The weekend’s here. You’ve just been paid, and it’s burning a hole in your pocket. What’s a pop culture geek to do? In hopes of steering you in the right direction to blow some of that hard-earned cash, it’s time for the FRED Weekend Shopping Guide - your spotlight on the things you didn’t even know you wanted…
(Please support FRED by using the links below to make any impulse purchases - it helps to keep us going…)
After years of pale impressions of brilliant piss-takes Airplane! and Police Squad!, Charlie Brooker does an equally pitch-perfect parody of the TV detective genre with A Touch Of Cloth (Channel 4, Not Rated, DVD-£12.99 SRP), which manages the delicate balance of smart writing, deft direction, and actors who are up to the challenge. Just watch the damn thing already, and delight in the fact that more episodes are coming down the pike soon. Bonus materials include a clutch of interviews.
Want a quick and idiot proof way to add some versatile LED lighting to your home or office? Try the OLS Pro Multi-Color Lighting Kit ($149.99), which comes with a handful of LED strips you can stick to any surface, coupled with a remote control that allows you to rainbow up your options for complete flexibility. Now head over to Thinkgeek and grab one!
While the criticisms of emotional button-pushing remain, time has only increased my estimation of E.T. (Universal, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$34.98 SRP), which plays more and more as a gruff view of a broken family being brought together… admittedly by an extra-terrestrial. This high definition restoration is really quite beautiful, trumping the DVD anniversary edition from almost a decade ago. And missing from this release? The atrocious “walkie-talkie” version. Good riddance. Bonus materials include deleted scenes and a handful of featurettes.
It seems long overdue, but Richard Schickel’s Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective (Sterling, $35.00 SRP) is a beautifully put-together overview of Spielberg’s directing career, made so by Spielberg’s involvement in discussing his films and putting them within a personal context. A brilliant book for fans and cinephiles alike.
And now that you’ve bought your high definition copy of Steven Spielberg’s classic, why not explore its creation and read the screenplay in the illustrated 30th anniversary edition of ET The Extra-Terrestrial: From Concept To Classic (It Books, $24.99 SRP), which is packed with behind-the-scenes photos, art, and information.
A trio of Major Toms make a mysterious return from Mars and prove to be a conspiracy almost too hot to handle for Jon Pertwee’s 3rd Doctor & companion Liz Shaw in the latest classic Doctor Who release Ambassadors of Death (BBC, Not Rated, DVD-$34.98 SRP). The wonderful Restoration Team has put a lot of work into bringing color back to this serial, one of many hurt by the BBC’s tape wipe policy, which had left the only surviving film version a black & white print. Bonus materials are the usual fun collection of featurettes.
It’s a mess in many ways, but there’s a bizarre zeal to the Beatles’ underappreciated TV special Magical Mystery Tour (Apple, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$29.98 SRP), which gets a startlingly brilliant treatment in high definition. If you’ve never seen this televisual fever dream, you owe it a spin. Bonus materials include a McCartney audio commentary, featurettes, rare footage, and more.
It can get a bit draggy, but I admit that dozens of childhood cable viewings has endeared John Huston’s wonderfully off-key Annie (Sony, Rated PG, Blu-Ray-$14.99 SRP) to me. The actors all came to play, especially noteworthy being Carol Burnett’s turn as the wonderfully boozy yet still horrible Miss Hannigan. And after years of sub-par pan & scan DVD releases, we finally get an anamorphic remastered print that looks and sounds great. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes.
As far as CG has come, it still lacks the subtle charms and realistic touch that can be found in traditional stopmotion animation. The methods have been refined greatly over the last few years, as is readily evident when you explore The Art And Making Of Paranorman (Chronicle, $40.00 SRP), about the latest effort from the same studio that produced Coraline. This the usual wonderful Chronicle Art Of book, packed with photos and conceptual artwork.
The problem with Prometheus (Fox, Rated R, 3D Blu-Ray-$24.99 SRP) is that Ridley Scott would rather be coy than commit. A true shame, because I certainly was open for an Alien prequel with big ideas beyond the simply action-oriented sequels, but it was with the hope that we might actually get some simple answers rather than watch an extended preview for whatever the next film is. It is a beautiful film, though, with a wonderful performance from Michael Fassbender as the android David, but those are the only real highlights, particularly among a cast of largely idiotic characters (save for the aforementioned David and Idris Elba’s captain) that never should have been allowed on such an important mission. Bonus materials include an audio commentary and deleted scenes. For the real meat - a 3 1/2-hour documentary - you’ll have to get the 3D edition.
A camp masterpiece gets the high definition treatment with the arrival of the feud-tastic What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (Warner Bros., Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$34.99 SRP), a tour de force for both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as an aging child star and her crippled sister. The pair of siblings are in a lifelong contest of psychological warfare, and the restoration work done for this release is top notch. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, documentaries, featurettes, and the theatrical trailer.
It’s difficult to enjoy a musical like Rock Of Ages (New Line, Rated PG-13, Blu-Ray-$35.99 SRP) when you really don’t like many of the rock hits presented, from everyone from Def Leppard to Poison - Just not my cup of tea, really. But even getting over that hurdle, you’re left with a middling flick with pretensions to greatness, unsure of the line between earnestness and schlock in its tale of a teen with stars in her eyes who gets a wake-up call when she hits the late 80’s Sunset Strip trying to break into the business. Much like the music itself, really. Bonus materials include a clutch of featurettes.
The DVD release of the ginger legend’s last great sitcom comes to a close with the release of The Lucy Show: Official Sixth & Final Season (Paramount, Not Rated, DVD-$39.98 SRP), featuring guest stars including Carol Burnett and Jack Benny, plus a slew of bonus features from rare footage and outtakes to galleries and vintage openings & closings.
Got kids? Pick up the latest brilliant Scholastic Storybook Treasures My First Collection Volume 4 Featuring Robot Zot! (Scholastic, Not Rated, DVD-$24.95 SRP), featuring the aforementioned robot tale, plus 11 addition al tales animated in a fund and engaging way.
This week’s soundtrack pick is Edgar Rothermich’s faithful reconstruction and performance of Vangelis’ score to Blade Runner (BSX Records, $19.30 SRP) - a score which has never gotten a proper release due to a dispute between Vangelis and Ridley Scott. So this is as close as your going to get, and it really does sound fantastic.
For hardcore and casual Disney fans alike, Dave Smith’s Disney Trivia From The Vault: Secrets Revealed And Questions Answered (Disney Editions, $9.99 SRP) is a treasure trove of little known informational nuggets regarding every corner of the Mouse House, from the films to the parks. And Smith should know what he’s talking about, as he’s the Chief Archivist Emeritus of the Walt Disney Archives.
The 7th season of Bones (Fox, Not Rated, Blu-Ray-$69.99 SRP) finds Emily Deschanel’s Dr. Temperance Brennan in the throes of motherhood while still loaded down with homicides to solves, all while her bond with David Boreanaz’s Agent Booth grows deeper. Bonus materials include an audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, and a gag reel.
So there you have it… my humble suggestions for what to watch, listen to, play with, or waste money on this coming weekend. See ya next week…
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