Christmas DVD gift guide
Boffo Box Sets
– Superman: Ultimate Collector’s Edition
For the ‘I-want-it-all!’ fan. Housed in a burnished silver metal box, this super-sensational set has 14 discs, a vintage comic repro and a coupon for five posters. On disc are seven editions of the five movies: Superman The Movie, the 1978 original and its 2000 extended version; Superman II, the original and Richard Donner’s new revised cut (the movie he would have made if he hadn’t been dumped for Richard Lester); Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (the series was dying and Christopher Reeve was looking ridiculous); plus Bryan Singer’s franchise revival, Superman Returns. Among extras is doomed George Reeves in Superman And the Mole-Men (1951) plus all of Fleischer’s gaudy 1940s cartoons. Release date is Nov. 28.
– King Kong: Deluxe Extended Edition Gift Set:
Peter Jackson loves serving his fans, and cashing in. So he repeats his Lord Of The Rings pattern with a Deluxe Extended Edition, although only 13 new minutes have been edited in. Another 38 minutes is in the deleted scenes section, along with a truly exhaustive set of extras. Like the Ring cycle, the three-disc Kong set is available in a boxed Gift Set, which offers the three-disc DVD set plus a WETA statuette of Kong climbing the Empire State building with Ann Darrow clutched tenderly in his hand. Available now.
– M*A*S*H: The Martinis & Medicine Collection
The entire M*A*S*H season-by-season series was completed this month. So it was inevitable that one of the classic American TV shows would then repackage itself into another of those total immersion sets for people who did not buy the individual seasons. This spectacular box, in a pseudo military design, contains 36 discs with everything anyone could want, including all 11 seasons on 33 discs, two discs of extra extras, plus Robert Altman’s terrific Sutherland-Gould movie that started it all in 1970. War is hell. But M*A*S*H is heaven-sent, especially in one kit bag. Available now.
– Six Feet Under: The Complete Series 2001-2005
Like Larry Gelbart’s pioneering M*A*S*H, Alan Ball’s droll series made an impact beyond the sitcom zeitgeist.
“Why do people have to die?” a mourner asks.
“To make life important!”
So it is that this dirt-brown box set, topped with fuzzy fake grass and a tombstone plaque, contains everything related to the series’ five seasons.
It is presented in memoriam and cherished by hardcore fans. Available now.
FOR OLDTIMERS (AND YOUTH SMART ENOUGH TO LOOK TO THE PAST)
– The Rogers & Hammerstein Collection
Their musicals harkened to a bygone era, and now the musicals themselves are quaintly old-fashioned. So what? That is their charm. “Somebody has to keep saying that there are beautiful meadows bathed in sunlight,” Oscar Hammerstein II says in a vintage interview. This box set contains six R&H classic titles, each in a two-disc version containing strong extras: State Fair (both the 1945 and 1962 versions), Oklahoma!, Carousel (both the 1956 version and Fritz Lang’s dark French original, a surreal 1934 drama based on the Hungarian play), plus South Pacific, The King And I and, of course, The Sound Of Music. Available now.
– Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection
Unlike Frank Capra, Sturges has been (unfairly) moved to the fringes. But he was a sometimes savage, always incisive satirist who rattled the cage of Americana with screwball comedies and political dramas. This primo seven-disc set offers seven titles from 1940-44, four of which make their DVD debut. Included are classics, such as Sullivan’s Travels, The Palm Beach Story and The Lady Eve. Just as worthy is the lesser known gem, The Great McGinty, about a Depression hobo who ascends to the state governor’s office by collaborating with crooks.
The other titles: Christmas In July, The Great Moment and the brilliant, frenetic, war-aftermath film, Hail The Conquering Hero. Available now.
