Dark Matter (DVD)

Very few directors of opera, I believe, take the plunge in directing a feature film, and even smaller of a number tackle a project with Meryl Streep. That is what Chen Shi-Zheng did with “Dark Matter”, and eir aptitude and skill behind the camera is enough to even take someone like Streep’s style to the next level. The film itself deals with the linkages between Streep’s character (Joanna), a rich individual that is more in the vein of philanthropists than anything and Chinese charge Liu Xing (Ye Liu, known from Curse of the Golden Flower and Blood Brothers). Continue reading “Dark Matter (DVD)”

The Showdown (DVD)

The Showdown is a Western, showcasing the trials and tribulations of US Marshal Luke Canfield, played here by Bob Handegan, a powerful newcomer to film. Specifically, Luke is pitted against a gang, a group of ruffians that would like no more than to murder the love of eir life, Dixie (Ann Hagemann) and son. Whether Luke folds under the pressure and allows the gang to run roughshod over eir territory or stand up for eir principals is the ultimate question that The Showdown looks to solve, and the emotions run high throughout the entirety of the film. Continue reading “The Showdown (DVD)”

Paramount Blu-Ray Reviews: Ferris Bueller, Grease, Saturday Night Fever

These three classic films are released on Blu-Ray for the first time, and each brings something slightly different to the table. Despite the difference in release year (1977, 1978, and 1986), each of the films are brought to the current period in terms of video and audio quality. Each of the releases will provide purchasers with a tremendous amount of added features, as they represent at the base level the content involved with the comprehensive DVD versions of each film. Finally, the films themselves are placed at the (current) low-end of Blu-Ray releases.

The MSRP for each of these films is $29.99, while intrepid bargain hunters will be able to find them new and sealed for a third off. While there have been a number of releases of each of these three titles, Paramount has ensured that they will not be bothered in the near future with having to revamp the existing edition: consequently, other films (some of which may not even have a DVD version) can be restored, featurettes added, and can then be brought over to the newer format. Paramount has hit a home run with these titles, and I will be looking for subsequent releases of classic films such as these.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off : Bueller…Bueller…Edition / 2009 Paramount / 102 Minutes / http://www.paramount.com/homeentertainment

Aside from the feature presentation of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off itself, the Blu-Ray edition of the film brings a number of new things out. This means that the film has the vibrant eighties feel that really was missing during cable showings after its release, while the slightly-muffled audio present in earlier iterations of the film has been cleaned up considerably for the Dolby True HD. The featurettes that are present on the Blu-Ray version of the disc are stellar, blending together lost and deleted footage with some “looking back” type of footage.

Of course, Ben Stein is the focal point of yet another featurette, while there is a class album feature that breaks things out a little further than was present in the film itself. For those individuals that want to see exactly how the movie’s magic was created, “The Making of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is a must see, showing exactly how detailed the process was. The film itself never seemed to age, despite being nearly twenty-five years old. The Blu-Ray edition of the film, released by Paramount just a short time ago, will ensure that the film does not age any further. Buy this Blu-Ray even if you have the DVD, as the steps forward in terms of video, audio, and featurettes more than make up for the asking price.

Saturday Night Fever: 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition / 2009 Paramount / 118 Minutes / http://www.paramount.com/homeentertainment

Saturday Night Fever is a film that influenced a generation. However, at least for individuals my age, it seems like the film’s importance has been muted by the passage of time. Compared to either Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Grease, it seems to be the film that is replayed the least on cable. However, the package that Paramount has released, the 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray, really returns Saturday Night Fever to its rightful place. Compared to the other two films, I feel that Saturday Night Fever benefited the most from the better video quality that Blu-Ray provides.

While the audio is on par with other transfers to Blu-Ray, what always seemed to me to be a very dark and dirty type of film is now something that represents a more realistic set of colors. The upgrade in video quality is so impressive, in fact, that I would recommended that fans of the movie buy it purely based on this upgrade. However, there are other additions to this presentation that provide a serious amount of value added.

The ‘70s Discopedia allows individuals that were not into that genre to get a better understanding of the music side of things, while the “Fever Challenge!” ensures that viewers actually pay a pretty decent amount of attention to the film. The commentary by John Badham (director) allows further context to be filled in about the creation of the film, while the deleted scenes weave together scenes in an improve capacity over the original film. Satruday Night Fever on Blu-Ray is a delight for anyone that is a fan of disco or of Travolta’s earlier film. If you are a fan, or would like to get someone into it, buy this edition of the film.

