Spaced: The Complete Series

I don’t usually talk much about television series releases, but this week there is a release that deserves all the publicity it can get. I have never seen an episode since I don’t have a region free player, and now I finally get the chance to see where Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright perfected their shtick. I don’t know much about the show, so I’ll just mention what I can dig up. Edgar Wright created and directed the show, which made its debut almost ten years ago and lasted two seasons.

I’ll let Edgar Wright give his thoughts on the popularity of the show (UGO.COM) – “It was never as successful as The Office. Even when it was on, it only got like…a third of The Office’s ratings. I think one of the reasons that people hold it in such high regard is that it really speaks to a specific audience. And I think in a way that it’s kind of a cult thing is that it hadn’t…some shows that get popular immediately get over-exposure or kind of a backlash. And I don’t think Spaced ever had that because we only got shown a couple of times and really became mainly a cult through DVD. So that’s really been a great thing for us. And I think that people are still discovering it ten years later. That’s the main thing.”

Extra features will include commentary tracks with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes Stevenson, Julia Deakin, Mark Heap, Nick Frost, Nira Park, Kevin Smith, Diablo Cody, Matt Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Katy Carmichael, Bill Hader, and Patton Oswalt. There are also outtakes, a Homage-O-Meter, cast and crew bios, and a photo gallery. There is also a Skip to the End feature length documentary which follows the cast and director to the location spots where they actually filmed the show. It also catches up with actors who had guest spots on the series and hear about their memories of the show. Spaced on Stage 2007 is a reunion Question & Answer with Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and other cast members. There is a Spaced Jam music video by Osymyso, deleted scenes, raw footage, and more outtakes on the final DVD in the set.


Kiss of the Spider Woman (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) Amazon.com Exclusive

Kiss of the Spider Woman in a 1985 drama directed by Academy Award nominated director Hector Babenco. It earned William Hurt an Academy Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Hurt also won Best Actor at the BAFTA Awards and the Cannes Film Festival, as well as numerous others. Hurt plays Luis, a homosexual window dresser jailed for sex offenses. His prison mate is Valentin (Raul Julia), a political prisoner who holds nothing but contempt for Luis. Luis spins fantastical stories, which are played out on screen and involves a woman, the Spider Woman, played by Sonia Braga. This exquisite movie is being released in both a two-disc special edition and a Blu-Ray edition in what is being advertised as an Amazon.com Exclusive. What that means is that Amazon gets a four month window to release it exclusively before it hits other stores on October 21. The only extra feature is feature-length documentary film – Tangled Web: Making Kiss of the Spider Woman.


Vampyr – Criterion Collection

One of the DVDs I really enjoyed discovering is the formerly “lost film” The Passion of Joan of Arc. It is a beautiful and magical silent feature that delivers a poignant and personal story without ever needing the use of sound. I am intrigued at this week’s first Criterion release, the first film director Carl Th. Dreyer made following Joan of Arc. Vampyr, also known as Not Against the Flesh, was released four years later in 1932 and would be Dreyer’s first sound film. The story is described as dreamlike and non-linear, with a number of unique scenes including a long voyage of a coffin, from the apparent point of view of the corpse inside. This will be one of Criterion’s double disc sets and the special features will include the original German version in a new high-definition digital transfer from the 1998 restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna. Also included will be a newly credited alternate version with English text, audio commentary featuring film scholar Tony Rayns, a documentary by Jørgen Roos called Carl Th. Dreyer (1966), chronicling Dreyer’s career, a visual essay by scholar Casper Tybjerg on Dreyer’s influences in creating Vampyr, the radio broadcast from 1958 of Dreyer reading an essay about filmmaking and a booklet featuring new essays by Mark Le Fanu and Kim Newman, Koerber on the restoration, and a 1964 interview with producer and star Nicolas de Gunzburg, as well as a book featuring Dreyer and Christen Jul’s original screenplay and Sheridan Le Fanu 1872 story Carmilla, a source for the film


