The Weekly Spin: May 19th 2009

Warner Home Video is releasing a bunch of catalogue titles on Blu-ray on September 8th including the 2003 “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake, “Snakes on a Plane”, Kevin Costner flop “The Postman”, Stallone action film “Over the Top”, Terrence Malick’s “The New World: Extended Cut”, horror team-up “Freddy vs. Jason”, the Crichton-adapted “Sphere”, and the classic thriller “Dead Calm”, Halle Berry flop “Catwoman”, and horror anthology feature “Creepshow”.

Lionsgate is doing a similar bunch of catalogue releases on August 11th including famed pirate flop “Cutthroat Island”, Roman Polanski’s devil-themed Johnny Depp thriller “The Ninth Gate”, the Jean Claude Van Damme flick “Replicant”, the horror flick “See No Evil” with wrestler Kane, and the Jason Statham, Ryan Phillippe thriller “Chaos”.

The release of this season of “24” today, one day after the season finale, is a great idea in principle. Various UK series have used this approach to great effect with their DVDs, so why aren’t other shows adopting this method? The Brand Republic explains: “Most seasons cannot be released on DVD immediately after their finales because the discs take eight to twelve weeks to manufacture and producers frequently deliver episodes only a week before they are aired”. Damn it, this explains things – UK shows which only run 6-13 episodes usually finish production months before they hit air. “24” was able to do it this year as the writer’s strike delayed the seventh season for a full year and so the episodes were completed a long time ago.

Bill Hunt over at The Digital Bits has done a great essay on the controversial issue of DNR and grain reduction that’s currently plaguing and causing all sorts of issues amongst the Blu-ray community.

One of the biggest upsets for film lovers lately was Criterion pulling their Blu-ray version of Akira Kurosawa’s “Ran” from release just a few weeks before it hit shelves due to a rights dispute with The Weinstein Company. As compensation however they have just announced that they’re putting Kurosawa’s “Kagemusha” out on Blu-ray on August 18th. It’s no “Seven Samurai,” “Rashomon” or “Throne of Blood” but it’ll do for now.

Other Newly Announced DVDs: “12 Rounds: Extreme Cut” (June 30th), “Echelon Conspiracy” (July 21st), “Fast & Furious” (July 28th), “The Great Buck Howard” (July 21st), “Jeanne Dielman: Criterion” (August 25th), “The Last Days of Disco: Criterion” (th), “The Last Starfighter” (August 4th), “Midnight Express” (July 21st), “Natural Born Killers: Director’s Cut” (August 25th), “Race to Witch Mountain” (August 4th), “Retribution Road” (July 21st), “The Tigger Movie” (August 4th).

Other Newly Announced Blu-rays: “A River Runs Through It” (July 28th), “Big Trouble In Little China” (August 4th), “Fast & Furious” (July 28th), “Natural Born Killers: Director’s Cut” (August 25th), “The Quick and the Dead” (September 8th), “Silverado” (September 8th), “Sphere” (September 8th), “Stargate: Atlantis Fans’ Choice” (August 4th).

This Week’s Picks:

Valkyrie (DVD & Blu-Ray)
Bryan Singer’s take on the failed plot of Col. von Stauffenberg to kill Hitler is well-polished and effectively done with a superb supporting cast. Yet the inclusion of Tom Cruise, who’s not bad acting wise, nevertheless detracts from it while post-bomb the film quickly deflates and limps to a dull end.

True Blood: Season One (DVD & Blu-Ray)
HBO’s sex-fueled series examining the effect of vampires ‘coming out of the closet’ in small-town America is delightfully oddball, dark and fascinating. From its goofy characters to its politics and serial killer mystery – it’s a fun show that took a while to get going but did blossom well.

3 Days of the Condor (Blu-Ray)
Sydney Pollack’s definitive 1975 paranoia thriller gets a much-needed remastering in high-def with this Blu-ray release. Though the technology has notably dated dramatically, the characters and setup are still compelling and the filmmaking is just as superb. One of the great Cold War-themed films.

24: Season Seven (DVD & Blu-Ray)
Coming off its worst season ever and a year long hiatus, this was a make-or-break season for the once great action series. The result was a welcome return to form for the most part – helped by a new location and more realistic tone. Twists were a tad too many though, and the last few hours dragged.

My Bloody Valentine 3D (DVD & Blu-Ray)
This atrociously bad and not even campily enjoyable slasher film remake will only be remembered for two things – the 3D gimmick, and one scene involving full frontal female nudity for five minutes. Sadly the 3D home version is that awful red/blue one which is useless.

Other Releases This Week:
A Bug’s Life (Blu-ray)
Batman: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
Changing Lanes (Blu-ray)
Driven to Kill (DVD & Blu-ray)
Eden Log (DVD & Blu-ray)
Enemy at the Gates (Blu-ray)
Fanboys (DVD)
Friday Night Lights: Season Three (DVD)
Lions for Lambs (Blu-ray)
Outlander (DVD)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (DVD & Blu-ray)
Paycheck (Blu-ray)
Spy Game (Blu-ray)
Terminator 2: Skynet Edition (Blu-Ray)
The Machinist (Blu-ray)