Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" announced for DVD, Blu-ray


Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment announced the new, expanded DVD and first-time Blu-ray release of its classic animated film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on Wednesday.

The new version, to be released Oct. 6, available on both DVD and Blu-ray, will launch Disney's Diamond Collection series.

The release, comprised of two discs, will include several bonus features:

* Hyperion Studios – Audiences are digitally transported to 1937 and see how Hyperion Studios, the original studio Walt Disney himself built and where "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was conceived and developed. Will include archival photos, never- before- heard animator recordings, archival transcripts and rare footage of Walt Disney himself.

* Magic Mirror (Blu-ray release only) – Using the latest in Blu-ray technology, the iconic Magic Mirror guides the audience through the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Diamond Edition serving as the “host,” recognizing viewing patterns, knowing where the audience has left off and even suggesting where to navigate next. This marks the first use of this type of technology in a Disney Blu-ray release.

* DisneyView (Blu-ray only) – Viewers can expand their viewing experience beyond the original aspect ratio of the film. Utilizing Disney Blu-ray™ technology, acclaimed Disney artist Toby Bluth ‘draws’ beyond the borders of classic full frame cinema and fill the otherwise dark edges of the screen with beautiful custom imagery, giving audiences an expanded view of the animated classic.

* About Toby Bluth – Disney artist Toby Bluth tells how the movie inspired him to create the superb DisneyView art.

* Mirror, Mirror On The Wall – Through BD-Live, this mirror can find the secret princess inside each viewer with a series of questions, then create for them a personal message from their favorite princess who will call them on the telephone.

* What Do You See? – Players must untangle scrambled images.

* Jewel Jumble – To win the game, players must put jewels from the Dwarfs’ mine in the proper order.

* Scene Stealer – Allows viewers to upload a personal photo and become one of the Seven Dwarfs—on-screen in the actual film.









Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What do you get when you mix the Beach Boys and Satan?

"The Beach Boys and the Satan" (Region 1 DVD). Also available through Amazon.co.uk, but only in Region 1 format: This oddball German documentary is as disjointed as its name implies. Roughly the first 45 minutes is a fairly straight Beach Boys documentary with a fairly comprehensive retelling of the Beach Boys story from the German Pop Annual TV series. It's augmented by lots of old film clips, some rare, some coming from "The Beach Boys: An American Band" and "I Guess I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" documentaries. Paul McCartney does appear in the disc in clips from "American Band" (the party scene with him and Linda), plus Brian Wilson discusses how "Rubber Soul" influenced "Pet Sounds." Offering thoughts on the Beach Boys career are Don Was, Kim Fowley, Greg Shaw (of the great Bomp! magazine) and Brian Wilson himself. When the documentary starts discussing Charles Manson, though, the film turns away from the Beach Boys almost entirely. Adding to the strangeness is the use all the way through of German subtitles you can't turn off. The disc also has no scene breaks or extra features. Given the fact, though, that most of the Beach Boys documentaries were done by the band themselves with their spin, it's nice to see the band get a fresh look. And the disc includes enough vintage Beach Boys clips to please any fan. Still, though, this is one strange trip.










Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dark Knight and other upcoming Warner Bros. DVDs

Warner Home Video has announced "The Dark Knight" will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on Dec. 9. Both the Blu-Ray and regular DVDs will consist of 2 discs. The Blu-Ray version will have 3 hours of special features, including documentaries on the psyche of Batman and his arsenal of weapons and a digital copy of the film.

Also coming from Warner HV: "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Get Smart" (the movie) on Nov. 11 and "The Powderpuff Girls' 10th Anniversary Collection" on Jan. 20.









Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Review: "Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney"

Reading the title of "Desperately Seeking Paul McCartney," you get a strong hint that this might not be a fan tribute. The film, which won the audience favorite award at the 2008 Mockfest Film Festival in Hollywood, is a documentary about how an obscure event still reverberates some 40 years after the fact.

In 1965, Ruth Anson, then an attractive young reporter for a local Los Angeles TV station, covered the arrival of the Beatles in the city. When she asked Paul McCartney if he had plans for marriage, his answer, caught on film and shown several times in the DVD, was "Only if you'll marry me." The words stuck with her.

Forty years later, Anson, now Ruth Anson-Sowby, attempts to reconnect with the event and experience closure by getting in touch with McCartney. A filmmaker, Marc Cushman, decides to take on the project of making a documentary about her quest. When things don't work out as initially planned, it becomes a reality-TV project, and with it comes little regard for the feelings of Sowby, much to the dismay of some of her family and friends. Finally, Cushman decides the group should connect with McCartney at the Grammy Awards. The ups and downs of preparations, along with the efforts to even see Paul McCartney at the event, form the almost-comic climax of the film.

There is plenty of vintage footage of Sowby interviewing celebrities here, including the original McCartney footage, plus others, including Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope and George Murphy. The McCartney footage is run several times. It is heard in the film the makers had to pay a large sum to license the footage and they use it often.

Much of the time, reality TV goes for cheap entertainment at the participants' expense. That's the bottom line here. This is not a celebration of the Beatles, but like much of reality TV, this documentary of one woman's dream is a sad song that doesn't get better. (Bonus features include twelve Beatle-like songs.)


Read our exclusive interview with Ruth Anson Sowby.










Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"The Beatles: Rare and Unseen"

If a product breathlessly hyping itself makes you wary, be prepared. You'll hear that a lot throughout "The Beatles: Rare and Unseen."

The single disc DVD starts out with promoting its exclusive unseen footage through "rare and previously unseen home movies, personal photographs, recently discovered film and true stories told first hand by the people who were really there." And on that score, it lives up to the hype.

Well, sort of.

The rare footage includes the earliest known footage of the Beatles onstage in Liverpool in 1962, a rare film of the Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland show in October, 1964, footage taking during the making of "Help!," home movie footage from the 1964 Paris Olympia show and a rarely seen French TV interview with John Lennon.

And it's all there -- if you don't mind the fact that the interviewees are superimposed over the rare footage more often than not. Sadly, none of the rare film is seen unedited. What is there, though, is tantalizing, like dangling a carrot in front of a horse. It sure makes you wish for more of it without the unnecessary obstructions.

Some of the interviews, on the other hand, are quite good. The best are Abbey Road recording engineer Norman "Hurricane" Smith, Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers and former Beatles press officer Tony Barrow. Others offering comments include Ken Dodd, Sylvie Vartan, Sam Leach, Quarrymen member Colin Hanton, Phil Collins and Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel. But even the interviews have a few snags. In near succession, different interviewees recall "the original Beatles" as having different lineups. An eight-page booklet features text by Barrow and more rare photos.

Even more frustrating is the fact that the disc's special features are extended interviews with everyone on the disc -- but not the raw unedited rare footage.

Sigh.

Still, just seeing this stuff is great. And at least some of the interviews aren't the deadweight talking head interviews usually found on many of the endless line of DVDs that tell the Beatles story.

If only, though, someone had figured out that the rare footage would have been better appreciated if left the producers had left it the hell alone.







Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NEW BEATLES DVD, "ALL TOGETHER NOW," COMING JUNE 24




APPLE CORPS LTD., CIRQUE DU SOLEIL AND EMI MUSIC ANNOUNCE THE GLOBAL
DVD RELEASE OF 'ALL TOGETHER NOW' ON JUNE 24

Feature-Length Documentary Chronicles The Making Of The Beatles' "LOVE"
by Cirque du Soleil

London, England - April 16, 2008 - On June 24, 2008 Apple Corps
Ltd./Cirque du Soleil will release the feature-length documentary 'All
Together Now'
on DVD, which will be marketed and distributed worldwide
by EMI Music. The film details the story behind the unique partnership
between The Beatles and Cirque du Soleil that resulted in the creation
and launch of "LOVE," the stage production still wowing audiences at
The Mirage in Las Vegas, and the double Grammy-winning album of the
same name. The film is dedicated to the memory of Neil Aspinall, an
Executive Producer of the DVD.

The DVD's total running time is 122 minutes, including the 84-minute
documentary film and bonus features. The film and extras are presented
in DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital Stereo.

'All Together Now' faithfully recounts how the "LOVE" project came into
being, borne from the personal friendship between George Harrison and
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte. George saw how the twin talents
of Cirque's artistry and The Beatles' music could be fused into
something new and totally original.

The director, Adrian Wills, records early meetings between the Cirque &
Apple Corps Ltd. creative teams, as well as contributions from Sir Paul
McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison discussing
how The Beatles' music can be used in a different way. We hear about
the decision to utilize the combined talents of Sir George Martin and
his son Giles Martin to produce what became a 90-minute soundscape
created from The Beatles' multi-track recordings and how this new audio
adventure was being quietly worked on in the famous Abbey Road Studios
in London, England whilst the first creative ideas for the show were
being formulated in Montreal, Canada.

