Scarecrow Video (previously), also known as "the largest independent video store in the world", announced back in August that they were closing its doors. But Wait! There's More! Scarecrow also announced their plans to soon after re-open as a non-profit. And after a successful Kickstarter effort that ended two weeks ago, they have now launched the first phase of The Scarecrow Project with the "singular purpose of protecting the invaluable collection of Scarecrow Video under a four-pillared mission of preservation, access, education and community".
"There are reasons why this film is obscure. It is, in the most charitable possible evaluation, a mess: Bowie has described it as "my 32 Elvis films rolled into one." And yet life on that ever-dwindling island of not-on-region-one DVD films is a harsh fate for any film and particularly for this one, which is at least as interesting as its cast suggests and a good deal more. You don't need to dig out the VHS player to watch Mick Jagger run an agency of gigolos in The Man From Elysian Fields—you shouldn't have to do so to watch Bowie play one. " David Bowie's Lost 70s-era Weimar Berlin Movie: Just a Gigalo.
Every Thursday, Film School Rejects posts things "learned from the commentary tracks of an iconic movie": Commentary Commentary [more inside]
Movie-Censorship.com is a resource to provide amazingly detailed comparisons between different versions of movie releases. [more inside]
Criterion Collection Top Ten Lists as chosen by Jonathan Lethem ll Steve Buscemi ll Patton Oswalt ll Peter Cowie ll Jean-Pierre Gorin ll Diablo Cody ll D. A. Pennebaker ll John Lurie ll Paul Schrader ll Nathan Lee ll Ricky Jay ll and many more.
Fan of Simon Pegg? Robert Weide? Then DON'T buy the DVD of How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (at least if you are American) [more inside]
When it comes to home theaters, I thought I'd seen it all. But nothing's come close to this. First, I'm going to try to describe the sheer magnitude of Jeremy Kipnis' theater. His Stewart Snowmatte laboratory-grade screen is the biggest I've ever seen in a home, and in the back of the theater, there's a Sony ultra-high-resolution (4,096-by-2,160) SRX-S110 digital projector. I'm looking everywhere, jotting down questions, and Kipnis sounds almost giddy talking about his theater's capabilities. He refers to his baby, the Kipnis Studio Standard (KSS), as "The Greatest Show on Earth." And from the looks of it, he may be right. I should hope so, it cost six million dollars.
Darren Aronofsky has posted a bootleg commentary for his film The Fountain (the one with Hugh Jackman in a bubble with a tree flying through space) since the film company decided the actual dvd itself didn't need one. The direct mp3 download is here (16mg) [via].
The Criterion Contraption: Matthew Dessem is going to watch every last DVD in the Criterion Collection and blog about it. Illuminating and knowledgable film writing. You can start, if you wish, with the entry on my favorite film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, or pick from the complete index.
CleanFlicks closes up shop and liquidates as Hollywood wins content-rights battle. Should a rental store have the right to remove offensive material before renting the DVD out to its customers?
The Room: The Movie. Triple-threat (actor/writer/director) Tommy Wiseau made his cinematic debut in 2003 with the The Room (see trailer and various scenes), "a blend between a softcore porn flick and a Tennessee Williams stageplay." Wiseau ("who's not just one of the most unusual looking and sounding-with an unidentifiable Eastern European accent-leading men ever to grace the screen, but a narcissist nonpareil whose movie makes Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" seem the apotheosis of cinematic self-restraint...may be something of a first: A movie that prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back-before even 30 minutes have passed." - Variety), allegedly raised $6 million outside Hollywood to cover production and marketing costs of the self-described "black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies" (see various rough dress rehersals). Audience members, including comedian David Cross, have been "marveling at the bizarre editing, bad bluescreen, uncomfortably explicit sex scenes and, of course, the enigma of Wiseau himself" as the film played monthly for years in Los Angeles. Available on DVD, diehard "roomies" swear by the theatrical experience, shout out their own commentary, hurl spoons at the screen and singalong to the soundtrack. Some call it "The Rocky Horror of the New Millenium" and stage "Room" parties. If you look at the marketing campaign or survived a screening you might see The Room as "a seminar on how NOT to make a movie." [Inspired by Boing Boing]
It's still about the means of production, you see — but in the overdeveloped world, at least, it's not about the production of goods and services anymore. Today's virtual revolutionary is happy to leave all that to capitalists. The virtual revolutionary wants to control the production of meaning — representations of herself and her world as she wants them to seem. Or be. Or whatever. That's all she asks. Or, rather, takes. Thomas de Zengotita welcomes the big world of the small screen. Peter Bogdanovich, instead, still mourns that last picture show.
