NEW RELEASES

‘Tis the season for re-releases to tie into the current sequels that plague our multiplex. Whether it be the long coming Indiana Jones sequel or the second Narnia flick, the summer gives us, if nothing else, an abundance of familiar sights. The studios know that in today’s ADD society, they must remind the general public, at every step of the way, about the movies they are revisiting. People need visual reminders of why they loved the original movie so much, so they can pony up their hard earned dinero to support these films as they repeat, and repeat, and repeat. The ways to plug the product back into the collective memory of their fans are numerous. Whether they use toys, happy meals, billboards, trailers or DVD promotions, the results are the same. If you pimp it, they will come. With the advent of Blu-ray, the studios finally have a chance to re-release original films in a way that does not seem like the cheap double dipping that many collectors, myself included, are tiring of.

  

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are not included in that statement. Leading up to the biggest event of the summer, the first three Indiana Jones adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade) are being re-released on standard edition DVDs. This is annoying to me because the trilogy was released in 2003, with a fantastic fourth disc filled with documentaries and featurettes that cover everything from Industrial Light and Magic’s work on the films, the sound in the films, the stunts of the films, and the music of the films. The complete Making-Of the Trilogy documentary covers everything you could ever hope to know about the films. What do these new DVDs include? Six featurettes, three storyboard sequences, numerous groups of picture galleries, illustrations and photographs, as well as information over effects and marketing. All this is spread over the three discs. My final call? If you already own it, stick with the 2003 version. That has everything you could want. If you want to upgrade, wait for the Blu-ray releases.

Now, for an example of someone who knows how to promote a new movie without completely raping your pocketbook, I present you with The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Blu-ray. This original movie made a shocking (to me) $735 million worldwide and has been set up to replace The Lord of the Rings in the cinemagoers’ eyes. However, they should not be shooting for the Tolkien audience and stick with their true fan base – the Harry Potter age group. The next film in the series looks to take a darker tone and might be moving toward a more adult, Lord of the Rings atmosphere. Only time will tell if the box office will agree with this change in tone. I am sure Iron Man and Indiana Jones will also have an effect on that final tally as well. However, in the spirit of keeping kid’s minds full of strange lands and talking lions, Narnia has jacked up their promotions and the one area I will talk about here is the release of the Blu-ray version of the original film. Spread over two discs, you get two commentary tracks, a pop-up trivia track, bloopers and trailers. The second disc includes two documentaries and three featurettes, giving a comprehensive look at everything you could want to know about the film. Problem is all the extra features other than the trailers are standard definition. The only other HD extra is an interactive game for the kids. The video is 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode and the audio is an uncompressed PCM 5.1 Surround track (48kHz/16-bit) track, so it should look pretty.

That is an example of how to make a great Blu-ray disc. This is an example of how to screw one up. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [Blu-ray] will be released this week in an edition that looks to be uninspiring to say the least. That is a shame considering this is a fantastic movie starring two of the world’s greatest actors in Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Directed by George Roy Hill and written by a young William Goldman, this film will get a re-release that does not even match up to its standard edition version. My two-disc edition has everything this Blu-ray has plus two extra featurettes and numerous interviews not included on the new release. This Blu-ray does include two commentary tracks, All of What Follows is True documentary, The Wild Bunch featurette, deleted scenes and the theatrical trailers. The true selling point of a Blu-ray is the increased quality of the high definition picture and sound. From the sound of it, this release fails in that area as well. It’s presented in a 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer and the audio is DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround track (48kHz/16-bit) track, plus 1.0 Mono options (192kbps) in English, French and Spanish. The video is said to be a poor representation of the new standard and shows grain with a lackluster picture quality. This is not the presentation this great movie deserved.

Not sure why the jump in western releases this month, but Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is only the tip of the iceberg. Check out these other westerns getting released this week. If you only buy one, I would suggest you pony up for The Big Trail, Raoul Walsh’s wagon trail classic starring John Wayne. It is the cream of the crop and will include some nifty extras including: Commentary with film historian/author Richard Schickel on the 70mm widescreen presentation, featurettes: The Creation of John Wayne, Raoul Walsh: A Man in His Time, The Big Vision: The Grandeur Process, The Making of The Big Trail, Galleries, Publicity, Original Posters, Pressbook Gallery and Trailers.


