The director praises the format as the "finest technology" for home theater
Rumors of the demise of "physical media" -- DVD and Blu-ray, in other words -- have been greatly exaggerated, according to director Ridley Scott, writing for The Huffington Post.
"Far from being dead, physical media has years of life left and must be preserved because there is no better alternative," he proclaims. "Pundits aside, Blu-ray for the foreseeable future remains the finest technology to preserve the impact and enjoyment of watching movies at home."
The article is titled "The Only Way to See a Film," which he argues is "the way the filmmaker intended: inside a large movie theater with great sound and pristine picture." But in the era of home theater, he makes a case for, I guess, the only OTHER way to see a film.
"Short of that, the technically sophisticated Blu-ray disc, of which I've been a supporter since its inception, is the closest we've come to replicating the best theatrical viewing experience I've ever seen. It allows us to present in a person's living room films in their original form with proper colors, aspect ratio, sound quality, and, perhaps most importantly, startling clarity."
I don't disagree. And with so many of the new digital theater screens presenting films with washed-out images and improper color balance, it's getting to where watching a well-mastered Blu-ray in my home theater set-up is giving me a better experience than some theatrical screenings.
Plus 'Portlandia' and new seasons of 'The Simpsons,' 'The Sarah Jane Adventures' and more
"Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season" (HBO) brings HBO's big family drama of polygamy in Salt Lake City to a close, while "Big Love: The Complete Collection" (HBO) collects all five seasons in a tightly-packed gift set. Both reviewed by Videodrone here.
The Australian crime drama "Underbelly: The Trilogy" (eOne) is a gritty, dense series that chronicles the violent drug-fueled Melbourne gangland war that exploded in the 1970s and continued through the 2000s. The stories are in fact based on real-life events, fictionalized to some extent but following the historical record of murders (of both witnesses and criminal rivals and snitches), disappearances of key figures and arrest, and framed by the career of one police officer (played by Caroline Craig) who narrates the first season. Filled with violence and sex, the original 13-episode series (set in 1985) was highly controversial when it first showed on Australian TV (and banned in Victoria because of criminal trials of some of the real-life criminals portrayed in the show) and it was a massive hit, so subsequent series followed as prequels.
It's been called the Australian "The Sopranos" but, as Mike Hale writes in The New York Times, "It’s not at all the same sort of show— it’s pulpier and more lurid, and its narrative meanders as it follows the wandering course of more or less actual events. It’s closer, in both form and quality, to a high-end cable docudrama that can afford reasonably good actors for the re-creations." I've only seen the first few episodes of the debut season but they were quite vivid and compelling. "The Trilogy" in this collection's title refers to the initial three 13-episode seasons of the show, which began in 2008 and continues on Australian television. Each season is collected in a separate keepcase of four discs and there are two behind-the-scenes featurettes and the documentary "Carl Williams: Day of Reckoning," on the real-life gangster at the center of the first series. Note that the American video label reorganizes the seasons to play chronologically, which puts the prequels before the show's first season. The broadcast order is "War on the Street" (2008), "A Tale of Two Cities" (2009) and "The Golden Mile" (2010).
"Portlandia: Season One" (MVD) is the comedy series from Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen satirizing the Pacific Northwest culture of Portland, Oregon, where the dream of the nineties is still alive. The IFC original series (which was embraced by the hipsters of Portland, of course) is set to return in 2012. Six episodes. See a clip ("The Dream of the Nineties is Alive") below, after the jump.
"The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season" (Fox) rewinds back to the 2002-2003 season, which opens with "Treehouse of Horror XIII" and features the show's 300th episode and a guest roster from Mick Jagger and Elvis Costello to Adam West and Burt Ward. 22 episodes on four discs in an accordion digipack of paperboard sleeves (not my favorite of packaging choices, and it's tricky to get it out of the slipsleeve) on DVD and three discs in a standard hardcase with hinges trays on Blu-ray, plus commentary on every episode by multiple members of the cast and crew, featurettes, deleted scenes and other supplements. Both releases feature a substantial episode guide.
