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March 30, 2005

"Tipping is un-American."

Today, a lot of rain and a few bits/pieces of DVD-related stuff.

Shades and I caught The Palm Beach Story (1942) on TCM last night and really liked it. This film is one of the better efforts by the writer-director Preston Sturges who also was behind the classics The Lady Eve (we'll be getting to this one soon) and Sullivan's Travels. We haven't seen Eve yet, but I feel this film wasn't quite as good as Sullivan's Travels which is a masterpiece, IMO. The ending is a bit odd, though amusing but the weakness for me is Joel McCrea who plays opposite of Claudete Colbert. Joel does a good enough job, but he just doesn't seem right for the part in this psuedo-screwball comedy. McCrea was mainly a Western genre player and I can see why he found success there. But here he comes off as stilted, somewhat unsympathetic, and unfunny (though he often has to be the straight man in a number of scenes). It doesn't sink the film by any means, but I think a different guy in the part would have improved it. The film is worth seeing for Colbert's performance and the witty sreenplay alone.

This film is on DVD, but in a bare-bones edition courtesy of Universal. Both The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels have very good Criterion DVDs, but for some reason this one hasn't been given the better treatment. In any case, this film is certainly worth a rent and perhaps a buy (the DVD is cheap).

A while back I mentioned Uni announcing a new SE DVD of Dune (1984) with both theatrical and "Alan Smithee" versions. Since then, the title was postponed, but today I found out why. David Lynch has decided to get invloved with the DVD and produce a new cut of the film. Apparently after the film came out, he didn't want to have anything further to do with it. All I can guess is that when Uni decided to release the longer un-approved version, he figured it was better to have some input. I will be curious to see what he'll do with it as the theatrical version definately has some problems as-is. Of course at the speed Lynch usually works, we may end up getting this one on a HD format disc!

Uni also has a Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition coming on 6/14. This may be a re-hash of the existing disc or perhaps they might restore the complete Making of Jaws docu that first appeared on laserdisc, but was shortened for the current DVD.

Sony has an extended cut SE DVD of Stripes which will be out on 6/7 and have an additional 18 minutes of footage.

Image has also set The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition - Season 3 for release on 6/28 (SRP $119.99). The 5-disc set will include audio commentaries (by Billy Mumy, William Windom, Leonard Nimoy, Cliff Robertson and others), excerpts from audio interviews with cast & crew members, more isolated music scores, Rod Serling promos, Serling's guest appearance on The Garry Moore Show and more.

Star Trek fans might want to check out this article which lists all the Easter Eggs on the Trek DVDs so far.

And finally, The Home Theater Forum had an online chat last night with representatives from Warners. It's a long transcript, but some of you might want to give it a read as it has some really interesting stuff. One regret is that no one asked them when they're going to release Hamlet (1996) on DVD. But in any case, it's worth a look and can be found here.

March 28, 2005

"Don't quote Dickens in my apartment!"

This week's batch seems pretty slight...but if you want to see the complete list with prices, click here for more.

After the Sunset AI guess this is the 'hit" this week...

America's Next Top Model: Cycle 1 Oh yeah, the highest rated show on UPN...sounds like a winner on DVD!

Apollo 13 As I mentioned last week, this is a new SE set containing the original theatrical cut (with a new transfer I hear) and the IMAX cut, which is shorter and re-framed to 1.66:1 aspect ratio (used for IMAX), which isn't a real hatchet job, image-wise as it was shot in Super 35. The people who probably want this one are those real fans of the film who want everything, and those who didn't get it before. The extras aren't that different from the old DVD, though the image upgrade might be worth re-buying if you have a system capable of showing the improvements. A review of the DVD can be found here.

Closer Anyone see this???

Doctor Who: The Green Death For you Whovians out there!

Kagemusha Kurosawa's classic done by Criterion.

The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition - Season Two These latest incarnations of the show on disc are apparently very well done and have good extras. Well worth getting for fans, no doubt.

