Weekly Release Roundup
DVD is a bitch goddess it seems. One week, she gives us a buncha
buncha. The next... nada.
Well, it doesn't look like a very impressive week we got going
here. Only a couple of really good titles, and some things for a few
of us out there who like a little bit of pop culture flava.
Oh, well. There's plenty of good stuff coming in the weeks ahead.
Since there's no reason to single any one title out this week,
let's go in order.
Bill thinks that this love story, set in a world of suffering,
bites off more than it can chew, but presents itself as a good
enough DVD. Read his thoughts
the Mat: Ringside Special Edition
This re-release of the classic wrestling documentary comes with
some new commentary and featurettes. Brad thinks it's okay.
Check out his review
From Miramax/Buena Vista comes this Stephen Frears thriller
that deserves more attention than it initially got. Hopefully
this will get rectified on DVD. Chiwtel Ejiofor stars as an
illegal immigrant working in London who gets sucked into a very
nasty situation when he discovers a human heart clogging up a
hotel toilet. Working the late shift as the hotel's night
porter, Ejiofor's character has a past that makes him a prime
target for the bad guys, as well as a savior for the always
delightful Audrey Tautou (star of Amelie).
Give this one a second chance. It's pretty damn good.
The DVD features a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer and
serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 (nothing special, but nothing
disruptive either). Extras are light with a spotty, gap-filled
commentary track featuring Frears, a fluffy behind-the-scenes
featurette and a handful of Miramax DVD trailers. Pick this one
up for the movie.
Central Park Media, home to some great Japanese anime sends up
a valentine made of poo. Honest to goodness poo. But, to quote
my favorite convicted felon: "It's a good thing."
Doggy Poo is from Korea
and centers around the life-affirming story of a little dog poo
who learns that all things have a place on this Earth: even poo.
The animation is this 30-minute film is stop motion and it's not
the best in the world, but it works. The full frame transfer is
okay. There are a few artifacts here and there; leaving the
picture slightly digital looking. Color representation is good
though. Sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 for both the original Korean
and a dubbed English. Extras include a making of that is as long
as the film itself, alternate angle storyboards for the entire
film, a pilot in English, galleries, trailers, a text bio of the
filmmaker Jung Saeng Kwon and a music video for the end credit
theme. This film is also available in stores with its soundtrack
on a CD. If you're looking for a children's film that's a little
different, don't look any further. This will do the job.
Halle Berry is Dr. Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist working with
some of the darkest, most twisted minds movies have to offer.
One night, on her way home from work, Dr. Grey blacks out and
the next thing she knows, she's inside the hospital as a
patient, where she learns that she killed her husband (Charles
Dutton) with an axe. But did she. This Dark Castle film (House
on Haunted Hill, Thirteen
Ghosts and Ghost Ship)
really serves up an interesting tale with some nice jumps and
bumps. Although not a great film, it's a good one and one that
should please many on DVD.
The picture and sound quality from Warner is incredible. The
anamorphic transfer is luscious (there is a full frame disc
available separately) and the Dolby Digital 5.1 is creepy as all
Extras include a nice commentary track with director Mathieu
Kassovitz and cinematographer Matthew Libatique discussing the
making of the film, that really bad video of Fred Durst singing
"Behind Blue Eyes" with Berry and the trailer. If
you're looking for a fun scary film, Gothika
won't hurt you...
...but Honey might.
Jessica Alba is a sweetheart. God bless her. But this film is
awful. Honey Daniels is a bartender/sales clerk who dreams of
one day being a great choreographer. She's got the looks and the
moves, and once she gets discovered it all blows up big time for
her. But is success all its cracked-up to be? Sure, why not.
Honey is cliché,
like a movie that should have been made in 1986 but wasn't. Alba
is cute, and the film looks good. But is it worth your time? No.
Not even on DVD. The disc features an anamorphic widescreen
transfer that does the job along with the Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtrack. Nothing to criticize and nothing to write home
about. Extras include commentary with director Bille Woodruff
which is funny at times, but doesn't save the disc, some
outtakes, a fluffy making-of, an instruction video to learn how
to dance, a set of videos (one with its own making-of) and some
deleted scenes. I don't think Honey
could have been any better than this, and if you like dance
films or A Star is Born/Glitter-styled
films, then you might like this one - but probably not much.
From Miramax comes this controversial film about a convent in
1960s era Ireland that took in troubled or
too-pretty-for-their-own-good girls and forced them into slave
labor as laundry women. This film focuses on three girls and
believe it or not, is a story. The Catholic Church didn't like
it much, but it's actually a very good film. Sound and video are
very good with anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1
sound. The only extra on the disc is the British documentary
that inspired the film. Running about 50-minutes, it features
interviews with survivors and archival footage. It's rough
stuff, but makes for a good disc.
Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel became legendary director
Sam Peckinpah's last film, and even though the film was a
disappointment, the DVD from Anchor Bay is not. In fact, it's an
intriguing use of DVD as film history tool. Not only does it
present the film in luscious video and sound quality (anamorphic
widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, 2.0 and mono as well as
DTS 6.1 - all of which sound incredible), but the Bay also
serves up the original "director's cut" version of the
film (pulled from what looks like a VHS tape) in full frame.
That's in no way a slight to the film quality, by the way. This
is probably the only way we would be able to see this version of
the film, so we'll take it anyway we can get it.
You'll also find a very informative and entertaining commentary
track with not two, not even three, but four Peckinpah historians,
discussing the film, his career and the director's process. And for
those wanting to hear what the actors and production team have to
say, there's also a fascinating 78-minute documentary included,
entitled Alpha to Omega. Also
look for a full stills gallery and the film's theatrical trailer.
Although not a great film, this DVD really does its job preserving
the film and its history for us. Anchor Bay has done Peckinpah and
his fans proud with this one.
Why? Why would you re-release a film on DVD and not update the
transfer? Ask Buena Vista that question, because this re-release
of Ron Howard's re-imagining of Kurosawa's High
and Low features the same non-anamorphic transfer
that was on the original disc. The sound is good though, and the
extras make it hard to turn all you nice folks off to the disc.
With a nice commentary track by Ron Howard and a handful of
deleted scenes, it's already a pretty good selection. Throw in a
featurette where the cast and crew discuss the themes of the
film and an outtake montage and we have a disc worthy of
updating the original release, but not by much. Too bad.
More from Universal this week: The Rock stars in this fun
little flick about a "retrieval expert" sent to pick
up the son (Seann William Scott) of his boss, and getting
himself mixed up bad with Christopher Walken and good with
Rosario Dawson. Another "not great but good" release
this week, Rundown is
loads of fun and looks good on DVD. Presented in a nice
anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1, you won't feel bad
watching this one in your home. Extras are pretty packed as well
with two commentary tracks (one with director Peter Berg and
Rock, the other with producers Marc Abraham and Kevin Misher), a
gaggle of featurettes (on the stunts, the locations, action set
pieces, Walken and a entertainment news magazine spoof), deleted
scenes and an Easter egg. The Rundown
is campy fun and at least worth a rental.
Every fan of DVD is a fan of film. And I believe every fan of
film loves shorts just as much as they love long-form. There are
some really great stories that can be told under 30-minutes, and
DVD has been a mixed bag for the exploitation of short films.
There have been many attempts to get them out to us, and not all
worked, but I'm always hoping one hits it out of the park. I
don't know if this disc will do the job, but I'm crossing my
Shorts! is a collection of
15 award-winning shorts from around the world, compiled by the
Colorado Film Foundation and their Film Festival Collection DVD
label. There are a lot of great little films here, but what's
nicer than just having these films in our homes is the fact that
we can hear the filmmakers personally discuss each of their
films in-depth. Every one of these films contain at least one
commentary track where the filmmakers discuss the inspirations,
the production and the life of a short filmmaker looking to make
their big break. It's a very nice look behind. The films
themselves all look great. Most are full frame, but there are a
few in anamorphic widescreen. It looks like the producers of
this disc went out of their ways to get the best masters they
could find for these shorts and it pays off nicely.
Additionally, information about the films, awards they win,
festival showings and such are updated on the
This is definitely a disc worth hunting down. If you don't find
one in your local shop, this set is available for purchase at
Film Festival Collection website.
20th Anniversary Edition
Tom Hanks as a lovable lug. Darrah Hannah young and hot. John
Candy alive. Ron Howard trying hard to entertain. All of these
elements came together like magic in this modern day fairy tale.
Hanks plays Allen Bauer, a guy who meets the girl of his dreams.
Problem is: she's a fish. Well, not really a fish, but a
mermaid. This is a really great little film, and thankfully,
it's a great special edition. Not only does it look and sound
pretty darn good on DVD (remastered anamorphic widescreen and
redone Dolby Digital 5.1), but it's a helluva nice special
edition. First we're treated to a commentary track with Howard,
producer Brian Grazer and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo
Mandel. It's a lively time filled with stories both personal and
production related and enough John Candy worship to choke a
horse. It proves to be a very fun time. There's also a new
making-of documentary with new and archival interviews, audition
footage of Hanks and Hannah and some trailers.
Spash is a very cute time,
and worth picking up on DVD.
Also available this week:
Robert Downey Jr. stars in a remake of the wonderful BBC
Singing Detective, a young Darth Vader stars in
Glass, the original Obi-Wan stars in
Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the hilarious television series
Richard Pryor Show hits home and the animation classic
narrated by Ringo Starr:
That's it for this week. Thanks to all that wished me well from
last week. We'll be back in seven.