16th June 2005
Pictures Video will release a box set featuring seven classic comedies
directed by the great Preston Sturges on August the 22nd.
The seven-disc Written and Directed by
Preston Sturges box set will feature The Great McGinty (1940),
Sullivan's Travels (1941), The Lady Eve (1941), Hail The
Conquering Hero (1944), Christmas in July (1940), Palm Beach
Story (1942) and The Great Moment (1944).
The Sullivan's Travels disc will
feature a commentary track by Terry Jones. The set will come with a
twenty-page booklet featuring "mini biographies and facts for Preston
Sturges and the actors / actresses starring in these seven films". The RRP
for the set is £69.99.
Warner Home Video will be releasing two
vintage movie collections exclusively to HMV on August the 22nd. The
Bette Davis Collection and The Joan Crawford Collection feature
seven films not previously available on DVD in the UK.
Bette Davis Collection will feature Mr Skeffington, a new,
fully-restored edition of Dark Victory, Now Voyager (also
restored), and The Letter (with an alternate ending).
Mr Skeffington - commentary by
director Vincent Sherman, a featurette, Mr Skeffington: A Picture of
Strength and a theatrical trailer.
Dark Victory - new digital transfer
from restored picture and audio elements; commentary by film historian
James Ursini and CNN film critic Paul Clinton; a new featurette, 1939:
Tough Competition for Dark Victory; and a theatrical trailer.
Now Voyager - Max Steiner scoring
session music cues; cast career highlights; theatrical trailer
The Letter -
new digital transfer from restored picture
and audio elements; Lux Radio Theatre broadcast featuring Davis and
co-star Herbert Marshall; alternate ending
Joan Crawford Collection features The Damned Don't Cry,
Humoresque, Possessed and Grand Hotel.
Humoresque - new featurette, The
Music of Humoresque; theatrical trailer
Possessed - Commentary by film
historian Drew Casper; new featurette, Possessed: The Quintessential
Film Noir; theatrical trailer
The Damned Don't Cry - Commentary by
director Vincent Sherman; new featurette, The Crawford Formula: Real
Grand Hotel - Checking Out:
Grand Hotel featurette; 1932 newsreel footage of the Hollywood
premiere at MGM's Grand Hotel; 1932 theatrical announcement, Just A
Word of Warning; 1933 Vitaphone short, Nothing Ever Happens.
RRP for The Bette Davis Collection
is £34.99. RRP for The Joan Crawford Collection is £29.99.
second series of the BAFTA-award winning Channel 4 comedy series The
Book Group will be released on July the 18th. The disc will feature
all six half-hour episodes. The RRP is £19.99.
Nouveux Pictures' release of Empire of
Passion has been rescheduled: the disc will now be released on July
Finally Warner Home Video's US division has
announced the release of a number of SF and horror films, including their
remaining key Hammer film, Dracula AD 72. The film will be released
on October the 4th. For full details, and sleeve art, check out
15th June 2005
Wednesday I had the chance to see Batman Begins at a press
screening at the IMAX cinema at Waterloo. The film is the latest Warner
Brothers movie to be especially adapted to the IMAX DMR format (others
include the Matrix sequels and The Polar Express). As usual, the
IMAX presentation was most impressive. The quick-cut action scenes were a
bit too much to take in, though, and, if you're treating yourself to the
Imax Experience, I suggest you sit towards the back of the auditorium, to
help you take it all in. I expect the scenes in question are rather
impressionistic, anyway. Fight choreography isn't the movie's strong
Having paid good money to see Joel
Schumacher's god-awful Batman and Robin, I approached Batman
Begins with some trepidation. The signs were good - a sound director
in the shape of Memento's Christopher Nolan; what read like a
pretty decent script by Blade's David Goyer; and an inspired piece
of casting, in the shape of Christian Bale - and the noises that Warner
was making about reinventing the franchise were most encouraging.
Well, Batman Begins isn't a great
movie, but it is a great Batman movie. Fans crying out to see the
Batman as re-envisioned by Frank Miller for Batman: Year One will
be cheering in the aisle! Batman Begins is certainly a bold new
start for the character.
