The Weekly Spin: May 5th 2009

Disney has some big plans for the release of the “Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience” in the home video market. The Blu-ray release, which includes a regular DVD copy as well, will contain an extended version of the film featuring two extra songs not seen in theaters. 2-D and 3-D versions are provided on a BD-50 dual-layer disc in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 video and DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround while four pairs of 3-D glasses are also included.

Criterion Collection and Amazon are offering a unique opportunity to select one of five of Criterion’s catalogue titles to get the Blu-ray treatment. If I had to urge you towards voting one way, it would have to be Peter Weir’s haunting Aussie classic “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. If not that, then Merchant Ivory’s best effort “Howard’s End”. The other selections include Louis Malle’s “Au Revoir Les Enfants,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Down by Law,” and the Japanese drama “Kwaidan”. Voting can be submitted at this page.

Apple latest beta version of their popular iTunes programs includes an updated legal & copyright notices with references to Blu-ray technology. This has lead to much speculation that the next wave of iMacs and desktops by the company will have Blu-ray compatible drives in them.

Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” will be released as a two-disc set in the UK on June 29th while the classic 60’s series “The Prisoner” will get a UK Blu-ray release on May 18th, still no word on a US release of either title as yet. Artwork is also out for the fifth season release of Lost and Disney’s newly remastered DVD/Blu-ray release of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

This Week’s Picks:

Curious Case of Benjamin Button (DVD & Blu-Ray)
A technical masterpiece but emotionally cold and manipulative, David Fincher’s backwards aging fantasy meets New Orleans history lesson weaves it magic with panache. It’s an achievement to be sure and a grand if ultimately bloated film. Disc sets for Fincher’s films are always superb and the doco will be fascinating.

Dexter: Season Two (Blu-Ray)
“Mad Men” may get the most critical nods, but close behind it and personally way in front for me is Showtime’s darkly comic take on the story of a police analyst who moonlights as a serial killer. This second season proved as good as the brilliant first and the show looks absolutely stunning in Blu-ray.

Wendy and Lucy (DVD & Blu-Ray)
One of last year’s toughest films to sit through, Michelle Williams carries the entire weight of this little indie film that could on its shoulders. Thankfully brief, the story of a homeless girl who loses her beloved dog is so painfully realistic that I don’t think I could watch it again but have to admire the craft on display.

Boston Legal: Season Five (DVD & Blu-Ray)
While it devolved too far into the ridiculous by this point, David E. Kelley’s teaming of William Shatner and James Spader delivered one of the best comedic pairings on television while at the same time tackled some serious issues. Despite a few hiccups, these final few episodes closed things off well.

Grease (Blu-Ray)
Still one of the best musicals ever made and certainly the most familiar to many of my generation, the classic tale of the high school rebel (John Travolta) falling for the pretty Aussie exchange student (Olivia Newton John) gets the Blu-ray treatment. Have to say “Hopelessly Devoted To You” remains my personal favourite tune.

Last Exile: Complete Series (DVD)
Aside from ‘Evangelion’, the one anime series I’ve gotten into in the past few years was this imaginative take on the steam punk genre. In a world of Victorian-era like airships, two sibling couriers become the key elements to finding a missing ship that could change the world. Dense but accessible unlike other anime.

Bleak House: Special Edition (DVD & Blu-Ray)
The BBC’s superbly produced mini-series takes the Dickens classic and rips out the lighter, sentimental tone. The result is a dark, grim and compelling work with a pace and energy you’d never expect from a stuffy period piece. Gillian Anderson is superb and as this was shot entirely in HD it’s tailor made for Blu-ray.

Other Releases This Week:
Dog Soldiers (Blu-ray)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Blu-Ray)
Last Chance Harvey (DVD & Blu-ray)
Roxanne (Blu-ray)
Saturday Night Fever (Blu-ray)
Twilight (Blu-ray)