DVDs: Downton Abbey Has Gone Down, Down, Down In Quality
POLDARK The complete Collection ($79.99; Acorn) — Do not inform my mom, however Downton Abbey has swiftly declined from a pale imitation of the original Upstairs Downstairs to a pale imitation of Falcon Crest. She’s having fun with the show but I quickly switched from eagerness to see if the second season could build on the over-praised first to laughter at its foolishness to boredom. The first season lifted complete plot traces from U/D (and shamelessly from Mrs. Miniver) nevertheless it was fun. This season it has gone utterly off the rails, with episodes ending with soap-like revelations (complete with “da-dum!” foreboding musical cues), characters behaving utterly without rhyme or reason from one moment to the next. Why, for example, has Isobel Crawley gone from a wise if blunt woman to a blithering idiot The plot twists come so fast and furious all you can do is laugh. But they keep coming at a ludicrous pace, until even the guilty pleasure is drained out of it. Having seen the entire season, belief me — it would not pull itself collectively. Maggie Smith nonetheless manages to swat down one-liners with aplomb, however the remainder of the wonderful cast is thoroughly at a loss. You’d be much better off watcing Poldark, an earlier technology’s PBS sensation. This has all of the pleasures of Downton, together with the interval setting and juicy storylines. However it is intelligently performed and the characters don’t change from moment to moment and it all wraps up nicely in two seasons (although there have been many extra books for them to attract upon.) Downton, I worry, goes to be with us for a few years to return.
LADY AND THE TRAMP ($39.Ninety nine BluRay combo; Disney) — It’s a knee jerk reaction to refer to every single Disney animated film as a classic. But right below the top-tier of Snow White and Pinocchio and others, you will discover the second tier of superb movies which might be charming and have stood the take a look at of time — even when they’re not stone chilly masterpieces. In that group resides Lady and the Tramp, a sweet and charming tale bolstered by Peggy Lee’s terrific songs and some of the romantic kisses in display screen historical past. No surprise it is on the cowl of this set, which seems nice and options the strong extras that a Disney production deserves.
DRIVE ($39.99 BluRay; Sony)
THE IDES OF MARCH ($35.Ninety nine BluRay; Columbia) — Actor Ryan Gosling had the kind of yr each savvy actor longs for when constructing Cheap Stone Island a profession. He co-starred in the popular romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love and garnered attention for each his abs and his comedic chops. Then he took the cool character research Drive to Cannes where it obtained tons of acclaim for critics, launching a reasonably good field workplace run in addition to Oscar speak for his co-star Albert Brooks. He wound it up with the political drama The Ides Of March, which did in fact garner an Oscar nomination for director George Clooney’s screenplay. All Gosling needs now is an out-and-out hit (or better but franchise he can name his personal, a la Matt Damon’s Bourne movies) and he’ll have the ability to proceed making the sensible, daring movies he wants for years to come.
U2: FROM THE SKY DOWN ($24.98 BluRay; Island/Universal)
THE RICHARD THOMPSON BAND: Stay AT CELTIC CONNECTIONS ($19.98 BluRay; Eagle Rock)
CHRIS ISAAK Stay IN Live performance/Best HITS Stay ($17.Ninety seven BluRay; Picture)
X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC ($sixteen.Ninety five; Angel Media/MVD)
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: Stay IN Concert ($17.97 BluRay; Image) — The U2 documentary is a tremendous easy documentary that appeared within the lavish reissue of Achtung Child. This version is longer than that one, which appears fairly merciless should you forked over greater than $100 for the set. Nonetheless, it’s a solid take a look at a turning level within the band’s profession, albeit strictly for followers of the band already. Richard Thompson is a sterling stay act and one in all my all-time favorites, however this live performance is for his album Dream Attic, which is not one of his best. For the reason that live performance leans so closely on it, this present is just good and would not scale the peaks Thompson so typically does. Chris Isaak has quietly gone about amassing a chunk of great singles, but this awkward combination of two concerts accommodates three songs that appear on both (lots when the reveals only include eleven or 12 tunes). He’s fun and in good voice but deserves a greater stay document. Unlike U2, the LA band X delivered a really memorable documentary about their group before calling it a day, though X: The Unheard Music has been ignored for years, thanks to its lack of availability. This fine new set with extras should remedy that. Finally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are a legendary live act, but like Springsteen, they’ve never been well captured on film. The same, sadly, is true here of this tremendous however unremarkable performance for Soundstage.