High and Low – Criterion Collection

The second Criterion release this week IS a film by a little known director named Akira Kurosawa. Those few people who have heard of this Kurosawa fellow might know him from his samurai films. He also has made a number of great gangster films over his life as well as a few really masterful character dramas. The guy knew what he was doing. High and Low is one of Kurosawa’s modern films, both a great police procedural as well as a wonderful drama of a man who must make a difficult decision which could save an innocent child. Based on a novel by Ed McBain, High and Low stars Toshiro Mifune (The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo) as an executive on the verge of taking over the company for which he works from less than ethical people. It is proof that Kurosawa was more than just a samurai master. Just as with Vampyr, High and Low gets a two-disc release. It will feature audio commentary featuring Akira Kurosawa scholar Stephen Prince, a 37-minute documentary on the making of High and Low, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, rare video interview with actor Toshiro Mifune, conducted by TV talk-show host Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, a new video interview with actor Tsutomu Yamazaki, who plays the kidnapper, the theatrical trailers from Japan and the U.S. and a booklet featuring a new essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and an on-set account by Japanese film scholar Donald Richie.


21 (Two-Disc Special Edition)

This year’s version of Disturbia is 21, a low key movie that no one expected much from but remained in the top ten for long enough to achieve a nice little profit. A few years ago I heard the story about the MIT students who went to Las Vegas and took Vegas casino’s for millions in winnings. It was a great story and soon was adapted into a novel which was adapted into a movie. The film is not really an accurate portrayal of how it really went down and slips a little into too much dramatic tension, but it somehow reached into the psych of the American movie goers to rank as the number on e movie in America for two weeks in a row, holding off the likes of George Clooney’s Leatherheads in the process. That’s a victory in and of itself. There will be a single disc edition with nothing on it, No extra material will be included on the 1-disc. The 2-disc edition will include a filmmaker commentary, and 3 featurettes: 21: The Advantage Player featuring the cast of “21”, Basic Strategy: A Complete Film Journal, and Money Plays: A Tour of the Good Life. A Blu-ray release will also be available with an additional “21” Virtual Blackjack Game.


OTHERS

   

     

      

     

     

     

  


TELEVISION ON DVD

     


COMING SOON

Because of a request by message board poster MikeShaynePI, here is some news for Coming Soon. From here out, Coming Soon will only cover special event releases and not recent theatrical releases. I also might throw in a TOP 5 for the next few weeks in a list format. We’ll see how this portion of the column works itself out.

CRITERION NEWS

First of all, as the time nears, here is a reminder of the films that are about to get the Criterion Blu-Ray treatment beginning in October: 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, and For All Mankind, The Wages of Fear. They will feature all the supplemental content of the DVD releases, and they will be priced to match the standard-def editions. Alongside the DVD and Blu-ray box sets of The Last Emperor, they will also be putting out the theatrical version as a stand-alone release in both formats, priced at $39.95. The Blu-ray release of Walkabout will be an all-new edition, featuring new supplements as well as a new transfer and they will also release an updated anamorphic DVD of Nicolas Roeg’s outback masterpiece at the same time.

That is old news. Here is some new stuff.

October promises to be a great month for Criterion, even without the Blu-Ray releases. Four masterpieces are being released, and I’ll give the cover art below. Le doulos and Le deuxieme soufflé are both films by one of the pioneers of the New Wave, Jean-Pierre Melville. This adds to an already admirable list of films by the director under the Criterion banner (Le Samourai, Bob le flambeau, Le cercle rouge, Army of Shadows and Les enfants terrible are all available in great editions). A Woman Under the Influence and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie are both available already in the John Cassavetes box set, but will be released individually later in October. Only The Killing of a Chinese Bookie will be a two-disc edition, though.

   

BLU-RAY NEWS

Now that Blu-Ray has won the format war, it’s time to gear up for the kick ass releases we have all been dreaming of.

AUGUST 26
   

SEPTEMBER 02
 

SEPTEMBER 09
  
  

SEPTEMBER 16
 

SEPTEMBER 23

Yeah, I’ll finish the Blu-Ray update with that HOLY SHIT moment. Coppola oversaw this frame-by-frame restoration and was recovered using freshly-minted source materials. Technical specs for each film include a BD-50 dual-layer presentation with 1080p video, and first-ever high-res audio tracks in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround. (Optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English and French, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish, with ‘The Godfather’ and ‘The Godfather Part II’ also including the original English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono presentation.) Extras on each of the three individual film discs in the set include audio commentary with director Francis Ford Coppola.

