TOP 15 FAVORITE DVD Commentaries! Part 1 of 3!


“She loved me. That’s the root of the business. But she knew… she knew I thought more of my wife’s footprint in the mud, than I did of her body and soul.”
— A fantastic performance by Ciaran Hinds as Jim Browner, telling Holmes about the sister-in-law who connived to destroy his marriage, with tragic results. From THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES adaptation of THE CARDBOARD BOX.

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series

In this age of streaming and Netflix, the DVD/Blu-ray is still the format of choice for those who want to do more than ‘see’ the movie, but explore it and enjoy it. I’m speaking of special features.

Specifically Director’s Commentaries.

As a rule I don’t purchase DVDs/Blu-rays, unless it is a movie or series I intend to watch more than once. And as such a director’s commentary is an essential part of the DVD for a film fan such as myself.

I can watch the DVD once for the program, then go back and watch it for the cast/crew insights into the film. So that said, what are the best DVD/Blu-ray commentaries?

Best is a problematic designation, so let’s go with favorite… here are my 15 favorite DVD commentaries:

Images
The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s IMAGES/THE LONG GOODBYE- I put these two films together as one, because they are Robert Altman at his most experimental, and to my mind, while not his biggest or most lavish or most acclaimed films, IMAGES and THE LONG GOODBYE are his most interesting and stylish and surreal films (and they also sport two of the most amazing, experimental scores).

They are my favorite Altman films. And while endlessly watchable on their own, the excellent special features push them over the top. While not really a commentary, the films instead sport brief interviews with Robert Altman, but such informative and formative interviews. Altman gives a great insight into the division of labor between Director/Writer and Actor, and how as a writer a work is 2D, and it is incumbent on the actor and others to make it 3D, to bring it to life. Between the film and the interviews, it’s a class on film-making, for the price of a DVD.

And next…

Michael Mann and Tony Scott are two of my favorite directors, they make fantastic films, and their commentaries are full-on clinics in film-making. So just about any movie they make, I purchase as much for the commentaries… as the film. So you can easily fill a top ten or twenty list with just these two directors.

But for the sake of brevity we’ll limit each director to just one:

Michael Mann’s MANHUNTER [There are numerous DVD and Blu-ray versions of this film, but the link below is the only DVD that sports the Michael Mann DVD commentary.]
Manhunter (Restored Director’s Cut Divimax Edition)

[And as honorable mention check out Michael Mann's COLLATERAL, from covering using the digital camera to the landscape of mercenaries, to the actors, it is just a riveting commentary. Collateral (Two-Disc Special Edition)]

Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE showcases two excellent commentary tracks.
Man on Fire

Another one of my favorite directors is Werner Herzog, and his commentaries are always things of high drama and art onto themselves. Everyone of his films are worth owning as much, and in some cases more for his commentary. Just a fascinating director, and a fascinating man.

Like Mann and Scott, every one of his commentaries could fill a best of list, but again for the sake of brevity we’ll narrow it to one.

AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD- cause it’s always entertaining hearing him discuss Klaus Kinski

Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski: A Film Legacy

Werner Herzog Collection

DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS- Put together a novel from one of my favorite writers, a few of my favorite actors, and one of my favorite directors in Carl Franklin, and you have a movie that makes anyone’s purchase list. Add a riveting commentary from director Carl Franklin, and you have DVD as film and film-experience.

Devil in A Blue Dress

And rounding out the first five for this list of 15 Favorite commentaries is

THE COMPLETE FARSCAPE- People who are fans of this show, a show that at its heart is this great love story, are fans because they are so connected to the characters that the actors and writers bring to life. Outside of possibly BABYLON 5, FARSCAPE is the most emotional and best acted show of the fantastic (Browder giving wrenching, award worthy performances). So the chance to reconnect with these shows, especially by listening to Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who obviously have as much chemistry off screen as they do on… is just a joy. Even lukewarm episodes of FARSCAPE, rare but they do exist, are made ‘must-haves’ by the commentary. A fantastic series, adorned with fantastic commentaries.

Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Farscape: The Complete Series

So that’s it for the first five favorite commentaries. Join me in the next installment as we cover #s 6-10! And in the interim feel free to leave comments about your favorite commentaries.

