Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New Arrivals at the DVD Panache Library

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of you may have wondered why there was no post last week, and frankly we're still searching for that answer too. Not to fear, in an effort to win back readers who are still on the fence, this week begins the DVD Panache Seven Days of Sam Peckinpah Marathon. This will be the basis of the next two weeks' posts, so bear with me because it is sure to be a semi-wild ride.)

The bags of letters (some not even written by me!) I have received since Christmas have had a consistent theme: did you blow all your hard-earned Christmas on DVDs or what? The answer to that is a firm yes, and if you shift your gaze to the right, you will notice that I have finally updated The DVD Panache Library to reflect these recent purchases.

The DVD I was most looking forward to for the past few months would have to be Sin City: Recut, Extended, Unrated, and I am pleased to report that this is everything you could ever hope for (and more!) in a Robert Rodriguez DVD. Rodriguez packs every possible goody in this two-disc pack, and even adds a few features you've never seen anywhere before. One of these creative features is a chance to watch the movie (albeit sped up about 800%) in its raw form, that is without any of the cool black and white backgrounds and effects added. It's amazing to see that this big of a movie could be filmed in such a small space.

Fans of the original graphic novels will be pleased to see that the only way to watch the new cut of Sin City is to watch each story on its own. This works especially well with That Yellow Bastard, which was bookended around The Big Fat Kill and The Hard Goodbye in the theatrical cut. Even better, Yellow Bastard gets the most new scenes of the three stories, so it's a drastically different experience than the one you saw in theaters. The best of the Yellow Bastard new scenes is that we finally get to see Aileen, Hardigan's wife, and why she left him. Unfortunately, the other two stories hardly get any new scenes. The Hard Goodbye gives us a scene with Marv's mom, but I think that was it. The Big Fat Kill only has one new scene, but thankfully it's the best of the bunch. Let's just say that if you're a Miho fan, skip right to the last scene.

And since it is a Rodriguez disc, you get another installment of his cooking school (breakfast tacos) and another session of his 10-minute film school. The latter is extremely informative and makes you wonder why no one thought of this filmmaking technique before, or for that matter how much it will be used in the future.

Finally, one of the first things you will notice about this set is just how handsome its packaging is. It looks awesome on your shelf, especially if it's right next to the previous Sin City DVD (I couldn't wait either).

But if the new Sin City DVD is my favorite new disc, the King Kong set can't be too far behind. The best part about the Kong set is the exhausting seven-part documentary, with a running time of over 120 minutes, which is a dream for any fan of the movie. This docu gives you everything from clips of the early adventure movies made by Merrian C. Cooper and Earnest Schoedsack to the few surviving clips of Creation, the almost-movie that was the primary inspiration behind Kong. But the very best and most heralded part of this documentary is the work of Peter Jackson and friends to restore the lost Spider Pit sequence, which was excised from the original cut and has never been found. Pretty much just for shits and giggles, Jackson and Co. spent weeks recreating this sequence with the same kind of technology that was available in 1933. The end result is expectedly hokey, but also genuinely terrifying in some parts.

The most surprising DVD I got was the Back to the Future Trilogy, which you can get at Amazon for $18. For that money, this three-pack is stuffed to the gills with extras, including excellent commentary tracks by two of its producers and all kinds of documentaries and interviews. Also, I had not ever watched the whole trilogy in sequence before, and you can really see how both of the sequels lack that youthful energy of the first one. The third one regains some of this, but the second movie remains a disappointment to me.

Finally, due in the mail today or tomorrow is, among others, The Wizard of Oz Three Disc Collector's Edition. It's good to see this classic get the epic treatment it deserves, as it appears this set is on par with The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions for how many extras are included. I'll post a review of the whole set if I ever get through it. This article gives a good idea of what all is included in it.

QUICK REVIEW: Watched the original Scarface last night, and I have to say it is a must-see for any movie fan, but particularly fans of the Pacino version. Going into it, I knew from reading articles about the movie that I should watch for the myriad of 'X's peppered throughout from director Howard Hawks, a reference to the title character's trademark scar. They were easy to spot, and some were pretty blatant (when he goes to kill an old friend, his room number is 'X' and he has a giant 'X' shadow on him), but there was one instance of it that was complete genius, which I had not read about. When Tony and his gang go to kill a rival Irish gangleader at a bowling alley, we see the Irishman shot just as he releases his ball, which results in a strike (for non-bowlers: that results in an 'X'). Thankfully, Hawks didn't have anyone write an 'X' on his scorecard or anything, he just left it at him bowling a strike. There are many parallels between this version and the re-make, most noticably the 'The World is Yours' sign, which is a key setpiece in both films. But the most memorable aspect of Scarface is the man himself, Paul Muni, a bad ass in every sense of the word and one of the original stereotypical gangsters of film.

No comments: