This Week in Geek (24-30/09/12)


This week I got Michael Chabon's newest novel, Telegraph Avenue, as well as a number of DVD - Mr. Vampire and Super Infra-Man (in the Kung Fu category), Marvel's Avengers and Cabin in the Woods (in the Whedon category), and the new James Bond boxed set, which is far from as cool and extra-filled as the Blu-Ray version, but you know me, old school to the last.


DVDs: From the trailer, there's no way to know what Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is really about, so I'll tell ya. It's a rather playful fantasy about a frustrated writer (Owen Wilson) longing for those Parisian days of the 20s when all the great artists and writers lived there. His fiancée (a hilariously mean Rachel McAdams) has no intention of moving there, so he's left to his own devices and at the stroke of midnight each night, he's transported to that romantic notion of 1920s Paris. In the process, he'll learn something about the power of nostalgia and about himself. If you know your early 20th century creative types, you'll get a lot more from the film's star-studded pastiches, but even if you don't, I think the eccentrics played by the likes of Adrien Brody, Kathy Bates and Marion Cottillard will still entertain and tickle your fancy. And for fans of photography, Woody Allen gives Paris the same romantic, even fetishized treatment he usually reserves for New York. It's all very sweet and lovely. The lone extra is an edited press conference at Cannes with some insight into the director's work, though he mostly lets the picture speak for itself.

Johnnie To's Sparrow has something in common with Midnight in Paris - it romanticizes Hong Kong the way the other does to Paris. This quirky comedy is about a quartet of pickpockets (the leader charmingly played by Simon Yam) manipulated by a beautiful and mysterious chameleon of a woman (Kelly Lin) into helping her regain her freedom (and passport) from the gangster who loves her too much. It's a mystery that unfolds slowly but surely, letting you piece the puzzle together through some great (and often demurely sexy) set pieces. Western viewers may catch up to the intrigue a bit late - there are concepts here that are very much native to Hong Kong - but I think they'll be rewarded in the end. It's also great fun to see pickpocketing mastery filmed like a grand musical, a perfectly choreographed martial arts action scene and, all at the same time, a western showdown. Another beautiful film from To. You wouldn't believe they shot on and off for 4 years, without a script. Lots of DVD extras too, though I was worried when the "making of" turned out to be shorter than 2 minutes! But no, there are much longer interviews with the director and stars, and awkward (but amusing) footage from the film's premiere and subsequent press conference, as well as a picture gallery.

To find out what I thought of Doctor Who's Day of the Daleks, read the reviews posted over the past week. Here I'll talk about the DVD extras. The first disc has the original episodes, which can be viewed accompanied by the always informative production notes subtitles or an audio commentary with producer Barry Letts, script editor Terrence Dicks, a couple of guest actors, and unusually, "vision mixer" Mike Catherwood. The inclusion is explained by a featurette on vision mixing, a key job in television at the time the show was made. There's also a fairly good making of which collects the recollections of many other people involved AND Doctor Who writers it influenced (Aaronovitch, Cornell, Briggs), a clip from Nationwide about a classroom winning a Dalek, a Blue Peter clip about their return in this series, and the usual photo gallery. Disc 2 features the Special Edition cut of the episodes (see my review of Part 4 for more, though I remain surprised they didn't combine the eps into a single movie as was done with other Special Editions, and it might have fixed the fugly reprises). The disc also includes a making of for the Special Ed.; the second part of the UNIT documentary, this time discussing the inclusion of Jo, Mike Yates and the Master, their various episodes together, and Roger Delgado's death (a tearjerker, I warn you); a fun featurette on the UNIT dating conundrum; a return to the various locations used (the latter two with amusing narration by Toby Hadoke); and "The Cheating Memory", a featurette on how and why we might remember old episodes as better than they are, with a psychologist who is obviously a Doctor Who fan. So another great package from BBC World to supplement a relatively disappointing story.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.iii. The Confessional - Slings & Arrows
III.iii. The Confessional - Classics Illustrated

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Batwoman to Black Condor.



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