Sunday, August 22, 2010

Withnail & I

Probably the most profound line ever written in regard to Withnail & I describes it as being "as deep as you want it to be or as shallow as you need it to be.” I don’t know who wrote that, but I cannot discuss the film without mentioning it. Set in the final months of 1969, Withnail traces the antics of two out of work actors living in a filth-laden flat in Camden Town, London. To “escape all this hideousness,” they spend their time in booze and drug-addled hazes. With wits at an end, they head to the countryside to unwind for a weekend, never minding that they’re utterly ill equipped to deal with rural living. Along with the presence of Withnail’s Uncle Monty, and the possibility of a violent poacher, those are the film’s major plot points. In lieu of real plot, Withnail offers up two stellar leads in the forms of Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann, and the most infinitely quotable dialogue this side of The Big Lebowski And it’s got a following the size of the Dude’s to match – although most of them are British.

Marwood: “Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day, and for once I'm inclined to believe Withnail is right. We are indeed drifting into the arena of the unwell.”

I’ve been a fanatic for this movie for over 15 years now. It’s in my Top Five, and I consider it my civic filmic duty to turn as many people on to it as possible, especially since it’s just barely a cult item here in the States. I’ve been pretty successful in my endeavors over the years, although I can’t give you hard figures as to whom, when and where. Even if it was just one person in my life, I’d feel good about it, because this is a film meant to be shared with people who need to see it. I don’t know if you’re one of those people, but I’ll do my best to convince you that you are.

Withnail: “You can stuff it up your arse for nothing, and fuck off while you’re doing it!"

Withnail & I is a situation, and anyone who’s ever been in an insufferable friendship can relate to it...

Read the rest of this Blu-ray review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Time Bandits

If you were a certain kind of boy or young teenager in the 80s, then there’s a good chance Time Bandits was a very important film for you. Sure, you loved Ghostbusters, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Goonies, but Time Bandits was special in a different way because not everyone else was in on it; it was seemingly dismissed even by most adults (well, the ones I grew up around anyway). For many young people, it was our first introduction to the whacked out joys of Monty Python, even if we didn’t realize it at the time, as Time Bandits is not a proper Python film. But half of the six-man comedy troupe is involved in the picture, and so when we finally got around to discovering Python, we recognized John Cleese and Michael Palin from this film. Little did we know, though, that all of Python’s strange animations were the handiwork of the guy that directed this piece. Wasn’t it refreshing to not have every fact and figure at your immediate disposal way back then? You picked up information over the years while actively seeking it out. Perhaps, as Time Bandits hints, computers really are the playthings of Evil.

However, it’s also possible you were not a certain kind of boy in the 80’s, or that you’ve never even seen Time Bandits. If so, let’s lay it out there. One night, 11-year old Kevin (Craig Warnock) lies in his bed. Out of his wardrobe tumble six dwarfs on the run from God (who here is referred to as the Supreme Being). He’s their employer and they build trees for him. But they’ve stolen a powerful map from God, and now travel around through history, attempting to loot the past for riches. Kevin follows, and finds himself in all manner of incredulous situations, such as meeting Robin Hood (John Cleese) and conning Napoleon (Ian Holm) out of his wealth. At the same time, Evil (David Warner, in one of his best roles ever) watches over, secretly plotting his takeover of the world via the map, and eventually, an understanding of computers. Exactly what is The Most Fabulous Object in the World, and can the inept group of thieves procure it?

Read the rest of this Blu-ray review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Friday Night Lights: The Fourth Season

It isn’t often that a series reinvents itself so successfully that you don’t find yourself longing for the seasons that came before, but that’s exactly what happens with Season Four of Friday Night Lights. At the close of Season Three, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) had lost his job coaching for the Dillon Panthers, and a case of redistricting left him in charge of a non-existent East Dillon team. Further, most of the kids we’d grown to know and love over the previous three seasons were headed off to college. It could easily have been the end of the show, and it would have been a perfect series of notes to go out on, had DirecTV, which saved the show and helped to give us that third season, not stepped up to the plate and signed on to help NBC co-produce two more 13 episode seasons. Thank you DirecTV, because Season Four may actually be the series’ best since its first. Of course, where Season Four ranks in this fine show’s history is probably irrelevant – what matters is that it’s yet another great batch of chapters in the ongoing story of the fictitious town of Dillon, Texas.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Crumb: The Criterion Collection

"Weird sex. Obsession. Comic books." That’s what the movie poster for Crumb said back when the movie came out in 1995. If you were trying to figure out a way to market this documentary at that time, those are as good of jumping off points as any, and yet there’s no question that Crumb is about so much more.

I don’t recall what exactly it was that drew me to Crumb 15 years ago, as I was only tangentially familiar with Robert Crumb’s art, having spent countless hours in various head shops – many of which still stock R. Crumb comics to this day. It may have been the “David Lynch presents” tag that is attached to the film. As director Terry Zwigoff explains, Lynch literally had almost nothing to do with the film; by the time he’d seen Crumb, it was practically finished, so there wasn’t much he could do for it – except add his name, which Zwigoff jumped at, simply because he knew that it would bring many more people out to see the picture. It’s entirely probable that I was one of those people. Of course, the reviews at the time could also have gotten me into the theatre, as the movie was being hailed all over the place, and with good reason: Crumb is, simply put, one of the great documentaries. There are far more important documentaries out there, sure, but few offer up the same amount of sheer entertainment value as Crumb. This is likely only true, however, if everything the man is about doesn’t offend your potentially delicate sensibilities.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.