THIS WEEK IN DVD’S – OCT 4, 2007
The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition (Fox)
There have been a few releases of The Graduate on DVD, but it’s The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition (Fox) that you should shell out twenty bucks for. In addition to housing the endlessly popular and prescient film starring Dustin Hoffman as a youngster thrown into the grown-up world and Anne Bancroft as the seductress who capitalizes on his naivete, this newest edition of the film on DVD showcases a slam-bang anamorphic widescreen and a surprisingly enveloping Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix.
Long story short: It has never looked nor sounded better on DVD.
And in addition to regurgitating all the bonus goodies that were available on previous releases, this new edition gives us two new featurettes – one of which, Students of The Graduate, features a ton of filmmakers talking about how important the film is to their work – and two new commentaries: One with Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross and the other with director Mike Nichols and ‘moderator’ Steven Soderbergh. It might have been better to marry the two tracks together – on their own, they drag on a bit – but for devotees of The Graduate, there’s enough information here to truly rally the film’s reputation.
Top Gun (Paramount)
So, you have an HD DVD player and are faced with this question: Do you feel the need – the need for speed?
The good news is that Top Gun (Paramount) is now available on HD DVD, and in theory, this is great news. For all of us that adored the film upon its release and continue to idolize it every time we watch it (which is often), the idea of a pristine presentation of the film in high definition is enough to make one start singing “Great Balls of Fire”.
But here’s the rub: Not only does Top Gun look merely ‘okay’ on HD DVD – the transfer print used to make the high-def presentation here is surprisingly filled with dust and grime (another round of restoration would have done the picture a world of good), and there are no bonus features available. The film sounds great – whether you choose the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix or the DTS-ES 6.1 mix, your head will totally explode (in a good way) – but come on, Paramount: You put out a 2-DVD set just last year, and it was FANTASTIC. Why not give the same treatment to the film on high def?
Anyway, if you still cry when Goose dies, you might want to pick this one up – I sure as Hell plan on watching it a couple times a year – but don’t throw away that special edition DVD you already have: You’re gonna need it.
The Boss of It All (Genius Products)
Lars von Trier is in dangerous, almost inevitable danger of becoming a joke – and maybe that’s the way he likes it. His latest works like Dogville and Manderlay were thinky, dogmatic, and dull as dirt, and his newest ‘comedy’, The Boss of It All (Genius Products) is just as impenetrable and inane.
Basically, here’s the shtick (because von Trier has abandoned the glorious emotional grandeur of Breaking the Waves and The Idiots with nothing more than intellectual paradigm shtick): The Boss of It All is a simple, by-the-book workplace comedy, but von Trier shoots the whole thing with ‘Automavision’, which allows a computer to randomly choose where his cameras should be set up to capture the action. Yup, that’s it. Call it an experiment to see if a computer can make a dumb movie as dumbly as a human being can.
More interesting than the film, of course, are the featurettes that describe the film’s aesthetic aims and how von Trier and crew pulled everything off. But trust me: Unless you bow at the altar of von Trier (and you haven’t been scared away by the droll musings of Dogville and its successors), this one is an easy DVD to skip entirely.
The Office: Season Three (Universal)
Not only is The Office an exceptionally funny series, it has always had its seasons presented on DVD with tons of goodies and impressive video and audio quality. And The Office: Season Three (Universal) is no exception.
And, of course, in addition to presenting each episode of the show’s third season with gorgeous finesse, this DVD box set is friggin’ hilarious. The season opener, featuring Michael (Steve Carrell) attempting to infuse his office with an open-minded view of sexual orientation, is one of the most hysterical single episodes the show has ever offered, and the rest of the season (while perhaps not as line-by-line hilarious) definitely follows suit.
Add to this the fact that there are featurettes, commentaries and deleted scenes aplenty, and this The Office: Season Three set stands as perfect TV-on-DVD experience.
If you don’t already know, trust me: You’ll laugh your ass off.
The Ghost Whisperer: The Complete Second Season (Paramount)
The Ghost Whisperer: The Complete Second Season (Paramount) is for admirers of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs only.
I know that sounds exceptionally sexist and crass, but I have to be honest: Every scenario J. Love’s character is put into in The Ghost Whisperer involves her having as much cleavage as TV-possible as often as possible. She communicates with the dead while baaaaarely keeping her top on.
This being said, however, it should come as no surprise that the show is a big hit. If you can look up from her endowments every now and again, it’s apparent that J. Love’s character has great charisma (even if she isn’t much of a rocket scientist, if you know what I mean), and while her show is really dumb as dirt, she brings a nice freshness to it.
But this DVD set really paints her as a pseudo Playboy pin-up in a paranormal world. Sure, the show looks and sounds fine on DVD and houses a handful of obligatory (and redundant) bonus features, but The Ghost Whisperer is little more than Barbarella-meets-Poltergeist, with double the cleavage and half of the campy fun.