Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 08, 2007 Published: Feb 09, 2007 0 comments
For prolific director Michael Apted, the Up series continues to be a lifelong labor of love.

Before he embarked on a distinguished career in feature films (Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, The World Is Not Enough, and many more), director Michael Apted was part of a revolutionary British-television documentary project. It was called Seven Up, and it profiled a group of children in 1964. Apted took over from director Paul Almond starting with the first follow-up, 7 Plus Seven. He rounded up the same subjects at age 14 and has gone on to shepherd the series through to the present day. The films have become increasingly powerful for their ever-expanding scope and their ability to effectively condense entire lives of everyday citizens in a matter of minutes. 49 Up is the most recent installment, on DVD from First Run Features. All of the previous iterations are also available in an extraordinary boxed set.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
Peter Jackson not only creates elaborate special editions of his movies, he lets audiences know that bigger, better versions are in the works when the initial theatrical cuts first hit the store shelves so we can choose wisely. He did it with his Lord of the Rings trilogy and now with his King Kong remake, offering a subsequent director’s cut with new extras that complement the original release.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 0 comments
Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4
A 1950s sci-fi classic, Forbidden Planet is a futuristic spin on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Fifty years later, it remains a fun and frightening cautionary tale of fathers, daughters, and hubris, replete with flying saucers, ray guns, and other technology far beyond our own.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 0 comments
Five-Star 007
A new Bond benchmark has been set.
James Bond has saved the world time and again, but where has the appreciation gone? True, MGM Home Entertainment released those three comprehensive boxed sets a few years ago. They worked from the best possible masters available at the time and added a host of special features. But even those discs went on moratorium, relegated to big price hikes on eBay. But, now, as the culmination of two-and-a-half years of audio and video restoration by DTS, the 20 Bond films from 1962 to 2002 are available again as part of The James Bond Ultimate Edition. The four volumes include Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderball, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill (sic), Die Another Day, GoldenEye, Live and Let Die, From Russia with Love, For Your Eyes Only, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Tomorrow Never Dies, You Only Live Twice, Dr. No, Octopussy, and Moonraker. Working from the original camera negatives, John Lowry’s process has reduced the grain and generally removed dirt, in addition to digitally repairing scratches and other incidents of damage. The color has also been retimed under expert supervision. The goal was to remain authentic while making the films as visually appealing as possible to the modern eye. The discs include new DTS tracks, along with Dolby Digital 5.1, plus the original audio in most cases, although Spy is missing its theatrical mix.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 05, 2007 Published: Jan 05, 2007 0 comments
Super Hero
Christopher Reeve flies again.
Perhaps never before in the history of home video has a studio crafted months of releases upon a single theme, as Warner has in 2006, “the year Superman returns.” No doubt tying into that new feature film, all manner of Super movies and TV shows have been issued on DVD, some for the first time—new seasons of Smallville, the classic Adventures of Superman, Lois & Clark, Superboy, The Animated Series, and even the cartoon adventures of the Dog of Steel, Krypto. But we can never give enough credit to Christopher Reeve and his dual role as the impossibly awkward Clark Kent and a gentlemanly savior in a red cape. Reeve’s electric screen presence was born of classical acting training, an understanding of how to fly under his own power—from his experience as a glider pilot—and a willingness to bulk up his lean frame under the tutelage of Darth Vader himself, trainer David Prowse. The later of Reeve’s four franchise films were not an ideal stage for his inspired thespian stylings, but his characterization was a high-water mark for the timeless hero, as celebrated in Warner’s new boxed set, The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 02, 2007 Published: May 02, 2006 0 comments
Video: 5
Audio: 4
Extras: 3
Disney’s love letter to dogs everywhere, Lady and the Tramp remains a sweet, funny adventure. This new 50th Anniversary Edition replaces the 1999 movie-only release, extensively restored, remixed, and remastered.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 02, 2007 Published: Dec 02, 2006 0 comments
Dream Street
Welcome to their
Nightmare…again. This new and greatly improved infinifilm edition of A Nightmare on Elm Street reminds me that New Line had other blockbuster franchises before the reign of hobbits and snaggletoothed British spies. Director Wes Craven’s imaginative script struck a nerve with audiences who were growing tired of contemporary horror flicks. He introduced us to the iconic Freddy Krueger, a supernatural murderer relegated to attacking his young victims in their sleep, where no one can protect them from his knife-enhanced fingers. Elm Street also marked the big-screen debut of a baby-faced boy next door named Johnny Depp.
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
Ready-made living-room multimedia.

We're down with entertainment PCs here at Home Theater. For those of you who are ready to share the joy, there are basically two ways to join the party. For the hands-on approach, we've written about specific best-of-the-best audio and video cards and other devices that you can plug into your own custom-built box. But, for some readers, personal success has brought with it the notion of luxury. Companies like HP are only too happy to remove the guesswork from the equation and pre-assemble a bundle for you, which you can purchase with one phone call or just a few clicks online. Their Pavilion Media Center TV m7580n HTPC is just such a system.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
Welcome to the age of Audistry.

My office—cubicle, actually—is in Manhattan, so I get it: Despite your love of movies and music, some readers either don't want or just can't deal with a full array of five loudspeakers plus a subwoofer. Rather than settle for simple stereo (and I mean no disrespect to John Atkinson and his Stereophile crew down the hall), some overachieving sub/sat systems add often proprietary processing techniques to simulate sprawling surround sound. But what if newly released signal-processing algorithms offered so much control over the listening experience that they could turn a budget home-theater-in-a-box into a sound lab of sorts, allowing you to experiment with a previously impossible milieu of realistic audio illusions?

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
One of Hollywood's most successful directors, Richard Donner is also a damned nice guy.

After years in television—The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island—director Richard Donner went on to launch several major film franchises, starting with The Omen in 1976. Two years later, his Superman made Hollywood history. But few knew that he'd completed much of what wound up on screen for the sequel, Superman II, even though he would be abruptly replaced by director Richard Lester. Donner has finally returned by popular demand to complete his version, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (on DVD from Warner Brothers) and make every Superfan's dream come true.

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