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April 28, 2005

"Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it."

Universal is finally re-visiting The Jerk with a new "26th Anniversary Edition" DVD which will finally present the film in widescreen with some bonuses. The previous disc was really lame. Steve Martin fans should be happy with this one.

Million Dollar Baby has an official street date: 7/12 as a 2 DVD set with the usual assortment of extras.

Oh yeah, Warners also has Kung Fu: The Complete Third Season set for 8/23.

And finally, DVD Savant has a good look at the new Criterion DVD of F for Fake

April 26, 2005

"Did Doogie Howser just steal my f*#@ing car? "

The end of a workday and a few extra minutes to blog about whatever comes to mind...

First off, the other night we watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle on DVD. We both liked it quite a bit, I perhaps a bit more than Stacie did. Perhaps I was just in the right frame of mind for this hybrid stoner-road flick (you could argue that they're one and the same), but I feel it was very well done with a string of jokes and odd situations that were consistantly funny for the most part. Granted, this film is not for everyone; I know several friends whom I'm quite certain wouldn't find it that amusing. But if you can deal with the language, bouts of crude humor, and the drug jokes, you just might enjoy it. The cast is really good, the screenplay pretty well-excecuted, and even if a few of the gags fall flat, the film moves along quickly enough to make you forget about them in short order. In a sense, this resembles a Kevin Smith film, but is, IMO better than most of his work to date. The film also has some interesting racial/social commentary and satire. I liked it enough that I might buy the DVD, which has some amusing bonuses, when it drops in price.

Before I sign off, have you ever stumbled upon random strangers' iTunes shared playlists? I've been writing this here on the U of MN campus where when I fired up iTunes on my laptop, it found more than a dozen other playlists. I always find it somewhat interesting to see what other people are listening to or watching so this is kinda fun. I don't know if they all knew anyone on the same network who had iTunes running would see and in most cases listen to (this feature can be turned on or off and is off by default) their playlists, but I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it. One of the lists I sampled had a lot of the same music that resides on my home music server. Since this was probably a student, it reinforces the slight illusion that I'm not as old and crusty (or crusty-but-benign ) as I think I am.

April 25, 2005

"I started at the top and have been working my way down ever since."

It's Monday...there are DVDs being released tomorrow, deal with it!

Airline: The Complete Season One Wow, it didn't take this one long to belly-flop onto DVD.

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Beaches Special Edition Not one of my favorites...hmm, an understatement?! But for those who like this one, this will be a nice upgrade over the plain DVD that was around before.

Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962) Like a number of other Doris Day films coming out this week, this one is part of a large box set for you fans...like my Mom! I gotta wonder about this one though: a late MGM Doris Day musical. Uh, OK.

Blade: Trinity All right, I thought the first film in this series was OK, but can we please be done with it now???

Boccaccio '70 (1962)

Calamity Jane (1953) Another Day title...the same DVD as was out before; don't miss this chance to own the musical that gave us the immortal song, "Deadwood Stage!"

Chop Socky: Cinema Hong Kong A supposedly good documentary on the genre.

Divorce Italian Style (1961)

The Doris Day Collection Another Warner box including, Calamity Jane, The Glass Bottom Boat, (Billy Rose’s) Jumbo, Love Me or Leave Me, Lullaby of Broadway, Pajama Game, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, and Young Man With a Horn. DVD Savant has a good review of the entire set here.

ER: The Complete Third Season

F For Fake The late Orson Welles film gets the Criterion treatment.

Fraggle Rock: Live By The Rule Of The Rock Another Fraggle collection.

The French Chef With Julia Child Before Food Network, there was this.

The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Highway to Heaven: Season One Or to somewhere else...

Land of the Lost: The Complete Third Season

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events This one's available in a basic 1 disc and expanded (extra features) 2 DVD set. I'm trying to decide whether to watch this first or read the book first....

Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Lullaby of Broadway (1951)

Monty Python's Graham Chapman - Looks Like A Brown Trouser Job

My Name is Nobody (1973)

The Pajama Game (1957)

Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)

Quatermass The 1979 UK Sci Fi show arrives here in Region 1.

