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Moriarty's DVD Shelf! THE HOSPITAL, JUGGERNAUT, HOLES, And CHEECH & CHONG!

Published at: Oct. 14, 2008, 6:01 p.m. CST by Moriarty

Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...

I think I’ve got it figured out.

You know what I really love about having a large collection of movies? And when I say “large,” I mean that compared to most normal people, and not compared to Harry, who no longer counts as human, having long since turned into some bizarre form of cinemutant, spontaneously growing up to 20 new titles every day.

What I love is the collision of the new and the old. I love knowing that at any given time, there are 15 or 20 titles in the house that I’ve never seen, and at least that many films that are old friends just waiting to be revisited for the first time in years.

Oh... and just to clarify for those of you who wrote in to my e-mail address or those who quizzed me about it in chat or on AOL IM or who didn’t bother to ask, but who have been mocking me silently... yes, I said “daily.” Yes, I’m a moron. Let’s revise that estimate to “nearly daily.” I managed four columns the first week, then promptly dropped the ball hard this week. I’d like to average about three or four a week. I think that’s a more realistic pace. I’d like to make Monday a regular anchor date so that we can do a preview of that week’s new titles. Other than that, I think we’ll play it by ear. I promise... I’ll do as many as I can, and I’ll try to pack each one of them full for you. Your letters have been enormously supportive since I started this new version of the column, and I can tell that you guys dig DVD as much as I do. It’s fun, tapping into that and starting these conversations.

Today’s column, for example, is going to be fairly overstuffed, and that’s by design. I slacked off, and even though I was watching a number of films, I wasn’t writing about them. I want to use this column as a way of creating a large archive of mini-reviews, and that means keeping up with the pace at which I watch things. I think the discipline will help with the other stuff I’m doing.

THIS WEEK’S NEW RELEASES

A couple of titles jumped off this week’s list at me. HOLES. A MIGHTY WIND. THE SHAPE OF THINGS. One of the release lists I check showed both THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW and THEY LIVE as coming out on Tuesday, even though originally I heard they were set for the end of the month. In both cases, we’re talking about new anamorphic transfers for catalog titles, just like with the two BABE films. IN COLD BLOOD is a classic. THE BEDFORD INCIDENT, classic. THE HILLS HAVE EYES... well, maybe not a classic, but it’s got its particular charms, and I hear the extra features on the disc are great. That BATTLE OF THE PLANETS set looks cool, and I’d love to hear a break-down of it from a hardcore fan. I know many of you are interested in the SMALLVILLE Season One Box, but you might want to go over to the Home Theater Forum and check out THIS DISCUSSION THREAD!!

Here’s the post that sets the discussion off:

Looks like Warner Brothers botched up "Smallville: Season 1" big time. I was looking forward to this set so much that I asked several people to get it as a birthday gift for me this past Friday. Bad idea as I ended up with two copies. That's not the worst part, though:

Upon my first viewing I noticed compression artifacts galore. Even the WB clouds intro logo is horribly compressed. So I popped it into my DVD-ROM drive to analyse the amount of data that was being used for each episode. To my surprise, I found that each of the 4 episodes are actually recorded TWICE on each disc. That's right, there are 8 episodes (over six hours, combined) in total on the dual layered disc! It's no wonder there are compression artifacts out the ying yang. Both copies of each episode seem identical. Title 1 on each DVD consists of all four episodes stuck together, whereas title 3,4,5,6 consist of each episode separatley. So why would Warner waste half the space on the DVD by having two of each episode??? This has to be one of the greatest mastering blunders ever. Each of the 6 discs suffer from the same duplicate episode problem. Hopefully they will issue some sort of recall. I cannnot believe this!

Update: The mastering error can be confirmed by viewing each 'title' number that is displayed on the DVD player while the disc is playing. If you select 'play' in the main menu, Title 1 starts, and all episodes will play in order (since they are recorded as one big chunk), but if you select "Episodes" in the main menu, instead of viewing Title 1, you jump to Title 3,4,5, or 6 depending on which episode you select. So they are definitly all on the disc twice!

Marc Carra

You should read the whole thread, and all of the opinions offered, but if someone’s reporting such a dramatic mastering error, it’s worth pointing out, especially on a more expensive title like this. If I promise not to judge you for buying ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, then you have promise not to judge me for buying CASPER. In fact, let’s promise we’ll both track down and purchase SHOAH and SICK: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST as penance for our guilty pleasures, and we can call it even.

Next week is packed. In fact, it’s a little crippling if you ask me. THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD is an absolute no-question must-have for me. I haven’t seen BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, but who am I to resist the sexiest tomboy beanpole on the planet? CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES had great festival buzz, but I never managed to see it. Blue Underground is releasing their CHRISTOPHER LEE COLLECTION, and I’m particularly looking forward to CIRCUS OF FEAR. If you didn’t see IFC’s A DECADE UNDER THE INFLUENCE (or if you did and, like me, thought it was a great look at one of cinema’s most exciting moments, a primer worth preserving), it’s worth watching and even rewatching. I am drawn to what is evidently a train crash in the form of DREAMCATCHER, if only to verify the magnitude of the mistake.

There’s that special edition of FARGO and even better, a special edition of RUDY. The big news in special editions for the day is SCARFACE, though. I just wrote about seeing that one in the theater in last week’s RUMBLINGS, but if you’re not in one of the few markets where Focus Features re-released it, you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy. Also, Warner Bros. is putting out collector’s sets for YANKEE DOODLE DANDY and THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, films I love for very different reasons, and totally different moods.

See what I mean? It just goes on and on and on. For some people, none of those are going to be their first choice. They’re going to pick up THE TICK: THE COMPLETE SERIES or they’re counting down the days until the release of the 25th anniversary edition of THE WHO: THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Or there’s something that’s not even on my list, and that’s the specific thing they’re salivating for.