   
  
  

And if you thought the western fans were getting a treat this week, fans of “Old Blue Eyes” should prepare for their trip to cinematic Heaven. These movies are being released in four box sets as well as as individual DVDs: (Frank Sinatra – The Golden Years Collection (Some Came Running / The Man with the Golden Arm / The Tender Trap / None but the Brave / Marriage on the Rocks), The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection (On the Town / Anchors Aweigh / Take Me out to the Ball Game), Frank Sinatra – The Early Years Collection (It Happened in Brooklyn / Step Lively / The Kissing Bandit / Double Dynamite / Higher and Higher), and The Rat Pack Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Oceans 11 / Robin and the 7 Hoods / 4 for Texas / Sergeants 3). They are also available as single DVDs

 
 

He is one of the greatest filmmakers living today and it is a fucking crime that Youth Without Youth is getting so little notice. When a filmmaker as great as Francis Ford Coppola returns, it should be one of the first things true film fans should be talking about. I don’t care if it is not up to the level of masterpieces such as The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, even lesser Coppola (The Rainmaker) is better than most of the crap people get excited about. I’m just going to share with you a quote Coppola made in a recent interview:

So now we have to undo the brainwashing of the past 50 years about what a movie can be: that it must be commercial, it must go down easy, it must be structured so that it appeals to the widest possible audience. Even people who read sophisticated books expect that when they go to see a movie, it won’t involve any thinking. They’re willing to give more to a work of literature. A movie is supposed to be something light that you go to, and you have a good time, and you don’t think too much, and you laugh, or you get scared, or you’re in awe of the violence, and you go home, and you forget it. And that has to be broken.

Now go buy his fucking movie. It includes commentary with Coppola, The Making of Youth Without Youth, The Music of Youth Without Youth, and Youth Without Youth: The Makeup. It’s available on Blu-ray as well.

THE CLASSIC PICKS OF THE WEEK

 

Two Jean-Luc Godard’s films are getting released this week on standard edition DVDs: La Chinoise and Le Gai Savoir. La Chinoise was released right after a string of higher profile masterpieces (Breathless, Band of Outsiders, Pierrot le Fou, and Weekend) and can be seen as Godard’s entry into activist filmmaking. It is a film that has a polarizing effect in Godard studies, with opinions based on the political beliefs of the specific scholars. Godard had been complimented for always being close to his society, of knowing events that were coming before they finally happened. This film seemingly “predicted” the student riots that began to break out in Paris a year after the film was made.

Through a series of documentary-style vignettes arranged in a linear narrative, La Chinoise shows characters aligning themselves with Maoist communism in their search to find meaning in their lives while aiming to coordinate a communist revolution in France for the benefit of its citizens. Following the completion of La Chinoise, Godard was offered an opportunity to make a television film. Le Gai Savoir takes the form of “an interview” and the story is a simple plot where two people meet up for seven nights to carry on discussions during which they try to develop an analysis of the relation between politics and film. La Chinoise includes a number of great extras (Godard editing table interview, Venice Film Festival press conference footage, Interview with Anne Wiazemsky, Introduction by Colin MacCabe (author of Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at Seventy and the Original Theatrical Trailer), but Le Gai Savoir, which may prove to be a bit daunting for the casual movie viewer, contains nothing.

