Interviewed at Home Theater Forum, Redman discusses the present and future of home video
Oscar-nominated documentary producer and director and soundtrack archivist Nick Redman doesn't just know movies, he knows the business of movies.
Earlier this year, Redman and business partner Brian Jamieson (another industry veteran with impeccable qualifications) launched their own DVD label -- Twilight Time -- with a unique business model. Their releases, licensed from Fox and now Sony, are offered in limited run batches and sold exclusively through Screen Archives, the biggest distributor of CD soundtrack recordings in the U.S. Their first DVD releases arrived ---- and their debut Blu-ray releases, licensed from Sony's Columbia Picture catalogue, arrived just a few months ago.
Redman was interviewed for Home Theater Forum earlier this week and his comments were illuminating. Not just about the details of Twilight Time but on home video in general.
"Given how huge DVD was and how much money the studios were raking in hand over fist in the late 90s and early 2000s, right up to 2007-2008. I never thought the business would decline to the degree that they would, in a sense, prefer to outsource to a third party. But that day has come and it’s come in spades, because I don’t see the situation ever reversing."
His comments on the pricing and distribution of DVD and Blu-ray is enlightening and the discussion on the board following the interview continues the debate on the future on physical media and the business of DVD and Blu-ray in the age of streaming video and digital download.
"I think that home video, the physical media, is going to be like the soundtrack business became in the 90s, which is when the major labels got out of soundtracks, and the future of releases depended on niche labels to carry the entire weight of that small world. And I think that DVD and Blu-ray particularly is going to devolve to a third party world while the studios concentrate much more on the digital future: downloading and streaming and beaming it into your house directly. Physical media is coming to an end, which is why we called the label Twilight Time. I mean that was the joke: it’s Twilight Time. The sun is setting on the world of physical media. This is what it’s about. This is the last go-round--this is the end of home video as we have known it up to now."
Coming on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in the upcoming months: "Picnic," "Pal Joey," "Bell, Book and Candle," "Bite the Bullet," "Major Dundee," and "The Big Heat."
Plus Jean-Jacques Beineix's 'The Moon in the Gutter' and the surreal 1959 'Santa Claus'
The acclaimed "Buck" (IFC) is a documentary profile of Buck Brannaman, the real-life horse trainer who inspired "The Horse Whisperer." The film is "beautiful, thoughtful and a look inside a world few of us know," observes MSN film critic James Rocchi, but ultimately the film "works less as a discussion of how to ride and more as a discussion of how to live." Features commentary by the filmmakers with Buck Brannaman and deleted scenes.
There are Christmas horror movies and Christmas comedies but no Christmas film as weird as "Santa Claus" (VCI), the 1959 Rene Cardona-directed holiday fantasy where Santa Claus takes on the devil. That's right, horns and everything. K. Gordon Murray imported this oddity from Mexico, dubbed it into English and ran it as a family matinee for unsuspecting kids. VCI's Blu-ray features both the American and original Mexican versions of the film, along with commentary by K. Gordon Murray historian Daniel Griffith, a making-of featurette and other supplements.
"The Moon in the Gutter" (Cinema Libre), Jean-Jacques Beineix's follow-up to "Diva," is a neo-noir starring Gérard Depardieu and Nastassja Kinski. Film critic Roger Ebert described the film as "a sumptuous, dazzlingly photographed melodrama that becomes, alas, relentlessly boring" in his 1983 review. The Blu-ray debut features "Mr. Michel's Dog," the debut short film from Jean-Jacques Beineix, as well as a video interview with Jean-Jacques Beineix conducted by Tim Rhys and a still gallery.
Plus more Dirk Bogarde and British War Cinema
"Looney Tunes Super Stars: Pepe le Pew" (Warner) features 17 cartoons starring Pepe le Pew, the Maurice Chevalier of animated skunks who refuses to let a little body odor cool his romantic ardor. Features the Oscar-winning "For Scent-imental Reasons" and "Dog Pounded" with co-stars Tweety and Sylvester, along with 14 animated shorts making their home video debut. Some of these are fine cartoons, but M. Le Pew is one of the more limited characters with a one-track mind and familiar routine. His shorts are best sampled in rotation other Looney Tunes characters.