WEDNESDAY WORDS: TOP 20 BOOKS OF THE WEEK #1


HEROIC TIMES Top 20 Books list is a new weekly installment that ranks the 20 most interesting/intriguing books of the week (old, new, reissues, digital, etc). Contributors represent a variety of genres and sources. Each book includes Title and publisher blurb.

Feel free to leave feedback comments below, or suggest additions or subtractions.

Open City: A Novel by Teju Cole- A masterful command of narrative voice distinguishes a debut novel that requires patience and rewards it.

THE PRAGUE CEMETERY by Umberto Eco – Publication Date: November 8, 2011- Nineteenth-century Europe, from Turin to Prague to Paris, abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian priests are strangled with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate black masses by night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to the notorious forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay just one man? What if that evil genius created the most infamous document of all?

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins: Girl takes sister’s place in a real world survivor game in a post-apocalyptic U.S.. (P, Scholastic)

THE STREETLETHAL OMNIBUS by Steven Barnes – Rumors alone of a collected omnibus edition containing the entire acclaimed three part STREET LETHAL series (similar to the excellently designed Chester Himes HARLEM CYCLE omnibus), hitting shelves soon is reason enough for this sci-fi/action-adventure classic to make anyone’s list.

THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS by Ian Fleming – James Bond, the world’s most famous secret agent, has thrilled audiences for over fifty years with his globe-trotting adventures. THE JAMES BOND OMNIBUS collects eleven of Ian Fleming’s original daily comic strips for the very first time in a mammoth omnibus edition.

DILLON AND THE LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN BELL by Derrick Ferguson – The author of The Nuclear Suitcase, Joel Jenkins, describes Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell as “James Bond meets Cthulhu” and you’ll want to check out this heady mixture of the spy thriller and horror genres.

THE ARTIST WITHIN by Greg Preston – The culmination of more than fifteen years of photography by renowned photographer Greg Preston, this book is a living history of the men and women who have shaped the imaginations of countless millions of people around the world through their work in the fields of animated cartoons, comic books, comic strips and editorial cartooning. The list of more than two hundred artists includes such luminaries as Frank Miller, Al Hirschfeld, Joe Barbera, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Moebius, Walter and Louise Simonson and many more, all in photographs exclusive and shot expressly for this book.

SAUL BASS by Jennifer Bass, Pat Kirkham – This is the first book to be published on one of the greatest American designers of the 20th Century, who was as famous for his work in film as for his corporate identity and graphic work. With more than 1,400 illustrations, many of them never published before and written by the leading design historian Pat Kirkham, this is the definitive study that design and film enthusiasts have been eagerly anticipating.

THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES: A Novel – by Roberto Bolaño In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolaño tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes–the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself–on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is an exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.

ASSUMPTION A NOVEL by Percival Everett – A wild ride to the heart of a baffling mystery, Assumption is a literary thriller like no other.

ATLAS OF HUMAN ANATOMY AND SURGERY by Jean-Marie Le Minor – Anatomically correct We owe a great debt to Jean Baptiste Marc Bourgery (1797?1849) for his Atlas of Anatomy, which was not only a massive event in medical history, but also remains one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated anatomical treatises ever published in any language. In 1830, having received his doctorate in medicine three years prior, Bourgery began work on his magnificent atlas in cooperation with illustrator Nicolas Henri Jacob (1782?1871), a student of the French painter Jacques Louis David. The first volumes were published the following year, but completion of the treatise required nearly two decades of dedication. 15.5 lbs and 19.2″ x 12.6″ x 3.5″.714pgs.

FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King – Like Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, which generated such enduring films as The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me, Full Dark, No Stars proves Stephen King a master of the long story form.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

THE SHADOWS GALLERY by L.R. Giles – You’ve been invited to the opening of a grand exhibition, a show unlike any you’ve ever seen. Inside you might find your greatest joy or your worst fear on display. But be warned, it can be difficult to tell which is which when you’re looking through the shadows… Award-winning author L.R. Giles brings forth a collection of tales that take you to the limits of imagination and beyond.

THE MORNING AFTER by David Drebin(English, German, French, Italian and Spanish Edition) – A talented photographer without equal, David Drebin is above all a storyteller. His brooding and glamorous works tell tales of lust and voyeurism–as well as seduction and escape. Not afraid to be daring, Drebin also tantalizes us with subtle allusions. His sweeping cinematic images feature the majestic backdrops of such world cities as Berlin, Paris and Rio de Janeiro. These photographs pulse with a charged sensuality, using color and light to maximum effect. Dangerous seductresses play a central role in Drebin’s work. Bursts of saturated Technicolor explode against stone and gray cement. In this, he hints at Hitchcock at his finest. We’re left with a tinge of regret amid the sensual excess.

