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The Week in Stuff: August 17, 2010 – Shakespeare, Brian Wilson & Friends*

(*–Would be the highest rated variety show in history.)

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William Shakespeare's Hamlet Blu-ray Cover Art
One Tree Hill Season 7 DVD Cover Art
Tytania Collection 1 Blu-ray Cover Art

[ad#longpost]So Branagh’s full-length Hamlet hits Blu-Ray from Warner Brothers. Having rewatched it I can tell you that my opinion is unchanged: some of the casting simply does not work, for me anyway, but what the task Branagh set out to accomplish is so huge, it’s easy to forgive a few wrinkles. Because the damn thing is four hours long. But there’s a lot going on during that time–you’re not likely to get bored. One thing I did notice more of, thanks to the Blu-Ray, was the different look to this version: i.e., it’s not set in a dark gloomy castle. It’s in an Elsinore that’s bright, full of windows and mirrors. So that works really well in the hi-def format, especially since your source material was 70mm. The features here are the same as what came on the previous two-disc edition: a commentary with Branagh and Russell Jackson, his Shakespeare scholar of choice; an intro by Branagh; “To Be On Camera: A History With Hamlet” that is less a history of the play and movie than a history of Branagh’s involvement with it; and a Cannes promo from 1996. This version comes with a collectible booklet, which is nice and all, but you’re here for the hi-def. If you already own it on DVD, it’s probably worth going back to the well on this one–because it just looks really damn good. And if you haven’t gotten it before but have the hi-def capability, then the Blu-Ray is actually cheaper than the DVD as I type this. So there you have it. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Speaking of Warner Brothers, the seventh season of One Tree Hill is here as well. This has twenty-two episodes across five discs and, a rarity for television discs it seems: bonus bits. You get unaired scenes, a featurette about newcomers to the show, a featurette about a first time director on the show, another featurette about some contest winners who won the change to work production assistant jobs during spring break, and commentary on two episodes. Oh, and a gag reel. That’s a decent array for a television show, I have to say. And with the price I currently show on Amazon, you’re looking at $1.75 an episode or so. Which is also not bad. Of course, right now the show is available elsewhere–on the CW website they have some and then it appears to air on the SOAP Network twice a day–but not these particular episodes. If you’re a fan and want to own these, this is not a bad way to go about it. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

The first collection of Tytania hits DVD thanks to Sentai Filmworks. It’s the first thirteen episodes across two DVDs. The main point of interest, for me anyway, is that this is brought to you by some of the same folks who gave you Macross, which became Robotech here in the States. The gist is this: it’s the future. And mankind is ruled by an empire, run by the Tytania dynasty. But everything goes wonky when a small city-state fights back and wins a victory. And the guy who had the plan that caused the first defeat of Tytania is now–I think the term is: hauling ass to stay ahead of the authorities. The only real feature is clean opening and closing animation. I can’t seem to find this airing anywhere stateside, so like with most thinks Sentai puts out, they’re putting legitimate copies into the hands of fans. The total per episode cost is less than $3, which seems about normal for anime releases of this nature. Fans should snag it. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

Date Night Blu-ray Cover Art
The Joneses Blu-ray Cover Art

Date Night hits Blu-Ray from Fox. It comes also with a digital copy, not to mention an extended (fourteen minutes longer) edition, as well as the theatrical version. From what I could tell, there’s no additional footage with Mila Kunis and James Franco, so take that for whatever it’s worth. The theatrical version comes with a commentary by the director, deleted/alternate/extended scenes, a useful directing featurette, a less useful directing erotic dancing featurette (those who have seen the movie will understand), camera tests, a gag reel, and PSAs used in promoting the film. The camera tests and the “disaster dates” featurette (where the cast talks about bad dates) are exclusive to Blu-Ray. If you haven’t seen the film yet, then I know what you’re thinking: with this cast, surely it’s worth owning. Well, rent it first. Then bear in mind the Blu-Ray is $10 more than the DVD while I type this. So. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

The Joneses stars David Duchovny and Demi Moore as the head of a family that’s just moved into the neighborhood. They have all the coolest shit, too. And nothing makes you want something than seeing somebody else have it–this is true and we’ve all been there. Of course, the trick is they’re not an actual family. They’re shillmeisters, selling products by “demonstrating” them for the neighborhood. This great concept hits completion on Blu-Ray from Fox and there’s a $6 difference between the DVD and Blu-Ray as I type this. The only feature is deleted scenes, sadly. So the Rewatch Factor enters the picture–I would say rent it first and decide if it belongs on your shelf, just to be sure. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)

TwoMorrows Back Issue #43 Cover Art
Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin CD Cover Art

TwoMorrows has more goodness at hand with Back Issue #43. It’s an issue dedicated to characters from the jungle and barbarians in general. The Shanna the She-Devil cover by Frank Cho sets the stage for an array of chats regarding Shanna, plus a talk with the creative team of Ka-Zar, an interview with Larry Hama, a look at Rima the Jungle Girl (who I had even forgotten), info on Red Sonja, Claw the Unconquered, Beowulf, and more. I must say I’m surprised we didn’t get Groo the Wanderer in there somewhere, but so be it. It’s like everything else TwoMorrows does–essential reading for any fan of comics. (Click here to snag it from TwoMorrows.)

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin is exactly what the title says it is: Brian Wilson singing and working with George Gershwin’s music. Now the first thing I should explain is that while I have the utmost respect for Brian Wilson and what he and The Beach Boys brought to music–his work since his return isn’t my bag. Smile didn’t work for me–and I’m not sure if it’s just what has happened to his voice with age or what, but it just doesn’t work. That being said, the music behind him is quite good and provide capable renditions of Gershwin. But I would say if you too felt that Smile didn’t work, this appears to be along those same lines. That being said, if you dug the hell out of Smile, then I have a feeling you’ll love this too. Different strokes, and all that. (Click here to snag it from Amazon.)