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Headsup: The Many Perils of Love. Oh, and Sharks.

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.

Annie Hall Blu-Ray
Manhattan Blu-Ray
Apartment Blu-Ray

[ad#longpost]Hitting Blu-Ray we have two selections from MGM and The Woody Allen Collection: Annie Hall and Manhattan. They’re both making their hi-def debuts. Hall is the film that really got people who hadn’t previously paid attention to Woody Allen to pay attention to Woody Allen. And that’s even if you pull the four Oscars out of the mixture. Like him or not, you couldn’t ignore him. And few people tried: the film is a funny look at relationships through the lens of Alvy Singer (Allen), a comedian, and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton), a singer. A true American comedy classic, it also features Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Shelley Duvall, Paul Simon, Christopher Walken, and Truman Capote. And with Manhattan, you get another portrait of relationships with New York City as the backdrop, this time with Allen playing His Character again (albeit this time called Isaac Davis) and dealing with his lesbian ex-wife, his underage current girlfriend and the prospect of a relationship with a journalist. Both films look excellent in hi-def that, for fans of the films, warrant an upgrade despite the fact you get nothing in the way of bonus bits. For $17 a piece, it’s worth doing. (Click here to buy Annie Hall from Amazon. Click here to buy Manhattan from Amazon.)

Speaking of comedies you actually want to have in hi-def, I’d give you a nudge towards Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. I’ve often been amazed by what visuals you can get on screen in black and white that you simply cannot in color–and this is a stunning example of it. It just looks amazing–especially with its Blu-Ray debut upgrade. The shot is this: Jack Lemmon is an office worker who is trying to get ahead by loaning his apartment to his bosses at the office–for their affairs. But then the head burrito wants in…and his lover is the very woman Lemmon’s character has feelings for. And hijinks thus ensue. By the use of the term “hijinks,” of course, I don’t mean all slapstick and laughter. Instead you get a very intelligent comedy with excellent performances by Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray. Also on board is Ray Walston, who for a while was legislated into being in every film made, or so it seems. This MGM release comes with a decent commentary by film historian Bruce Block, a retrospective featurette on the film and a chat with Lemmon’s son Chris. Recommended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Ghost Hunters Season 6, Part 2 Blu-Ray
Shark Night Blu-Ray

It’s sort of amazing that Ghost Hunters is still on the air. I’m not saying that because I have anything against them–you’re talking to a guy who listened to Art Bell for years. I find High Weirdness terribly entertaining when done properly. I’m just asking: when you have an episode where you team with the Real Housewives of Atlanta…can the end be far off? Again, I’m just asking. Anyway, if you aren’t familiar with the show, the name gave it away: these are guys who go out looking for ghosts. They never find any…not that they can scientifically prove, anyway. But that doesn’t seem to be the point. The point is running around dark places with fun-looking equipment and filming lots of stuff in night vision. At least that’s what I take away from it. This Blu-Ray set is from Image and has thirteen episodes across three discs. No bonus bits. If you are hardcore for the series, then okay, fine, you might want to own it…but Blu-Ray? Does this show really need hi-def? You’re saving $6 by going with the DVD option, setting the per episode price point well below $1 an episode. I don’t think you’d be missing all that much. Except ghosts. You’ll be missing ghosts. (Click here to buy the DVD from Amazon. Click here to buy the Blu-Ray from Amazon.)

The thing about a movie called Shark Night (3D or otherwise) is that you pretty much know what you want out of the film. And it has nothing to do with how much sunlight is happening outside. It’s sharks. Noshing on people. Let’s face it. So…it was released to cinemas PG-13. I’ve said on multiple occasions, you film and release a film PG-13 and then you hit home video with the “Ooooh So Unrated Cut” where you can throw in all the boobs and blood you want. But…what’s this? A non-3D Blu-Ray that’s still PG-13. So instead of targeting the audience for this, Fox apparently blinked. And I don’t know that this is the sort of film that’s going to get a second home video release. But whatever. The setup is this: kids go out to a remote location for fun and frolic…and meet with noshification from sharks that simply Shouldn’t Be There. Dun dun DUN. Anyway, you get a digital copy along with the Blu-Ray and a small smattering of features: the film boiled down to just a few minutes of kills, a trivia bit, a film shark featurette, a making-of and a little bit more. Yes, the Blu-Ray is only a few bucks more than the DVD…but unless you’re a hardcore When Animals Attack aficionado…not sure you’ll get the replay value you want. Check out the Amazon Instant Video. And bring alcohol. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season DVD
Tall Story DVD

