Hidden Netflix Gems: Once Upon a Time in the West

This week’s Hidden Netflix Gem: “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968)

It’s 2012, so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to discover a majority of young people have not heard of Italian film director, producer, and screenwriter Sergio Leone. After all, the man died 23 years ago in 1989. However, you’d likely be hard pressed to find someone in that demographic who hasn’t seen, or at the very least heard of the man’s work.

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Friday Video – Hard-Fi, “Suburban Knights”

Click here to listen to Hard-Fi’s Stars of CCTV on Spotify

We would not bank on this, but we’re fairly positive that one time, while watching a New York Jets game, we heard this song in the background leading up to the kickoff following a Jets score. Which, if true, is awesome on a number of levels. One, because we love that mile-wide “Heeeeeey, Oooooooooh, Ahhhhhhh” hook in the chorus. Two, because it’s called “Suburban Knights,” and the New York Jets play their games in New Jersey. Those jokes just write themselves.

Hard-Fi lead singer and principal songwriter Richard Archer is a funny bloke. We spoken with him three times, and each time he seemed to be talking faster than he had the previous time, which is pretty impressive considering that he talked really fast the first time we spoke. (Eventually, we got playback equipment that allowed us to slow the tape down. Man, what a godsend that was.) Sadly, the band’s most recent album, 2011’s Killer Sounds, is import-only, a growing trend with UK acts (Kaiser Chiefs, The Feeling). Luckily for us, it’s available on Spotify. Seriously, how did we live without Spotify?

Speaking of which, yes, the above Spotify link does not point to the album that features “Suburban Knights.” There is a reason for that – Stars of CCTV is better. It also features a nifty cover of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Dig in.


A Chat with John Landis (“¡Three Amigos!”)

There’s no point in writing an intro for our conversation with John Landis when we’ve already given a perfectly serviceable synopsis of the man’s life and times on his page within Bullz-Eye’s Directors Hall of Fame – which you can find right here – but we will say that we’ve been looking forward to chatting with Landis for quite some time. Although his publicist regretfully informed us that he didn’t have time to talk when we were pulling together the Hall of Fame, we’d kept our fingers crossed that we’d get an opportunity to talk to him one of these days, and at last that time has come, courtesy of the Blu-ray release of “¡Three Amigos!,” which hits shelves on Nov. 22nd.

Bullz-Eye: First of all, in case you haven’t heard, I should let you know that we put you into our Director’s Hall of Fame last year.

John Landis: Oh, thank you very much!

BE: Our pleasure. After all, we’re a guy-centric site, and it would be fair to say that you’ve made a few movies that have been appreciated by many a man over the years…including, of course, “¡Three Amigos!”

JL: [Laughs.] So did you get a chance to watch the Blu-ray, then?

BE: I did. It looks fantastic.

JL: Yeah, I was able to restore it to the way it’s supposed to be seen. I’m very pleased with the way it looks.

BE: I was actually going to ask you about that process. I presume there’s at least a little bit of difference when it comes to restoring a comedy for Blu-ray versus, say, a full-on special effects extravaganza.

JL: Actually, no. [Laughs.] That would be an untrue presumption. I mean, every picture’s individual, and it depends on the look you were going for with that particular movie. When they made the Blu-ray for “Animal House,” I was upset. I thought they made it much too bright and clean. “Animal House” is supposed to look dirty and funky. [Laughs.] I remember the technician, when I had to check it, he kept writing on his chart, “Image degraded per director.” But every movie you make, you try – or at least I do, anyway – for a different kind of look. On “¡Three Amigos!” I was really trying to go for those beautiful westerns that Hollywood used to make in the ‘50s. The Technicolor pictures. We wanted the colors to be incredibly vibrant. You know, the old DVD wasn’t even the correct aspect ratio. So I’m happy that I got the chance to restore it.

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