BY ROBIN E. SIMMONS

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LUCKY

What a magnificent and poignant tone poem to bring brings down the curtain on beloved character actor Harry Dean Stanton.

I didn’t know Harry Dean well, but always enjoyed time spent with this hugely engaging and charismatic man who exuded authenticity.  I recall him saying, “To be a fine actor, don’t get caught acting on screen or off.”  He was the embodiment of that creed.

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The thin plot follows the mostly spiritual journey of a 90-year-old atheist and the endearingly quirky characters that meander in his remote, off-the-beaten track, desert habitat.

Having out-lived all his contemporaries in spite of his prodigious smoking habit, the fiercely independent Lucky finds himself thrust into a journey of self exploration leading to what is so rarely attainable: light near the end of the tunnel of life.

Directed by John Carroll Lynch (no relation to cast member David Lynch), himself an acclaimed character actor and long-time friend of Stanton.  Besides Lynch, the fine supporting cast features: Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerrit and Ron Livingston.

In a Zen-like fluke (if there is such a thing) Stanton would likely appreciate that this beautiful and heartfelt tribute to his life and career premiered almost to the day he passed away.

Both heartwarming and unexpectedly humorous, this rewarding and satisfying film is a sweet reflection of Stanton’s Buddhist beliefs.  But please don’t be put off by that statement; rest assured it’s not a piece of religious propaganda.  Besides, who among us cannot benefit from time spent considering our fragile mortality, inevitable aloneness, search for authentic spirituality and the connectedness of all life – especially that of our human family?

Stanton is a hypnotic and ghostly presence that compels us to savor every moment of not only this film, but also life itself.  I was profoundly touched by the utterly perfect final image in this life-affirming masterpiece.  Strongest recommendation.

NEW BLU FOR THEE HOME THEATER:

KID GALAHAD (1962)

From reliable genre director Phil Karlson (Kansas City Confidential, The Phoenix Story, Walking Tall) comes this cheerful romantic comedy.

It’s hard to tell if this good-natured musical remake of a 1937 boxing picture that starred Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart is intended as a spoof or not.  But in any case, it is certainly an above average Elvis movie thanks to Presley’s natural charm, some solid supporting performances and picturesque locales. 

Elvis plays a singing boxer whose championship hopes are stymied by gangsters who have his cantankerous promoter (Gig Young) in their debt.

Joan Blackman provides the love interest, Lola Albright co-stars along with Charles Bronson who plays Elvis’ amiable trainer.  Look for Ed Asner in his big screen debut.

The bouncy seven-tune soundtrack including the up-tempo “I Got Lucky can be enjoyed on an isolated music and effects track.”

Twilight Time Movies (Edition limited to only 3,000 units).  Blu-ray

STARSHIP TROOPERS: TRAITOR OF MARS

Original Starship Troopers stars Casper Van Dien and Dina Meyer return after 20 years to voice the iconic sci-fi action heroes Johnny Rico and Dizzy Flores in the all-new CG animated sequel. 

Directed by celebrated anime filmmaker Shinji Aramaki (Appleseed Ex Machina) and written by sci-fi master Ed Neumeier (RoboCop).

If you’ve missed acclaimed author Robert Heinlein’s action packed outer space military adventures and the war against the invasive and deadly alien “bugs,” here’s your chance to revisit that dangerous universe.   Generous extras include Deleted scenes, Photo Gallery “A look inside Bugs, Powered Suits, Story and Characters.

Sony Pictures Home Ent.  Blu-ray.

Comments?  robinesimmons@aol.com