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DVDs: Downton Abbey Has Gone Down, Down, Down In Quality

POLDARK The entire Collection ($79.99; Acorn) — Don’t inform my mom, however Downton Abbey has swiftly declined from a pale imitation of the unique Upstairs Downstairs to a pale imitation of Falcon Crest. She’s enjoying the show but I shortly switched from eagerness to see if the second season might build on the over-praised first to laughter at its foolishness to boredom. The first season lifted complete plot traces from U/D (and shamelessly from Mrs. Miniver) but it surely was enjoyable. This season it has gone utterly off the rails, with episodes ending with soap-like revelations (full with “da-dum!” foreboding musical cues), characters behaving utterly with out rhyme or cause from one moment to the next. Why, for instance, has Isobel Crawley gone from a sensible if blunt woman to a blithering idiot The plot twists come so quick and furious all you can do is chuckle. However they keep coming at a ludicrous pace, till even the guilty pleasure is drained out of it. Having seen your entire season, trust me — it does not pull itself collectively. Maggie Smith still manages to swat down one-liners with aplomb, however the rest of the fine cast is totally at a loss. You would be a lot better off watcing Poldark, an earlier era’s PBS sensation. This has all of the pleasures of Downton, including the period setting and juicy storylines. But it is intelligently carried out and the characters do not change from moment to second and it all wraps up properly in two seasons (though there were many extra books for them to attract upon.) Downton, I fear, is going to be with us for a few years to return.

LADY AND THE TRAMP ($39.99 BluRay combo; Disney) — It is a knee jerk response to refer to every single Disney animated film as a traditional. But proper beneath the top-tier of Snow White and Pinocchio and others, you may discover the second tier of very good films that are charming and have stood the check of time — even if they don’t seem to be stone chilly masterpieces. In that group resides Lady and the Tramp, a candy and charming tale bolstered by Peggy Lee’s terrific songs and one of the crucial romantic kisses in screen history. No wonder it’s on the cowl of this set, which appears nice and features the sturdy extras that a Disney manufacturing deserves.

DRIVE ($39.Ninety nine BluRay; Sony)
THE IDES OF MARCH ($35.Ninety nine BluRay; Columbia) — Actor Ryan Gosling had the type of yr each savvy actor longs for when constructing a career. He co-starred in the popular romantic comedy Loopy Stupid Love and garnered consideration for each his abs and his comedic chops. Then he took the cool character research Drive to Cannes the place it acquired tons of acclaim for critics, launching a stone island vintage jumper pretty good field workplace run as well as Oscar talk for his co-star Albert Brooks. He wound it up with the political drama The Ides Of March, which did in actual fact garner an Oscar nomination for director George Clooney’s screenplay. All Gosling wants now’s an out-and-out hit (or better yet franchise he can call his own, a la Matt Damon’s Bourne movies) and he’ll be capable to proceed making the good, daring films he desires for years to come back.

U2: FROM THE SKY DOWN ($24.98 BluRay; Island/Common)
CHRIS ISAAK Dwell IN Concert/Greatest HITS Reside ($17.Ninety seven BluRay; Image)
X: THE UNHEARD MUSIC ($sixteen.Ninety five; Angel Media/MVD)
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS: Dwell IN Concert ($17.Ninety seven BluRay; Picture) — The U2 documentary is a effective easy documentary that appeared in the lavish reissue of Achtung Child. This stone island vintage jumper version is longer than that one, which seems fairly merciless in case you forked over more than $a hundred for the set. Nonetheless, it is a solid take a look at a turning level in the band’s career, albeit strictly for fans of the band already. Richard Thompson is a sterling dwell act and certainly one of my all-time favorites, but this concert is for his album Dream Attic, which isn’t one among his greatest. For the reason that concert leans so heavily on it, this present is just good and doesn’t scale the peaks Thompson so usually does. Chris Isaak has quietly gone about amassing a chunk of great singles, but this awkward mixture of two live shows accommodates three songs that seem on both (so much when the exhibits solely embody eleven or 12 tunes). He’s enjoyable and in good voice however deserves a greater stay document. In contrast to U2, the LA band X delivered a very memorable documentary about their group before calling it a day, although X: The Unheard Music has been neglected for years, thanks to its lack of availability. This nice new set with extras should treatment that. Finally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are a legendary live act, however like Springsteen, they’ve never been properly captured on movie. The same, sadly, is true here of this fine but unremarkable performance for Soundstage.