The film is beautifully cast. Loyal as I am
to the great Michael Gough, I have to admit that Michael Caine's Alfred is
note perfect; 28 Days Later'
Cillian Murphy is great as Arkham's Doctor Jonathan Crane, and Gary Oldman
makes a wonderful James Gordon. If there's one slightly sour note, it's
Katie Holmes' Rachel Dawes. With her cute-as-a-button Dawson's
Creek face, it's hard to believe that she's an Assistant DA!
Incidentally, cult TV fans should keep an eye out for The Champions'
Alexanda Bastedo - she plays Mrs Delane in the movie.
Batman Begins opens at the IMAX
There's a new audio CD review on the site
today, for BBC Audiobooks' innovative Doctor Who Reconstructed: The
Power of the Daleks MP3-CD. It offers the chance to see a slideshow
version of an otherwise-lost Doctor Who story, syncing up the episode's
audio with a series of off-monitor photo's. For the full story, click on
the sleeve image (left), or
here. The disc is
released on Monday.
label Umbrella Entertainment will release a DVD of Eric Sykes' four Thames
comedies on August the 31st.
The Eric Sykes Collection will
feature The Plank, Rhubarb Rhubarb!, It's Your Move
and Mr H. Is Late. As a bonus, Sykes' 1993 short The Big Freeze
(which, like the others, is dialogue-free), is also included. The five
films feature the cream of British comedy talent from the last four
decades, including Tommy Cooper, Frankie Howerd, Arthur Lowe, Spike
Milligan, Harry H. Corbett and Richard Briars. RRP for the disc is
Club has sent me a copy of their forthcoming Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With
Me disc (which is due fro release on July the 25th).
Anyone who has a copy of the old Second
Sight disc who was wondering if it was worth buying the new version should
wonder no more: the Second Sight disc is officially obsolete. A quick spin
of Cinema Club's disc revealed a number of pleasant surprises.
Firstly, the new disc offers a choice of
Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448kbps) and DTS 5.1 (at 768kbps) soundtracks. A
cursory toggle between the two reveals that there's a substantial volume
difference between the two (the Dolby track is much louder), which will
make a proper comparison difficult.
The transfer on the new disc is a huge
improvement. It's less sharp, but doesn't have the old disc's
edge-enhancement artefacts, giving it a much more film-like appearance.
Colour fidelity and saturation is much improved, too. There's a slight
running time discrepancy between the old and new versions (129'08" for
Cinema Club's version, 129'04" for Second Sight's). The new version drops
the two logo's at the beginning of the old version (they were probably
added for European theatrical distribution), and begins with a black
screen. The bitrate for the new version is higher - 6.27Mb/s versus
4.51Mb/s, but much of that difference can probably be attributed to the
additional audio data (the old disc was 2.0 only). The old version would
have wasted bitrate encoding apparent detail, though, so the Cinema Club
disc should still have the advantage in this regard, however marginal.
The new disc has optional English
subtitles. This may not seem like a big deal (unless you're hearing
impaired, of course), but fans will know that there's a particular scene
where the dialogue is - quite intentionally - virtually drowned out by the
music. Some prints of the film had superimposed subtitles for this scene,
others did not. The old disc didn't have any subtitles at all, so the
point was moot. The Cinema Club disc allows you to watch the scene with
subtitles, if you wish.
Although they've not been willing or able
to offer the film's infamous deleted scenes as a bonus feature, the disc
does at least feature the film's original EPK, which includes a short
featurette (this runs for about eight minutes, and features soundbite
interviews with key cast and crew members, Lynch excepted). A section of
"actor clips" is redundant (they're simply clips from the films excerpted
for TV broadcasters to use). The EPK then presents some short interview
clips, with Ray Wise, Sheryl Lee, Madchen Amick and Moira Kelly, which
total another six minutes or so. (See below for pictures). Finally,
there's the film's theatrical trailer (2m).
Finally, the new disc has chapter marks.
David Lynch doesn't generally like to add chapter marks to his DVDs,
preferring that the viewer watches the film in one sitting, from beginning
to end. The Cinema Club disc offers something of a compromise: it has
chapter titles, but they're very cryptic ("708", "Plastic", "2TH 504", for
Menu screens from the new release, and a
few comparative screen grabs from the two versions are available
Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed