Argo Extended Edition Blu-Ray

There's a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, and the companies are want your attention and mostly...your coin. But, you know, it's your coin and you have to take care where you spend it. With these posts we try to take you through recent releases so you can make up your mind. If you find the info here to be of use, do us a favor and purchase stuff from Amazon through us. Especially if you were going to buy the stuff anyway. That gives us kickbacks, which help pay for things. Like the server. And coffee. And therapy. We thank you.

As is the case with most breakout Best Picture box office successes, Warner Brothers goes back to the well and returns with Argo: The Declassified Extended Edition in its bucket. First bit of good news: from what I can tell, all the bonus bits from the original Blu-Ray release are here: picture-in-picture video additions, the audio commentary, a TV docu from 2005 and other featurettes. What do you get that's new? Well, as part of the packaging, you get a mini-poster for the fake film, a 64-page book, a map and a replica ID badge. On the discs themselves, you get the aforementioned "extended" version of the film. Extended...by about ten minutes. There's also a few other special features, including more interviews, a focus featurette on Affleck as a director, a cast discussion, a chat with the real Tony Mendez and others. All of which feel like miniature versions of what you would actually want from such things. The main question is: if you've already dipped, would you want to go again? Well, it depends on how much you love the film. As for me, I would find myself content with renting this version from somewhere, taking in the additional stuff and then taking it back. If you haven't already purchased, a new version of the original Blu-Ray is going for as low as $4.50. So a $30 increase to get the stuff on here? Pretty much a non-starter. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Guillermo Del Toro: Cabinet of Curiosities T.S. Eliot Waste Land hardcover reissue of first edition

If you've gotten the Pacific Rim Blu-Ray (and you should have), then you've seen bits of it in the bonus features. We're talking about the notebook of ideas from everyone's favorite mad director, Guillermo Del Toro. I was able to catch a bit of a glimpse of it back in 1997 when he came to DragonCon to promote Mimic. After a screening of the film, he did a Q&A and produced the notebook--and the bit I remember seeing is a guy with a clockwork hand from a western-genre version of Count of Monte Cristo that he had come up with. (I'm still waiting for that, GDT, just so you know.) (I know he reads these.) That's not included in this book. However, you get a slew of bits from projects that have happened (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and such)--along with interviews, musings from others on his work (Alfonso Cuaron and Tom Cruise among them) and photos from Bleak House, GDT's office-home-away-from-home. Dear Harper: I would like a book just about Bleak House, please. It has everything from a giant Karloff Frankenstein head in the foyer to one of the circus performers from Freaks standing on a stair landing. It's like Forry Ackerman by way of Clive Barker. In addition to all of this, there are bits from films unmade yet--so you can check out concept art from the not-dead-but-sleeping At the Mountains of Madness project and others. The whole thing is gorgeous, colorful and twisted. If you've enjoyed his films...then you have to check this out. If you know somebody who is a true fan, then this is the easiest gift decision you will make this year. Highly recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Alas, my own first edition copy of The Waste Land is at the cleaners, so I can't compare this re-issue to the original. And it's hard to say anything against it, seeing as how it provides you with the text of what is arguably the most important modern English language poem. And it does come with an introduction by poet Paul Muldoon. The thing that bugs me the most, I think, is that despite it being a nifty smallish hardback, the margins on the pages inside are very constricting...so you only get about sixteen lines per page. That would be maybe acceptable if they were sixteen full lines...but because the pages are so narrow, some lines are wraparounds, so you could have as few as ten complete lines to a page. Maybe the point is to be claustrophobic like modern life can be...but that would have been better suited for "Prufrock," surely. Regardless, this new Liveright edition makes for a good gift idea for somebody would simply like to have it on their shelf...right next to their slightly more practically sized version of Eliot's complete works. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Impractical Jokers Season 1 DVD Shameless Season 3 Blu-Ray

