DVD REVIEW – Feburary 1st, 2007

THIS WEEK IN DVD’S – Feburary 1st, 2007

  •  Viva Pedro: The Almodovar Collection (Sony)


There’s little in terms of bonus goodies on Viva Pedro: The Almodovar Collection (Sony), but with movies of Almodovar’s canon, it’s hard to complain.  Representative of both the Spanish director’s early work (Law of Desire, Matador, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, The Flower of My Secret) as well as his newer fare (All About My Mother, Bad Education, Live Flesh, Talk To Her), this compilation may not be complete—any Almodovar collection without What Have I Done to Deserve This? and Pepi, Luci, Bom is not a full one—but the Spanish provocateur’s inimitable pizzazz comes through on all these pictures as though a canary busting right out of its cage.  Video transfer quality is fairly strong on all of the films here—new upgrades have been given to Nervous Breakdown and All About My Mother (which needed them—their initial DVD pressings were lackluster in this regard)—and sound mixes are passable.  The three bonus featurettes—in this collection on a disc of their own—are tentative and surface-level investigations of the artist’s output, but in this collection, it’s the films that wow you.  And do they ever.  Now bring us the next box set to finish it off!

  •  Brokeback Mountain: Special Edition (Universal)


Resort to clichés if you must (you square), but Ang Lee’s gay cowboy movie is pretty much the best mainstream film made in the last ten or 15 years.  But is there a reason to buy the new Brokeback Mountain: Special Edition (Universal)?  Well, hold yer horses, you Gyllenhaal-lovin’ spur-freak: The answer is…kinda.  The film still looks and sounds majestic (yeah, there’s a little edge enhancement to the 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer, but it’s very infrequent), but even with a second DVD edition—the first Brokeback DVD showed up last April—bonuses are surprisingly thin.  The four featurettes included on the film’s first release also show up here, and while A Groundbreaking Success has a bit of hindsight-philosophizing about the film’s already-pristine legacy, the other two new bonuses ain’t much of anything (where the Hell is a Jake/Heath/Ang Lee commentary? And with the brouhaha the film drummed up, this is a perfect opportunity to drop a comprehensive documentary on the newly-fetishized gay cowboy movie genre).  But hear me out:

  • Brokeback Mountain Combo HD-DVD and Standard DVD (Universal)


Instead of trading in your old copy for this new DVD edition, your buddy Mike says upgrade a step further: Pick up the Brokeback Mountain Combo HD-DVD and Standard DVD (Universal).  Yeah, yeah—if I hadn’t have been sent a free HD player, I’d still be on the fence as to whether it’s worth a hill of beans—but with the exception of a few hiccups (on my player, the 5.1 DTS sound mix afforded the film was only included on the standard DVD side—what gives?), this one’s a solid bet.  Even if you’re still undecided on your sentiments toward the increasingly-stupid high-definition world of home entertainment, this flip-sided disc offers all of the bonuses of this new 2-DVD set (on a standard DVD) as well as a sparkling 1080p HD-DVD transfer that will make you as gay for this movie as those cowboys are for each other. 

  •  Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Fourth Season (Universal)


Ready for some bad TV?  If you’ve seen one episode of Murder, She Wrote, you’ve seen ‘em all—even my grandma (who’s a monstrous fan of TV whodunits) thinks Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) ain’t all that—so the multi-hour Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Fourth Season (Universal) collection gets old fast.  Angela chills at home, gets a crazy phone call from a crazy person whose brother/husband/wife/kid has been murdered, and Lansbury (led by her patented inquisitive eyebrows) enters the fold to solve the crime with British zip and whir.  No bonuses, sub-par transfers—this is dental office viewing at best…


  •  The A-Team: Season Five (Universal)


…but MSW’s mundanity is better than anything off of The A-Team: Season Five (Universal), the (thankfully) final installment of the much-beloved (yet surprisingly under-watched) actioner from the 1980’s.  BA Barrabas is still the king of 80’s TV—Mr. T can pity whichever fools he likes, as far as this writer’s concerned—but in its fifth go-round, this shoot-em-up series is seriously shooting blanks.  However, the interview included on this set is surprisingly illuminating (creator Stephen J. Cannell tells us exactly what he was going for with the show, and it wasn’t quite what you’d expect).  What your buddy Mike is waiting for: An Angela Lansbury/Mr. T cage match.  Lansbury would make that guy cry.  Am I right?  I’m puttin’ $20 on Angela.  Go get em, bitch!

Wondering if you should pony up $40 for that two-disc spectacular?  For all of your DVD questions, ask Mike at [email protected] .