"The Complete Doctor Collection" (VCI) collects all seven films in the hit medical comedy series begun with "Doctor in the House" (1954), starring Dirk Bogarde as a serious young medical student in the company of a few not-so-serious fellows. The film became the biggest British hit of 1954, thanks to a mix of collegiate humor, romantic antics and the then-fresh setting of med students in a teaching hospital, and solidified the matinee idol status of Bogarde as the intent and naïve Simon Sparrow, a studious young man nervous in the ways of romance and reluctantly pulled into the shenanigans of his buddies and roommates.
It spawned six sequels and this set collects them all (previously available singly). Bogarde stars in the first three: "Doctor At Sea" (1995), where the young doc signs on to a cruise and flirts with Brigitte Bardot (in her English language debut); "Doctor At Large" (1957), with Bogarde's Simon as a full-fledged doctor and Pavlow and Sinden reprising their roles from the first film; and "Doctor in Distress" (1963), Bogarde's last turn as Dr. Sparrow. Michael Craig takes the lead as Dr. Richard Hare in "Doctor in Love" (1960), with Leslie Philips as his medical partner Dr. Tony Burke (it's Burke and Hare, get it?), and Phillips takes over as the nurse-chasing Dr. Gaston Grimsdyke in "Doctor in Clover" (aka "Carnaby, M.D.) (1966) and back again as Burke in "Doctor in Trouble" (1970). Cast members came and went and came back again, often as new characters, through the run of the series, which slid into silly sex comedy as it marched through the sixties. James Robertson Justice, however, is a constant throughout as Dr. Lancelot Spratt, more familiarly known as Sir Lancelot to the student body, and Ralph Thomas remained aboard as director to the finish. There are photo galleries on each disc and commentary on five of the seven films. However, this set repackages the same non-anamorphic widescreen presentations of the latter five sequels from the earlier single-disc releases. The full review of the series is on Videodrone here.
And there's more of the British leading man in "The Dirk Bogarde Collection" (VCI), which features "Penny Princess" (1952), a lightweight comedy from Val Guest; "Simba" (aka "Mark of Mau Mau") (1955), a thriller about the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya with Bogarde as a British colonialist out for revenge when his brother is murdered by the black guerillas; "Campbell's Kingdom" (VCI), a 1957 drama about a dying man who travels to Canada to spend his last months searching for oil on land he inherited from his grandfather, in "Agent 8 ¾" (VCI), a 1964 spy spoof made in the early years of Bond-mania. The latter two are directed by longtime collaborator Ralph Thomas, who steered him through the "Doctor" series.
"The Rank British War Collection" (VCI) collects four World War II dramas, made during and after the war by some of Britain's top talents. Anthony Asquith ("The Importance of Being Earnest") directs "The Way to the Stars" (1945), starring Michael Redgrave and John Mills as pilots in the air war. Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins star in "The Malta Story" (1953) as British soldiers who go on the offensive to stop an invasion of Malta. "Above Us the Waves" (1955) stars John Mills and John Gregson as two of the sailors manning an experimental four-man mini sub in a mission to stop a German battleship. North Africa is the setting for "Sea of Sand" (aka "Desert Patrol") (1958), starring Richard Attenborough and Michael Craig as two of the soldiers on a mission to destroy a German fuel depot. All previously released individually on DVD.
Debuting on DVD this week is the 1956 "Reach For the Sky" (VCI), starring Kenneth More as a pilot in RAF who survives a leg-crushing accident and is determined to return to duty. Directed by Lewis Gilbert, the film with the BAFTA for Best British Film. The DVD features a photo gallery and the trailer.