A really HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS ($35.99; Warner Bros.) — Maybe it was the holiday season, but this third H&K movie acquired closer to the sweet spirit of the original than the slightly bitter sequel. And naturally there can never be sufficient of Neil Patrick Harris in self-mocking, lady-killer mode. Though the 3-D was used extensively in theaters, for some odd reason it’s just kind of dumbly amusing to see all sorts of things flying out at the digital camera even in 2-D. Will there be a fourth In fact there will probably be a fourth.
WINGS ($29.Ninety nine BluRay; Paramount)
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 50TH ANNIVERSARY ($26.98 BluRay; Common)
A STAR IS BORN 1937 ($29.Ninety five BluRay; Kino)
Wings was the final silent movie (certainly the one silent movie) to win the Oscar for Greatest Image and it is also memorable for one in all the nice display screen debuts — Gary Cooper makes an incredible impression in a small position as a doomed pilot. It could quickly be joined by the silent homage The Artist in that uncommon class. This properly restored BuRay showcases the nonetheless enjoyable if creaky film and kicks off a sequence of Paramount restorations. To Kill A Mockingbird can be beautifully offered by Common, which is sensible for one of many movies that actually deserves the phrase beloved. I prefer it higher than the e-book however have by no means been loopy about both (it is often good to maintain that to your self on a primary date; I can not inform you ways usually folks say, “However that is my favourite ebook!”) And A Star Is Born is all the time ripe for remake, however the Janet Gaynor and Frederick March version is simply too usually overshadowed by the Judy Garland and James Mason take. This sharp-wanting restoration is sweet though the all-however absent extras should not up to plain for a movie with this robust of a history.
TRANSFORMERS: Darkish OF THE MOON ($fifty four.Ninety nine three-D BluRay combo; Paramount)
Actual STEEL ($39.Ninety nine BluRay; Touchstone/Disney) — Why Transformers continues to make masses of cash is beyond me. I understand followers turning out for the unique and then seeing the sequel with hopes it is perhaps better. However certainly by the point of this third version, it is clear the noisiest and dumbest franchise round cannot be bothered to do something however smash issues collectively. The 3-D was pointless within the theater, frankly and it would even be marginally much less tiresome to look at the film on 2-D at dwelling than with the glasses. That does not nonetheless make the film any good. Actual Steel not less than bothered to provide you with a plot, albeit a hackneyed one a couple of dad finding frequent floor along with his estranged son by building and preventing robotic boxers. Hugh Jackman has terrible taste in scripts (or needs a manager who does). To go from this to appearing on Broadway where he can sing “Stepping Out” after which be greeted by actually hundreds of adoring followers afterwards…properly, it is a miracle if he ever makes a film once more.
SID & NANCY ($24.99 BluRay; MGM/Fox)
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM ($19.99 BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
Dead POETS SOCIETY ($19.Ninety nine BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE ($14.99 BluRay; Miramax) — First let me word the glad truth of falling costs for BluRay. I by no means thought they need to have been priced a penny more than DVDs and it’s nice to see classic titles coming out at $15 and $20 worth points, with sale costs even lower. Gary Oldman could be my decide for greatest actor this yr for his work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. However he is been wowing us for many years, together with his marvelously unhinged immersion into the role of Sid Vicious. Robin Williams tore it up within the uneven Good Morning Vietnam however wisely got out-of-the-method in Useless Poets and ceded the stage to the proficient younger college students led by Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke. Lastly, Shakespeare In Love is often seen as lighter fare that robbed Saving Personal Ryan of its Best Image Oscar, but it’s a fun romp and holds up quite nicely thanks.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA On the ROYAL ALBERT Corridor ($39.98 BluRay; Common) — In a number of days, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom will have fun its 10,000th efficiency on Broadway and has just passed its twenty fifth anniversary in existence. This lavish one-time staging at the Royal Albert Hall is a live efficiency starring Ramin karimloo and Sierra Boggess for broadcast world wide. it avoids the sterility of the Joel Schumacher movie and provides slightly oomph to a show so many individuals have seen in person already. I’ll take the music of Cats, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar over this, however nearly everybody else on the planet appears to disagree with me. Should you like it, this is a fine live model.
