Monday, May 14, 2007

hello, folks

That's right, Shelfers. It's that time again- time for our weekly foray into the hot picks in DVDs, music, books and television for the week. We've done all the legwork so you don't have to; and just because we like you. And if you checked out our DVD preview last week, then this week's Top Shelf Pick should be no surprise.

Top Shelf Pick of the Week:
Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection
As our regular readership knows, I've been looking forward to this set for a long time. Finally, spread across two DVDs, are all 24 of the theatrical shorts from MGM Studios, 1943 to 1958. All of the Droopy, Wolf, Red, Spike and/or Butch you can handle. The shorts have all been remastered and are unedited. That means that even some of the offensive-by-today's-standards gags are still there. Also included are several features including a documentary retrospective and a "gag reel" of some of Droopy's best moments. The price is right: anywhere from around 20 to 25 bucks depending on your retail outlet of choice. This set is a no-brainer, must have; and if you'll stay tuned, we'll have a full review of the Droopy set later this week.

Becket is the story of two friends separated by honor and power. The film tells of the famous friendship between English King Henry II (played by Peter O'Toole, who would play him again in The Lion in Winter) and Thomas à Becket (Richard Burton). When the Catholic church's leaders push Henry for dominance and more control in England, The King appoints his carousing buddy Thomas as Chancellor, and eventually the Archbishop of Canterbury. What Henry doesn't anticipate, is that Becket will take his position seriously and refuses to act as agent of the King. It is this conflict and struggle for power that leads to Becket's famous murder. This is Becket's first appearance on DVD, and seems to have received excellent treatment. I am especially looking forward to the commentary by star Peter O'Toole. For an excellent review, check out DVD Savant.

Seraphim Falls
Several months ago, I happened to notice an online ad for this films. I like both Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnon, and I am big fan of the western genre. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued. However, as soon as I started poking around trying to find a release date, the next thing I knew it was in limited release and then vanished, only to come out on DVD later. That is usually not a good sign for a film. However, this still looks really good, and the buzz of some of the critic and audiences has been overall positive. Seraphim Falls is a classic manhunt western; a post-Civil War story told against the backdrop of the beautiful, but savage west. I look forward to seeing it for myself. Of course, we'll report back to The Shelf on our impressions.

M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
I've really enjoyed re-watching this series on TV Land as of late. When I was younger, I remember watching the show and not really understanding half of it. Somehow, I still enjoyed it (my favorite is still Col. Sherman Potter) and knew that the finally episode was a special thing. After all, it had been on television for as long as I could remember. Since I've been re-watching the series, I feel like age has made a difference. I understand the writing more, the humor reaches me more, and I have a greater appreciation for it's innovations in storytelling. Yes, sometimes it can be a little preachy and a little cheesy, but over it still stands the test of time as a landmark television show. The seasons sets have been coming out for a little while now, but this is the historic final feature length episode. Also included in the 3 disc set are bloopers, the M*A*S*H 30th reunion, documentaries and more.

The Josephine Baker Collection
Kino's box set of some of Josephine Baker's best known films looks like quite the catch for fans of Baker and film history buffs. Kino is well known for their sets of shorts from Stan Laurel or Charly Chase or older films. The fact that they are able to get these films out there to fan and students of film history alike is important. I support their efforts and have enjoyed the previous Stan Laurel set. Included are three of her French films: Princesse Tam-Tam, Zou Zou and Siren of the Tropics.

Dolores O'Riordan: Are You Listening?
Dolores O'Riordan is the voice of the popular, mega-selling group from Ireland, The Cranberries. Her voice is distinctive and original, and I have always enjoyed her music. Now she has come out with a solo project and while she is trying to pull away from The Cranberries, her voice and wonderful lyricism is all there. Standout songs include the tracks: Ordinary Day, When We Were Young and Stay with Me. I've been listening to the CD on AOL Music, where you can listen to the whole CD for free as well. Try it out this week and you'll be buying it soon.

Patriot Battles
There are perhaps thousands of volumes on the military aspects of American wars (The Civil War probably has the distinction of having the most). And a good many of them are dull, dull, dull. Believe me, I know. I've trudged through quite a few. As dull as they can be, the information is essential to gain further insight and understanding into the wars and the lives of the soldiers. This new book from a former editor of Military Book Club, Michael Stephenson, does his best to present an essential one volume military history of The American Revolution without being dull. The book is separated into two sections; the first section deals with the "Nuts and Bolts" of the war, and the second section goes into several major battles. Maps, charts and a lot of military information is included, but so are anecdotes of the men and women behind the war.

Turner Classic Movies
This month, TCM also celebrates the 100th birthday of yet another star, Laurence Olivier. There is so much great stuff going on this month on TCM, it can be hard to keep up. But don't worry, Uncle Loophole is here for you, giving you the highlights and the essentials.

May 15th:
It's a day for Olivier: Pride And Prejudice (1940), Wuthering Heights (1939), Hamlet (1948), Sleuth (1972) and The Battle Of Britain (1969).

May 16th:
Today is the premiere of TCM's newest documentary on the history of the Cannes Film Festival: Bienvenue Cannes (2007). Stay tuned- we'll be back with a review of the documentary tomorrow. Check out our take before you can check it out! Also tonight are some excellent Cannes winners: The Cranes Are Flying(1957), Blow-Up (1966), Viridiana (1961) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974).

May 17th:
More Cannes winners: The Mystery of Picasso (1958), Never On Sunday (1960) and Robert Mitchum in Crossfire (1947).

May 18th:
More Frank Capra than you can shake a stick at: You Can't Take It With You (1938) , It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Lost Horizon (1937) and Arsenic And Old Lace (1944).

May 19th:
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Ball Of Fire (1941), and Brando in Guys And Dolls (1955) .

May 20th:
The Glenn Miller Story (1954), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Far Country (1955), and The Wonderful Country (1959).

Well, that's all for this week's Roundup. Hopefully, we've been able to stir through the morass of entertain and information and allow the true winners to shine through. And don't forget: we have some more great stuff coming up this week on The Shelf. Tomorrow we'll have a review of the new documentary premiering on TCM: Bienvenue Cannes. Later in the week, we'll have a review of the new Tex Avery's Droopy and an article on one of the most lasting movie stars of all time. Stay tuned!

Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.

Fetch me my Winchester, Sam-I'm a-ridin' fer Red Rock!

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