Vera Drake

"What you're needing more than a horse is a good dog."

Before I get into posting about this week's DVD info, I wanted to take a moment to write about the passing of my family's dog, Sam who had to be put down last week.

Sam was a wire-haired dachshund mutt who came from the animal shelter. We were never quite sure how old he was, but it was estimated that he was 4 when we adopted him (I was in Rapid City at the time) so he was probably 16 or so when he died.

This was one of the most interesting, unique dogs I've ever known. He was smart, very friendly to people (though he was untrusting of children and avoided them), and had an alpha dog attitude that he would use on dogs much larger in stature than he. When we brought Sam home, we also adopted a black lab pound dog, Siggy (he's been gone for a few years now), who was a lot larger than fiesty little Sam. Once they got used to the new surroundings, Sam decided he was going to be the "top dog" and seemingly with will alone, asserted himself to be alpha.

Sam had some things he was especially known for. Tennis ball chasing: this was a dog who lived to chase tennis balls. Granted, this isn't that unusual, but Sam pursued it with a doggy-religious zeal. When Siggy was around, the two of them would play. It usually involved the following: Human throws ball, Siggy, being the faster (though Sam could zoom around the yard much faster than you might think, given his stubby legs) generally got the ball first. Siggy wasn't much of a retriever. He'd go after the ball, but not return it (sounds like another dog we know ). This tends to stop the game. Sam wouldn't allow this and ran up to Siggy, who usually just sat there holding the ball in his mouth, and would try to wrest the ball from the goofy lab's jaw. At first, Sam had little difficulty with this, but soon Siggs figured out ways to keep him at bay. Like standing on the edge of the backyard deck holding the ball over it out of Sam's reach. Sam would stand down there leaping into the air trying to get the ball, unable to snatch it. Siggy generally got tired of it, let the ball go, and Sam brought the ball back to the human allowing the cycle to begin again. I probably don't do this routine justice, but it was quite the canine spectacle to observe! Alas, once Siggy was gone, the poor dog's heart just wasn't in the game. Those two had a relationship, such as it was and playing ball alone wasn't much fun. He still chased, but it wasn't the same.

Dig it, the dancing dog.

Some dogs beg by barking, sitting, and so forth, but Sam stood up on his hind legs and danced back and forth. This always seemed like quite the feat for a small, short, long-bodied dog and he would do it for quite a while and was a sight to behold.

"I measured the width of Sam's skull!"

This was when my Dad said when he had to changed the planks under the deck due to the fact that Sam kept chasing balls underneath and couldn't get out. The plank's with was matched to his head...had to be there I guess!

Sam already had his name when he was adopted, but sure enough, it wasn't long until he picked up some alternate names: Samuelson, Sam-Well, Stinky (he had chronic bad breath), Teemster, Samwise...I'm sure I'm missing a few.

He had a salt/pepper beard.

So, I thought the lil' guy deserved at least a blog entry to mark his passing. He will be missed. So long, Sam.

[update] I did indeed forget the name, Samsonite! AND, speaking of his swimming abilities, which were considerable, I've included a couple of pictures from the 2003 MGROE retreat.



March 25, 2005

"I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead rhinoceros."

Odds and ends for today...

Criterion is going to release a new dvd of Jules and Jim on 5/31 as a new 2 disc set (they had a single disc version out a few years back that's now out of print). It appears to have a lot of extras and a new transfer.

Beyond the Sea will be out on 6/7.

Coach Carter will arrive on 6/12.

And Diary of a Mad Black Woman hits DVD on 6/28.

Universal double-dips again with a new DVD of Apollo 13 next week as a 2 disc set containing both the theatrical version and IMAX versions. A review of the disc can be found here.

And finally, Robert Harris has a new column out about what's been going on in the DVD biz with regards to classic film and restoration efforts. He also talks more with a guy at Sony Pictures about the new verison of Major Dundee with all the new changes (the DVD of the new version will be out at the end of May). Well worth the read.

