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Doogan's Views at The Digital Bits!
page added: 8/27/04




8/27/04 Weekly Release Roundup

My lord, there's a lot of stuff coming out this week.

Oh, I'm sorry... I disappeared again, didn't I? I promised many glorious things and didn't deliver. Well, I wish I could say that I'm sorry. But I can't. My life has gotten a bit complicated lately. That's an understatement of course. But I'm slowly getting things back and as I do, I will go back and fill in the two gaps in the weekly review columns.

That's more for the press people than it is for the readers though, 'cause most of you have already moved on and don't give a rat's butt what I think about something that came out two or three weeks ago. Don't lie - I know it's true.

I'm heading for a bitch of a surgery next week and will try very, very, very hard to get my column to Bill this coming weekend so he can post it before I go under the knife. More on that next week.

Enough about me, what say we just jump into the review pond, shall we.

First up is...


Dogville Dogville

Lion's Gate doesn't love me, but they love Jahnke. I don't blame them. I just met the guy last month and he's a dream. Read his in-depth review here.


Ella Enchanted Ella Enchanted

What do you get when you take your everyday chick in the city story, mix in A Knight's Tale's sensibility and Shrek's humor? You get this. I'm still not sure if it's any good. There's a message, and as so many of you alerted me to with my review of 13 Going on 30 that's really important in teen girl films. Why we need a movie to tell our children that's it's alright to be yourself and that you hold all of the power in making your own choices and creating your own destiny, I'll never know -- but as long Anne Hathaway is helping make that point, I'll watch. She's a dream. (I'm going to try and use that in every review today, see if it annoys you).

The DVD looks and sounds great. I can't complain. It's anamorphic with Dolby Digital 5.1, so it's got it going on. Extras are worthy of your average Disney release, even if this is a Miramax title. There's a music video by cute and spunky Kari Kimmel, a fluffy making-of featurette hosted by Hathaway and her co-star Hugh Dancy, a red carpet premiere featurette with a lot of making-of stuff in it, a gaggle of deleted and extended scenes, and commentary with the director, Hathaway and Dancy. If you thought the film was cute, you'll want to own this DVD. If you didn't, you're just a jaded mutha and probably need to subject yourself to it anyway, so get to it.


The Girl Next Door: Unrated Edition The Girl Next Door: Unrated Edition

That Elisha Cuthbert is a dream, ain't she? I was really hoping that this film would explore the ramifications of having a porn star who digs you, living next to you, but alas... it just don't. It's really more of what I thought it would be: Risky Business 2004. Here, Emile Hirsch plays Matthew, a kid who instead of interviewing to get into the college of his choice, already is in. But he has to give a speech that will decide if he gets a full scholarship. So it's different there, right? Uh-huh. Anyway, his parents don't go away, but his neighbor does, and currently living at the house is his neighbor's beautiful niece who happens to be a porn star. Her producer (or pimp in RB) shows up and makes Matt's life a little hellish and takes something he needs (but not a crystal statue). To repair everything, Elisha brings in her fellow porn star friends (remember when Cruise became the hooker's business manager?) and they save the day. It's cute, but derivative and it could have been so much cooler. Oh, well.

As derivative as the film may be, Girl Next Door on DVD pretty much rocks. This is the Unrated edition, which is the only edition as far as I'm concerned. It's presented in a very nice anamorphic widescreen and has Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Nothing stood out as being problematic and everything looked and sounded great. Extras include a handful of extended and deleted scenes (that don't add much) with optional commentary, a gag reel, a pop-up video style "commentary" track, a very fun and easy to listen to commentary with director Luke Greenfield, two short scene specific commentaries by Cuthbert and Hirsch, a fluffy EPK making-of and a very funny look at the AVN Awards with actor Chris "Eli" Marquette in character at the show. There's also some trailers, stills and a fun Easter egg. All in all, it's not a terrible film - it's actually quite cute and funny in spots. The DVD helps it go down a bit better though and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good coming-of-age flick.


Highwaymen Highwaymen

A by the book thriller and a by the book DVD. Jim "Call Me Jesus" Caviezel stars as a guy hunting down a madman (Colm Feore) who killed his wife in a hit and run. The two cat and mouse and the dreamy Rhona Mitra gets involved. It's really nothing to see, even if it's not a terrible film. New Line releases this as a movie-only DVD with both the anamorphic widescreen and full frame video presentations on one side. Both look fine. Audio is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, along with fuller DTS 5.1. Extras include trailers. That's it. Moving on...


