I'm still out in the Bay Area completing a whirlwind weekend trip filled with family and not much else, so I probably won't have another chance to post today. Besides, my head is all clogged up trying to determine the exact moment that I stopped idolizing my parents and discovered that they are simply crazy. It definitely was at some point during my 20s, but I wish I could pinpoint it. It would make everything much clearer.
Meanwhile, a couple things I learned yesterday are taking up valuable brain-space as well:
You know the most interesting thing about the tremendous opening of Alien vs. Predator -- movie that wasn't screened in advance for critics (always a bad sign) and as of this writing has a metacritic score of 26? Not only did it manage to win the box office race with an estimated $38-Million-plus weekend, but it outearned last week's opening of Collateral -- a film which has received overall great reviews and word-of-mouth -- by over $14 Million. Collateral had a solid second weekend, dropping only 35%, but it's going to have a tough time even breaking the $100 Million mark at this rate. Considering Entertainment Weekly's recent (annoying and often misguided) cover story about the lack of new Hollywood stars of the Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise variety, Tom's not looking so hot right now. When most major films this summer, good or bad, are opening with over $40 Million, and even AvsP is getting near that mark, Tom's $24 Million for Collateral isn't looking too hot. In fact, Julia's last major release -- last year's Mona Lisa Smiles -- only grossed just over $63 Million, so maybe she's not the instant box office draw anymore EW seems to think she is. Regardless, here's a (supposedly) terrible movie drawing that huge an opening weekend audience while a (supposedly) very good movie makes less than 2/3 the same amount. And before you say, "Oh, but AvsP had all the sci-fi freaks out in force," how does that explain the over $23 Million (virtually the same as last week's Collateral weekend gross of the light yet horribly reviewed The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement? I'm just saying ...
There is a definite must-purchase DVD set being released tomorrow: "The Martin Scorsese Collection" contains five classic Scorsese pictures. Three of the films are appearing on DVD for the first time. All seem to have a bevy of extras including full feature commentaries by Scorsese himself on each film. Each film will be available to buy individually, but there is no reason that if you own any movies, you shouldn't just buy this whole set.
What's included? Start with Scorsese's first full-length feature, Who's That Knocking at My Door? -- a film which shows all of Scorsese's neorealist and new wave influences more blatant than most others, but is especially interesting to see now that his filmmaking style and technique has evolved.
The film which really put Scorsese on the map, however, was his third feature Mean Streets, also included. Mean Streets was also, notably, the first pairing between Scorsese and Robert De Niro, one of the most important and successful actor-director collaborations in film history. Mean Streets is a great movie, but again it's even more interesting to watch it for the themes that Scorsese would use repeatedly in virtually all his films going forward.
Also included is Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore featuring an Oscar-winning performance by Alice. That's right; a Scorsese film was spun-off into a successful sitcom. Now it has been years since I saw the movie, but I'm pretty sure that when Diane Ladd played Flo at Mel's Diner, she never said "Kiss my grits!"
Another classic, often overlooked Scorsese film included here is 1985's After Hours, which should be hailed as one of the all-time great New York movies. If you've never seen it, After Hours is the hysterical misadventures of one man's night lost in the dark streets of SoHo and Tribeca. Like Who's That Knocking on My Door? and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, this film is getting its long overdue DVD release for the first time.
Finally, like the new and improved Mean Streets release, this collection includes a new 2-disc version of one of the director's all-time best movies, a film which should have won Best Picture and Best Director easily but was criminally robbed of both by an overlong epic made by a guy who has no concept of pacing and editing. Yes, my long preamble does refer to the absolutely brilliant GoodFellas, which along with Taxi Driver and Raging Bull is obviously one of his signature, and best, movies.
I'm hoping this is just the first "Martin Scorsese Collection." I'd watch/listen to Scorsese commentary on just about any movie, especially his own. If I had my druthers, the next set would include the bizarre and uneven but fascinating Boxcar Bertha, a film he made for low-budget producer Roger Corman starring a young Barbara Hershey and featuring some very interesting religious imagery, which ultimately would be a trademark of most of his films. It would also include a remastered with new commentary edition of my personal favorite Scorsese film, Taxi Driver, and another one of his underrated often-forgotten gems, The King of Comedy, which is out on DVD but without many bells and whistles.
Suffice to say, Amazon already has my pre-order.