DVDs: Downton Abbey Has Gone Down, Down, Down In Quality
POLDARK The entire Assortment ($79.99; Acorn) — Don’t tell my mother, but Downton Abbey has swiftly declined from a pale imitation of the original Upstairs Downstairs to a pale imitation of Falcon Crest. She’s enjoying the present however I rapidly switched from eagerness to see if the second season may construct on the over-praised first to laughter at its foolishness Stone to boredom. The first season lifted complete plot lines from U/D (and shamelessly from Mrs. Miniver) but it was fun. This season it has gone fully off the rails, with episodes ending with cleaning soap-like revelations (full with “da-dum!” foreboding musical cues), characters behaving completely without rhyme or purpose from one second to the next. Why, for instance, has Isobel Crawley gone from a sensible if blunt woman to a blithering idiot The plot twists come so fast and furious all you can do is chortle. But they keep coming at a ludicrous pace, until even the guilty pleasure is drained out of it. Having seen your entire season, trust me — it doesn’t pull itself together. Maggie Smith still manages to swat down one-liners with aplomb, but the rest of the effective forged is completely at a loss. You’d be much better off watcing Poldark, an earlier generation’s PBS sensation. This has all the pleasures of Downton, including the period setting and juicy storylines. But it’s intelligently achieved and the characters don’t change from moment to moment and it all wraps up nicely in two seasons (even though there were many more books for them to attract upon.) Downton, I worry, is going to be with us for many years to come.
LADY AND THE TRAMP ($39.99 BluRay combo; Disney) — It’s a knee jerk response to refer to every single Disney animated movie as a basic. But right beneath the top-tier of Snow White and Pinocchio and others, you’ll find the second tier of very good films that are charming and have stood the test of time — even when they are not stone cold masterpieces. In that group resides Lady and the Tramp, a sweet and charming tale bolstered by Peggy Lee’s terrific songs and one of the vital romantic kisses in screen history. No wonder it’s on the cover of this set, which looks nice and features the robust extras that a Disney production deserves.
DRIVE ($39.Ninety nine BluRay; Sony)
THE IDES OF MARCH ($35.Ninety nine BluRay; Columbia) — Actor Ryan Gosling had the form of year every savvy actor longs for when building a career. He co-starred in the popular romantic comedy Crazy Stupid Love and garnered attention for both his abs and his comedic chops. Then he took the cool character examine Drive to Cannes the place it acquired tons of acclaim for critics, launching a pretty good box office run as well as Oscar talk for his co-star Albert Brooks. He wound it up with the political drama The Ides Of March, which did actually garner an Oscar nomination for director George Clooney’s screenplay. All Gosling wants now could be an out-and-out hit (or higher but franchise he can call his own, a la Matt Damon’s Bourne films) and he’ll be capable of continue making the smart, bold films he wants for years to come.
U2: FROM THE SKY DOWN ($24.98 BluRay; Island/Universal)
THE RICHARD THOMPSON BAND: Dwell AT CELTIC CONNECTIONS ($19.98 BluRay; Eagle Rock)
CHRIS ISAAK Dwell IN Concert/Greatest HITS Live ($17.97 BluRay; Image)
X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC ($16.95; Angel Media/MVD)
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: Live IN Concert ($17.97 BluRay; Image) — The U2 documentary is a high-quality easy documentary that appeared in the lavish reissue of Achtung Baby. This edition is longer than that one, which seems pretty cruel for those who forked over more than $a hundred supreme e stone island for the set. Nonetheless, it’s a stable have a look at a turning point in the band’s profession, albeit strictly for fans of the band already. Richard Thompson is a sterling live act and one of my all-time favorites, but this concert is for his album Dream Attic, which is not considered one of his finest. Because the concert leans so heavily on it, this show is just good and doesn’t scale the peaks Thompson so typically does. Chris Isaak has quietly gone about amassing a chunk of great singles, but this awkward mixture of two concert events comprises three songs that seem on each (rather a lot when the exhibits only include 11 or 12 tunes). He’s fun and in good voice but deserves a greater reside doc. In contrast to U2, the LA band X delivered a extremely memorable documentary about their group before calling it a day, though X: The Unheard Music has been ignored for years, because of its lack of availability. This high-quality new set with extras ought to treatment that. Lastly, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are a legendary dwell act, but like Springsteen, they’ve never been effectively captured on film. The same, sadly, is true here of this nice however unremarkable efficiency for Soundstage.
