Audio Ideas: AM On New Blu-ray Releases - Montreux To Monty From Eagle Rock

Monty Python on Blu-ray (thn)“What a feast for Python fans! Starting with a contextual look at the Python origins, and followed by interviews with members, this series is utterly riveting, even going right back to my undergraduate idols, The Goons, led by Peter Sellers. It was the wild and surreal radio antics of The Goon Show that inspired the first Pythons. They bridged the gap from the unseen and imagined to the visual craziness that amazed and entertained British viewers while mystifying and enraging BBC programming executives…”

DVD Reviews - A Quartet of Science and Exploration DVDs

IMAX:  Into the Deep

“I guess you’d call these films “soft” educational, all of them cereal-bowl size with lots on the screen and in the speakers to keep a Science class quiet for almost an hour. I saw the last one in IMAX 3D, and it was spectacular, especially the roving shark that almost swims into the theatre. Believe me, every body in the Luxor Theatre ducked, myself included. But more on that later. These films are a kind of industry for Science Centres, Natural History Museums, and other places where kids get bused in March…”

DVD Reviews - Stephen Hawking’s Universe and Hyperspace

Stephen Hawking's Universe

“For those who are mystified by relativity and the Big Bang (let alone “String Theory” which currently mystifies everyone, even the physicists working on it), and are fascinated by the meeting of physics and cosmology, these BBC programs will be of interest. Having been long fascinated myself by these subjects, and tending to read Hawking’s books almost every summer seeking a better understanding, I jumped at the chance to buy these DVDs in the Indianapolis airport science store, when coming home from CEDIA…”

DVD Reviews - The Rutles: All You Need is Cash

The Rutles:  All you need is cash

“This obvious satire of the Beatles is quite affectionate, this moptop group notable for their tight trousers, which attract the attention record executive Leggy Mountbatten, resulting in a lifetime recording contract. They go through many parallel musical and personal changes that are all very amusing, the hand of Eric Idle (Monty Python) always evident. At the height of the mania they appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, and do a monster concert where mostly screams are heard at Ché Stadium in New York…”

DVD Reviews - A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind

“This recent film comes from the ensemble team who did Best In Show, which I thought was hilarious, (but some animal lovers were offended), and Waiting For Guffman, which I haven’t seen (and should rent soon). Having been a folk musician of moderate talents myself in my undergraduate years, I found the film had special resonances, and as it was a gift from Aaron and Charlotte at Christmas, we all sat down and watched it on the big screen on Boxing Day…”

DVD Reviews - The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

Curse of the Jade Scorpion

“I knew this film reminded me of something but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I watched Charlize Theron trying to seduce the physically and mentally revolting character played by Allen: I was watching a high school play. Back at Aurora High a friend of mine wasn’t having much luck with the ladies so he joined the drama club, wrote a play, and made sure he played a character that got to kiss a pretty girl. The plot was irrelevant - some ridiculous concotion involving hypnosis and stolen jewels.

DVD Reviews - The Russia House

The Russia House

“I’ve owned this film on laserdisc for years, and have actively sought the DVD for the past year or so, and recently found it at Future Shop. The reason for my desire to own it is something that overshadows even the performances, the story, and the star power: the locales. The cinematography is truly spectacular and the locations in and around Moscow and St. Petersburg, not to mention Lisbon, are breathtaking…”

DVD Reviews - Thirteen Days

Thirteen Days

“There are two things that distinguish this film from other historical movies. The first is the remarkable performance of Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood as John F. Kennedy, and how much of a pain in the ass the mannered and historically inaccurate posturing of Kevin Costner as Ken O’Donnell becomes as the film proceeds. But the overall story is compelling, especially for those of us who lived through it; in my case, I was living away from home for the first time in university residence, and these events tended to add to the feeling of isolation and loneliness…”

DVD Reviews - State And Main

State and Main

“This is a delightful film, and its real star is an audiophile favourite, singer Rebecca Pidgeon, who in the film doesn’t sing a note. She just steals the movie with her warmth and humour. State And Main is about the exploits of a film crew who descend on the small town of Waterford, Vermont, and their interaction with the locals, including Pidgeon as owner of the local bookstore…”

DVD Reviews - Gosford Park, Collector’s Edition

Gosford Park

“Gosford Park will appeal to fans of the series Upstairs, Downstairs that ran on PBS many years ago. The story here occurs at a weekend shooting party on an English estate during which a murder occurs, and then the fun begins. With almost every distinguished Brtish stage actor in the cast (Alan Bates, Derek Jacobi, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas…), this film has an authenticity and vitality that make for an engrossing two-hours-plus watch…”

