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..061812 Big fan of 'The Hustler' on Blu-ray.
. . . . . .I don't think I ever saw 'The Hustler' before watching it on Blu-ray. If I had, I certainly didn't remember the whole thing. 'The Hustler' is one on a long, long, list of films that I have been meaning to watch forever. This can be a good thing because I get to experience classic bits of cinema for the first time as an adult. The 'Maltese Falcon' may be a favorite of mine but it was a movie that I first saw as a child and consequently can't really remember the first time I saw it. The film just always existed in my pshycy and I would love to be able to see it for the first time. Of course that is really a minor quam, a classic is a classic and I have been able to show it to others for the first time and see their reactions. Needless to say, after watching 'The Hustler' Blu-ray, I loved it. The film is a tragic drama following pool hustler Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) as he tracks down hustler kingpin Minnesota Fats (Jackie "The Great One" Gleason). Along the way Felson picks up Sarah Packard (Piper Laurie) who falls for the young hustler, even though she doesn't exactly know how he makes his money. Director Robert Rossen shot the film in black and white and in widescreen giving the film a slick and at the same time grimy kind of look.
Blu-ray DVD
'The Hustler' was adapted from a novel by Walter Tevis who in some ways was something of a character right out of the film. (Supposedly, elements of the book are autobiographical.) Newman is the center of the film and he holds it with a charisma that made him a movie star. He is charming, slick and yet vulnerable and naive. He is easy to root for and his performance kept me hooked. Felson wants to beat Minnesota Fats and is willing to do it no matter what the cost. His drive fuels the film and the price he pays hits home with a cinematic punch to the gut. It is no wonder 'The Hustler' has long been considered a classic. The drama in the film, the toll Felson's journey takes, and the way Newman conveys it is a big part of why the film is so good. Along the way, trying to reach his goal, Felson comes across Bert Gordon (played by the awesome George C. Scott) who wants to "help" Felson in a fashion not too far from the way the Devil wanted to help Faust. Rossen keeps things natural and moves 'The Hustler' at a steady pace so I was wrapped up in it from start to finish. As expected, throughout the film the pool playing looks smooth and stylish. Despite the use of some trick photography for a few tricky pool maneuvers the actors manage to handle many sweet shots themselves. Piper Laurie broke my heart in the film and Scott manages to be an oddly sympathetic figure. Much has been said about Gleason as Minnesota Fats and he was perfect for the role. He was a larger than life talent that dials into play a larger than life hustler without ever going over the top. At the risk of reading too much into things I believe there is a bit of tragedy behind Fats. The man is at the top of the pool hustler's world and yet towards the end of the film there was the implication that he was trapped in his station, despite being the best. Perhaps much of what is clever about the characters is they are just as they are. They are not heroes or villains but hustlers all in one way or another. When I get to see a film like 'The Hustler' that I have meant to see for years, I always feel lucky that I am able to enjoy it for the first time. For those of you that maybe are like I was, always meaning to check it out, give it a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed and even if you are you will get to see some great talent at work. The Blu-ray has a sweet transfer and is stacked with extras (many about Newman.) If you are a fan or if you think you might enjoy it, pick up the Blu-ray it is well worth it. -Nate

 

..050212 Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs on Blu-ray.
. . . . . .I am so behind with updates and with trying to play catch up as I go. One Blu-ray I should have mentioned sooner is the US release of Sam Peckinpah's 'Straw Dogs'. My lapse in mentioning the film is particularly bad as I run the forum dedicated to Sam Peckinpah at http://www.SamPeckinpah.com. You would think that alone would have prodded me into posting about the Blu-ray already but life gets in the way often and especially for me. If you are not familiar with 'Straw Dogs' it is a violent home invasion thriller from the early 70s staring Susan George and Dustin Hoffman amongst others. Be aware that there is some pretty strong stuff in this film that has it tagged with the "controversial" label even to this day. Any Peckinpah release is worth noting but this one is important because there is a UK Blu-ray of the film that from all accounts I've read has a pretty bad transfer. (You can see a comparison at the great DVDBeaver.com HERE.) The UK release does have special features so if you don't already have a special edition of 'Straw Dogs' on DVD with the extras then maybe it is worth getting. There aren't any new features of note on the UK Blu-ray so you won't be missing out if you have the DVD and skip the Blu-ray. The US Blu-ray has no features (other than TV spots and trailers) but it is uncut and it does have a good transfer. I would say that
US Blu-ray (recommended) UK Blu-ray
(worth it only for extras which are repeats)
this is the 'Straw Dogs' Blu-ray to get. It is a shame there are no features (it would have been nice if the studio could have at least gone to the trouble of getting the rights to the extras from the previous DVD releases like in the UK.) The lack of features irks mebut a good high definition transfer is a good high definition transfer. Thank gawd' the Blu-ray is the uncut version of 'Straw Dogs' (as is the UK Blu-ray) so there is something else to be thankful for. Fans of Sam Peckinpah and the film know what they are in for with this rough thriller and like I say, if you are going to get one Blu-ray of 'Straw Dogs', the US Blu-ray is the one to get. -Nate

