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Christmas 2011 loot part 1: DVDs

2011 December 29

Personally, while I can’t speak for everyone, I basically am in it for the presents. Heh. I mean don’t get me wrong, family and friends and togetherness and goodwill and twinkly lights and feasting and drinking and football are all fine and wonderful, but. Frankly, none of these things has changed much from year to year, at this point in my life. So what’s actually new, what’s worth stopping to take note of?

Yep, loot:

Received goods, Christmas 2011

Not to sound like a Captain Morgan ad, of course

It was a good year for loot! Perhaps something to do with middle-aged retired parents, flush with entitlement money and lacking for grandchildren on which to splurge. I don’t know. Anyway, as is now traditional, I’ll comment on the design and content of my media acquisitions. First, DVDs.

High Plains Drifter, The Roaring 20s, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, Cave of Forgotten Dreams and The Kremlin Letter

One of these things is not like the others, in many ways

Okay, starting in the upper-left: High Plains Drifter. This one is a classic. If you go looking for one, ultimate film/role for Clint Eastwood, realistically most people will probably suggest Dirty Harry. And that’s difficult to argue. But for my money, nothing beats High Plains Drifter. Eastwood as taciturn gangster, a smiling remorseless bully except for the fact that he’s got right on his side, simply rampaging through a town full of wormy lowlifes and cowards. Magnificent. Though the design of this package, by contrast, is merely adequate.

Next, The Roaring Twenties. Also a classic, arguably Cagney’s own ur-role, alongside Bogart as a smiling remorseless villain without right on his side. Again, though, a very basic package: a DVD in a box without even a chapter list. I’m somewhat surprised to find this in a plastic case, as opposed to the cardboard-panel boxes of many of my other Warner Brothers films.

Continuing to the right, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon. This is my first acquisition from, and one of my favorite entries in, the many Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. The design of these DVD packages is okay; if somewhat modest it feels appropriate to the style and era of the films themselves.

Lower-left is another first, my first blu-ray disc. Whoooo! (It’s also my first 3D blu-ray disc, through fortunately “plain vanilla” blu-ray is also included.) I haven’t watched this yet, but I’ve been waiting for Cave of Forgotten Dreams for a few years now: it’s a documentary, about Lascaux I think or another similar site of prehistoric cave paintings, and by all accounts it’s astonishing.

Finally, another long-awaited DVD release, The Kremlin Letter. I’m not entirely sure when or where I read about this, but I added it to my movies list, and then waited. And waited. Finally, this year, we got a new DVD release. I just watched it last night.

My verdict? It’s good, and certainly not disappointing, though I don’t think it’s quite a masterpiece. I can see why audiences didn’t respond to it very well, frankly; it’s a bit of a mash-up of late-60s James Bond outlandishness within a cynical, corrupt LeCarré world, and while interesting I think that above all it simply lacks for a single character to identify with. I’m kind of reminded of another nihilistic 1960s stroll through the underworld, Get Carter: though the characters in Get Carter were basically all reprehensible, Michael Caine’s charm managed to make the protagonist appealing.  Whereas The Kremlin Letter‘s Patrick O’Neal is about as wooden, and possessed of about as much charm, as a cigar-store Indian. While the resultant game of coldblooded exploitation is by no means bad, as a film, I think it was never likely to prove a huge mainstream hit, no matter how casual the drug references or sordid the sex.

The design of the DVD is nice, at least, though I think the original poster was such an arresting, graphic treatment that I might have preferred it for the case cover. It’s inside, at least, on the back of the little included booklet, which is a nice bonus. Unfortunately the design of the booklet is, otherwise, very much a journeyman desktop-publishing effort.  The typography falls just short of being a disaster, but it’s pretty bad. In this case, of course, I’m happy just to have the DVD finally. Still, a better design effort would have cost so little, it is a bit of a shame.

Next up, books and CDs.

One Response
  1. December 30, 2011

    Cave of Forgotten Dreams is supposed to be excellent! I wanted to see it in the theaters, but there wasn’t anywhere nearby playing it. I think the closest theater I found was something like an hour and a half away. Let me know if it’s still good on the small screen in 2D.

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