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October 27, 2006

"Somebody... down there... likes me!"

Greetings from Arizona!

Yes, the blog is very late this week due to the fact that Shades and I have been on vacation. Now we're down in Phoenix and I have some extra time to get back online and do the DVD thing. Tuesday, while you were all wondering what new DVDs were coming out, I was here:

johns.jpg

Yes, Monument Valley, where all those great (and not so great) movies were shot. An amazing place in a series of amazing places we've been this week. So, without further ado, let's see what stuff came out this week.

The Addams Family - Volume One The old 1960s sitcom arrives on DVD. Even though they're being released in volume sets, this is essentially the first half of season 1. DVD Savant has a good review of the set here (the choice quote from the review is, "When he smiles he looks like a zombie version of James Coburn," referring to the character Lurch).

An American Haunting

Astaire & Rogers Collection, Vol. 2 Warners releases another box set of classic Astaire/Rogers films, which are available seperately: Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Roberta (1935), Carefree (1938), and The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939).

Bewitched - The Complete Fourth Season

Body Heat - Deluxe Edition The 1980s film neo-noir gets the SE treatment.

Creature Comforts - The Complete Second Season

The Facts Of Life - The Complete Third Season I just know you were all waiting for this one...

The L Word - The Complete Third Season

Monster House I know at least one person who's been waiting for this one: my Mom!

Nacho Libre Most reviews were pretty bad for this one, but I've heard a few people that thought it was really funny.

The O.C. - The Complete Third Season We really got into the first two seasons of this show, but have heard that it went south in the 3rd year. Can it pull itself back up in season 4???

SCTV - Best of the Early Years A collection of episodes from the pre-NBC years of the show.

Slither (2005)

Sweetie (1989) Director Jane Campion's debut film gets the Criterion treatment.

That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection Parker and Stone's short-lived series (8 episodes) makes it to DVD just in time for the elections!

Why We Fight (1943-1945) Frank Capra's WWII propaganda series is apparently in the public domain so there are multiple DVD versions out there. I can't find any reliable reviews of the new version put out by "Alpha Video," but the version distributed by Goodtimes Video (an established public domain outfit) is supposedly okay, though like most public domain stuff, from dubious sources. I don't know who owns the original materials to this series, but it would be nice if they were preserved as historical documents. The Goodtimes version can be found via Amazon here.

October 19, 2006

"One woe doth tread upon another's heels so fast they follow."

Just a quick one for today. According to The Digital Bits, the long-awaited Kenneth Branagh Hamlet (1996) is finally being prepped for DVD release...in 2007. Nice to hear they've been burning the midnight oil to get this one out. At least they say that have the film transferred now, so maybe...soon....now...

October 16, 2006

"That is an SUV; Humans ride in them because they are slowly losing their ability to walk."

Good Monday all. I'm back from another brief trip to SD, which was fun if exausting. The release of new DVDs marches on so let's see what we have for this week:


Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season Two This TV series was, IIRC the idea of Lew Wasserman, who was Hitchcock's agent for a while. Hitchcock had very little to do with the show, other than the introductions he filmed. Still, the show is pretty well-regarded (at least the first few seasons) and Hitch made a ton of money on it (he pretty much owned the whole thing).

American Dreamz

Big Love - The Complete First Season "Let's be big for a change!"

Billy Wilder Speaks I caught this on TCM a couple months back and highly recommend it for film fans. It's a made-for-German-TV film that really covers a lot of interesting ground in Wilder's career. DVD Savant has a good review of it here.

The Break-Up

Charmed - The Complete Sixth Season Yes, even more Chahhhmed!

Clean, Shaven

CSI: NY - The Complete Second Season

Deadfall (1968)

Feast

Icons of Horror: Boris Karloff A box set of lesser-known Karloff films (unavailable on DVD before): The Black Room (1935), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Before I Hang (1940), and the black comedy The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942).

La Femme Nikita - The Complete Fifth Season

The Magus (1968)

Murder, She Wrote - The Complete Fourth Season

The Omen (2006) Fox is also offering a box set with all the Omen films...ooh, sign me up!

