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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp

FAST FIVE - DVD GIVEAWAY

fast_five_cover_dvdThis is absolutely a man movie.

At this point, dragging a very heavy, very dense safe around the streets of Rio de Janeiro is what qualifies as a nutty stunt that actually works. From The Rock being, well, The Rock in all his oiled masculinity and Vin Diesel doing his best to project the kind of manliness usually reserved for quiet, reflective moments, yet he’s able to extend that quiet intensity for the entire duration of the film. While the movie isn’t going to win any awards come Oscar time, it’s just as well. This movie is dead set on making sure that those with any kind of adrenal gland get excited over fast moving cars and fast editing. The movie succeeds in hitting and playing to its core demo and the box office responded well to this, the latest entry into the FAST franchise. The movie will absolutely satisfy those looking for a movie light on depth but heavy on the testosterone.

To that end, then, I am giving away a handful of copies of the movie on DVD. If you would like to be put into the running to receive them just send me an e-mail to Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com and I’ll put you into the hopper.

ABOUT THE MOVIE:

BUCKLE UP FOR AN ADRENALINE-PUMPING HEIST  FROM THE EXPLOSIVE FRANCHISE BUILT ON SPEED STARRING VIN DIESEL, PAUL WALKER, DWAYNE JOHNSON AND A REUNION OF RETURNING ALL-STARS IN FAST FIVE

“The Best of the Series!” – Richard Corliss, TIME

Universal City, California (July 26 2011)—Spectacular street chases and pulse-pounding physical action are set against the mesmerizing beauty of Rio de Janeiro’s exotic thoroughfares in Fast Five, the most successful installment of the Fast & Furious franchise.  Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead a reunion of returning all-stars from every chapter of the phenomenally successful franchise built on speed plus action superstar Dwayne Johnson (Faster) in the all-new action caper available October 4, 2011 on Blu-ray™ and DVD Combo Packs, DVD, Digital Download and On Demand.

Available for a limited time only, the Blu-ray™ and DVD Combo Packs bring the full-throttle excitement of the ultimate Fast Five experience to the screen with perfect picture and the purest digital sound available on Blu-ray™, as well as an extended edition of the film with even more explosive action, exclusive bonus features, a DVD to enjoy in the car or on the go, and a Digital Copy of the film that can be downloaded and viewed on an array of electronic and portable devices anytime, anywhere including laptops, tablets, and smartphones as well as Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray™ set top boxes.  Debuting on the Fast Five Blu-ray™ is Universal’s Second Screen, an all-new app for tablets and computers that provides an innovative and interactive viewing experience. To preview Universal’s all-new Second Screen for Fast Five visit http://preview.tinyurl.com/UniSecondScreenF5preview.

Packed with mind-blowing stunts, high-octane thrills and unprecedented automotive wizardry, Fast Five reunites cast members from all four previous chapters of the blockbuster franchise, reprising their roles as the most daring gang of outlaw drivers to ever get behind the wheel, while a relentless FBI agent (Dwayne Johnson) does whatever it takes to them bring down.  Director Justin Lin (Fast & Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) takes the wheel of this all-star reunion as Diesel and Walker reprise their iconic roles as Dom Toretto, the king of the street racers, and former cop Brian O’Conner, now Dom’s partner-in-crime, while Johnson rides shotgun for the first time ever as Federal agent Luke Hobbs. Fast Five also brings back several popular franchise stars including Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Don Omar, Elsa Pataky, Gal Gadot and Matt Schulze in a story fueled by gear-grinding action, hairpin plot twists and vehicular mayhem set to a driving hip-hop and Latin soundtrack.

Blu-ray™ and dvd BONUS FEATURES:

·     DELETED SCENES

·     GAG REEL

·     DOM’S JOURNEY: Track Vin Diesel’s legendary character from the beginning

·     BRIAN O’CONNER: FROM FED TO CON: Follow Paul Walker’s character as he goes from lawman to outlaw

·     ENTER FEDERAL AGENT HOBBS: Meet Dom & Brian’s toughest nemesis yet

·     FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH DIRECTOR JUSTIN LIN

SYNOPSIS
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker head up an all-star reunion of the explosive Fast franchise set in sultry Rio de Janeiro. Former cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker, Fast & Furious, Takers) and his girlfriend Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster, Fast & Furious, “Dallas”) bust Mia’s brother Dom (Vin Diesel, Fast & Furious, The Chronicles of Riddick) out of prison, blasting across South America to elude the authorities. Finding themselves backed into a corner in Brazil, they assemble an elite team of top racers to help pull off the one last job that could mean freedom for them all. But hard-nosed federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson, Faster, The Other Guys) is hot on their trail, and so is a corrupt and powerful businessman who wants them dead.  When Hobbs and his strike force launch an all-out assault to capture the Torettos and their team, he can’t separate the good guys from the bad. Instead, he must rely on his instincts to corner his prey…before someone else runs them down first.