And for gorheads there is the horror comedy "Chop" (Vivendi), the directorial debut of Trent Haaga, writer of the cult horror film "Deadgirl."
Plus David Cross is 'Todd Margaret' and 'Archer' is back for secret agent silliness
Created by Oscar-winner Neil Jordan, "The Borgias: Season One" (Paramount) chronicles the rise of the family dynasty that amassed tremendous power and wealth in Renaissance-era Italy through political intrigue, blackmail, bribery, murder and rampant corruption. Videodrone's review is here.
Also from Showtime comes "Shameless: The Complete First Season" (Warner), the American incarnation of the British dramedy relocated from Manchester to South Chicago. William H. Macy stars as Frank Gallagher, the perpetually drunk single father of six kids and Emmy Rossum is eldest daughter Fiona, who juggles multiple jobs to raise the kids in his absence. It's not that he's run off. He's just not around. Or passed out those rare times he is home.
Frank is a Chicago Irish reprobate who spouts a lazy line of sloppy libertarianism, confused conspiracy theory and crude cynicism, whatever serves his immediate purpose. But he clearly doesn't believe in anything apart from getting his next drink, which he funds by scamming disability payouts and doing a little light thieving. It's up to Fiona to make the rent, the electric bill, the groceries, with the help of siblings who step up to help out where dad fails to come through.
The show flits between treating Frank as a lovable drunk with incorrigible antics and a worthless waste of space the rest look after out of family duty. And just when you think they couldn't do worse, the mother who abandoned them without a word almost two years ago returns to prove otherwise. But there are far more screwed up people in the this series – adults and kids – than the Gallagher family, at least the kids, who have pulled together to take care of each other. And so what if Fiona's boyfriend (Justin Chatwin) is a car thief with a double identity? He's the kind of guy who steps up to look out for the kids in a way dad would never even consider. It's not your traditional portrait of family values, but it works here.
12 episodes three discs on DVD and two discs on Blu-ray, plus a substantial collection of supplements. There is commentary on two episodes (including the original pilot), two featurettes (one on adapting the British show in an American context, the other an overview of the show and its characters) and a lively, unrated conversation about sex with the four co-stars you definitely want hear from on the subject.
David Cross stars in "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Series One" (MPI) as an office temp who tries to bluff his way through a promotion but… well, read the title. He's promoted to UK sales director by his blustery, equally incompetent boss (Will Arnett) and sent to England to sell a North Korean energy drink that has been banned in most parts of the world. Originally created for IFC by Cross and Shaun Pye, a British TV producer, the show melds the two comic sensibilities for a culture clash comedy of brash, brainless Americans blundering through Britain. Six episodes on a single disc, plus an extended version of the first episode, commentary on every episode and a substantial collection of featurettes and interviews.
"Archer: The Complete Season Two" (Fox) continues the adventures of Sterling Archer (code name: Duchess), the mama's boy of a secret agent who has worked his way to the top of the spy game with a combination of arrogance, recklessness, hard-drinking, womanizing and nepotism. The made-for-FX animated series is an espionage spoof of international intrigue, cutthroat office politics and raunchy humor and it's become one of the channel's cult hits. This season, he becomes a father and discovers more about his own childhood than he'd like to remember. 13 episodes plus new supplements on both DVD and Blu-ray. The third season begins on FX in early 2012.
"Jersey Shore: Season Four Uncensored" (Paramount) brings the crew back to Seaside, NJ, for 12 more episodes of TV that it very, very bad for you, plus supplements.
"Happiness Is… Peanuts: Friends Forever" (Warner) features the TV special "You're In Love, Charlie Brown" plus an episode of "The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show" with five vignettes.
"Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs: Collector's Edition Vol. 1" (VCI) features 17 episodes of the 1980s anime series from Japan, imported and dubbed for American TV.
