita: Season 4 $99.99 22 episodes on Six discs. Extras: commentary on 2 key episodes, deleted scenes with optional commentary by Christopher Heyn and a gag reel. (Warner)
Season 4 of the series based on the French film. The series is much better than the American film The Assassin, which was based on the French film. This season sees series regular Alberta Watson(Madeline) leave the show.

Pinky and the Brain Volume 1 Four-disc set with 22 episodes, $44.98. Extras: "Pinky and the Brain: The Start of All Things Wacky" featurette. (Warner).
Yes, this is cartoon about lab mice, but they are scheming to take over the world. What could be better suited for us? If the Brain was a human, he would be the perfect Bond villain. Great fun for adults as well as children.

The Prisoner Megaset: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition All 17 episodes, $139.95 Extras: Bonus footage; "The Prisoner Video Companion," an illustrated 60-page, limited edition series companion guide; deluxe fold-out village map. (A&E Home Video).
“You are number 6.” “ I am not a number, I am a free man!” So goes the beginning of the classic British series. Not quite Sci-fi, but a little bit out there. A very entertaining, albeit dated, series.

Rebus, Set 1 (2006) Two-disc set of the BBC America series based on the Scottish detective thrillers by bestselling crime author Ian Rankin; $39.99. (Acorn Media).
Ken Stott takes over the role of Rebus in this two dvd set that contains The Falls and Fleshmarket Close.

Robert Ludlum's Covert One: The Hades Factor (Sony)

Jul 20, 2006

Battlestar Galactica

Holy Shit.
That was my first thought upon seeing the first hour. I never caught it on TV, but heard the buzz. I knew it would be worth checking out when Keith Snyder admitting to being hooked.
Well let me tell you, Holy Shit!

The new Battlestar Galactica is amazing. Gritty, dark, real, tragic, heroic, and constantly surprising. This is not your mom and dad's sci-fi show. It doesn't take placeon a pristine ship called enterprise with quirky aliens. The humans created something called Cylons, the Cylons went rogue and now they are back after 40 years to kick humanity in the ass.

The show is much more about people coping with crisis and each other than it is about robots and spaceships (though there are plenty). It's so absorbing w wathced the entire first set in one sitting. Stupid me, I only got the first set so we had to wait three days to see the second set.

Fanboys complaining about it not being true to the original need to grow up. This is amazing television, the old one is amusing camp at best.

I'm on board for every episode.

Jul 19, 2006

Dear DVD packaging person

Why oh why, for the love of God WHY do you put so much sticky plastic around my discs?
One sticker across the top with the name makes sense. Why do you need the estra two that say "Security Device enclosed"? It already has a wrapper all the way around it. Nobody is going to unwrap the whole thing and steal just the disc, they'll find a way to take the whole package, so it's not a theft deterent. It's just annoying.

And then to piss me off more, the stickers have little grooves cut in them so it won't tear off in one piece. It's mean and spiteful. Don't you love us? Think about how much money you make form all the discs we buy. Do we not make you happy?

So Please, stop with all the damn extra stickers on my Dvds.

Jul 18, 2006

DVD Review: Road House 2

Road House 2
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

What can I say about Road House 2 (starring Jonathon Schaech and Jake Busey, Gary's kid. Directed by Scott Ziehl). It's not as bad as I expected. It's nicely photographed. Louisiana is pretty country. It's a valentine to clichés. The acting is...nicely photographed.

The story's pitiful and wildly unlikely: nobody did the math on Jake Buseys' age so one doubts he was working as a bouncer 10 or 15 years ago when Dalton, the Patrick Swayze role in the original and the heroes father, was murdered.

The fight scenes are only slightly more realistic then your average Kung Fu film, with punches thrown at the hero that would have killed him if he were 7 or 8 feet tall.

The Director seems fascinated by the women using dirty words (the only one that cusses more is Busey) but it's forced and jarring.