So The Life & Times of Tim is about exactly what the title would suggest, even though Tim’s mutant power is to get himself into extremely awkward scenarios on an ongoing basis. Like the time he decided to grow a beard only to have it cause problems at the office. Or when he was tasked with helping an escape artist only to have that not work out according to plan. Or when he took some Boy Scouts out on an adventure…there’s a pattern of things going wrong, in other words. You get ten episodes with two segments in each, featuring a number of guest stars including James Urbaniak, Paul F. Tompkins and Alfred Molina. This two-disc set from HBO comes with a making-of featurette and nothing else. Currently the third season is airing. The price point is around $2.25 an episode…so I would recommend sampling it before seeing it’s a rental vs. a buy. As always, replay factor rears its head. Know what you’re buying before you stick it on your shelf. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Tall Story hits DVD from Warner Archive and this is significant for two major reasons. One, it’s yet another chance to familiarize yourself with a pre-Psycho Anthony Perkins and to see what he can do besides play a crazed taxidermist. Second, it’s the screen debut of Jane Fonda. Yes, it also has Murray Hamilton and Ray Walston among the cast and that must be said. The shot is this: Perkins plays the basketball star of Custer College. Fonda plays a girl who’s headed there with the specific purpose of snagging Perkins for her own. Everything’s going fine but even if Perkins’ character comes around to her plan…can he financially afford to get hitched? And thus hijinks ensue. Like I said, this is from the Warner Archive and that means it’s getting its Region 1 DVD (legit) debut. And I suppose we deserve to throw them some kudos for releasing this here instead of waiting to make it a bonus disc-only release in a Fonda boxed set one of these days. Worth a rental for any fans of the two stars and if you find replay value there, might be worth snagging–it’s a comedy and it involves sports…two things that factor heavily into replay and making it a very personal decision. (Click here to buy it from the Warner Archive.)

Ice Quake Blu-Ray
Quality Companion
Sid and Nancy Blu-Ray

Because nothing says “Christmas” like a planet-shaking disaster movie, Anchor Bay brings the SyFy Original Ice Quake to Blu-Ray. A geologist’s family heads out into the wilderness to investigate tremors and, since hey, it’s convenient, grab a Xmas tree. However, all hell starts to break loose: avalanches, enormous chasms, and incredibly cold-ass temperatures conspire to keep them from seeing New Year’s! With SyFy Originals, you’re either on board or you’re not. You either know what you’re signing up for or, well, you change the channel. So this is only for converts, I would say. The Blu-Ray presentation is solid enough, and it’s only $4 more than the DVD. Although I would recommend giving it a rental first or catching it in a repeat before buying…I don’t find much replay value in these flicks, but to each their own. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

The book from TwoMorrows, AlterEgo Presents: Quality Companion touts itself as “A Celebration of the forgotten publisher of Plastic Man…” and it’s true. Just like DC absorbed Charlton Comics’ properties (the original publisher of Blue Beetle and others), they also snagged the Quality characters–Plastic Man, Blackhawk and the heroes that make up the Freedom Fighters. And if that was the extent of what this release brought to the table, that would be admittedly pretty cool, since TwoMorrows is no slouch when it comes to the Reference Material Department. But no, it also reprints nine stories in full color from a more innocent time when comics had titles like Smash Comics and Crack Comics. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about your comics history–and you do because the present day for the Big Two is mostly arse–then this would be the way to do it. Seriously, from end to end, this covers Quality Comics. Highly recommended. (Click here to buy it from TwoMorrows.)

Sid and Nancy hits Blu-Ray from MGM in a Collector’s Edition setup. This is, of course, the story of Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Vicious was played by Gary Oldman, and this is the performance that really made a lot of people sit up and take notice of him. So let’s just say: Sex Pistols fan or not, punk fan or not, the film is worth watching to get early work from him and also Chloe Webb. Existing fans of the film will no doubt be aware of (and probably own) the Criterion Collection–and sadly, as is the case with out of print Criterions that have gone back to MGM…the bonus bits have stayed there. So if you can snag a used Criterion one, grab it–or if you have one, keep it. If this edition brought something else to the table in their stead, that might be one thing–but alas, we get some comments from director Alex Cox, a featurette about the real Sid and Nancy and the trailer. The hi-def upgrade will be worthwhile for hardcore fans, but there’s little else to recommend someone double dipping for this. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Doors: Mr. Mojo Risin: Story of L.A. Woman Blu-Ray
Michael Feinstein: Sinatra Legacy Blu-Ray

