Best of 2007: DVDs

Best of 2007: DVDs By Anonymous Jones
            2007 was a great year for DVD, and it was excruciatingly hard to pick only twenty. While I was bored, I waded through two hundred and eleven pages on 2007 releases to refresh my memory and pick out the best twenty out of all of them. While it did turn out to be a multi-day process, I am proud to share with you my favorites of this past year. Here they are, in no particular order. Clerks II             - Mrs. Jones and I are huge Kevin Smith fans. Even if we weren’t, though, this DVD is top notch. Not only do you get the wonderful movie with great commentaries from Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, and director of photography Dave Klein, but you also get cast commentary, deleted scenes, a feature-length documentary, plus the outstanding series of online movies depicting the making of the film. If that weren’t enough, you also get the featurette “A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica”, which is just hilarious. If you don’t have it, buy this DVD already. Battleship Potemkin (Kino Ultimate Edition)             - This is one of those movies that you wish more people had seen. Kino International, fresh on the heels of the superb Metropolis and Nosferatu restorations, gleefully restore Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 silent film about a massive uprising on a military battleship. The results are one of the most complete versions of the film ever committed to any video media. All of the 146 title cards have been replaced, and a new recording based on Edmund Meisel’s original score has been included. The final showdown at the Odessa Steps is one of the most powerful moments in film history, and you’d be a dipshit if you didn’t cop this one. Half Nelson             - Ryan Gosling is currently on my list of actors to watch. His performance is this flick is so riveting that you forget it’s just a movie. This tender story of a drug-addled teacher and his inner-city student is the stuff that Oscars are made of. Regrettably, there are not a lot of features on this disc, but none are needed as the movie alone is worth the purchase. Scope this out if you don’t like the neat and tidy Hollywood endings, as it a totally different kind of film. The Prestige             - This movie just goes to show that Christopher Nolan can still do some downright thrilling filmmaking. After he did Batman Begins, many fans seemed to be concerned that he couldn’t do a movie like this. All of their fears proved to be bullshit, of course. While the movie is wonderful, the features on this disc are kind of so-so. With only two mini-documentaries about the process of making the movie and the art involved are to be found on the disc, the movie is still a great find for thriller fans out there. Sure, the movie may have been a little bit off from the book, but who cares? Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and even Hugh Jackman turn in wonderful performances that will keep you guessing throughout. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan             - Not only did it have the longest title o the year, but Borat was an exceptionally funny flick poking fun at America and the lunkheads who run around at will. While others only saw the broad humor, I saw the underlying satire contained herein. Sacha Baron Cohen succeeds in making one of the smartest dumb movies of all time and the DVD features some hilarious outtakes and a wonderful mock-serious newscast from Borat Sagdiyev. Larry Charles directed this masterwork, and is responsible for one of the most misunderstood movies of the year. This is a total prime choice, and I recommend it fully. Rocky Balboa             - The Italian Stallion’s last bout with fame, Rocky Balboa manages to go out with a style that I thought could not be achieved. The movie itself is exceptional, but it is the features that make this a must-purchase. The deleted scenes and alternate ending are superb, showing what they cut was almost as good as what they kept in. The bloopers are priceless, and the making-of featurettes will interest even the most ardent boxing opponent. Where the film really shines, though, is with the commentary from Sylvester Stallone. The commentary details a lot of what had to happen to make this movie, and Stallone’s love for the character is apparent as he talks quite knowledgably about the making of this flick. Pan’s Labyrinth             - This was one of the best movies of 2007, and it shows on the DVD. Del Toro’s commentary is exceptionally listenable, while the featurettes included will only serve to enhance the film. Some of the production art is also included in the two-disc version, making it the version to buy if you haven’t already. Unfortunately, a lot of people will be turned off by the lack of an English language option, but if you can get past the subtitles, you’ll experience a truly original, utterly remarkable film. Hot Fuzz: Three Disc Collector’s Edition             - When Hot Fuzz came out on DVD earlier this year, I checked it out and was confused when I heard the director reference some commentary tracks that were not included with the film. Turns out, they were referencing the British version. Now, it’s finally landed on US shores, and