The fact that I started this by saying it was better than I expected should give you some idea how low my expectations were. Walk by this one. Avert your eyes. Use the time to trim your toenails, or someone else's.

Lee Crawford

Jul 16, 2006

DVD Review - The Adventues of Brisco Coutny Jr

Well, it's finally on DVD. On sale Tuesday the 18th. The full series is all here on one set with loads of extra features.

I love this show. Westerns on TV have always been a staple, and WILD WILD WEST is one of my favorites. So lets do a little something here..

Name-Brisco County Jr, Name- James West
Brisco County is a cooler name
Brisco works for rich older white guys, West works for a politician.
Cooler booses - Brisco
James West has a train, Brisco has Comet the Wonder horse.
Cooler ride - Brisco
Side Kicks, West has Artie, the master of disguises, Brisco has Lord Bowler.
Lord Bowler could kick arties ass with his eyes closed, and wouldn't be fooled by the disguises either!

I think it's obvious that while WIld Wild West is a great show, The Adventures Brisco County Jr is worlds better.

For my money Bruce Campbell is one of the most entertaining people working today. He doesn't overstate his postition in Hollywood, he's a working actor who loves what he does. And the role in this show was perfect for him. A harvard educated lawyer working as a bounty hunter, girls love him, men wnt to be him. He's a man of hi word, and a man you can trust. And you can trust Bruce Campbell to play it perfectly. Filled with wonderful writing, humor, and characters that are great to watch interact with each other.

I also love the whole sci-fi element with "The Orb". A strange device that allows time travle and grants extrordinary powers. John Astin as Professer Wickwire inventing things like a rocket ship is just so much fun. Brisco has an eye open to the future, with the next century right around the corner, Brisco is ready to embrace it.

This show also has the best bad guys! Billy Drago as John Bly is amazing! John Bly's gang all killed Brisco County senior, and through out the show Brisco is tracking them down. I really loved the episode called "Pirates!" with Andrew Divoff as a pirate in the west trying to steal enough to build a new boat and get back to the seas.

Brisco County is a show everyone can enjoy. Full of action, wonderful dialogue and a real sense of humor. Totally re-watchable.

The spcecial features included is the icing on this perfect cake of television delights. Commentaries featuring Bruce Campbell, Brisco's book of coming things, A documentary The History of Brisco COunty Jr, Tools Of the Trade, A reading from the book of Bruce, a highly entertaining round table discussion with the writing staff and a great booklet.

I think this is a must have collection and a wonderful edition to any DVD collection.

There's also an option to buy it together with Jack Of all Trades, another great Bruce Campbell Show.

Jul 15, 2006

Murder and Mayhem In Muskego (wisconsin)

We've confirmed the line up for the second annual mystery day in Muskego (just ouside Milwaukee) for this November.

Tess Gerritson
David Morrell
John Connolly
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Libby Fischer Hellman
Blake Crouch
Nathan Singer
JA Konrath
Judy Clemons
Marshall Cook
John Galligan
Ben Leroy
Alsion Janssen

The Event will be Saturday November 11th starting at 10:00 am

A special signing will take place the night before at Mystery One Books in Milwaukee

For details, shoot me an email

Jul 14, 2006

DVD releases for July 18th.

This week is loaded with re-issues, some good some…well some that are .not quite my cup of tea. It is worth noting that you will, on occasion, notice non-crime titles listed here. These are simply titles that we feel are worth noting and might be enjoyed by our fellow members of the crime community.

July 18th
Adventures of Brisco County, Jr: The Complete Series Eight-disc set with 27
episodes, $99.98. Extras: "A Reading From the Book of Bruce," "The History of Brisco County" making of documentary featuring Bruce Campbell and the show's creators, "Tools of the Trade" interactive map that launches into mini- featurettes about the gadgets and props used in the show, "A Brisco County Writer's Room" roundtable reunion/ discussion with the key writer/producers. (Warner).

