Our Letters to Santa, 2004
Chief Justice Michael Stailey
December 24th, 2004
This has been a wonderful year for the entire DVD Verdict family. We are eternally thankful for our health, our family, our friends, and the ability to do what we love on a daily basis. That being said, my wish this Christmas is to give something back to a world that has given us so much.
In an era where the arts are considered little more than an unnecessary luxury by our federal, state, and local governments, our creative passions and the tools with which to develop and channel them are being lost at an alarming rate. While we do not have the resources necessary to single-handedly fund these programs, we can leverage DVD Verdict's visibility and voice to raise awareness and promote the amazing work of independent filmmakers from around the globe.
Hollywood has a very efficient and well-funded marketing and public relations system in place for the mainstream films we promote, analyze, and discuss regularly. However, there are very few resources available to filmmakers outside the industry mainstream. It is my wish that DVD Verdict step to the forefront and champion the work of these artists, providing a voice to share their stories with a world that might not ever be exposed to them otherwise.
As our world continues to shrink, it becomes that much more important for all us to understand, appreciate, and respect our friends and neighbors. One of the most effective ways of doing so is through shared experience, which film does so well.
Santa, please spread this news to the farther reaches of the globe and inspire these artists by letting them know DVD Verdict wants their work to be seen, heard, and experienced.
As a jaded pre-teen growing up in the excruciatingly boring suburbs of Washington, D.C. in the mid-1980s, I lived for Saturday nights. You see, I had this great group of friends who led very exciting lives: dating more men than they could possibly count, creating questionable Swedish appetizers for charity dinners, and counting on one another when life got tough. They shared a swinging bachelorette pad and often stayed up late at night eating cheesecake and talking over their lascivious sexual histories.
Okay, okay, so you know by now that I'm talking about the newly released first season DVD collection of The Golden Girls. I have no idea why, at the age of twelve, I found them so fascinating. I mean, they were old for one thing. They could be cranky—especially Dorothy and Sophia. Or dumb sometimes, like Rose. Or haughty, like Blanche. There was just something about the chemistry between the four of them that made me tune in each week; even at twelve I could appreciate the joy the characters felt to be living in a lush, tropical atmosphere, free to come and go as they pleased, unburdened by many of the stresses younger people face.
Sure, Rose was always worried about her job, Blanche had a mortgage to pay, Dorothy struggled as a substitute teacher, and Sophia told long-winded stories about growing up in Sicily and lived in fear that Dorothy would reunite with her ex-husband, Stan. But they had it under control. There was nothing they couldn't resolve with a cheesecake, a pow-wow around the kitchen table, and 22 minutes. Or 44, if you count the two-part episodes. In fact, the writing still stands as some of the best ever in sitcom history. Sure, there are a few dated references to Solid Gold dancers and George H.W. Bush as the (then) President, but the themes—the search for love, getting along with family, and the bonds of friendship—were universal. Why else would the series be attracting new fans every week as it runs endlessly on Lifetime?
And speaking of Lifetime, that's another reason I want to begin collecting The Golden Girls on DVD. They don't show my favorite episodes enough, and this is why I'm so excited the series is finally being released. I love the episode where Sophia claims all she does each day is buy a nectarine, when in reality she's leading a boardwalk band, advocating for other seniors in the produce section of the grocery store, and volunteering at the local hospital. Or the one where Rose has a near-death experience that turns her into a party animal who temporarily moves in with some hipper, younger roommates. Or even better, the episode where Rose dates a dwarf and Blanche cheerfully offers him "shrimp."
So please, please, please bring me Season One of The Golden Girls, Santa. I've been a pretty good girl all year, with a few exceptions that don't bear mentioning in this letter. And if you're feeling especially generous, you might also throw in the North and South boxed set as well, so that I can take a gander at cutie-pie Patrick Swayze in that tight military uniform. I think Blanche would approve, don't you? Thank you for being a friend.
I'm sadly aware that I haven't always qualified for the "Nice" list this year. It's not like there weren't extenuating circumstances, though—you try going on a low-carb diet and see how cranky you get. (Not that I'm suggesting you should go on a diet. Your embonpoint is part of your charm, and after all, your weight is between you and your doctor; I just hope they have a good cardiac unit up at the North Pole, that's all.) But as I was saying, even if I have occasionally shown signs of "Naughty" temperament, I'm sure you're big enough—oops, I mean magnanimous enough—to overlook it, and send me just one DVD this Christmas that I really, really want.
Actually, it doesn't exist yet, but I'm sure your elves can remedy that. The DVD I yearn to see under the Christmas tree this year is Hold Back the Dawn, a classic from 1941 starring Olivia de Havilland, Charles Boyer, and Paulette Goddard. Now, I'm sure your busy schedule has probably prevented your seeing it on any of its rare cable-TV airings, and unfortunately it's never even been released on VHS, so you are probably not the only person never to have seen this wonderful film. It's a romantic drama in which Boyer's character, a European gigolo fallen on hard times, marries an innocent American schoolteacher (de Havilland) so that he can get into the U.S. and reunite with Paulette Goddard, his old flame. Of course, he ends up falling in love with his bride, but Goddard won't give up her man that easily, and gentle de Havilland must fight for her happiness. It's got a colorful setting in a Mexican border town, the three leads turn in wonderful performances, and the screenplay by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder is smart, funny, and touching.