"The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Fourth Season" (BBC) marks the second-to-last season of the kid-oriented "Doctor Who" spin-off, starring original-series companion Elisabeth Sladen and young cast of helpers. Matt Smith makes an appearance this season as The Doctor. 12 episodes (six stories) on three discs.
"The Game: The Fourth Season" (Paramount), the BET sitcom about the wives of pro football players, presents 12 episodes on two discs. "Spongebob Squarpants: The Complete Seventh Season" (Paramount) features 50 episodes on four discs.
"The Lucy Show: The Official Fifth Season" (Paramount) features 22 episodes from the 1966-1967 season of her second sitcom, with guest stars Carol Burnett, George Burns and John Wayne. Also includes featurettes, archival clips and other supplements. "Designing Women: The Complete Fifth Season" (Shout! Factory) features 24 episodes on four discs.
The 2011 holiday special "Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special" (Fox) is an animated program featuring the voices of the original feature film cast members. On DVD and Blu-ray.
"Transformers Prime: Darkness Rising" (Shout! Factory) edits the five episodes of the CGI animated mini-series into an uninterrupted feature. "A Christmas Wedding Tail" (Anchor Bay) is a Hallmark Channel movie starring Jennie Garth and Brad Rowe, with the voices of Jay Mohr and Nikki Cox as dogs who play matchmaker for their masters.
MSN's Kim Morgan writes on the Ernst Lubitsch classic – here's an excerpt from her essay
Ernst Lubitsch's elegant, witty, and risqué pre-code comedy "Design for Living" (Criterion), adapted from the Noel Coward play by Ben Hecht, stars Fredric March and Gary Cooper as American artists and best friends in Paris who take up housekeeping with the very modern-thinking Miriam Hopkins. She decides that rather than choose one over the other, she will live with them both. A situation he would never have gotten past the censors after the imposition of the production code that year.
Previously available exclusively in a Gary Cooper DVD box set, it gets the Criterion treatment on DVD and Blu-ray, which features selected-scene commentary by film professor William Paul, Lubitsch's segment of the 1932 film "If I Had a Million," a 1964 British television production of the play "Design for Living," introduced on camera by playwright Noël Coward, and a video interview with film scholar and screenwriter Joseph McBride on Lubitsch and Ben Hecht’s screen adaptation of the Coward play.
MSN's own Kim Morgan writes the essay in the accompanying booklet and I leave the last words to her: "Ernst Lubitsch’s "Design for Living" (1933) is what sexy should be—delightful, romantic, agonizing ecstasy. And it’s not just sexy but also revolutionary, daring, sweet, sour, cynical, carefree, poignant, and so far ahead of its time that one could cite it as not only a pre-Code masterpiece but also a prefeminist testimonial. A uniquely Lubitschian picture in its elegance and graceful wisdom, with the gruffly intelligent, street-smart Hollywood writer and soon-to-be legend Ben Hecht collaborating, this take on the trials, titillations, and torments of a kind of relationship usually seen in true adult films, a ménage à trois (and one involving the gorgeous trio of Fredric March, Gary Cooper, and Miriam Hopkins), is unlike any other movie of its era. What film, even before that killjoy schoolmarm Joseph Breen brought his Squaresville strictness to the Production Code in 1934, has ever presented the potentially salacious scenario of three-way love in such a wistfully complicated way? This is neither a bunch of hot-to-trot cheap thrills nor a moralizing sermon on the dangers of sexual transgression—it’s a soulful look at human desire."
A clip of the opening scene is below, after the jump.
