Jaws

Welcome to This Week In DVD + This Week In Blu-ray = This Week In Discs! It’s a work in progress still, but we hope you enjoy. The entertainment industry appears to be celebrating our new baby by releasing a cinemetric ton of quality Blus and DVDs. Hope you’ve been saving your pennies… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Father’s Day (Blu-ray/DVD) A young boy loses his eye to a sadistic madman after witnessing the murderous pervert rape and kill his father. Years later, Ahab is a pissed off, pistol-packing ex-con out for revenge and joined in his quest by a teenage (well, Porky’s kind of teenage anyway) street hustler and a young priest on a quest to send the demonic psychopath to the bowels of hell. In a week with The Raid, Kill List and Jaws all hitting Blu-ray why am I featuring this Troma release as my Pick of the Week? Because those titles have enough press behind them, and Father’s Day deserves some too. It’s gory as hell, foul as f*ck and funnier than any other movie featuring chainsaw-wielding strippers. If you can handle the bloodletting and copious nudity, both female and male (way, way too much male), then this is a four-disc special edition worth owning. You get the movie on Blu and DVD, a DVD of special features and a soundtrack CD. [Extras: Deleted scenes, Featurettes, Trailers, Short films by Astron-6]

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Jaws

Throughout today, we’ve been celebrating America. From the most pro-American movies to a selection of go-to Fourth of July movies, it’s been all about celebrating our independence. And up to this point, we’re proud to have done so without having to quote a speech made by Bill Pullman in a Roland Emmerich movie. Simply celebrating America with some grilled meats is all well and good, but what about the American experience? Living in America during the summer months, gathering with friends, heading to the beach and enjoy sea to shining sea’s worth of democracy. That’s one quintessential American thing — that is, until a giant shark came along and started eating co-eds. Steven Spielberg’s JAWS didn’t just introduce us to the terror in the water, it ushered in formula for big summer blockbuster cinema that lives on even today. Of course, today it’s being remade, rebooted and re-imagined beyond all reason, but it’s there all the same. With roots in 1975, when a soon-to-be major director showed us the virtues of needing a bigger boat. With that in mind, Universal Home Video is celebrating by releasing JAWS on Blu-ray August 14, with a beautifully remastered version of the film. As evidence, we’ve got a series of clips showing off the new, improved, but completely the same JAWS.

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With a giant pile of movies to his name, Steven Spielberg has the considerable honor of being the only filmmaker who makes entertainment that’s massively popular, critically acclaimed and decade-enduring. It’s an illusive triumvirate. His fundamental success is owed to a lot of things, but principle among them is his childhood sense of wonder and magic – a sense he’s never let go of. His childhood was also spent with a camera in hand. From Jaws to Close Encounters of the Third Kind to Indiana Jones to The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun and Jurassic Park and Amistad and Schindler’s List and Munich and, and, and…he’s been a prolific, skilled presence in the filmmaking world for going on 5 decades, and he’s done so by spanning genres, tones, and subjects. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a little kid who hid under his bed after watching Bambi.

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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There are still a lot of films that have yet to see a release on the Blu-ray format, and to be honest, most of them never will. The more recognizable ones seem destined to reach the format eventually, so hopefully we can look forward to Blu releases of The Black Stallion, High Fidelity, True Lies and (a proper transfer of) The Game sometime in the near future. But for now we can at least rest easy knowing that one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever made is getting the Blu-ray treatment mere months from now. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws is being released on Blu-ray as part of Universal’s 100th anniversary, and the studio appears to be giving the release the special attention it deserves.

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It’s easy to stick some cool tats on a character and enhance their presence – and we all love cool looking tattoos. It gets better when there is thought put into the tattoos, such as Mickey Rourke’s surprisingly well-researched prison tattoos in Iron Man 2. What’s even better than that is when a tattoo is not only well thought out, but also speaks worlds about that character and the story surrounding them. It’s not always possible in the context of the film – but when it is, it’s nice to see. Here are some of the tattoos I’m talking about.

