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DVD Releases for May 04, 2004

May 3rd, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. There was again an excellent mix of wide releases, limited releases, older films and TV on DVD. And because of the wide section, there should be something for everyone, and for me it's Gilmore Girls - Season 1 - (Buy from Amazon), which is my DVD pick of the week.

The Bernie Mac Show - Season 1 - (Buy from Amazon)
The third season isn't even over yet but the first season is coming out on DVD tomorrow. There are not enough episodes to go into syndication but the first season is coming out on DVD tomorrow. This is a huge change in how most shows work. Syndication is where the big money is, so the fact that it is being released on DVD first shows how important the TV on DVD market has become. We're not quite at the point where the DVD release can pay for a show entirely, but we're getting closer.

Calendar Girls - (Buy from Amazon)
Based on a true story about a group of middle aged women who pose nude for a calendar to raise money. It became a bit of a sleeper hit last December but may have suffered from the inevitable comparisons to The Full Monty. The reviews were excellent, but the DVD release is a little light on special features. I would have enjoyed a commentary track with some of the principle actors.

Chasing Liberty - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
A bad movie which was largely ignored when it was released in theatres earlier in the year. The DVD does have a few extras, but not enough to make it worth picking up.

Elephant - (Buy from Amazon)
A day in the life of a school that is the scene of a school shooting. While the reveiws are mostly positive, the lack of depth may leave some viewers cold. It is stylish, but if you are looking for answers to the big question of why, you will have to look elsewhere.

Gilmore Girls - Season 1 - (Buy from Amazon)
Despite being one of the best-written shows on TV, this show has never been nominated for an Emmy and only one Golden Globe nomination. Absolutely unforgivable. The first season is being released on DVD with more than a few extras. There are extras like making-of documentary, deleted scenes and a featurette on Gilmore-isms, the little witticisms the show is known for. One of the most unique features is for the episode "Rory's Dance" that has Pop-Up facts throughout the episode.

Girl with a Pearl Earring - (Buy from Amazon)
One of many independent films released last year with an eye towards award season. This one starred Scarlett Johansson, who is quickly making a name for herself. The reviews are more than a couple of steps above the average film and it earned a tremendous amount at the box office for an independent movie. But even with that success the DVD is nearly barren of special features.

Herbie the Love Bug - 3 Movies - (Buy from Amazon: Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo or Herbie Goes Bananas)
With Lindsay Lohan set to star in the upcoming Disney remake, Herbie: Fully Loaded, it's no surprise that the sequels are being released on DVD. What is surprising is how early they are being released; filming hasn't even begun on the latest addition to the Herbie franchise. Given the timing and the lack of special features, I wouldn't be surprised if these films had Special Editions released closer to the film's August 2005 release date.

The Last Samurai - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
This film has a very strange run; it made more in Japan than it did domestically. It is very rare for a Hollywood film to do that. Considering when it was released it's plain to see this film was meant to win awards, however, the reveiws were a little weak for that. There are plenty of extras on a second disc many of which deal with the real history involved in the story. Interestingly, there are two other samurai related DVD releases this week and this one is not at the top of my , either of which are a m

Party of Five - (Buy from Amazon)
Party of Five was one of the first of a many teen dramas like Roswell and Dawson's Creek that aired during the same time period. This show launched the careers including one of the stars of this week's number one movie, Lacey Chabert, so the timing is probably not a coincidence. Lots of extras including a nine part making-of documentary that should please the core fans as well as common features like commentaries on selected episodes. And if this set sells well, maybe they'll release the spin-off Time of Your Life on DVD as well.

Peter Pan - (Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan and Scan)
Despite very fine reviews this big-budget live action adaptation of Peter Pan was almost ignored by movie-goers when it was released in December. It will need a very strong showing at the home market to help the studio salvage its investment. Fortunately, the studio didn't just dump the movie with a few extras it went all out with this release. In fact, it has the best special features of any DVD on this list. If you have kids in the appropriate age range this DVD should be worth at least a rental.

The Triplets of Belleville - (Buy from Amazon)
With most North American studios concentrating on digital animation more and more of the 2-D animated movies will come from foreign sources like this one. And that's a shame since when it is done well, 2-D animation still has a place and can do things computers just can't. And this film is done very, very well. Its theatrical run was moderately successful, but its real bread and butter will come from the home market. And with 2 Oscar nominations a plenty of extras for a limited release, the film deserves a bit more success.

Samurai Jack - Season 1 - (Buy from Amazon)
A highly stylized cartoon that deals with the adventures of a samurai who was hurled far into the future by his arch-nemesis. Since the animation, and indeed the writing are so stylized, the cartoon will tend to divide audiences and is not for everyone.

The Samurai Trilogy - (Buy from Amazon)
One of the most important trilogies in Japanese film history. If you are a fan of Samurai movies and were thinking of picking up The Last Samurai, I would suggest picking this box set up instead. Even with no special features, these films are a cut above anything Hollywood has done with regards to the Samurai and their way of life.

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Filed under: Video Releases, The Last Samurai, Mean Girls, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Peter Pan, Calendar Girls, Chasing Liberty, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Les Triplettes de Belleville, Elephant