I Vitelloni I Vitelloni

This film is Federico Fellini's snapshot of five young men taken at the moment they are forced to grow up and live a life defined by themselves. The five guys, slackers who live off their families, must come to grips with choices they've made or that are made for them. They have to start living lives instead of playing at it. It's a beautiful film both visually and emotionally. Although only his third film, I Vitelloni represents an unsurrealistic, or non-Felliniesque view of many of the themes he would go on to explore in his "greater" films. The personification of the town, immature men, streets at night, broken marriage and movie theaters are just a few things you'll find in this film that filter through the works of this legendary filmmaker. It's a pretty impactful work. In fact, many of our own American young-men-into-responsible-men films like Diner, American Graffiti and any number of films those two inspired owe a debt of gratitude to this film. It's good. It's important. And I guess that's why Criterion saw fit to bring it to our homes on DVD.

Criterion's treatment is just a dream, as stellar as you'd expect. The source has seen better days, but it looks wonderful on DVD. It's presented full frame, in black and white with mono sound. Extras are a bit light but include a short documentary with interviews of actors, crewmembers and friends of Fellini's, a collection of stills broken into four galleries, a trailer and liner notes by Tom Piazza. If you love films as much as I do, do yourself a favor and check this one out. It's definitely worth your time.


Laws of Attraction Laws of Attraction

I really thought this was a cute film. I dreaded putting it in, but in the end I really liked it. It's a throw back to those quick-witted MGM romance comedies. Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore play a pair of star divorce attorneys in NYC who fight off falling in love and try to make the best of it. The poo hits the fan when they "accidentally" get married while taking depositions in Ireland (watch the film - it makes sense). The issue of what divorce means and the questions it plays with are tackled in a very funny and loving way. The acting is great, the writing is fun and the directing is spot on. It's just a very good little comedy. Both a widescreen transfer and full frame presentation are included and they look great. The sound is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 and raised no complaints. Extras include some extended scenes and an alternate ending, as well as some trailers. I would have liked a little more, but this flick didn't really make any noise in theaters and New Line probably just sent out a standard disc. Maybe someday people will come to appreciate this film more and we can revisit it as a dreamy special edition. Someday being 10 years, 'cause I ain't buying this disc again right away New Line.


Purple Rain: 20th Anniversary Special Edition
Under the Cherry Moon
Graffiti Bridge


Purple Rain: 20th Anniversary Special EditionUnder the Cherry MoonGraffiti Bridge

Prince's trilogy is complete and on DVD. The only one getting the super stellar treatment: Purple Rain. But is that surprising? Not to me. Purple Rain is the semi-autobiographical story of The Kid and his rise, stumble and rise higher. Prince stars as himself along with his band and his favorite other band, Morris Day and The Time. This is one of the greatest rock films ever and supports one of my favorite CDs of all-time. Check it out. This new DVD special edition looks and sounds wonderful. It's anamorphic widescreen with a nice full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Extras include commentary with the director, producer and cinematographer. It's interesting, but not too enlightening. Disc Two features more extras like a look at the making of the film and a historical overview of Prince's First Avenue, the venue featured in the film. There's also a featurette on Prince's impact on pop culture, a whole bunch of archived music videos and a weird slice of Americana: MTV's premiere footage.

Under the Cherry Moon, is a cute little black and white Cole Porter homage flick known more for discovering Kristin Scott Thomas than for anything else. It also features a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Extras include the trailer and some more music videos.

Finally, Graffiti Bridge is a sequel of sorts to Purple Rain, but is more Broadway musical than film. It's not very good, but it has a certain look to it that keeps it from being totally dismissed. It also features a very good anamorphic widescreen as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, a trailer and music videos. All in all, these three films prove to be quite dreamy and worth your money, especially if you're a Prince fan.



Shaolin Soccer Shaolin Soccer

Stephen Chow plays Sing/Brother No. 5, a shaolin monk who's looking for a way to apply his special talents to a more modern world. First he thinks he can incorporate song and dance and entertain the world, but that proves to not work. Then, by accident, he meets up with a fallen soccer star who dreams of coaching a team. The two of them recruit the rest of Sing's shaolin brothers to start a team and defeat the standing champions: Team Evil. Can Sing, his new coach, his teammates and his new Tai-Chi powered love interest (the dreamy Vicki Zhao hiding behind bad skin and bald head at various points in the film) save the day? You bet. Thankfully Miramax releases this DVD with both the badly chopped American release and the original Chinese version on one disc. Both look good, but the preferred version for you should be the Chinese edit. It's more fun. The anamorphic widescreen transfers look good and the sound also kicks with Dolby Digital 5.1. There are no real extras, but having the original Chinese version is a bonus in my book.