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Boiling Point

AMC’s The Walking Dead and I have a strange relationship in that I watch it but don’t particularly care for it. I can’t really tell you why I tune in every week, but it has something to do with my great love for the comic books and a desire to see horror on television, mostly regardless of quality. The books by Robert Kirkman have always had a bit of melodrama about them, but the show has often taken that to obvious, soap opera levels. “The Walking Dead” comics feature a great cast of characters with complex motivations and relationships. Many of those characters made it to the television show – well, at least characters with the same names made it in. Things have changed so drastically from comic to screen that one has to ask – when does an adaptation stop being an adaptation?

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Jump Scare

If you’re anything like me you probably would take a good psychological scarring over some dick in a mask jumping out at you any day of the week – at least when it comes to horror films. Nowadays it seems like the best is behind us when it comes to the genre, and what’s left is less a collection of disturbing concepts and more so the movie equivalent of a carnival spook house. That being said – I do like carnival spook houses – a fleeting scare is good when it’s done right. Sure, in the end these scares don’t hold a candle to say, the end of Rosemary’s Baby, but we can’t deny them either. So that’s what this list is: me sucking it up and admitting that the dick in the mask totally got me. I should tell you that I don’t wish to demerit these films for having jump scares in them; most of them have plenty of psychological scarring as well… take number ten, for example.

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Culture Warrior

As much as I admire the incomparable films made during the era, New Hollywood (the term referring to innovative, risk-taking films made funded by studios from the mid-60s to the mid-70s) is a title that I find a bit problematic. The words “New Hollywood” better characterize the era that came after what the moniker traditionally refers to. Think about it: if “Old” or “Classical” Hollywood refers to the time period that stretches roughly from 1930 to 1960 when the studios as an industry maintained such an organized and regimented domination over and erasure of any other potential conception over what a film playing in any normal movie theater could be, then if we refer to the time period from roughly 1977 to now “New Hollywood,” the term then appropriately signifies a new manifestation of the old: regimentation, predictability, and limitation of expression. Where Old Hollywood studios would produce dozens of films of the same genre, New Hollywood (as I’m appropriating the term) could acutely describe the studios’ comparably stratified output of sequels, remakes, etc. What we traditionally understand to be New Hollywood was not so much its own monolithic era in Hollywood’s legacy, but a brief, strange, and wonderful lapse between two modes of Hollywood filmmaking that have dominated the industry’s history.

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Alec Baldwin: Coffee is for Closers

Monologues are to actors what analogies are to bullshit writers who have no idea how to start their list article about monologues. What I mean is that every actor should have a really good understanding on how to perform a monologue – at least I assume so considering that they are the most common tools for auditioning for a part. To someone like myself, who couldn’t act even if Hitler’s death depended on it, I really have no idea what goes into a monologue – however I do know what comes out of a good one. So when I judge the talent of these I’m really just judging how effective they seemed to be, not necessarily the amount of artistic effort that was put into it. Simply put, these are some terrific monologues.

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Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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In a story that contains several layers of film geek cool, Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan have teamed their production company Team Downey up with Warner Brothers to tell a story that’s inspired by an 11-year-old boy, who was inspired by a speech that Quint gave in Jaws, which was inspired by the sinking of a World War II warship named the USS Indianapolis. The boy’s name is Hunter Scott, and Warners recently picked up the rights to his life story which saw him going from a 1996 viewing of Jaws at 11 years old to testifying in front of congress in 2000 and getting some legislation passed. The sinking of The Indianapolis is a horrific story, and it needs somebody proven at writing about World War II era naval awesomeness to do it justice. To that end, the Downeys and company have tapped Robert Schenkkan for the adaptation. He got nominated for a writing Emmy for HBO’s The Pacific. So, yeah, guy knows his stuff. After being torpedoed, The Indianapolis sank over the course of five days as its crew was slaughtered and eaten by a group of bloodcrazy sharks. It’s a real life event that inspired this scene in Steven Spielberg’s shark horror Jaws:

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In 1993, Peter Jackson was coming off Dead Alive and sitting firmly in the splatstick world of horror when he went into a theater to see Jurassic Park. The sights provided by Steven Spielberg, Stan Winston Studio and ILM had a profound effect on the freshman filmmaker from New Zealand – they propelled him practically mortgage his house in order to get a computer that could do the kinds of things he knew he wanted to do as a storyteller. The next year, he put out Heavenly Creatures. That was the first step in the road to buy dozens, then hundreds and now thousands of computers that make up WETA – the digital effects studio crafting The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn which is being directed by, of course, Steven Spielberg. The sphere of influence comes full circle here, and the footage and discussion offered up today by the two modern masters was an exciting promise that big adventure would soon be coming our way.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that rounds up junk and stuff. It also likes J.J. Abrams’ movies, but not so much that it can’t laugh at them, as well. It is also currently being written by an author who is distracted with Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules. It’s surprisingly charming. Geek icon Simon Pegg released a book recently, “Nerd Do Well,” chronicling his life as a now-famous nerd. Personally, I can’t wait to read it. In the mean time, one passage about George Lucas and the Star Wars prequels has become a topic of discussion. Did Lucas apologize for the prequels? That’s the question of the day.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news round-up column that comes to you from deep space. It comes as a protector of all that is good and interesting in the movie news world. It also totally swoons over Michael Fassbender. Seriously, have you seen this guy act? He’s the man… man. As my good friend Rusty Gordon pointed out to me this evening, “this summer is already better than last summer,” and it’s just now June. With two-thirds of its movie releasing to go, Summer 2011 is already coming along great. With that, there’s plenty to still be excited about. Like Green Lantern, which continues to look cool as WB dumps a giant batch of photos on the web. So much detail, so much cool.

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We’ve taken you behind the scenes of Cowboys & Aliens and into the mind of director Jon Favreau, and today we dig deeper into the films that the filmmakers talked most about during the set visit. Cowboys & Aliens may be the only Steven Spielberg film that Steven Spielberg isn’t directing. From the conversations I shared with Jon Favreau and co-screenwriter Bob Orci on the set of the film, a select group of movies kept returning to the fold as titles that had a lot to do with the shaping of tone and storytelling. A theme quickly emerged. While Executive Producer Steven Spielberg was busy inviting the filmmakers to private screenings of new prints of The Searchers, the filmmakers were drawing on their childhood love of Amblin and the films of Spielberg himself. Still, even though it lacks diversity in the directorial column, this is one seriously formidable list of inspirational films.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: if you’re calling to complain about the noise, it’s just our hearts exploding. If this internet movie column were any healthier, you’d need a chainsaw and a daytime talkshow host to get it out of its house. Each week I throw refined tastes to the wind and rip the world wide web a new schlock hole. I will dissect one terrible movie every Friday to prove scientifically that it is in fact a terrible movie. But since science is mostly boo-hockey, I also spend more time than allowed by law singing the film’s dubious praises and pinpointing exactly why it holds a special place in my almost completely clogged heart. Speaking of clogged hearts, I will also pair each film with a disgustingly delicious snack food item in the hopes that your bodies may suffer as much as your brains; both from watching the film and being forced to read my writing. In honor of the remake being released today, that I totally did not see at midnight even though I totally did, I thought it pertinent to dive into one of my favoritest bad films of all time: Piranha. The plot? Genetically altered piranha eat people…screaming…credits.

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Jaws art by Justin Reed

One of my favorite films of all time turns 35 this week. An early effort from a then unknown director named Steve Spielberg. It was essentially a low budget monster movie set in a beautiful town near Martha’s Vineyard. It featured a few recognizable faces including an older character actor named Robert Shaw. When it was released, it scared the living daylights out of audiences with its “realistic” portrayal of shark attacks. The film was called Jaws, and its legend and popularity have aged like the finest of wines across these three-and-a-half decades.

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Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; this time we mean it. This is the internet’s biggest assault on health and public safety. Every week I carelessly brandish a loaded bad film in a crowded cyberspace with no regard to the welfare of impressionable young readers.

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