it was worth the wait. Usually waiting a year or more to provide the requisite double-dip DVD, this one was released a scant few months after the first edition, and the three discs include more dumbassery and hilarity than I can ever tell you about. While the five commentaries are superb, the real wealth is found in the astonishing amount of footage that was shot during the making of the movie. Everything from interviews to extended and deleted scenes have been included in this set, making it the one to own in 2007. Inland Empire             - This movie will try your patience. Fair warning. If you can sit through it, though, you’ll be in for a treat like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Shot completely on a handheld digital video recorder, Inland Empire tells the story of an actress whose mental issues steadily climb as she works for Jeremy Irons. As she descends more into madness, a trio of talking bunnies begins to haunt her thoughts while she loses it even more. Laura Dern is fantastic in one of her best roles, and David Lynch proves that not only is he insane, but one of the best filmmakers in the world. The features include even more insanity, plus the requisite trailers. Rent it first, if you must, but do not ignore it. Serenity: Collector’s Edition             - The story of Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew aboard the spaceship Serenity has been well documented and loved by thousands, from the television series Firefly to the previous release of the movie Serenity. Released about a year and a half after the original edition, the Serenity: Collector’s Edition added even more goodies to the total package, including more documentaries and a new cast commentary. The extras are well worth the double dip that I normally scream about at the top of my lungs, plus the packaging looks really badass next to the Firefly series boxset. Don’t pass this one by if you like good sci-fi flicks. Hostel – Part II (Unrated)             - This follow up to Eli Roth’s Grand Guignol-esque film is, in my opinion, far better than the original. Unlike the first film, this movie puts a human face to the unseemly monsters that pay to hack other young people up. While most will recoil and puke at the idea of a sequel that is better than its originator, I say fuck off. If you take the time, you’ll discover that Hostel – Part II is not only better, but also much more frightening because of the humanity of all involved. It provides much needed character development and a more vindicating resolution. The DVD has three different commentaries, the requisite deleted scenes, and a couple documentaries that only serve to enrich the package. While you may not like it, this movie does well to unnerve you with its probing of human evil. It is most definitely a worthwhile disc to check out at the very least. Sicko             -Michael Moore’s indictment of the United States’ health care system is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. While I could go into the film’s contents and stray for about five pages, all you need to know is that Moore applies his typical “one versus thousands” philosophy against the health care giants in this country and investigates the universal health care systems of other nations. The extras on this single disc are exceptionally copious and thought provoking. If you are one of the many who have written Michael Moore as a liberal nutbag, nothing I can say will change your mind. However, if you actually have more than two brain cells, I can give this DVD no heartier recommendation than saying that this DVD was an official entry into the Jones family library. When the children are old enough, they will be sat down and treated to all of his films. Hopefully, they will grow into true patriots who know that the meaning of the word means having to ask the tough questions of their government. La Vie En Rose             - It is almost heartbreaking that this DVD has been overlooked by most of the consumer world. This film details the life of troubled French chanteuse Edith Piaf, whose life and subsequent rise to fame is the stuff of legend. Throw in Gerard Depardieu, and you have a wonderful film. Granted, it is quite non-linear in its moments, but if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most interesting foreign films in a long time. Marion Cotillard throws out a career changing performance that will leave you breathless. The DVD throws in a featurette or two, but the real draw is the exceptionally powerful film that will not be forgotten come Oscar time. This movie is already criminally sitting in used bins at your local Blockbuster, so scoop it up while you can. Rescue Dawn             - Christian Bale does it again. Not since The Machinist has Bale done such a bang up job on creating a persona and living in it. Director Werner Herzog has covered the story of this pilot turned prisoner-of-war; but this film leaves all others in the dust. A fellow prisoner Duane, who is played by Steve Zahn, aids Bale’s Dieter Dengler on his quest for survival. Yeah, THAT Steve Zahn. Zahn has played some dumbasses before, but this role is just so riveting that I would say it alone is worth the price. There are plenty of features, including commentary, deleted scenes, and the requisite