12 ANGRY MEN (CRITERION BLU): This was the first black & white film that I ever saw all the way through. High School (yes, I was a very uncultured child, all I wanted were Star Wars explosions) social studies class...I remember sitting at my desk totally enraptured by Henry Fonda's "bleeding heart." This was a good man. A great man. After that first viewing I couldn't wait to grow up and sit in on a murder case. As of yet, I have yet to be called to jury duty. Anyway, 12 Angry Men is one of THE Great movies. 12 outstanding performances led by master director Sidney Lumet in his first theatrical feature. And I absolutely love the new Criterion box art. I want a poster of that desperately.
THE THREE AMIGOS (BLU): This came very close to being my week's Must Buy! Everyone seems to love John Landis' previous genre love letters, An American Werewolf in London & The Blues Brothers but there seems to be very little love for this open mouthed kiss to silent film and cowboy pictures. Sure, it has its fans and they seem to be growing these days, but I remember having some serious arguement with my film fanatic friends over The Three Amigos. It's such a silly film. But it's also sooooo dang sweet. Three silent film stars, down on their luck, travel down to Mexico with their egos and unwittingly wage war with Bandit King El Guapo. And there are some seriously fantastic sets in this film...you might even say a plethora of fantastic sets.
RUSHMORE (CRITERION BLU): I was 19 years old when I saw Rushmore in the theater. I went with my Mom and my Dad. Dad & I loved it. Mom hated it. She said it was a guy's movie--I think that's just cuz her two guys liked it. And we liked it a lot. Jason Schwartzman's student bee keeper is the quintessential A-Hole hero of youth. Smart as a whip, deadly with words, and utterly baffled by the rest of humanity. As much as I've loved the later films of Wes Anderson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox is probably my favorite), Rushmore was my first and you never forget your first.
SUPER 8: Still not sure if I loved this film or simply liked it. JJ Abrams goes Spielberg crazy with this kids vs spacemen flick and even though there are some outstanding child performances in this film I never quite connected with their narrative. The film looked pretty and was executed well, but maybe I had just geekgasmed too much for 2009's Star Trek to muster up the energy for all of Super 8's nerdy bits. Still, I want it on my shelf.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION (KINO BLU): I have never seen Birth of a Nation. I know that it's based on the novel The Clansman and is far from being politically correct--hell, just look at that original theatrical poster above. But I feel like it's one of those movies that I have to see if I want to be a well rounded film enthusiast. And I've been digging on a lot of blu ray silents lately. Phantom of the Opera, Phantom Carriage. It's a medium that needs more fans.
SPY KIDS 4: Missed it in the theater which is kind of a shame considering the William Castlesque Aroma-Scope gimmick. And I really loved the first two Spy Kids films. They were extremely silly and awash with Robert Rodriquez's poopy humor, but there was an intelligence to the whackiness and some fun guest stars in George Clooney, Danny Trejo, Bill Paxton, etc... I've heard some pretty terrible things about this one, and the inclusion of Jessica Alba raises some doubts.
THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE: Another one I missed in the theater. Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark in Captain America!) plays the body double to Saddam Hussein's son. That could be interesting. And I have heard good things about this one.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN: Definitely one of the worst films of 2011, if not the worst. It's not like the original film got everything right about Robert Howard's Conan, but it was still a damn fine fantasy film of overzealous but wondrous John Milius machismo. This...this is just crap. Every frame is wrong. A joke of Howard. A middle finger to the idea of Conan. Utter garbage. Stay away. Watch The Scorpion King a hundred times before attempting this.