Ford at Fox: The Collection (Fox)
Yes, it’s expensive. And no, I haven’t actually checked out a review copy or anything like that. (I only wish.) But the DVD-format gift item to beat this year has got to be Fox’s mammoth, one-of-a-kind cataloging of this major director’s work at the studio. Is every film going to be a masterpiece? Of course not. For all I know, some of them may not even have the whiff of genius about them. But at a street price barely above $200, it’s hard to find fault with an offering of 24 films (plus a documentary) — at the very least you get a handful of stone classics like My Darling Clementine, Citizen-Kane-Oscar-stealer How Green Was My Valley, The Grapes of Wrath and Young Mr. Lincoln that put you well on the way to recouping that investment even if you hate the bulk of what’s left. Could it be better? Sure. It could be in high-definition. If it’s a hit, then such a thing could one day come to pass. And if nobody buys this, well, we can probably say goodbye to the idea of truly comprehensive home-video releases from the major-studio catalogs. And that makes it probably the most important home-video release of the year.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Ford At Fox – The Collection
Not a revelation or anything, but a solid Hong Kong crime film for anyone who’s lately lamented the apparent absence of solid crime films out of Hong Kong. (Director Johnnie To remains the go-to guy for this kind of thing.)
Buy it from Amazon.com: Exiled
Lady Chatterley (Kino)
No, not the early-1980s Sylvia Kristel softcore classic, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. This well-received French-language adaptation stars Marina Hands (The Barbarian Invasions and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) in the title role. Reviews suggest it may be unwieldy, but also rewarding — and full of sex, natch. “[Director and co-screenwriter Pascale] Ferran proves that a distinction between sensual and sexual art is worth making,” declares Jonathan Rosenbaum, somewhat cryptically. “Ferran revels in the objective correlative as a means to restore something of the novel’s archaic essence,” says J. Hoberman. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover
is, after all, a straightforward adult fairy tale about a spellbound
princess who wanders into the deep woods and discovers the enchanted
rustic cottage where the solitary Green Man makes his home.” Hmmm. “Candidly, tenderly carnal,” claims Ella Taylor, “in a way rarely seen in contemporary cinema,
where sexuality crouches, trapped like a frightened deer, between
prissiness and prurience.” Well, all right then.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Lady Chatterley (2006) (Ws Sub)
24: Season Six (Fox)
After a slam-bang four-episode opening salvo that culminated in a mushroom cloud rising above Los Angeles, the most entertaining show on TV started to stumble, heading down storyline cul-de-sacs that had to be abandoned because they led essentially nowhere, rehashing tired plot devices from previous seasons, and generally spinning the narrative wheels but only moving in tight little circles. The show’s producers promised renewed vigor in 2008 — but the WGA strike has essentially put those plans on hold. If you need a 24 fix, this will do the job, but without the crazy assurance and exhilarating melodrama of previous years.
Buy it from Amazon.com: 24 – Season Six