Survivor: The Australian Outback - The Complete Second Season Oh, never mind...

The Waltons: The Complete Second Season

April 21, 2005

"The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt."

Our latest Netflix DVD viewing of note was Bend it Like Beckham. I don't need to waste everyone's time re-praising this film, but we both really liked it. One of the things I liked, besides the really good cast and thoughtful look at Indians living in the UK is that Jess' family, though difficult at times, wasn't just portrayed as a traditional "folks are too stuck in the past and don't understand" 2-D stereotype. They're well-developed characters done in a sympathetic and realistic way. The father's speech at the end is especially touching. The DVD was just fine and served the material well. I didn't sample the commentary track (director), but one of the features besides some International trailers (it's always interesting to me how films are marketed in different countries) was a feature called, ""Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi?" which featured the film's director, Gurinder Chadha demonstrating how to cook an Indian dish with her mother and aunt watching. Their "back seat" cooking was very amusing and if you buy/rent this disc, be sure to watch this feature. BTW, did you know that this same director is doing I Dream of Jeannie next year???

For anyone who's following the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray battle, there's this story that says Sony and Toshiba are in talks to try and combine their two competing formats. Let's hope they're make it happen.

The Onion has an amusing story about creative uses of the Tivo Wishlist. Check it out here.

DVD Savant has a good review of the new Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection that came out this week.

April 19, 2005

"We're the Veterinarians of the pets of the children of the children you never had."

A very short post today to mention a couple of things...

First, something I've been waiting for Fox to finally release for a while: The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Second Season on 7/26 (SRP $29.98). Extras will include audio commentary on 2 episodes (featuring Ed Asner, Gavin Macleod and others), featurettes and more. Since the first season was released a couple of years ago, it's about time.

Fox also has Lost in Space: Season Three, Volume Two on 7/19.

Paramount has Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Second Season on 7/26 (the previous release date changed). I love how they promote the show that they just cancelled by advertising the series finale on the DVDs for season 1 that come out next month. That ought to make the serious fans really happy. They've been doing similar promotion on UPN, "Hey Trek fans! We canned one of your favorite shows, but be sure to watch its dying gasp!" Oh well, more time for bad reality shows.

Paramount also has The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons 3 and a Halfish due on 6/28.

April 18, 2005

"Your cat can flush?"

Another week begins and we all look earnestly to tomorrow's raft of DVD releases...or something like that.

We recently watched a couple more DVDs over the weekend. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. We both really liked this one, like the other Charlie Kaufman films we've seen. The story actually works well and the cast is excellent. Don't let Jim Carrey's presence keep you from seeing it. He's very good and quite subdued, which is appropriate for the character. The DVD looked and sounded great and there are a number of potentially interesting bonus features.

Also up was The Stepford Wives (2004). This remake of the 1974 original, which is supposed to be not so great, definately has its moments and can be pretty amusing even if the plot (particularly the ending) doesn't always work. The satire of 1950s suburbia is really over the top, almost too much. The cast is really what makes the film worth watching, even Bette Midler who normally annoys me. I'd say overall that this is worth a rent, but don't go out of your way to see it.

And on to tomorrow's DVDs:

Birth Nicole Kidman is aparently good in this film, but most critics slammed the excecution of its "Ghost"-like story.

Captain Blood (1935) This is a good week for Errol Flynn fans as Warners is releasing a set containing some of his best films.

Blue Canadian Rockies (1952) Any Gene Autry fans might be glad to see this one...

The Courtesans of Bombay (1983) An early Mechant-Ivory production made for British TV.

Dodge City (1939) Flynn goes West..."Even going on a children's Sunday outing is not a safe thing to do..."

Dynasty: The Complete First Season Yikes!

Errol Flynn: The Signature Collection A box set containing Captain Blood, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, The Sea Hawk, They Died with Their Boots On, Dodge City, and The Adventures of Errol Flynn (a documentary exclusive to the set). All the films in this set are available seperately, save for the docu. Word has it that the films in this set have been very well done with loads of bonuses.

