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April 24, 2006

"Daddy, I got cider in my ear."

Greetings everyone. So even though no one I know rushed out last week and snatched one of the first HD-DVD players, apparently others did as they're pretty much sold out in retail for the time being. Apparently, the pircure quality is great and the units do allow for full hi def via component video connections for those of us using older HDTVs. The downsides of this first "early adopter" unit are:

1) The thing has to boot up when you turn it on; about a minute or so and you can't do anything including open the drawer while it's doing this. This makes some sense as I hear this machine is a Pentium 4/2.4ghz PC running Linux. Toshiba hasn't gotten this stuff on integrated chipsets yet so I'd call this a cobbled together attempt to get the product on the market as soon as possible.

2) The remote is reportedly crappy. To make a cutting edge video product at $500, some corners were cut; here's one of them.

3) The machines take 30 seconds to begin playing once loaded, see above.

4) There have been some glitches while playing; more of that early adopter stuff rearing its head.

So the good news is that when it works and if you can live with the early unit's shortcomings, the picture quality is outstanding; clearly superior to standard DVD. I'll be curious to see how the early Blu-Ray machines do. The other thing to consider is the mostly lame assortment of titles they have coming. It looks like better titles will begin to ship later in the year, but for right now, it's mostly "demo discs" (meaning films that are flashy and look good in home theater dealer demonstration systems...also makes a mean trade show display). A list of what's been announced (many have no dates yet) for both HD formats can be found here, sorted by format and studio.

On to this week's DVDs:

Æon Flux

Apollo 13 The Ron Howard film gets yet another release, this time on HD-DVD; at least this is a watchable demo disc!

The Betsy (1978) From the IMDB comments: "What a great trashy movie!" 'Nuff said.

Casanova (2005)

Casualties of War: Extended Cut

Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory Another Warner box of classics. This one tackles musicals; they're all available seperately and haven't been on DVD before. The box includes: Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Three Little Words (1950), Summer Stock (1950), and It's Always Fair Weather (1955). DVD Savant has a review of It's Always Fair Weather here with the tag, "Recommended for viewers with a low tolerance for musicals."

Crumb: Special Edition This one gets a special edition including a commentary by Roger Ebert.

Elevator to the Gallows (1958) Criterion releases Louis Malle's first film.

Guys and Dolls: Deluxe Edition This is a re-do of a previous DVD that was bare-bones and used an old film transfer. The new disc nets a new 16x9 'Scope film transfer and some bonuses.

Law and Order: Trial By Jury - The Complete Series One of the fifty Law and Order shows that didn't make it...

Match Point Woody Allen's latest actually got some good reviews outside of the ones who like everything he does...and this time he's not acting in it and it's even set somewhere other than New York!

The Passenger (1975) A French film starring Jack Nicholson...

The Patriot: Extended Cut My brother in-law will love an even longer version of this film!

The Replacement Killers: Extended Cut What is this, "Sony Extended Cut WeeK?!"

Tristan + Isolde (2006) It's gotta be good, right? From the director of Waterworld?

Windtalkers: Director's Cut Oh never mind...

April 17, 2006

"...a fool is a man who pays twice for the same thing."

Hmm, that quote should be applied to the DVD business, no?

This is a pretty quiet week in DVD land save for the fact that it marks the beginning of the high def DVD format war. Yes, this week Toshiba ships its first HD-DVD player, the HD-A1 ($499) and there are even a few movies available: The Last Samurai, Million Dollar Baby, Phantom of the Opera, and Serenity. Here's what the disc case will look like:

V55349570_.jpg

The Blu Ray gear and equipment will be showing up shortly. Where does this lead? Well, I know a few will go out and jump right in, but most of us will wait a while to see how this all shakes out.

For the 99.9% of you who don't give a crap about it, here's this week's list of new DVDs

Breakfast on Pluto

The Buccaneers (1995 BBC mini series)

The Complete Mr. Arkadin Criterion assembles a special edition 3 DVD set of the mangled Orson Welles film with two distinct versions and a bunch of supplements. DVD Savant reviews the set here.

Doogie Howser, MD: Season 4 Doogie's still stealin' my car...

Event Horizon Special Edition

Hostel

The Laurel And Hardy Collection (TCM Archives) Another L&H box. This one contains superior films: The Devil's Brother (1933) and Bonnie Scotland (1935) and bonuses.