A very HAROLD & KUMAR CHRISTMAS ($35.99; Warner Bros.) — Perhaps it was the vacation season, however this third H&Ok movie received nearer to the sweet spirit of the unique than the rather bitter sequel. And naturally there can by no means be enough of Neil Patrick Harris in self-mocking, lady-killer mode. Though the 3-D was used extensively in theaters, for some odd motive it is simply form of dumbly amusing to see all types of things flying out at the digicam even in 2-D. Will there be a fourth In fact there shall be a fourth.

WINGS ($29.Ninety nine BluRay; Paramount)
A STAR IS BORN 1937 ($29.Ninety five BluRay; Kino)

Wings was the last silent movie (indeed the one silent film) to win the Oscar for Finest Picture and it’s also memorable for one in every of the nice display screen debuts — Gary Cooper makes an amazing impression in a small role as a doomed pilot. It might quickly be joined by the silent homage The Artist in that uncommon class. This properly restored BuRay showcases the still fun if creaky film and kicks off a collection of Paramount restorations. To Kill A Mockingbird is also beautifully introduced by Universal, which makes sense for one of the movies that actually deserves the phrase beloved. I like it higher than the e-book but have never been crazy about either (it is normally good to maintain that to your self on a first date; I can not inform you the way often folks say, “However that is my favourite e book!”) And A Star Is Born is at all times ripe for remake, but the Janet Gaynor and Frederick March edition is too usually overshadowed by the Judy Garland and James Mason take. This sharp-wanting restoration is sweet though the all-but absent extras are not up to plain for a movie with this sturdy of a historical past.

TRANSFORMERS: Dark OF THE MOON ($54.99 three-D BluRay combo; Paramount)
Actual STEEL ($39.99 BluRay; Touchstone/Disney) — Why Transformers continues to make hundreds of money is beyond me. I understand fans turning out for the unique after which seeing the sequel with hopes it is likely to be higher. But certainly by the time of this third edition, it is clear the noisiest and dumbest franchise round can’t be bothered to do anything however smash things collectively. The 3-D was pointless in the theater, frankly and it’d even be marginally much less tiresome to look at the movie on 2-D at residence than with the glasses. That doesn’t nevertheless make the film any good. Actual Steel at the very least bothered to come up with a plot, albeit a hackneyed one a few dad finding common floor with his estranged son by building and fighting robotic boxers. Hugh Jackman has terrible taste in scripts (or needs a supervisor who does). To go from this to showing on Broadway where he can sing “Stepping Out” after which be greeted by literally hundreds of adoring followers afterwards…properly, it’s a miracle if he ever makes a movie again.

SID & NANCY ($24.Ninety nine BluRay; MGM/Fox)
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM ($19.99 BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
Dead POETS SOCIETY ($19.Ninety nine BluRay; Touchstone/Disney)
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE ($14.Ninety nine BluRay; Miramax) — First let me observe the glad reality of falling costs for BluRay. I never thought they need to have been priced a penny more than DVDs and it’s good to see classic titles coming out at $15 and $20 value points, with sale costs even decrease. Gary Oldman would be my choose for best actor this year for his work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But he’s been wowing us for many years, together with his marvelously unhinged immersion into the role of Sid Vicious. Robin Williams tore it up within the uneven Good Morning Vietnam but wisely obtained out-of-the-manner in Lifeless Poets and ceded the stage to the talented young students led by Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke. Lastly, Shakespeare In Love is commonly seen as lighter fare that robbed Saving Private Ryan of its Greatest Picture Oscar, but it’s a fun romp and holds up quite properly thanks.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA At the ROYAL ALBERT Corridor ($39.98 BluRay; Common) — In a couple of days, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom will celebrate its 10,000th performance on Broadway and has just handed its 25th anniversary in existence. This lavish one-time staging at the Royal Albert Corridor is a live efficiency starring Ramin karimloo and Sierra Boggess for broadcast world wide. it avoids the sterility of the Joel Schumacher film and provides a little oomph to a show so many people have seen in particular person already. I am going to take the music of Cats, Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar over this, however virtually everyone else in the world seems to disagree with me. In case you prefer it, this is a effective dwell version.