Plus 'Mr. Popper's Penguins and more
This season's favorite to "Blind Side" the Oscars with a sentimentalized tale of race relations is "The Help" (Touchstone), based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett and directed by her childhood buddy Tate Taylor. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Hangover Part II" (Warner) is the monster hit of a sequel to the monster "wolf pack" comedy hit of binge drinking and bad behavior starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. The plot's pretty much same, just the location (Thailand) and details are changed. "[I]t's not all that much of a stretch to see this film, like its predecessor, as a sour and ostensibly humorous fable of white male privilege withheld and then regained, and this film does an even worse job of disguising its resentment over the withholding part than the first one did," complains MSN film critic Glenn Kenny, who doesn't find the twists all that clever. "Unless you are laughing, which depends on your sense of humor, it gets kind of wearing. And I have to confess: I wasn't laughing." Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha and Paul Giamatti co-star and Todd Phillips is back in drivers seat as director, co-writer and producer.
The DVD features a gag reel and the Blu-ray Combo Pack adds a making-of featurette and three additional featurettes. The Blu-ray also features an Ultraviolet digital copy and a bonus DVD. Also available on Video On Demand (with two exclusive featurettes) and digital download (with three featurettes from the Blu-ray).
"Cowboys & Aliens" (Universal), a science fiction western with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, wasn't a hit, but it does have monsters, along with cowboys, spaceships, horses, six-guns, lasers and Olivia Wilde. Sounds like a blast and it should be, but it fails because, simply put, it’s a dull western with a science-fiction story grafted onto it, built on generic characters, a boilerplate posse drama and flashy digital effects. But MSN film critic Glenn Kenny is a bit more upbeat than I am on the hybrid: "What makes the movie work, really, is that above and beyond the conventions themselves doing their jobs, the actors seem truly invested in trying to convey what characters in a Western would do if confronted by aliens."
The DVD features four featurettes on the production and the effects. The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical version and an exclusive extended edition that runs 16 minute longer than the theatrical cut, plus commentary by director Jon Favreau, cast and crew interviews (conducted by Favreau) and two additional featurettes, plus the interactive "Second Screen" (which requires a tablet or PC and a wi-fi connection) and bonus DVD and Ultraviolet digital copy. Also available via Video on Demand and digital download. Available via kiosks and subscription on January 3.
"The Debt" (Universal), a British remake of an Israeli drama, is the actor's showcase of the week. Helen Mirren headlines the cast as a Mossad agent who flashes back a past mission (where she's played by actress-of-the-moment Jessica Chastain), where the truth of the event is far different than the story everyone knows and casts a shadow over her life and self-esteem. Sam Worthington and Martin Csokas are her mission partners in the flashback, who age into Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson in the present. "This fictional tale aspires to pack a big sting, and it works to an extent," considers MSN film critic Glenn Kenny, "but as a whole the picture is too overdetermined and melodramatic and sentimental in spite of itself to put its ideas and convictions across as powerfully as it would like."
The DVD and Blu-ray editions feature commentary by John Madden and producer Kris Thykier and three featurettes, and the Blu-ray also features the usual interactive BD-Live functions. Also available on Digital Download and On Demand.
Jim Carrey stars in the family film "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox) with a bunch of, you guessed it, adorable penguins. " Adapted from a beloved 1938 children's book by Richard and Florence Atwater, this lightweight, mostly undirected fantasy goes down easy, gifting audiences with some laughs and uncomplicated fun," praises MSN film critic Kathleen Murphy. "It's an old-fashioned movie, gentling its way toward satisfying familial reunion, fueled by almost always endearing penguin antics."
The DVD features a flock of family friendly supplements, including commentary by director Mark Waters, editor Bruce Green and visual effects supervisor Richard Hollander, a bonus animated short, a couple of featurettes and the usual deleted scenes and outtakes. The Blu-ray adds a couple more featurettes, a bonus DVD and a digital copy. Also available via digital download.
From France comes two thrillers this week: "Point Blank" (2011) (Magnolia), about an innocent guy pulled into a conspiracy of corrupt cops and vicious killers, and "Rapt" (Kino Lorber), a grueling kidnapping drama with an undercurrent of tabloid culture humiliation. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new on the foreign front: the road comedy "Mammuth" (Olive) with Gerard Depardieu, "Life Above All" (Sony) from South Africa, the Hong Kong action thriller "Triple Tap" (Well Go) and "Astral City: A Spiritual Journey" (Strand) from Brazil. More here.