POIROT Series 1 ($forty nine.Ninety nine BluRay; Acorn)
STAR TREK The subsequent Era: The following Stage ($22.Ninety nine BluRay; Paramount) — I’ve seen David Suchet’s definitive efficiency as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, however I used to be not there initially. So I am very excited to start this sequence firstly and comply with him all the best way by way of from the primary thriller they broadcast (“The Journey Of The Clapham Cook”) proper right down to the ultimate no matter (Suchet is set to movie each single Poirot tale, no matter its origin). I do not suppose Poirot followers are obsessive about image high quality, however the BluRay appears to be like superb. It is a pity they could not have put out an enormous boxed set with, say, half of your complete run in chronological order in a single place, reasonably than dribbling out these season by season releases for a present that has been on so lengthy. However you cannot have the whole lot…until you are a Star Trek fan. Paramount is set to provide you with what you need and certainly these followers do care about hello-def. This teaser set comprises three episodes from ST: TNG transformed into excessive-definition and the outcomes are fairly gorgeous so far stone island supreme jumper as the extent of element now seen. it is positive to get followers chomping on the bit for the BluRay released of the whole collection after such cautious remastering.
THE Moment OF Fact ($29.Ninety nine BluRay; Criterion)
THREE Widespread Movies BY JEAN-PIERRE GORIN ($forty four.Ninety five; Eclipse/Criterion) — I’ve by no means loved my homework greater than now when it comes from Criterion. When other labels reissue films, it’s normally movies I’ve seen like Shakespeare In Love and To Kill A Mockingbird. However when Criterion reissues a film, it is typically a film I am utterly unfamiliar with however am sure to seek out fascinating. I can not wait to get to the bullfighting drama The Moment Of Reality, by Italian director Francesco Rosi, starring actual-life matador Migeulin. I can only assume that Hemingway liked it. And from their marvelous Eclipse sequence comes three documentaries by Gorin that target twin sisters, mannequin prepare fans and a Samoan road gang. All from the 1980s and all of which are completely new to me — for any other label, that may be regarding. But when Criterion takes the time to place it out, it is sure to be value your time too.
THE House ($24.Ninety nine every on BluRay; MGM) — I’ve reviewed a string of previous movies that were reissued in the previous few weeks — To Kill A Mockingbird, A Star Is Born, Wings and so forth. I’ve casually talked about that they appear good to nice. It is easy to take with no consideration the work and expense that wants to enter those releases so that they do look good…but not when you are confronted with lazy work executed right here. This batch of six titles from the MGM library are all on BluRay and belief me, these should not restorations and even remasterings however simply no matter print was out there slapped onto Bluray after which given the insulting tagline “The last word excessive-Definition Expertise.” Uh, hardly, not when my years-outdated DVDs look just about the identical. The start of Woody Allen’s Manhattan is some of the famed openers in movie historical past and should stun you with its lavish black and white. Right here it looks grainy and ugly, as if smog has descended on New York. In any case these years, you’d suppose they’d need to do it proper. The identical is true with each different movie right here; they’re at greatest no higher than the newest DVD releases. That is puzzling to say the least since by now studios notice the worth of their movie libraries and few administrators are extra well-liked than Alfred Hitchcock. However right here he have one in every of his greatest (Infamous), one in all his worst (Spellbound) and a work-for-rent that received Greatest Image (Rebecca) all delivered with indifference. Ditto Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Annie Corridor, in addition to Billy Wilder’s coruscating The Residence. I’d have two or three of those six movies on my all-time greatest record. However should you already personal them, there is not any motive to purchase these BluRays. And if you do not personal them, purchase a used or new DVD at a less expensive worth and wait till they do it proper.
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Thanks for studying. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop tradition podcast that reveals the trade take on leisure information of the day and options high journalists and opinion makers as friends. It’s obtainable totally free on iTunes. Go to Michael Giltz at his webpage and his each day weblog. Obtain his podcast of superstar interviews and his radio present, additionally known as Popsurfing and in addition accessible totally free on iTunes. Hyperlink to him on Netflix and acquire entry to hundreds of scores and opinions.
Word: Michael Giltz is provided with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he would be considering them for assessment. Generally, he doesn’t assure to overview and he receives way more titles than he can cowl.
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