Jerry Beck reveals the special features included on the sixth and final Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set (via Something Old, Nothing New). While it’s sad that this will be the last set, I can understand the reasoning behind it. Warner Home Video still plans to release restored vintage WB cartoons on DVD for the foreseeable future — only in smaller and more economical packages. As these sets went along, they delved into more obscure and interesting territory. Which in my opinion is fantastic. I’m especially looking forward to the WWII- and Bosko-centric discs (I can’t possibly be the only Bosko fan out there?).
C. alerted me to the death of Harriet Burns, the first female imagineer hired at Disney. I think I saw her in a few old Wonderful World of Color TV specials, but didn’t know who she was. What a fascinating woman, one who made important contributions to Disneyland at its peak.
I’m on Twitter now. I know. This seems like one of those trendy social networking sites that everybody flocks to, then abandons after a year or two — but it’s actually pretty fun. Since I don’t own a mobile, I’ll end up using it to post little observational bits that are too short to make it as a Scrubbles entry. Thanks to Bob for the heads-up.
Today I want to give a shout out and a happy birthday to Christopher, the youngest 49 year-old I’ve ever known. Briefly incapacitated by a bug, the mishmash pickin’s are on the slim side this week. Here we go …
The Black Book (1949). Loquacious one Vince Keenan raved about this gothic thriller on his blog, so I recorded the recent TCM showing and gave it a looksie last Monday in between some nasty dry heaves. Originally titled Reign of Terror, this is a nifty example of applying noir atmosphere to a historical subject — in this case, events leading up to the French Revolution. While it certainly looks like a low budget film and takes a while to get moving, director Anthony Mann does wonders with the material and created some truly suspenseful scenes bathed in gorgeous shadows. An edgy and effective Robert Cummings (whom I normally can’t stand) heads up the eccentric and well-chosen cast. This is one of those weird public domain films which only shows up in muddy looking prints; Criterion really oughta look into doing a sparkling DVD reissue.
Memories of Murder (2003). A grisly and overlong film based on the real-life case of the first documented serial killer in Korea. The intriguing story could have made for a good, tense 90 minute film, but at two-plus hours it felt stretched to the limit. Seeing the brutality of the Korean police was an eye-opener, but the fact that every single character had a short fuse got annoying very quickly. I enjoyed the pudgy lead actor, and some genuinely creepy moments come through, but overall this was a disappointment.
Quinceñara (2006). Despite having zero interest in the blossoming ceremonial rituals of latino teen girls, I put this on the Netflix queue due to the great reviews it got. What a nice surprise it turned out to be. The quinceñara (a fancy party given for hispanic girls when they turn 15) forms the bookends for this story of a girl who finds herself pregnant and outcast by her preacher dad. Desperate, she turns to her eccentric great uncle and cousin and the three form their own offbeat familia. This was a charmingly scripted, perceptive film which paints a vivid portrait of a changing subculture in Los Angeles’ Echo Park. I especially liked the subplot with the cousin and his covert fascination with the gay yuppie couple who purchased the home they’re renting from. How often does a film deal realistically with latino life, much less gay latino life?
WALL•E (2008). What does it take to get two confirmed homebodies out to the cinema? One word: Pixar. We finally saw this on Friday, and I concur with all the critics who have been slobbering over themselves. It’s a beautiful and unique achievement that stands among Toy Story and The Incredibles in the Pixar pantheon. Only debit: once Wall-E and Eve leave earth and enter the space station, a bit of specialness is lost.
New Two Bunnies and a Duck posted today. I love coming up with gags for the comic, but I have to admit that the drawing, scanning and coloring is very tedious. I’m not skilled enough to make the characters look at all consistent (this week they look a bit elongated) — a redesign might be in order.
Locally speaking, last week’s Phoenix New Times had an interesting story on the Maricopa County Medical Examiners Office and one woman’s efforts to get an unidentified body database going on the county’s website. Apparently Maricopa is one of the few counties in the U.S. to have one of these features online, and it has resulted in many solved missing person cases.