THE CRITERION COLLECTION

 

From Jean-Luc Godard to Louis Malle. From westerns to the Rat Pack, we now settle squarely in the laps of great French Directors. Criterion is releasing two Malle classics this week – The Lovers and The Fire Within. Malle has been described as a director who refuses to repeat specif cinematic styles, bouncing between genres throughout his entire career. No two movies showcase this restless style than these two releases. The Lovers was Malle’s second fictional feature and would be his true break through. It centers on an unhappy upper-class housewife who has a routine rendezvous with a lover in Paris. It is a bourgeois tale, a story of rich people in an almost fairy tale world. When the story transfers the wife, her husband and her lover, as well as a mysterious stranger, together for a weekend in the country, we get a melodrama that leads all the characters to a trial of self-identification. Five years later, Malle would release The Fire Within, a movie that would travel a distinctly opposite path from The Lovers. Out is the bourgeois melodramatic love story and in is the tragic, hopeless tale of a man who has decided to commit suicide. Alain Leroy is a self-destructive writer who resolves to kill himself and spends the next twenty-four hours trying to reconnect with a host of wayward friends. In these two Criterion releases, you can see Malle at both ends of the spectrum as a director who it seemed swore to never repeat himself and tried to never make the same film twice.

The Lovers includes a New, restored high-definition digital transfer of the complete, uncensored version, Selection of archival interviews with Louis Malle, actors Jeanne Moreau and José Luis de Villalonga, and writer Louise de Vilmorin, Gallery of promotional material from the U.S. theatrical release, New and improved English subtitle translation, and A new essay by film historian Ginette Vincendeau.

The Fire Within includes a New, restored high-definition digital transfer, Archival interviews with director Louis Malle and actor Maurice Ronet, Malle’s Fire Within, a new video program featuring interviews with actor Alexandra Stewart and filmmakers Philippe Collin and Volker Schlöndorff, Jusqu’au 23 Juillet, a 2005 documentary short about the film and its source novel Le feu follet, by Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, featuring actor Mathieu Amalric, writer Didier Daeninckx, and Cannes festival curator Pierre-Henri Deleau, New and improved English subtitle translation, and A booklet featuring new essays by critic Michel Ciment and film historian Peter Cowie


OTHER DVDs this week includes the Denzel Washington directed The Great Debaters, the Diane Lane thriller Untraceable, the Queen Latifah comedy Mad Money and the Blu-ray releases of the very good Shinobi and the very tired Mrs. Doubtfire.

  

The Great Debaters (2-Disc Special Collector’s Edition)The Great Debaters: An Historical Perspective (23:06), Music videos for the songs “That´s What My Baby Likes” and “My Soul is a Witness”, The Great Debaters: A Heritage of Music (11:59), Scoring The Great Debaters with James Newton Howard & Peter Golub (10:45), Learning the Art: Our Young Actors Go to Debate Camp (21:53), Forest Whitaker On Becoming James Farmer, Sr. (3:58), A New Generation of Actors (9:45), The 1930´s Wardrobe of Sharon Davis (5:28), The Production Design of David J. Bomba (8:57) and The Poetry of Melvin B. Tolson

UntraceableAudio Commentary by Hoblit, production designer Paul Eads, and one of the producers, Hawk Koch, “Tracking Untraceable” featurette, “The Personnel Files” featurette,
“The Blueprint of Murder” featurette, “The Anatomy of Murder” featurette, “Beyond the Cyber Bureau” (Blu-ray exclusive – requires a Profile 1.1 player)

Mad MoneyCommentary Track with Khouri, Making Of featurette

 

TELEVISION ON DVD

Two and a Half Men – The Complete Third Season
Mission Impossible – The Fourth TV Season
Saturday Night Live The Complete Third Season – Limited Edition Boxed Set
Drawn Together – Uncensored!: Season Three
Lovejoy – The Complete Season 3
Stargate Infinity: The Complete Series
Magnificent Seven: The Complete Series

ALSO ON DVD

Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection 1 & 2 (Tarantula/Mole People/Incredible Shrinking Man/Monolith Monsters/Monster on the Campus/Dr. Cyclops/Cult of the Cobra/Land Unknown/Deadly Mantis/Leech Woman)
The Secret of Santa Vittoria
The One That Got Away
Tobor the Great
Walk All Over Me
Twelfth Night
Aces N’ Eights
Timber Falls
Crash & Burn
Little Devil
Demon Pond
Amateur Porn Star Killer 2 (Special 2-Disk Edition)
National Lampoon Presents Cattle Call
Frontier(s)
The Secret Invasion
The Cottage
Numb

COMING SOON

I got a fantastic e-mail from Criterion last week. I’ll just go ahead and copy and paste it for you all to read.

