Burnt Offerings: MOD DVD

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits ties into the Blu-ray news we announced earlier (see our post here). It’s A&E Home Video’s Space: 1999 – 30th Anniversary Edition box set, released on DVD on July 31, 2007.

Licensed from Network/ITV in the UK, the series was first released on DVD both in the US and UK beginning in 2001 – by A&E/New Video in the States and by Network in the UK. The US release was initially done via 8 2-disc sets (4 per season). In 2002, all 8 volumes were packaged together in a “Megaset” with an exclusive DVD bonus disc that includes the short follow-on video A Message from Moonbase Alpha.

The set you see at left and below is a repackaging of that same Megaset from 2002, re-issued in 2007 for the show’s anniversary. All 17 discs carried over, along with the bonus disc, simply packaged in ultra-thin DVD slim cases. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits is a favorite of mine personally, as well as a favorite of our readers and classic Star Trek fans overall. It’s the acclaimed 2-disc Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition DVD, released by Paramount Home Entertainment in 2001.

The film was directed by the great Robert Wise, who had previously directed the Best Picture winners West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965), as well as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and who was an editor on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) at RKO early in his career. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in theaters on December 7, 1979 and this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.

As many Trek fans know, Star Trek: The Motion Picture began life as an effort to return the franchise to TV with Star Trek: Phase II, but the box office success of other science fiction films convinced Paramount to try bringing the property to the big screen. The film reunited the entire original series cast, along with newcomers Persis Khambatta and Stephen Collins. The legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith was hired to score the film, which would become among his most iconic and widely-recognized works. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today is a day many of us in the cinephile community have been eagerly awaiting: Criterion has finally launched their streaming replacement for FilmStruck, better known as The Criterion Channel.

It officially launched this morning with apps on AppleTV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS and Android. You can also view it via web browser.

The good news is, the launch seems to have gone nearly flawlessly. I checked for the Roku download shortly after midnight. Finding it not yet available, I figured it was more likely to launch early AM on the East Coast, where Criterion’s offices are located. So I went to bed and checked again when I woke up here in California. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits is one that caught the eye of more than a few of our readers in the background of photos I’ve posted of recent Retro Release Day titles. I’m speaking of ADV Films’ 4-disc Farscape: Starburst Edition DVDs!

Farscape, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 19, was a Sci-Fi Channel original series that debuted in 1999 from The Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment. An Australian-American production, the live action science fiction series was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon and starred Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, and Wayne Pygram.

The series was first released on DVD starting in 2001 by ADV Films in a regular DVD edition (with 2 episodes per set plus extras on one DVD-9 disc). This was followed in 2005 by an initial Starburst Edition release (with 6-7 episodes per set plus additional extras on 2 DVD-18 discs). Both releases presented the series in the original broadcast 1.33:1 (or 4x3) TV aspect ratio, save for Season Four which switched production to 1.78:1 (or 16x9). Audio was lossy Dolby Digital. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

We mentioned this title a few days ago, but now we can officially confirm that Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Neon will be releasing Todd Douglas Miller’s acclaimed large format documentary, Apollo 11, on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on May 14th.

From the studio’s press release:

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future ” [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents
Thursday, 28 March 2019 16:58

Retro Release Day: Ben-Hur on DVD (2001)

For today’s Retro Release Day here at The Bits, we’re looking at a 65 mm epic from director William Wyler: MGM’s Ben-Hur (1959), first released on DVD on March 13, 2001 by Warner Home Video.

Winner of 11 Academy Awards, the film stars Charlton Heston in the title role, with cinematography by Robert L. Surtees (Camera 65 process), music by Miklós Rózsa, and a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, and Sam Jaffe.

The film is renowned for its chariot race sequence, which takes full advantage of the 2.66:1 widescreen frame (70 mm prints featured 2.76:1).

Today, Ben-Hur is often considered the second greatest American epic film behind Lawrence of Arabia. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits happens to be the very first DVD title I ever purchased and it’s also one of the very first titles released on the format.

I’m talking of course of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut on DVD, released twenty-two years ago today on March 26, 1997.

The film stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, and Daryl Hannah, with cinematography by the great Jordan Cronenweth, and music by Vangelis.

This was not the first time that Blade Runner had been released in its Director’s Cut form for home viewing; it appeared on VHS and LaserDisc in 1993. It would also not be the last version of the film to reach home video. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

(As I am writing this month’s column, word spread that the world had lost Nick Redman, a man of incomparable vision and love of classic films. He was a friend of mine and this entire website. I’ll write more next time.)

Maybe it was the mustache. Or the unscripted quips. Or the genteel Southern manner.

Or just maybe it was that laugh, a bombastic cackle delivered by one comfortable in his own skin – inviting his audience gut bust with him, as though they were all in a private joke.

That’s our Burt. And he’s, unbelievably, gone. [Read on here...]

[Editor’s Note: This interview was originally posted on The Digital Bits on 5/4/01. It refers to the original and much-maligned Kubrick DVD collection release and also the better and properly remastered 2001 DVDs. It hints at future HD releases, but this was five years prior to the debut of Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD was still well over the horizon. Read it as an artifact of the period. But our admiration of Vitali has only been enhanced by the recent and terrific documentary about his life, Filmworker, not to mention his fine work on the new 4K release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, so we thought it would be fun to share this vintage interview we did with him. It’s clear just how protective he was then – and remains now – of Stanley Kubrick’s body of work. We salute him for it. All Kubrick fans owe him a great debt.]

One thing you can say for sure about Leon Vitali, is that he knew Stanley Kubrick. Vitali first came into contact with Kubrick when he was cast to play the role of Lord Bullingdon in Barry Lyndon. The two quickly struck up a friendship, and Vitali soon found himself working side-by-side with the director as his assistant and a permanent part of Kubrick’s staff. Over an association of more than 25 years, Vitali personally worked on nearly every facet of Kubrick’s films, from scripting to casting, production, laboratory supervision and advertising. He even worked on the translations of Kubrick’s films into other languages for international markets. [Read on here...]

Published in Interviews
Tuesday, 09 October 2018 11:29

Bud on Burt, plus New on Blu-ray

[What follows is a feature I wrote for The Daily Oklahoman about one of the greatest movie stars and human beings ever… Burt Reynolds]

Maybe it was the mustache. Or the unscripted quips. Or the genteel Southern manner.

Or just maybe it was that laugh, a cackle delivered by one comfortable in his own skin – inviting his audience gut bust with him, as though they were all in a private joke.

That’s our Burt. And he’s, unbelievably, gone.

Fame, according to Jeanine Bissinger, is “often conferred or withheld just as is love, for reasons and on grounds other than merits.” Burt Reynolds earned his fame with raw boned talent and insight into the business of filmed diversion. [Read on here...]

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