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Having A Movie Moment with Jon Longhi: Mothra & Space 1999

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 31, 2019 05:50pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi.

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases. This month we travel from the island of Japan to the depths of the universe.

Mothra, Mill Creek:
When a new hundred million dollar Godzilla reboot to hit the theaters I just assumed we'd be treated to aMothra flood of classic kaiju reissues on Blu-ray, but instead it looks like we only got this. And I'm not knocking this release. Mothra is a great movie and Mill Creek did a fantastic job on this, I just figured there would be more classic Japanese monster movie releases to coattail on the marketing for the new film. All is not lost though. It looks like Mill Creek has signed a deal with Toho and they have more releases to come. On October 15th they will release two classic kaiju Blu-ray sets: Ultraman and Ultra Q. Both of these sets are motherloads of Japanese monster movie goodness and will be the first time North America has ever seen Toho's official remastered hi-def prints of these shows. If they look as good as this new Mothra release, we are in for quite a treat.

This reasonably priced steel book edition of the film comes with both the US and original Japanese versions of the movie as well as some nice extras. This is easily the best print of Mothra that has ever been released and, while it is not flawless, the majority of the film looks gorgeous. Certain scenes like the one in the cave when Mothra's egg hatches have been cleaned up to the point where they reveal all kinds of details you could never see before. The cave is filled with mutated plants and animals that were little more than blurry shapes in the old editions. Sometimes the remastering is so good it leads to unintended effects. Now you can see better than ever before that all the special effects in the film were made with models and puppets, but the models and puppets are totally cool and amazing. Toho created many of their special effects by stacking up multiple layers of film and the new remaster sometimes exposes every scratch and piece of dust on each of these layers of film. But these are pretty minor quibbles. The bottom line is that Mothra has never looked or sounded better.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Jonny Quest & Aliens on Spring Break

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, July 30, 2019 01:02pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month's Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi where I review recent Blu-ray releases.

Jonny Quest, The Complete Original Series, Warner Archive:
In my opinion this is the best Saturday morning cartoon ever made and the greatest achievement of Johnny QuestHanna-Barbera Productions. I can already hear the angry cries of the naysayers: "But The Flintstones! The Jetsons!" I'm not belittling either of those shows, they are iconic entries in the history of cartoons and basically set the standard for funny cartoons. But Jonny Quest has levels of sophistication that neither of them has and was literally developed to be better than those two shows. Hanna-Barbera created Jonny Quest to deal with their own success. In the early to mid-1960s, The Flintstones and The Jetsons ruled the Saturday morning airwaves to the point where within a year or two every other competing cartoon show was drawn to look as near as possible to them. Hanna-Barbera basically flooded their own market and needed to come up with something stunningly new and different to stand out from the flooded marketplace that they themselves had created. So they turned away from the omnipresent humor shows and made an action/adventure series instead.

To spearhead this effort, they brought in the incredibly multi-talented Doug Wildey, an illustrator who had long worked in the comic book industry. Wildey truly understood the action/adventure genre and brought with him a bunch of his gifted comic artist friends to work on the Jonny Quest project. The end result is arguably the best action/adventure kid show ever made. Jonny Quest just fires on all levels: the artwork, the stories, the theme music, the voice actors, the designs...this show had it all and set the standard by which future cartoons would be measured by. The series told the story of a boy named Jonny Quest who had adventures with his government research scientist father, Doctor Benton Quest. Race Bannon was a secret agent assigned to be their bodyguard but ended up basically being a family member. In the course of their travels they adopt an orphaned Indian boy named Hadji. This was a real boys' club show; there was no mother or any women in the central cast, which has often caused me to comment that Jonny Quest was the first show about gay parenting.

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Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi: Doctor Who Season One & Jack the Giant Killer

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, September 16, 2018 07:16pm | Post a Comment

By Jon Longhi

Welcome to this month’s Having A Movie Moment With Jon Longhi, where I review recent Blu-ray releases. Both of these Blu-rays came out in the past three months.