These early stages of the project were all filmed, as were the first
rehearsals at the Mirage Hotel theatre in Las Vegas, which was
completely rebuilt with a one-of-a-kind sound system and complex round
staging to house the "LOVE" show. George and Giles Martin, the show's
Musical Directors, were involved every step of the way with the
remarkable Cirque du Soleil creative team, performers and backroom
staff.

It wasn't all "plain-sailing" and there has been no attempt to disguise
some of the disagreements that took place along the way regarding how
some of the songs would be portrayed visually. These creative
differences, a necessary part of the overall process of bringing "LOVE"
to its most vibrant life, illustrate the participants' love and respect
for the music and vision of The Beatles.

In addition to their roles within the main feature, George and Giles
Martin, along with engineer Paul Hicks, also pop up in another piece
titled "Changing The Music" which reveals in fascinating depth how the
music was created and the challenges they faced. They explain how they
sourced some of the individual instruments and effects and how they
were encouraged to experiment.

The 'All Together Now' documentary and bonus features provide a
fascinating insight into the creative skills and passion that went into
making this project a groundbreaking critical and commercial success.

DVD contents
'All Together Now' documentary (84:00)
Bonus Features:
- "Changing The Music" (22:00): A behind-the scenes look at the
decision-making process for the "LOVE" concept and music production.
- "Music In The Theatre" (07:00): A look at the process of creating the
"LOVE" show's unique audio design.
- "Making 'LOVE'" (09:00): A backstage pass to explore the design of
"LOVE," including the art direction, costumes, props, screen imagery
and the use of The Beatles' voices in the "LOVE" stage production and
its soundtrack .

DVD technical details
1 x DVD-9
PAL and NTSC
All regions

www.thebeatles.com

www.cirquedusoleil.com





Monday, March 24, 2008

Mike Douglas -- the Ed Sullivan of daytime TV




Mike Douglas - Moments & Memories / John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Martin: Back in the '60s, there are a hard and fast rule in our house. Nothing but nothing interrupted "The Mike Douglas Show." (Forgive me, Mom!)
Looking back, however, it wasn't as bad of a thing as it seemed at the time. For one, Douglas, who got his start as a big band singer with Kay Kyser, was an easy-going guy who had a knack for bringing on great guests, some of them controversial. Folks like Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ingrid Bergman, Marlon Brando, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Groucho Marx, Bob Hope and John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Mike Douglas - Moments & Memories / John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Rolling Stones, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Martin, a new single disc DVD from Kultur International being released March 25, recounts Douglas' story and collects highlights of many of those performances.
The clips are augmented by interviews, including fond recollections from Douglas' widow, Genevieve. (One fascinating fact about Douglas that we learned for the first time from the DVD: He was the voice of Prince Charming in Disney's "Cinderella.")
But it's the clips that are the real attraction here. There's an early rare clip of the Rolling Stones in black and white that is fascinating to watch as the camera alternates from the faces of the gyrating Stones performing to the fans in the audience screaming and carrying on wildly.
Another highlight is a clip featuring Bob Hope, who for years sponsored a major golf tournament in his name, watching a very young boy brought on the show for his early age talent for the game. The boy's name? Tiger Woods.
It's Jack Benny acting naturally and, as usual, making the audience roar with laughter. It's KISS acting up in front of the cameras and showing off their makeup and costumes to housewives who probably had never seen such a sight before. It's Steve Martin, David Letterman, Jay Leno and George Carlin display the early talent that brought them later fame. It's a rare interview with Mother Teresa, who even then brought an aura of saintliness with her. There's so much here to enjoy, including a clip of Douglas performing his Top 40 hit, "The Men In My Little Girl's Life."
One of the main highlights of the disc is the chapter featuring the unprecedented week of shows co-hosted by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was so unusual to have someone so conservative looking like Douglas allow Lennon and Ono to basically take over the show for a week. But he did and the result was fascinating. Lennon and Ono invited many of their politically active friends to appear -- Jerry Rubin, Ralph Nader and Bobby Seale were among those who showed up. The week also gave Lennon the chance to fulfill a dream -- to perform with Chuck Berry. The clip of the two singing "Johnny B. Goode," which has been passed around on bootlegs for years, is here in crystal clarity. As a Lennon fan ourselves, since the whole week's shows were once on video, we only wish a DVD of the whole week's shows would be released. (Actually, it was in Brazil for a while, but appears to be out of print.)
This is a fun disc that we can't help but recommend. We really hope, like the Dick Cavett and "The Tomorrow Show" series of DVDs, that more releases will come with more moments and memories.









