Normally, when you visit this page, you expect to read the cinematic musings of Denise Du Vernay.
Why does the world continue to crap all over Orson Welles?
Not this Sunday.
Most of you know Denise as a first-rate InterWebs sensation of the highest order. But what you might not know is that she's also a phenomenal girlfriend whose busy schedule this week has put the completion of her column in jeopardy. What's been taking up all her time? Well, she's been planning and preparing a fantastic dinner party for her boyfriend's birthday.
That would be me. Her boyfriend. Let's call me Joe.
With her energy diverted so she can bake cakes, cook dinners and fill the apartment with streamers and balloons, Denise asked if I could pinch hit for her on her column this week. And because I'm not an unkind boyfriend (and I love me some girlfriend-baked cake), I told her sure!
I figure since it's my birthday (technically, it was Jan. 31, but that's close enough for government work) I should put together a wish list of DVDs I would simply do flips over if I received them as a birthday present. But before you loyal Queue readers start searching Amazon so you can buy them for me, here's the catch to this list: These DVDs don't exist (or if they do, they're rare to the point that they might as well not exist). Hey, this is a wish list. Why not wish big?
THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS: This is arguably the holy grail of unreleased DVDs. This film was Orson Welles' directorial follow-up to CITIZEN KANE, and like any Welles production, it was fraught with drama on and offscreen (heck, we hear that Welles' final role as the voice of Unicron in the animated TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE had its moments thanks to a little too many bottles of Gallo). Adapting Booth Tarkington's novel, Welles created an epic that
chronicles a family's slow disintegration as the world around them charges into the future. Test audiences hated the original cut, and the studio chopped and re-edited it, which devastated Welles. I've only seen the studio cut on Turner Classic Movies, and even that version is wonderful to watch. It's a tragedy that if you mention the name JOSEPH COTTEN today, no one knows who you're talking about. (Look him up, ya whipper-snapper!) There have been a few international DVD releases of the film, but none available for North American DVD players. Plus, I want a DVD that includes Welles' original cut of the film, which really is wishing because that footage was either lost or destroyed. Stupid studio heads!
A film that confused 12-year-old comic book fans everywhere.
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN: I remember first seeing ads for this movie when I was 12, and I was hoping nay, praying! it was a live-action film based on the Marvel Comics character. It wasn't (and if it was, it carried an R-rating, which meant this goody-two-shoes geek wasn't going to see it anyway). It was something so much better, I learned when I finally saw it in college. Molina (William Hurt) and Arregui (Raul Julia) are cell mates in a Brazilian prison. Arregui's incarcerated for political reasons; Molina's crime is his homosexuality. The two pass the time with Molina's retelling of his favorite movie. As their friendship grows, the film becomes more than an examination of humanity blooming in inhumane conditions; something sinister lingers beneath the surface. This is the film you need to see to wash away the fact that Hurt and Julia starred in LOST IN SPACE and STREET FIGHTER, respectively.
PROSPERO'S BOOKS: Before Baz Luhrmann's ROMEO + JULIET, Peter Greenway used his directorial prowess to turn a Shakespeare play into an
exquisite tapestry of lush and vibrant cinematography. PROSPERO'S BOOKS, which adapts "The Tempest," is one of those films that you can't stop watching ... even if you don't know what's going on. That's how I experienced it when I saw it in high school. But the images Greenway conjured still haunt me. I want the opportunity to revisit the film to see what parts of my memory are true and what parts are colored by the nostalgia of discovering something beautiful and unique for the first time.
If you don't understand Shankespeare when you read it, this won't help.
The first cable season of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: Better put your goggles on for this one. You don't want to catch any unbridled geekiness in the eye. For me, the TV series MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 is one of those things that forever changed me forever. If I were an artist of some great degree, I would be able to call it an "influence." But I'm just an ordinary schlub, so I can't get that highbrow. Starting out as a local TV show in Minneapolis, MST3K premiered nationally on Comedy Central (then called the Comedy Channel) in 1989, with its lo-fi production values and hilarious and obscure pop culture references. Its high concept: Two mad scientists force some guy they've stranded on a satellite to watch bad movies with two robots of his own creation. Although Rhino has done a fine job of releasing much of the series on DVD, this season remains unavailable because, from what I've read, not all the rights on the bad movies can be secured. That's right: The same copyright hassles that kept WKRP IN CINCINNATI from being on DVD for years are keeping me from having a piece of my teen years in a digital format.
So there you go, my birthday wish of a world where these DVDs exist if only in my private collection.
Now it's off for cake and presents.
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Every other Sunday
Semi-wholesome Midwestern girl and certified Geek Magnet offers her suggestions - often new, sometimes classic - for DVDs that are definitely queue-worthy.
9 out of 10 librarians think Denise is a hoot. The 10th one couldn't corroborate because she was dead.|
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