Also included is a bonus fourth disc with extensive bonus material, most of it presented in full High-Def. There are five featurettes (“Godfather World,” “The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn’t,” “…Then the Shooting Stopped,” “Emulsional Rescue-Revealing The Godfather,” “The Godfather on the Red Carpet“), four “Short Films on The Godfather” (“The Godfather vs. The Godfather, Part II,” “Cannoli,” “Riffing on the Riffing,” “Clemenza“), a multi-part “Behind the Scenes” documentary (“The Godfather Family: A Look Inside,” “On Location,” “Francis Coppola’s Notebook,” “The Music of the Godfather,” “Coppola & Puzo on Screenwriting,” “Gordon Willis on Cinematography“), additional vignettes on “The Filmmakers” (“Francis Ford Coppola,” “Mario Puzo,” “Gordon Willis,” “Dean Tavoularis,” “Nino Rota,” “Carmine Coppola“), storyboards, additional scenes, an “Acclaim & Response” marketing and publicity section, a “Crime Organization Chart,” two still galleries, and theatrical trailers. This release will own me.

THE NEXT MONTH (aka MY TOP FIVE PICKS)

JULY 29
Shine a Light
Dark City (Director’s Cut) [Blu-ray]
Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Unrated Two-Disc Special Edition)
Doomsday (Unrated Widescreen Edition)

War Games (25th Anniversary Edition)
BONUS PICK: Lost Boys: The Tribe (whatever, sue me)

AUGUST 05 (This is a SHITTY week)
The Counterfeiters
Get Smart – Season 1
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (I Love the 80s)
Lonesome Dove [Blu-ray]

AUGUST 12 (This should give you some pretty good choices when choosing my Birthday present this week)
The Wire – The Complete Fifth Season
South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season
The Doors [Blu-ray]
Brand Upon the Brain! – Criterion Collection
Maximum Risk [Blu-ray]

AUGUST 19
Dexter – The Complete Second Season
Twenty-Four Eyes – Criterion Collection

Street Kings
The Fletch Collection
House, M.D. – Season Four


THE BARGAIN BIN

Picture This  $17.99
Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox Story $15.99
Robot Chicken: Star Wars  $9.99
Norah Jones: Live From Austin, Texas  $11.99

21  $15.99 *
21: 2 DVD Deluxe Edition  $22.99 *
* Best Buy Exclusive: Free Deck of Cards included when you purchase 21

$5.99 DVDs:
Free EMovie cash to see The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor Plus a Sneak Peek DVD included when you purchase any of the DVDs in this section
Riddick, Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power, Billy Madison: Special Edition, The Good Shepherd, Red Dragon, The Scorpion King, Children Of Men, Balls Of Fury, 40 Year Old Virgin: Unrated, Waist Deep, Miami Vice: Unrated, Spartacus, The Darkman Trilogy, Psycho II / Psycho III / Pyscho III Triple Feature, Meet The Fockers, Serenity, Alpha Dog, Cape Fear, George A. Romero’s Land Of The Dead, American Pie 2: Collector’s Edition, Tremors, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels: Locked & Loaded Director’s Cut  Unrated

$5.99 DVDs:
The Brothers Grimm, Stick It, 10 Things I Hate About You, Rocketman, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, From Dusk Till Dawn: Collector’s Series, The 13th Warrior, The Shaggy Dog, Grosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity, Gangs Of New York, Rounders: Collector’s Edition, Equilibrium, Swingers: Collector’s Series, Good Will Hunting: Collector’s Series, The Parent Trap / The Parent Trap 2 – Two Movie Collection, The Waterboy, Serendipity, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back: Collector’s Series

