Peter Pan (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR: 6.75
(OUT OF 10)
Although not one of the truly great Disney animated films, this is still a good watch even if Peter Pan is kind of a jerk.
Walt Disney had been trying to make an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's story of a boy who never grows old for years, but WWII got in the way. It finally hit screens in 1953, and while it wasn't as visually charming as past Disney efforts, it still had some artistic heft, and was the last feature that Disney's "Nine Old Men" animators worked on together as a whole.
I remember the storyline confused me a bit when I was a kid because Wendy and her brothers always talked of having seen Peter Pan before the events in this movie. That used to baffle me. And I always hated how they left Nana the dog floating like a balloon with a nooselike rope around its neck when Peter and the kids took off for Neverland.
Peter Pan was voiced for the first time by a dude (Bobby Driscoll). Driscoll, a famous child actor, fell on hard times soon thereafter, dying as a pauper in Greenwich Village and buried in an unmarked grave at the age of 31.
Man ... this is supposed to be a review of a happy children's movie, isn't it? As a kid, I thought Tinker Bell was a villain. Now, well ... actually I still see her as a villain. And I feel bad for Captain Hook, whom Peter Pan toys with and maliciously taunts with an alligator. Geez ... Peter Pan was kind of an ass.
No matter, this is still fun to watch. And, I must add, the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland remains one of my favorites.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A nice new documentary in which children of the "Nine Old Men" reminisce about their fathers. You also get some deleted scenes and songs and a commentary from Roy Disney.
Searching for Sugar Man (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES B
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7
(OUT OF 10)
I had no idea who Rodriguez was before I popped this movie into my player. He was a Detroit musician who released a couple of albums in the early '70s and then disappeared. Some said he committed suicide on stage by setting himself on fire or shooting himself in the head.
I'm giving a big part of the movie away right now, so don't read any further if you don't want to know the movie's big secret.
As it turns out, Rodriguez didn't kill himself. He just left the music biz and led a normal, secluded life. I've listened to his albums, and he is very good. He was, and is still, a major sensation in South Africa, but he had no idea he had achieved fame elsewhere in the world. After his albums bombed stateside, he went back to being a construction worker.
The makers of the movie seek him out, and find him in Detroit. He eventually makes a pilgrimage to South Africa, where he is bigger than Elvis.
He's actually touring right now, coming to Tucson's Rialto Theatre on April 19 between his appearances at Coachella the Sunday before and after.
It's an amazing story, told in a very good film. Interviews with Rodriguez, his family, and his supporters reveal that this is a nice, talented guy who deserved a musical career. He's got one now, thanks in part to this film.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A director's commentary that also features Rodriguez is a must listen. You also get a decent making-of, and a Q-and-A session at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Seven Psychopaths (Blu-ray)
SPECIAL FEATURES C-
BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8
(OUT OF 10)
Without a doubt, this was one of the best releases of 2012, and it further establishes writer-director Martin McDonagh as a creative force to be reckoned with.
McDonagh assembled a stellar cast, including Colin Farrell (who also starred in McDonagh's brilliant In Bruges), Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Woody Harrelson. Farrell plays Marty (a character McDonagh undoubtedly modeled upon himself), a screenwriter struggling through his latest project. His movie involves seven psychopaths and the characters might, just might, be based upon people he actually knows.
McDonagh writes some of the funniest and most shocking dialogue out there, and he gets masterful performances from everybody involved, especially Walken and Rockwell. Walken is allowed to be as strange and eccentric as ever, while Rockwell gets his best role in years. It's a role that allows him to show off that funny, nasty charm that makes him entirely unique.
A subplot involves Rockwell and Walken kidnapping a crime boss's (Harrelson) dog for ransom, and it all leads up to a surprising, and somewhat violent, conclusion. This one ranks with Barton Fink and Adaptation as one of the better films about the frustrations of writing.
SPECIAL FEATURES: There are only a few short behind-the-scenes featurettes. The movie is great, but the features are disappointing.