###

Losing a Man Among Few Men -  Ray Schillaci

crobertson_cliff2Cliff Robertson has passed at the age of 88 and anybody under the age of thirty may not be aware of this amazing man who was an aviator first and an actor second.  That was by his choice.  He pursued what he loved and excelled in what he could do.  He was one of the first who rallied against the greed of Hollywood and their creative bookkeeping.  In doing so, he would be blackballed from the business for many years.  This was Hollywood’s and the audience’s loss.

This was the man that delivered one of the most heart wrenching Oscar performances in the history of cinema as Charly Gordon, the mentally handicapped adult that undergoes an experiment that gives him the opportunity to be a temporary genius.  He also had memorable performances in “PT 109” as JFK, “The Devil’s Brigade,” “Three Days of the Condor” and most recently as Ben Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy.  For many years, Robertson worked successfully in television on many TV movies and most notable on the series “Washington: Behind Closed Doors” and “Falcon Crest”.

As a young man he left his hometown of LaJolla, Ca. and attended Antioch College in Ohio and wrote for the Springfield Daily News.  Robertson felt that many were under the impression that his calling would be better suited for the theater and with that encouragement he traveled to New York to explore his options.  He worked with several regional companies and did various odd jobs to learn the craft and has admitted that he practically was pushed into acting.

In the beginning, he did not take the profession seriously and could not relate to those that did.  It was much later in life that he found his behavior “shameful”.  He played off-Broadway and Broadway to good reviews.  Eventually, being admitted to the Actor’s Studio gave him a serious outlook into the craft that would change his life.  He would never feel comfortable with the Hollywood community, but had many supporters and friends.

Unfortunately, very few backed him on what his agent termed as a Don Quixote quest, going after 70’s Hollywood uber-producer, David Begelman for embezzlement.  It started when the actor was delivered a note from the IRS stating that he received $10,000 from Colombia Pictures.  This never happened and on further investigation, Robertson found that his signature had been forged.  The actor cooperated with the LAPD and the FBI which lead to the producer’s arrest and the discovery of another $65,000 in forged checks.  Begelman ended up with community service, a suspension from his studio that included a paid vacation and eventually fired.  Robertson was blackballed from the time he cooperated with the press in 1978 through 1982 and some would suggest it lingered much longer.  Not very fair, but not much is in la-la land.

But the two things Hollywood could not take away from the man were his dignity and his love of flying.  He was not just an aviator.  Robertson held single-engine land and sea, multi-engine, commercial, instrument, balloon and glider ratings.  He owned a P58 Baron near his home in Long Island, NY, a Stampe SV4 aerobatic biplane in Santa Paula, CA and a Globe Astir Glider in the Sierras.

Cliff Robertson, the actor, had a way of reaching out and touching us in a very personal way.  His portrayals were earthy and had a lived in quality that very few players can deliver.  Beyond the actor, he was a man’s man and a class act.  He stood tall against the corruption that ran rampant in his industry and did not waver from his post.  He loved flying among the clouds and now his flight to heaven delivers a mighty soul.

MEEK’S CUTOFF - BLU-RAY REVIEW

meeks-cutoff-dvd-blu-rayOne of the things that you notice about Meek’s Cutoff, the latest from Kelly Reichard, is that it wants to tell a story.

Lately, it seems, what sells in the theater are vehicles that pair mega stars with mega action and mega effects in the hopes of raking in mega bucks and, for the most part, that formula has been working. Say what you will about the latest superhero film of a character you’ve hardly heard of but it just cost more money than some corporations make in a year and is on pace to make its money back three fold. With a movie like Meek’s Cutoff, where not much happens, comparatively speaking, it’s amazing to see how richer, deeper, and more emotionally compelling a movie can be when it’s simply allowed to simmer and then come to a boil on its own.

