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June 26, 2006

"You'll never kill anyone if you go around thinkin'."

Greetings all. This is a pretty light week, as far as major hits and big classic re-releases so let's get right to it with this week's crop of DVDs (I'll thow some HD stuff in at the end just for grins):

Annapolis

Blue Collar Comedy Tour - One for the Road

Columbo: The Complete Fifth Season

Commander In Chief: The Inaugural Edition - Part 1 This now-cancelled show, which some wingnuts thought was an attempt by "liberal" Disney to promote Hillary Clinton's 2008 run, is being released in two sets adding up to one season; this one contains the first ten episodes. The good part about this is that apparently the show went south in mid-season. However, I would think that anyone who is fond enough of it to buy it would want the whole thing. It's probably an excuse to get extra money for it.

Failure to Launch (2006)

Family Affair: Season One There was a time when I was growing up that this show was in heavy circulation on TV (reruns, I'm not that old!). And then in the 80s, it dropped out of sight. Like many things I watched as a kid, it's probably better not revisited.

Madea's Family Reunion

Monk: Season Four

OLYMPIA -The LENI RIEFENSTAHL Archival Collection (1937) I think this marks the first complete release of this on DVD. It's funny, when I looked at it on Amazon, it suggested Brokeback Mountain as an alternative!

Project Runway: The Complete Second Season

Ultraviolet

Why We Fight (2005) DVD Savant reviews this one here.

Yellowbeard (1983)


And here's the hi-def roundup for this week:

Crash (Blu Ray)
Lethal Weapon (HD-DVD) Man, I've been wanting to see this in HD since...uh, what was I talking about???
Lord of War (Blu Ray)
The Punisher (Blu Ray)
Saw (Blu Ray)
Terminator 2 (Blu Ray) OK, this one makes sense.
Ultraviolet (Blu Ray) Wow, they managed to squeeze out a hi def title the same day as the DVD.

June 21, 2006

"Pabst Blue Ribbon is what you'll drink tonight!"

So last night, Shades and I were out running errands (hunting for a new alarm clock for her) and happened to wander into my former employer and site of a number of mis-spent years, Best Buy. I rarely buy things there anymore, but there we were. And what did I see? Samsung's new BD-P1000 Blu Ray Disc player. Yes, this week Blu Ray hit the market, without a player by format-backer Sony, which is odd. But there it was, the Samsung machine sitting on an endcap. The machine looks cool, as many early-adopter machines do, and there are even a handful of titles to go with it. Needless to say, I am not going to buy into either HD format for a while, even though part of me really wants to get one of these babies. It reminds me of the early days of DVD when few people had them and the format's future was far from certain. Each week brought new title announcements: what great and not-so-great film would hit the format next? Heck, when I bought into DVD, a couple of studios hadn't even released titles on the format yet. Makes me feel old...maybe I'll post about Betamax next!

Of course the two big differences between then and now are that there are two competing formats and an open question as to whether or not the public really cares about an HD disc format. DVD can look mighty fine on an HDTV (some people think DVD is HD) so I have to wonder if, assuming one of the two formats wins out, HD on disc will be relegated to niche status. A laserdisc for the new century, if you will. That would be sad since HD does look fantastic and I want it to succeed. It's just too bad that the idiots had to release two formats, and according to initial reports, formats that aren't quite ready for prime time. The first HD-DVD players have had glitches and the new Samsung Blu Ray machine seems similarly half-baked (methinks Sony was smart to delay their player, which was supposed to be available now). There are also reports of replication problems with the higher density Blu Ray discs (needed for longer films or lots of extras). Clearly both were released before they were ready. In the end, the technical issues will be worked out, but right now I wouldn't want to bet on either format. We'll just have to see how it plays out. In the meantime, this all makes me feel better about not being able to enjoy HD discs just yet. Someday...

June 19, 2006

"Look, Buster, don't you get overstimulated with me!"

This week, no rants or abnormal blatherings (the weather is too nice for that); on with this week's DVDs:


Charlie Chan: Volume One Fox begins issuing the 1930s Chan films which haven't been on DVD before. These are generally considered the best Chan features with Warner Oland , who was Swedish, playing Chan. The films are not available seperately. It includes: Eran trece (1931, a Spanish language version of the early lost Charlie Chan Carries On shot on the same sets with a different cast), Charlie Chan in London (1934), Charlie Chan in Paris (1935), Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935), and Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935).