 

..040412 Henry's Crime went unnoticed.
. . . . . .How do movies slip through the cracks? How is it that some are made and released almost instantly into obscurity? I give you 'Henry's Crime', a small little crime drama that is enjoyable and one that would be (were it not for an ending that is something of a letdown) a real easy recommendation. (Blu-ray to the right, DVD to the far right.) The thing is once you know that there may be a letdown with the ending and are ok with that, then I have an easier time saying it is worth checking out. I enjoyed it beginning to end, and even though I wasn't satisfied with the conclusion I'm still glad I saw it. There are no real violent shoot outs, no real action scenes, but the characters are likeable and the movie has a certain charm to it. I smiled more than I laughed (but I did laugh) and I was surprised by just how much I wanted things to work out for the titled Henry (Keanu Reeves). He's a hapless criminal in love with Julie (played by Vera Farmiga who I am in love with but that's another story) and he has a plan. He's roped in a partner in crime, Max (the way too underused James Caan) and together they are going to take down a score. Caan steals the film as the ex-con Max and shows why the man really
should be in more films. This is the second film I've seen by director Malcolm Venville and I seem to remember being not entirely satisfied with the ending of his film '44 Inch Chest' (but I think I enjoyed that one as well... can't quite remember right now.) Anyhew' 'Henry's Crime' is not the most amazing crime drama I've seen but it was an enjoyable one with enjoyable characters and for the most part a fun ride. I don't want to oversell it but I've seen way worse films get way more attention. One last note is the DVD and Blu-ray have zero extras! That is a real bummer as this film really begs for a good commentary or at least a good feature on the making of the film. It's still worth checking out, I say, especially if you are in the mood for a light crime drama. -Nate

 

..031512 Better late than never or maybe Happy New Year?
. . . . . .2012 has arrived and I am waaaaay behind on any updates. I had to crawl out of a whole that my life had become but I am working to make updates and do a bit of cleanup. Time goes by way too fast and somehow I feel like my life is over before it started. On the plus side I finally got my freaken' hands on the 'Rolling Thunder' Blu-ray!!! Wooooo-hoooo! (Buy it to the right.) It actually has: A. most importantly a good transfer and B. some good extras. I always want more but beggars can't really be choosers at this point. If nothing else, the commentary is sold but the interview is too short. Too bad the disc is not USA friendly so you will need to be able to play UK Blu-rays if you live in the USA. 'Drive' is out on Blu-ray and well worth picking up if you did a slow paced, violent, crime drama. 'The Town' is getting a new special edition Blu-ray release with a few new extras. The "Ultimate Collector's Edition" seems a bit pricy but I'm a fan, so I will probably be grabbing it at some point when cash allows. I've been doing some tweaks to www.SamPeckinpah.com and I want to spruce things up a bit. The pages need to be tweaked and Paolo "The Dude" Gilli from the forum has been compiling info. to make a real thorough Sam Peckinpah filmography for the site. I want to also retool the site so that it reflects new, correct domain, Sam Peckinpah.com. I've been drawing new banner images for the site but my skills are so weakling that it is slow going. I'm hoping I can make something that will look ok
and do the man a bit of justice. I want to add a store section with all things Sam Peckinpah at Amazon that will probably go under the links page (which needs to be updated any.) On a similar note I would like to incorporate a favorite film picks list to RealPoliticalFaceTalk.com and NateBundy.com as well as my twitter feed. Once again my limited skills hold me back but I'm going to give it my best. So there you have it, 3 months into 2012 and I finally do a freaking update. Shame on me. Take care all, -Nate

The Town Blu-ray is below which is a worthy purchase but I admit I wanted more on the making of the film. I guess I wasn't alone because below is the soon to be released "Ultimate Collector's Edition" Blu-ray. You cannot go wrong with the slow, violent and gripping 'Drive' Blu-ray which is now under 20 bucks. Woot!

