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The Shelf: THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU Criterion Edition, CHEAP THRILLS, SLEEPAWAY CAMP

Some really excellent releases are coming your way this week from screens both silver and…whatever they call television. Bronze? Pewter? Is it, like, not a metal at all? Silver Screen and Quartz Screen? I really have no idea. There’s no analog for that term. Anyway, there’s good stuff out this week. That’s all any of us need.

FEATURE FILMS

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou Criterion Edition

I’m certainly in the minority here, but Wes Anderson’s follow-up to The Royal Tenenbaums might actually be my favorite of his, or at least top three (his more recent ones have been pretty spectacular). One day I’ll rank my favorites scientifically, but needless to say The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a lot more fun than people give it credit for. Excellent central performance from Bill Murray, phenomenal supporting cast including the rotating regulars like Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum, and some beautiful sets and costumes make this movie a joy from start to finish.

Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition has a commentary from Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach, a making-of documentary, an Italian talk show appearance by both men, interview with composer Mark Mothersbaugh, and a lot more. It’s Criterion, it’s Anderson, it’s a good movie. Buy it.

Red River Criterion Edition

Howard Hawks’ 1948 classic western has John Wayne as an embittered, tyrannical Texas ranch owner who comes to blows with his adopted son (played by the brilliant Montgomery Clift) on a long cattle drive to Missouri. The movie is less about the actual Chisholm Trail as it is with playing with macho stereotypes with the Alpha Male Wayne and the neurotic Beta Clift taking either side of the debate. There’s hilarious moments for Hawks staple Walter Brennan as well. It might be Hawks’ best directed film, even more than what is widely considered his masterpiece, Rio Bravo.

This set features 2k digital restorations of both the theatrical version and the longer prerelease version. New interviews with filmmakers and critics about the film are present as well. Big must for fans of classic cinema, and of westerns and Hawks in particular.

Cheap Thrills

Really terrific, and seriously messed-up, slow-burn film starring Pat Healy, Etham Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton. Healy plays a family man who desperately needs his dead-end job at a garage when downsizing leaves him helpless. While drinking his sorrows away he runs into a friend (Embry) he hasn’t seen in years. Embry is a drug dealer and all around criminal guy. They are called over by Koechner and Paxton who are out celebrating her birthday and want to have the boys join them for a good time. Koechner, a very wealthy fellow, offers small amounts of money to perform various embarrassing stunts that become larger and larger as the night goes on. Eventually, the stakes are unbelievably high and the two “friends” are put to the test of both camaraderie and basic human decency in their quest for money.

Here’s Witney’s full review of Cheap Thrills.

Sleepaway Camp

One of the frigging craziest slasher movies of the ’80s. Seriously, it’s nutzo. Read my full Blu-ray review here.

TELEVISION

An Adventure in Space and Time

The loving tribute to the creation of Doctor Who and the production of the entire William Hartnell tenure. It’s fun, kitschy, nostalgic, bittersweet, and ultimately quite moving. Read my full review of it here.

The Bob Newhart Show Complete Series Box Set

A staple of 1970s television and one of the finest, and consistently funniest, sitcoms ever made. Bob Newhart stars as an easily-scandalized but good-natured psychiatrist treating a string of consistently silly and insane people. Set includes all 142 episodes plus a bonus disc. Read my full review here.

Lupin the 3rd Complete Series

Brilliant classic anime series about a suave super thief. Features episodes directed by a very young Hayao Miyazaki. Lots of good fun.

Covert Affairs Season 4

USA Network’s spunky other-spy series, this one starring Piper Perabo. Fifth season premieres in June.

Suits Season 3

USA Network’s spunky lawyer show. Has been renewed for a fourth season, so catch up now.

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