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Headsup: Edward Norton, Craig Sheffer, and Questionable Hair Choices

There’s a lot of stuff that comes out all the time, with the companies lobbying to snag your coin. Take this as your quick reference guide that will help you with answering the all important question: Should I throw money at it? 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. Thanks.

Jack Goes Boating Blu-Ray
Stone Blu-Ray

[ad#rightpost]Taken from the stage, it’s Jack Goes Boating with Philip Seymour Hoffman reprising his role from the Off-Broadway play–and climbing into the director’s chair for the first time. He plays the titular Jack, who gets hooked up with Amy Ryan (The Wire) as setup by his best friend and the best friend’s wife (John Ortiz and Daphne Rubin-Vega, both reprising their stage roles). The story covers the new couple coming together at the same time that the more established couple is getting challenged. Both Blu-Ray and DVD flavors are available from Anchor Bay, both with the same array of features: a New York featurette, a featurette covering the adaptation of the play to the screen and a couple of deleted scenes. It’s weird that Hoffman wasn’t on board with doing a commentary for whatever reason–but there you have it. I’m not sure about the replay factor for this one and in my opinion it’s not one that screams hi-def. That coupled with the $10 price markup for the Blu-Ray, I would advise you to rent it in either format before taking the plunge. (Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon. Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

In Stone, Edward Norton plays the titular character–a convict who’s about to up for early release. Robert DeNiro plays the parole officer who’s about to retire. In order to stack the deck towards getting him out, Norton’s character sends his wife (played by Milla Jovovich) to mess with the head of/seduce DeNiro’s character. You know, like you would. This is also out on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Anchor Bay, with one shared feature: a making-of featurette. Just like above with Jack, even if you wanted to check this out for DeNiro and Norton (and how could I blame you), there’s the question of replay factor. And I’m not just saying that because I think Norton looks wrong with cornrows. The delta between regular and hi-def is only $6 here, but again, I’m not sure this warrants a hi-def purchase. Again, rent it or Netflix it and judge for yourself. (Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon. Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

Brass Bancroft of the Secret Service DVD
2 Weeks in Another Town DVD
Two-Faced Woman

Of all the bits of Ronald Reagan’s filmography that get drummed out, Brass Bancroft of the Secret Service was a new one on me. This is a series of four short feature films (about an hour each) that were released between 1939 and 1940 in which the titular character, played by Reagan, went up against illegal aliens, counterfeiters, and other ne’er-do-wells. Evidently not wildly popular (and as a result not due for being remade until at least 2015), this Warner Archive release is a nice one for posterity, documenting the sort of films Warner Brothers was turning out. And with titles like “Murder in the Air” and “Smashing the Money Ring,” it’s pretty clear what you’re getting. As with all Warner Archive titles, you get no bonus bits. I think if you absolutely love old spy/adventure serials, then you could do a lot worse than checking this out–but this is not available anywhere but the Archive store. So if you want to sample it, that’s the only way. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

2 Weeks in Another Town has hit from the Warner Archive as well. It’s Kirk Douglas as an actor trying to reclaim his career by joining a sword and sandal flick being shot in Rome, only to find himself in the director’s chair when the present director (Edward G. Robinson) gets sick. Also on board are Cyd Charisse and George Hamilton. A producer on the film was John Houseman (yes, exactly who you’re thinking of). Again, we get no bonus bits as it’s from the Archive, and it’s right up the alley of a Kirk Douglas completist–this is the only way they’ll get the film on their shelves. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

The film that inspired Greta Garbo to retire is also out from Warner Archive: Two-Faced Woman. In it, Garbo plays Karin, who decides to test her husband’s love by pretending to be her twin sister, Katherine. And, as you might imagine, hijinks ensued. Again, it’s no features and simply here for posterity–which is a good thing for Garbo completists, who will want to snag this. But only a hardcore Garbo fan will want to plonk down the $20 to grab it. If you do find the ability to sample it elsewhere, it’s probably worth grabbing, but not necessarily owning. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

Dallas: The Complete Final Season
Fire on the Amazon Blu-Ray
Merlin: The Complete Second Season

Dallas, the series proper, ends here with the Final Season release on DVD from Warner Brothers. This of course contains the final two-parter with Joel Grey guest-starring and ending (what else?) on a cliffhanger. (All the TV movies, including the “sequels” to the series, will be collected on a DVD that hits in April, completing all of the Dallas releases.) All twenty-three episodes are here across five discs. The deal is pretty simple: if you want to see these episodes, this is your shot at getting them, whether it’s just a rental refresher or you want to complete your collection. It’s not airing anywhere at present–and the good news is, if you do want to go ahead and purchase, I’m not sure what else you could do to better this for an eventual hi-def release. Also, it’s just at around $1.25 an episode, so it’s a respectable price point if you do want to take the plunge. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Fire on the Amazon is out from Anchor Bay on Blu-Ray and this hi-def release seems a bit gleeful to be having the “2010 Academy Award Winner” Sandra Bullock in her only nude scene. In fairness, Bullock did a respectable job of not being completely naked and leaving something to the imagination. On the other hand, the scene is also respectably hot. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, that’s the film’s sole claim to fame (apart from being produced by Roger Corman) as it’s pretty much universally reviled, and not just because Craig Sheffer’s hair is ludicrous. There are no bonus bits on the release and I suppose if you had the hi-def setup and did want to plonk down the coin for this–for reference purposes, naturally–then the Blu-Ray would be fine, because as I write this, it’s only about a dollar more than the DVD. (Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

Lastly, we have the BBC’s second season of The Adventures of Merlin. Basically AKA Merlinville, it’s young Merlin hanging out with Prince Arthur and dealing with life under Uther Pendragon who’s outlawed magic. All thirteen episodes are here across five discs. Being a BBC release, there are a number of respectable bonus bits: audio commentaries by cast and crew, behind the scenes bits on each episode, an overall making-of, and more. The third series is currently airing on SyFy, so I’m assuming at some point they may circle back and re-broadcast these. If you’re a fan of the show and see replay value in owning the set, even at the pricepoint of close to $3 an episode (as I write this), then the bonus bits might make it worthwhile. If you’re uncertain or just want to watch and go, then Netflixing it might be a better option. The only thing to bear in mind is that a Blu-Ray option isn’t available at present–I’m not certain that any new features might be made available when a hi-def version eventually does show up…but if you have the rig, then even though (from what I can tell) this isn’t shot strictly hi-def, I’m sure there would be an increase in video and audio quality. Just so you know. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)