And we’re just now entering the Golden Quarter, when the studios are given permission to pick your pockets weekly. They’re not even subtle about it. I count nearly 150 titles between now and the end of the year that I’m interested in. That means I’m in for a whole string of brutal new release Tuesdays in the weeks ahead...

... and I’m loving every second of complaining...

FROM THE SHELF

Since the last column, my viewing schedule went kerblooey. I was out and about, enjoying some time away from the Labs. Even so, I’m still watched a number of things, basking in that collision I was talking about earlier. Old and new, all jumbled together.

I reached the switch from disc four to disc five of the BABYLON 5 Season Three box set, and I reached the two-part episode, “War Without End.” If you’re familiar with the show, then you can probably understand how completely and utterly bitchslapped I felt by the episodes. Those two hours paid off all the time I’ve put into watching so far. Dear God... what a wild way to turn a series inside out. The moment between Londo and G’kar... you know the one I mean... paid off about ten different things at once in a magnificent mindfuck. Wow. Seriously. Wow.

Wish I could say that same sort of enthusiastic “wow” regarding MGM’s release of THE HOSPITAL, a wonderful Arthur Hiller film that featured one of Paddy Cheyefksy’s great angry screenplays about an institution out of control. I love the movie. Diana Rigg is just gorgeous in the film, all hippied up and sexy as hell, and George C. Scott summons his best bluster. They’re given able support by a cast of excellent character actors like Frances Sternhagen and Bernard Hughes and Richard Dysart and even a very young and chipmunk-cheeked Stockard Channing. If you’ve seen NETWORK, but you’ve never seen this one, then you definitely have to check it out. Patients and doctors are both turning up dead at an under-funded, under-staffed, over-regulated big city hospital. As always, Cheyefsky paints his characters with ferocious precision, emotionally eviscerating them for our entertainment. People talk in his films. And talk. And talk and talk. And somehow, it never slows the movies down. It’s not dry at all. Part of it is the really cold-blooded wit of his dialogue, and part of it is the way his screenplays are so theatrical that they somehow turn artifice into honesty. There was something divinely inspired about every element of NETWORK that still elevates it to a singular position on Cheyefsky’s filmography, but this is a great showcase for this great artist’s work, and the film itself has aged like a fine wine.

Of course, MGM doesn’t think so. Sure, they put the film out finally, but they totally assed up the transfer. Or at least, that’s what Jeffrey Wells claims. Read his column about the f’ed up transfer here if you’re interested. I don’t often see eye-to-eye with Wells, but if he dislikes a transfer on a DVD, he can be the squeakiest damn wheel I’ve ever heard, and that’s a good thing. It’s important that we speak up and tell home video companies exactly what it is that we like and dislike about their releases, and it’s doubly important that we follow up on those likes and dislikes with the way we spend our money. I watched the disc, and I paid close attention to the composition. It didn’t seem dramatically misframed to me, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a letterboxed transfer of the movie before, and I never saw it in a theater, so I’ve got nothing to compare it to. Now, if the transfer is as indefensibly wrong as Wells claims, then I think it’s important for people not to buy the film, not to support another half-assed transfer just because it’s a title we want. On the other hand, damn it, I think it’s important to support these great catalog releases in order to encourage the studios to keep flooding us with older titles. I’d love to talk with someone from MGM/UA Home Video about this or PRIZZI’S HONOR. I like the pricing on their titles. I want to support them in theory. They’ve got a hell of a lot of movies in their vaults that should see the light of day somewhere down the line. I remember when laserdisc was big for collectors in the early ‘90s. MGM/UA had an amazing reputation. They took good care of their titles. A guy named George Feltenstein was the guy in charge, and I had numerous conversations with him where it was obvious... he loved the MGM catalog. He loved releasing the films on laserdisc. He loved putting together great teams who produced beautiful discs. The catalog’s the same these days, but as a consumer, I’m finding myself increasingly irritated by even the most basic decisions on some of these films I’ve been waiting to buy.

To be fair, I really liked the discs they did recently for Cronenberg’s THE BROOD and the Dan Curtis high-camp BURNT OFFERINGS. The discs were well-priced, well-mastered, and they offer the best prints of the respective films that I’ve ever seen. I still love THE BROOD as much now as I did when I first saw it. It’s deranged and political and filled with images that are still creepy. On the other hand, I don’t still love BURNT OFFERINGS, which is a very, very silly film. Karen Black is at her cross-eyed craziest and Oliver Reed seems to have embraced his more feminine side in a performance that would make Hank Azaria in THE BIRDCAGE look butch. I think they both realized that Bette Davis, near the end of her life, had gone so far over the top that it would take a rocket to catch up to her. I guess there’s some freak value to be had from a viewing of the film. I can’t bring myself to listen to the commentary track by director Curtis, co-writer William F. Nolan, and Karen Black. If it’s even slightly self-congratulatory on a pile of dung like this, I’d end up laughing at it. I always remember the ending of this film as being very disturbing, but I was also six years old when the film came out. Seeing it now, it all seemed to ridiculous for words.

Of course, now I’m doomed to angry e-mail from legions of rabid DARK SHADOWS fans, but... then again... they’re DARK SHADOWS fans, so what does it matter?

For a non-horror title, I also thought MGM did a good job with JUGGERNAUT, a 1974 thriller directed by Richard Lester. This is one of those movies I always knew by reputation, but which I’d never seen. Richard Harris, Omar Sharif, and Anthony Hopkins all star in this story of a bomb expert (Harris) going head-to-head with a mysterious terrorist called Juggernaut, who sets bombs all over a British cruise ship. This is the film that SPEED 2 desperately wanted to be, and it’s still pretty tense and exciting stuff. David Hemmings, Shirley Knight, and Ian Holm are among the excellent character actors who fill out the passengers and the crew. Lester’s comic side is evident in the film’s first half, but once things get tense, Lester is smart enough not to undercut the urgency of things with out-of-place jokes. It’s a good-looking transfer, and thriller fans can probably find this as low as $9 new if they really go hunting for it.

