After last week's big boom of Bond on Blu-ray, this week's looking pretty light on the DVD front. There are no grand-slam gotta-haves, although any young kids you know might wave a copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth at you next time you both visit the video store. Our own den mother, Sue "Mom on Film" Harvey, tried out that new DVD's 3-D glasses with her young adventurers, and her report of the results is in the pipeline.
Sue will also provide us with her family's perspective on the new DVD of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, so stick around for that. Mom, Film.com, and apple pie -- now that's good American values for the week before an election.
Sue and Cargill, by the way, kick off our Videoween series here and here by giving us their suggestions for Halloween viewing. More suggestions are coming throughout the week from our other writers, so keep checking back and filling up your own list of trickin', treatin' favorites.
"See if you can guess what I am now."
Also new this week is a 30th Anniversary edition of National Lampoon's Animal House. Thirty years? Whoa. Yes, it's great, and you can't blame National Lampoon for wanting to keep on reminding us that they once, long ago, put their brand on good movies. Still, here's hoping that the seemingly endless parade of new editions of this title is now over. Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough ... the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
"Art house" favorites available this week include Tuya's Marriage and Ron Fricke's beautiful, meditative Baraka. About the new Blu-ray edition of Baraka, Film.com writer Glenn Erickson -- at his DVD Savant page -- has nothing but praise for its
"stunning Hi-Def transfer of a film that still fills the American Cinematheque for infrequent 70mm showings. Even if one isn't prone to connect with its transcendental philosophy, Fricke's meticulously photographed film may be the best-looking Blu-ray yet to surface. ...
[It's] "the kind of movie you don't want to turn away from -- every new shot is a revelation, from a contemplation of a snow monkey sitting in a hot spring, to a vista of junked Air Force bombers neatly arranged across an endless desert. Savant's favorite -- the interior of a Mosque (?) that appears to be tiled with a million diamonds."
DVD Talk's Randy Miller III also has good things to say about Baraka's new two-disc DVD edition.
New from the tube
A new weekly feature launches today under Film.com's TV tab. It's writer Tim Appelo's TV on DVD roundup. This week he's all about the new releases of "NewsRadio, Cult Hits and The Flintstones." Thanks, Tim!
Stuart Saves Christmas?
Also over at Glenn's site, guest writer Stuart Galbraith IV has a revealing and welcome editorial titled Bond Blu-ray Trouble? It's about the frustrations some Blu-ray consumers have experienced with discs that don't appear to be quite yet up to the technology we're being asked to purchase.
"Blu-ray hard- and software companies are really underestimating a palpable frustration factor. When you insert a disc and it doesn't play and you don't know why, fiddling with technology you're unfamiliar and uncomfortable with -- and uncertain that what you're doing is even going to fix the problem -- this is a HUGE turn-off. It's also incredibly time-consuming and even costly. I doubt Fox is going to pay for your gas when you have to drive back to Best Buy to return the 007 discs, or for my time when I'm on the phone to my retailer."
Following Stuart's piece are some response emails from readers, correspondents, and Stuart himself. If you're new to Blu-ray, or are considering making the leap as a holiday splurge by the end of the year, check it out.
As for me, my Blu-ray experiences have been pretty solidly positive. I experienced only one show-stopper, Iron Man, and that got fixed when Paramount sent me a replacement disc I didn't even have to ask for. I've been keeping up with my firmware upgrades, which has turned out to be very easy even for a non-techgeek guy like me. Shoot, I don't even know how the toaster works. (And it's true, I'll never get tired of that picture of Daniela Bianchi.)
A hard day's M. Night
Spotted at the Livejournal of award-winning author Matt Ruff (whose recent hit novel Bad Monkeys would make a cool movie, and I suspect someone in Hollywood is looking at it the same way) -- Things we said while we watched The Happening:
Me: Hmm, kicking the front door of a house full of scared rural people. I predict this kid is about to get a shotgun blast to the chest.
Lisa: Ooh, good call!
Me: Interesting that they opened the door to shoot him. I expected them to shoot through the door. I wonder if that's the surprise plot twist... Huh, they shot the other kid, too. I thought they'd only shoot one of them. I wonder if that's the surprise plot twist.
Oh, and it looks like one of Matt's commenters added a video from the RiffTrax take on the same movie:
"I like to watch."
Some recent DVD schedule announcements:
Hamlet 2 on DVD only this Dec. 23. Rock me, sexy Jesus.
The House Bunny on DVD, Blu-ray, and PSP on Dec. 23. You know, for kids!
Pineapple Express on a single-disc Unrated DVD, a two-disc Unrated Special Edition, and an Unrated Blu-ray Disc on January 6. That day will also see The Wackness on DVD and Blu-ray, and a Michael Powell DVD double feature of Age of Consent and Stairway to Heaven.
Yes! Being There -- A 30th Anniversary edition on DVD and Blu-ray, February 3.
Well, he did have that thing for blondes...
Via CinemaRetro.com: Did Alfred Hitchcock make one of his famous cameos in drag in North by Northwest? Lee at CR chalks it up as a "Paul is dead" redux.
Also at Cinema Retro:
Photos of discarded Indiana Jones vehicles left to rust at Disney World.
The best James Bond movie as voted by Cinema Retro readers. Surprise! It's On Her Majesty's Secret Service ("the one with that other guy"), and by quite a margin. As a long-time champion of the film, I say bravo even if I'm also partial to Goldfinger and From Russia With Love.
Eternal Placeholder of the Spotless Site
Michel Gondry's website sure is ... well ... here. Note the "DVD of all new videos and surprises" that's "Not in stores." There are no links to anything materially manifest yet, but I'll keep you posted on updates as they appear in my dreams.
"All we want to do is eat your brains. We’re not unreasonable, I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes." *
PopMatters celebrates the 40th anniversary of George Romero's seminal Night of the Living Dead with a series of "astute and discerning analyses and appreciations of a wide variety of top-notch writers from all over the world. Foremost, we proudly begin our celebration with a brief introduction especially written by Romero for this collection."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott also gives the film a Critics' Picks nod on video.
(* With thanks to Jonathan Coulton, as always.)
And while you're at the Times, click over to Dave Kehr's Critic's Choice page on the new Criterion Eclipse DVD collection, Kenji Mizoguchi.s Fallen Women. "...this great Japanese filmmaker showed his dedication to those women driven to the margins of society -- actresses, geishas, ordinary prostitutes -- by the hypocrisy of men."
"The film takes on a vomit-like color scheme, with sour greens and yellows dominating the palette."