The Four Feathers (1939) A DVD Savant review of this disc can be found here.

House of Flying Daggers The DVD of this one is supposedly so-so picture-wise, but I'm still going to check it out. Maybe they'll re-issue this and Hero someday with better discs.

In Custody (1993) Another lesser-known Mechant-Ivory film comes out; this one with just Merchant directing an all-Indian cast.

Meet the Fockers The big release of the week, no doubt. I didn't think this was worth seeing theatrically, but it probably merits a slot on ye olde queue.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Collection: Volume 7 This set contains Episode 407- THE KILLER SHREWS (with short: JUNIOR RODEO DAREDEVILS), Episode 408- HERCULES UNCHAINED, Episode 410- HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN, and Episode 816- PRINCE OF SPACE.

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) More Flynn Funn

The Sea Hawk (1940)

That 70s Show Season 2

They Died with Their Boots On (1941)

April 14, 2005

"Skeletor to King Randor... come in, you royal boob!"

Another odds and ends post for today...

I've started watching the DVD sets of Star Trek: DS9 this week, a show I haven't seen for a while. I did catch the show when it first aired and followed it for a while before dropping it. I remember getting bored with it and I think it was on at a bad time...or something. A year or so ago I caught some of the shows from its final season and was impressed; apparently the show got a lot better. And, it got into long story arcs that didn't really happen on the other Trek series. In any case, I was interested in giving the show another shot now that it's easily watchable on DVD. After watching the first few episodes, I think the show is better than I remember or as Shades said, perhaps my Trek expectations have been lowered by watching Enterprise. Either way, it looks good so far and I'm looking forward to re-discovering this one.

In other DVD-related fun, starting on 7/12, the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe animated series will start to come out on DVD. Surely a nostagia trip for some.

Criterion says it's going to release Ran later this year. That would be really nice as I hear the existing DVD has a sub-par transfer. And this is a film that really benefits, like many Kurosawa films, from a good picture.

Warner has, on 7/19 a 3-disc Michael Palin: Himalaya documentary series (SRP $49.98), which will include over 120 minutes of unbroadcast bonus footage and exclusive pre and post-trip interviews. No word about Palin's previous docus for PBS, such as the Pole to Pole series.

And on 8/2, the studio will release The Thin Man Collection (SRP $59.92), a 7-disc set which will include The Thin Man, After The Thin Man, Another Thin Man, Shadow of The Thin Man, Song of The Thin Man, The Thin Man Goes Home, and the Alias Nick & Nora bonus documentary disc. And here's the cover:

thinman1.jpg

Finally, a couple of review links:

DVD Savant takes looks at The Corporation and The Professionals SE

An advance review of the House of Flying Daggers DVD (out on 4/19)

April 11, 2005

"Chambraigne: It's shampoo for your hair, and your brain."

Before I spew out the usual upcoming DVD list, I wanted to point out if any of you are interested in the new Major Dundee extended cut that just opened in LA/New York (it should be on DVD in a month or so), I've run across a couple of reviews: DVD Savant (one of his personal faves) and Salon.com. It sounds like while this new version doesn't fully restore the film to Peckinpah's original pre-studio-hackjob state, it does improve it by restoring some important scenes.

This week's DVDs (this page will list everything with pricing):

The A-Team Season 2 Wow, another 80's "classic"

All in the Family: The Complete Fourth Season Same deal as the previous seasons: bare-bones and feature-free. Isn't this a show that cries out for analysis...heck, it'd be interesting to get Norman Lear in on them.

Bad Education Pedro Almodóvar's latest hits DVD.

The Bob Newhart Show: The Complete First Season Another MTM-produced show gets on DVD.

C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979) Yes, another mediocre live-action Disney flick from the 70s gets on DVD. "A young man invents a robot dog that has super strength, x-ray vision and can detect crimes being committed."

Criminal

The Flower of My Secret (1995)

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: Vol. 1 Another Cartoon Network "Adult Swim" series gets released. I haven't seen this one, but it sounds pretty amusing.