Four really good friends daring each other to pranks in public. That can get a bit crazy. Add in the fact that apparently they're a comedy group. Crazier. Set the pranks up so that it's a competition and there are aspects of the prank that the friend in the center of it doesn't exactly know everything about what he has to do until he's right in the middle of it. Yeah, that's a bit nuts. And then turn it into a reality TV series with all the hidden cameras, microphones and other toys to enhance the insanity? Yeah. That's Impractical Jokers, which is a little bit Candid Camera, a little bit Jackass, and a little bit Trigger Happy TV (on lithium). Now, I'm going to admit something to you. I normally don't like these sorts of shows. I empathize too much with the prankees (and in this case, the prankers as well) and their awkwardness, seeing as how I'm awkward pretty much all the time. The closest I've come to enjoying one was Dom Joly's Trigger, because it went so insane that it just bypassed any degree of awkwardness. So I can't really appreciate the show for what it is. What I can appreciate is how it does its thing. The guys generally take whatever they've drawn and run with it. There's a moment of "Really?" but then they commit and go. And add in the competition aspect with whoever is the least successful pranker (daremeister?) by the end of the episode getting a whopper of a dare, and the format tweaks known quantities enough to be a big success. Also a success is the DVD, which bypasses most other reality programs with actual bonus bits: a handful of audio commentaries, a behind the scenes bit and deleted scenes are included. Fans of the show (of which there are many...the damn thing's being exported for versions in other countries) will want to seriously consider owning...the price point is less than $1 an episode, so it's quite reasonable. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The American version of Shameless rolls on, with numerous plots struggling this way and that as the Gallaghers try to stay afloat. Over the course of the season, there's drug smuggling, dead bodies, sexual harassment, scamming a charity for kids, scamming gay rights advocates and more. Lots more. With the fourth season being released to home video next month, the path to catching up includes this release, with all twelve episodes presented across two discs. Bonus bits are a number of featurettes: a focus on the set, a focus on Joan Cusack, other character focus featurettes and a number of deleted scenes. As far as the video and audio, they are both good but not spectacular...and while this isn't a show that screams hi-def, you at least want it to crisp up. Price point isn't bad, all things considered: it's roughly $2.50 per episode as I type this, only slightly more than snagging it via Amazon Instant Video. Fans of the show will want to own, but make sure they want it on their shelf--some more extensive features would have made it leaning more towards a buy. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Rutles Anthology Blu-Ray

Well, now that the Pythons are reuniting for shows and a smallish tour, it only makes sense for The Rutles Anthology to get a Blu-Ray upgrade from VSC. This comes with 1978's The Rutles: All You Need is Cash and The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch. Anyone worth talking to recognizes, even if they've never seen the films or heard the music, that we're in Beatles parody territory, led there by Eric Idle and Neil Innes. Although the first showing of Cash stateside completely bombed, the Rutles endure. They were a send-up of the Beatles, complete with excellent re-envision Beatles parodies via Innes, including "Get Up and Go" and the classic "Cheese and Onions." The first film is a mockumentary about their career while the sequel was basically a cash-grab from Idle. Cash is presented in hi-def and looks about what you would expect from a TV movie from the late 70s. (Lunch is not hi-def.) As far as bonus bits go, you get a commentary with Idle and a TV sketch. If I remember correctly, the Cash bonus bits here are ported from the DVD. If you're hardcore, you should probably snag it. If you don't already own it and need to, this is only two dollars more than the DVD. If you already own, I say rent it if possible before double-dipping. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Bill Cosby: Far From Finished Blu-Ray Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch DVD

Bill Cosby is one of the pillars of comedy. He's one of the few comedians that everybody's heard (at least everybody worth knowing) and we can all collectively refer back to. His classic sketch about going to the dentist springs to mind. Hell, everybody in my generation thought that the coolest family to be in was the Huxtables. So it's weird to think of Cosby and Comedy Central (consider the name) being part of a large Venn diagram that never overlaps. But when I heard that he was releasing a new comedy special, Far From Finished (his first in...well, forever), that was less unbelievable than the fact he was going to be on Comedy Central--a fact he opens the show with addressing. That somehow Comedy Central equals risque humor and swearing. The way he explains he's going to approach this matter (as you can guess, his act is still quite clean) is brilliant. And a taste of what's to come. Comedy Central has released the special on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. The most interesting thing for me is that despite the fact he's aged (he's 76 as I write this), he hasn't changed all that much. His voice and his looks have altered, but once he gets going, you realize that he's still got it. Is this breaking new comedy ground? No, but why would you want it to? It's Bill Cosby, everybody's favorite funny dad, telling you funny stories. Fans of his will want to own it in some form or fashion--it doesn't exactly lend itself to the hi-def treatment, as it is Cosby on stage talking. You get some bonus bits, the centerpiece of which is the chat between Cosby and Robert Townsend. There's also a small music featurette and a behind the scenes look. Again, it's one of the comedy grandmasters returning to do his thing. Own it. You can preview it here. (Own it on Blu-Ray / CD / DVD.)

I first encountered Doug Stanhope on Charlie Brooker's Wipe series. The line "I'm Doug Stanhope...and that's why I drink" made me laugh every damn time. Previously released on CD it now hits DVD from New Wave Dynamics. After a short pre-show discussion, we're right in there with criticism of "sober good times" and how alcohol enhances. There's also the story about his mother committing suicide ("a fun story") and comes up with a solution to how charities can work more efficiently. Yes, he's dark and bitter and he can get extremely so at times, but he's not to the Latter Days of George Carlin level of dark and bitter, so he's pretty much right at the level where I dig it muchly. The sole bonus bit is more of the discussion that opened the disc. This...is funny stuff. I recommend owning it in some form or fashion. You can sample it on Spotify here. (Own it on CD / DVD.)

2013 World Series Champions Blu-Ray Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series Collectors Edition Blu-Ray

My understanding of baseball (aka "that's the one with the extended racquets, right?") is somewhat limited. I do know there is a Boston Red Sox and I do know that there is a World Series which, as some comedian pointed out, is won nearly always by America...which is impressive, to be sure. But even I, as deprived of America's pastime as I am, can appreciate a solid home video release. First, there's the 2013 World Series Champions Blu-Ray release of the "Official 2013 World Series Film." An overview of their season, narrated by Ben Affleck, it goes from the Boston bombing to where you would assume it ends up, with them taking the World Series on their home turf. It covers it all in an hour and a half, which is what you want from such a release. You do get some bonus bits, mostly additional clips and highlights. A solid fan might want to consider owning. For the hardcore, though, there's the World Series Collector's Edition as well, which has all six World Series games (plus the sixth American League Championship game)--all the games get their own disc. The games also come with four different audio options, including the George Carlin-pleasing Spanish-language broadcast. The eighth disc has your bonus bits, including in-season and post-season highlights. These are all pricey releases but depending on your level of fandom, possibly worth it. (Click here to buy 2013 World Series Champions on Blu-Ray from Amazon. / Click here to buy World Series Collector's Edition on Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

Cee-Lo Green is Loberace: Live in Las Vegas Blu-Ray

I knew Cee-Lo Green was crazy but I didn't know he was insane. At least not until Loberace, a film of his Las Vegas stage show from the Planet Hollywood there. I mean, he's half of Gnarls Barkley...and their live costuming was the stuff of legends. But here, it's everything from an Elvis suit to a disco version of the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat to angelic robes. Plus he's backed up by an array of sexy Vegas dancers. But the spectacle doesn't end there...you've got a huge projection screen in back that goes nuts often and at one point, he's joined on stage by The Rock-afire Explosion. No. Really. He covers INXS, he covers the Pussycat Dolls (well, he did write "Don't Cha" after all), and there's the "Freak Medley." More stage shows should have Freak Medleys. So at first I was thinking, "Man, that stage looks really tiny." And then I kept forgetting about how the show felt hollow and packaged because, well, it's Vegas. And there was something else mental happening on stage to look at, if not Cee-Lo himself, whose voice destroys just as much live as it does on studio tracks. It was a show worth seeing and Eagle Rock has the Blu-Ray with fairly excellent video and audio. The one bonus bit is a short interview with Cee-Lo. Hardcore fans will want to own, casual fans should see it once. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Casting Me DVD Inch Allah DVD

A casting director moonlights as a would-be filmmaker in the South African film Casting Me, out on DVD from Indiepix. Taken from the life of writer-director, Quinton Lavery, our "hero," Paul, is trying to get his shite together so he can actually make his film. He's also trying to win back his ex-girlfriend, who is his muse, the love of his life and all that. Shot in black and white and possessing a lot of the same down and dirty feel of Clerks, it's an enjoyable enough darker indie comedy for those of you who like something a little different to laugh at. In good news, the DVD has a commentary track with Lavery, Paul (Paul Snodgrass) and the cinematographer. There's also a making-of, additional featurettes and more. Not everyone's cup of tea, though, so rent it before you buy. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The French-Canadian film Inch'Allah (out on DVD from Entertainment One), puts us in the path of a Canadian doctor who lives in Jerusalem and then goes into the West Bank to work at a clinic everyday. Existing on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict--and having to experience the toll this terrible situation takes on friends and acquaintances--her neutrality comes into serious question. The film isn't something you'll want to watch to cheer yourself up, that's to be certain. It doesn't exactly present itself in a neutral light and invite yourself to make up your own mind, and it seems to go about its mission in a fairly inevitable way. So bear that in mind if you decide whether or not to rent the title. DVD bonuses include a short film and deleted scenes. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Book Thief Soundtrack Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood soundtrack