IFC Films and DocuRama have both issued any number of good and worthwhile titles now, and there’s a section of my free screener shelf where I’ve got several of the oddball titles they’ve sent over just ready and waiting, just in case the mood strikes. The other day, it struck, and I ended up putting on BAADASSSSS CINEMA, directed by Isaac Julien. It’s a guided tour through the rise and fall of blaxploitation films, packed with clips from everything and interviews with everyone. I’m sure no one will be shocked to hear that Quentin Tarantino is one of those who gets interviewed. He’s just one of many, though, and Julien lets the people who were there tell their own stories. There is quite a bit of material about the social debates sparked by these films. We’re still arguing about the use and abuse of stereotype and caricature in films thirty years later, so it’s up to you if you can set the controversy aside and just enjoy these films for what they were... an explosion of talent that felt unfettered for the first time, able to tell stories about people they recognized, filled with details they’d never seen onscreen before. The crime genre was huge, and it’s fun to see Julien point out all the great things that made SUPERFLY or THE MACK or SHAFT so interesting and fresh. There’s some great rare footage here, like the actual recording session for the classic Isaac Hayes theme for SHAFT. The band looks EXACTLY like it sounds like they would look, cool studio pros who just cook when put together. If you have even a passing interest in the genre, this is a great primer, a collection of some of the best moments along with a close-up look at who these people are today. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Pam Grier. The clips from her films seem to have an entirely welcome focus on nudity, and if that doesn’t convince you to buy the disc, nothing will.

I picked up LAUREL CANYON used. I was curious while it was still in theaters. After all, I was quite taken with HIGH ART, Lisa Cholodenko’s previous film. I never really heard anyone wax rhapsodic about this new one, though, so it took the recent announcement that Christian Bale had been cast as Batman to finally motivate me to pick up a copy of this Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment release. It’s a striking anamorphic transfer, and a particularly effective sound mix. Music plays an important role in this film, and this disc pays proper attention to making sure that music is practically another character in the movie. It’s proof that it doesn’t take an action film to show off the sound on a DVD.

Overall, I thought the film was decent, with a great appealing performance by Frances McDormand that almost single-handedly justifies owning the movie. Bale plays her estranged son, an uptight overachiever whose whole life seems to be a response to the nearly-controlled chaos that McDormand thrives on. She’s a record producer, and a fairly successful one, but her personal life is a shambles. Bale comes to LA with his new fiancée, played by Kate Beckinsale, and she’s every bit the uptight dork that he is at first. They’re an appropriate couple. Gradually, though, when they have to share a house with his mother and the band she’s working with, Beckinsale becomes drawn into their world. The lead singer of the band, played by FACE-OFF’s Alessandro Nivola, is a bit of a jerk, but he’s smitten with McDormand and her worldliness. Basically, all Kate needs is some good music, some good weed, and some kinky three-way action with her fiance’s mother, and it turns out she’s not nearly the dork she thought she was. Beckinsale is one of the most beautiful actresses in film today, but it seems like she’s still looking for “the” role, that showcase for everything she’s capable of. Until that comes along, she does interesting work in mixed bags like this and Matthew Bright’s TIPTOES, or she gets stuck in bland big-budget stinkers like PEARL HARBOR, stranded with nothing to do. Please... someone figure her out and make a great movie. Quick.

The alchemy of stardom is all about the right role and the right actor, and it’s always impressive when things come together just right. For example, Shia LaBeouf made a pretty big impression on me this summer in PROJECT GREENLIGHT, but I never felt compelled to get out to see THE BATTLE OF SHAKER HEIGHTS. Instead, I decided to wait and see his other film, also released earlier this year in theaters. Glad I did, too, because as first impressions go, Walt Disney’s HOLES is a sturdy, well-made family film that gives LaBeouf a chance to shine. Of course, when I went to play the film the other day, my co-writer Scott grumbled, “The only film called HOLES that I want to watch would star Hillary Duff and Alisha Klass,” and I understand his marked lack of enthusiasm at first. I thought the trailers for this film were terrible, and Andrew Davis has been sporadic at best lately. Like McTiernan, he made his name on action films, then branched out with decidedly mixed results.

He lucked out, then, this time around, with an adaptation of a Newberry Award-winning book by Louis Sachar. I’ve never read the book, but Sachar wrote the screenplay himself, and there’s a commentary track here where fans can listen to Davis and Sachar talk about how they adapted it, and the hard choices anyone writing an adaptation has to make. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the film as a whole, considering how there were many parts I had trouble with. I think it’s clumsy in places, Jon Voight is flat-out terrible in it, and it wraps everything up in a bow through a set of coincidences that push the envelope of what we’ll tolerate in the name of tidy conclusions. Despite that, it is entertaining, and LaBeouf steps up here and proves that all the hype surrounding him right now is entirely justified. He’s like a young John Cusack, a gifted and natural comic performer who manages to bring a reality to every moment. Get used to this kid. He’s going to be making movies until he’s 90. And as good as he is, he never overpowers the film completely. Sigourney Weaver does nice work with an underwritten villain role, and Tim Blake Nelson mines some real comic gold from his part. Of the other kids, Khleo Thomas is the obvious stand-out, a caramel-complexioned miniature version of Sideshow Bob from THE SIMPSONS. He and LaBeouf pretty much carry the middle of the movie, and how much you enjoy it will depend largely on how much you enjoy watching them. Some of the film is too precious for its own good, like the way every male in the Yelnats family is named Stanley “because it’s Yelnats backwards,” or the oh-so-cute nicknames for every one of the kids at Camp Green Lake. Still, the setup for the film is clever and presents a fun mystery worth unraveling. There’s some surprisingly adult material about racism in the film, and that extra li’l bit of honesty is what won me over in the end. HOLES is a solid effort and, if you’ll excuse the pun, I dug it. As is usually the case with Disney DVDs, the sound and picture is outstanding, and including both a cast commentary and a filmmaker’s commentary really boosts the repeat value on the extras.