March 24, 2005

"Captain, please don't..."

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that “cool” or “intellectual” book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

"When the Tellarite ambassador, Gav (John Wheeler), is murdered on board, suspicion is directed toward Spock's father, Ambassador Sarek (Mark Lenard). Altman (****): A triumph of diplomatic skulduggery, filled with classic Star Trek moments, including Spock and father Sarek's incessant bickering and McCoy's final rebuff of them both ("I finally got the last word"). Kirk's battle with an Andorian and his stubborn determination to remain on the bridge despite his injuries when Spock refuses to give up command is exceptional writing." -- Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga, Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross

So now who's geekier....hmm, maybe Shades is!

March 21, 2005

"Lawyers love wigs."

For the first time in ages, we actually got around to watching some DVDs this past weekend. Here's what we got to:

Hero (2002, aka "Ying xiong") I should have gotten to this one sooner. It was extraordinary; a film packed to the gills with gorgeous cinematography, costumes, and action sequences. Like other films of its kind, this is, in a sense a ballet...a ballet with swords. The DVD: The DTS track on this disc is really nice; good, deep bass when it's needed, good directional surround fx, and well-produced music track. The picture wasn't as good. If its possible, the image looked both overprocessed and soft. There was definately some MPEG artifacting in some of the scenes, but not too much detail. Too bad as a film that has as much visual beauty as this one deserves a top-notch film transfer. I don't know what's wrong with Disney/Miramax these days, but they've released a string of mediocre DVDs, picture quality-wise. I would buy this film on DVD if they released a better disc.

Yi yi (2000). It's really nice to see a film you know little about and have it turn out to be so good. Such is the case with this much-praised (with good reason) film from Taiwan that deals with three generations of a family moving through their own events in life. The film is long, around 3 hours, but it takes the time to really tell the story and develop the characters so well that it doesn't seem at all inefficient or bloated like so many other 3+hour films can. The DVD for this one wasn't great, it looked like it came from a release print and was a bit soft, but it was OK and any shortcomings in the DVD didn't matter so much for a film like this.

Tismo and One Day were nice enough to bring over the DVD set of Joss Whedon's Sci-Fi/Western series Firefly. We watched the first half of the series (correction for Tismo: Adam Baldwin is not related to the other Baldwins in the movies, but he was in Full Metal Jacket) and really liked it. Yet another example of bone-headed thinking at Fox. Oh well, at least there's a movie coming out later this year. This TV series DVD looked better than either of the previous two discs I mentioned. Go figure.

Finally, we picked up Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which just got cheap on DVD. Now, this isn't a great film by any stretch and speaking of stretches, it is a bit too long, but we really enjoy it. Basically, the performances by Johnny Depp and Geoffry Rush really make this film what it is and allows it be a better film than the story/screenplay would permit. The DVD looked pretty decent, not great but OK. The DTS track sounded good as well. I haven't looked at the bonuses, but I feel the film was worth the low price I got it for.

And now tomorrow's DVD releases (click here for pricing details)...

Being Julia Annette Bening was up for Best Actress in this film last year and her performance is a highlight of this film. Actually the entire cast is pretty good with Jeremy Irons being the other standout. The cast does well enough with the so-so material of the the story. Don't get me wrong, it's a good enough film, but I don't need to see it more than once.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason I liked the first film well enough, but the slew of bad reviews made me stay away from this one. Anyone out there seen it? Worth watching?

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) I'm mildly curious about this middling Peckinpah film.

Doogie Howser, M.D. Season 1 Welll...OK.

Fat Albert (2004) Hey hey hey, it stunk all the way! There should probably be a joke in there somewhere about "no class" but it ain't happening right now.

Finding Neverland Another Best Pic nominee makes it to DVD.

The Flintstones: The Complete Third Season Warners has been doing a nice job on these old TV cartoon shows. I'm not a big enough fan to get this, but if I were, these would ROCK (Oooh, so sorry!)!

