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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 7/22/04

7/22/04 - Weekly Release Roundup

It's an okay week for DVD. I'm going to keep these short and sweet because I'm busy gearing up for San Diego. I hope you all can get there and check our panel out. It's gonna be super sweet, with giveaways, information about upcoming titles and of course... me, making my first public appearance as a Bits editor. I was at a DVD awards show a few years ago, but that was for industry folk. This will be my first chance to rub shoulders with the great unwashed. Just be sure to be Sure, okay?

Anyway, here's what I gots to say this week...

Castle Keep
Castle Keep

Castle Keep is a fun war flick directed by Sydney Pollack, and I list this first not because of an alphabetical agenda, but because you need to avoid it. Columbia TriStar saw fit to release this film pan and scan and that's really a poor decision. Don't buy this disc, even though it's an enjoyable little flick. I hope Columbia sees the error and recalls this and does it right. Bah.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

I have a small movie-watching rule: once there's a cut-to of a cute guy's butt in jeans, I recognize that this is not a film meant for my eyes and I turn it off. But with Confessions up to that I could see that this was a by-the-numbers teen flick about an odd girl with hopes and dreams of fitting into a world that already seems too small for her. Now we'll all know what it feels like to be Lindsay Lohan. Disney's DVD is presented in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen and both look good. Sound is in DD 5.1 and sound as good as can be expected. The disc is THX certified; so what more can you ask for? Extras include a very "Lohan is the best ever" making-of featurettes, a music video for Lohan's song "That Girl" a deleted scene and a rapid fire and nugget filled commentary (on the widescreen version of the film only) with the film's director, writer and co-producers. It's not a very good film from what I can tell, but if you're a 15-year-old girl, it might be fun.

Early Summer
Early Summer

Criterion drops into our waiting laps the 1951 Yasujiro Ozu tale of a young independent woman in post-WWII Japan who is arranged to marry by her family, but chooses her own way in life. It's a simple tale, but a complicated one as well. Probably my favorite Ozu film, it's immediately charming because of the characters and their interactions. Setsuko Hara plays the independent woman Noriko and is a revelation. Criterion presents Early Summer in its original full frame and it looks gorgeous. Sound is a Japanese DD 2.0 mono. Extras include a fascinating commentary by Japanese film expert Donald Richie, a look at Ozu by his peers and crew members in Ozu's Film's From Behind the Scenes, trailer and liner note booklet with essays by Jim Jarmusch and David Bordwell. It's a beautiful film everyone should check out.

How's Your News?
How's Your News?

I love this film. A group of physically and mentally challenged people hop in a beat up Winnebago and drive around the country talking to people about their news and singing songs as they go. There are some great moments of power in this, and lots of humor. It helps to know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker funded this because they thought it was cool that they people confronted the world with their challenges and dared you to base your opinions on just how they look. The video is full frame and looks good, and it sounds fine as well. Extras include commentary with the cast, the rarely seen pilot, film festival footage, an interview with Trey and Matt conducted by the How's Your News? staff, an episode of IFC's Split Screen dedicated to the film, the glorious and grand Ron Simonsen interviewing his idol Chad Everett on the beach and an audio interview from NPR's This American Life. This is a fun film, and if you go gaga over documentaries, this is one that will surely please.

Playboy Exposed: Jamaica'n Me Wild
Playboy Exposed: Jamaica'n Me Wild

Not quite a Girl's Gone Wild rip-off as it looks from the packaging, this is a documentary of sorts focused on Playboy's visit to Hedonism III where hot porn stars and their friends judge a debauchery fest where some stripper hot chicks reveal all and party down. The show is MC'ed and guided by Playboy Online cyber model Amy Miller. The video quality is not very good, looks sourced from a high-end consumer camera with nifty camera effects. Sound is obscured by the locales, but who's listening when there are boobies afoot, huh? Extras include a photo gallery you can go through manually or with auto-play and a bunch of trailers for other fun Playboy videos.

Playboy's No Boys Allowed 2
Playboy's No Boys Allowed 2

Way more interesting is this one. No Boys Allowed 2 is a collection of hot Playmate-on-Playmate action. It's cheesy fun where two adventurous girls stumble on a bed in the middle of the jungle and strip down in slow-mo or have hot water fights in their daisy dukes. If you're into softcore porn, then this just might be the DVD for you. Extras include amateur home video from Sexy Girl Next Door Chelsea Chandler, a clip from Wet and Wild Live, a scene from Hollywood Sins, Playmate data sheets, videographies for the girls and trailers for other Playboy DVDs.