"Mangus!" (Wolfe), a comedy of a high school teen who just wants to be Jesus in the Christmas production. Jennifer Coolidge and John Waters make appearances. "Surrogate Valentine" (Tiger Industry/eOne) is a low-key road movie with San Francisco musician Goh Nakamura. Jed Reese and Will Sasso star in "For Christ's Sake" (MVD), a comedy of cancer, purloined church funds and a porno movie.
Katie Featherstone and Glenn Morshower star in the horror film "Psychic Experiment" (Lionsgate). "The Secret of Skeleton Island" (Lionsgate) is a family adventure and the first in a trilogy based on the "The Three Investigators" book series. Viveca A. Fox stars in the filmed play "Cheaper to Keep Her" (eOne) and Jason Weaver and Gabrielle Dennis star in the romantic comedy "He's Mine, Not Yours" (Image).
'The Complete Fifth Season' and 'The Complete Collection' arrive this week
"Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season" (HBO) brings HBO's big family drama of polygamy in Salt Lake City to a close with Mormon businessman and newly-elected state senator Bill Henrickson (Bill Pullman) putting his plural marriage (previously hidden from the public) into the spotlight: a political act to make the case for legalizing this bedrock of original Mormon belief. No surprise that the greatest resistance comes from the Mormon Church and devout politicians, who view his beliefs as an embarrassment to the modern Mormon faith and a distraction in the church's efforts to find acceptance from the rest of America. (Timely, that, considering the Republican primary race.)
While the show had a tendency to get lost in contrived complications (especially in Bill's blinkered aspirations), at its best it offered a skewed yet impassioned perspective on faith and family values. This season is no different, on all fronts. Along with the harassments and threats brought on by the public coming out, he's targeted by a crazed Alby Grant (Matt Ross), the angry, corrupt new "prophet" of the polygamist compound Bill is trying to shut down, and the criminal underground that lives in the shadows of the outcast polygamist "tribes" living outside of society. And then there is the petty nastiness of second wife Nicolette (Chloe Sevigny), who plays tattletale and playground bully while constantly playing the victim in a perpetual state of arrested adolescent behavior.
And finally, it's harder and harder to respect Bill's idealistic dreams while friends and family members take the brunt of the attacks. Paxton never falters in his commitment to the role, but when the series skids through soap opera melodrama and crime movie complications, his unwavering stand isn't all that much different from the cult leaders and compound dictators he take on. At least until it all comes to a head in the final episodes. And I'll give this season credit for finding perhaps the only satisfying way to bring all this to an end and still honor the best of the show's ideals. The often conflicted members of the family are still unequivocally devoted to and protective of all of its members, no matter what melodrama is twisting them around. That's the kind of big love it takes to hold the clan together.
The DVD presents all 10 episodes of the fifth and final season on four discs in a four thinpak cases, plus "Inside the Episode" featurettes with creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer discussing each episodes and the 25-minute retrospective featurette "Big Love: The End of Days."
Also arriving this week is "Big Love: The Complete Collection" (HBO). It's a reminder of just how good the first seasons of the show was, as Bill, his three wives (elder wife Jeanne Tripplehorn, problem middle wife Chloe Sevigny, and youngest Ginnifer Goodwin) and seven surprisingly well-adjusted children tried to keep a low profile while keeping their faith and values living in adjoining houses in a suburban Salt Lake City neighborhood.
