DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

DVD Pick: Reds

Reds DVDIn the late 70’s Warren Beatty somehow persuaded a major American studio (Paramount) to fund a huge sweeping epic about communist journalist John Reed. He was the man famous for chronicling the Russian revolution with his classic memoir ‘Ten Days That Shook the World‘ and the film explores his work and his relationships with other writers of the time, such as Louise Bryant, Eugene O’Neill, Emma Goldman and Max Eastman.

Beatty assembled a terrific cast featuring the likes of Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Edward Hermann, Maureen Stapleton and Gene Hackman but also recruited some heavyweight talents behind the camera. Most notably, Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (whose other films include Apocalypse Now and The Conformist) brings some beautiful visuals to the screen.

The first half of the film deals with Reed (Beatty) and his relationships with fellow writers on the American left, in particular Bryant (Diane Keaton) with whom he has a tempestuous love affair. The second half sees the couple go to Russia and Reed grow ever more disillusioned with the Revolution, finally come to see the cost of his political beliefs to his personal life.

At a running time of over three hours (the film clocks in at around 194 minutes) Reds does demand a fair chunk of your time and attention. But that time is worth your while – it is a rich portrayal of characters in the turbulent years of the early 20th century but it also deals with history and politics with a scope and ambition that you don’t see in contemporary Hollywood.

The extras for this special 2 disc edition mostly consist of a lengthy in an in depth documentary detailing the making of the film. Warren Beatty admits from the beginning that he doesn’t like talking about his work in this way (!) but then goes on to be a lucid and entertaining narrator of how the project got off the ground and became his most ambitious film as a director.

Other notables involved such as Storaro and Nicholson also make worthwhile contributions (although Keaton’s absence sticks out) and shed light on the struggles involved to bring it to the big screen. Also look out for production designer Simon Holland who details the extraordinary amount of locations used for the original shoot which included the US, Helsinki, Spain, Manchester, London and even the beaches at Rye.

Reds is out now on DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment

> Buy the DVD from Amazon UK (Region 2)
> If you are based in the US buy it here on Region 1 DVD
> IMDb entry for Reds
> Find out more about John Reed at Wikipedia

DVD & Blu-ray News TV

Twin Peaks Season 2 is out on Region 1 DVD

Twin Peaks - Season 2 on DVDAt long last the second season of David Lynch‘s classic TV show Twin Peaks is available on DVD.

At the moment it just being released on Region 1 but if you have a multi-region player that won’t be a problem.

It was one of the best TV shows of the early 90s and although it lost its way somewhat towards the end it still featured some memorable episodes.

A lot of people have asked me over the years about when this was going to be available and the reason it was delayed for so long was a complex web of legal and distribution issues.

But if you are a Lynch fan then this is well worth a look. IGN have posted a review of the package along with some screenshots.

> Buy Twin Peaks Season 2 from Amazon USA
> Find out more about the show at Wikipedia
> Interstate 95 – Twin Peaks fansite
> David Lynch’s official site (the ringtones are fantastic)

(DVD & Artwork © 2006 Paramount Home Video. All Rights Reserved.)

UPDATE: Thanks to Mark for pointing out in the comments below that Twin Peaks Season 2 is only out on Region 1 DVD at the moment.

I was wondering why this post was getting so much traffic but in my haste to state that the Region 1 DVD was available I mistakenly said it was out on Region 2. Alas, it isn’t yet as the tortuous rights issues to this title drag on.

Thw Wikipedia entry for Twin Peaks has the following to say on the release problems both seasons have had:

The release of Season Two was complicated by the sale of Republic Pictures, the successor-in-interest to Worldvision Enterprises (the series’ former distributor) and which currently holds ancillary rights in North America, to Paramount/Viacom in 1998; the transition of home video rights; and the later 2006 split of Viacom into two separate companies. Also, David Lynch oversaw the transfer from video to DVD personally, but was delayed by the production of his new film, Inland Empire. The first season was released to DVD on Artisan Entertainment, the video licensee for Republic, but Artisan/Lions Gate’s rights expired in September 2005, and thus were transferred to Paramount.