I’m trying to figure out which disc annoys me more: the recent Warner Bros. 20th Anniversary Edition of NAT’L LAMPOON’S VACATION, or the recent Universal catalog release of CHEECH & CHONG’S NEXT MOVIE. I love both films, but when films get mishandled like this, it almost makes you wish they’d waited and done the job right later.

VACATION is a classic comedy. It’s a subject that millions of families can relate to, and we’ve all probably got scars and stories to prove it. The film is darker and dirtier than most people remember, and it pulls no punches in the way it paints the Griswolds. The reason this film is so much better than the sequels is because it understands... the Griswolds are victims. Fate is conspiring with circumstance and dumb luck to prevent them from enjoying their trip across America, and all Clark (Chase) wants to do is give his family an experience they’ll always remember. It’s easy to forget that at one point, Hughes was the Oliver Stone of comedy, a 900-pound gorilla of a screenwriter who crafted gem after gem with surprising ease. NEXT MOVIE isn’t quite as coherent as UP IN SMOKE, and it never quite hits the heights of NICE DREAMS, but all three of the early Cheech & Chong movies are easy to like and packed with gags. In both cases, these are films I’m pleased to add to my collection.

Frankly, though, neither disc is very good. VACATION boasts a number of extras, but the “all-new introduction” with Chevy Chase, Randy Quaid, and Matty Simmons turns out to be lame, unfunny, and brief. This is the Chevy Chase we know today... bitter, with a barely repressed anger that seems to color every word he says. The audio commentary is frustrating. Where’s Beverly D’Angelo? Isn’t this supposed to be a track reuniting the Griswolds? D’Angelo is supposedly on the commentary for the upcoming CHRISTMAS VACATION disc, so why couldn’t she be on this one, too? It’s nice hearing Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron there, but Chevy doesn’t seem terribly interested in talking to either of them, and his attitude drags everyone else down. In fact, he’s downright condescending in several places on the commentary. Most irritating, though, is the total lack of extra footage. Harold Ramis explains the film’s original ending during the commentary, an alternate version where Clark cracks and takes Roy Wally hostage. If it was shot and Ramis is going to take the time to explain it, why couldn’t we see the footage?

Still, I’ll take the meager extras on VACATION any time compared to the bare bones edition of NEXT MOVIE> I’m so disappointed so far that no one has gotten Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin to sit down together to talk about the making of these films. Of course, it just got a little more difficult to schedule (FREE TOMMY CHONG!), and I doubt they’ll go back to fix these titles now, damn it.

If you’re a fan of the Groundlings or THE PEE WEE HERMAN SHOW or Phil Hartman or Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, it’s fascinating to watch the supporting casts in each of their films, looking for familiar faces. NEXT MOVIE marks the first film appearances anywhere by Pee Wee Herman (in the costume and with the name, and not just Paul Reubens) and the great Edie McClurg, who is hilarious here, funnier even than in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF. I’d love to hear stories about the Los Angeles comedy scene in those days, anecdotes about people like Reubens and John Paragon and Cassandra Petersen and the beloved and much-missed Phil Hartman, all of whom show up. I’d love to hear about Cheech and Chong working within the studio system and even shooting on the same backlot streets where they made THE BURBS and LEAVE IT TO BEAVER. It’s hard to believe when you look at how cheap these movies were, but Cheech and Chong was an important franchise for Universal. I still remember the first time I read anything about them or their films. I was ten, and I had just discovered STARLOG. They published an article about Universal’s upcoming releases in SF/fantasy/horror, however tenuous the link. They wrote about THE NUDE BOMB, the Sam Jones version of FLASH GORDON, and NEXT MOVIE. I guess they included it because of a sequence late in the film where Chong and Cousin Red (also played by Marin) get scooped up out of a northern California pot field by a UFO, which gives Chong a big bag of “space coke” before dropping him off. Of course, STARLOG didn’t really go into detail about that, and somehow, their vague description made me even more curious than a detailed one would have. I saw the film a year later as part of a late-night cable double feature, and I didn’t get at least half of the jokes. Didn’t matter. Then, as now, I maintain that it’s not the drug humor that’s important in their first few films. It’s just a backdrop, like in the Three Stooges films. They didn’t make the Stooges plumbers because they wanted to make specific plumber jokes. Instead, it was an excuse for them to wreak their particular brand of comic havoc on a situation or a setting. Cheech Marin was hilarious in those early films, and Chong seems to take full advantage of that as a director in NEXT MOVIE.

It’s nice to see a letterboxed print of the film. I didn’t realize it was only in 1.85:1, and I’ll confess a touch of disappointment. UP IN SMOKE, directed by Gil Adler, is in beautiful 2.35:1, and the Paramount transfer is quite nice. I’d always hoped NEXT MOVIE and NICE DREAMS were also in scope, even though I’d only ever seen video prints. The transfer here is as good as anyone could ask for this particular title, and again... don’t get me wrong. I want to support this release so that they will get busy and put out NICE DREAMS. I just hope they’ll do better by us as consumers next time out and actually take care of the film.