– The Premiere Frank Capra Collection
The stylish Capra raised populism to a fine art in American cinema. This absolutely essential, six-disc collection has a major doc on his career and five of his all-star classics of the ’30s: American Madness (underrated and similar in theme to It’s A Wonderful Life), It Happened One Night (spectacularly won Oscars for picture, actor, actress and director), Mr. Deeds Goes To Town, You Can’t Take It With You and Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
Capra is a genre as well as a legend and his son, Frank Jr., helps to explain the legacy. Release date is Dec. 5.
– Norman McLaren: The Master’s Edition
On seven discs in a sublime box set, we get everything this Scottish-born Canadian genius ever did at the National Film Board Of Canada. Even experiments. No fan of classic animation, nor of Canadian cinema and heritage, nor of surrealistic film art, should leave this unwatched. If any proof is needed, first watch his loopy Blinkity Blank, then the live-action, Oscar-winning classic, Neighbours (as a caustic comment on aggression and war, it is as relevant now as it was in 1952). You’ll quickly catch McLaren fever and have to see more. Available now.
The Screen Legend Collection
FOR PUCKHEADS (AND DISCERNING JOCKS)
– The Rocket: Maurice Richard
Even for Leafs fans, Charles Biname’s drama about the hard life and triumphant times of the fiercely driven NHL star is fascinating. As the heart & soul of Montreal Canadiens hockey history, Richard also represented the rise of working class Francophones in an era of English paternalism or racism — and that’s all here. With subtle craft, actor Roy Dupuis captures The Rocket’s essence and the DVD extends the mythology with a tribute doc. Available now.
– Canada Russia ’72
Still the greatest spectacle in Canadian sports history, and essential to how Canada defined itself for a generation, the 1972 Summit Series led to this surprisingly good, epic-length drama. The three-disc DVD set, housed in a cool red-metal case, offers two versions. One is the broadcast cut at 184 minutes; the second is T.W. Peacocke’s slightly extended version at 193 minutes. The third disc has limited extras (missing and missed is a stats packs and actor-player bios). Available now.
– Torino 2006: Canada’s Quest For Success
It is big on sappy sentiment and official gear ads, but it is still packed with info and terrific highlights. This six-disc set covers Canada’s participation at the Winter Olympics, where Canadians earned a record 24 medals, including seven gold. The DVDs focus on each day’s events, celebrating winners and listing losers, with special intense coverage of hockey and curling. Offbeat, humanizing insights include backstage moments with Jennifer Heil — and her giggles after getting the call from the PM for winning her gold. Available now.
– South Park: The Hits: Volume 1
Included are 10 of Stone & Parker’s faves, plus four bonus episodes and the infamous damned-for-all-eternity short, The Spirit Of Christmas. Heck, I’d buy this for film buff just to share the charming (if twisted) riffs in The Return Of the Fellowship Of The Ring To The Two Towers, not to mention Trapped In The Closet and the sicko Scott Tenorman Must Die.
– Beavis And Butt-Head: The Mike Judge Collection
Speaking of sicko, Judge gives us three volumes (nine discs) of his favourite juvenile nonsense and offers his movie, Beavis And Butt-Head Do America, as a Special Collector’s Edition bonus. Available now.
– Nick Picks: Volumes 1-3
Nickelodeon packages three DVDs into a box set full of excerpts from various cartoon shows, including SpongeBob SquarePants and his prehistoric, cave-sponge episode, SpongeBob B.C. Other shows sampled range from All Grown Up to Rugrats. Available now.
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS
A selection of major titles set for release leading up to the holidays:
Superman Ultimate Collector’s Edition
A Star Is Born (1976)
The Ant Bully
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season
Miami Vice: Unrated Director’s Cut
1900: Special Collector’s Edition
Charlie Chan Collection: Volume 2
James Bond: Ultimate Edition: Volumes 3 & 4
The Devil Wears Prada
Talladega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe: Four-Disc Extended Edition
Barnyard: The Original Party Animals
Little Miss Sunshine
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Lady In The Water
The Black Dahlia
The Last Kiss
Jackass: Number Two: Unrated Edition
Dane Cook’s Tougasm
Christmas DVD gift guide