The second season release was postponed several times, from September 2004, to early 2005, to September 2005, to early 2006. Despite its long delay, Season Two was finally released in the United States and Canada on April 3, 2007. In Germany, where Season 2 is to be released in two parts on separate dates in 2007, Part 1 went on general release on January 4, 2007.

North American rights to the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me film are owned by New Line Cinema, a division of Time Warner (which also owns Warner Bros.), and is available on video and DVD through New Line. In Canada, the DVD was distributed through Alliance Atlantis, which holds all Canadian rights to the New Line library.

Although Republic technically holds major ancillary rights, Paramount’s home entertainment division (a Viacom unit) now holds home video rights. Television distribution rights are now held by CBS Paramount Television, the successor-in-interest to Paramount’s television unit.

Perhaps it’s best to get that multi-region DVD player after all…

DVD & Blu-ray Interesting

Disappointing DVD Cover Art

Dave Chen makes some salient points on why DVD cover art can be so disappointing over at More Than This:

In all seriousness though, why is DVD box art, in general, so bad? There are undoubtedly many factors that go into this, including artist fees and movie-related art availability in general.

But the biggest contributor to the horrendous art collection you have sitting on your DVD shelf is undoubtedly the actual purpose of DVD box art, which differs greatly from the purpose of movie poster art. Movie poster art is supposed to make you aware of the film and to create buzz.

Read the post in full here.

> More Than This
> A huge database of DVD covers

DVD & Blu-ray Interviews

David Arnold on Casino Royale

David ArnoldCasino Royale is out now on DVD and to coincide with the release I recently spoke with composer David Arnold about his work on the film.

We spoke about a number of things, including his involvement with cinema’s longest running franchise, the decision to hold off from the signature tune and where 007 might be headed next.

Listen to the interview here:

You can also download it an as MP3 here

Casino Royale is out on DVD today from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

> The official site for Casino Royale
> Buy Casino Royale on DVD from Amazon UK
Have a listen to interviews I did with the cast and crew of Casino Royale back in November
> Find out more about the next Bond film at Wikipedia
> Visit David Arnold’s official website


DVD & Blu-ray Interviews

Interview: Alfonso Cuaron on Children of Men

Since coming to prominence in his native Mexico with Sólo Con Tu Pareja (1991) Alfonso Cuarón has shown himself to be a remarkably versatile director.

His films have ranged from The Little Princess (1995), a beautifully crafted adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s novel to the exuberant road movie Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002).

After the international and critical success of that film he made Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), the third – and so far, best – instalment of the series.

Film & Artwork © 2006 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Children of Men was another shift in subject matter and tone, as he adapted P.D. James’ dystopian novel about infertility in a futuristic England.

Released in the UK last September (and the US in December) it garnered lavish critical praise and award recognition, winning 2 BAFTAs and 3 Oscar nominations.

It was richly deserved, as it remains one of the best films of last year.

It functions as a riveting thriller, but also explores contemporary issues with an intelligence that is rare in mainstream movies.

It also features some truly stunning cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki, who has helped create images and sequences that will live long in the memory.

I recently spoke to Alfonso about the forthcoming release on DVD.

He was articulate, passionate and keen to discuss many aspects of the film, including:

  • His approach to the original novel
  • The documentary on the second disc called ‘The Possibility of Hope’
  • Filming during the London bombings
  • The narrative style of the film
  • Why he wanted it to be the ‘anti-Blade Runner
  • The visuals
  • How they shot some of the long takes
  • The importance of Clive Owen as a collaborator
  • What he thinks the film is ultimately about.

You can also download here it as an MP3 (just right click on the link and save it to your computer)

The Children of Men 2-disc Special Edition is available on DVD from 19th March, courtesy of Universal Pictures

(Film & Artwork © 2006 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.)

> Buy Children of Men on DVD or the Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry for Alfonso Cuaron
> Reviews for Children of Men at Metacritic
> Dana Stevens of Slate on why Children of Men is the ‘movie of the millenium’