So maybe there aren't a lot of DVDs out this week. That hasn't stopped me from giving you a healthy pile of reviews, plus an exclusive lowdown on what really will be in the "Indiana Jones" boxset. No rumours, no speculation - just the hard facts!
While this may be a quiet week for releases I can assure you it's merely the calm before the storm of October and November, when the distributors get their top titles out in time for Christmas.
What has sneaked out this week is "The Quiet American", where Michael Caine contributes to an excellent commentary, and "Jungle Book 2", where "The Bare Necessities" is repeated ad nauseam.
THE CHARLIE CHAPLIN COLLECTION
Get prepared for the DVD restoration event of the year as on 22nd September Warner Bros release the feature films of Charlie Chaplin on DVD. All of the movies are fully restored with all new 5.1 sound mixes, and each title comes with a host of authoritative and enjoyable extra features. Between now and the release date I'll be reviewing all the discs in-depth.
This week I have two classics reviewed for you: "The Great Dictator" and "The Gold Rush", along with two of Chaplin's more misunderstood films: "Monsieur Verdoux" and "A King in New York".
THIS WEEK'S US RELEASES
This week's selection of new blockbusters out on disc resembles a game of Russian roulette. Gwyneth Paltrow plays an airline hostess in "View from the Top", while George Clooney directs "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and Seann William Scott learns kung fu from Chow Yun-Fat in "Bulletproof Monk" (out here next week).
When I interviewed actor and director Stanley Tucci recently, I soon realised he was a man of few words and he did not under any condition want to talk about sci-fi flick "The Core". Question is, do you want to buy it this week? Or would you rather risk another disc engagement with "Undercover Brother" star Eddie Griffin in the tiresome "Dysfunktional Family?"
One of the DVD events of the year will undoubtedly be the forthcoming Disney release of "The Lion King" on DVD. While you're waiting, though, the classic "Sleeping Beauty" is out on disc this week.
If you're a fan of the ultimate picture and sound quality Superbit releases from Columbia TriStar, then you may want to invest in the upgraded versions of "Lawrence of Arabia", "Hook", and "Leon" (international uncut version).
If none of the above appeal, then Pedro Almodóvar's early comedy "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" is out, as is the overblown Harrison Ford drama "Regarding Henry", plus Laurence Fishburne's "Once in the Life", and Jeremy Irons in Wayne Wang's "Chinese Box".
Since Ask Almar started, not a week goes by without questions coming in about the "Indiana Jones" trilogy DVD release. This week I got together with the team behind this four-disc set and producer of the films, Frank Marshall, for a candid chat.
As you may already know, the films will come on a disc each, with no special features. Those have been reserved for disc four, where you'll find a superb two-hour documentary and a number of in-depth featurettes.
Rumours are still abounding as to what will be included so let's clear some up. There will be no standalone deleted scenes. Yes, they do exist, but neither Steven Spielberg nor George Lucas wants them included as they feel the movies are perfect as they are. "The Temple of Doom" DVD for the UK will be the edited version, which seems like an extraordinary decision. Plus, none of the effects have been enhanced with CGI (which personally I think is a good move).
What you do get, though, are the films looking and sounding stunning. Obviously I expected a good job but "Raiders of the Lost Ark" looks like it was made this year - it's that clear. The two-hour documentary is highly entertaining and I was staggered by the amount of behind-the-scenes footage available for all three movies. Next week I'll go further in-depth on what to expect from this formidable boxset. Meanwhile I do have some room here to talk about the next Indy movie, which Frank confirmed would not be reliant on CGI effects (has he run this by George, I wonder?). It will retain a B-movie feel (as with the previous films), original cast members will be invited back, and a lot is planned for the eventual DVD release.
Mark Hocker wrote in to tell me that he'd joined channel.com, a new website run by Universal. That's nice, I thought, but what was interesting was that in the brochure he got the "Star Wars" trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) are listed as coming to DVD next year. So far the information has been that we would see these no sooner than 2005. Lucasfilm never give much away so we'll have to wait and see for now, but when Mark phoned up the website, they confirmed the rumour to be true. Thanks for writing Mark. Onto other long-awaited DVDs: the UK discs for John Carpenter's "The Fog" and "Escape from New York". Apparently we'll have to wait until this time next year for our versions, which is disappointing. The one silver lining is that I'll soon have news on the "Assault on Precinct 13" DVD release, which is still in the planning stages.
Reviewing DVDs is so demanding it threatens to send me into therapy. Will "Analyze That" tip me over the edge?
Plus I'll be shaving my head for "Bulletproof Monk" and checking out "Cradle 2 the Grave".
I'll also be covering more of the Chaplin DVDS and with the busy October/November DVD bockbuster months looming, you can't afford to miss a single DVD Week for what I'll uncover first.
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Do keep sending in your queries and comments. Please note: I can only deal with movie-related DVD queries, and any answers will appear in this column, not on the message boards or in your email inbox!