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Oct 28, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A WATCH-A-HOLIC - October 28, 2011

I have to say during my time as a movie development executive, I always had an admiration for writers. It is not easy getting motivated to sit down in front of a computer and well...write. Bloggers, I have the same respect for. Most bloggers have other obligations - jobs, families - yet some find the time to blog regularly. I have several friends who blog, and we have been discussing how life has been getting in the way of posting regular updates. Scroll down and you'll see how sporadic my posting has been over the past few years. Rupert Pupkin who used to regularly update his Netflix Instant picks has also found it difficult to keep up with posts. So here I am again, trying to get a regular posting flow going on this blog. I love doing it, so here we go again.

I have this co-worker, an editor, with whom I spend most of the day talking about movies that I love and am about to watch, and he recently suggested to me that I should have a regular blog post that is a "what I'm watching" update. Ok so it may not sound all that interesting for everyone - like who cares what I'm watching. Well if you're a hardcore cinema buff like myself or Rupert Pupkin or Citizen Robot, our watching lists and piles of movies to be watched (not to mention books to be read and video games to be played) can be categorized as a living organism that never seems to die, but grows on a daily basis to a point where there is no humanly possible way to watch everything in the queue in the amount of time allotted. Rupert and I spoke of the multiple purchases we make (I at least buy a minimum of a title a week, but 90% of the time, it's usually more), the Netflix wish list, DVR recordings, new release rentals and of course the films released weekly to movie theaters (here again I average at least one title a week, but more often than not two or more get seen).

Let's face it. For me, working in the entertainment business is not just a career and being a lover of all things cinema (and yes, even TV) is not just a hobby. Movies are a lifestyle for me which come in all forms, shapes and sizes - theatrical releases, Blu-Rays, DVD, Laserdiscs, VHS, Books, Soundtracks, etc., etc., etc.

So here it is, the first installment of what I am branding as "CONFESSIONS OF A WATCH-A-HOLIC" outlining my key viewing choices and why I have been inspired to watch them. I am hoping to keep this post going at least weekly - on the weekends when the new theatrical titles hit cinemas - and maybe even multiple weekly posts to cover a watching marathon that may happen at any time. This list will include feature length films, shorts, TV series and specials - whatever happens to be at the top of the viewing wish list at any given time. They may be inspired by a book I read, or a conversation I had, or an ad I saw, or from another movie that I have seen.

Ok enough with the epic preamble...you get the picture. Now onto the first list.

WEEKEND THEATRICAL RELEASES

It being Friday and all, there are new Theatrical releases in the market, and now we're starting to head into the holiday season so as that happens, the releases will increase as studios not only hit us up with holiday viewing options but also with prestige pictures that they need to sneak in for awards consideration. December is always a killer.

It's also Halloween weekend, and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 came out last week, and shockingly there aren't any big new horror titles this week.



I have to say I am psyched for PUSS IN BOOTS, a spin-off from the SHREK series featuring the cat character voiced by Antonio Banderas. The teaser trailer featuring him walking down a street with ladies swooning cracks me up every time I see it. And yes, I plan to see it in 3D.

This is my #1 pick out of the new movies this week. It's a family movie though...so a late show will be in order.





RUM DIARY is a movie that seems to have been in some mode of production for quite a while now, and here it is finally hitting the screen. I have been hearing some lackluster reviews, but always check things out for myself. I mean come on...it's Johnny Depp in another Hunter S. Thompson adaptation (the first of course being the great FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS - just typing that makes me want to run out and pick up the Criterion Blu-Ray which I will probably do tomorrow).




HOME ENTERTAINMENT

As I mentioned, it is Halloween weekend (it's on Monday), and I have been doing the yearly indulgence of watching horror films all week. I have enjoyed some Hammer classics like CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN which I have on VHS (which somehow made that film more awesome than I remember it. There's something about retro viewing on dead formats that can enhance the watching experience).

Of course my favorite horrors are the Universal monster classics, and I have two of them on tap for the weekend.



The first is BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). Why not the 1931 original FRANKENSTEIN you ask? Well, don't get me wrong, I like that film a lot. But this sequel just was so well made it is more enjoyable than the first film. Especially notable is Franz Waxman's score which for a Monster movie is really a remarkable piece of work. And who can forget Elsa Lanchester's great performance which consists mostly of grunts. Such a great moment in the end of a great movie.

I own the Universal Monster Legacy series Frankenstein DVD set which contains all Universal classic movies that feature Frankenstein as a character. Love this set as it also came with a bust of Frankenstein (as well as Dracula and the Wolf Man which are the other two sets in the box).

Here's the trailer:







My second Universal classic horror viewing will be the THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) which features one of my favorite monsters, and again I love the score which accompanies the Creature's every appearance on screen.

Ok so not that scary of a horror movie, but come on...turn off the lights and get some great 1950s black and white photography and it's an amazing watching experience. I happen to have a couple copies of this film, one on Laserdisc and the other (again) in the Universal Monster Legacy series which contains all movies featuring the Creature. I'll probably just stick with the original...unless I find myself unable to sleep and another couple of hours on hand to kill.....

The trailer:



This week, Warner Bros. released a Blu-Ray (and DVD) collection of 37 TOM & JERRY cartoon shorts in a collection they have called the GOLDEN COLLECTION - VOLUME 1.



I have always liked Tom & Jerry cartoons, but preferred LOONEY TUNES and DISNEY shorts growing up. Now as an adult, I have learned to appreciate these cartoons more and more. I think it came from seeing many of them projected at the Academy theater in Beverly Hills as part of a Best Picture screening series celebrating 75 years of Oscar winners in 2001 and 2002. I was surprised as to how many Tom & Jerry shorts won Oscars...more so than even Looney Tunes.

Part of the astounding legacy that was the MGM studio system, but now included in the Warner Home Video Library, I saw a sneak peek of one of the restored shorts at this year's San Diego Comic-con which upgraded this title from a buy to a must-buy-on-release date. The shorts look and sound fabulous thanks to an awesome restoration by the Warner Bros. team who, let's face it, do not mess around with any of their catalog titles. Their management team seems dedicated to keeping catalog titles alive on Blu-Ray and DVD not only through mainstream releasing, but also the order-by-mail WARNER ARCHIVE service which supplies collectors with hard to find rare titles.

That should easily fill up my weekend. I'm still waiting for my JURASSIC PARK Blu-Ray trilogy to arrive from Amazon, but should have that next week. As I said earlier...the viewing pile never seems to shrink...but is always growing.