“The Lion King” is still one of the most entertaining movie going experiences of my life and one of the most moving animated films I’ve ever seen. With the anticipation of the live action remake growing, Disney has granted fans a new release with their Signature Edition. This new edition packs in the DVD, a Digital copy, and of course the new Blu-Ray with changes that are interesting and more geared toward meticulous hardcore fans of the film more than anything. It’s certainly worth a double or triple dip, especially if it’s your favorite of the Disney animated library (and on your top ten), as it is mine.
It’s about time the world has caught up with “Black Christmas” and (thanks to Shout!) given it the proper treatment it’s always deserved. What is arguably one of the first slasher films ever made was always out of print and hard to find while “Halloween” was granted various editions of VHS, and DVD. While “Halloween” is a masterpiece, “Black Christmas” is far more superior. It works as a slasher film, a mystery, a dark comedy, and is genuinely spine tingling in a movie draped in Christmas ephemera. It’s surprising since the tone for “Black Christmas” is almost the same tone from his other Christmas classic “A Christmas Story.” Yet director Bob Clark really never misses a beat, offering up a very scary tale about an inexplicable maniac wreaking havoc on a small neighborhood during the holidays.
Who’s to know what would have been gained had anyone ever discovered what Rosebud meant? All we ever really know is that, like the faceless reporters that pounce on the death of Charles Foster Kane explain, it probably never really would have mattered. What ever piece of the puzzle would have made Charles Foster Kane feel whole was lost a very long time ago. We can never really pin point when and how, but why that gave him immense satisfaction and the feeling of completion was gone. As we gander at the endless piles of trash Kane collected over his years, as well as speak to the endless people Kane eventually began to collect, it’s pretty clear nothing could ever really give Charles Foster Kane a sense of fulfillment or make him feel complete.
Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is easily one of the greatest horror movies ever made. It’s one of the very few horror movies I can call perfect, and I rarely ever do that. Argento’s horror film about a ballet academy with a hideous secret is a marvel for the eyes, the ears, and for horror audiences that enjoy brain food with their cinema. Jessica Harper is excellent as young Suzy, a ballet dancer who travels to Germany to attend a very elite ballet school. Upon the surprising realization that she hasn’t been allowed to enter the school thanks to a late entry, she is surprisingly allow to attend when a student is mysteriously and gruesomely murdered in her apartment. Suzy immediately begins to become attuned to her surroundings, and finds her environment within the militant and unusual ballet school most unsettling, to the point where she begins to fall ill, and experiences unusual events.
Back in 1982, American audiences were enamored with the extraterrestrial. We were in a time where the prospect of aliens was cuddly and friendly, and we were capable of exploring vast new worlds. What with “ET” and “Close Encounters” and “Star Wars,” who didn’t want to visit new worlds? Then John Carpenter came along in 1982 with his version of “Who Goes There?” a short story about an amorphous alien entity that could consume human bodies, and America wasn’t too kind to it. John Carpenter’s masterpiece is notorious for not being welcomed by critics or the box office during its release date, but thankfully years later, horror fans and movie buffs alike have embraced “The Thing” for the sheer pitch perfect masterpiece it is. John Carpenter doesn’t provide us with a more positive outlook of an alien visitor as he did with “Starman.”
The shockingly obscure masterpiece “The Noah” is an exploration of grief through a man named Noah’s solitude as he realizes he’s the only person left on the planet. Set on a desolate island where supplies are cumbersome but humanity has diminished, our character Noah drifts by a life raft to the shore, and makes it his home. Even though he’s realized that humanity has become extinct due to the war, he makes it his mission to turn the island into his domain and keep himself occupied. He now sees a responsibility in staying alive to preserve his race for all time. He is literally the only person on the planet, thus he must engage in a battle against isolation, and loneliness.
Fred Zinnemann’s classic Western is an absolute masterpiece that continues to hold its place as my favorite Western of all time. It’s a marvel of cinema, and a wonderful dramatic thriller set in the old West and ponders on the question of what happens when the helpers need help. It’s also a stunning albeit cynical glimpse at the ultimate summary of a hero and how they can sometimes be cast aside by those that they’ve protected for so many years. Gary Cooper’s role as Will Kane is absolutely pitch perfect, especially when it pertains to his role as a man desperately seeking help in staring down imminent death and settling score that will meet him at the end of his day, no matter what he does.
Philip Kaufman’s 1978 remake and adaptation of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” remains one of the most resounding arguments for the purpose of remaking films. Often times like the case of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” directors can rework certain ideas and add something to the mythology, allowing for a starker and very bleak vision that helps a film stand on its own. John Carpenter achieved that with “The Thing,” and Philip Kaufman succeeds in adding his own layer of dread and futility with “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” A lot of horror movies are filled with some tinge of hope that perhaps humanity or our heroes will prevail over the unusual menace threatening to consume a portion of Earth.