Welcome to the DVD & Games Forecast for October 6, 2009.
Last week's column was a little rushed because of Fantastic Fest, and this week's column is going to be the same because I'm in Belfast, Ireland, for a set visit. But there's too many good things coming out for me not to at least point out a few of them.
THIS WEEK'S FEATURED TITLES
I love Disney animation on BluRay because they've figured out just the right line between preservation and restoration, and what you end up with are releases of these films that positively glow, but which preserve all the remarkable craftsmanship that went into bringing these classics to life. "Sleeping Beauty" and "Pinocchio" are already two of the greatest high-def releases, and I'm sure "Snow White" continues that tradition.
Because I've been on the road for the last few weeks, I haven't seen this new transfer yet, but while I was in Austin, Harry was ranting and raving about it. He's one of the biggest animation nerds I know, so I can imagine why he reacted that way. One of the things I love most about animation is the magic trick of a drawing somehow coming to life and, in the best examples, seeming to have a soul. When Walt Disney proposed an animated feature film, people thought he was nuts, and now animation is one of the cornerstones of our industry. It all started here, and in addition to the film, you'll get more extras than any sane person can watch in one sitting. Over at the film's Amazon page (and no, I don't get a kickback if you go over there and buy it from them), you'll find clips that not only show off the restored image, but that also show you just how far Disney's pushing the capability of BluRay extra features.
This is an absolute must-add to any serious collection.
[more after the jump]
"Trick'r Treat" (BluRay/DVD)
Yes, horror fans. Finally. It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I first saw this film at Butt-Numb-A-Thon, and another year since I hosted a huge screening of it in Los Angeles, but now, finally, Mike Dougherty's "Trick'r Treat" is getting released on BluRay and DVD, and trust me... it's worth the wait.
Anthology horror is tough, but what Dougherty does well here is pay off each of his stories as well as sustaining a consistent mood across the entire film. It helps that the stories are somewhat inter-related, and it also helps that Dougherty absolutely understands the holiday and the iconography and the just-plain-fun of being frightened.
Maybe Anna Paquin's huge following from "True Blood" will sample this one on BluRay and it'll become the huge hit I think it should be. At the very least, I can hope.
"Red Dwarf: Back To Earth - The Director's Cut" (BluRay/DVD)
I know very little about this recent reunion show, and that's by choice. I don't want to read every little detail, especially after waiting this long for Craig Charles, Chris Barrie, Danny Jules-John, and Robert Llewellyn to revive their characters from this cult sci-fi comedy. All I know is that responses to the reunion were divided, and it's on BluRay and DVD this week so I can judge for myself. Yay!
I try not to be too heartbroken about Robert Zemeckis abandoning live-action and vanishing into the all-digital realm, and for the most part, it doesn't bother me. But then I go back and look at one of his films like this sci-fi stunner, finally available on BluRay this week, and it breaks my heart all over again. I love this movie. I love everything about this movie. The sound design alone is enough reason to pick up this new release, but I also want to study the way Zemeckis was pushing (or one might say shredding) the envelope with the way he used invisible FX in this film. Jodie Foster's performance is dead-on as a scientist wrestling with ideas in faith in this adaptation of Carl Sagan's novel, and I look forward to revisiting it for the first time in a while as soon as I pick up a copy.
"Anvil! The Story Of Anvil" (DVD)
I reviewed this one in April when I went to the premiere at the Egyptian, and my affection for the film has only grown over the course of the year as I've talked about it and recommended it to people. It's a great, stirring, emotional film about a heavy metal band that never quite made it, and I urge you to take a chance on it, even if you aren't a metal fan. It's one of the most oddly uplifting films of the year, and both Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow emerge as two of the year's most unlikely film heroes.
If you've seen if, you know why it continues to loom large in my nightmares a full decade after it was released. And if you haven't, then I dare you to watch it and tell me it's not one of the freakiest films about the dynamic between men and women ever released. If you want to know why Asian film fans often cite Takashi Miike as one of the most disturbing artists working today, look no further than this masterpiece.
