Reservoir Dogs: 15th Anniversary EditionLions Gate
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)
Even though his debut film's style has been ripped off by countless directors, Quentin Tarantino's movie still feels original, proving to be a modern movie classic that will endure. Dialogue, performances, camerawork and editing are all first-rate in this 1992 masterpiece that announced the arrival of Tarantino and caused much psychosomatic ear pain whilst watching.
The film gets a newly remastered 16-by-9 widescreen presentation, just in time for that new HDTV you plan to buy this Christmas. It looks and sounds great (Tarantino's soundtrack choices are masterful), and the disc does it justice.
For me, the standout performance has always been Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink, who steals every scene he occupies. Tim Roth, as the poor gut-shot bastard, and Harvey Keitel, as his caretaker, were also remarkable. It should be noted that Roth performed the act of bleeding to death much, much more effectively than Cary Elwes did in Saw. Roth made me severely uncomfortable, as if I, too, had suffered a gut wound. Elwes just made me laugh my ass off.
Special Features: If you went out and purchased the 10th anniversary edition, you have most of the stuff featured on these two discs. The disc's commentary track is just a holdover from the earlier edition. It's also not really a commentary, but a hodgepodge of interviews with Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, Tim Roth, movie critics, etc. It's OK, but not as fun or informative as an examination of the film, and if any movie calls for that, this one does. One of the only new features is a decent but relatively short documentary entitled Playing It Fast and Loose, featuring Ain't It Cool News movie critic Harry Knowles offering his opinion of the groundbreaking film. There's also a Pulp Factoids Viewer, where text pops up at intermittent times during the film, offering Tarantino's reasons for shooting something in a particular way, funny little facts, etc. It's pretty much a substitute for the absent Tarantino commentary track. Deleted scenes (including alternate versions of the ear-cutting scene), an action figure re-enactment of the ear-cutting scene and profiles of each thug are also included. There's nothing all that earth-shattering and new, but it's a marginally good DVD for those who don't own the prior versions. For those who do, you can probably wait for the inevitable 20th anniversary edition.
The Sopranos: Season Six, Part OneHBO
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
The sixth season of The Sopranos is actually a two-parter, with the first 12 episodes having aired earlier this year, and the supposed season--and series--conclusion coming up next year.
For those who didn't plant themselves by the TV on Sunday nights, choosing to wait for the DVD, I won't give away any big secrets. I will say that the biggest development takes place in the first episode. These episodes seem to be more of a preamble to something big, rather than being something big themselves. That doesn't mean the show lost any of its greatness; it just didn't have any of the real tragedies of last season. There's some rather serious stuff with Tony and Uncle Junior, and some interesting developments with Anthony.
I'm wishing for the next few months to pass fast. (That's the mark of great entertainment: I want a period of my life to pass me by so that I may see it.) I'm thinking there will be some major fireworks in the final episodes, because I severely doubt this series will go out quietly.
Special Features: There are four cast and creator commentaries with series creator David Chase and performers like Edie Falco and Michael Imperioli. Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, doesn't participate. The commentaries are good, but that's all for features.
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection Volume FourWarner Home Video
Shorts Grades vary, but mostly A
Special Features A
DVD Geek Factor 10 (out of 10)
Of all of the continuing DVD series out there, this is definitely one of my favorites. Bugs Bunny and friends continue to get supreme treatment from Warner Bros. with this, the fourth dip into the cartoon vault.
The package is split up into four parts. Disc One is a sampling of "Bugs Bunny Favorites," including many vintage shorts (not that rushed crap that would later infiltrate Saturday-morning programming). Disc Two is titled "A Dash of Tashlin" (after animation legend Frank Tashlin), offering up a selection of Daffy and Porky cartoons. Disc Three is dedicated to Speedy Gonzales, while Four concentrates on cats, Sylvester being among them.
Special Features: As always, the discs are packed with commentaries, documentaries, vintage shorts and even a couple of controversial ones. Especially cool is "Censored," an episode of Private Snafu that has the hapless soldier character trying to mail confidential military information to his loved one back home. This is one of the shorts that was shown to soldiers during wartime as a means of making training a little more entertaining. Not surprisingly, these shorts didn't make it to the Saturday-morning slot. There's even a nearly topless girl in this one.