Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New on DVD & Blu-ray: Calendar of Releases for February of 2010

Film Intuition's
Home Entertainment Calendar
February 2010

New Releases in DVD & Blu-ray*
Check Back Frequently for Updates

Click Here To View our Full Release Calendar

February 2, 2010

Air Bud: Golden Receiver (Special Edition)
Beverly Hills 90210: Season Nine
Bonnie and Clyde [Blu-ray]
Casablanca [Blu-ray]
Doc Martin: Series 3
Doctor Who: The Complete Specials [Blu-ray]
Dynasty: Season 4, Vol. 2
The Evelyn Waugh Collection
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [Blu-ray]
Gangs of New York -- Remastered [Blu-ray]
The Girl Next Door [Blu-ray]
The Godfather: Sapphire Series-- Coppola Restoration [Blu-ray]
The Godfather Part II: Sapphire Series-- Coppola Restoration [Blu-ray]
He Was a Quiet Man [Blu-ray]
Hitler's Bodyguard
House of the Devil
Last King of Scotland [Blu-ray]
Let's Explore: Dora's Greatest Adventures
Liza's at the Palace [Blu-ray]
London Betty
Love Happens
Made in Manhattan [Blu-ray]
Man From Earth [Blu-ray]
The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season Six
A Mind to Kill: Series 1
Mona Lisa Smile [Blu-ray]
Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Eleventh Season
The Music Man [Blu-ray]
Mystic River [Blu-ray]
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
Planet Hulk
Universal Soldier: Regeneration
Walk the Line [Blu-ray]
Wolverine and the X-Men: Fate of the Future

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February 9, 2010

Couples Retreat
Emma: BBC/Masterpiece Theatre (2009)
Fraggle Rock: Wembley's Egg Surprise
Free Style
I Hate Valentine's Day
Ice Castles (2010)
JAG: The Final Season
Sarah Silverman Program: Season Two, Volume 2
A Serious Man
Serious Moonlight
The Stepfather (2009)
The Time Traveler's Wife
Troubled Water
The Two Plates
Vegas: First Season, Volume 2

Submit a Title, Press Release or Screener Inquiries

February 16, 2010

Black Dynamite
Coco Before Chanel
Good Hair
Goodfellas: 20th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray]
Hunger (Criterion Collection)
Law Abiding Citizen
Lola Montes (Criterion Collection)
Revanche (Criterion Collection)
She's Crushed

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February 23, 2010

Adam-12: Season 4
Analyze This & Analyze That [Blu-ray]
The Box
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant
The Crazies (1973)
The Damned United
Days of Heaven (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
Dead Snow
Eclipse: Series 20 (Criterion Collection)
Everybody's Fine
Flame and Citron
Flash Forward: Volume 1
Ghost Hunters: Season 5, Part 1
Howard's End (Criterion Collection)
The Informant!
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
LeapFrog: Math Adventure to the Moon
Love Conquers Paul
Make Way for Tomorrow (Criterion Collection)
Midsomer Murders: Set 14
Miss Congeniality 1 & 2 Blu-ray Combo
My Three Sons: Season 2, Vol. 1
Night Court: Season 3
Nurse Jackie: Season 1
Presumed Innocent/Frantic [Blu-ray]
Project Runway: Season 6
The September Issue
Sorority Row
Taggart: Set 2
The Universe: Season 4
Wartime Britain
The Wiggles: Hot Poppin' Corn

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*Check Back Frequently for Updates re: Release Dates & New Titles

Friday, February 12, 2010

Soundtrack Review: Caddyshack (1980) -- Limited Edition Original Soundtrack

Original Theatrical Trailer

The Music & the Movies

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In cinema, you don't get a much more loyal fan base than former MN Governor Jesse Ventura reportedly asking the Dalai Lama if he'd seen Harold Ramis' contemporary comedic cult classic Caddyshack. Additionally, as Tea Leoni shared, the work-- which was released by the now defunct, "name only" American independent studio Orion Pictures-- was the very first film she viewed with her future husband David Duchovny.

Simply put, Caddyshack, has only grown in popularity over the years. And with the box office success and reverence for its original cast, comprised of some Saturday Night Live alumni including Chevy Chase and Bill Murray along with The Mary Tyler Moore Show's own Ted Knight, the film hit audiences in 1980 at precisely the right time.

