February 24, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: Akira

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Akira (Blu-ray). Possibly the biggest anime ever produced is set to make its high definition debut. It may not be the biggest ever, but it is certainly an important one in America. Countless people will point to this film as being the reason they got into anime in the first place, I count myself among them. I am looking forward to seeing this again, it has been a while. I also have to wonder if the proposed live-action take on it will go forward. I cannot see it working. Anyway, I am expecting this to look stunning.

Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (also Blu-ray). The latest Futurama film is here. I really need to catch up, I have only seen the first one, and I love me some Futurama!

The Librarian: Curse of the Jade Chalice. Never seen any of these telefilms. For some reason I cannot get past the title, The Librarian just doesn't excite me. For fans of the series, can you convince me to check them out? I have a hard time seeing Noah Wylie outside of ER.

Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season. I have not seen a lot of this week's releases. Here is one I really want to see and have heard great things. Bryan Cranston stars as chemistry teacher with a terminal illness who turns to drug production to provide for his family. I loved Cranston's work on Malcolm in the Middle, and this looks to be a little different, but definitely up his alley.

Sex Drive (also Blu-ray). Another one not seen by me. This sex-romp did not entice me to get into the theater, but perhaps on DVD. This film points out the dangers of meeting online. It does have Seth Green as an Amish farmer, so it should at least have a couple of laughs.

The French Connection (Blu-ray). Gene Hackman classic arrives in high definition. I have to ask, for those who have watched older films in HD, how do they look, generally speaking? I have only just joined the revolution and have not watched all that many yet. I know the original element capture a lot of detail, just wondering how it transfers.

Four Flies on Grey Velvet. I have never seen this early Dario Argento giallo and know nothing about it. Rest assured, this is one that I will see. It has to be said that Argento's early films are much stronger than his recent output, but his visual style is something to behold.

The Bird with the Crystal Plummage. And the hits keep on coming. I own the Blue Underground release of this, Argento's 1970 debut, but have not yet made the time. Considering I have had it so long they are releasing it again, perhaps I should dig it up, no?

Vanishing Point (Blu-ray). Arthouse meets the mainstream in this road movie from 1970. A man loads up on amphetamines and takes his Charger on an impossible drive, aided by radio DJ Cleavon Jones. It is, again, a movie I have not seen.

The Last House on the Left. A new collector's edition of Wes Craven's debut exploitation film is here just in time to get us ready for the remake, which does not look all that bad. Oh yes, I have seen this one. The dialogue is not so hot, but it is a gritty little movie that will make you feel dirty.

Samurai 7: The Complete Series (Blu-ray). This is a futuristic animated take on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. This is yet another series I have not seen, but really want to.

What Just Happened? (also Blu-ray). I was left asking the same question when the closing credits began to roll. Going in, I was looking forward to a satire that sank its teeth into the Hollywood machine. Unfortunately, I was left a little cold to the whole piece. There were some funny moments and interesting scenes, but taken as a whole it never really went anywhere.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Do not waste your time. Of all the release this week I have not seen, this is one I have.... twice.

The Fog (Blu-ray). Carpenter's misty horror from the early 80's arrives in high definition. I can see this looking spectacular with all the.... you know.... fog.

Protege. This 2007 film was a big film in Hong Kong, garnering 12 nominations for their equivalent to the Oscars, including best picture. I am looking forward o checking this Dragon Dynasty release, they have done a great job on their line of foreign titles.

House on Haunted Hill: 50th Anniversary Edition.
It's hard to believe it has been 50-years since this film was on the screen. I look forward to seeing the new transfer, although I am worried about the included new widescreen transfer. Is it chopped? If I recall correctly, this film was originally shot full frame.


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