Port of Shadows
Port of Shadows

In one of their lighter titles in a while Criterion delivers to us a beautiful copy of Marcel Carne's Port of Shadows it's a dark and violent tale with some warmth and compassion thrown in for balance. That is until the end. An AWOL drifter arrives at Le Havre, a harbor for the lost souls of France. There he meets some rather color folks rendered against some of the darkest photography found ever on film. This is a beautiful film, but one that will take a weathered cinema fan to truly appreciate. Criterion does a stellar job giving us this film in all of its black and white glory. It's full frame and mono as was it's original release. Extras include a nice fat booklet on the film and Carne as well as the film's trailer and a gallery of stills and posters.

There's some good TV DVD releases this week...

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Two
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume Two

Probably the most sofa king we Todd Ed show ever made, and for that I love it so very much. Be sure to run out and pick a copy up for yourself and see why I think it's cool. It's worth it, just to see Ignignokt flipping you the bird (right before he sodomizes his vast imagination with pornography) underneath the packaging sleeve.

Volume Two picks up right where volume one ended, which shouldn't surprise any of you out there. It packs some really good episodes like Universal Remonster, Meat Zone and Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past From the Future. All the shows look great and sound even better in DD 5.1 sound. Schooly D never sounded better. On top of that we get three commentaries with the show's creators and crew, a funny as shit making of featurette entitled Future Wolf II: Never Cry Wolf: The Origin of the Series where we see for the first time, definitive proof that some of the best show ideas come from the minds of fluffy sock puppets. There's also a really funny episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast entitled Baffler Meal which stars alternate dimension Aqua Teen Hunger Force characters laying waste to the Space Ghost set (this episode also features commentary with the show creators and crew), a video from the song featured in Baffler, a few deleted scenes and a bunch of production art under the title Future Wolf III. If you love this show, and c'mon, who doesn't, you'll want to pick up a copy today. And wait 'til you get a load of Volume Three, a little birdy tells me it's gonna be even cooler.

Sealab 2021: Season One
Sealab 2021: Season One

Can't say I'm much of a fan of this show. But I can say it makes for a good DVD. Not as killer as Aqua Teen considering it's missing commentary tracks, but it does have a few nice extras. Sealab is pretty low-tech considering but it's never looked better on TV. The full frame transfers are spotless save for the video artifacts made while creating each episode. Sound is a full DD 2.0. To go along with the shenanigans underwater, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim added the original pilot pitch show, alternate endings for the first episode I, Robot, the end credits to Radio Free Sealab free of bleeps and some deleted scenes to Little Orphan Angry. My favorite episode will always be All That Jazz where Murphy is trapped under a Bebop Cola machine loosing his teeth and becoming addicted to scorpion venom while his crew is away at an MC Cris concert. It's a good one and it's on this set. Check it out.

Starsky & Hutch: The Complete Second Season
Starsky &Hutch: The Complete Second Season

Season Two of this kick ass 70s cop show keeps on truckin' along. The episodes are cool with guest stars galore and slick locales and they all look pretty killer. 25 episodes are spread over 5 discs with a few extras including ads for other Columbia TriStar TV box sets and the original TV spots for the series. It's pretty cool, and if you're a fan of the show, you'll definitely want to pick this set up.

Other TV releases this week include...

Boomtown: Season OneCombat Season 1, Campaigns 1Millennium: The Complete First Season

... All in the Family: The Complete Third Season, Boomtown: Season One, Combat Season 1, Campaigns 1 and 2, TNT's TV remake of The Goodbye Girl, K Street: The Complete Series, Millennium: The Complete First Season and Soap: The Complete Second Season.

Also available today...

Titanic (1943)Highlander 2: Special EditionThe Human Stain

... Mel Gibson in Air America: Special Edition, Owen Wilson in The Big Bounce, Broken Wings, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Highlander 2: Special Edition, The Human Stain, Miss Lettie And Me, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids, Munchhausen, Out of Reach, People I Know, Pulse, Starsky & Hutch the movie, Stellaluna and the German propaganda version of Titanic.

I hope to see most of you in San Diego buying comics and standing in line to get autographs. Look for the guy not dressed in costume; come up and shake his hand. That'll be me.

If I don't see you at the show, then I'll see you here next week where we'll be looking at Hellboy, Sledge Hammer and Synapse's Entrails films. Mmmmm.


Todd Doogan

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