Plus 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,' 'Tuesday, After Christmas' and 'Love Crime'
"Brighton Rock" (MPI), the second screen version of Graham Greene's novel, moves the tale of petty criminals and brutal gangsters up to the mid-sixties, where Sam Riley (taking the role of Pinkie, the pathological young hoodlum played by Richard Attenborough in the original) unleashes his brutal schemes. "I know the novel, and as dark as this film is, I believe it hesitates to follow Greene into his dark abyss," concludes film critic Roger Ebert. "It is about helplessness and evil, but isn't merciless enough." Scripted and directed by Rowan Joffe (son of director Roland Joffe), it co-stars Andrea Riseborough as an innocent waitress charmed by the calculating criminal, Andy Serkis, John Hurt and Helen Mirren. On DVD only, with featurettes and interviews.
"Apollo 18" (Anchor Bay) combines science-fiction, horror and the mock-documentary for a thriller that "exposes" the story of a secret mission to the moon funded by the Department of Defense. Los Angeles Times film critic Mark Olsen writes that: "Even if Apollo 18 is not exactly as it presents itself to be, it is less of a stunt than a low-key and unassuming film of rising tension rather than big scares or wild shocks." Gonzalo López-Gallego directs and contributes a commentary track with editor Patrick Lussier. The DVD and Blu-ray also feature deleted and alternate scenes and alternate endings.
Jason Sudeikis throws "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" (Sony) in the comedy written and directed by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, and Lake Bell, Leslie Bibb, Tyler Labine, Will Forte and Lucy Punch are among the guests. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny describes the film as "an amiable, albeit strained and largely formulaic, will-they-or-won't-they-and-what-if-the-hot-potential-new-girlfriend-finds-out farce… " On DVD only, which features an unrated version of the film with commentary by writers/directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck and star Jason Sudeikis, the featurette "How To Film An Orgy," a deleted scene and a gag reel.
"Tuesday, After Christmas" (Kino Lorber), from Romania, is a clear-eyed look at the human damage of an affair carried on by a husband and father (Mimi Branescu) with the beautiful young dentist (Maria Popistasu) of his daughter. Directed by Radu Muntean, the film is the latest in a rich strain of mature dramas coming out of Romania, which seems to be making up for lost time since the fall of communism. Salon.com film critic Andrew O'Hehir praises the film as: "a resonant, vivid and finally heartbreaking tale about the universal difficulty of marriage and the endless self-delusion of the human condition, driven by a trio of amazing dramatic performances." In Romanian with English Subtitles. DVD only, no supplements.
Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas star in "Love Crime" (IFC), Alain Corneau's psychological thriller about the mind games unleashed by a ruthless executive upon her naïve new assistant. Wall Street Journal film critic John Anderson calls it: "A delicious thriller that gets under the skin à la "All About Eve," albeit with a twist: The craft here is still theater, but of the workplace rather than the stage."
"Jane's Journey" (First Run) is a documentary on animal research scientist Jane Goodall. writes that: "Though Lorenz Knauer's film is as thoughtful as his subject - with a break for interviews with Pierce Brosnan and Goodall's fellow UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie - the study of chimps is given short shrift." Features a bonus interview with Angelina Jolie.
"Dirty Country" (Milkhouse) profiles Larry Pierce, a former factory worker who turns himself into the raunchiest country music singer in America.
"Pete Smalls is Dead" (Image), the latest from Alexandre Rockwell, stars Peter Dinklage, Mark Boone Junior, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth, and no, Dinklage is not the title character. Matthew Lillard stars in "The Pool Boys" (eOne), a comedy about a get-rich-quick scheme, with Rachelle Lefevre and Tom Arnold.
Jeremy Irons shows just why it's good to be the Pope
Okay, I stole that headline right out of the show's own advertising, but it was just too good to pass up. The Borgias were the most notorious family of their time, an aristocratic house that amassed power through tactics worthy of a Shakespeare villain.