Over the Hedge It's time for more CG talking animals.

Peeper (1975)

Reds (1981) The Warren Beatty epic gets its first DVD release.

Sólo con tu pareja (1991)

That 70s Show - Season Five This show did have its moments, but should have been pulled off the air a while ago.

They All Laughed (1981)

October 10, 2006

"Here, take a slug out of the mug."

Sheesh, it's already Christmas season in retail, as a trip to a local mall just demonstrated. And, there's holiday stuff in this week's list of new DVDs. I'm not sure I'm ready, but here we go again!

12 and Holding

Art School Confidential Terry Zwigoff's latest.

The A-Team Season 5 Jeez, this one went for five years???

Bad Santa: Director's Cut So this will make the third version of this film. Apparently the director wasn't really happy with the theatrical or extended (AKA "Badder Santa") version.

Black Rain Collectors Edition Boy, I'm glad they did a SE version of this gem.

Brideshead Revisited: 25th Anniversary Collector's Edition

The Butterfly Effect 2

Carlos Mencia :No Strings Attached

Click You know, I might have given this one a rent if Adam Sandler wasn't in it...

Everybody Hates Chris - The First Season

The Fox and The Hound: 25th Anniversary Edition

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties I hope Bill Murray was well-paid for this...

Holiday Inn - Special Edition They finally did a SE of this, one of my family's favorite silly holiday films. I haven't heard whether the new DVD is better looking or not, but the old one had zero bonus features. However, unless this one has a sing-along track (Abraham!), I'll probably have to take a pass on it.

Hollywood's Legends Of Horror Collection One of two Warners boxes this week; the titles in this one aren't available seperately...The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), Doctor X (1932), Mad Love (1935), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil Doll (1936), and The Return of Doctor X (1939). I believe all of these are new to DVD. DVD Savant has a review of the set here. Check it out for descriptions of these bizarre films.

Land of Plenty

Motion Picture Masterpieces The other Warner classic film box of the week. These MGM literary adaptation films are available by themselves and again, weren't on DVD before: Treasure Island (1934), David Copperfield (1935, the one with WC Fields), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Marie Antoinette (1938), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

Numbers Season 2

A Prairie Home Companion I still think they missed a golden opportunity by not casting my brother Rob!

Scrubs Season 4

Waist Deep

October 6, 2006

"Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit."

Guess what, good old region coding is coming to HD! Yes, that nice anti-consumer scheme that DVD has had since the beginning is going to be stuck on HD-DVD next year (Blu Ray already has it). Read about it here We all know why region coding is such a pain at home, but at least there it's relatively easy to get your hands on a gray market player that can play discs from all regions (or punch in a particular code on your player's remote to hack it). However, as you all probably know, I deal with a lot of A/V issues here at the U of M and one of the nagging problems we have is faculty who want to use video material on DVD that happens to only be available outside region 1 (North America). This is often language studies, of course, but other classes that use video content run into this as well. So, they ask us to install region-free players in the classrooms so they can, you know, teach. Even though it's a complex question as to whether buying these players is legal, no one to my knowledge has been sued or prosecuted for buying or selling these machines. Nonetheless, the lawyers who represent the U haven't really been able to give us their blessing to provide them. Faculty are invonvenienced and we get yelled at. So, I'm so glad to see that they've continued this great tradition into the HD realm. Thanks.

Oh, and some of you might be interested in this bit of Star Trek news regarding the next film. Check it out here...the main thing is that Berman/Braga are definately outta there.

October 5, 2006

"Whoa! This isn't woodshop class?"

So what the heck is going on these days besides all those new DVDs I wrote about on Monday?

Well, let's see, Tivo introduced its long-awaited Series 3 DVR, which supports CableCard and HD (either over the air or via cable). Since I have had an older Tivo, this is pretty sweet, except for:

1) The price: $800 for the box alone. To use the thing, you have to subscribe to Tivo service (and that doesn't include the dough you pay out to the cable company). Since I've got a Tivo with a lifetime subscription, I can trade up to the new box for $200. So, I'm out a grand for this thing (and anyone without an existing lifetime sub will pay more).