Use Once, Then DestroyUSE ONCE, THEN DESTROY by Conrad Williams- In this spellbinding collection of his best stories from the last ten years, award-winning writer Conrad Williams offers the kind of horrors that move subtly into you, like pain, or love, or regret. They are stories that explore the scarred outposts of desperation and desire, sickness and death, sex and decay. Within these pages you will also find the acclaimed novella Nearly People.

SHERLOCK HOLMES CONSULTING DETECTIVE Vol III – The Baker Street Sleuth returns in five new original mysteries told in the classic style of Arthur Conan Doyle. Here are tales by Aaron Smith, Ian Watson, Joshua Reynolds and Andrew Smith guaranteed entertain any mystery fan. Throw on your deerstalker cap and load your pistols, there’s murder and mayhem about and the game is afoot once more.

RADIOACTIVE:MARIE & PIERRE CURIE: A TALE OF LOVE AND FALLOUT – In the century since the Curies began their work, we’ve struggled with nuclear weapons proliferation, debated the role of radiation in medical treatment, and pondered nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss links these contentious questions to a love story in 19th Century Paris…Whether young or old, scientific novice or expert, no one will fail to be moved by Lauren Redniss’s eerie and wondrous evocation of one of history’s most intriguing figures.


EXILES FROM A FUTURE TIME: TRINITY OF PASSION: THE FORGING OF THE MID-TWENTIETH CENTURY LITERARY LEFT
– With this book, Alan Wald launches a bold and passionate account of the U.S. Literary Left from the 1920s through the 1960s. Exiles from a Future Time, the first volume of a trilogy, focuses on the forging of a Communist-led literary tradition in the 1930s. Exploring writers’ intimate lives and heartfelt political commitments, Wald draws on original research in scores of archives and personal collections of papers; correspondence and interviews with hundreds of writers and their friends and families; and a treasure trove of unpublished memoirs, fiction, and poetry… Focusing on the formation of the tradition and the organization of the Cultural Left, Wald investigates the “elective affinity” of its avant-garde poets, the “Afro-cosmopolitanism” of its Black radical literary movement, and the uneasy negotiation between feminist concerns and class identity among its women writers.

DREAMSCAPES 2010: CONTEMPORARY IMAGINARY REALISM – Publication Date: April 28, 2011 | ISBN-10: 9490668028 | ISBN-13: 978-9490668020 The greatest practitioners of imaginary realism are presented in this lavish overview of dreamy, surreal and beguiling paintings and sculptures! This large-scale, beautifully produced book features artwork by modern favorites like Michael Parkes, Daniel Merriam, Kinuko Y. Craft and many others. Vibrant paintings feature psychedelic dreamscapes populated by fairies, nymphs, gods and golems. Loaded with symbolism and often jarringly original, this showcases the best fantasy artists working today.Buy Direct from Publisher Here.

Well gals and guys hope you enjoyed that.

The WEDNESDAY WORDS column is a brand new blog feature, appearing (you guessed it!) every Wednesday. Come back next week to see which books make the list! And if you see items you’re considering purchasing then, if you are able and would like to support this blog, please utilize the attached links. Your helpful purchases through the links generates much appreciated pennies to keep this blog running. Your feedback and support… just way cool, and way appreciated. Thanks!

Movie Review: THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR… The best SHERLOCK HOLMES Film?!

This article/review Copyright 2011-2012 Masai Inc.

THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR was the fifth and last of the feature length Sherlock Holmes’ movies, produced by Granada Television and WGBH Boston, starring the great Jeremy Brett and the talented Edward Hardwicke it is also seen as the capper to the third series of Sherlock Holmes, “The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes” (Not quite correct since the source story is actually part of Doyle’s 1st short story collection, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES).

While I intend to do an overview of the entire venerated and venerable series in an upcoming installment, for this post I wanted to cover this specific episode, that left quite an impression on me, THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR.

Available either in boxed set containing all the Jeremy Brett episodes, not the cheapest thing on the planet but considering it is the complete collection, over 2500 minutes of (without argument from me) the finest film interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, and comes with commentaries and booklet it is HIGHLY recommended (Make sure you are buying from a reputable seller, as there are low quality copies out there without commentaries or booklet). Or if you just want the ELIGIBLE BACHELOR DVD, there’s a link for that as well.

