Category Archives: dvd

Those wacky hypnotists

Thanks to a media store closeout sale, I was able to get a bunch of DVDs on the cheap. I finally had a chance to watch one of these, Otto Preminger’s Whirlpool. Gene Tierney plays one of the ladies who lunch. She’s ostensibly the happy, contented wife of renowned shrink, Richard Conte. Unbeknowsnt to him, she’s on the verge of a breakdown–her illness manifests itself in insomnia and kleptomania. Enter the sinister Jose Ferrer, who plays a charming quack specializing in hypnosis; he starts his “therapy” with her. Next thing Gene Tierney knows, she’s accused of murder and she’s got the late, great Charles Bickford leading the police investigation against her. The plot is on the improbable side, but the performances are solid.

Those pesky social scientists

Sadly, Jade is [insert Tyra Banks overly dramatic delivery here] “still in the running to become America’s Next Top Model“. She’s too old and too deluded. Why is she still on this show?

On another, less plebian note, new episode of Lost last night. Now they’re running rather creepy commercials (as well as print ads) for the Hanso Foundation as part of an online name. Basically, more clues about Alvar Hanso, the DeGroots, and those other fun folks at the Dharma Initiative.

I’m still annoyed beyond belief at what they did to Libby, the Cynthia Watros character. There’s an interview out there with an executive producer. Nice spin job, not too terribly convincing. It seems far more likely her character met the fate she did because of the DUI incident. I’m just ticked because I’ve liked Watros since she played crazy Annie Dutton on Guiding Light. On the other hand, it appears she’ll have some future appearances in flashbacks so that’s one consolation.

Other than that, it was a most interesting episode. I’ve been wondering if the task in the Swan hatch were part of a Skinner Box or a Milgram experiment, and it appears I am not far off. A friend of mine has a theory it’s all part of a virtual reality experiment and that’s possible too. I guess we’ll see.

Insomnia reared its ugly head again. This time I ended up listening to the commentary track for Revenge of the Sith. It was ROTS or the end of That Certain Woman with Bette Davis and Henry Fonda. That looked turgid. The next film up was Marked Woman. Bette is a “hostess” (contemporary audiences would have known “hostess” equaled prostitute) at a mobster’s nightclub. This was a way of getting around the Hays/Production Code).Her innocent sister gets mixed up in the nefarious goings-on and it’s up to Humphrey Bogart (the DA) and Bette to get justice. Interesting flick, but I’ve only seen it six times. So I settled on Revenge of the Sith.

Like all the other Star Wars commentary tracks, it’s sadly lacking. I can appreciate the special effects, but I’m far more interested in the story and the acting and the writing. The Star Wars’ commentary tracks, by and large, are devoted to the technical aspects of the movies. That’s fine and lord knows, they have their place and their own fanbase. What I don’t get is why they can’t spring for two separate tracks. You have one for the actors and maybe Lucas (who still has a hard time fathoming the necessity for exposition and character development) and one for the production ends of things. Far lesser films–heck, films with much lower budgets–manage to have multiple tracks. Somebody wanna tell me why they can’t manage to do this for Star Wars?

Now that’s a DVD set

To my great joy, I received the Lost – The Complete First Season DVDs last week. I went straight for the extras disc, which was loaded. All of them were worth watching. I’ve been working my way through the episodes (lots of commentaries too). What fascinates me most is that very little had been decided upon in the pilot in relation to characters, and yet the actors still managed to deliver incredible performances and the writers made it all work retroactively. That’s easier said than done.

It’s a nice set. I would have purchased it for the episodes alone, but it’s getting to the point now, where I not only want a lot of extras but I’ve come to expect them too. Still, it’s a pleasant thing to see that my favorite show has a set that’s loaded with highly watchable and interesting material.

Also, they bought a plane and deconstructed it for the pilot. How cool is that?

With familiarity comes inquiry

I’ve been working on getting into better physical shape. Because of my living space, budget, and the general awfulness of the region’s weather, that means my options are rather limited. So when a friend recommended some “walking” DVDs, I jumped on it. I like the workouts and I can see the results.

