Vicious Lips (1986)

It’s really hard to find anyone who does eighties neon pop surrealism like Empire Pictures. If you want to soak in everything about the decade from the bright colors, weird synth music and massive hair, look no further than films like “Terrorvision,” “Bad Channels” and or “Vicious Lips.” Your experience with Albert Pyun’s rare cult film may vary depending on your love for the decade, but sans the nostalgia goggles, it’s only a moderately entertaining experience that it limitless in its oddities. Something of a mixture of “Rock and Rule,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Albert Pyun throws so much imagery at the audience and there’s never any kind of substance soaked up.

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Streets of Fire (1984): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

After years of just being available on DVD and Blu-Ray in other countries and regions, Shout Factory comes to the rescue to deliver fans a deluxe edition of one of the most underrated action films ever made. Something of a spiritual sequel to Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” director Hill sets his latest gang land picture in an undisclosed period between the 20’s and 40’s in what is apparently New York. Sadly, Hill intended the film to be the first of a trilogy, but while we never got that wish, “Streets of Fire” still manages to be a single adventure rich in character and pulp appeal. Starring the incredible beautiful Diane Lane, and the fantastic Michael Pare, “Streets of Fire” is a rock and roll musical, romance, gangster, action, adventure. It has everything for mostly everyone and it gets better with every viewing.

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Amazing Journey: The Story of The Who (2007)

AMAZINGJOURNEYFrom their early days as The Detours, the friendship between Townshend and Daltrey, and their inevitable struggles along the way with Keith Moon, Paul Crowder’s “Amazing Journey” is the fantastic story of The Who and how they were formed into this opposite teaming of talented musicians. Like “The Kids are Alright,” Crowder examines the foursome as a more than human rock band whose music was only half of what made them so incredible on stage.

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Sing Street (2016) [Blu-Ray/Digital]

SingStreetVery few films can manage to understand how music is a very important aspect of life and can sometimes drive us and move us in to aspirations, inspiration, and love. The other great music film released in 2016 was “Everybody Wants Some!!” While Linklater explored how music is the soundtrack of our lives, John Carney’s masterpiece “Sing Street” is about how music can launch us in to realms we never knew were there. Music can open up doors and allow us to see things about ourselves that are incredible, and sometimes very ugly. A beautiful amalgam of “Almost Famous,” and “Say Anything,” with a hint of “Once,” John Carney is again at his top conveying a musical drama centered on more impoverished characters.

Carney sets his film in the middle of 1985 in Dublin where our trio of protagonists is obsessed with music. For them music seems to be the only salvation in the drudgery that is their everyday lives. Conor is a teen approaching high school who manages to ignore his parents’ dying marriage and the failure of role models like his big brother and father with music. When we first see him he’s playing his guitar in his room attempting to tune out his mother and father arguing with one another, and then uses their rage to fuel his creativity. He reaches an epiphany when his older brother Conor helps him realize that music is what’s keeping the world in motion, as music videos cover the general stratosphere of local television.

Conor decides to form a band of his own as a means of coping with going to a public school run by his local church. The seams almost come together at once for Conor who begins to come of age through musical expression, all the while falling head over heels for unique beauty and aspiring model Raphina. “Sing Street” brings us through the journey of Conor and his band, as they try to create their own style of music all the while steering through a school that openly promotes conformity and is run by a very abusive head priest. Carney taps in to the magic of the eighties beautifully, revealing how they influence Conor and his friends to concoct their own unique style of music, while doling out the hits from bands like Duran Duran and The Clash.

Everything from the performances, to the narrative, right down to the music is incredible, while Ferdia Walsh-Peelo is pitch perfect as the awkward Conor who begins to blossom the more he embraces his individuality. Despite blunt violent rebuttals from the school bully, and the school’s staff, Conor inspires others to flash their individuality proudly. This helps him cope with the startling realization that failure and lack of fulfillment surround him, and he has to find a way to escape before he’s eventually dragged down in to the slums. Along with Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton is excellent as enigmatic Raphina who becomes Conor’s virtual muse, and Jack Reynor the older brother and mentor to Conor who represents everything he could be, for better and for worse.

John Carney just continues impressing with brilliant, beautiful tributes to the magic of music and how much is represents the language of life. “Sing Street” is an absolute masterpiece. Featured in the release from Anchor Bay is the Digital Copy for consumers. There’s “Making Sing Street” a five minute exploration of the film’s story, how John Carney used his own experiences in the film, and how the film conveys his own wish fulfillment. Writer/Director John Carney & Adam Levine Talk Sing Street is a three minute discussion about the movie mixing music and film together and the realistic depictions of the 80’s. Finally, there is the Cast Auditions, which feature a slew of audition reels from the cast. There’s an introduction from John Carney, and footage featuring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna, Ben Carolan, and more.

Streets of Fire (1984)

streetsoffireIt’s difficult to explain “Streets of Fire” to anyone and make it sound coherent. Walter Hill’s action film has just about everything, and ends up creating one of the most vivid and exciting amalgams of genres and themes I’ve ever seen. “Streets of Fire” is a film you just have to sit down, shut up, and experience. It’s a post depression, mid-fifties, action, crime thriller and romance noir with a rock and roll and soul beat. See? I can’t sum this movie up in one whole sentence, and I’m not going to try to. I’m ashamed I took so many years getting around to watching “Streets of Fire,” but goddamn I’m very glad that I did.

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Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)

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“Madonna can go to hell as far as I’m concerned! She’s a dick!”

If aliens ever came down to Earth and wanted to know what the eighties were like, they could look no further than the time capsule that is “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.” It is, as many have described it, the viral video before viral videos existed. I’d love to see a documentary about this film some day, or perhaps an actual feature made around the events that occur in the fifteen minute documentary. It’s a hilarious and often absurd look at a certain time period where everyone wore mullets, walked around without shirts, bragged about doing drugs, and women were often very proud to admit they wanted to “fuck” certain band members’ “brains out.”

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Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1973)

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There was different energy behind David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust that ensured you were in for a whole other wild experience unlike any before it. Director D.A. Pennebaker keeps the mystique and wild tone of Ziggy Stardust alive from the opening title and then is quick to jump right in to the line outside Ziggy Stardust’s concert zooming in on the type of lovable oddities and weird wonders that worshiped Bowie and his adored his music, bringing us in to the full arena of the kind of minds and hearts David Bowie touched.

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