DVD Reviews - The Ninth Gate

The Ninth Gate

“The Ninth Gate is about a chain-smoking, unscrupulous rare book dealer, played by Johnny Depp, who is assigned by a wealthy collector to find and examine the three remaining copies of a book is reputed to summon the Devil if the right combination of its engravings can be gathered. Depp, as Dean Corso, finds that each edition he examines varies from the others in subtle details of the engravings. Depp proves to be a mesmerizing screen presence in this increasingly mysterious screenplay; he has a lot more to work with here than he did in, say, Edward Scissorhands…”

DVD Reviews - After Life

After Life

“Director Kore-eda brings a documentary feel to this allegorical, imaginative vision of the afterlife. The premise is deceptively simple: upon death each person spends three days in limbo, which looks more like an abandoned high school than any pearly gates. During your three-day tour you are given the task of selecting one memory from your life: the most important, meaningful moment you experienced on earth. Upon selection, you are transported to a heavenly place where you will spend eternity with that, and only that, memory…”

DVD Reviews - The House of Mirth

The House of Mirth

“X-Files fans might jump at the chance to see Gillian Anderson behaving quite unlike Agent Scully in this petrified forest of a costume drama. Based on the novel by Edith Wharton, “The House of Mirth” is a masterfully acted, superbly crafted bore, much like the other Wharton adaptation of note, Scorcese’s “The Age of Innocence…”

DVD Reviews - Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her

“If you watch enough movies sometimes the most startling visions come in the smallest packages. The craft of filmmaking is dependent on attention to detail-beginning with script and character development, which translates to picture and sound, which is edited and mixed into a massive universe of blood, sweat, and tears that can be viewed on the same machine you play Gran Turismo 3, if one so chooses…”

DVD Reviews - Michael Jordan To The Max

Micheal Jordan:  To the Max

“Special features include trailers, commentaries, and a surprisingly amateurish Making Of documentary, with grainy, jerky video, poorly edited and presented interviews with various of the filmmakers, and a preoccupation (10 of the doc’s 21 minutes) with the gimmickry of the opening (and closing) shot in which the camera seems to rise and move around a dunking Jordan. Hey, special effects are special effects, and we don’t rhapsodize about every similar shot in The Matrix, so, guys, get a life! They should look at the McGillvray Freeman Making Ofs…”

DVD Reviews - The Big Picture: IMAX Films On DVD


“The Great Barrier Reef has the same sparkling cinematography, though here much of the scenery is underwater. The diversity of colours among the swimming life is amazing enough, and it is all captured with startling clarity. There’s also some serious shark footage, and this film makes a good followup to The Living Sea, and it’s happily Streep-free, narrated by Philip Clarke and Rosalind Ayers, who are probably Australian actors. They are suitably dramatic, and do well to fight a rather intrusive musical soundtrack…”

DVD Reviews - The Big Picture: IMAX Films On DVD

Magic of Flight

“Before talking about the individual films, let me offer a little background about the IMAX format. The large film frame allows for a picture on a huge screen that fully fills one’s field of vision, immersing the viewer in the experience. IMAX is distinguished from OmniMax in that its screen is curved, but not curved overhead into a semisphere, and image distortion is much less. The actual frame size is larger than 70mm, with very high resolution, running at twice the standard speed for reduced motion artifacts, such as 35mm’s backward turning wagon wheels in westerns…”

DVD Reviews - Dr. T and the Women

Dr. T and the Women

“This film makes me think about an old Q&A joke: “What Happens when you play a country song backwards?” “Yer wife comes home, ya git yer truck back, the dawg comes back…” Well, Dr. T & The Women is a little like the country song played frontwards. We see the perfect life of the perfect upscale Dallas family unravel around Dr. T, a popular doctor. First his wife lapses into a child-like state, and then the planning of his daughter’s wedding goes awry, and more personal disasters follow, which I won’t reveal to spoil the film for you…”

DVD Reviews - Love And Basketball and The Cider House Rules

The Cider House Rules

“I guess I’ve grouped these two films because they have a lot in common, including length, romanticism, and the struggles of young people and black people. The Cider House Rules is a simplified version of John Irving’s novel, for which he wrote the script, and won an Oscar for it. Also so honoured was Michael Caine’s wonderful portrayal of Dr. Larch, who runs an orphanage and abortion clinic, and teaches his medical skills to young Homer Wells, played by Tobey Maguire…”

DVD Reviews - Being John Malkovich and High Fidelity

High Fidelity

“Malkovich may be set up as the great actor, and Cusack as the schmuck here, but in High Fidelity we see the range of the latter actor, who carries this film that’s also full of wierd, obsessive characters. This time they’re running a vinyl record store, Cusack the failing owner, Rob, with a pair of rock trivia nut employees. Music buffs will recognize the guy played deliciously by Jack Black, who spends his time protecting the store’s past pop treasures, often finding customers unworthy of acquiring them…”

  Outside the Speakers

    Random Thoughts on the Music Mask
    NPR on Whether Audiophiles Still Exist
    Audiophile Grade Mics?
    CDs Sales Die, LP Sales Fly
    Some High End 'Phones from CES

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