A really HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS ($35.Ninety nine; Warner Bros.) — Perhaps it was the holiday season, but this third H&Ok movie acquired closer to the sweet spirit of the original than the moderately bitter sequel. And naturally there can by no means be sufficient of Neil Patrick Harris in self-mocking, lady-killer mode. Although the three-D was used extensively in theaters, for some odd cause it’s just form of dumbly amusing to see all kinds of things flying out at the digicam even in 2-D. Will there be a fourth In fact there shall be a fourth.
WINGS ($29.Ninety nine BluRay; Paramount)
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 50TH ANNIVERSARY ($26.98 BluRay; Universal)
A STAR IS BORN 1937 ($29.95 BluRay; Kino)
Wings was the last silent film (indeed the only silent film) to win the Oscar for Finest Picture and it is also memorable for one among the nice display debuts — Gary Cooper makes an incredible impression in a small function as a doomed pilot. It could soon be joined by the silent homage The Artist in that rare category. This nicely restored BuRay showcases the still enjoyable if creaky film and kicks off a sequence of Paramount restorations. To Kill A Mockingbird can also be beautifully offered by Common, which is sensible for one of the films that actually deserves the word beloved. I like it better than the e book but have never 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 people say, “But that’s my favorite e book!”) And A Star Is Born is always ripe for remake, but the Janet Gaynor and Frederick March edition is just too typically overshadowed by the Judy Garland and James Mason take. This sharp-trying restoration is nice although the all-but absent extras are not up to standard for a movie with this strong of a history.
TRANSFORMERS: Dark OF THE MOON ($54.99 3-D BluRay combo; Paramount)
Real STEEL ($39.99 BluRay; Touchstone/Disney) — Why Transformers continues to make hundreds of cash is beyond me. I understand fans turning out for the original and then seeing the sequel with hopes it could be better. But surely by the time of this third edition, it is clear the noisiest and dumbest franchise around can’t be bothered to do anything but smash things together. The 3-D was pointless in the theater, frankly and it might even be marginally less tiresome to watch the movie on 2-D at dwelling than with the glasses. That doesn’t nevertheless make the film any good. Actual Steel at the least bothered to give you a plot, albeit a hackneyed one about a dad finding frequent ground with his estranged son by building and fighting robot boxers. Hugh Jackman has terrible style in scripts (or needs a manager who does). To go from this to showing on Broadway the place he can sing “Stepping Out” and then be greeted by actually 1000’s of adoring fans afterwards…well, it’s a miracle if he ever makes a movie again.
SID & NANCY ($24.99 BluRay; MGM/Fox)
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM ($19.Ninety nine BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
Lifeless POETS SOCIETY ($19.Ninety nine BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE ($14.Ninety nine BluRay; Miramax) — First let me notice the comfortable reality of falling prices for BluRay. I never thought they should have been priced a penny more than DVDs and it is good to see basic titles popping out at $15 and $20 value points, with sale costs even lower. Gary Oldman can be my pick for best actor this year for his work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But he’s been wowing us for decades, including his marvelously unhinged immersion into the function of Sid Vicious. Robin Williams tore it up in the uneven Good Morning Vietnam but correctly bought out-of-the-manner in Lifeless Poets and ceded the stage to the gifted young students led by Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke. Finally, Shakespeare In Love is often seen as lighter fare that robbed Saving Non-public Ryan of its Greatest Image Oscar, however it is a enjoyable romp and holds up fairly properly thanks.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA At the ROYAL ALBERT Hall ($39.98 BluRay; Universal) — In a couple of days, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom will have a good time its 10,000th performance on Broadway and has simply handed its twenty fifth anniversary in existence. This lavish one-time staging on the Royal Albert Corridor is a reside efficiency starring Ramin karimloo and Sierra Boggess for broadcast all over the world. it avoids the sterility of the Joel Schumacher film and adds a bit of oomph to a present so many individuals have seen in particular person already. I will take the music of Cats, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar over this, however just about everyone else on the earth seems to disagree with me. If you happen to like it, it is a nice reside model.
