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Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Week's New DVD Releases: Midwest Tape Recommends

Every week film critic and Detroit Film Critics Society member, Kirk Baird, recommends new DVD releases for your library.

Camelot on Blu-ray
The 1967 classic musical Camelot makes its Blu-ray debut this week in a splendid-looking version that receives a fresh digital scrubbing. Written by Alan Jay Lerner and based on the successful 1960 stage musical he wrote with Frederick Loewe, Camelot is the story of good King Arthur (Richard Harris), whose noble dream of a land ruled by law and protected by a special band of knights (“might for right”) is sullied by his wife Lady Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave) and his most-trusted knight Sir Lancelot du Lac (Franco Nero) and their affair for the ages. It’s a stellar, beautiful cast blessed with the acting and vocal chops to pull off the dramatic scenes and regal musical numbers.

The transfer of the 45-year-old film to high-definition is reliably stunning. The gorgeous, Oscar-winning set designs by John Brown and the Oscar-nominated cinematography by Richard Kline, making his feature-film debut as director of photography, have never looked this vibrant, though there are the occasional lapses when the film goes grainy for a few moments. The Blu-ray, at three hours in length, is also the original theatrical release and includes the restoration of deleted scenes, dialogue, and musical numbers. It also includes a soundtrack sampler from Rhino, featuring four of the Lerner-Loewe songs. This is the definitive version of the musical, and it's the best way to celebrate “that … one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot!”

Also Out This Week

Marvel Anime: X-Men & Marvel Anime: Ironman
X-Men and Ironman go anime in two new Japanese series from Marvel-Sony. The idea was to introduce the American comic-book icons to an Asian audience, with a more adult look to the superheroes to go along with more mature stories written by veteran comic-book scribe Warren Ellis (Red). This isn’t your bland Saturday morning cartoon series. Rather, it’s an engaging and engrossing movie-ready plot sold to audiences via stylish animation that makes these familiar characters fresh again. And naturally, both series feature Japan heavily in their stories. The DVDs even include a choice of Japanese or English audio as well as subtitles. If you’re a fan of superheroes in film and TV, both Marvel Anime sets are worth a look.

Cinema Verite is a star-studded HBO film from 2011 that’s a behind-the-scenes account of the 1973 PBS documentary, An American Family, one of the first American reality TV showcases. The cast includes Diane Lane, Tim Robbins, James Gandolfini, Kathleen Quinlan, Patrick Fugit, and Lolita Davidovich.

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