 

..101211 They made it!!
. . . . . .'Incognito Cinema Warriors XP' made their goal!!!! Wooooohhoooooo! Season 2 will live! -Nate

 

..092511 It's all about the love.... The love and the movies
. . . . . .Are you a fan of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000'? Maybe you're a fan of 'Cinematic Titanic' or maybe you like 'Rifftrax'. Maybe you have no idea what the hell I'm blathering about. The point is, if you do like any or all of those shows than you will also like 'Incognito Cinema Warriors XP'. 'ICWXP' is made by a group of talented and funny peoples that made their own show in the vein of 'MST3K'. Anyone who is familiar with 'MST3K' will know what to expect from 'ICWXP': a few people sitting and watching movies and short subject films while making fun of them. It doesn't sound like much but it can be very, very, funny.
. . . . . .What is so surprising is just how good 'Incognito Cinema Warriors XP' is. The show has its own storyline, theme and feel. There is no doubt that it is made in the spirit of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' but the show marches to its own beat. Show creator/ head writer/ actor/ producer Rikk Wolf has the name of a super hero and leads a group of clearly talented individuals to make a show that is genuinely funny. They have the skills and they are not just making a tribute show. They have made their own show that can proudly stand on its own.
. . . . . .Here's a sample of Episode 3, tooling on 'Bloody Pit of Horror':
. . . . . .'ICWXP' is so good in fact that it needs to be better known. I stumbled upon the show and ended up loving the episodes. I don't do enough updates these days and I'm not sure that this will help them at all but if I can direct even one person to their work then I'm happy. Wolf and company are making a new season and they are trying to generate funds. I'm hoping this can help them at least a little. They need scratch because dammit all the world needs more 'Incognito Cinema Warriors XP'. The official show website is at www.ICWXP.com and they are on Twitter HERE and Facebook HERE. The most important part of today's lesson is DONATE! DONATE, DONATE, DONATE! You can donate to Season 2 directly to their donation page at: Kickstarter HERE. Do it and make the world a happy place, or at the least, make my media player a happy place.
-Nate
. . . . . .I leave you with a video of the set being rebuilt for season 2:

 

..062911 2011 comes with the Rolling Thunder
. . . . . .How is it so far into 2011and I have not made even one update on the site? I only made two updates in 2010.... Talk about slacking. My life is not where I want it to be but better than it was so at least there is finally a little website progress. For the one person that may read this, I have found no better first 2011 post subject than the arrival of ‘Rolling Thunder’ on Blu-ray!!!! I don’t know how I missed the news that it would coming out in the UK later this year but I did a double take when I stumbled upon it for preorder while purchasing the new UK Blu-ray of ‘Cross of Iron’. WOO HOO! ‘Rolling Thunder’ is an absolute favorite film of mine. You can see my babbling review of the movie HERE. It is criminal that there was never a special edition of ‘Rolling Thunder’ made while filmmaker John Flynn was alive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be one anytime soon but a high definition Blu-ray release is welcome none the less and I am psyched to see ‘Rolling Thunder’ in 1080p! Fans of the film outside of the UK like me will have to own a Blu-ray player that is region free and/or able to run UK Blu-rays. I am hoping if nothing else this release has top notch picture and sound!! Please, please, please, please, please don’t let it be a crappy Blu-ray. Maybe the film gods will smile and include some waaaaaayy overdue special features but I’m not holding my breath on that one. If you can play the upcoming UK Blu-ray and are a fan or think you may be a fan pre-order this sucker and sit drooling like me for the September release date. In the mean time you can pick up the official USA DVD release below to hold you over. -Nate
Pre-order the UK Rolling Thunder Blu-ray below: Order the USA Rolling Thunder DVD below:

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