Zatoichi Challenged
Zatoichi and the Fugitives
Samaritan Zatoichi


Zatoichi ChallengedZatoichi and the FugitivesSamaritan Zatoichi

The last three of the Home Vision Zatoichi films have arrived at last... and that makes Bill and I very happy boys. We'll be updating our complete look at these awesome flicks very soon, so stay tuned.



TV on DVD this week:

The Munsters: The Complete First Season
The Munsters: The Complete First Season

This is, without a doubt, my all-time most favorite TV show. So I'm pretty stoked that it's finally out on DVD. At least the first season, so far. Herman and his happy family of monsters with hearts of gold invade our homes in this very nice box set containing the first season's 38 episodes, plus the 15-minute preliminary pass pilot for My Fair Munster, the show's second episode. The episodes themselves look great in their full frame glory and sound good too in Dolby Digital 2.0. Sadly, there aren't any extras outside of the pilot. But maybe Universal is saving something for the next and last set (for Season Two). I'll keep my fingers crossed. Everyone hop into your Dragula, get to the store and pick yourself up a copy of the best damn show ever to grace our TVs.


Night Gallery: The Complete First Season
Night Gallery: The Complete First Season

So much hubbub online over this one. Is this DVD release a historical, archival presentation? No. It's not. But it ain't bad either. This was Rod Serling's follow up to Twilight Zone, and it's almost as revered. Maybe not as classic, Night Gallery is still a creepy and well-made TV series and a worthy addition to all of our TV on DVD collections. The episodes themselves look fine. They're presented full frame and they've been cleaned up. They're not flawless though. The pilot movie suffers the most, but it's still watchable. There are no extras and that's a shame, but we're finding with these classic presentations on DVD that the studios aren't going out of their way. It's nice when they do, but it's not common. The only things on here that could even remotely be considered "extra" are the six bonus episodes from other seasons. Hopefully, they're not here because Universal has decided upon a wait-and-see approach to whether or not additional season sets will follow. If not, then this set came out simply because they wanted to get the Spielberg directed episode on DVD and that's it. Either way, if you liked the show or you like Zone-esque fare, you'll be plenty pleased. You rabid fans will probably not be, but you knew that already.


Other TV titles out this week: The earthquake scare-a-thon 10.5. I'm fired? F-you! You're bankrupt! The Apprentice: The Complete First Season. More than meets anyone's eye: Beast Wars: Transformers - The Complete Third Season. A small place in my heart will always exist for this man: Benny Hill: Compete and Unadulterated - The Naughty Early Years Set 1 (1969-1971). I don't care. Do you care that Boy Meets World: The Complete First Season comes out this week? When does JR get shot? Probably not in the Dallas: The Complete First & Second Seasons. Who else can't wait for the movies? Farscape: Complete Third Season Boxed Set. Looks like I'm heading to the DVD store right now: Futurama: Volume Four. Gia: Unrated Edition - now with more lesbianism and boobs! No, the cartoon isn't any better than the film: Godzilla: The Series - The Monster Wars Trilogy. Harsh Realm: The Complete Series. Spike Lee's joint: Jim Brown: All-American get released. Why didn't I get this for review Brentwood? New Zoo Revue: Season 1. I love these two TV movies, don't you? Night Stalker/Night Strangler (Double Feature). Jamie Foxx is everywhere... Redemption. The World at War is great and so is Fairuza Balk in one of her first roles, the HBO kids film The Worst Witch.

Also available today: No, it's not Anaconda 2. It's Boa vs. Python, Sonny and Cher loved making this film so much they named their daughter after it: Chastity. Debbie Rochon stars in Corpses Are Forever. Dolphins rule in Flipper and Flipper's New Adventure. In case you like your gloriously shot in widescreen horror films cut down to full frame, run out and get The Hannibal Lecter Anthology - Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. He kissed Jesus and next week it's all about Jesus so here's Judas. Collies rule in Lassie Come Home, Courage of Lassie and Son of Lassie. I got nothing for these two: Lilith and Lord Jim. I always loved the poster for this flick: Night of the Demons. A new edition of Raising Victor Vargas streets. Linda Blair goes from possessed to passé in Roller Boogie. The chick who played a car buffer in a Whitesnake video stars in Witchboard and there's a new version of Zachariah out this week.

See? I told you. Lotta stuff came out this week.

Next week is just as voluminous. Hopefully I'll be able to get through it before I go nighty night and wake up in the happy land of painkillers. God, I hope I don't get addicted. That would suck and cramp my style as an alcoholic.

See you sooner than later...

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com


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