Doctor Who: Tom Baker - Complete Season One, BBC Video:
These are the episodes that first introduced the Doctor Who franchise to the American public. The series Doctor Who Season Onehad already run for more than a decade in England where the venerable Doctor had long been considered a national icon and a variety of stars had already played the role of the Doctor, but Tom Baker is the face and personality that made him beloved by legions of North American fans. So it makes perfect sense that these would be the first episodes of the long running series to get a deluxe Blu-ray upgrade here in the US. These were originally shot on video so there has been a lot of handwringing online about how good these would look due to the low quality of the original source materials. Many fans have questioned whether it is worth upgrading from DVD to Blu-ray. Well, as soon as I popped in the first disc of this and saw the beautiful sharp picture quality and heard the flawless sound, I realized this was a total no-brainer. This set is a huge improvement over the DVDs and possibly the best restoration I have ever seen of something that was originally shot on video. The image quality is flawless. Once in a blue moon there is a weird lighting artifact that the restoration couldn't cover up, but these are few and far between. Yes, this does reveal many of the shortcomings of the special effects. Now you can see like never before that all the monsters are made of bubble wrap and paper mache, but that is actually half the fun of this set. The production budget for these shows was comparable to what you would see for a local high school play. The special effects crew did the best they could with what they had and there is a funky low-fi style to their effects, which looks charmingly nostalgic in the harsh naked light of this Blu-ray.

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The Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2017

Posted by Amoebite, December 18, 2017 01:57pm | Post a Comment

Top 10 Criterion Blu-rays of 2018

Has Criterion gone punk?? Based on the top selling Blu-rays at Amoeba this year it looks as if the primo purveyors of classic, foreign, and arthouse films found much of their success in alternative and cult-y titles by such provocateurs as Alex Cox, Terry Zwigoff, and John Waters. Perhaps it's a slight exaggeration, but based on the thin presence of films for Francophiles and classic film buffs, it seems that the prestigious label has gotten more angsty and alternative. Regardless, Criterion, as always, released a stellar collection of films in 2017. Here are the 10 best-selling Criterion Blu-rays at Amoeba.

Read all of our Best of 2017 lists.

Sid & Nancy Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music

10. Sid & Nancy 
Directed by Alex Cox, 1986
Released Aug 22, 2017

The long overdue Blu-ray release of Sid & Nancy has been one of the most anticipated Criterion releases in recent memory, and it couldn't have come at a more poignant time in lead actor Gary Oldman's career. Now regarded as a Hollywood mainstay, and garnering Oscar buzz for his recent portrayal of Winston Churchill in The Darkest Hours, Oldman broke through to audiences in Cox's kinetic cult flick about the infamous, short lived, heroin-fueled relationship between Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen (played by an equally fascinating Chloe Webb), before her gruesome, unsolved death by stabbing. Packed with extra documentaries, archival interviews of the real Vicious and Spungen, commentaries by the cast and crew, and more, this is the ultimate edition of the beloved punk-classic. 4K digital restoration.
Rebecca Criterion Blu-ray Amoeba Music 9. Rebecca 
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1940
Released Sept 5, 2017

Considered a favorite by many die-hard Alfred Hitchcock fans, Rebecca was the director's first production in Hollywood, after making a name for himself across the Atlantic. Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier star is this psychological melodrama, in which the bliss of their new marriage becomes overshadowed by the memory, and possibly spirit, of Olivier's dead first wife. Filled with visual style, atmospheric special effects, and superb performances, Rebecca signaled the arrival of a new master in Tinseltown, and took home the Academy Award for best picture. The new Blu-ray is filled to the brim with special features, including various archival interviews with cast and crew members, three radio adaptations (including one by Orson Wells), screen tests, and a new conversation by legendary film critic Molly Haskell with Patricia White. 4K digital restoration.

Psychomania is Back From the Grave

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, May 9, 2017 07:18pm | Post a Comment

Psychomania

By Brett Stillo

Get on your bikes and ride! That devilish blackguard Tom Latham and his gang of shaggy-haired, cycle-Psychomaniacrazy delinquents, the Death Wheelers, have come back from the grave—AGAIN—in a deluxe Blu-ray/DVD release of the 1973 horror favorite, PSYCHOMANIA!

Psychomania is an Aleister Crowley-on-Wheels, black-magic-meets-black-leather tale of witchcraft, reincarnation, myth, and motorcycles. The aforementioned Tom ('70’s favorite Nicky Henson, displaying brutish charm and swagger) and his motorcycle gang, The Living Dead, tear up the English countryside while his spiritualist mother (Beryl Reid) and her sinister butler (the elegantly satanic George Saunders in his final screen appearance) conduct weird séances at the family manor. What more could a saucy lad like Tom ask for, except maybe immortality by way of a suicide pact with the Dark One in the guise of a frog?

From there, Psychomania opens the throttle as Tom convinces his gang of baby-faced Bikers (who look like members of Badfinger) to kill themselves so they too can return to this world as indestructible, undead hooligans. The horror shifts to action as Tom and his gang roar down country roads and Psychomania Nicky Hensonancient, fog-shrouded cemeteries on their classic British racing bikes, terrorizing the local villagers.

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