Namely, the feisty battle of "The Snobs against The Slobs" along with one tenaciously fierce little gopher at Bushwood Country Club that helped unconsciously foreshadow and usher in the subtle blue collar battles of the decade from the teen comedies of John Hughes (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful) to Oliver Stone's Wall Street.

Fittingly, now in time for its anniversary, marking twenty-five years after Rodney Dangerfield first implored, "let's dance," the ten song soundtrack makes its official CD debut in a limited edition run of just 3,500 unites from La-La Land Records and Sony Music Entertainment.

And because the hilarity and off-the-wall characters along with their definitive one-liners is mostly what we remember when somebody says Caddyshack to us, I was startled to realize just how great the music was in this soundtrack that was sent to me for review on behalf of the labels.

Kenny Loggins' "I'm Alright."
-- The Film's Opening Credit Sequence

Obviously, most fans remember the opening sequence with the dancing gopher (see above), which undoubtedly would've been scrapped or replaced with CGI perfection today set to the rhythmic magic of Kenny Loggins' theme song "I'm Alright."

Yet I'd forgotten just how many other songs Loggins (aka the voice of the '80s with Footloose, Top Gun etc.) had contributed to the film that all combined together to establish the film's theme and moral to be true to yourself... no matter how wealthy or wild you may be, which was best evidenced in the character of Rodney Dangerfield's eccentric "new money" golfer.

Journey's "Any Way You Want It"
-- Rodney Dangerfield: "Let's Dance!"

Still, despite the wonderfully catchy Journey song, "Any Way You Want It," that remains the epitome of an '80s soft pop power ballad, it's the tunes by Loggins that lend a sense of unexpected heart to the movie along with the contributions of original score composer Johnny Mandel, best known for his creation of the theme from M*A*S*H.

A few exceptions aside with other guest artist inclusions like The Beat's download worthy "There She Goes" and Hilly Michaels' bizarre and very '80s "Something On Your Mind," it's Loggins and Mandel that fill out the brisk, roughly thirty minute running time of the soundtrack.

The album easily moves from paying homage to both Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries and channeling its pop culture shorthand of "the scene from Apocalypse Now" in a nice musical spin titled "Divine Intervention," to more radio friendly hits by Loggins including what seemed destined to become a figure skating favorite track in the romantic hook-heavy "Lead the Way."

With a terrific sound selection, it's a nice eclectic mix for Caddyshack cultists and soundtrack collectors. And now that it's back after years of being out of print in other formats in a nice CD vintage (making it slightly retro since it's sans a digital component), the Limited Edition status fits the Members Only mentality of Bushwood.

Yet cleverly at the same time Caddyshack's Soundtrack proves that all Wagner aside, it's really a reminder that whatever happened the slobs, snobs and everyone in between like Loggins' favorite Danny "would be all right" with a selection of tunes everyone can appreciate

Therefore, to turn Chevy Chase's advice as Ty Webb around, instead of trying to "be the ball," "be the soundtrack" while it's still available and before the 3,500 total number of people discover how fun it is to dance.

Caddyshack Director
Harold Ramis

Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com
Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blu-ray Music Review: Michael Jackson's This is It (2009)

Now Available to Own

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Whether it's remembering where you were when Elvis suggestively swiveled his way into scandalous stardom or recalling the deafening screams of teenage girls when Britain invaded America as The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, every generation has musical moments they'll never forget.

For my generation, it was the awe and sheer innovation witnessed during the birth of the music video in the 1980s, and this was especially true when, in stark contrast to the cars and chicks who roared through heavy metal clips, some musicians took the format seriously as an art form.

To this end, some individuals created mini-movies for any given song. And long before he became known as The King of Pop yet long after he fronted his band of brothers via The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson became one of the greatest entertainers of the music video age, marking the musical moment I know I'll never forget when he starred in the frightening, fun, and fantastic video “Thriller.”

Also getting into near scrapes with "gang members" like actor Wesley Snipes in the Martin Scorsese helmed “Bad,” it never mattered which of his chart-topping singles from back-to-back record-breaking albums was playing as Jackson transcended what being a “singer” was by becoming our very first mixed media popular artist.

In doing so, he reminded an industry that had gotten way too corporate by this point that it didn't matter how much money was spent on anything since talent was talent and you either had it in you to entertain or you didn't. Needless to say, the King of Pop was 100% talent and likewise absolutely determined to entertain on all levels.