Sahara The Michael Palin series.

Moonstruck Deluxe Edition Fans of this film can now get it in widescreen.

Mrs Henderson Presents

Remington Steele: Season Three

Sahara The Michael Palin series.

The Sentinel: The Complete First Season

April 10, 2006

"Don't take away my Telemundo!"

I've been down with a cold for the last few days, give or take so I'm running in low energy mode. Let's see how far I get this week...

We had some friends staying with us over the weekend and, as shocking as it may sound, we watched a DVD. We ended up watching a DVD I hadn't seen in a long while: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, which I've had in the Dregs collection since it came out in the Fall of 2000. The disc still looks and sounds great, not something I would say for a lot of DVDs that were released 5+ years back, and has some pretty decent bonus features including some fun deleted scenes and a commentary I've yet to check out (the film is still very funny too). I see current DVDs that have far worse material than this one. I can see why New Line hasn't re-done this particular DVD; it would be tough to beat their first attempt. Of course if this movie had been released by Universal, it would have been reissued half a dozen times by now.

So on to this week's fun (as always, check this site for a complete list):

The Bob Newhart Show Season 3

The Dark (2005)

Deep Blue (2003)

Farscape: Starburst Edition 3.3

Fun with Dick and Jane

In Living Color: Season 5

The Laurel and Hardy Collection Another box set of L&H films, this one from Fox: Great Guns (1941), Jitterbugs (1943), and The Big Noise (1944). These late-career films are generally considered to me pretty poor and are examples of what Hollywood churned out during World War II; check out the plots and you'll know what I mean. However, if you're a true L&H fan, this is a good thing since the films either weren't available at all on video before or only on VHS, getting them on DVD for $24 or so is a good thing.

Mission Impossible: The Tie-in Yes indeedy, Paramount has blessed us all with new SE's of the Mission Impossible films all ready to promote the upcoming third film. You can even buy 'em by themselves or together in a box...oh goody!

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze (2004)

An Unfinished Life (2005)

Shades and I just got new road bikes so we're off buying DVDs for a while now...maybe I'll surprise y'all and write about it like she did. And by the way, DVD Savant has a good review of Carole Lombard: The Glamour Collection which came out last week.

April 3, 2006

"Beulah, peel me a grape."

Greetings from sunny Minnesota! Yes, Spring is really here and what better way to celebrate than buying more DVDs!

Or you could go outside....but if you must, here's this week's new DVDs:


9 to 5 Special Edition A new updated version clocks in (sorry, couldn't resist).

Blue Thunder Special Edition

Brokeback Mountain Do I really need to talk about this one...probably not and since I haven't even seen it yet, why would you want to read it?

Carole Lombard: Glamour Collection: This week Universal releases three sets containing five films featuring a single actress. Each set has the films spread over two DVD discs with little to no bonuses. The good part: they films look OK and each set is a steal at ca. $20 each if you're a fan. Man of the World, We’re Not Dressing, Hands Across the Table, Love Before Breakfast, The Princess Comes Across, and True Confession.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Disney serves this one up as a basic one disc or loaded two disc edition...what, no Bible Study Edition?

Crash: Special Edition Or should it be called, "Best Picture Tie-In Edition"?

Dawson’s Creek: Season 6 Season Six? Ouch....

Knight Rider: Season 4 Ditto

Mae West: The Glamour Collection This Universal 5'er gets you: Night After Night, I’m No Angel, Goin’ To Town, Go West Young Man, and My Little Chickadee.

Marlene Dietrich: Glamour Collection Another Universal 5 film set. This one gets you Morocco, Blond Venus, The Devil Is a Woman, Flame of New Orleans, and Golden Earrings. DVD Savant has a review for this set here.

Magnum, P.I.: Season 4

The Mel Brooks Collection A collection consisting of Mel's Fox films: Blazing Saddles, History of the World Part 1, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, To Be or Not to Be, Twelve Chairs, and Silent Movie. All but Saddles are Fox films and High Anxiety, To Be or Not to Be, Twelve Chairs,Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Silent Movie have either been out of print for a while on DVD or never released. The DVD of Blazing Saddles is an older bare-bones version, not the newer 30th Anniversary edition.

Thank God It's Friday (1978) The disco relic makes it to DVD.