Another case in point: THEY LIVE. It’s no classic, and it has three terrible minutes right at the end, so goofy and out of place that they almost derail any goodwill you’ve got going for the movie, but there are a hell of a lot of Carpenter fans that love the subversive SF premise of the film, and they’d definitely spring for a special edition. I know for a fact that Carpenter would be interested in doing commentaries and special features. A few years ago, a friend of mine took me to see the church in downtown LA where the uber-fucking-creepy PRINCE OF DARKNESS was shot. Later, when I mentioned it to Carpenter and his producer/wife Sandy, they asked me for the address so they could send a video crew to shoot new footage of the church for an eventual DVD release. Yet, thanks to the bizarre random nature of Universal’s home video department, there’s nothing at all on the new Carpenter releases. THEY LIVE is just the first one scheduled, and I’m willing to bet they do just as crappy a job with PRINCE OF DARKNESS. Yes, it’s a nice anamorphic transfer, and yes, the Alan Howarth score sounds awesome, but that’s all you get, and unless you find it used, like I did, it’s a steep price considering what’s being offered.

Capitol Records is also overcharging for 7 TELEVISION COMMERCIALS, a title I’d been waiting for, and it’s a shame. Normally, I’d just bubble and rant about the sound and picture quality of these seven remarkable music videos by Radiohead. I had to watch this on Thursday afternoon to keep from going crazy with anticipation. I love Radiohead, and I’ve tried to see them every time they’ve come to LA. This time, this tour, Thursday night, I finally got in and saw them at the Hollywood Bowl, thanks to the kind efforts of my manager, Aaron. You can imagine... all day, that’s pretty much all I was thinking about Thursday. One of the reasons I fell in love with the band right around the release of THE BENDS was because of their music videos. Jonathan Glazer’s “Street Spirit” and Jake Scott’s “Fake Plastic Trees” are beautiful, poetic, expert abstraction that connects emotionally. Magnus Carlsson’s “Paranoid Android” is unsettling and memorable, a great animated glimpse of the sick and the crazy. I have boundless respect for the conceptual simplicity of “No Surprises” by Grant Gee or “Karma Police,” by Glazer again.

The one that stands out above all the others, though, is “Just,” a wonderful piece by Jamie Thraves, the same artist behind this year’s marvelous “Scientist” video by Coldplay. It’s the one about the guy who just lies down on the sidewalk for some mysterious reason he refuses to disclose, to the mounting frustration of a growing crowd. The punchline to this one, combined with the exquisite build and release of the song, packs a punch no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

You should own this title if you have any interest in the band at all, or if you like music videos and want to see them done right. I just wish it was more reasonably priced. More than $10 for a title like this is unacceptable. You want to charge more? Give us more on the disc. Give us all the AMNESIAC and KID A and HAIL TO THE THIEF stuff now. Make it worthwhile. 34 minutes of content is a bitter pill to swallow if the price is wrong, and it’ll keep this otherwise exemplary title off a lot of people’s shelves.

EARLIER REVIEWS!!

Don Knotts Collection (HOW TO FRAME A FIGG, THE GHOST & MR. CHICKEN, THE SHAKIEST GUN IN THE WEST, THE RELUCTANT ASTRONAUT, THE LOVE GOD?), ALIAS: SEASON ONE, FAMILY GUY VOLUME TWO, BULLETPROOF MONK, THE CORE, Q – THE WINGED SERPENT, GOD TOLD ME TO!, PAPER MOON, INTO THE NIGHT, STEVIE and THE WORK OF DIRECTOR SPIKE JONZE (featured review)

ALIAS: SEASON ONE, CARLITO’S WAY, LEATHERFACE: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE III, HERO, BABYLON 5: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON, and CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (featured review)

SOAP, THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG, ALIAS: SEASON ONE, INFERNO, FAMILY GUY VOLUME TWO, CONFIDENCE, MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE, PRIZZI’S HONOR, and CAT SOUP

CQ and THE BIG KNIFE

AUSTIN POWERS in GOLDMEMBER and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME

ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS, THE MACK, BLADE 2, JACKIE BROWN, THE FOG, NEAR DARK, MONSTERS INC, GO TIGERS, MR. SHOW SEASONS 1 and 2, THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON, SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK: THE SPECIAL 30TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES, REX THE RUNT, DON’T LOOK NOW, and REBECCA

We’ll be back with browsing and more reviews tomorrow, just in time to get the week started, and that should put us back in the groove for a full week of reviews ahead. Some of the stuff we'll be talking about includes THE SHAPE OF THINGS, A MIGHTY WIND, RUN RONNIE RUN and MR. SHOW: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON, AVALON, WILLARD, SINEAD O'CONNOR: GOODNIGHT, THANK YOU, YOU'VE BEEN A LOVELY AUDIENCE, THE COMMITMENTS, EDDIE IZZARD: CIRCLE, and much more. Until then, let's throw out a question for discussion. What artist's music videos do you think most deserve a complete collection that hasn't happened so far, and why? I look forward to your answers, and for now...

"Moriarty" out.





Readers Talkback

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  • Sept. 28, 2003, 1:34 a.m. CST

    Well, at least now we know he's not dead

    by Ribbons

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 1:40 a.m. CST

    Wow

    by spideyman1218

    Here I thought I was the big man for picking up three discs this weekend. I am beaten!

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:15 a.m. CST

    Dreamcatcher DVD

    by dr. robert

    Dreamcatcher is released Tuesday on DVD. I just finished watching an advance copy. Just when I thought Gwenyth Paltrow's View From The Top was the worst film of 2003. Dreamcatcher is unspeakably wretched and muddled. I've not read King's book so I'm not sure how much of the blame lies with Lawrence Kasdan and screenwriter William Goldman. Please, no more films with Thomas Jane as the lead. He's the kiss of death for any project!

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:15 a.m. CST

    Oh a mighty wind's a blowin'...

    by Hung-Wei Lo

    'Cross the land and 'cross the sea. It's blowin' peace and freedom, it's blowin' you and me! -- God I love that song!