Yet, as time passed, legal accusations and trials came to light regarding one of the absolute worst offenses human beings can commit. And adding further controversy, Jackson's appearance altered towards lighter skinned androgyny after which he became mostly viewed as a “talented has-been” thanks to endless jokes flooding the airwaves from late night hosts who skewered the King of Pop on a regular basis.

Still even though he withdrew from the spotlight and became increasingly reclusive, Jackson remained strong and committed to his lifelong calling. Immensely loyal to his fans as the consummate entertainer, Jackson stunned the world by announcing an exclusive 50 city farewell tour suitably titled “This is It.”

Vowing that, unlike other musicians he wouldn't take 50 different bows in 50 different tours-- coming in and out of retirement-- MJ strove to craft another one of his mixed media masterpieces via an international series of concerts filled with the music that had become the soundtrack to not just his life but Generation X's as well.

Unfortunately, in a cruel twist of fate, Jackson passed away before the sold-out concerts were set to kick off at London's O2 arena in the summer of 2009. Yet, with the approval of the Michael Jackson Estate and out of respect for both Jackson and his beloved fans, creative collaborator Kenny Ortega (High School Musical) ensured that the man who had grown up on a stage would still follow the show biz dictum that “the show must go on.”

Culling from over one hundred hours of dancer auditions, technical tests, performance rehearsal footage, intimate interviews from those involved and conceptual discussions for every number, Ortega adapted what would've normally ended up in MJ's private collection for every single tour into a musical documentary unlike anything we've ever seen before.

Not a true concert piece, nor a mere portrait of a musician at a key time or a compilation documentary of a festival like The Last Waltz, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, I am Trying to Break Your Heart, Stop Making Sense, Gimme Shelter, or Woodstock, Ortega opted to keep Jackson's original tour name, adding an unexpected posthumous layer of poignancy in a one-of-a-kind look at one of music's most mysterious, talented, charismatic, yet controversial figures.

This is It chronicles Jackson's professional tour preparation from March up until June of last year when ironically Jackson took his final bow in the same month he would've taken it on stage in London on the first night of the “This is It" tour.

Building up a talented team working behind the scenes on the digital projection of video (including one 3-D experience for “Thriller”) to those joining the prestigious company of musicians and dancers that shared a stage-- however briefly-- with MJ, we're immediately struck by the reminder of his impact on lives when prospective dancers reveal they've flown in from as far away as Australia to see if they'll make the cut.

Yet, Ortega isn't interested in remaking A Chorus Line or Fame nor a big screen adaptation of Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance as the primary focus in this film is on the man himself.

Exceedingly polite and unassuming, even when he's battling inner ear trouble in trying to negotiate the sound waves from several sources including music and direction, it's fairly easy to forget just how much we've underestimated him when we merely say he was a skilled singer and dancer.

For yes, of course, he is in a class by himself in both of the two vital musician traits and we get reminded of that fact throughout the film. However, as the movie continues and with the subconscious thought that you're watching his last months of life, it's MJ's legacy that proves the most impressive.

Just like Gregory Hines, Bob Fosse, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and so many others, Jackson's influence on dance was huge, and he suddenly made it okay for Gen X and Y's young men (whether straight or gay) to share their masculine prowess in a physical area that didn't involve the male stereotypes of sex or violence.

And at the same time, the level of control and near operatic arranging of both the choreography and musicality of his work is enviable. Whether he mimics instruments with his voice or hits the highest notes in love songs or shows off his fellow dancers, he keeps us captivated to such an extent that the music can stop for a moment, his hand will go out, and in an inaudible count to three, the entire group will merge into one in an extraordinary display of dance unlike anything we've ever seen.

Overall, what Jackson represents through and through is showmanship to a degree that we just don't see today as some musicians simply wander onstage and lip-sync or play obscure songs in exchange for ticket prices that are equal to that of a brand new computer.

With impressive video components to “Smooth Criminal,” featuring video footage of Rita Hayworth in Gilda and old Humphrey Bogart Film Noirs to 3-D and props that I'm imagining would've been outstanding to see utilized live, the one constant thought you're faced with during Ortega's film is the bittersweet realization that this really was it.