While it celebrated their union, the show also cast a critical eye at polygamy in its most unhealthy and abusive incarnation in the isolated compound lorded over by the scheming, self-proclaimed prophet Roman (Harry Dean Stanton), managing his sect's fortune while his followers live in poverty in their prison of a compound. You can peg the show's downturn to when they replaced the original opening credits (set to the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows") with the "falling" characters in Season Four. On the other hand, we also got more of Mireille Enos in those later episodes and Cassi Thomson as Nicolette's daughter, reunited in the final seasons for a rocky reconnection made more difficult by Nicolette's inability to decide who she is and, more important, who she wants to be.
All 51 episodes of the five seasons are organized in a tightly-packed set of 20 discs in five standard keepcases with hinged trays. It features all the supplements of the previous seasons releases (featurettes, "Inside the Episode" spots, commentary) but nothing new apart from a more efficient package.
Plus 'Mammuth' with Depardieu, 'Life, Above All' from South Africa and more
The French crime thriller "Point Blank" (Magnolia), not to be confused with John Boorman's 1967 post-noir masterpiece, opens in full sprint and pretty much stays in that adrenaline-pumping state. Sure, we get a peaceful interlude with nursing student Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) and his pregnant wife (Elena Anaya of "The Skin I Live In") to show just what's at stake before his life is yanked from under him: his wife (under orders for bedrest) is kidnapped to force him to slip a wounded criminal (Roschdy Zem) from the hospital before the police come to question him… or kill him, as it turns out. Samuel ends up in the middle of a murderous conspiracy -- damned if he's caught by the good cops, dead if the corrupt cops get him first -- and his only hope to get him and his wife out alive is to team up with Zem's Hugo, a safecracker framed for murder by the same killer cops. He's the kind of super-talented crook with a moral streak that crime movies love so much and Zem is an actor who can make that cliché work.
The script doesn't always hold up to the light of day, but director and co-screenwriter Fred Cavaye drives the film with so much furious, pulse-pounding momentum, powered by an overwhelming sense of panic and paranoia, that you don't have much time to worry about it. And at under 85 minutes (including end credits) the film doesn't get tangled up in unnecessary side stories or blind alleys. (I can just imagine an American remake – and surely someone is trying to make that happen, as they did with his earlier "Anything for Her," which became "The Next Three Days" – dragging it out in further twists and turns.) If the premise is familiar (the nice-guy innocent forced to become ruthless lawbreaker to survive) the execution and evocation of the gritty nocturnal Paris underworld makes is zing. In French with English subtitles. On DVD and Blu-ray, both with a behind-the-scenes featurette.
"Rapt" (Kino Lorber), a grueling kidnapping drama with an undercurrent of tabloid culture humiliation, is more interesting than involving. Yvan Attal is a famous corporate bigwig whose secret private life of adultery, gambling addiction (with millions in IOUs) and jet-setting excess is revealed after he's kidnapped and ransomed for more than, it turns out, he's worth, at least in practical terms.
It's less a thriller than an intimate and detailed portrait of the ordeals suffered by Attal as he's terrorized, threatened, kept in isolation and moved from one hiding place to another while terms are negotiated and money drops are disrupted by police surveillance. But it's also about the ordeal that his wife (Anne Consigny) and family go trying to keep up a supportive public face while the revelations of his private life humiliate them every day in the press and on TV, a tabloid culture that feeds ravenously on the damning details of his secret life. The film is surprisingly lacking in tension or character drama for the most part but the final act upends expectations once again with a defiantly impassive portrait of privilege and entitlement unbowed in the face of public disgrace. It's a far cry from the classic tale of arrogance humbled on a journey of contrition and that sting of brutal honesty lingers after the film is over. DVD and Blu-ray. In French with English subtitles, no supplements beyond a stills gallery.