2) Tivo To Go, which allows you to transfer shows off the box onto a PC (they don't like Macs, natch) over your home network, isn't supported on the Series 3. I like this feature since it allows me to archive programs. The main reason is that the studios don't want pure digital copies transferred easily onto PCs (the older Tivos are analog-based). Sure, it can probably be hacked, but if I'm shelling out $1,000, I ought to at least get all the functionality of the machine I've had a few years. This could change, but I'll be surprised.

3) This is the definition of an early adopter product if I've ever seen one. No doubt the prices will fall and the capabilites will rise. And there are those new product bugs.

So, as much as I love HD, I don't think I love it enough to make this kind of investment to watch TV in high def. I'd sooner invest in an HD-DVD or Blu Ray deck. However, one of the strong points of the new Tivo is its capability to record over-the-air HD, which is free. If I didn't care about cable channels, this thing would get me set for a long time with no monthly fees. Anyhow, I'm thinking the time isn't quite right for me to jump, as cool as this machine is.

Oh, and tomorrow night, the new season of Battlestar starts up. I'm very curious to see where things go at this point. I've really enjoyed it so far so don't screw it up guys!

We've also been watching Studio 60 and Gilmore Girls. The former is very good so far and the latter, just OK. I still like it, but think it's running out of gas.

And one more thing, I was reading this article in Wired about the guy who's taking over Bill Gates' job. It's all very fun/interesting, but this quote gave me pause, "Cell phones, BlackBerrys, and PDAs are now arguably the primary way we check email..."

I really don't do that. I know a few who have their Blackberries permanantly attached, but at this point I use my cell for a phone, don't have a Blackberry, and have a PDA with a cracked screen. You know what, I haven't missed the PDA. Maybe I'm just an old/crusty/benign guy who is SO stuck in the dark ages schlepping around a computer that he uses for email (among other things). Then again, maybe this article is full of it and I'm not so primitive. I just never really liked checking email/web surfing on the PDA (and my cell phone would be even worse). And I don't watch movies on my iPod. OK, I'll shut up now and go read Slashdot...

October 2, 2006

"The seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake."

The bigger DVDs begin to come out, now that we're into October, so let's see what we have this week:

21 Grams: Collector's Edition

Body Double: Special Edition Another go-around for the DePalma 80s film.

Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection Vol. 2 Warners churns out another box set. Everything in here is available by itself: The Maltese Falcon: Three-Disc Special Edition (This new DVD includes a new transfer plus the two previous film versions of the book), Across the Pacific (1942), All Through the Night (1942), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), and Passage to Marseille (1944).

I Am a Sex Addict Wow, they didn't waste any time making a movie about Mark Foley!

The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition It's been a while since they had this one on DVD (late 1990s) so here's another chance to pick it up. The new set has more extras (don't remember much of substance on the old DVD) and a new film transfer (now in 16x9). However, the reviews on the picture quality have been mixed...but who knows when they'll reissue this one again.

Medium - The Complete Second Season

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Extraordinarily Deluxe Edition This will be the third DVD so far of this one. Most of the bonuses are the same, but there's a new transfer that corrects the subtitle problem from the previous DVD where the "Mønti Pythøn ik den Hølie Gräilen" is left out. There's also a soundtrack CD included as a bonus. Looks nice, but since I bought the last two versions, I'll sit this one out.

Scarface: Platinum Edition Another Universal re-do...which seems to be timed, if I'm remembering right, with the release of the new Scarface video game. Eh, why not?

Stargate SG-1 - Season 9 Wow, this one does go on...

Thank You For Smoking This reminds me of the old PSA-style ad reel that Landmark Theaters (say it with me kids, in a snooty voice, "your year-round film festival!") here in MN used to run before their films...and it starred RoboCop(?)...tee hee.

Three's Company - Season 8 The swan song of this long-running sitcom.

X-Men: The Last Stand This one comes out in 1 or 2 DVD versions with bonus goodies. You can also buy all three films in X-Men Trilogy