The adaptation of the book The Book Thief has hit, and again, I have not seen the film yet. But I'll take a John Williams soundtrack pretty much any day of the week. While not the most striking of his scores and there's no throughline of melody that you'll be humming when you get done with it, the soundtrack is still an excellent instrumental piece. The disc comes with twenty-two tracks, all of which are also available (for $8 less) as an MP3 bundle. You can also give it a listen on Spotify here. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Okay, so I didn't watch the live spectacle of The Sound of Music: Live, which starred Carrie Underwood as Maria, Stephen Moyer as The Captain and Audra McDonald as the Mother Abbess. I don't watch television. Well, mostly. However, I did get sent the soundtrack...which isn't a recording of the live performance, since it, you know, came out beforehand. It's really the best of both worlds: if you're watching this, you're probably watching it for the casting, so you get them in a studio environment where you can do second and third takes. You know...not live. And I don't have the movie memorized (like some people in my family do) so I can listen to this and not, you know, get hives because it's not Julie Andrews. And, let's be fair: nobody's Julie Andrews...but Julie Andrews. So that aside, it's not bad. If for no other reason than Underwood's singing is capable, I didn't know Moyer could even sing and hey, you get McDonald (television watchers know her from Private Practice; I saw her in Ragtime on Broadway, so they scored a win by tapping her for this) belting the living shit out of some of these songs. If you can get past the fact it's not the film soundtrack (and it has that unfortunate cover art), then it might be worth checking out. You can stream it on Spotify here. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Canyons Blu-Ray Wobbit book

So. The Canyons. Before this arrived, I wasn't sure what the hell it was. The poster, with Lindsay Lohan standing in an open sliding glass door with two men reflected in the glass, makes it look like a stalker/thriller/possibly horror movie. The Blu-Ray cover looks like a glitzy hey-there-might-be-boobs-in-here drama. But then it's directed by Paul Schrader (scribe for Taxi Driver) and written by Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho). And it was described as a sexy neo-noir thriller. So all bets were off. Upon receipt, it appears that what we have is a couple (Lohan and James Deen) who appreciate inviting people over to join in the fun--except that they've each been doing things on the side without the other. And that is going to push one of them over the edge (Deen) and make things get a little crazier--at least more crazy than usual. This feels like it could have been a guilty pleasure sort of indie thriller but it's infused with a lot of undercurrents (and flat out overcurrents) of how cinema is going down the tubes. So the film has delusions of grandeur. Between that and problematic scripting and acting, it's reduced to that thing you grab when your Netflix queue is shallow. The only bonus bits are some extra footage and a featurette about the film starring Deen, Ellis and Schrader. Wait to see it when it doesn't cost anything. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

There's two ways someone reading The Wobbit could go. There are people who enjoyed the previous Harvard Lampoon/Tolkien bashup, Bored of the Rings. And they'll be disappointed to learn that this isn't the adventure of Dildo Bugger, who handed off his ring to Frito in Bored. No, this is instead the tale of Billy Bagboy, an obese^2 wobbit. Rather than the silliness of Bored, you get the over-the-top brand of silliness here where the idea is to pack everything with as many references to other bits of pop culture as possible. There's certainly a place for that--the resurrected Family Guy tends to skew that direction--and it appears to be popular since that series appears to be fairly unstoppable. I would say that if knowing that Billy is joining forces with Dumbledalf and Aaron Sorkinshield to deal with Puff the Magic Dragon--if that sounds enticing, then you're pretty much covered. If that gives you pause then you might want to flip through the sample pages on Amazon and see where on your silliness spectrum it falls. I think if they really wanted to be amusing, they could have triple spaced it and put it out in three volumes, to mirror the film trilogy. But c'est la guerre. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)