making-of documentary. If you want to really see what Batman is capable of, check it out pronto. Ingmar Bergman: Four Masterworks             - I don’t have enough room to tell you about all four movies contained in this set, released after Bergman’s untimely death this year. This box set, provided by the wonderful folks at Criterion, consists of Smiles Of A Summer Night, the Virgin Spring, Wild Strawberries, and of course The Seventh Seal. Bergman was one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, and this set shows why. Hell, even Bill and Ted cribbed off of him for Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, which is probably the only time you will ever see the two mentioned in the same paragraph. If you like movies and have a head for introspection and great performances, this box set will do you absolutely no wrong. Letters From Iwo Jima             - This movie was the second part of Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima saga. Fronted by Flags Of Our Fathers, this film provides a deeper look into another culture and the reasons they do what they do. I thought this movie was far more interesting than the safer Flags, and it houses the better performances. It is also worthy of note that this entire movie was shot with Japanese dialogue, which provides deeper immersion into the world of the film. The features are pretty standard, but this is truly an outstanding film. If you have the change, spring for the two pack. If you can only afford one, though, go with this one. Its somber photography and subtle performances are incredible to watch. Blade Runner: Ultimate Collector’s Edition             - Come on. Who didn’t expect this to turn up in this list? Whenever Ridley Scott releases a director’s cut, you’re pretty much guaranteed your money’s worth. This one, however, takes the proverbial cake. Housing the newly remastered Final Cut of the film, it also includes the feature length documentary Dangerous Days, a supplemental disc of extras, the prior THREE versions of the film (US theatrical cut, European theatrical cut, and the 1992 director’s cut), and the super-rare pre-release workprint version of the film. If this wasn’t enough, you also get a folio of production art, a miniature Spinner, and an origami unicorn figurine. This is all one hell of a package, and it’s all housed in a replica of Deckard’s briefcase. Every limited edition briefcase is numbered at 103,000, so snap up yours quickly. James Bond: Ultimate Collector’s Edition             - In a year deluged with “Ultimate Editions”, this one is, by far, the biggest. Taking each and every cinematic Bond adventure and providing it with copious amounts of features, it amasses a whopping forty-two discs worth of goodness. While the films only take up twenty-one of the discs, the other twenty-one are given over to extras. Now, let’s see your DVD collection handle that one. From Dr. No to the superb Casino Royale, every age of Bond is represented, including George Lazenby. The ungodly amount of material should have been enough to sate the interest of the Bond aficionado, but each of the films was also remastered totally. This set will test the limits of your sound system completely. The Host             - This is one of the most awesome imports ever. In what could be the catalyst that brings the giant monster movie back, a Korean family must work together to retrieve the daughter of one of the sons from the belly of a beast that was created by toxic dumping. What could have easily been a joke of a movie is unexpectedly touching with its familial roots and criticism of world events. Boon Joon-ho directs it all with a deft touch, and the movie will leave you stunned and sympathetic. Now available in a two-disc collector’s edition (man, that’s getting old…), you can see what went into the movie as well as some of the inspiration behind it. If you, like me and most of the Dork world, are gearing up for Cloverfield, you might want to check out just how much a giant monster can do in this charming Korean import. Zodiac (Two Disc Director’s Cut)             - In yet another collector’s edition entry, David Fincher’s period drama Zodiac gets even better with the new treatment. With a monstrous amount of extras, this film gets even deeper into the Zodiac mystique with other cryptic puzzles at your fingertips. The commentary is exceptional, and the movie is still marvelous. Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo are superb in this harrowing drama that takes place during the Zodiac killer’s reign of terror during the 1970s. With a superb supporting cast consisting of Gary Oldman, Brian Cox, Anthony Edwards and many more, no one could say that this movie doesn’t thrill you to the very bones. Pick it up today, and prepare to have your blood chilled.             Well, that’s about it. All of these DVDs are available for purchase today from your local retailer, so go out and make them part of your collection today. Your brain will thank me for it. If not, then you’re probably watching Jackass 2 for the thirtieth time…

Comments

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Monster Squad motherfucker. We only waited 2 decades for that to release again. I got lucky and got it for the low low price of 10 simoleons. HA