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:27 a.m. CST

    Dreamcatcher...

    by Warwick Davis Jr

    I, for some reason, gave that movie more chances than it desrved. I was really looking foward to it's release back in March, because there really hasn't been a good King film since Green Mile. The trailers looked good. Hell, even after I saw the movie itself and experienced how bad it was first hand I proceeded to read the book and see the film two more times, trying my best to like or at least make sense of it. Now, for some ungodly reason, I plan on getting the DVD hoping the extras will shed some light on the single most enigmatic bad film ever. (Though I think I've uncovered the secret. The film goes down hill the very moment Jason Lee dies)

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:31 a.m. CST

    A Couple Thoughts...

    by unwell_arena

    1. Juggernaut is one of the most underappreciated thrillers in existence. Hopefully, the cheap DVD release will allow a whole new audience to see once and for all that Richard Harris' "Fallon is the Champion! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP!" 2. A Mighty Wind---So it's not as funny as Guest's previous works...but it's the most emotional. Every time I see it, the Mitch & Mickey subplot makes me sob like a little girl. If there were any justice in the world, Eugene Levy would win the Supporting Actor Oscar this year, but we all know what those chances are like.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:37 a.m. CST

    Tool s an obvious choice, even though

    by Toranaga

    they did put that DVD ovt with that one CD set. But dammit, I just want the DVD of ll their videos. And the problem with videos on DVD is that you get them all, but they keep making kick ass ones that you dont have. Case in point, Radiohead. What would be cool would be if you could just pay some site to make you a DVD of whatever videos you want. I know you could just download and burn, but it takes me a long ass time and is a pain in the ass. I would eally like to have that "7 Nation Army" video by the White Stripes, but do I have to wait for them to do enough videos to put out a collection DVD, and then I don't even want half of their videos? Or how about the uncensored Smack My Bitch Up? That video was crazy. And I'm not gonna sit in front of MTV at 4 in the morning (when hey show videos) waiting to record videos. I say just have a website that has a whole big selection of videos to choose from, send them some money, and you get the DVD with your favorite videos on them. Or am I so behind the ties that this already exists?

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:58 a.m. CST

    Dark Shadows IS the crowing achievement of western civilization!

    by Silver Shamrock

    What other TV show dared to have a story taking place in at least 6 different time periods spanning over 4 centuries, not counting the 2 side trips into the strange and disturbing world of Parallel Time? What other show had actors playing as many as 7 discreet characters in just 5 years? Moriarity, if you weren't so arrogant, you might actually pick up a thing or two from DS about what REAL writers can do. Anything you can think of, DS has probably already done it and better. Vampires and Werewolves? The show ate 'em up and spit them out on a daily basis. I'm not saying Moriarity should love the show, but just give the proper respect... they've earned it.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 3:02 a.m. CST

    Scarface

    by Anomaly

    Best...Movie...Ever. I can't wait to fire up the new DVD and listen to that chainsaw in beautiful 5.1 baby! Oh, and Toranaga you're right about video compilations. I guess it's just meant to document a particular moment in the artists career but knowing that they will release more videos just doesn't make it seem worth it to me. I guess it would be better for bands that are no longer together. I do own a couple of compilations on VHS of Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against the Machine videos and one semi-compilation of Tool videos on DVD but I find that I never watch them anymore.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 3:38 a.m. CST

    When I think of how utterly over-rated Radiohead are

    by Cash Bailey

    I think of the last episode of FATHER TED where they have that suicidally depressed priest. Hearing the theme from SHAFT cures him of his depression, but almost straight afterwards he hears a Radiohead song on the radio and becomes suicidal again.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 3:44 a.m. CST

    DUFF?

    by defino

    dude - isn't she like, 14? classy.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 4 a.m. CST

    From my mental pedo-file...

    by The Guy Who Nods

    I happen to know that Hillary Duff is 16, today actually. It's also Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts's birthday. And you know what the absolute greatest gift that they could possibly recieve today? Sex with me. That's right. This isn't ironic egotism talking. I honestly believe the greatest thing that could happen to those three women (er, two woman and one little girl) is intercourse with me. Hell, forget those other two hags. That little minx Duff will probably have me saddlesore for weeks... Is what an arrogant pervert would say. But I happen to be a gentleman

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 4:01 a.m. CST

    I heard they were gonna completely redo the original SCARFACE DV

    by Cash Bailey

    I read somewhere that they weren't happy with it because out of the cast they only got Pacino and they were told to shoot new interviews with Michelle Pfeiffer, M.E. Mastrantonio, Loggia, Abraham and Bauer.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 4:42 a.m. CST

    PJ Harvey (and other DVD musings)

    by FortyWatto

    PJ's been making amazing videos for 10 years now. My fave's "Man Size" -- one continuous B&W static shot of Polly singing in her skivvies -- but she has no video compilation to speak of, not even on VHS. Someone oughta fix that... As far as new music titles, that Old Grey Whistle Test DVD has something for everyone; if you're like me and can't stand Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt, there's the Ramones, Roxy Music (with Eno hamming it up), REM (circa '84, when Michael still mumbled) and Talking Heads that put the disc in must-own territory... Apparently there's a Talking Heads video compilation DVD coming out later this year, but it's only available in the CD boxset -- that's lame-o... Radiohead, who took their name from a Talking Heads song, deserve a concert DVD w/5.1 audio; I wanna hear those weird guitar skronks comin' outta my rear speakers, dammit. Seven TV Commercials is almost as frustrating as Meeting People is Easy and its Lynchian lack of chapter stops. I heard two years ago that "Radiohead Live in Dublin" was being prepped for DVD; what happened?... And Moriarty, the Babe Pig in the City DVD has always been anamorphic. I think the new release is the exact same transfer. Prior to last week though, the O.G. Babe was only available fullscreen... God, is everyone else chomping at the muthafuckin' bit for that Indy boxset? 23 days and counting...