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Season One Damn! Is this one of the first times something featuring Shaun Cassidy has been released on disc?! Run away!!!

Pimp My Ride: The Complete First Season This one's for you Phil!

Stand By Me: Deluxe Edition It's gotta have more stuff than the previous disc which have nex to nothing. I remember this film being good, but haven't seen it for a long time.

March 19, 2005

"I want to see the whites of his lies."

Warner has a street date for The Aviator: 5/24 (SRP $29.95). The DVD cover features the front of a plane and Leo's Giant Head (really! check out the link; it's scary!)! The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Martin Scorsese, deletes scenes, the 45-minute History Channel documentary Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, 6 featurettes (including A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator, The Role of Howard Hughes in Aviation History, An Evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda, The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, The Age of Glamour: The Hair and Makeup of The Aviator and The Visual Effects of The Aviator), video of a panel discussion with Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Howard Hughes' widow Terry Moore, a photo gallery and more.

Disney has a pile of re-hashes on the way including Sling Blade: Director's Cut (not sure yet what the differences are, but the current DVD is getting long in the tooth), a 15th Anniversary SE of Father of the Bride (ooh, sign me up!), Gone in 60 Seconds: Unrated Director's Cut (OK, this is worse) and a Coyote Ugly: Unrated Special Edition (now tell me, who was clamoring for this?).

I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but speaking of The Mouse, they have a SE release of Cinderella set for 10/4. Features TBA.

Our good buddy George Lucas' latest plan for artistic greatness invloves releasing the Star Wars trilogy in 3D. What's next, Smell-O-Scope? Lots of possibilities for the scenes invlolving Jabba, no question.

Showtime/Viacom has Queer as Folk: The Complete Fourth Season set for 4/5.

And, I ran across an early review for the DVD of Sideways (releases on 4/5).

March 15, 2005

"I've cut millions off of deals by eating baked beans with my HANDS."

Just a quickie today to get out a few things...


One of Shades and my favorite sitcoms finally has a release date: NewsRadio: The Complete First and Second Seasons is coming on 5/24. It was supposed to come out last February as a bare-bones set, but the show's creator got invlolved at the last minute so they delayed it so bonuses could be produced. Exact features aren't in the announcement, but blooper reels, commentaries, and the like is expected. I've watched the show in reruns and find it to be quite re-watchable, so this is a no-brainer for me. The TVShowsonDVD site has a story about it here.

DVD Savant has some good material up this week including reviews of some new DVDs like the Special Edition of Howard's End, The Band Wagon, Call Northside 777, and a good writeup on the Bambi DVD.

He also has been writing about Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee, which has apparently been restored to most of its pre-studio hatchet job state. But more interestingly is the fact that the films musical score has been replaced with a new one. Here's a bit from the DVD Savant site (the Variety piece he talks about is a subscribers only thing unfortunately):

"There's a bit of a fuss this week over the new mini-release of Sam Peckinpah's MAJOR DUNDEE which will hit New York and Los Angeles on April 15. Music score expert John Burlingame had an article entitled 'Resettling an Old Score' in Thursday's Variety, discussing the displeasure of the president of the Society of Composers & Lyricists, Dan Foliart, over the re-scoring of the movie with an entirely new composition by Christopher Caliendo. Foliart stated that the revised DUNDEE had set a dangerous precedent, that future holders of old movies might be tempted to replace classic scores with contemporary ones. Burlingame said that studios have been known to replace the odd cue here and there when music rights were expensive or couldn't be located but that replacing an entire score was rare.

I'm not aware of too many full-score replacements either. I know of a lot of partial replacements, such as THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST, for which certain Barry McGuire songs were replaced, and a (Eurythmics?) pop score that was replaced for home video for 1984.

There are probably other examples of full score swap-outs but the ones Savant is familiar with are several English AIP pictures, most notably THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL (THE CONQUEROR WORM), for which Orion dropped the original tracks in favor of synthesizer soundalikes. THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES were restored for DVD, but 1984 was not. WITCHFINDER has been restored, but no DVD has been yet announced.