Blu-Ray High Definition Discs
The Mummy: Deluxe Edition  $24.99 E-CASH
The Scorpion King  $24.99 EC-ASH
The Mummy Returns: Deluxe Edition  $24.99 E-CASH
The Perfect Storm  $24.99
Earth The Biography  $39.99
2007 – 2008 NBA Champions Best Buy EXCLUSIVE
Planet Earth  $64.99
21  $29.99 *
Casino Royale  $29.99 *
Untraceable  $29.99 *
Across The Universe  $29.99 *
Ghost Rider  $29.99 *
Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby  $29.99 *
* E-CASH Free EMovie cash to see The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor with purchase
* Buy 21 and any or all of the marked titles and Save $10 on each marked title

DVD Sets:
Robot Chicken: Season 1 / 2  $14.99 each
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Season 1 / 2 / 3 / 4  $14.99 each
The Venture Brothers: Season 1 / 2  $14.99 each
Metalocalypse: Season 1  $14.99
Las Vegas: Season 5  $39.99
Las Vegas: Season 1 / 2 / 3 / 4  $34.99 each
Transformer Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection  $39.99
Dexter : Season 1  $19.99
The Tudors: Season 1  $19.99
Charmed: Season 8  $19.99
The L Word: Season 3 / 4  $24.99 each
Jericho: Season 1  $24.99
LOST: Season 3  $27.99
Dirt: Season 1  $27.99
Desperate Housewives: Season 3  $27.99
Planet Earth  $54.99
Earth: The Biography  $24.99
Spaced: The Complete Series  $39.99

Mad Money  $15.99
Picture This  $19.99
Robot Chicken: Star Wars  $8.99
Step Up 2 The Streets  $19.99
Rihanna: Good Girl Gone Bad  $9.99
Discovery Channel Presents: Shark Week – Ocean Of Fear  $14.99

21  $15.99 *
21: 2 DVD Special Edition  $22.99 *
* 50 Free music downloads PLUS 1 audio book from emusic.com with purchase

$4.99 DVDs:
The Island, The Warriors: Ultimate Director’s Cut, Lucky # Slevin, Minority Report, Hannibal Rising, Barber Shop: Special Edition, Get Shorty, Escape From Alcatraz, Dances With Wolves, Fever Pitch, I, Robot, Raging Bull (1 DVD – 2005), The Day After Tomorrow, Hotel Rwanda, Dodgeball, Sahara, The 11Th Hour, Derailed: Unrated, Harsh Times, West Side Story, A Fish Called Wanda (1st Pressing), The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition, Legally Blonde, Thuderball (Current Release), From Russia With Love (Current Release), Octopussy (Current Release)

$6.99 DVDs:
Miami Vice: Unrated, Smokin’ Aces, Riddick, Carlito’s Way: Rise To Power, Children Of Men, The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift

$9.99 DVDs:
Free Movie Money DVDs to See: The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor with purchase
The Mummy: 2 DVD Deluxe Edition
The Mummy Returns: 2 DVD Deluxe Edition
Jet Li’s Fearless: Unrated Director’s Cut

Blu-Ray High Definition Discs:
21  $29.99
The Mummy: Deluxe Edition  $19.99 *
The Mummy Returns: Deluxe Edition  $19.99 *
The Scorpion King  $19.99 *
* Free Movie Money DVDs to See: The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor with purchase

Picture This  $16.99
Robot Chicken: Star Wars  $8.99
Discovery Channel Presents: Shark Week – Ocean Of Fear  $17.99
Jumper  $15.99
The Bucket List  $15.99
National Treasure 2: Book Of Secrets  $15.99
10,000 B.C.  $15.99
Fool’s Gold  $15.99
Drillbit Taylor  $15.99
27 Dresses  $15.99
The Spiderwick Chronicles  $15.99

21  $16.99
21: 2 DVD Special Edition w/Digital Copy  $22.99 *
* Exclusive The Basics Of Winning Blackjack book included

$7.50 DVDs:
Batman Begins, Grandma’s Boy: Unrated, Shark Tale, The Last Unicorn: 25th Anniversary Edition

$10.00 DVDs:
Madagascar, Happy Feet, The Notebook, Hairspray

Blu-Ray High Definition Discs:
21  $29.99
The Bucket List  $24.99
10,000 B.C.  $24.99
Fool’s Gold  $24.99
Semi-Pro  $24.99
The Perfect Storm  $24.99

DVD Sets:
Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection  $36.99