The thing is, some movies can’t get it to that point, that moment when everything that has come before it was just prelude to the fantastical drop of the roller coaster that was pushing up a hill and is about to pay off. Meek’s Cutoff pays off because of the strength of its actors Michelle Williams, who worked with director Reichard in Wendy and Lucy, and Bruce Greenwood who plays the titular Mr. Meek. Meek, you see, is leading Williams, her husband, and two other families through Oregon in 1845. These are THE settlers that no doubt inspired the grade school game but what this movie teaches us is that this was far from fun.

The movie succeeds in depicting Meek as a man who is ill-equipped to lead anyone through such treacherous terrain and the sense you get about the impending doom that hovers over them all is palatable throughout the picture. The movie doesn’t want to make this dramatic simply for cinematic purposes and screenwriter Jonathan Raymond deserves a lot of the credit for making things sparse and minimalist when it comes to dialogue because it makes the actors work to convey the emotions of people who are caught in this situation and have no way to get out of it unless someone makes some decisive action. The way we get to the end is inspired and gripping and shows you why this movie was lauded as one of the year’s best. It’s a movie that rewards your attention and patience, and to have that kind of a relationship with a film that respects its audience shouldn’t be a rarity but it is. A true rarity that deserves your patronage.

More details about the film:

The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon train of three families has hired mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a shortcut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants face the scourges of hunger, thirst and their own lack of faith in one another’s instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as a natural born enemy.

Special Features:

The Making of Meek’s Cutoff
Original theatrical trailer

With an exclusive essay by Richard Hell

BASKET CASE - Worth Reviving by Ray Schillaci

basket_case-poster-impThis month is the ushering in of several wonderful Blu-ray titles for Halloween and none could be more exciting than the brilliantly off-beat “Basket Case”.  This definitely makes the “Worth Reviving” cut.  BC is one of the early 80s cult films that graced the midnight screens and made its audience dare to watch in horror while laughing at the same time.  A dark twisted tale set in one of the nastier areas of New York with an amateur cast that is all the more fun to watch.

Director, Frank Henenlotter’s bizarre take on Siamese-twin brothers who seek out revenge on those responsible for separating them was so successful that it spawned two other sequels and launched a very bizarre career.  The director’s first micro budget feature and subsequent films to follow provided a quirky visual sense, a penchant for either bad acting or just odd looking players and always riddled with dark humor.

Duane rents a tiny room in slum lord heaven and keeps someone very close to him in a small clothes basket.  It turns out that Duane is willing to carry brotherly love to the extreme by keeping his abomination of a twin (a deformed head, arms and hands accompanied by nasty claws) well fed with raw meat, hookers and vengeance.  The tale is gleefully sick and of course things go awry once Duane encounters his first love that makes his brother horribly jealous.  What ensues is the stuff nightmares are made of after a bad drug trip.  But if you have a sick sense of humor like me, you’ll be daring to have your friend’s watch it and laughing the whole time as their dates or spouses freak out on them.

Duane’s twin, Belial, is grotesquely portrayed by the special effects team.  They must have had so much fun creating this thing with the budget they had.  Anatomically, it makes no sense.  I can’t even imagine how something like that could live, but then that’s what the doctor and his assistant thought too and it turns out to be a bloodbath-and-a-half.

Henenlotter has a flair for grindhouse sleaze and makes no apologies.    But that does not make it a bad film.  There is so much bad grindhouse out there, which many praise on out of nostalgia.  This is what turns so many people off of this genre.  They miss the diamonds in the rough that made Roger Corman such a staple in cinematic history.  Frank Henenlotter is one of those very talented directors that always have something interesting to say and his first feature, although rock-bottom in budget and drenched in gore, delivers thrills and chills with a wonderfully twisted tale to boot.
Basket Case on Blu-ray is kind of like Evil Dead in 1080p.  You’re not going to get much better than the way it was filmed (in 16mm and mono sound).  It is a step above the last DVD release as far as picture is concerned; it preserves the original aspect ratio 1.33:1.  But the DTS-HD 5.1 sound is a little distracting with the original sound mixing not up to the standard of a normal studio release.  All of the extras are the same as the last DVD release, except for a new introduction by the director.  Whether Blu-ray or DVD or rental for a Halloween party, Basket Case is a must see from the sick cinema list.

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