Clark Gable: The Signature Collection The march of classic Warner-issued box sets continues. These are all new to DVD and available by themselves: Dancing Lady (1933), China Seas (1935), San Francisco (1936), Wife vs. Secretary (1936), Boom Town (1940), and Mogambo (1953).

Eight Below Would this be called the "Feel-Good Dog Movie of the Year?" Uh, maybe not...

A Fine Madness (1966) Sean Connery plays a character who is, "a frustrated poet and a magnet for women..."

The Hills Have Eyes (2006) Did I mention they're also alive with the sound of music? RUN!!!

I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)

The King Of Queens: The Complete Fifth Season

Lady & the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Better hurry up and get this one...it's available for a limited time only...oh wait, that's every Disney DVD.

The Loved One (1965) Hey, Jonathan Winters is in this!

Married… With Children: The Complete Fifth Season

The Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Fourth Season

NewsRadio: The Complete Fourth Season One season left on this one.

NYPD Blue: Season 04

Syriana

What's Eating Gilbert Grape This film gets the "collectors edition" treatment.

And, this week marks the debut of the other high definition disc format, Blu Ray Disc. There's one machine on the market to play them and one Sony PC. Here's the list of movies available on the format:

50 First Dates Gee, I always wanted that one in HD...?
The Fifth Element This has always been a title that AV geeks use to show off high end systems, so it's only proper that it comes out first. Still, if I never see this film again it'll be too soon.
Hitch Huh?
House of Flying Daggers Now that one makes some sense.
The Terminator Yeah, I can buy that (well, not literally).
Underworld: Evolution Is it twice as funny in HD?
xXx Uh, yeah...

So y'all be nice and not trample each other trying to get these choice titles...

June 12, 2006

"We are but poor, lost circus performers."

Hello again all. Before I begin, I'd like to do a rant that has nothing whatsoever to do with DVDs: giant jerks in cars.

Last night Shades and I were biking home from my Summer gig at the park along Minnehaha Parkway.

It was just after dark.

We were riding with head and tail lights.

It is perfectly legal to ride in the streets (and this is a winding parkway with a speed limit of 20 mph, there are often bikes on this road).

Some asshole in a 199x POS Ford Taurus Wagon (licence plate gxl 382) began by tailgating me, gunning his "engine." We were over on the right side and he had ample opportunity to go around us, which he did not avail himself of. We pull up at a stoplight and move over to the side to let him go around. He sits his ass there and honks his horn until Shades gives up and goes forward; he follows with me behind him. He drives along as close as he can to her while I keep up from behind getting ready to call the cops as I'm wondering if he's going to run her down or something. She makes a left turn (with the proper signal, natch) and he blows by her yelling out crap about the bike path.

To quote Full Metal Jacket, "What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?" I have two theories:

1) He has some road rage issues and thought he was "scaring" her off the road.
2) He is a giant jerk.

OK, so that's kind of the same theory! So, Mr. GXL 382, if you're reading this, BITE ME!

Sorry, back to the usual stuff: this week's DVDs:

16 Blocks Also available in HD-DVD.

Aquamarine

Beavis & Butthead - The Mike Judge Collection, Vol. 2 Another best-of collection.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) The psuedo-sequel to The Valley of the Dolls, this DVD of the camp classic includes a commentary with screenwriter Roger Ebert.

Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season

Coach: The First Season

Dave Chappelle's Block Party R and unrated versions available...gee, which one is going to sell better???

Dead Zone - The Complete Fourth Season

Dharma & Greg: Season One Why would you need to buy or rent this when it's on every hour on TV in reruns?

Frasier: The Complete Eighth Season

Happy Gilmore (HD-DVD) OK, what? Is this really something that was crying out for hi-def?

Jim Henson's the Storyteller: The Definitive Collection

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2005)

MacGyver: The Complete Sixth Season

Medium: The Complete First Season

The Pink Panther (2006) Another Steve Martin disappointment...