In the road comedy "Mammuth" (Olive), Gerard Depardieu (settling into his new position as the potbellied bear of an elder statesman of French cinema) stars as a slaughterhouse butcher who takes to forced retirement like an escape artist takes to prison. It’s almost a gift when his dowdy wife (Yolande Moreau) makes him hit the road on the motorcycle that gives the film its name to collect documents of his employment history so he can collect full benefits. The episodes of his odyssey piece together the film, though it's something of a forced fit in places. Filmmakers Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern (who share writing and directing credits) run out of ideas too quickly and soon the entire purpose of the trip is lost in a vague journey of self-discovery. Even the satire of the bureaucratic maze they have to wade through is tired and obvious. Isabelle Adjani pops up as a bloody ghost from his past, a former lover whose wounds suggest reasons why he no longer drives. The rest a lazily meandering road comedy that stalls out before it really gets anywhere. Olive's edition has an unduly weak, hazy image, like looking at the film through a dirty fish tank. In French with English subtitles, no supplements.
"Life Above All" (Sony) from South Africa is, in the words of New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, "A grave and quietly moving story about a South African girl of extraordinary character [that] does something that few painful dramas accomplish: It tells a tale of resilience without platitudes about the triumph of the human spirit or without false promises about an unclouded future." In Northern Sotho with English subtitles. The Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack features the making-of featurette "The Making of Life, Above All."
Derek Yee ("One Night in Mongkok") directs "Triple Tap" (Well Go), starring Louis Koo as a championship marksman hunted by a bank robber he foiled and Daniel Wu as a police officer trying to save him.
"Astral City: A Spiritual Journey" (Strand), based on a novel by Medium Chico Xavier, is a Brazilian tale of life after death from director Wagner de Assis. In Portuguese with English subtitles. On DVD only, with a making-of featurette.
The bestselling novel becomes a simplified movie about civil rights and female empowerment in the sixties
This season's favorite to "Blind Side" the Academy Awards with a sentimentalized tale of race relations and a feisty white woman leading the charge is "The Help" (Touchstone), based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett and directed by her childhood buddy Tate Taylor.
Emma Stone stars as Skeeter, the only college grad of her group of girlfriends in early 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, who returns home with a different point of view that clashes mightily with Hilly, the social leader (Bryce Dallas Howard in arch, hissable form) of the town's affluent wives and Skeeter's former best friend. As she leads the campaign to further segregate the black maids and housekeepers and nannies from the white families they serve, Skeeter starts interviewing the help to tell their story to a country just starting to wise-up to the civil rights struggle in the South.
The film was as popular as the novel, even with its simplification of a complicated social relations and its idealized hero. Arriving almost 50 years after the events presented in the film, this isn't some brave piece of social commentary, it's a wish fulfillment fantasy that praises the courage of a maverick young white woman defying society at the risk of (horrors) being ostracized from polite society. Which, of course, never actually happened. Not that it stops the film from equating her (fictional) courage with the (reality-based) ordeals faced by the black characters of the novel. Or from celebrating the public humiliation of the cruel, racist social queen bee as some kind of victory. In a culture where the stakes are life and death, this film too often reduces the lives to soap opera melodrama.
"Noble as the film's intentions may be, its default method of communicating with its potential audience is to patronize it, to serve up one entertaining diversion or other whenever its story line threatens to turn a corner into the valley of The Real," agrees MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "What's frustrating about all this is that there are fleeting moments when a better, truer, almost good movie seems to be struggling to the surface in spite of itself."
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
This season's favorite to "Blind Side" the Oscars with a sentimentalized tale of race relations is "The Help" (Touchstone), based on the bestselling novel by Kathryn Stockett and directed by her childhood buddy Tate Taylor. The film, set in early 1960s Jackson, MI, was as popular as the novel, and even with its simplification of a complicated social relations and its idealized hero (Emma Stone) and easy-to-hiss villain (Bryce Dallas Howard), the dignity that Viola Davis brings to her role and the performances by Octavia Spencer, Sissy Spacek and especially Jessica Chastain (having a magnificent year) make it worth seeing. On DVD, Blu-ray, Video on Demand and digital download. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Hangover Part II" (Warner) is the monster hit of a sequel to the monster comedy hit starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. It's out on DVD, Blu-ray, Video On Demand and digital download and, yes, there are extras. "Cowboys & Aliens" (Universal), a science fiction western with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, wasn't a hit, but it does have monsters. Plus cowboys, spaceships, horses and Olivia Wilde. And, of course, lots of supplements. On DVD, Blu-ray, Video on Demand and digital download.
