Commentary Tracked: Around the Web on the DVD Beat

The DVD and Blu-ray pages for the upcoming home video release of The Dark Knight are now up at Counting down to December 9....

Digital Bits reports that:

DreamWorks and Paramount have set Tropic Thunder for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/18. Available will be a single-disc DVD (SRP $19.99), a 2-disc DVD Unrated Director's Cut ($24.99) and an Unrated Director's Cut Blu-ray ($29.99)....

Digital Bits also details the reported DVD extras and give us a glimpse of the box art.

You're Putin me on, or From Russia with "judo CHOP!"
Image courtest Cinema Retro

Cinema Retro has some sharp words about a new direct-to-video instructional film that (so we've been led to believe) will probably rear its head in Alaska before it reaches the rest of us:

"After you've virtually demolished democracy in your country, propped up a puppet government to allow you to continue to rule after your term has expired, invaded a neighboring nation, set up trade deals with terrorist nations and orchestrated the assassination of some pesky investigative journalists, what's a de facto dictator to do? How about releasing an instructional judo DVD? Think we're kidding? Well, Vladimir Putin thinks he's got the right stuff in front of the camera. ... Putin has released a DVD that shows the buff 56 year old teaching the right stuff to kids, as well as adults."

I expect to see one hell of a judo fight showdown between Daniel Craig and Bad Vlad in the next James Bond sequel. Daily Mail Online has more on this one.

At her popular eponymous film blog, Self-Styled Siren begins a much-commented post with this nugget about the Reagan-era Cold War paranoia thumper Red Dawn (Patrick Swayze, Lea Thompson, and Charlie Sheen save America from Putin's Commie Judo Ninjas) on DVD:

"David Plotz of Slate has written a DVD review of John Milius's 1984 evergreen actioner that has Jonah Goldberg of the Corner and Dirty Harry really, really, really irritated. ... The Siren once named this movie as a Howling Dog for the Ages, and by any aesthetic standard that's what it is, but no movie that retains such a hold on people after the span of almost a quarter-century should be completely dismissed."

"One of us! One of us!"

A site called The Unusual Times ("celebrating all things freaky and odd") is giving away "an incredible set of our 50 Favorite Films Featuring Freaks and Oddities on DVD (actually, there are 54 films on our list so lucky you)." If you're freaky enough (and over 21), sign up to enter at the site by October 31st. "May the biggest freak win!"

Speaking of freaky: On Five, the blog for the Criterion Collection, asks, "What does the music video for Justin Timberlake's 'SexyBack' have to do with the Criterion Collection?" And, whoa, they have an answer! writer Glenn Erickson (at his DVD Savant site) gives his thoughts on the Blu-ray edition of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

"Many of its highly polished featurettes and docus are in HD; between them every aspect of Crystal Skull is elaborated in full detail. All of course celebrate the movie, Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg from a LucasFilm-approved point of view, and indeed the making-of pieces overflow with interesting behind-the-scenes material....

...What's in store for the next Indiana Jones adventure, which has already developed into more than just a rumor? Perhaps Indy will dodge dinosaurs in Spielberg's Jurassic-era Lost World franchise, or accompany an expedition to the South Pole, to find a base for alien flying saucers?"

Our take on the Blu-ray edition is here. Other spins of Indy 4 are at DVD Beaver, DVD Talk (that guy likes the movie a lot), and Rope of Silicon.

Glenn also took a look at the new Blu-ray edition of John Carpenter's The Thing in high-def.

"Universal's Blu-ray maximizes the impact of John Carpenter's overachieving creature feature The Thing. The Canadian and Alaskan scenery is breathtaking. The elaborate sets for the research station and the stunning special effects -- all concocted before the advent of computer generated imagery -- only improve with the added detail of 1080 lines of resolution."

Meanwhile, writer MaryAnn Johanson, in her FlickFilosopher blog, gives us the jolly good crumpets on her DVD-buying spree during her recent trip to the U.K., during which she attended the theater to catch Patrick Stewart and dishy David "The Doctor" Tennant in Hamlet. She has not yet sent her colleagues here at our souvenir gifts, so we're making up stories about her trip that include the terms "star trekking," "sonic screwdriver," and "knickers."