The Princess Bride Yes, this makes the third DVD version of this film. Granted, it's more warranted than endless reissues of American Pie, but this one seems to have most of the same features as the last one. There are a few new featurettes and true fans can get milked by purchasing both the Dread Pirate Edition and the Buttercup Edition! Both have the same material inside. INCONCEIVABLE! Granted, the "Battle of Wits Triva Game" sounds amusing, but I'd say if you already have the previous SE, I'd call this a skipper.

The Quiet Earth (1985) DVD Savant reviews this one here. And speaking of DVD Savant, he did a great review of Dumbo that I thought nailed the film on the head. Go read it here. Really!

The Rockford Files: Season Two

Valley of the Dolls (1967) "...a hard partying, out-of-control rollercoaster of sex, booze and pills."

The World's Fastest Indian Did anyone see this?

June 5, 2006

"Quiet, gentlemen. Reverend Rodent's gonna address you."

Now that we're finally into Summer and everyone's outdoors doing things other than watching DVDs, you'd think the release rate would slow to a crawl. Well, not this week! There are quite a few reissues and older titles new to the format these days since the holiday 2005 blockbusters are pretty much out. If any of you are interested in what's being released on HD-DVD (not that I know anyone with a player), an ongoing list (it also has the titles announced for Blu-Ray) can be found here. So on with this week's DVDs

À nos amours (1983, Criterion)

Air America: The Complete Series The short-lived series makes DVD.

The Batjac Suspense Collection Did you know John Wayne owned a production company? Batjac Productions (a short summary of its history can be found here) was mainly set up for Wayne to hold onto the right of his films and, somewhat like Apple Corps, is now a licencing entity run by the Wayne estate. This box set is made up of non-Wayne films from the company which haven't been on DVD before ( some of this stuff wasn't even on VHS): Plunder of the Sun (1953), Track of the Cat (1954), Ring of Fear (1954), and Man in the Vault (1956).

Black Hawk Down: Extended Cut Eight extra minutes are added to this version of a film that is probably long enough for most.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid: Ultimate Collector's Edition Universal reissues this one with more extras and a new film transfer.

Charmed - The Complete Fifth Season Another season of Chaaahhhmed!

Cheyenne: The Complete First Season

Dazed And Confused Criterion does the Linklater film.

Dumbo: Big Top Edition The Disney classic gets a new DVD version with a few new bonuses and a new film transfer. The word is that the bonuses are mostly the same as the previous DVD and the picture is somewhat better. It appears that Disney didn't do the full digital cleanup work they've done on some of the more "important" classics, so this one still looks like film, unlike Bambi or Cinderella. That's fine by me since this is closer to the way the film looked in 1941. Soooo, I have the previous disc and don't think it's worth buying again; at least until an HD version comes. I have a soft spot for this movie...

Entourage - The Complete Second Season

Firewall This one is also available on HD-DVD.

F Troop: The Complete First Season

Fried Green Tomatoes: Anniversary Edition What a great way to celebrate an anniversary: add an extra seven minutes...I'll have to try that on my anniversary!

Glory Road

Home Improvement: The Complete Fourth Season

The John Ford Collection Warner keeps on cranking out the box sets. This one contains five John Ford RKO and Warner films that haven't been on DVD before and are only currently available in this box: The Lost Patrol (1934), The Informer (1935), Mary Of Scotland (1936), Sergeant Rutledge (1960), and Cheyenne Autumn (1964). DVD Savant has a very good review of the set here.

John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection This box set contains eight Wayne/Ford films, some of which were on DVD before, but are now redone as special editions. These are all available seperately: Stagecoach (1939), They Were Expendable (1945), Fort Apache (1948), 3 Godfathers (1948), The Long Voyage Home (1948), She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949), The Searchers (1956), and The Wings of Eagles (1957). And of course, DVD Savant tackles this box here.

The Missing: Extended Cut OK, so it's turned out to be "John Wayne Extended Cut Week."

NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service: The Complete First Season

Running Scared (2006)

Gösta Berlings saga (1924) Greta Garbo's breakthrough film gets a restored new DVD.

The Syrian Bride (2004)

Underworld: Evolution (2006)

The Wild Wild West: The Complete First Season