Columbia pictures had plenty of ammunition to justify their experiment with DUNDEE, as Sam Peckinpah's biographers affirm that the director hated Daniele Amfitheatrof's original score. It had been imposed on the movie in post-production along with 1001 other outrages to Peckinpah's vision. It doesn't take an expert to realize that the one most prominent factor crippling audience appreciation of DUNDEE has always been the music. The themes are reasonably good (my opinion) but grossly overused, while scene after scene that would play better in silence is drowned out by inappropriate noodlings or discordant phrases of Civil War-era themes. The crowning outrage was the producer's use of Mitch Miller's Sing-Along Gang. They chant the film's main theme, a mindless, jaunty march that inexplicably plays out over the aftermath of a bloody massacre.

Watching Peckinpah's epic always meant trying ignore the over-emphatic and distracting music. Nobody forgets the electronic "door chime" that goes off every time Major Dundee's Apache nemesis Sierra Charriba is mentioned - it makes the film play like Pee Wee's Playhouse.

I have seen the longer version (with the old score) and am very happy that twelve more minutes could be restored - it's an original extended cut from 1965, fully scored with Amfitheatrof music. The new scenes go a long way toward making the story coherent and satisfying.

It is a troublesome thought to think of future producers rescoring films and tossing out the old tracks. I don't think that will happen in any regular way for a couple of reasons.

The expense of arranging and recording a new score is prohibitive; DUNDEE used two different-sized orchestras and a new Mariachi band and is definitely not something whipped up on a keyboard. The Mariachis really help, by the way, as a ten-minute party sequence was previously backed by an inane Mexican cue repeated several times to fill up the time.

There are technical limitations as well. A few famous films previous to the late 1960s (like GONE WITH THE WIND, Foliart's worst-case example) have the original audio elements required to actually replace the music, but most older pictures exist only in composite tracks that will not allow the music to be separated cleanly. Perhaps future technology could make this possible, I suppose.

I also don't think marketers would consider that old movies could have a new life in release if the music were replaced ... what are they going to do, put in rap music or calypso beats or something? WUTHERING HEIGHTS isn't going to seem more modern or more commerical with new music. I don't believe Columbia approached the DUNDEE problem from that angle; I heard some of the discussion before the decision was taken.

The safe bet is always for not altering an old movie, but I think the new MAJOR DUNDEE will be of interest as an isolated experiment. I'll want to hear what the response to the new score is - personally, I have the feeling that I'll need several showings to shake the old music free from my memories ... this is one picture I've seen far too many times. I've been recutting the movie offline on my own for years, trying to see what would happen if the story were streamlined, or the narration removed. I'd like to hear what happens when the old score is backgrounded more, and with at least a third of it left out entirely. Dramatic scenes and battles could play on their own. Mitch Miller could be heard only over the end titles, or not at all.

I rather hope the controversy over the score gets some more attention because I like that idea that more people might become curious about MAJOR DUNDEE. With the new reel of footage and Christopher Caliendo's reinterpreted soundtrack, it's going to be a new experience.

I am told that Sony Pictures' eventual DVD will have both scores encoded, so the viewer will be able to compare and choose on their own."

OK, so it was long after all.

March 14, 2005

"If you believed as much as you thought you believed you wouldn't be confused."

We have a bigger set of DVDs coming this week including some classics and the newest Pixar entry. As usual, clicking here will let you see where to get these cheapest.

The Band Wagon The first appearance on DVD for this MGM musical. Warners is doing this one as a 2 disc SE. Anyone seen this one?

Bells Are Ringing (1960) Another first timer on DVD...this is turning out to be a big week for musicals fans.

Brigadoon (1954) This one was released a while back with a crappy non-anamorphic transfer. The new disc has a new transfer with a few not-so-impressive extras.

