2009 Summer Movies
Review by: Larry Thomas
There are lots of options for your summer vacation: the newly coined “staycation,” or a week at the beach, or hiding from civilization in a woodland cabin. No matter where you go with whom, you’ll likely want to take along some cinematic diversions. Your accommodations may include a DVD player and big-screen television, or you may be happy to just zone out for a couple of hours by watching something on your laptop.
One of the best films of 2009, so far, is available next Tuesday. It’s the animated film Coraline, directed by Henry Sellick and produced by Tim Burton. Although the home version will lack the depth of the theatrical version in digital 3D, it’s still a magical movie experience, and worth more than one viewing in order to catch all the nuances.
Also released next Tuesday is 12, which you’ve likely never seen, as it played almost nowhere. 12 is a Russian adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, and was nominated for the Foreign Language Film Oscar earlier this year. If something deeper and more thoughtful is to your liking, this may scratch that itch.
With the summer of 2009 being the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, much is being made of the new special edition DVD of that concert film, which is all well and good. But if you’re looking for something a little more concentrated, and you don’t mind shelling out the hefty price, try The Neil Young Archives Volume 1 1963-1972. This massive 10-DVD box set doesn’t miss much, brings back many memories, and features some outstanding and rarely seen performances.
Classic films are always good summertime entertainment, and the studios have been coming up with some goodies, especially titles that have never been released on DVD before. From Universal comes the 1962 contemporary western Lonely are the Brave, featuring one of Kirk Douglas’s best performances, and is his own personal favorite of all his movies. Gena Rowlands, George Kennedy and Walter Matthau also star in this heartbreaking tale of a loner vs. the system. Also from the Universal vault is the 1936 Paramount film Trail of the Lonesome Pine. It’s a Hatfield-McCoy tale shot in the grandeur of rural California in the then-new three-strip Technicolor. This restoration is gorgeous to look at, and it stars Henry Fonda, Fred MacMurray and Sylvia Sidney, plus 7-year-old Spanky McFarland, who was borrowed from MGM and Hal Roach’s “Our Gang” series.
Talk about time tripping… if studying contemporary culture is of interest, there’s 1001 Classic Commercials, with tons of favorites going back to the 1950s, selling everything from antacids to cigarettes to after shave and beer. It is literally 976 minutes of TV ads…that’s sixteen and a half hours to save you doing the math…that will likely strike a nostalgic nerve with boomers.
And if you can wait until mid-August, there’s a very special treat coming for lovers of classic sci-fi and horror films. Sony is releasing Icons of Sci-Fi: The Toho Collection. This three-film set contains remasters of Mothra, The H-Man, and Battle in Outer Space, all for the first time in new widescreen transfers and featuring both the original Japanese-language soundtrack with English subtitles, as well as the English dubbed versions as seen in theatres in the 1960s. This is a collection that genre geeks have been waiting many years for.
So add some movie enjoyment to your summertime activities, and keep in mind there’s more to home video than just the usual run-of-the-mill current releases of films that were bad when they were in theatres a few weeks ago.