Dear Criterion Collection Newsletter subscriber,

We’ve got some exciting news for this fall, and we wanted you to hear it first.

Our first Blu-ray discs are coming! We’ve picked a little over a dozen titles from the collection for Blu-ray treatment, and we’ll begin rolling them out in October. These new editions will feature glorious high-definition picture and sound, all the supplemental content of the DVD releases, and they will be priced to match our standard-def editions.
Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

The Third Man
Bottle Rocket
Chungking Express
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Last Emperor
El Norte
The 400 Blows
Gimme Shelter
The Complete Monterey Pop
Contempt
Walkabout
For All Mankind
The Wages of Fear

Alongside our DVD and Blu-ray box sets of The Last Emperor, we’ll also be putting out the theatrical version as a stand-alone release in both formats, priced at $39.95. Our Blu-ray release of Walkabout will be an all-new edition, featuring new supplements as well as a new transfer; we will also release an updated anamorphic DVD of Nicolas Roeg’s outback masterpiece at the same time.

Fuck yeah!

THE BARGAIN BIN

Mad Money  $15.99
A Raisin in the Sun  $15.99
Untraceable  $16.99
The Great Debaters  $16.99
The Great Debaters: 2 DVD Set  $22.99
Korn: Live At Montreux  $9.99

Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Special Edition  $12.99 *
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom : Special Edition  $12.99 *
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade: Special Edition  $12.99 *
Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection  $34.99
* Free Comic Book Included when you purchase one of the individual Indiana Jones Special edition movies

The Chronicles Of Narnia  $14.99 *
The Chronicles Of Narnia BluRay  $29.99 *
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End  $19.99 *
National Treasure  $14.99 *
High School Musical 2: Work This Out NDS Video Game  $29.99 *
The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian CD Soundtrack  $11.99 *
* Free Movie Money to see The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian when you purchase any of the listed Movies, CDs or Games

$5.99 DVDs:
Bad Boys: Special Edition, ALI, Hitch, Men In Black: Deluxe Edition, SpiderMan, SpiderMan 2

$7.50 DVDs:
Walk The Line (1 Disc), El Cantante, Eragon, Fletch: The Jane Doe Edition, Flyboys, The Good Shepherd, Idiocracy, John Tucker Must Die, Lucky You, Marie Antoinette, Pride & Prejudice, The Princess Bride (Looks Like 20th Anniversary Edition), Serenity (1st Pressing), Smokin’ Aces, The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, We Are Marshall, Dodgeball, Breach, Beerfest, The Astronaut Farmer, Kill Bill: Volume I, Kill Bill: Volume II

$9.99 DVDs:
Knocked UP: Unrated, Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix, Hairspray, The Heartbreak Kid, Hostel: Part II – Unrated, Hot Rod, I Know Who Killed Me, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, Jackass 2.5, Mr. Brooks, No Reservations, Pathfinder: Unrated, Reign Over Me, Rendition, Shoot ‘Em Up, Sydney White, Taxi Driver (Looks Like 2 DVD Collector’s Edition), The Kingdom, The Natural: Director’s Cut, The Brave One, Eastern Promises, Evan Almighty, American Pie Presents: Beta House  Unrated

Blu-Ray
Hitch  $19.99
The Pursuit Of Happyness  $19.99
Enemy Of The State  $24.99
I Am Legend  $24.99
ID4: Independence Day  $24.99
I Robot  $24.99
Pirates Of The Caribbean  $29.99
The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep  $29.99
Untraceable  $29.99
The Chronicles Of Narnia  $29.99

DVD Sets:
OZ: Season 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6  $16.99 each
Six Feet Under: Season 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5  $16.99 each
Drawn Together: Season 3.  $19.99
Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones: Volume I / II / III  $49.99 each
Mission Impossible: Season 4  $34.99
Two & .5 Men: Season 3  $29.99
Saturday Night Live: Season 3  $44.99
Frank Sinatra: The Golden Years Collection (5 DVDs)  $29.99
Marvel Heroes: 8 DVD Collection  $49.99
The Rat Pack Ultimate Collector’s Edition (4 DVDs)  $39.99