Doors: Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman is a long title for a Blu-Ray docu that covers the creation of the album–the last The Doors recorded with Morrison. If you’ve seen the film–or even if you haven’t–this album comes after the situation in Miami where Morrison was accused of indecently exposing himself to the audience. As a result, they couldn’t tour–and things were going downhill with Morrison anyway. This is the album that brought you the title track, “Love Her Madly,” and “Riders on the Storm,” among others. The Eagle Rock release here talks with pretty much everybody that can still be talked to–including the other Doors–in addition to dissecting the album with one of my favorite features from this sort of thing–going through the multi-track tapes with the producer–it’s worth a watch for any Doors fan. The video for this sort of thing doesn’t scream hi-def–since you are seeing a lot of archival stuff which is going to look like, you know, archival stuff–but the audio is the focus for a lot of it here. And that’s where the hi-def really works for you. Watch it through once and then decide on its replay/library necessity value from there. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Michael Feinstein explores classic songs in The Sinatra Legacy, out on Blu-Ray from Image. And don’t be confused–as I initially was–that these are going to be all songs best known by Frank. I’m not going to point out ones that aren’t–because I’m not a Sinatrologist and sure enough he’ll have recorded a version of something and I’ll get sworn at. But Feinstein sets out, backed by orchestra, to sing Sinatra and around Sinatra–I think that’s the best way to put it. So you get “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Begin the Beguine,” “New York, New York” and others. The audio and video both are excellent for a hi-def release and you do a get one bonus track, a featurette on the Palladium (where the show was performed) and more. It’s a total of twelve songs, which is a little over what you would pay to have them from iTunes, so it’s not bad, but for the fan of such songs or Feinstein himself. Myself, I much prefer to see live concerts once and then have the music for listening to on the go–but to each their own. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Justice DVD
Passionate Woman DVD
On the Road With Charles Kuralt: Americana Collection DVD

When I first saw the release Justice from BFS, for some reason I thought it was an older series. This probably has something to do with Robert Pugh, who I assumed hadn’t had time to tackle this between his Doctor Who two-parter and the most excellent miniseries, The Shadow Line. But no, it was from last year: it stars Pugh as the guy heading up an innovative approach to tackling crime. This new center or “centre” of Justice “does away with wigs.” Yes, the idea of not wearing wigs isn’t really the innovative part–although that’s a nice step in the right direction. No, instead it wants to actually solve problems instead of just mete out punishment. If you’re go into this looking for a full-on crime drama like Law & Order UK or even more extreme, like Luther, it might not be your thing. If you look at it as more drama and less crime, it might work for you. All five episodes are here across two discs…and the main barrier to entry is price. You’re looking at over five dollars an episode. Grab it via Netflix or the like first and make sure it’s your cup of tea. No pun intended. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

A Passionate Woman is another import from the UK via BFS Entertainment. This two-parter takes place in two time periods. The first, the 50s, shows us Betty–a housewife who feels trapped between her child and her husband with little else going on. Then she meets “Craze,” who she falls in love with and commences to have an affair with. With a name like that, it was sort of inevitable, I’m sure. Regardless, cut forward to the 80s and her son is getting married…and the past, never one to stay down, gets back up and could cause problems. Of note to people on this side of the pond, Billie Piper (Doctor Who) plays the younger Betty and for those few over here who are aware of it, Waking the Dead‘s Sue Johnston (although more will probably recognize her from Brassed Off) is the older Betty. For those who appreciate British TV drama, this might be worth a rental…but replay factor comes into my view so that few would probably want to own it. No bonus bits are included. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

On the Road With Charles Kuralt: Americana Collection gives you a collection of fifty compiled episodes of the CBS Evening News segment where Kuralt traveled America in a motor home looking for interesting people and their stories. The Travel Channel put some of the segments together to make each episode and as a result you get over seventeen hours across nine discs. Along with that is an interview with Kuralt’s cameraman, Isadore Bleckman. These were previously released as three separate sets and if you have those already, there’s nothing new here. However, getting them as this set will save you dough–as it appears this threefer set is the cost of two of the previous sets. One thing I will say is that the price point is a little over a dollar per episode–and something to consider is that while trying to find where this might be airing–I couldn’t locate anything. So this might be your only shot at it. Definitely worth watching at least once–the array of stories alone makes it worth the price of admission. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)