Hawaii (1966) The James Michener epic. I'm curious about this one, given its high-powered cast.

Hotel Rwanda This was supposed to be good, even if it seemed to distill the Rwanda genocide down to a "story of a single hero" element. Probably worth a rent for Don Cheadle's performance alone.

The Jeffersons: The Complete Third Season The steady stream of TV season sets flows on.

Knight Rider Season 2 OK, so did you know that this is being re-made as a feature film? Yeah, yeah not too much of a shocker, but the fact that it will once again star David Hasselhoff is pretty funny. I watched the show when I was growing up, but have the feeling that it would probably be god-awful to watch now.

Magnum PI: The Complete Second Season It's 80s week, no doubt.

Ocean's Twelve I'm tempted to rent this one since sometimes it's good to watch a slickly-produced star-filled caper film.

Space Ghost Coast to Coast: Vol. 3 More "Adult Swim"

Suspect Zero I totally missed this one...anyone see it?

The Toxic Avenger: 21st Anniversary Golden Edition Tee hee...

April 8, 2005

"Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident!"

More odds and ends for the end of the week.

Warner should have the Million Dollar Baby DVD out on 6/28, no features announced yet.

They also have Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season on 7/26.

There's a bit more detail out for the upcoming (6/14) Jaws: 30th Anniversary Edition DVD. It looks like the new set will include the uncut version of the docu that appears on the current DVD and the film will, in addition to Dolby/DTS tracks include the original mono track not found on the old disc. Worth upgrading? Not for me, but probably worthwhile if you haven't gotten it.

Paramount is going to release The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Indecision 2004 on 6/28 (no SRP yet). The uncensored, 3-disc set will feature all the fake political news and coverage you've come to expect from the show, including all four episodes from the Democratic convention, all four episodes from the Republican convention, and the The Bush-Kerry Debate: The Squabble in Coral Gables and Election Night 2004: Prelude to a Recount live specials. OK, this stuff was really funny and I'm definately a fan of the show, but I just can't picture returning to it enough to buy it on DVD. Maybe if it had some content that wasn't aired...

MGM is doing a Throw Momma from the Train Special Ed. on 5/31 which should have a new transfer at least.

Now, those of you who loathe Will Farrell can tune out...

Shades and I watched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy on DVD. This film wasn't quite what I was expecting and could have been pretty bad. However, even though it was somewhat uneven, much of it was really funny and quite strange including a "rumble" with members of the rival newscasts. This ridiculous, but amusing scene reminded me a bit of a jousting scene in the movie Quick Change (1990), which is supposed to be out later this year on DVD. Like Elf, this was basically a good-natured story though a bit more twisted than the X-Mas film. Anyway, if you don't mind Will, I'd give this one a rent...and if you do, be sure to watch the bonus material; in particular, the music video where the cast performs "Afternoon Delight." Next on the Will F. list: Old School, which was suggested by our friend Laura....so it'd better be good! ;-)

April 4, 2005

"Quaffable, but not transcendent."

Ah, April. Warmer weather finally arrives and the upcoming Summer movies start their promotion machines. One that's coming early, on 4/29 and I'm looking forward to is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I have no idea if it'll be good, but I am somewhat optomistic as Douglas Adams wrote at least some of the screenplay before he died. As for this week's DVDs, here's what we've got of note and be sure to click here for a complete list/prices.

The Amityville Horror Collection All the Amityville you can eat...jeez, does anyone still find these silly movies compelling???

Bill Maher: Be More Cynical I'm not what you would call a fan of Maher's, but I did find his old show Politically Incorrect to be good sometimes before it was cancelled because ABC didn't like him going after the Prez. This DVD isn't from that show, but from a TV one-off he did in 2000.

Bonanza Town (1951) Not related to the TV show. It's nice to see the older titles continue to be released, even middling ones like this.

The Desperadoes (1943) IMDB user comment: "Better Than Average Western!"

The Ealing Comedy Collection (click the link for film details) Hmm, more stuff for the Netflix queue...