If you’re going to purchase please click on the respective DVD images below. Your DVD collection will thank you, and this blog can always use the 2 cents (And I only recommend items I personally own, and think are great).

Enough schilling, now onto the review:

At the time of THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR’s filming, Early 1993 (It would air Feb 1993 in England and a year later, Feb 1994 in the States), Jeremy Brett had been playing, masterfully, the role of Sherlock Holmes for over Nine years. And would produce only 6 more Sherlock Holmes episodes, and two non-Holmes feature films prior to his death a scant two years later on 12 September 1995 at the age of 61.

Cause of death has been listed as iatrogenic congestive cardiac failure, which is a fancy way of saying medical incompetence. The medicine Brett was being given to treat his supposed Bi-polar disorder wreaked havoc with his, from a childhood sickness, already weakened heart. Though to be fair, no doubt Brett’s heavy smoking habit had no small part in his untimely demise.

What is unquestionable is that Brett’s appearance and the state of his health would take a quite noticeable and quite drastic turn for the worse in 1994, and is clearly seen in these last shows he left us. But like the driven, consummate professional he was, he soldiered on, to the last. Bringing, to the very end, a dedication that is only to be admired and marveled at.

But if one must pick an episode of Sherlock Holmes and a performance of Jeremy Brett from this latter period to hold up as great, as perfect denouement for a career and character… it would be the haunting and haunted ELIGIBLE BACHELOR.

This episode is selected for various reasons, the foremost being….

Well, let’s stop there. I think that gives you a pretty good taste of why this is one of the most popular articles on this blog. The Full, huge,jam packed 2800 word!!! review/article is available either in PDF format(great for laptops and desktops) or Epub (perfect for tablets and ereaders) format. Very low cost for this popular article, and your purchase is GREATLY APPRECIATED and helps me keep producing content on this blog.

So ONLY $4.99 for this great reading material/content. Oh you know you want it. :) So Use the paypal button below (it’ll take you to paypal to make payment), once payment is received the full article will be emailed to you (please specify if you want PDF or EPUB). Thanks for looking and supporting and please enjoy! Thanks!

This article/review Copyright 2011-2012 Masai Inc.

SHERLOCK HOLMES Imagination Theater Conan Doyle!

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I’ve been recently on a Sherlock Holmes kick.

I’m not what you can call a Holmes fan, it tends to be too dry and a little too… stiff upper lip for me. Conan Doyles’ legendary detective is, for me, a concept that is more appreciated for its historical signifigance than its quality.

That said I’ve recently been introduced to the Imagination Theater new Sherlock Holmes episodes. Written primarily by Jim French, they are very well rounded depictions of both Holmes and Watson, and brilliantly performed.

Go sample, and then purchase some episodes here:

Imagination Theater

I would recommend starting with the following:

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES – CD Set 1: Volumes 1-4

It has the following fantastic episodes:

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES – Set 1: Volumes 1-4

The Greatest of Them All: Sherlock Holmes, the name conjures pictures of gas-lit streets and dark mysteries from a bygone age. Along with his trusted friend Dr. John H. Watson, Holmes is without doubt the most famous sleuth the world has ever known with countless literary works, stage plays, films, television and radio programs all centering around this icon and spanning over 117 years. And now, with full authorization from the estate of Dame Jean Conan Doyle, daughter of Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jim French Productions brings you 10 episodes from our long running dramatic radio series starring John Patrick Lowrie and John Gilbert as Holmes with Lawrence Albert as Dr. Watson.
THIS COLLECTION OF SHERLOCK HOLMES ADVENTURES CONTAINS:

The Tuttman Gallery (Double Length Episode)
The Estonian Countess
The Adventure of the Silver Siphon** (Double Length Episode) John Gilbert is Holmes
The Adventure of the Missing Link** John Gilbert is Holmes
The Mystery of the Patient Fisherman
The Diary of Anthony Moltaire
The Bee and The Spider
The Wizard of Baker Street
The Living Weapon
School For Scoundrels

TUtTMAN GALLERY, THE LIVING WEAPON, and THE ADVENTURE OF THE SILVER SIPHON are particularly brilliant. It’s well worth the money, and tell them HT sent ya!