Video View

December 11, 2007
A thought by James Berardinelli

New Movies on DVD: This week, it's pretty much all Potter and Bourne. Harry's fifth adventure, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, has arrived on DVD along with Jason Bourne's third, The Bourne Ultimatum. Since the Harry Potter films are released by high-def neutral distributor Warner Brothers, they can be found in all three formats: standard DVD, Blu-Ray, and HD-DVD. They can be bought singly or as part of five-movie gift sets. (All of the earlier movies are being re-released in the same three formats as the latest entry.) The Bourne Ultimatum is only available in DVD and HD-DVD. Like Harry, Jason can also be found as part of multi-movie sets, which are attractive to those who haven't bought the previous films but would like to. Moving away from the mainstream, it is worth noting that Ousmane Sembene's powerful 2004 feature, Moolaade, is finally available on DVD. For those who are admirers of this film and its director, this is a long time coming. Check out my review for more information.

TV on DVD:: Of the several TV series coming out this week, two occupy the top echelon while the rest are somewhat further down the totem pole. As faithful readers know, I gave up on Lost after its first season but fans of the show claim the program rebounded from a weak second season with a spectacular third. That third season reaches DVD (and Blu-Ray) this week. Also worthy of mention is the second season of Big Love, one of the most intriguing series around. The DVD is especially useful for those who don't have HBO, and one can make a case that the Bill Paxton series is one of the few reasons to keep subscribing to the movie network (at least until the George R.R. Martin program takes off in about three years.) Other TV shows this week: the tenth season of Frasier, the third season of Beverly Hills 90210 (of which I can proudly claim I never saw an episode), and the first season of dirt.

Other Things of Interest: There are a lot of intriguing box sets this week, and also a thing or two for baseball lovers. Both the Red Sox and the Phillies have new DVDs out this week. The Red Sox's edition celebrates the season and the World Series triumph. The Phillies' DVD is more subdued, stopping after they clinched the National League East (because there was nothing worth chronicling after that – hey, when you're a Phillies fan, you take what you can get.) Criterion is making four "Director's Best" box sets available, each containing three or four movies: Fellini, Jarmusch, Godard, and Kurosawa. All the movies in these sets have been previously released in Criterion editions, so there's no new material. They are also pricey, ranging from about $80 to $120. You have to love a director to pay that much. For those who are a little more budget conscious, there's the UA 30-Disc Deluxe Giftset. Despite the $290 price tag (it can be gotten for about $200 discounted), there's a lot here - 46 discs containing 30 movies. And a number of these are true classics (Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, The Great Escape, Twelve Angry Men, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Fiddler on the Roof, Annie Hall, Midnight Cowboy, Rocky, Raging Bull, and a few Bonds). All of these are readily available elsewhere, but if you're just beginning a DVD collection or want to help someone else start one, it's impossible to find a better and more economical starting point. It would make an appealing holiday gift, to be sure.