Thus, regardless of how you felt about the man given the controversy or how many times you watched his music videos growing up, there's no doubt that Ortega's extraordinary documentary will open your eyes to a more intimate, unpolished, and completely natural portrait of Michael Jackson. Likewise, the work is one that at long last, finally grants us access to see what he's really like when he isn't answering prepared questions in TV interviews or onstage at a music awards show since this footage was originally intended to be kept private.

Of course, it is quite sad to realize that he was never able to put on the show that he'd painstakingly devised with Ortega and others. Nonetheless, part of the extreme beauty of this Sony Blu-ray that boasts exceptionally crisp picture and sound is that with its release along with a wonderful 2-CD companion set as well, many more individuals who couldn't have afforded or gotten into the sold-out concerts are finally granted access to yet another musical moment that I know they won't forget.

Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com

Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Music Blu-ray Review: Soul Power (2009)

Now Available to Own

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Everybody knows what went down when Muhammad Ali fought George Forman to reclaim his title as the Heavyweight Champion of the World in Zaire's Rumble in the Jungle. However, because the fight was delayed over a month to give Forman time to heal a cut in the eye, what people are perhaps less aware of is the the three-day marathon music festival that was set to coincide with the event in an unparalleled show of “black power,” “black unity,” and “black music,” as promoter Don King and others described.

And after miraculously the plane containing over 32,000 pounds of instruments, spouses, children, friends, and family of some of America's most famous singers and dancers working in 1974 landed, an all-soul, “Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)” celebration began with Muhammad Ali's greeting to the jet-lagged James Brown of “I got ants in my pants; I gotta dance.”

Yet while Ali could dance in the ring and especially conversationally as this extremely rare footage from thirty-six years ago contains some fabulous Ali rants wherein he describes himself as the greatest fighter and most traveled black man in the world, when it comes to real dancing, we can't accept any substitutes to our one and only Godfather of Soul.

And knowing that the audience would feel the exact same way, the filmmakers who painstakingly pieced together the entire festival experience cleverly teased us with James Brown's performance footage in a toe-tapping introduction before finally returning to him in the end. Still, in saving the best for last, similar to the overly long Woodstock, Soul Power suffers slightly in its decision of which footage to incorporate and which to abandon.

Similarly, despite the fact that it uses a much more viewer friendly running time of roughly 90 minutes verses the Ken Burns-like length of Woodstock, the film nonetheless suffers a bit from its freewheeling approach as it's trying to fit in a variety of topics that could've all spun off into their own mini-documentaries.

Wildly moving both stylistically and tonally throughout-- with the introduction of Brown at the beginning soon Soul goes against our initial impression of it as a concert film. For right after that, it switches gears completely as a work seemingly obsessed with the behind-the-scenes aspect of planning a festival and surviving the trials of staging a massive event in Africa.

Yet while these two issues should've provided more than enough content, Soul Power also works in a sociological angle and then moves away from the music to fixate heavily on the incredibly fascinating Ali, morphing into what could be taken as a companion piece to When We Were Kings, especially given the clue of the the onscreen text alerting us when that film's director is in view.

Although there are some wonderful performances by not only James Brown, who intriguingly seems fairly low-key and perhaps even shy when not onstage but also a moving tune by Bill Withers, favorites from B.B. King and others, the amount of music contained in the disc isn't as significant as one might have assumed considering the box and advertising campaign promise of giving you access to “the greatest music festival” you've never seen.

While there are some deleted scenes included on Sony's top-notch Blu-ray that smooths out the dated footage and grain to the best of its ability, overall the highlight of the film as transferred to disc can be found in Sony's exceptional sound which even packs an Ali style punch on two basic LCD TV speakers, bouncing Celia Cruz, The Spinners and Miriam Makeba throughout the room.

Similar to another talky music doc in Davis Guggenheim's superior It Might Get Loud, which was also released by Sony, the BD-Live portion of the disc offers you the chance to build your own playlist to e-mail or share, while also providing you with filmmaker commentary and/or the studio's movieIQ feature that provides additional information about whatever is occurring onscreen at any given moment.

Definitely worth exploring for not only music and history lovers, it's also quite a find for those interested in the documentary process in evaluating both Soul's many pros as well as its cons. But overall, what could've been one soulful contender is hindered by the film's wandering focus as it feels like the cinematic equivalent of a two year Associate in Arts degree as we race from music to social sciences to sports, receiving too little information about too many things.

Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com

Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.