Grease: Rockin’ Rydell Edition / 2009 Paramount / 110 Minutes / http://www.paramount.com/homeentertainment

We had a chance to review the Rockin’ Rydell edition of Grease a few months ago for NeuFutur.com , and individuals can access that at http://neufutur.com/?p=5090 . However, Paramount has brought the Rockin’ Rydell edition to Blu-Ray, and while there are a number of similarities, there are some significant differences. The DVD edition of the film was the best possible release that could be released for that console, but the transfer over to Blu-Ray has ensured that individuals should buy the Blu-Ray edition. The 1080p / high definition cut of the film is sharp, bringing out figures and actions that took place in the background that had not been seen in any major form since the film’s original theatrical run.

The audio ensures that viewers are able to hear each of the musical numbers crispy, allowing them to sing along with more aplomb and intensity than they have in years. Of course, the different featurettes are welcome editions to the film, giving viewers the chance to see 11 different deleted scenes, and even go behind the scenes and see how the actors have aged over the course of twenty-five years. Where Grease’s Rockin’ Rydell edition was the premiere Grease release in October of 2008, the Blu-Ray version of that package is the only copy of Grease that one needs. If you have a DVD played, make it a point to pick up Grease the next time you are at a local video shop.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Rating: 8.8/10
Saturday Night Fever Rating: 8.4/10
Grease Rating: 8.3/10

Enchanted April (DVD)

Enchanted April was originally a book written by Elizabeth von Arnim, and the book itself was brought to the silver screen on the seventieth anniversary of the release. The film centers around two women that wish to be free of the monotony of their daily lives. Packing up and taking a trip away from these lives, their husbands, and damp, murky England, they set out to the Italian Riviera. Adding in a second pair of individuals, they come together to rent out a palatial villa for a month. Continue reading “Enchanted April (DVD)”

Bob Dylan – Together Through Life (Columbia)

Though not as prolific as sometime tour mate Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan has yet to show no sign of slowing down anytime soon. On his 33rd record, Together Through Life, Dylan has clearly gone back to the old Sun and Chess Recordings for inspiration and the result is fantastic for long time Dylan devotees (another obvious influence is Dylan’s Sirius/XM radio show “Theme Time Radio Hour”). Continue reading “Bob Dylan – Together Through Life (Columbia)”

November Son (DVD)

To be honest, this is the first GLBT-related horror film that I have seen. The one thing that I can first notice is that while the stars are up and coming Judith O’Dea (Night of the Living Dead) and Brinke Stevens (The Slumber Party Massacre), the skill that they put forth on the screen is equivalent to that of even seasoned actors. The film itself surrounds a cast that were heavily affected by the actions taken by Elliot Hamilton, a deranged individual that cut through a great deal of the city in order to avenge eir love for another individual. The past that each character had, particularly involving Elliot, comes back in a major way throughout the entirety of November Son. Continue reading “November Son (DVD)”

Forever (DVD)

Who would honestly think that a film about a cemetery would be interesting in the slightest? Heddy Honigmann, whom individuals may know from O Amor Natural, knew that eir talent was at a level that ey could make a bunch of stones on a grassy field interesting. There are a few bonus features, with traditional materials like the original trailer along with a bio/filmography of Heddy Honigmann for individuals to peruse. The particular cemetery that Honigmann covers here is the Pere-Lachaise, which most individuals may know as being the interment place of individuals like Chopin, Jim Morrison, and Marcel Proust. Continue reading “Forever (DVD)”

101-in-1 Explosive Megamix (Nintendo DS)

It has been a few years since the last of the (good) WarioWare games were released, so there needs to be something to fill the gap. Atlus has done just that on the Nintendo DS with their “101-in-1 Explosive Megamix”, which is available now for the Nintendo DS. Inside the cartridge is what individuals may already know is present: a large number of different games that will have players handling their Nintendo DS for weeks, if not months, to come. Continue reading “101-in-1 Explosive Megamix (Nintendo DS)”

Into the Blue 2: The Reef (DVD)

Into the Blue 2 deals with a couple of scubaers; Dani (played here by Laura Vandervoort) and Sebeastion (Chris Carmack) and their adventures around the scenic locale of Hawaii. Where fun is fun, things take a decidedly more serious turn after they are offered a large sum of money by some shady characters. After things take a turn for the worse, it really is a testament to the skills of Sabastion and Dani whether they will be able to actually get out of their predicament or be two dead on the bottom of the ocean floor. Continue reading “Into the Blue 2: The Reef (DVD)”

Bulleit Bourbon (Whiskey)

Before this, I thought that Knob Creek was the best whiskey out there. However, after getting a chance to review Bulleit Bourbon has revealed that there is a serious contender to Knob Creek’s throne. Don’t let the bottle’s retro flair fool you: despite claims to the contrary, what is present in each bottle of Bulleit Bourbon is complex, full-bodied, and will be a whiskey experience that imbibers will not soon forget. The higher alcohol content of Bulleit (90 Proof) over other normal whiskey brands may seem daunting, but any burn is moderated with a smoothness that is unparalleled. Continue reading “Bulleit Bourbon (Whiskey)”