Indies scent exposure

Over at our second favorite hangout, Cinematical, three high-profile indies new to DVD this week, XXY, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and Y.P.F (Young People F**king) receive strong recommendations. We heartily agree.

Downey and out

Robert Davis at Daily Plastic, on Richard Attenborough's Chaplin, says that "Attenborough probably could have reanimated Chaplin from blood, mosquito, and amber, but instead he did the next best thing: he hired Robert Downey Jr. for the lead role, and this actor clearly put something more than just heart into the job, something more like elbow grease and I assume significant practice." Davis doesn't care for the movie at all, but acknowledges that Robert Downey, Jr. "makes the film more than a regrettable footnote; thanks to his out-of-band contribution, it's a regrettable footnote with an asterisk that reads 'outstanding performance.'"

I'm a fan of Downey's performance in Chaplin too, and rate the film, for all its biopic flaws, somewhat better than a "regrettable footnote." Still, it would be keen if Attenborough -- or someone -- got his wish of remaking it.

Here at, Glenn was the first to preview the new three-disc edition of Orson Welles' Touch of Evil. Now everyone is catching up, such as the folks at Rope of Silicon and DVD Beaver.


Home Theater Forum gives a good breakdown of the new DVD of Mongol, easily the best Mongolian epic coming-of-age, rise-of-an-empire movie I've ever watched twice in the theaters.

Details, details

DVD Beaver takes surgically precise looks at the new discs of Psycho, Icons of Horror - Hammer Films, Young Frankenstein (Blu-ray), The Visitor, and more.

Hitch'ing a ride

We really like the new Psycho DVD too, along with its handsomely matching mates, Vertigo and Rear Window.

Also lifting the coffin lid on Hammer's neat vintage Icons of Horror collection is our own Glenn "DVD Savant" Erickson.

Puttin' on the Ritz

Speaking of the new Young Frankenstein Blu-ray disc, I bought mine the day after it hit the stores and am here to testify that it is outstanding. (Now, who wants my previous DVD edition?) The gang at Rope of Silicon like it too.

Target realignment

Greencine Guru on the John Cusack topical satire War, Inc., out this week: "It's really too bad; War, Inc. could've been a contender, at a time when we could certainly use some well-targeted war satire. Maybe one will come along."

MaryAnn's impressions of the War, Inc. DVD are on their way, so stick around.

The final Great Escape

About the recent Special Edition of Cool Hand Luke, Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer notes that it's "not without dramatic irony that Warner Brothers has released a commemorative DVD edition of one of Paul Newman's signature films virtually simultaneously with his death." Lee does allow, though, that this DVD is "a first class tribute to a first class actor."

Red pill, Blu pill

Who else is talking about The Ultimate Matrix Collection on Blu-ray? Rope of Silicon,, Home Theater Forum, DVD Beaver, and DVD Talk, for starters.

Color me Disney

Says Dave Kehr in Tuesday's New York Times:

"With its two-dimensional figures and flattened perspectives, the Walt Disney classic Sleeping Beauty imitates the look of an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages, but its bright, buzzing colors -- aquamarine, chartreuse, magenta, goldenrod -- are unmistakably those of midcentury America. It's as if a Book of Hours had been crossbred with an Amana appliance catalog. Those colors practically soar off the screen in the new Blu-ray version of Sleeping Beauty that Disney released last week, making it the first of this studio's perennials to appear in that new, high-definition format."


That reviewing machine Sean Axmaker named Standard Operating Procedure his DVD of the week.

The Passion of the Stein

What's there to say about the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, due out on DVD next week? Ask's Eric D. Snider, where at his website his review of the movie ranks high in his Most Comments stats. (158 and counting.) We expect the DVD to further stir the coals a bit.

It was a very good year

Oh, and speaking of our man Eric, his new series under the "DVDs" tab, Eric's Time Capsule, has taken off like Doc Brown's DeLorean. In a similar vein, CineBeats -- "Chronicling a woman's love affair with '60s and '70s cinema" -- reveals "My Top 20 Favorite Films of 1968." My own list would look a whole lot like hers. I rewatched Petulia just two nights ago, and have that Night of the Living Dead poster up in the Temple of Dude for Halloween. How many of Ms. CineBeats' selections are in your DVD collection?