"It is nothing less than a generation-defining event.... It is this era’s 2001: A Space Odyssey." Even as the second, shorter cut of Terrence Malick's Pocahontas epic is slinking out of theaters, The New World is dividing and confounding critics, audiences, and bloggers: "The New World is my new religion." - "The New World separates the wheat from chaff." - "The first necessary film of this young year." The Village Voice's J. Hoberman observes the growing cult, Dave Kehr of the New York Times weighs in and gets testy. Matt Zoller Seitz responds. In the meantime, Malick is reportedly preparing a third, longer cut for the DVD.
Region 4 Vs The World "Well I for one have had enough. I have a voice and it’s time that it was heard." Frustrated film fan in Australia reports on their dvd scene.
Have a region free DVD player? Just love movies? DVD Beaver reviews DVDs and compares releases from different countries so you can be sure you're getting the best print/audio available.
The Spook Who Sat By The Door, a movie pitched and marketed as blaxploitation, was a low budget political science fiction thriller about black revolution in urban black America based upon the novel written by Sam Greenlee. It was withdrawn two weeks after its release in 1973, ostensibly at the behest of the FBI. Some remember it fondly, while others revile it in recollection. Thirty-one years later, it has been released on DVD. Sam Greenlee's an interesting man--another book of his, Baghdad Blues, is evidently an autobiographical novel based upon his first hand experience of the 1958 Baath coup in Iraq. Side notes: Researching this post led me to the intriguing Chicken Bones. And here is Elvis Mitchell's take on The Marginalization of Black Action Films.
Self destruct files to secure DVDs and CDs. Songs and movies will expire after a single play, unless you pay up.
Big Plans. Little Brains. Mike Clattenburg's Trailer Park Boys could soon be more than just a Canadian phenomenon. The mockumentary began as a film, was adapted into a TV series and has been airing for three seasons on Showcase in Canada (not to be confused with this). Ricky, Julian and Bubbles even joined Our Lady Peace during its Fear of the Trailer Park Tour last summer (soon to be documented on CD and DVD) and could be seen alongside Don Cherry in The Tragically Hip's video for "The Darkest One" (a look behind the scenes - qt version). Bubbles even appeared in that informer guy's video for "Legal" and has been writing music reviews in character. (TPB was mentioned briefly here and here.)
So how do you make an X-Men DVD without mentioning the comics? Fascinatingly candid interview with the producers of the new X-Men 1.5 DVD describing the bizarre issues involved with putting together special features on this and other DVDs, including the afformentioned anomally, a side effect of the current legal situation between FOX and Marvel Comics.
Amateur DVD commentary. The site is a little rough around the edges, but it is a fascinating exercise in voracious fandom nonetheless. Roger Ebert is heralded as giving the idea to the masses [NYT article], but as always, there seems to be prior art. ;)
Yet another reason to avoid the Battlefield Earth DVD: A brand new "feature" called Regional Coding Enhancement, or RCE. Having the word "enhancement" in the title might make us think that we, the consumer, might actually benefit for this technology, but that isn't the case. The only people to benefit are the movie studios who, not content to gouge us on DVD prices (DVD's are cheaper to press than video tapes) have made it impossible to backup a DVD, or play a foreign DVD on a North American DVD player. Now, thanks to RCE, if you own a region-free DVD player, guess what? You can't play Battlefield Earth on it!
The wait is over (well, almost) -- Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox are finally going to release Episode I on DVD. This despite the fact that up to now they've been denying that they'll release anything on DVD for "the foreseeable future."
A new era in movie piracy. These guys managed to hack Microsoft's MPEG 4 codec, and have provided a means of ripping DVD movies to this new format (check the readme file). The little program they have on their site will "update" your Windows Media Player to be able to play the new divx format. The compression is comparable to current .avi and .mpg formats, but the image quality is near-DVD. Wow. I just watched "Disturbing Behaviour" in this new format and I must say I'm very impressed. No ugly chunky blocks like with MPEG. I dunno if I'd ever pay to see movies in the theatre again. Heh, sure sounds familiar eh? (*cough* MP3 *cough*) Looks like there might be some big new players joining the RIAA real soon. :)
(probably my last post about Magnolia) There were a few 'easter eggs' in Magnolia worth mentioning. What may be the first non-555 phone number in a movie was mentioned, but I can't remember it, if anyone tracks it down, please post. There was the 1-877-TAME-HER number that was mentioned on every ad done by Tom Cruise's character. You can call it and hear a special message. If you don't feel like leaving your computer, you can use dialpad.com to make the call. Also, at the end credits of the gameshow, they flash a URL, wdkk.com, which maps to the Magnolia website. At one point, a audience member of the quiz show has a sign that says 'Exodus 8:2' which I looked up, and it reads 'And if thou shalt REFUSE to let [them] go, behold I will smite all thy borders with frogs'. Usually when I see a movie, I don't pick up on these things, I guess Magnolia really was that good.