Yeah, I know, the video embed above says “DVD Trailer” on it but you know the drill. Not unlike an evil, duplicitous ninja, this trailer serves two masters – advertising both the standard and the high-def disc releases of Kung Fu Panda 2, both apparently due out in October. While the discs haven’t been officially announced by the studio as yet, there’s actually a lot of info kicking around on the Blu-ray disc combo pack. The details below are from the Amazon listing. Expect the official details to be revealed soon-ish!
KUNG FU PANDA 2
(October 11, 2011 – MSRP $49.99)
Video: TBA 1080p
Kung Fu Panda 2 movie
Sneak peek episode of the upcoming Nickelodeon TV series “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness”
Meet the Cast
World of DreamWorks Animation
An all-new Po adventure, Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters. In this all-new adventure, Po and the Furious Five uncover the legend of three of kung fu’s greatest heroes: Master Thundering Rhino, Master Storming Ox, and Master Croc
Panda Stories: Inside the World of the Giant Panda
There are a ton of new titles on Blu-ray today but scant few that you really need to pay attention to. I’m overlooking a both The Venture Brothers‘ latest season and Huston‘s The Bible today, as my patience with the former wore thin in its previous season and the latter seems like it’s being released under-the-radar, which usually isn’t a very good sign. Anyway, there’s another new Criterion disc out today, so that’s cause to celebrate, right?!
“A true twentieth-century trailblazer, Harvey Milk was an outspoken human rights activist and the first openly gay U.S. politician elected to public office; even after his assassination, in 1978, he continues to inspire disenfranchised people around the world. The Oscar-winning The Times of Harvey Milk, directed by Robert Epstein (The Celluloid Closet, Paragraph 175) and produced by Richard Schmiechen, was, like its subject, groundbreaking. One of the first feature documentaries to address gay life in America, it’s a work of advocacy itself, bringing Milk’s message of hope and equality to a wider audience. This exhilarating trove of archival footage and heartfelt interviews is as much a vivid portrait of a time and place (San Francisco’s historic Castro District in the seventies) as a testament to the legacy of a political visionary. “
The Times of Harvey Milk, as a film, does an incredible job telling the story of one of the most important civil rights activists of the 20th century. The Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of the film goes several steps further, filling in the blanks, fleshing out the story as it happened before and after the events chronicled by Epstein and Schmiechen. There’s such a wealth of information to be found here in this extremely rich collection of special features as to almost eclipse the film itself. Luckily, the studio has balanced the content – most focusing on Harvey Milk himself and the events surrounding his time in politics and resulting death – by including ample discussions of the work as film and not only social memorial.
The image, as is the case with most documentaries using archival footage, is a slave to it’s source material. In this case, great pains have been taken to restore and preserve the original intent while using the modern digital tools available only where necessary. The 29-page booklet includes a fantastic essay from senior film restorationist at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Ross Lipman, detailing the lengths he and his team have gone to honour the film. The Blu-ray presentation is thick with grain, as one would expect from a 16mm blow-up, but well compressed and a joy to watch. I’m surprised that Criterion have chosen to only include the stereo 2.0 track and not the original mono mix-down but I’m not going to complain. This is a wonderful film, well presented in an incredible, robust package.
Director-approved digital transfer, from the meticulous UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration with DTS-HD Master Audio
Audio commentary featuring director Robert Epstein,coeditor Deborah Hoffmann, and photographer Daniel Nicoletta
New interview with documentary filmmaker and UC Berkeley professor Jon Else
New program about The Times of Harvey Milk and Gus Van Sant’s Milk, featuring Epstein, Van Sant, actor James Franco, and Milk friends Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, and Nicoletta
Postscript containing interview clips not used in the film
Rare collection of audio and video recordings of Harvey Milk
Interview excerpts from Epstein’s research tapes
Footage from the film’s Castro Theatre premiere and the 1984 Academy Awards ceremony
Panel discussion on Supervisor Dan White’s controversial trial
Excerpts from the twenty-fifth anniversary commemoration of Milk’s and Mayor George Moscone’s assassinations
Original theatrical trailer
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic B. RubyRich, a tribute by Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, and a piece on the film’s restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s Ross Lipman
“In a small woodsy Oregon town, a group of friends–sensitive Gordie (Wil Wheaton), tough guy Chris (River Phoenix), flamboyant Teddy (Corey Feldman), and scaredy-cat Vern (Jerry O’Connell)–are in search of a missing teenager’s body. Wanting to be heroes in each other’s and their hometown’s eyes, they set out on an unforgettable two-day trek that turns into an odyssey of self-discovery. They sneak smokes, tell tall tales, cuss ’cause it’s cool and band together when the going gets tough. When they encounter the town’s knife-wielding hoods who are also after the body, the boys discover a strength they never knew they had. Stand By Me is a rare and special film about friendship and the indelible experiences of growing up. Filled with humor and suspense, Stand By Me is based on the novella ‘The Body’ by Stephen King. “
Man, I really dig this film. One of the best film adaptations of Stephen King’s work. And by best, I don’t mean most literal take on his writing but one of the finest films built from source material with King’s name on it. Anyway, you know what I mean, right? What you want to know is whether or not the film has been given reasonable treatment on Blu-ray. I can answer that question with a single name – Sony! That’s correct, the other studio who can do no wrong with Blu-ray presentation is behind this release, which is a guarantee that it looks and sounds better than ever. The image is detailed with vivid colours but imperfect black levels, no doubt a result of the film’s age. The DTS-HD MA 5.1 also shows it’s gray hairs but is overall clear, clean and pleasant to listen to. Special features consist of a fantastic picture-in-picture retrospective track, additional commentary track, a great short doc on the ‘making-of’ the film and more!