POIROT Collection 1 ($forty nine.Ninety nine BluRay; Acorn)
STAR TREK The following Era: The following Degree ($22.99 BluRay; Paramount) — I’ve seen David Suchet’s definitive performance as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, however I used to be not there firstly. So I am very excited to start this collection in the beginning and comply with him all the best way by from the first mystery they broadcast (“The Adventure Of The Clapham Cook”) proper right down to the ultimate no matter (Suchet is decided 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 seems to be superb. It is a pity they could not have put out a large boxed set with, say, half of your complete run in chronological order in a single place, slightly than dribbling out these season by season releases for a present that has been on so lengthy. However you cannot have the whole lot…except you are a Star Trek fan. Paramount is decided to offer you what you need and absolutely these followers do care about hello-def. This teaser set incorporates three episodes from ST: TNG transformed into excessive-definition and the outcomes are fairly gorgeous so far as the extent of element now seen. it is positive to get followers chomping on the bit for the BluRay launched of your entire series after such careful remastering.
THE Moment OF Reality ($29.Ninety nine BluRay; Criterion)
THREE Popular Movies BY JEAN-PIERRE GORIN ($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 motion pictures, it is often films 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 am unable to wait to get to the bullfighting drama The Second Of Reality, by Italian director Francesco Rosi, starring real-life matador Migeulin. I can solely assume that Hemingway loved it. And from their marvelous Eclipse sequence comes three documentaries by Gorin that target twin sisters, mannequin prepare fans and a Samoan avenue gang. All from the 1980s and all of that are utterly new to me — for any other label, that may be regarding. However when Criterion takes the time to put it out, it is sure to be value your time too.
THE Residence ($24.Ninety nine every on BluRay; MGM) — I’ve reviewed a string of previous motion pictures that were reissued in the last few weeks — To Kill A Mockingbird, A Star Is Born, Wings and so forth. I’ve casually talked about that they give the impression of being good to nice. It is simple to take without any consideration the work and expense that needs to go into these releases so that they do look good…however not when you are confronted with lazy work done right here. This batch of six titles from the MGM library are all on BluRay and belief me, these will not be restorations and even remasterings but just whatever print was available slapped onto Bluray and then given the insulting tagline “The ultimate high-Definition Expertise.” Uh, hardly, not when my years-previous DVDs look nearly the identical. The start of Woody Allen’s Manhattan is probably the most famed openers in film history and should stun you with its lavish black and white. Here it looks grainy and ugly, as if smog has descended on New York. In spite of everything these years, you’d suppose they’d wish to do it proper. The identical is true with each different film here; they are at best no better than the most recent DVD releases. That’s puzzling to say the least since by now studios realize 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 best (Notorious), one of his worst (Spellbound) and a work-for-hire 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 would have two or three of these six films on my all-time best list. But if you already personal them, there isn’t any purpose to purchase these BluRays. And if you do not personal them, purchase a used or new DVD at a less expensive price and wait till they do it proper.
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Thanks Stone Island Shirts 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 prime journalists and opinion makers as visitors. It is out there without spending a dime on iTunes. Go to Michael Giltz at his webpage and his each day weblog. Obtain his podcast of movie star interviews and his radio present, additionally called Popsurfing and likewise out there for free on iTunes. Hyperlink to him on Netflix and acquire entry to hundreds of scores and evaluations.
Observe: Michael Giltz is supplied with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he could be contemplating them for overview. Generally, he doesn’t assure to evaluation and he receives way more titles than he can cowl.