The Best of August 2019 [Blu-ray review]
Project Ithaca is a film about aliens harvesting human emotions to open a wormhole. The US Government makes an alien-human hybrid to infect the lead alien ship to stop this invasion. That’s about it. Seriously, nothing happens in his low-grade Sci-Fi flick.
The Reflecting Skin is the kind of movie that makes me appreciate Viggo Mortensen’s career. Arriving in 1990, the film is about a little kid who suspects his neighbor is a vampire. Most of the film is a childhood allegory about growing up during the Atomic Age. Still, Mortensen and Lindsay Duncan kill it in the leads. Film Movement has lovingly restored the film and packed it with a commentary, new essay and featurette.
The Outsider is another one of those Cinedigm Westerns. I like them, but I’m starting to get the idea that there might not be the biggest audience for them. In a way, they remind me of those early 1970s Westerns that existed as a counterblock to the more radical Westerns that were appearing. These are traditional stories that don’t ask much. Your parents might love them.
Roxanne is still the definition of Meh, that’s OK. Now, the classic Steve Martin film comes packaged in a VHS look-alike case. If you haven’t seen it before, just imagine Cyrano de Bergerac but with a Diet Coke tie-in.
True Believer is one of those dime-a-dozen legal thriller movies from the late 80s/early 90s. They usually were created as vehicles to make middle-aged and younger actors play off each other. What turns into acting porn ultimately says nothing to an indifferent audience. The Blu-ray comes with no special features.
Shiraz: A Romance of India
Shiraz is a silent film about the creation of the Taj Mahal. Anoushka Shankar produced the stunning score, while an all-star Indian cast provides killer acting. Shot rather recently, I’m kinda stunned to see a movie like this come out of India. Still, it’s one of my favorite August 2019 releases.
The Ugly American
The Ugly American is a movie I’m surprised that Universal licensed out to Mill Creek. The copyright on it still seems to be in good standing. Yet, why would Universal lend out an award winning Brando film from his heyday? Is it because people don’t watch jack shit from before 2000 anymore? That must be it. Still, this Blu-ray has a nice transfer.
Hart to Hart: Movies are Murder Collection
Hart to Hart had a life past its original 1980s TV run. Now, we get all 8 TV movies presented in one collection. What Mill Creek has done here means a lot to the Classic TV fan. Other than that, it’s 12 hours of movies that most would have passed on. While I’d loved to have seen these bundled in with a master release of the TV series, it still works.
Pan Am – The Complete Series
Pan Am arrived on ABC rocking my favorite vibe. Margot Robbie and Christina Ricci looking how in early 60s vibe. In a way, it’s a discount Mad Men. But, damn if I don’t love the visual aesthetic. While this was a fun series to revisit, I totally get why it got cancelled. There just was nowhere for it to go.
Into the Badlands: Season 3
Into the Badlands was a show that I thought was cancelled. After Mad Men ended, my interest in AMC went right out the window. Now, I’m watching a show with a fascinating premise, but little in terms of ongoing drama. The Blu-ray comes with no special features. But, I love seeing Nick Frost thriving in roles outside of Edgar Wright movies.
Miss Arizona is a fun movie about women picking their lives back up. Well, they do it in an abuse shelter and with the help of some drag queens. Still, Teen Witch is looking good as a cougar and I think I spotted the lady from Fletch. Enjoy it all, people. Youth fades.
Teddy Pendergrass – If You Don’t Know Me
Teddy Pendergrass is an inspiring musical figure. Dominating the R&B charts as a young man, being paralyzed in a car wreck and then returning to the stage for Live Aid…it was quite a feat. Sure, the Queen performance is what most remember from the show, but it still mattered. The Blu-ray comes with deleted scenes, dance sequences and featurettes about Teddy’s life. For being a BBC Films production, I’m a little stunned that it didn’t get a bigger showing in America. Oh well, rectify that now!
Nightwish is the latest of the Unearthed Classics’ releases. For a film that relies on studying sensory deprivation, it really pops. Brian Thompson and Clayton Rohner star in this frightening look at what happens when your perception of reality slips. The Blu-ray comes with a newly remastered transfer, a commentary, trailers and a booklet. For being a first time viewer, the commentary helped explain away a lot of my questions.
Creating Woodstock is another 50th anniversary look at the music festival. Everyone willing to sit down for a documentary is interviewed. However, the real joy is in Arlo Guthrie’s talks and the bonus clips. It’s pretty fun, but not essential for anyone under 50.
