This Week in Geek (26/07-01/08/10)

Buys

No buys this week, but I was happy to find the latest issue of the Enlightenment fanzine in my mailbox (I've subscribed). The first half of Doctor Who Season 5 is reviewed and the editorial was really touching. One review shows why speculation is not a good idea in an article that comes out after the episode speculated about has aired. I'm only halfway through though.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Kung Fu Friday's selection proved a disappointment this week, but not because of the film itself. Return to the 36th Chamber of Shaolin has Gordon Liu play a con man who poses as the legendary San Te (which he played in the first film) and who learns the ways of Shaolin in the most absurd fashion. The sequel isn't just a take off, it's a send up, and it all ends with scaffolding kung fu versus evil bench fighters. My young auntie's in it, but doesn't fight. Shame. But that's not the disappointment. No, the disappointment is that this is a Dragon Dynasty release with absolutely no extras! Is this to be their new standard? Considering that I've collected every single DD release BECAUSE the package was so uniformly good, I now have grave worries about future Shaw Brothers stuff like the Crippled Avengers come fall.

In the American action category, I decided to finish my Dirty Harry boxed set. Sudden Impact featured an unholy marriage of styles, with the Harry portions among the coolest of the franchise (it's the one with "Go ahead, make my day"), never quite meshing with the melodramatic story of a traumatized woman avenging a gang rape. Taking Harry out of San Francisco may likewise have been a mistake. Still, you've got Clint Eastwood driving with a cocktail Molotov burning in the back seat, Harry giving a mafioso a heart attack, and Eastwood's own direction. This is probably the most artfully shot of all the pictures. The DVD comes with a good commentary track by Eastwood's biographer, and a featurette on Eastwood's career.


And then there's The Dead Pool. Though there are some cool elements like the Bullitt chase sequence with a miniature car, it doesn't quite feel like a Dirty Harry picture. It's far less gritty, for one thing, and though it's logical for Harry to have mellowed out, he's not quite the no-nonsense character we remember from the other films. He seems plugged into a generic detective story about murdered celebrities. Notable because it's, well, just about everyone's first feature film (Patricia Clarkson, Jim Carey, Guns & Roses and Liam Neeson - in America at least), it nevertheless comes off as ordinary. The commentary by the producer and the cinematographer yields some interesting anecdotes, and the featurette, this time, discusses the look and sound of the franchise. Overall, the boxed set has a couple classics and no stinkers, with strong, informative commentaries across the board, and well-produced featurettes that cover everything you'd want a set like this to.

Crossing the Atlantic now, I also flipped the 6-episode first season of Toby Whitehouse's Being Human. The premise is of its time (i.e. today): A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost rent an apartment together... Sounds like a sitcom, and they do get you through the comedy, but the series goes into horror, action and drama as well. It's a chameleon on a tightrope, à la Buffy, but more adult. I really did like it, even if I'm sick of vampires generally (ok, I never ever liked them). Some of the beats and metaphors were a little on the nose (and only some), but the the characters are overwhelmingly great. There are some funny and worthwhile deleted scenes in the set, video diaries from the actors, and interview-type featurettes about the characters and writing. Strangely, Nena is never mentioned and only once seen in the extras (other than the deleted scenes), which is very odd. I'm thinking... spoilers?

Before they did their magic on Doctor Who, Russell T Davies and David Tennant worked together on Casanova. Originally three episodes, the DVD has them recut into two, as per their American broadcast. Still seems natural. I must say this was a hugely entertaining piece of television, and that's true of both the tragic and the comic elements. Some of the more modern elements jar a little bit with the period setting, being a little too knowing sometimes, but the series doesn't take itself quite so seriously that the viewer can't accept them. You can see right away why Davies thought Tennant would make a good Doctor, and the older Casanova, played by Peter O'Toole adds even more weight to the show. Despite the cut in the middle, this is really a very diverting 3-hour movie. It sadly comes with no features.

Books: Mark Michalowski's Shining Darkness, a New Series Doctor Who novel starring the 10th Doctor and Donna, is a comedy in the style of Douglas Adams (well, a bit more restrained than that). The story has the duo separated for most of the book, one with radicals who hate robot-kind, and the other with those who want to stop them. There are silly robots aplenty, and a particularly fun sequence with Donna as the Ginger Goddess (the Ginger Agenda has also infected the books!), and while's there's comedy, there's also effective pathos and some memorable characters. The New Series books tend to have a memory-erasing effect on me, but I think I'll remember this one. Fondly.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: 19 from the Sarah Jane Adventures' The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, including new versions of all the Adventurers, 21 from Planet of the Dead, 1 from Infinite Quest, and 13 from The Idiot's Lantern, which I've decided is the New Who episode I most dislike. Voyage of the Damned, you're off the hook. 54 cards and what's sad is that it's not even my one-week record.

Hyperion to a Satyr entries this week include:
I.v. Swearing Oaths

1 comments:

MC said...

Thanks for the warning about the extras on RTT36thC. I have been picking up the Dragon Dynasty DVD's lately when I find them, and the extras are usually awesome.

Shame they are skimping now.

 

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