Friday, November 04, 2005

Camera Obscura - Man In Black Approaches

Ah, movies, movies, movies. My little french raison d'etre. I have some recommendations for you and some reviews too, and yes, some are leftover from the Halloween movie festival, some are not. And then, there's Johnny Cash. Shall we get to it then, oh patient ones?

First, I did watch the Showtime Masters of Horror kick-off episode, "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" and boy howdy was that a ripping good start. If other episodes, which air weekends on Showtime, are as good or better as this first one, pre-order the DVD set today. "Incident" showed off how fine a director Don Coscarelli can be and the blunt-trauma style of writing Joe Lansdale does so well. If you saw it and liked it, its worth the effort to find his story collections and novels and bring them home. The next episode of Masters of Horror is "Dreams In The Witch House" by director Stuart Gordon and based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story.

Next up, a DVD released this week that's a classic and crammed with true extras. George Pal's 1953 version of "War of the Worlds" has been carefully restored for this new edition, including the original stereo sound. The extras on the DVD include the Orson Welles radio production of 1938 that terrified the east coast, plus Joe Dante hosts a commentary roundtable, and from lead actors Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and a behind the scenes feature, and another feature with commentary by writer/director Nicholas Meyers. This version has held up very well over the years and looks fantastic on this new edition DVD. In other words, you can check out the Tom Cruise/Steven Spielberg homage to parenting or head to more classic landscape with George Pal.

Now I know most people will be searching for the last of the Lucas-made "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" DVD -- however, let me suggest another DVD set that will make it even better. The award-winning animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars Volumes 1-2" by Genndy Tartakovsky is action packed entertainment and takes for its story the "meat" of Lucas' backward stroll through Time. It picks up as Episode 2 ends and takes you right to the opening moments of Episode 3. It really is crucial to the overall story and is exceptionally good.

As for Episode 3, well..... like my sister Claudia said "Thank God this is over," which means she didn't like it. I did stand in line for this finale this summer, I admit it. And I loved the opening battle sequence, the scenes where soon-to-be Darth Vader goes to the Jedi HQ and literally wipes out the future of the Jedis, and that final battle between soon-to-be Darth and Obi-Wan, backed by John Williams' operatic music. That really was satisfying. And yes, I am a geeky fanboy.


I also love the old movies that modern audiences and critics have abandoned. This takes me to this week's favorite actor -- Paul Muni. Let me give you the short and simple here. The actor brought incredible power to the original "Scarface" as a manical killer and could also provide the acting chops to play the compassionate chemist Louis Pasteur in "The Story of Louis Pasteur." It's very hard to believe its the same actor -- and both movies are compelling, sharply made and very entertaining.

"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man."
Johnny Cash

Ah yes, am I looking forward to seeing the bio-pic of Johnny Cash, "Walk The Line." Personally, I can't imagine how they can possibly do Johnny justice but .....We'lll see. In the meantime, on CMT on Saturday you can catch the impressive "Johnny Cash In San Quentin" concert. Johnny is The Man in this documentary. For real devotees of the Man In Black, see if you can find a copy of "Door-to-Door Killer" from 1961 with Johnny as nutcase killer. I know his music seems to be all over the movies of late, from "Kill Bill Vol 2" to "Starsky and Hutch" to "Dawn of the Dead" and "Jackie Brown."

We miss you Johnny.


  1. I felt sure that you would tell everyone what a weenie I am when it came to "Incident." Of course, now I'm telling everyone what a weenie I am. Things we learn from that particular scare-fest: CHICKS RULE!


  2. Yes, yes you did tell on yourself.