Call Northside 777 This psuedo-noir film with James Stewart is also new to DVD. I saw it a number of years ago and found it to be OK, but not great.

Classic Musicals Collection A box containing Brigadoon, Easter Parade, Band Wagon, Bells Are Ringing, and Finian’s Rainbow

Easter Parade (1948) How convenient...a timely musical.

Finian's Rainbow (1968) The Francis Coppola (yes, that Coppola!) musical makes it to DVD. I've never seen it, but am almost curious enough to give it a rent.

Hogan's Heroes: The Complete First Season Another syndication warhorse hits the shiny disc. Not a favorite of mine, but I'll wager this one will sell.

The Incredibles This is the biggie of the week, no doubt. Circuit City has it for $14.99, Target/Beast Buy have it for $15.99. I'll be getting this one, no question as I think it's one of the best Pixar films to date. Be certain you get the widescreen version; unlike previous Pixar DVDs which had both the re-composed fullscreen and widecreen versions on combined, they have two seperate releases for this one. This film has so much visual eye candy that it'd be a real shame to watch it cropped.

Laura (1944) This one was supposed to come out almost a year ago, but was pushed back; supposedly so a better film element could be found.

Laurel and Hardy Collection 2 Hallmark (yes, the greeting card and crappy TV movie company) apparently owns the rights to the Hal Roach library here in the US. Word has it that the films in this set as well as the Volume 1 set are sourced from less-than-ideal film elements while the ones available in the UK are from nicely restored prints. Too bad someone is too damn lazy/cheap to do them right.

Star Trek: First Contact Special Edition A review of this Trek re-do can be found here. The short answer here is that apparently the transfer is better than the earlier DVD, itself pretty decent, the addition of a really good DTS audio track, and some pretty good bonus features. The ca. $15 price makes it seriously tempting for us fans.

What the #$*! Do We Know? Uh, yeah...

(happy birthday Rob!)

March 8, 2005

"Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?"

Blah blah blah, more DVDs...

Paramount continues to reissue their Star Trek feature film DVDs with pretty decent success. The ones to date have been genuinely good upgrades from the previous versions which often had inferior transfers and little to no bonus content. The latest one, arriving on 6/7 is Star Trek: Insurrection. Another 2 DVD set, it will have a ton of bonus features and a DTS track (a first for a Trek DVD, AFAIK). The info doesn't indicate a new film transfer, but the old DVD, which I own has a good 16x9 transfer that seems fine to me. I guess I would say that if you don't already have this one, or are such a Trek fan that you buy everything that comes out, go for it. I am planning to skip this one as it's one of the weaker entries, IMO. A good friend of coined the term "Jiffy Trek" to label episodes that were light-weight and of little consequence. I think this applies here; an amusing jaunt with the TNG cast, but nothing big.

Another Trek item...there's a rumor going around that Enterprise might be picked up by the SpikeTV cable channel. This channel, "TV for men" (or more accurately, "TV for teenage guys and frat boyz") currently has the exclusive on Star Trek: TNG and Star Trek: DS9 reruns so this isn't totally off the wall (though how these series fit with the rest of the channel's offerings eludes me) AND, you guessed it: SpikeTV, like the network that canceled it (UPN) is owned by Viacom, owner of the Trek franchise. Of course UPN is so lousy that moving to a cable channel might not be a step down for the show...

More TV...The Sopranos: The Complete Fifth Season is officially set for release on 6/7 (SRP $99.98 ). Extras will include 4 audio commentaries (with directors Steve Buscemi, Peter Bogdanovich, Mike Figgis and Rodrigo Garcia) and more.

Criterion has announced a few new DVD releases for May: Hoop Dreams (the film's out of print right now), Burden of Dreams and Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty.