It’s like any other thing in life though. At first, you’re busy trying to figure out what you’re supposed to be doing so you don’t notice all of the small stuff. Then once you get comfortable enough, you begin to pick up on the little things and you wonder.

For instance, does it hurt to smile that way throughout an entire 30 minute workout? Seriously, there are cheerleaders would give their right arm to be able to maintain a permanent grin for that length of time. Then there’s that one chick (Tara???) who looks like she’s barely moving, while Jody is all energy (even if she keeps losing time). And why do they all pick on the token male? He hasn’t lost count once and he’s picking up his feet more than half of them.

Yes, I know, I need a life.

It’s about time

Nightmare Alley is finally being released to DVD. Actually a number of very good films are finally making their way to DVD. I read an article recently which explained that the DVD market is opening up, hence the interest in putting these classics out.

Can only be a good thing for classic film fans.

Merry Christmas to me!

To my great joy, I received my copy of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Extended Edition on Friday. It’s taken me the past three nights to watch the movie and then watch both the cast and director/writer commentaries and I haven’t even seen any of the documentary extras yet.

My verdict: so, so worth it. The deleted footage addressed a lot of my major criticisms with the theatrical release. It also added so much more complexity to the story. Jackson and co. evidently excised it because they wanted to move the story along deciding to sacrifice the plotlines of the secondary characters. I can see why you wouldn’t want a theatrical film over four hours, but I have to wonder if they didn’t lose the wrong material.

Too much tinkering?

Just got the Star Wars original trilogy on DVD last night–no thanks to overzealous UPS delivery people insistent on getting me to sign for it (would that my paperboy be so diligent; darn kid has the most expansive definition of my house–next door, the downstairs neighbor, across the street…).

I haven’t watched it all or even most of it yet, but I admit to being nervous. The man will keep “ fixing” his films. If he would offer up the original, theatrical releases as well, I wouldn’t mind so much, but I don’t think Lucas intends on doing that. These are probably now going to be the only Star Wars films out there (unless you’ve got laserdisc or VHS copies of the originals). And frankly, there’s this unpleasant, uneasy 1984ishfeeling I’m left with.

On the other hand, what I did see? Wow. I don’t usually give a flying fig about pure audio and visual quality, but the result is so good, that I have to admit it; I’m impressed.

Revisiting movies on DVD

I took my time getting a DVD player. My reasons were sound, but I’m beginning to wish I’d purchased one sooner. While I’m not one to get excited about crystal clear pictures or better sound quality, I have to admit it: I’m hooked on the special features.

Watched Pieces of April,
Shattered Glass, The Station Agent, and 24 Hour Party People–all on DVD. With the exception of the last, which didn’t excite me too much, I found that I went back and watched the films again with the commentary tracks.

What did we do before these were available? Maybe I’m just the biggest geek in the world (always a possibility), but I love getting insights on the making of the film. There’s an art to these though.

Peter Jackson and co. have it down pat. They offer multiple commentaries, which are a combination of anecdotes, factual information, artistic choices, and the technie stuff.

George Lucas and his cohorts need some help. Which I’m hoping they obtained for the upcoming release of the OT on DVD. Listening to the commentaries on the two prequel films is like hearing my washing machine manual read aloud. The focus is almost exclusively on the technical, which admittedly is the strength of these films, but honestly, if I really cared that much about how they made the sounds for speeders or monsters that have 15 seconds of screen time, I’d be in film school. And someone needs to hand Mr. Lucas a dictionary so he can look up the definitions for motif and theme. I’m not sure that a plethora of severed limbs in five Star Wars films qualify for either.

Really, really loved the commentary track for The Station Agent. It was clear the participants believed in what they were creating. They’re entertaining. Their discussion and comments are interesting and enlightening. That’s what commentaries should be.

Blonde Ice

I watched my DVD of Blonde Ice again. It was an impulse purchase, happily, one that turned out to be a good decision. It’s definitely a poverty row production and it’s no Detour, but it’s still very watchable.

The commentary track was interesting, as was the interview with Jay Fenton, who apparently restored the thing. His comments on film restoration and the boon that DVDs are having on the same intrigued me.