Created by Neil Jordan, who directs the first two episodes and scripts all ten episodes of the first season, "The Borgias: Season One" (Paramount) opens with family patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons, perfectly restrained), a powerful Cardinal within the Vatican, ensuring his succession to the Papal throne. There's no murder yet, merely bribery, coercion and the promise of political favors: illegal, yes, but just a little corruption between cronies in a church that rivals the power of some countries in Renaissance Europe.
"The Borgias" appears to follow the same formula of "The Tudors," a recipe of royal intrigue, aristocratic decadence and lusty sex in the courts of old Europe, but Jordan is more interested in chamber drama than melodrama. The first season is about the early days of the dynasty and the education of the two Borgias who will become the most notorious of the clan: Cesare (François Arnaud), Rodrigo's heir and consigliore (to use a term from "The Godfather"), and Lucrezia (Holliday Grainger), the golden-haired, apple-cheeked daughter whose innocence isn't corrupted so much as educated by the joys of power. She is definitely her father's daughter. It's all very interesting but never really comes to life until the final episodes of the season.
What's most compelling about the show is not the spectacle of the crimes and decadence (from poisoning rivals to open affairs) but the brazen displays of power and the inspired gestures of diplomatic fluency, especially as wielded by Irons' Rodrigo. And for all the roiling melodrama within the family (including an intimacy between siblings Cesare and Lucrezia that suggests an incestuous future), the final image of the first season, with the happy family gathered around to celebrate the birth of Rodrigo's first grandchild, presents them with all the innocence of a Renaissance-era Norman Rockwell family portrait. The irony is underplayed and wickedly wry, and makes me wish the entire season was this witty.
Both the DVD and Blu-ray editions present the nine episodes of the debut season on three discs, with bonus episodes of other Showtime series: the pilot of the upcoming "House of Lies," the first episode of "Dexter: Season Six" and the first two episodes of "Episodes." Further bonus episodes, as well as a featurette on "The Borgia," will be available via E-Bridge Technology on DVD and BD-Live on Blu-ray, but were not yet accessible at the time of this review.
The high-concept horror franchise finds yet more new ways to dispatch its victims
"Everybody knows going in that "Final Destination 5" isn't really a movie any more than a meat grinder is," confesses MSN film critic and devoted horror movie fan Kat Murphy. "A factory franchise even more predictable than the "Saw" series, each of these little "FD" money machines produces gruesome, intricately designed "snuff" shorts, separated by lame chat among bland-blander-blandest meat puppets fighting to stay out of death's spotlight."
This installment, which follows the not-so-aptly named "The Final Destination," is witness to the inevitable deaths of a group of interchangeable folks who are saved from a suspension bridge accident by one character's sudden vision. Death doesn't let go that easily, of course, and Tony Todd is on hand to remind the survivors of that after every "accident."
In the words of Kat Murphy: "At its most interesting, "FD5" conjures visual paranoia about the physical world as deathtrap. Investing ordinary places and things with potential lethality, the movie comes as close as hackwork can to one of the grand staples of true horror movies -- and Hitchcockian thrillers. When the spatial normalcy we take for granted -- say, that of a kitchen or a gym -- is penetrated or degraded, the whole construct of what keeps us sane is undermined. In all of the never-"Final Destination"s, objects like leaking air conditioning fans, a popped screw, and an electrical plug can become linked in a network of sinister coincidence, a series of falling dominos set in motion by a killer Rube Goldberg. When stuff that serves us turns deadly, we're in a world of hallucinatory hurt. "FD5" occasionally generates that kind of frisson, but it never goes bone-deep."
The film was released in 3D but is standard definition on home video.
The DVD comes with the featurette "Final Destination 5: Circle of Death," which essentially spotlights all the splatter deaths in under six minutes, plus an Ultraviolet digital copy, for download and instant streaming. The Blu-ray includes a bonus featurette on two of the film's key visual effects sequences and a 15-minute montage of alternate versions of the death scenes. Also offered in a Blu-ray Combo pack with a bonus DVD.