POIROT Collection 1 ($forty nine.Ninety nine BluRay; Acorn)
STAR TREK The next Technology: The subsequent Degree ($22.99 BluRay; Paramount) — I’ve seen David Suchet’s definitive efficiency as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, but I used to be not there in the beginning. So I’m very excited to start this collection at first and follow him all the way through from the first thriller they broadcast (“The Journey Of The Clapham Cook”) right right down to the final whatever (Suchet is determined to film each single Poirot tale, whatever its origin). I don’t think Poirot fans are obsessive about picture quality, but the BluRay seems very good. It’s a pity they couldn’t have put out a massive boxed set with, say, half of your complete run in chronological order in a single place, slightly than dribbling out these season by season releases for a present that has been on so long. However you cannot have the whole lot…except you’re a Star Trek fan. Paramount is set to provide you with what you need and absolutely these followers do care about hi-def. This teaser set contains three episodes from ST: TNG converted into high-definition and the outcomes are fairly beautiful as far as the level of element now visible. it is certain to get followers chomping at the bit for the BluRay launched of your entire collection after such careful remastering.

THE Moment OF Truth ($29.99 BluRay; Criterion)
THREE In style Films BY JEAN-PIERRE GORIN ($44.Ninety five; Eclipse/Criterion) — I’ve never loved my homework more than now when it comes from Criterion. When different labels reissue films, it’s usually films I’ve seen like Shakespeare In Love and To Kill A Mockingbird. But when Criterion reissues a film, it is typically a movie I’m completely unfamiliar with however am certain to seek out fascinating. I can not wait to get to the bullfighting drama The Second Of Fact, by Italian director Francesco Rosi, starring real-life matador Migeulin. I can solely assume that Hemingway beloved it. And from their marvelous Eclipse collection comes three documentaries by Gorin that focus on twin sisters, mannequin prepare fanatics and a Samoan street gang. All from the 1980s and all of that are fully new to me — for another label, that could be regarding. But when Criterion takes the time to place it out, it is sure to be worth your time too.

THE Condo ($24.Ninety nine every on BluRay; MGM) — I’ve reviewed a string of outdated films that have been reissued in the previous few weeks — To Kill A Mockingbird, A Star Is Born, Wings and so forth. I’ve casually mentioned that they look good to nice. It is simple to take without any consideration the work and expense that wants to go into those releases so they do look good…but not when you’re confronted with lazy work performed here. This batch of six titles from the MGM library are all on BluRay and belief me, these aren’t restorations and even remasterings however simply whatever print was accessible slapped onto Bluray after which given the insulting tagline “The last word excessive-Definition Expertise.” Uh, hardly, not when my years-old DVDs look nearly the same. The beginning of Woody Allen’s Manhattan is some of the famed openers in film history and will stun you with its lavish black and white. Here it appears grainy and ugly, as if smog has descended on New York. After all these years, you’d assume they’d need to do it proper. The same is true with each different movie right here; they are at best no better than the newest DVD releases. That’s puzzling to say the least since by now studios understand the worth of their film libraries and few directors are extra fashionable than Alfred Hitchcock. But right here he have one among his finest (Infamous), considered one of his worst (Spellbound) and a work-for-rent that received Finest Picture (Rebecca) all delivered with indifference. Ditto Woody Allen’s Manhattan and Annie Hall, as well as Billy Wilder’s coruscating The Residence. I’d have two or three of these six films on my all-time greatest listing. But when you already personal them, there is no motive to buy these BluRays. And if you don’t own them, purchase a used or new DVD at a less expensive value and wait until they do it right.

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Thanks for studying. Michael Giltz is the cohost of Showbiz Sandbox, a weekly pop culture podcast that reveals the trade take on entertainment news of the day and options high journalists and opinion makers as company. It’s available without cost on iTunes. Go to Michael Giltz at his webpage and his day by day blog. Obtain his podcast of movie star interviews and his radio show, additionally referred to as Popsurfing and in addition available without cost on iTunes. Link to him on Netflix and achieve entry to 1000’s of ratings and reviews.

Observe: Michael Giltz is supplied with free copies of DVDs and BluRays with the understanding that he can be considering them for review. Usually, he does not assure to overview and he receives much more titles than he can cover.