“From legendary director/writer James L. Brooks comes a humorous and romantic look at the “How Do You Know” question. When everything she’s ever known is suddenly taken from her, Lisa (Reese Witherspoon) begins a fling with Matty (Owen Wilson), a major league baseball player and self-centred ladies man. Before their relationship takes off, Lisa meets up with George (Paul Rudd) a straight-arrow businessman facing his own serious issues, both with his father (Jack Nicholson) and the law. Just when everything seems to be falling apart it doesn’t.“
I really, really love some of the work of James L. Brooks. And I really, really wanted this film to be one of the ones I really, really love. But it’s not. And I don’t. But damn, it’s heart is in the right place. How Do You Know is, again, brought to Blu by Sony, looking incredible and sounding as good as this type of dialogue-heavy film can. The most impressive aspect of the disc is it’s collection of special features, amongst which the half-hour long “Conversation” with Brooks and composer Hans Zimmer is damn-near worth the price of the disc alone, and almost feels like an extension of the features on Criterion’s Broadcast News Blu-ray disc (full disc review here). In fact, the commentary and additional ‘making-of’ extras featuring Brooks’ take on how he brought the story to the screen are all worth watching, even if you don’t care for the film itself. Great disc, tepid film.
“Like his 1926 film The General, this elaborate historical comedy broadened the boundaries of slapstick and proved that Keaton was not just a comedian, he was an artist. Keaton stars as youthful dreamer Willie McKay, who travels westward on a rickety locomotive to claim his birthright, only to find that his inheritance is a shack. And he learns that the object of his affection (Keaton s real-life wife, Natalie Talmadge) is the daughter of a man with whom his family has been engaged in a long, violent feud. McKay s personal struggles are punctuated by brilliant slapstick set pieces that involve an exploding dam, raging waterfalls, and a primitive steam engine. Keaton supervised the design and construction of the train, which he revived two years later for the short The Iron Mule (in which he appears without credit as an Native American chief).“
I haven’t had a chance to view Our Hospitality on Blu-ray but given Kino‘s handling of their previous Buster Keaton films, I feel quite certain that you can’t possibly go wrong picking this up today. Extras include a 49-minute alternate cut of the film, documentary on the making of the film, written by film historian Patricia Eliot Tobias with David B. Pearson, The Iron Mule (1925, 19 Min.), with music by Ben Model, several score options for the feature and much more.
“Frank (Johnny Depp), a mild-mannered American on vacation in Venice, Italy, is befriended by Elise (Angelina Jolie), a breathtakingly beautiful woman with a mysterious secret. Soon, their playful romantic dalliance turns into a complicated web of dangerous deceit as they are chased by Interpol, the Italian police, and Russian hit men in this suspense-filled, international action thriller. “
I wanted to like The Tourist. I really did. But I can only stop my eyes from rolling so long when even the actors in a film appear to be in disbelief at the material they’re struggling with. The Tourist made my eyeballs hurt. And not because it looks bad, by any means. In fact, it looks fantastic. It’s just tough to watch. Depp and Jolie deliver fun, lively performaces in the film but director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) can’t seem to nail down the tone of the piece. In fact, the whole picture feels tentative, uncertain of what type of film it really wants to be. In the end, it plays like a pale imitation of Hitchcock‘s The Man Who Knew Too Much or North by Northwest, with nutty characters, misplaced montages and distracting music cues. At least it looks like a million bucks, thanks to the beautiful photography by John Seale and a great transfer from Sony.
I love a good spy movie. I love it even more if conspiracy features strongly in the story. And Salt seems to fit the bill. It’s another brilliant looking flik I missed out on seeing in the theatres this summer but really looking forward to digging into on Blu-ray. According to the press release from Sony, the disc will feature three versions of the film, “including the original theatrical film plus two additional unrated extended cuts not seen in theatres with two alternate endings”. I’m not sure which one I should tackle first when I finally get my hands on the Blu-ray disc. Any suggestions?
“Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt”
Radio Interview with Director Phillip Noyce
Exclusive Blu-ray™ Bonus Features Include:
“SALT: Declassified – An undercover look at the secrets of making Salt”
“The Real Agents”
“The Modern Master of the Political Thriller: Phillip Noyce”
“False Identity: Creating A New Reality”
Spy Cam: Picture in Picture Track – Discover how the stunts and action were created. With pre-visualization sequences, storyboards, and behind-the-scenes interviews with filmmakers, cast and crew you can uncover the truth behind Salt!