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 5:20 a.m. CST

    wha' happened?

    by tommy5tone

    'a mighty wind' is as funny as fuck (and, believe me, that's a compliment), mainly due to the sterling work of fred willard as the awesomely clueless and inappropriate manager of the new main street singers, a former child star still coasting on his 'cute' sitcom catchphrase: "wha' happened?" man, it's reached the stage where if a movie character asks "what happened?", i'm fucking toast for the duration...shit, if liam neeson says it in 'schindler's list', i'm gonna have to leave the room. and hey, mori, if you want better 'they live' and 'prince of darkness' discs, import 'em from the UK (region-free...it's the only way to fly) - both come complete with commentaries ('they live' has carpenter and rowdy roddy - that piper's fuckin' insane, yo) and nifty widescreen formats. now if you'll excuse me, i'm gonna go run my 'singin' in the rain' DVD in tribute to the late, great donald o'connor, whose 'make 'em laugh' number made gene kelly look like a club-footed spaz. RIP, donald.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 6:28 a.m. CST

    Music videos ?

    by RobinP

    Hmmmmmm, I have several VHS tapes of Alice Cooper concerts (Alice is the God of Rock in this house) and I'd like to see a compilation of his stuff on dvd. I know there's a double disc set called Prime Cuts out there but the damn one I bought was faulty and has had to be returned. I'll get round to trying again soon. Great to see the column back. I'm counting down the days to Matrix Reloaded and the Indiana Jones box set.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Video collections

    by Fawst

    First off, I've been dying to get DVD collections of videos ever since I heard of the format. Rush, Prodigy, Dream Theater, NIN, Pink Floyd, Mansun (that's the british group), David Bowie, these would all be great. I think that the ultimate would be if groups taped the entire recording process for each song on a new album. When the album is released, do a double-pack, with one disc being the cd, and the other being a dvd of the artists actually playing what you're hearing. To make it even more ridiculous, use alternate angles to switch between each performer. That way we can choose exactly who to watch at any given point in a song. What I wouldn't give to watch the recording sessions for A Perfect Cicle's Thirteenth Step. Jesus what an aural orgasm that cd is.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 10:28 a.m. CST

    =w=

    by JoeStokowski

    WEEZER. of course weezer. they'll always be known for that buddy holly video, but that undone video with the dogs is an underappreciated classic. the only bad video weezer ever really put out was the good life.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Babylon5 Season 3 Good and Bad

    by ComputerGuy68

    It is good to hear of your experiences with the B5 DVD. I remember when I first saw the show back in the 90

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:27 p.m. CST

    Moriarty...

    by Mithril

    dude, get a multiregion DVD player. Don't bother with the extras-sparse R1 "They Live" or other Carpenter releases. Get the R2 ones. I bagged myself "They Live" and "Assault on Precinct 13" on R2 for about $5 each. They don't have a shitload of extras, but they have some documentaries, interviews and trailers, and most importantly both have Carpenter commentaries.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 2:33 p.m. CST

    Oh, and Tommy5tone...

    by Mithril

    damn straight about Donald O'Connor. The most underrated musical great of all time, as far as I'm concerned.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Curb Your Enthusiasm hits.......

    by ZeusXerxes

    CYE season one hits the streets 1-13-04. I can't wait. But I hope it doesn't take eons for seasons one and two to drop....as I want the last 5 minutes of Season 3 on continuous repeat on my TV!!!

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 4:48 p.m. CST

    Juggernaut

    by KazamaSmokers

    "Fallon is the champion!!" Harris... you are missed.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 5:15 p.m. CST

    Musical DVDs I want produced

    by RenoNevada2000

    I got three- 1) Talking Heads. This band was experimenting with and producing great videos when noone was sure MTV would last a year. 2) Frank Zappa. A man who was one of the first to recorded digitally and who embraced the home video markey with several releases. It's a shame that NONE of his stuff is out on DVD yet. What is his family thinking? 3) A Stray Cats/Brian Setzer Orchestra compilation. Just cuz I'm a fan.

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 5:16 p.m. CST

    Smallville Season 1

    by RenoNevada2000

    Has Warners issued any comment yet on the authoring of these disc? An apology? A promise to fix things? Anything?

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Is it only possible to get the original 1932 Scarface in that bi

    by Smeg For Brains

    Also what is with these "gangsta" rappers all loving Scarface and acting like it changed their lives? Give me a fucking break. They just like the violence and shit. It could hardly ever change anyones life. Keep that shit off of the DVD. At least they didn't go through with the original idea to "rescore" the new edition with Def Jam "artists" "songs". Why would anyone want to emulate Scarface anyway? I mean I think that the Graduate is one of the best films ever mad, but I'm not going to go sleep with my parent's friend's wife....hmm, athough...

  • Sept. 28, 2003, 7:54 p.m. CST

    Definitely Weezer...

    by Cap'n Chaos!

    From telling Al the fish wasn't so good to rocking out with Kermit, they've done videos that have not only been innovative but usually brilliantly funny. I can't wait for the Spike Jonze DVD so I can get a couple of the best. I would LOVE to have Keep Fishin' on DVD, though.

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 1:18 a.m. CST

    Devo

    by fabfunk

    Let's see some Devo stuff!

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 5:46 a.m. CST

    BLUR!!!

    by KID AB

    Have they got one out at all? I love the videos to 'The Universal' and Beetlebum'.

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 9:18 a.m. CST

    Weezer's DVD

    by ZeusXerxes

    Weezer's long-waited DVD is hopefully going to be released this December. It's supposed to be around 3 hours long and have all the videos on it.