See a trailer below, after the jump.
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Final Destination 5" (Warner) is yet another installment in the high-concept franchise that finds yet more new ways to dispatch its victims. This one begins with a bridge collapse and ends with a lot of corpses dispatched in creative fashion. In the words MSN film critic Kat Murphy, it "isn't really a movie any more than a meat grinder is." More on Videodrone here. On DVD and Blu-ray.
"Brighton Rock" (MPI), the second screen version of Graham Greene's novel about a pathological young hoodlum, stars Sam Riley as the coldly vicious young hood, John Hurt and Helen Mirren. On DVD only.
"Apollo 18" (Anchor Bay) combines science-fiction, horror and the mock-documentary for a thriller that "exposes" the story of a secret mission to the moon funded by the Department of Defense. DVD and Blu-ray. Jason Sudeikis throws "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" (Sony) and Lake Bell, Leslie Bibb, Tyler Labine, Will Forte and Lucy Punch join the party. DVD only.
On the foreign film front is "Tuesday, After Christmas" (Kino Lorber), a clear-eyed look at the human damage of an affair from Romania, and Alain Corneau's psychological thriller "Love Crime" (IFC) starring Ludivine Sagnier and Kristin Scott Thomas.
TV on DVD:
Created by Oscar-winner Neil Jordan, the Showtime original series "The Borgias: Season One" (Paramount) chronicles the rise of the real-life family dynasty that amassed tremendous power and wealth in Renaissance-era Italy through political intrigue, blackmail, bribery, murder and rampant corruption. The show's tagline says it all: The original crime family. Jeremy Irons plays the family patriarch, pulling the strings of power from the Papal throne. On DVD and Blu-ray. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Also from Showtime comes "Shameless: The Complete First Season" (Warner), an American incarnation of the British dramedy relocated from Manchester to South Chicago. William H. Macy stars as the perpetually drunk single father of six kids and Emmy Rossum is the eldest daughter, who juggles multiple jobs to raise the kids in his absence. On DVD and Blu-ray. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
David Cross created and stars in "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Series One" (MPI) as an office temp who tries to bluff his way through a promotion but… well, read the title. "Archer: The Complete Season Two" (Fox) continues the animated adventures of TV's most reckless, hard-drinking, aimless secret agent.
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Looney Tunes Super Stars: Pepe le Pew" (Warner) features 17 cartoons starring Pepe le Pew, the Maurice Chevalier of animated skunks who refuses to let a little body odor cool his romantic ardor. Features the Oscar-winning "For Scent-imental Reasons" and "Dog Pounded" with co-stars Tweety and Sylvester, along with 14 animated shorts making their home video debut.
"The Complete Doctor Collection" (VCI) collects all seven films in the hit medical comedy series begun with "Doctor in the House" (1954), the film that solidified the matinee idol status of Dirk Bogarde (who went on to star in three of the sequels). (Reviewed on Videodrone here.) And there's more of the British leading man in "The Dirk Bogarde Collection" (VCI), which features "Penny Princess" (1952), "Simba" (aka "Mark of Mau Mau") (1955), "Campbell's Kingdom" (1957) and the spy spoof "Agent 8 ¾" (1964). "The Rank British War Collection" (VCI) collects "The Way to the Stars" (1945), "The Malta Story" (1953), "Above Us the Waves" (1955) and "Sea of Sand" (aka "Desert Patrol") (1958).
Plus the horror comedy "Chop" (Vivendi), the directorial debut of Trent Haaga, writer of the cult horror film "Deadgirl."
The acclaimed "Buck" (IFC) profiles the real-life man who inspired "The Horse Whisperer."
"Santa Claus" (VCI) is the 1959 Mexican fantasy where Santa Claus takes on the devil and "The Moon in the Gutter" (Cinema Libre) is Jean-Jacques Beineix's follow-up to "Diva," starring Gerard Depardieu and Nastassja Kinski.
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