Monday, March 17, 2008

John, Paul, Tom and Ringo -- the Fab Three plus one


If Dick Cavett was the hip big brother of talk show hosts, Tom Snyder was the fuddy duddy uncle who you had to explain everything to. That's quite evident in "The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: John Paul Tom & Ringo", an interesting new collection of vintage interviews of three of the Beatles available from Shout Factory on April 1.


The best of the interviews is clearly the one with John Lennon, which was first shown in 1975 and replayed the night after Lennon was killed with new guests added. It's the replay that's included here. If Snyder comes across a little, let's say, naive, John, in a very accomodating mood, sets Snyder straight. "Were the Beatles before the groupies?", Snyder asks at one point.


The replay includes comments from a still shocked "Double Fantasy" producer Jack Douglas and rock critic Lisa Robinson.


That's not the case with the Paul McCartney interview, originally aired on Dec. 20, 1979. It's Paul and Linda, first, who are then joined by Denny Laine and Laurence Juber via satellite discussing Wings before a show at London's Rainbow Theatre. The interview gets off to a horrible start as Snyder makes an impatient Paul and Linda wait (actually telling Paul to "hang on a minute ... we're not ready yet") for an incredibly long introduction (including a boring technical update of the equipment being used for the interview) and a playing of the "Spin It On" music video. Paul and Linda manage to stay polite, though various comments through the interview give evidence that they did not enjoy the experience. No surprise: Few of the questions rise above the pedestrian level. Despite the success being enjoyed by Wings, Snyder even asks about the possibility of a Beatles reunion. When Juber and Laine join the interview, Snyder has to ask the two to introduce themselves because he clearly doesn't know who is who.


The interview with Ringo, recorded in Los Angeles and first aired Nov. 25, 1981, is pretty run of the mill for Ringo, who seems to treat it like nothing special. It really isn't. Snyder starts off asking the meaning of the title of Ringo's then-current album, "Stop and Smell the Roses" after years of what Snyder calls "turmoil, frenzy and confusion," then following up with how Ringo likes being 40. Snyder also discusses John Lennon, who died less than a year before the interview was taped. Barbara Bach also is interviewed, and the couple discuss their apperances in the movie "Caveman."


The quality of the Lennon and Ringo interviews are excellent, especially the Lennon, which has been a favorite among collectors in copies taken from a long out-of-print video release. The McCartney interview, though not as sharp in quality as the other two, seems to have come from a decent video master. Still, it's surprising the quality isn't better.


Despite the reservations, "The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: John Paul Tom & Ringo" is a set worth getting just for the Lennon interview alone. It's good to see this interview, one of Lennon's best, available again. The McCartney and Starr interviews are worth seeing for archival purposes only, but we all have some of that stuff in our collections, don't we?










Monday, March 10, 2008

An intelligent discussion of the Beatles


Composing the Beatles Songbook: Lennon & McCartney 1957-1965: It's rare when a Beatles DVD that tries to summarize their career in any way makes any kind of sense. The store shelves are filled with slap-dash DVDs of the same old Beatle clips with shallow histories of the Fab Four.
Composing the Beatles Songbook: Lennon & McCartney 1957-1965, to be released March 18 in the U.S., is a very rare and welcome exception. The 80-minute film is an intelligent (for a change) roundtable discussion of the Lennon and McCartney partnership by a number of well-known rock musicians, journalists and authors and broadcasters. The fact some of them have strong Beatle connections gives the project even more credibility. Those on board include Klaus Voorman, who drew the "Revolver" cover, Barry Miles, co-author of Paul McCartney's biography and Maureen Cleave, the journalist to whom Lennon uttered the infamous quote comparing the Beatles and Jesus, and broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who has interviewed Paul McCartney for an official audio interview released by Columbia Records when Paul was on that label. Also on the disc are veteran journalist Robert Christgau (Village Voice), Anthony DeCurtis (Rolling Stone), authors Johnny Rogan, Pete Doggett, Steve Turner and Nigel Williamson.
The group analyzes the development of Lennon and McCartney as songwriters. The disc includes clips from "The Ed Sullivan Show," The Royal Variety Performance and other appearances, plus there are clips of the Rolling Stones, the Byrds and Bob Dylan. Any discussion of Lennon and McCartney is, of course, subjective, but we think this disc will provoke a lot of discussion on its own. The disc includes extras with extended interviews, biographies and a Beyond DVD section. Don't miss this.