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 11:04 a.m. CST

    RADIOHEAD ...

    by ghekkomanic

    If any artist deserves to have their back catalogue on DVD it is this band. If you want to go for promo directors try Jonathan Glazer (directed Sexy Beast). I saw him give a talk at the ICA in London with a retrospective of his work before Sexy Beast came out, and he was engaging, intelligent and modest. He's done some brilliant Radiohead stuff, as well as videos for Unkle and Blur. Or Michel Gondry (Daft Punk), or Hammer and Tongs, or Chris Cunningham (Madonna, Aphex Twin). Nick Park's video for Sledgehammer was pretty good too ...

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 1:10 p.m. CST

    test

    by Silver Shamrock

    test

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 3:21 p.m. CST

    I hear if you play the Smallville episodes backwards...

    by PlantBoy!

    ...you get to see a picture of Kristen Kreuk naked. A Warner Exec told me. Really.

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 3:47 p.m. CST

    "They Live" / "Prince Of Darkness"

    by Krinkle

    First of all, Moriarty, I DEMAND you let me know where that "Prince Of Darkness" church is. Second, you should all know that many foreign markets have DVDs of "They Live" and "Prince Of Darkness" featuring Carpenter commentaries. I have both discs, and the "They Live" commentary with Carpenter and Roddy Piper is ALMOST as much of a blast as the R2 "Starman" commentary with Carpenter and Jeff Bridges...

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 7 p.m. CST

    Hey now.

    by burningbabyfish

    Wal-Mart had Attack of the Killer Tomatoes for $10. For a movie intended to be dreck, I laughed my ass off. "PUuuuuberty loooove..."

  • Sept. 29, 2003, 7:32 p.m. CST

    NICE DREAMS is already on DVD

    by Charles Grady

    I'm sure at least a few others have already e-mailed you on this, Mori, but NICE DREAMS is already on DVD, courtesy of its original distributor -- Columbia. In fact, NEXT MOVIE is the only official C&C movie Universal produced - UP IN SMOME and STILL SMOKIN' were Paramount, NICE DREAMS and THINGS ARE TOUGH ALL OVER (which IS in scope) were from Columbia, and CORSICAN BROTHERS was Orion, and is on a barebones MGM DVD.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Mighty Wind deserves at least TWO nominations for Best Song.

    by Vegas

    If the Oscars don't have the Folksmen singing "Old Joe's Place", followed by Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara's "Kiss from Over the Rainbow" or whatever the title is, then that will be the biggest crime of the year (with the exception of Bill Murray getting ignored for Lost in Translation). As for music video collections, U2 has all their 90s stuff out, but when are they going to put out their 80s stuff? Also, I'd love a video compilation from NewOrder. They always did interesting work. And Underworld, while we're at it. Oh, and Garbage. And REM's putting out a video collection for their best of, but their best of doesn't have "Drive" on it, and if that video isn't on the dvd, then I'm not getting it. There'd be no point.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:19 p.m. CST

    Music DVDs

    by Truman_Burbank

    Definitely Beck, no question. "Devil's Haircut" is still my favorite video ever made. "Lost Cause" off of Sea Change is amazing. He has a solid collection that definitely deserves to be released. Also, I'd be curious to see a Guns N' Roses DVD, just to check out what I was so into back then. The whole "Estranged" and "November Rain" series would be fun to watch again, just for shits. Same with "Garden of Eden". Just a thought. Definitely Beck. And I saw Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl on the Amnesiac tour, and it sucked. Such a terrible crowd in LA. Much better to see them back east, more energy. Thom despises LA. So do I.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Music DVDs

    by Truman_Burbank

    Definitely Beck, no question. "Devil's Haircut" is still my favorite video ever made. "Lost Cause" off of Sea Change is amazing. He has a solid collection that definitely deserves to be released. Also, I'd be curious to see a Guns N' Roses DVD, just to check out what I was so into back then. The whole "Estranged" and "November Rain" series would be fun to watch again, just for shits. Same with "Garden of Eden". Just a thought. Definitely Beck. And I saw Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl on the Amnesiac tour, and it sucked. Such a terrible crowd in LA. Much better to see them back east, more energy. Thom despises LA. So do I.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 1:21 p.m. CST

    Music DVDs

    by Truman_Burbank

    Definitely Beck, no question. "Devil's Haircut" is still my favorite video ever made. "Lost Cause" off of Sea Change is amazing. He has a solid collection that definitely deserves to be released. Also, I'd be curious to see a Guns N' Roses DVD, just to check out what I was so into back then. The whole "Estranged" and "November Rain" series would be fun to watch again, just for shits. Same with "Garden of Eden". Just a thought. Definitely Beck. And I saw Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl on the Amnesiac tour, and it sucked. Such a terrible crowd in LA. Much better to see them back east, more energy. Thom despises LA. So do I.

  • Sept. 30, 2003, 7:06 p.m. CST

    Here's the thing about those Smallville DVDs

    by 11811

    Or, more properly, here's not the thing. There very well may be compression artifacts on the discs (reviews elsewhere mention 'em, so I'll take your word on it), but that is in no way due to each episode being on disc twice. The way that DVDs are authored often results in more titles than one might expect. In the case of the Smallville DVDs, as with many tv shows on DVD, one may choose from a main menu to either watch individual episodes or all the episodes on a disc, resulting in (depending on the way the disc is authored) multiple titles. The titles still refer to the same files on the DVD, but in different ways. There still may be too much on the discs (three hours, depending on the kind of video on the disc and on the quality of the compression scheme, may be pushing it for a dual-layer disc), but it is almost certainly not the case that the episodes were put on twice. If you explore the DVD in your -ROM drive and look at the individual .VOB files, you will see that episodes do not, in fact, appear twice. Anyhoo, I'm really not an expert here, but I'm pretty sure that I'm right about this.