Mr. Jordan has been waiting his entire life for this. There is some concern within the Crime
Spree family that with the release of Brisco County, Jon will be without purpose or focus. sort of like a child the day after Christmas. There will be a....I don't think review would be an apt description, there will be a love letter on Brisco forthcoming.

The Film Noir Classics Collection: Volume 3 All new to DVD and all digitally remastered: "Border Incident," "His Kind of Woman," "Lady in the Lake," "On Dangerous Ground" and "The Racket." Available exclusively with the set will be a bonus documentary, "Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light"-- a vital companion piece that contains an elucidating overview, complete with clips and expert commentary - and "Vintage Shorts": "Women in Hiding," "You, the People," "Forbidden Passage" and "A Gun in his Hand." The six-disc collection will be sold as a set only for $49.92. (Warner).
· Border Incident (1949) Dir.: Anthony Mann; Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva, James Mitchell. Extras: Commentary by film historian Dana Polan, trailer.
· His Kind of Woman (1951) Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Marjorie Reynolds, Raymond Burr, Jim Back. Extras: Commentary by film historian Vivian Sobchack.
· Lady in the Lake (1947) Dir.: Robert Montgomery; Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Leon Ames, Jayne Meadows. Extras: Commentary by film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini , trailer.
· On Dangerous Ground (1952) Dir.: Nicholas Ray; Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Ed Begley. Extras: Commentary by film historian Glenn Erickson, trailer.
· The Racket (1951) Robert Mitchum, Lizabeth Scott, Robert Ryan, William Talman. Ray Collins Extras: Commentary by film historian Eddie Mueller, trailer.

This collection of restored Noir classics features Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Robert Mongomery and Ricardo Montalban. Yes, Mr. Montalban had a career prior to Fantasy Island. Each film features commentary from a noted film historian. The Racket features acclaimed crime writer Eddie Mueller. A complete review is forthcoming.

The Prentender Season 4 $39.98 Extras: Commentaries on selected episodes by Craig Van Sickle, Ethan Lawrence, Steven Long Mitchell, Tommy Thompson, Andrea Parker, Michael T. Weiss and Carlos Coto, Featurettes: Farewell The Pretender, Jarod's Mythology Part 1, Jarod's Mythology Part 2, Looking for Chip Greenfelt. (Fox)

Road House: Deluxe Edition (1989) Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara. Extras: Commentary by Swayze, "What Would Dalton Do" featurette, deleted scenes, trivia track. (Sony).
The Patrick Swayze “classic” about a rough, tough poetic bouncer. Over the years, it has become a bit of a cult classic. Whether or not you enjoy the film depends on whether or not you enjoy Patrick Swayze.

Road House 2: Last Call (2006) Johnathon Schaech, Will Patton. (Sony).
A sequel to the Swayze film.
Not sure if this ever actually made it to the theatres. Actually, I am not sure why it was even made.

Some Like It Hot: Collectors Edition (1959) Dir.: Billy Wilder; Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O'Brien, Two-disc set. Extras: Eight-page collectible booklet, collectible postcards, commentary featuring interviews with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and more, new documentary: "The Making of Some Like It Hot," new documentary: "The Legacy of Some Like It Hot," "Nostalgic Look Back With Tony Curtis," "Memories of the Sweet Sues" all-girl band featurette, "Virtual Hall of Memories," original press book gallery. (Sony).
One of the all time great comedies, actually considered by many to be the greatest, SLIH features Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis at their very best along with Marilyn Monroe for sex appeal. Legendary Director Billy Wilder puts a pair of great actors in women’s clothes and hilarity ensues.