"The Debt" (Universal) is the actor's showcase of the week: Helen Mirren headlines the cast as Mossad agent remembering a past mission (where she's played by actress-of-the-moment Jessica Chastain), and Sam Worthington, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson co-star. And Jim Carrey stars in the family film "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox) with a bunch of, you guessed it, adorable penguins.
From France comes the riveting crime thriller "Point Blank" (2011) (Magnolia), about an innocent guy pulled into a conspiracy of corrupt cops and vicious killers (reviewed here), and "Rapt" (Kino Lorber), a grueling kidnapping drama with an undercurrent of tabloid culture humiliation, plus the road comedy "Mammuth" (Olive) with Gerard Depardieu. And there is "Life Above All" (Sony) from South Africa and "Astral City: A Spiritual Journey" (Strand) from Brazil.
TV on DVD:
"Big Love: The Complete Fifth Season" (HBO) brings HBO's big family drama of polygamy in Salt Lake City to a close. While the show had a tendency to get lost in contrived complications, at its best it offered a skewed yet impassioned perspective on faith and family values. Also this week is "Big Love: The Complete Collection" (HBO), with all five seasons in a tightly-packed set, but nothing new that isn’t in the existing season sets. Videodrone's reviews are here.
"The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season" (Fox) rewinds back to the 2002-2003 season, which features the show's 300th episode and a guest roster from Mick Jagger and Elvis Costello to Adam West and Burt Ward. 22 episodes on four discs in an accordion digipack of paperboard slipsleeves. "Portlandia: Season One" (MVD) is the comedy series from Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen about the city where the dream of the nineties is still alive. (See a clip here.)
"The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete Fourth Season" (BBC) marks the second-to-last season of the kid-oriented "Doctor Who" spin-off, starring original-series companion Elisabeth Sladen and young cast of helpers. Also for young viewers is the 2011 holiday special "Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special" (Fox).
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
The original "Millennium" trilogy, based on Stieg Larsson novels, was produced in two versions. "Dragon Tattoo Trilogy: Extended Edition" (Music Box) presents the expanded edition created for European television, where it was shown as a six-part, nine-hour mini-series. It debuts in the U.S. on DVD and Blu-ray in advance of the American remake of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." More on Videodrone here.
Not exactly documentary, "Jean-Luc Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema" (Olive) is a collection of eight video essays, made over a period of ten years, where the filmmaking legend considers the history of the movies with a typically idiosyncratic style. Videodrone's review is here.
Ernst Lubitsch's "Design for Living" (Criterion), previously available exclusively in a Gary Cooper DVD box set, gets the Criterion treatment on DVD and Blu-ray. Videodrone looks to MSN colleague Kim Morgan for comments.
Pier Paolo Pasolini directs Maria Callas in his 1969 interpretation of "Medea" (eOne). And "Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII" (Shout! Factory) makes fun of four more films, including the "Planet of the Apes" Japanese knock-off "Time of the Apes" and the Ed Wood Jr.-scripted "The Violent Years."
Hitchcock patented the romantic thriller with "The Lady Vanishes" (Criterion), a bright, breezy confection that takes Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty and a colorful cast from an idyllic picture postcard of fantasy Europe to a nightmarish journey to the heart of the dark days of World War II that lay just ahead. Crierion's Blu-ray debut includes a bonus feature with the film's co-stars Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford among its supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
"Mission: Impossible Extreme Blu-ray Trilogy" (Paramount) collects the first three big budget, big screen incarnation of the cult espionage series of the 1960s, starring Tom Cruise as secret agent Ethan Hunt and a collection of dazzling action set pieces. Just in time for mission four.
The complete calendar of releases this week is after the jump:
|Tags:||Week in review|