P2  $13.99 Premier Price: 5 Days Only
Mad Money  $13.99 Premier Price: 5 Days Only
The Great Debaters  $13.99 Premier Price: 5 Days Only
The Great Debaters: Collector’s Edition  $22.99
Korn: Live At Montreux 2004  $7.99
HDNET Fights: Fedor Returns  $9.99
Circuit City Premiere Price: A Low Price That is in Effect Tuesday – Saturday (5 Days only)

Untraceable  $13.99 * Premier Price: 5 Days Only
* Circuit City Exclusive: Free “Inside A Real Cyber Crime Unit” Bonus Disc

Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Special Edition  $11.99 *
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom : Special Edition  $11.99 *
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade: Special Edition  $11.99 *
Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection  $34.99
* Free Topps Trading Cards On Each DVD

$4.99 DVDs:
K*19: The Widowmaker, Red Dragon, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, Head Of State, Don Juan DeMarco, Runaway Bride, Domestic Disturbance, Kung Pow!: Enter The Fist, Sleeping With The Enemy, Indecent Proposal, The Manchurian Candidate (D. Washington), Kiss The Girls, Hardball, Kentucky Fried Movie, Blue Crush, 48 Hours, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Harlem Nights, The Wash

$8.99 DVDs:
Zodiac (1st Pressing), Black Snake Moan, Disturbia, Face / Off (1st Pressing), Titantic: 10th Anniversary Edition, Gladiator (1st Pressing), Braveheart: Special Collector’s Edition, Over The Hedge, Flushed Away, Barnyard, Norbit, Hot Rod, Jackass 2.5, Grease: Rock n’ Roll Edition, The Heartbreak Kid, Dream Girls, Stardust, NEXT, Shooter, Flags Of Our Fathers, Apocalypse Now: Complete Dossier 2 DVD Special Edition, The Best Of Chappelle’s Show: Uncensored, Cheech & Chong’s Greatest Hits: Up In Smoke / Still Smokin’, The Naked Gun Triple Feature

Blu-Ray High Definition Discs:
Untraceable  $29.99
The Chronicles Of Narnia  $27.99
Bridge To Terabithia  $24.99
The Wild  $24.99
Apocalypto  $24.99
Finding Neverland  $24.99
The Prestige  $24.99
Full Metal Jacket  $24.99
The Last Samurai  $24.99
Superman Returns  $24.99
Pan’s Labyrinth  $24.99
Troy  $24.99
300  $24.99
Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix  $24.99
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest  $24.99
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Curse Of The Black Pearl  $24.99
Lethal Weapon  $24.99

DVD Sets
Two And .5 Men: Season 3  $29.99
Saturday Night Live: Season 3  $44.99

The Great Debaters  $16.99
Enchanted  $15.99
Alvin & The Chipmunks  $15.99
Atonement  $15.99
P.S. I Love You  $17.99
Juno  $17.99
27 Dresses  $17.99

Mad Money  $15.99 *
* Target DVD comes with free and exclusive $20 Dale & Thomas Popcorn Gift Card packed inside

Untraceable  $16.99 *
* Target DVD comes with a free cell phone cover

Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Special Edition  $13.78 *
Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom : Special Edition  $13.78 *
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade: Special Edition  $13.78 *
Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection  $37.99
* Indiana Jones #1  #3 Special Edition DVDs with never before seen interviews with Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and More!

$7.49 DVDs:
Click: Special Edition, Hitch, The Goonies

$9.99 DVDs:
E.T. : The Extraterrestrial, Evita / Frida Two Movie Collection, Sister Act / Sister Act 2 Two Movie Collection

Blu-Ray High Definition Discs:
Untraceable  $29.99
The Chronicles Of Narnia  $29.99
300  $24.99
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem – Extreme Unrated Set  $24.99
30 Days Of Night  $24.99
I Am Legend  $24.99
Hitman: Unrated  $24.99
Blade Runner  $24.99

DVD Sets:
Two And .5 Men: Season 3  $29.99