Warner Bros. Pictures Tough Guys Collection All new to DVD, six-disc set with "Bullets or Ballots," "Each Dawn I Die," "'G' Men," "San Quentin," "A Slight Case of Murder" and "City for Conquest." All six titles have been fully restored and digitally remastered with special features including historian commentaries and new making-of featurettes. Each disc also contains an exclusive "Warner Night at the Movies" segment that recreates moviegoer attractions such as newsreels, comedy shorts, cartoons and trailers from the years each film was released. The collection will be available for $67.92; each title is also available separately for $19.97. (Warner).
· Bullets or Ballots (1936) Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane, Humphrey Bogart. Extras: New featurette "Gangsters: The No. 10: Trouble Shots," "Breakdowns of 1936": studio blooper reel, audio-only bonus: 4/16/1939 Lux Radio Theater broadcast with Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1936 short subjects gallery: vintage newsreel, vintage short "George Hall and His Orchestra," classic cartoon" I'm a Big Shot Now," trailer "The Charge of the Light Brigade."
· Each Dawn I Die (1939) James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan, George Bancroft, Max 'Slapsie Maxie' Rosenbloom. Extras: New featurette "Stool Pigeons and Pine Overcoats: The Language of Gangster Films," commentary by film historian Haden Guest, "Breakdowns of 1939": studio blooper reel, bonus cartoon "Each Dawn I Crow," 3/22/43 Lux Radio Theater broadcast, trailer, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1939 short subjects gallery: documentary short "A Day at Santa Anita," classic cartoon "Detouring America," trailer "Wings of the Navy."
· 'G' Men (1935) James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, Robert Armstrong, Barton MacLane, Lloyd Nolan. Extras: New featurette "Morality and the Code: A How-to Manual for Hollywood," commentary by Richard Jewell, "How I Play Golf by Bobby Jones No. 11: Practice Shots," "Things You Never See on the Screen: Breakdowns of 1935" studio blooper reel, trailer, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1935 short subjects gallery: comedy short "The Old Grey Mayor" starring Bob Hope, classic cartoon "Buddy the Gee Man," trailer "Devil Dogs of the Air."
· San Quentin (1937) Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Barton MacLane .Extras: New featurette "Welcome to the Big House," commentary by Patricia King Hanson, "Breakdowns of 1937" studio blooper reel, trailer, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1937 short subjects gallery: vintage newsreel, "Broadway Brevity" short "The Man Without a Country," classic cartoon "Porky's Double Trouble," "Kid Galahad" trailer.
· A Slight Case of Murder (1937) Edward G. Robinson. Jane Bryan, Allen Jenkins, Ruth Donnelly. Extras: New featurette "Prohibition Opens the Floodgates," trailer, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1938 short subjects gallery: vintage newsreel, drama short "Declaration of Independence," classic cartoon "The Night Watchman," "The Dawn Patrol" trailer.
· City for Conquest (1940) Dir.: Anatole Litvak; James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Frank Craven, Donald Crisp, Frank McHugh, Arthur Kennedy, George Tobias, Jerome Cowan, Elia Kazan, Anthony Quinn, Lee Patrick. Extras: New featurette "Molls and Dolls: The Women of Gangster Films," "Breakdowns of 1940" studio blooper reel, audio-only bonus: 2/9/1942 Lux Radio Theater broadcast, commentary by Richard Schickel, trailer, "Warner Night at the Movies" 1940 short subjects gallery: vintage newsreel, short "Service With the Colors," classic cartoon "Stage Fright," trailer "The Fighting 69th."

A treasure trove of old flicks. This collection also is loaded with extras. We get vintage newsreels, cartoons and other bits that were shown with the film at the time of it’s theatrical release. A must have for fans of old cinema.

Jeremy Lynch

Jul 9, 2006

DVD Review: Black Hawk Down (Extended cut)

Black Hawk Down (Extended cut)
Sony Home Video

"Brilliantly funny!” “a rip-roaring laugh riot!” “Should be made into a Broadway musical!” “Tom Sizemore and Orlando Bloom are the best comedy duo since Hope & Crosby! What a team!" are phrases you will NOT hear in describing Black Hawk Down.