Conflict of Wings
Conflict of Wings is a British comedy about a group of country types that have a beef with the RAF. Turns out the British Air Force wants to use their bird sanctuary for target practice. This leads the Norfolk bunch into weaponizing their feather friends to fight a bunch of unwary pilots. Laughs ensue.
Doublecross is a British espionage movie about a fisherman helping out two people that stole government secrets. He doesn’t know what they did and now he has to do his best Cary Grant. It’s rather short moving and very charming. But, we get no special features.
Child’s Play is an attempt at making a British version of Our Gang. Naturally, it didn’t work. But, check out these British ragamuffins making their way through Post War England. It would be depressing if you realized that 1 out of 8 of them were war orphans. Gotta love statistics!
The Beatles: Made on Merseyside
The Beatles: Made on Merseyside is yet another look at the Fab Four’s humble beginnings. Would you ever believe that people hated them? Forget about that as off-sounding music and talking heads fill your ears. It’s enough to make you wish that Yesterday was a reality.
The Jungle Book and Friends
Did you ever remember seeing dubbed foreign adaptations of popular kid stories? Well, they’re back in one giant collection from Mill Creek. Thrill to Simba the White Lion, an anime style Jungle Book and more. If you’re expecting special features, you don’t know what year this is now.
Ladyworld is one of the coolest concepts I saw this year. An end of the world event has trapped 8 girls at an endless sleepover. Now, we get to watch them pick each apart instead of trying to survive. The special features range from trailers to image slideshow. Maya Hawke shines in her bit role, I just wish she got to do more with it.
Journey to Planet Earth: Dispatched from the Gulf 3
It took me two viewings before I realized this was the third documentary in a series. While I appreciate ecology, I can’t help but loose interest in the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Even the documentary has to stop itself and make a separate case for the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill in Mexico. It feels like a whitepaper that was never truly formed. Oh well, it still has an audience.
The Vanishing Shadow
The Vanishing Shadow was a 12 chapter serial finally remastered in 2K. The original 35mm Film Grain is saved, but the film also doesn’t look like it was drug behind a dump truck. VCI brings the original trailer to home video for the first time. Plus, you get liner notes, classic cartoons, newsreels and a photo gallery. Not too bad for a Universal cliffhanger about a politician murder rampage featuring killer robots.
Clarence Clemons: Who Do I Think I Am?
Clarence Clemons will always be the Big Man. Now, we have a fun documentary that explores the private side of the best member of the E Street Band. Check out a ton of info you didn’t know alongside some Springsteen favorites. The documentary follows his efforts to find a new peace in China after The Rising tour ended. Everyone from President Bill Clinton to Joe Walsh get to offer their two cents about the friendliest guy in Rock.
Anti-Nowhere League: We Are The League
Anti-Nowhere League: We Are The League is a look at the League’s rise to non fame. While big in the deep UK Punk scene, I’ll admit something. I never heard of them before the documentary. Stewart Copeland and others get to shine elements on the documentary, but I dig the bonus CD full of music from League’s live 1982 performance.
The Rest of the August Movies
The Iron Orchard is a West Texas drama that wants to be Giant so bad it hurts. The Blu-ray comes with no special features. However, I know a generous portion of readers dig these historical dramas about families in-fighting and all that junk.
Skateboard is a 1978 cult classic film about skateboarding. Written by Dick Wolf and starring Leif Garrett, you will believe that Law & Order was penance for this turd. Tony Alva has a bit role, as most of the action is spent betting on skateboarding to pay off mob debts. The DVD is loaded with a new commentary, interviews, trailer and more. Plus, music from the guy that did the X-Files.
Rafiki is a beautiful about Kenyan girls exploring Lesbian love and life. The problem is that Kenya still criminalizes homosexuality. Things get rough, but stay focus throughout the 83 minutes. Plus, you get a bonus short film from Shae Xu.
Pixelia is a story about a transgendered woman and a young man sharing their dreams in an Uber. Things move past there, while they each grow as people. It’s pretty good, but I wish we got some special features.
The Whirlpool is a film about two French strangers finding love at Niagara Falls. It’s meant to play like a Godard film, but fails miserably.
Damned Summer is a Spanish look at how arrested development keeps people from growing. It’s pretty neat learning the story about how the film was created. Yet, I forgot about it as soon as the film ended.
All of these titles arrived in August 2019
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