Being sick does seem to result in one having more time for, shall we say more "low-impact" pursuits? Like lounging in bed watching DVDs. This past weekend, having little energy to do much else, Shades and I went for a double feature of Horse Feathers and The Red Shoes (1948). At first these two films might seem to be an odd pairing, but they worked pretty well actually. Shades, admittedly not being a raving Marx Bros. fan had never seen Horse Feathers and I had never actually seen The Red Shoes. I admit that me not being very familiar with Shoes is pretty lame. Horse Feathers was really funny with a few insanely fun musical numbers like "Whatever it is, I'm against it." Overall, it isn't as good as Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera but it has its moments: a film I never tire of seeing.

The Red Shoes is one of those films that is so good and so unique that I just have to shake my head and be amazed that it ever got made at all. The cast, screenplay, cinematography, music (really great score), costumes, sets, EVERYTHING is fantastic. I am not very familiar with ballet, but this isn't really "a film about dancing"...just great filmmaking. The Criterion DVD of this film looks amazing (they consulted with the film's cinematographer) and has some good bonuses. Roger Ebert wrote about this film for his "Great Movies" column and describes its virtues well; check it out here. And for you Kubrick fans, he also just posted a piece about Paths of Glory.

March 7, 2005

"This is worse than Kathie Lee Gifford singing cabaret!"

A mixed bag of DVD releases coming this week...

The Best of Mister Ed - Volume Two No season sets?! Maybe this is a show that is better served by "best of" DVDs. Not that I recall ever seeing one episode of this series that was better than the others.

Columbo: The Complete Second Season Another DVD set of The Coat.

Dead End (1937) Bogart before he got big. These are good days for fans of classic noir and crime films.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids - The Original Animated Series, Vol. 1 I don't think I've seen any of these since I was a kid, watching them on saturday mornings. I'm curious enough to give these a rent.

Friends: The Complete Ninth Season OK, sure this show is on so often in reruns that there might as well be a Friends channel, but if you're a fan of the show, at least you can buy the DVDs and see the extra-long episodes uncut.

Green Acres - The Complete Second Season Why, God Why?!!!!! While I don't often say this with regards to film/TV, some old things deserve to stay buried.

Ladder 49 I guess this is the "big" movie release of the week. An amusing review quote: "If there's an original moment in this tedious drama, I must have been rubbing my eyes for a nanosecond and missed it." Maybe Mister Ed isn't so bad...

Popular - The Complete Second Season You know, Shades and I actually watched some of this show before its untimely end and found it to be pretty funny, well-written, and dripping with pop culture sarcasm. Nothing I'd buy on DVD, mind you, but well-worth a rent or rerun on cable/satellite.

Sealab 2021: Season 2 Another show I've been meaning to check out.

Sweet Valley High - The Complete First Season Holy crap, this show was on for four seasons!!! Be afraid...

Xena Warrior Princess: Season 6 The final season gets released...

Finally, while this isn't a normal DVD per se, I refer you to this DVD: strongbad_email.exe Yes, a DVD set of all the Strongbad episodes thus far with bonuses. Don't know what the heck Strongbad is? Then click here and check it out!

March 4, 2005

"Leave with me now or I'll run amok."

Well, my cold has returned this week so I'm running in low-power mode, but I thought I could post just a bit...

First, a couple of web articles I found interesting:

Slate has a good writeup on the current DVD work being done by Warner Bros. with their classic catalog. The author refers to them as the new Criterion of the DVD world. Warners has some great work out there now and the comparison to Criterion is probably apt as they've been doing consistantly good releases at least with regards to picture/sound quality. One area that Criterion has always been good at is bonus material (they pretty much invented the "special edition"), more specifically the quality of the material. Not every Criterion DVD has bonus features, but when they put them on the disc, they're generally worthwhile, never filler. I own a number of the Warner titles mentioned in the piece, but haven't had a chance to evaluate the extras. However, the Roger Ebert commentary track on Citizen Kane is fabulous.

Wired has a good piece about the problems getting TV shows released that have music licencing issues. Check it out here

DVDFile.com has an early review of three new Fox noir titles (out on 3/15), including the long-awaited Laura, which can be found here

And DVD Savant takes a good look at the new DVD of Bambi