Phrases you WILL hear include: "Holy Sh** monkeys, was that f***ing intense." And "Man! I nearly wet my pants!" and possibly "How did Tom Sizemore stay clean &/or sober that long!?" I am, of course, kidding. He didn't stay sober. HA! I am kidding again! Tom and I like to kid each other! (The editors would like to note any opinions expressed here are solely the opinion of Randy Otteson, and not the editors. We wish to avoid being sued or in case we meet Mr. Sizemore at a party, we don't want him to kick the crap out of us. P.S. we are pretty sure Randy doesn't know Mr. Sizemore).

Based on the true story of when in the early 90's The United States tried to kidnap the higher ups of a vicious War Lord who was starving the people of Mogadishu. The mission has a few glitches and the troops that were only suppose to be in the "Hot Zone" for 30 minutes end up having to stay there for a full day and night. The "glitches" being the shooting down of two Black Hawk helicopters and the subsequent rescue attempts.

Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien) masterfully puts you in the middle of the battle and you find out what is like to be in a 24 hour non-stop firefight from all sides, bullets flying from every direction from men, women and children as well. If you have ever seen Casualties of War, set during the Vietnam War, Sean Penn says to Michael J. Fox (Yes, they were in a movie together) after a particlar battle that seemed to come out of no-where, and last no more than a few seconds "Mad f***in' minute. Huh, Cherry?" I feel that way through the entire movie Black hawk Down.

The cast is loaded with actors that would soon become household names: Josh Hartnett, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Jeremy Piven, as well as established actors like Tom Sizemore and Sam Sheppard.
He also got together a good cast of known and unknown actors, some (at the time) soon-to-be well known actors and more than a few "Where do I know that guy from" actors.

They include:

Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor, Lucky Number Sleven)
Ewan McGregor (Star Wars 1-3, Down with Love)
Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter films, The Patriot)
Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan, Pearl Harbor)
William Fichtner (The Perfect Storm, Contact)
Eric Bana (The Incredible Hulk, Munich)
Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff, Steel Magnolias)
Ron Eldard (ER, Freedomland)
Steven Ford (Heat, Contact [also Gerald's son])
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean films)
Jeremy Piven (Chasing Liberty, Runaway Jury)

"Extended Cut" Refers to a few extra scenes that were cut out of the original (Probably due to length), that are restored for this release. The extra scenes do not add a "Whole new depth" to the movie, but are interesting for the film’s fans. It also comes with a Frontline special on the real event. Frontline, for those who don't know (which I didn't), is PBS's long running "60 Minutes" or "48 Hours" type of news program. Frontline has been on TV since 1983, apparently I have been living in a cave (A cave that doesn't get PBS). The piece is very interesting for those who want to know more about why we where there, why we left, and why we had to sit on our hands and watch the brutality that went on. By "we" I of course mean our military. The closest I have been to combat, is talking too loud during bingo at a retirement home (I still have the scars, emotional as well as physical. NEVER mess with old people and bingo....NEVER! I can't talk about it anymore; I can feel the tears welling again).

Randy Otteson

Jul 6, 2006

An observation...

When I was a younger man I could eat mass quantities of Pizza, I'm talking about order three large with my brother and finishing all of it.

Now I'm a bit older and I find that while I want to keep eating, I can't..... I filled up about half way through one pizza.

I don't think I'm going to handle this getting older thing very gracefully.

Jul 4, 2006

Is Lewis Black the funniest man alive right now?

For my money, contemporary comedians just don't come any funnier than Lewis Black. He has an ass kicking new special running on HBO, and he's on tour. I got a chance to see hime tonight, twice. He perfomed at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Sumerfest is billed as the world's largest music festival. Ten days and 30+ stages. We saw Elvis Costello last thursday. Tonight it was time for Mr. Black.