"Not Quite Hollywood" (DVD)
Here's another film I've spent quite a bit of energy writing about already, and now it's finally available for purchase. It almost made my top ten list last year, and I reviewed it when it had a brief theatrical run in August, so I'm not sure what else I can add. This primer on Australian exploitation cinema is pure entertainment, and if it doesn't send you scrambling to find almost every film featured in clip form, then you and I are wired totally different.
I love that this is a totally non-violent game in which the point is to photograph wildlife rather than kill humans/aliens/zombies/whatever. As much as I love gaming, I do get tired of the one-note nature of a lot of it. Playing this with Toshi should be a lot of fun, and I love the screen shots I've seen. The ultimate goal is to get your picture used on the cover of National Geographic, a partner on the game, and I'm eager to try it out.
I'm even more excited, though, about this unlikely little game title that became one of the biggest hits at this year's E3. Basically, you're given a task and you then type in a word to help you accomplish the task. The word becomes a physical object, and the more ingenious you are in picking a word to help yourself, the more fun the game becomes. It's hard to describe, and impossible to put down once you try it. The game comes with a massive vocabulary, and promises to become a total compulsion once I pick it up.
ALSO ON BLURAY THIS WEEK
By all accounts, Nia Vardalos fumbles her follow-up to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with "My Life In Ruins," but I'm sure I'll end up seeing it with my wife at some point. Ken Burns doesn't sound like the sort of director whose work has to be seen on BluRay, but when his latest film is called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," it sounds like high-def might be in order. "Year One" was a misfire, but I'm looking forward to seeing the unrated cut and the deleted scenes to see what was left on the floor. Toshi's never seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and this year, he's old enough for the BluRay to be a real event in my house. It'll be a busy Christmas, too, since the original "Miracle On 34th Street" and the animated "Dr. Seuss's How The Grinch Stole Christmas" are also both in stores in this week. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, though... there's plenty of Halloween fare in stores this week, too, including the BluRay debuts of "Wolf," "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein," and the creepy killer kids film, "The Children," which just played Fantastic Fest, and which is coming out as part of the Ghost House Underground BluRay series that also features "Seventh Moon," "Offspring," and "The Thaw." Finally, the documentary "Kurt Cobain: About A Son" is out on BluRay this week, a haunting little poem about an artist in pain and a career cut short.
ALSO ON DVD THIS WEEK
Exclusive to DVD this week is the latest of the TCM Spotlight releases, "Esther Williams Vol. 2," and I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the first volume in the series. She made splashy, light musical comedies, and they were made well. Fans of "Ally McBeal" have got to be happy this week, since the entire series is finally coming out in one massive box set as well as individual season boxes. There's been a lot of buzz for the indie film "Assassination Of A High School President," and it pretty much got shafted in its theatrical release, so this is my chance to catch up to it. Horror fans can check out the '80s obscurity "The Gate," which was a low-key charmer, or the new remake of "It's Alive," starring Bijou Phillips. And if you want a real kick in the head, the Chilean kung-fu film "Mirageman" is finally available, and loads of fun.
VIDEO GAMES THIS WEEK
It's an interesting week, with sports games like "NBA 2K10" and "NBA Live 10" both hitting stores, as well as "Star Wars - The Clone Wars: Republic Heroes," which plays like a kid's version of a Star Wars game, which makes sense, being based on the Cartoon Network series. Licensed titles normally suck, and I would imagine that's doubly true for "Saw," since the movies sort of suck to begin with. If you want some Cold War-era spy action, "Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising" sounds like a safe bet. And for puzzle-minded gamers, "Lucidity" arrives on the XBOX360.
NEXT WEEK: "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves" hits PS3, the amazing "Brutal Legend" hits every platform possible, "Drag Me To Hell" and "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" both hit BluRay, and my wife hits me in the face because of all the money I spend. Bliss. Pure bliss. And since I'll finally be home, I can enjoy it all, and I look forward to sharing that with you. See you next week.
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