Elektra I'm sure there are some of the more rabid Jennifer Garner fans will go for this one...but here's a fun quote from Rottontomatoes: "A somehow stupider version of Mortal Kombat."

The Graduate (1967) I haven't figured out whether this is a new version of the old disc or just a re-print. I'll have to snoop around.

The Greatest American Hero Season 2 More nostalgia TV!

The Professionals SE (1966) A new SE of the Burt Lancaster western.

Queer as Folk Season 4

Sideways This one's supposed to be great so I'll be renting this at least.

Spanglish I've heard mixed things about this one and since I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler...but I still intend to see Punch-Drunk Love.

The West Wing: The Complete Fourth Season Damn, we haven't even gotten around to watching the 2nd and 3rd season sets yet!

April 2, 2005

"This show has more scenery than Yellowstone National Park!"

This morning I'm just doing another quick entry about stuff we've been watching. There isn't a lot of earth-shattering DVD news right now and not much new in the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD war.

It's always fun to see a film you aren't familiar with and have it be as good as this: The Bandwagon (1953). This is another example of the Freed Unit at MGM at the peak of its powers. Made just a year after Singin' in the Rain, this one is really in the same league if perhaps a notch lower then Singin'. If The Bandwagon lacks the great concept of Rain, it one-ups it in the ballet sequence, which seemed like an obligatory addition at this time, a trend set off by The Red Shoes perhaps. No offense to Gene Kelly fans, but this film might be better than An American in Paris (1951), another great Freed Unit film.

A few things I really liked about The Bandwagon: It gave us the song, "That's Entertainment", which is an old standard, but I'd forgotten how funny some of the lyrics are. Cyd Charisse (hey, did you know she acted in a film called Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood?!) turns out to be a great partner for Fred Astaire. Speaking of Fred, besides the great performance, I was amused at the jokes in the film at his expense. Besides the character he plays being a has-been Hollywood musical star (Astaire was in semi-retirement at the time), there's a scene at the beginning where his costumes from earlier hits are being auctioned, such as his "Top Hat", and the interest is virtually non-existant. Another funny joke on Astaire is a reference to an earlier film called, "Swinging Down To Panama", a play on the real Astaire film, Flying Down to Rio (1933). The supporting cast is excellent including Jack Buchanan, another film star of the 1930s. The musical numbers are great, some like "Triplets" are odd but really funny. The "show" they put on at the end of the film seems to have no plot whatsoever, perhaps a jab at musicals in general, with the songs seemingly having nothing to do with each other at all. So give this one a rent if you like musicals. BTW, the DVD is apparently really good, but we caught this one on cable.

DVD Savant has a good review of the DVD here. He also wrote an interesting review of Brigadoon (1954) which just had a DVD re-release. Ardent fans of the film may or may not want to hear what he has to say, but in general I think he gets it right. This one is better on the stage and besides containing a couple good musical numbers, doesn't really work for me. Part of the problem is that by 1954, MGM was having financial problems causing productions like this to have their budgets slashed. Filming this one on location wouldn't have corrected everything, but the fakiness of the production kind of belies the production quality, which was definately a step down from earlier MGM films. And if you are a big fan of the film, the new DVD is worth getting even though they don't include the seperate "flat" version of the film. This one, like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, made the same year, was shot in both Cinemascope (new at the time) and conventional flat becuase most theaters didn't have the gear to project the new anamorphic format. Apparently the seperate versions are slightly different as they were actually different takes.

April 1, 2005

"Let us be crooked, but never common."

Since we've been on a Preston Sturges kick, we watched The Lady Eve the other night. Palm Beach Story was really good, but this one is great. Roger Ebert writes about this film better than I could here.

Next up: Unfaithfully Yours (1948), which isn't on DVD yet but I have a copy taped from cable TV.

Those of you who use Netflix are probably familiar with sites that have you assign ratings to films and suggest titles based on your ratings. I just started looking at Movielens which is run by people here at the U of MN. Check it out. I find it to work pretty well and anyone can use it.