His humor is political and topical. His observations are brilliant and his delivery and timing amazing.
Buy a DVD , get a cd, or watch him somewhere on cable. This guy is the real deal!

Jul 3, 2006

DVD Review: Fangoria's Blooddrive Collection

From Koch Entertainment

Fangoria is THE magazine for horror fans, proving again and again that they know more about the horror film genre than anyone. Well taking their love a step further thay have started a short film contest, and this set contains 15 of the winning entries.
Volume one is hosted by Rob Zombie and also features a wonderful interview with Clive Barker. There is also a featurette with special effects wizard Stan Winston.
The standout film for me was THE HITCH by Drew Rist.
The seven short films are trully great hooror and this is a set not for the faint of heart!

Volume Two is hosted by Mistress Julia, featuring eight short films and an interview with Bruce Campbell on his ranch. I especially loved WE ALL FALL DOWN and DISPOSER.

Fans of horror know to trust Fangoria Magazine, so I can tell you that you should trust them to put together a great set of short films in this set.


DVD Review: The Dick Francis Mysteries

From Koch Entertainment

Ian McShane stars in this british made series baedon Dick Francis' books. This set includes McShane as jockey club investigator David Cleveland in IN THE FRAME, BLOOD SPORT, and TWICE SHY.

McShane is wonderful in this role as an investigtor who knows how to handle himself. The stories are intelligent and written for people who don't mind thinking a little as they watch TV.

The first episode opens with a house exploding killing a woman inside, David's friend is a suspect and he pitches in to help clear him. When his friend and the friend's business partner find thier homes have been emptied of all possesions the case takes a different slant. Cleveland follows the case to Germany to track down the people behind the killing and the theft.

In Blood Sport the case is a not so simple horse thrft. The insurance company is ready to pay out, but the owner thinks the horse is still alive and wants him back. Enter David Clevland on a trip to the Canadian Rockies to track down the thieves.

Twice Shy opens with a murdr of a computer wiz who is killed rock climbing. Things start to get muddled as Clveland discovers the real motive for the killing.

Ian McShane is great in this role, and fans of his work as Lovejoy will really love it. And at almost 5 hours, this is a lot of viewing for the buck. Filled with twists and surprises this si a set for any fan of British mysteries.

DVD Review - The Wild Wild West:Season One

When I was a lad and spent my days in school I waould always rush home every day. Did I miss my Mother? Not too much. Was I starving? Not really. I needed to get to the television. Wild Wild West came on every day at 4:00.

Well I need rush no more, because the folks at Paramount are putting The Wild Wild West out on DVD. Season one is available now.

Originally airing from 1965 to 1969, The Wild WIld West, starring Robert Conrad, is a show that is set right after the Civil War, and Conrad's character, James West, answers directly to President Grant. He is undercover on his own train working for the Secret ervice to keep the west free of plots and madmen. He has as many gadgets as Bond, though because of the era they aren't as sophisticated. He is assisted by Ross Martin in the role of Artemus Gordan, a master of disguise.

The first season is in Black and White, though later seasons would be in color. The very first episode we see West trying to stop a crazed madman from Mexico from chasing out settlers and reclaim New Mexico. The episode is called Night Of The Inferno and co stars Susanne Pleshette who would later go on to marry america's favorite psychologist on The Bob Newhart show. All the shows were titled with "The Night of..." and my favorite of this season is The Night of The Druid's Blood. Evil Magicians, mad scientists, it's all in a days work for our heroes.

This show is loads of fun as the two make their way across the west doing whatver they can to preserve freedom and Democracy. And they go up against some really great bad guys. This really is wonderfully fun television.

The set is extra nice with intros from Robert Conrad and interviews with writers. They have the original "lost" opening, photo galleries and more.

This western espionage has been missing from the shelves and I for one am glad it's finally out. Don't bother with the updated movie, get the original.

28 episodes for a total of over 22 hours of viewing, completely remastered.
Buy The Wild Wild West Season One