Now that I think about it, though, I can't stop with just one film; classic movies are like potato chips, and you can't have just one. Olivia de Havilland is seriously underrepresented on DVD, anyway, so let's make this a boxed set. We'll add her Oscar-winning performance in The Heiress and her underrated gothic romance My Cousin Rachel, both of which definitely deserve DVD releases. Throw in a nice biographical featurette, a still gallery, trailers, maybe even the footage of her accepting her statuette for The Heiress, and it'll be perfect.
As I said, I realize I may not have a lot of pull this year, but think about it—won't this be a lovely Christmas present for Miss de Havilland as well as me? And I'm sure she's on the "Nice" list. Besides, Christmas is the season of hope—and the release of more classic movies like these, especially the lesser-known ones, would bring hope to the hearts of classic-movie lovers around the world.
In 1988, a little movie was birthed into this world that would redefine the sci-fi/musical/comedy genre. Voyage of the Rock Aliens stormed onto maybe three or four screens and trumpeted the absolute pinnacle of "aliens-searching-the-universe-for-rock-and-roll" movies.
Anchored by Pia Zadora's powerful crooning, Craig Sheffer's disturbing writhing, and more dispensable '80s trash-music than should be allowed by United Nations Security Council mandates, Voyage did what nothing else could: it featured a Jackson other than Michael besmirching the family name the most. That's right, Jermaine himself drops in for a superfluous and moronic music video, the most noteworthy aspect of which being Pia Zadora's pancaked make-up job and lethal hair-do.
The flick teems with cameos (Michael Berryman! Ruth Gordon!) and boasts musical spots utterly egregious, yet undeniably infectious. Pure surreal nonsense that demands a digital treatment. And I want a commentary track by director James Fargo detailing what exactly his ingredients are for his homemade LSD. Folks, this is a movie about six aliens flying around in a guitar-shaped spaceship that enter a high school Battle of the Bands and kill a sea monster from Lake Eerie.
Please find a way to make this happen.
'Sup, Red? Long time, no talk.
I realize you've had a busy year, what with the election and all. You've been preoccupied making sure that Martha Stewart does hard time and giving Lindsay Lohan a career. You've had your mittened hands full realizing the wishes of all the Jediphiles of Christmas past, seeing to it that The Star Wars Trilogy finally made its way onto DVD. And I appreciate that—really, I do—but guess what? You're not done pulling strings with the folks over at Fox just yet, because Satisfaction is still not available on DVD.
Remember Satisfaction? The 1988 musical/drama/comedy/romance with future Academy Award nominees/winners Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts, but helmed by sitcom third-stringer Justine Bateman? She stars as Jennie Lee, lead singer of chick rock group (plus one male—albeit pretty effeminate—keyboardist, played by Tank Girl's Scott Coffey sans mutant kangaroo makeup), The Mystery, who are hired for one magical summer as a beach club's house band. That's right—it's the "one magical summer" movie, essentially an update of Where the Boys Are, in which the journey to adulthood is made in the span of three short months. We get every teen-summer-movie girl cliché: in addition to Justine Bateman's (that's Mallory to you) brainy leader, there's Billy (voice-of-Jem Britta Phillips), the wild one; Daryl (Julia Roberts), the boy-crazy one; and Mooch (Trini Alvarado, The Frighteners), the leather-jacketed tough girl. We also get Liam Darkman Neeson playing former-hitmaker-turned-beach-club-owner Martin Falcon. Please, Santa, take a moment to let that baby soak in—his name is Martin Falcon, possibly the greatest movie name this side of Johnny Utah. How is this thing not out yet?
Few films feature so many totally contrasting tones colliding into one another with such reckless abandon; sure, there's the more serious May/December romance and substance abuse plots, but those are offset by limitless musical montages and a Benny Hill-inspired volleyball sequence. It's the best-slash-worst-slash-best again of both worlds! I mean, how many other teen films start off with both a swearfinger-waving, fist-pumpingly rebellious commencement speech and a knife fight?
Look, Santa, I'm well aware of Spinal Tap. I've heard the Commitments. I know Ellen Aim and the Attackers, The Wonders, Stillwater, and The Barbusters. Heck, he first movie I reviewed for this site was Prey for Rock and Roll, which, as far as I'm concerned, ripped off Satisfaction note for glorious note. None of these hack jobs can hold a candle to The Mystery, the single finest fictional rock band ever committed to celluloid. Maybe it's because their repertoire consists solely of the Covers That Time Forgot ("Mr. Big Stuff"! "C'mon Everybody"!), or because only one of the five band members demonstrates even the slightest familiarity with their respective instrument. It's my theory, though, that Satisfaction is the greatest rock movie ever made because of Justine Bateman's decision to actually sing all of her own lead vocals. It's as though she's having the sweetest sounding stroke you've ever heard.
Want proof of Satisfaction's brilliant mix of rock n' roll, junior high school-girl maturity, and Justine Bateman in biker shorts? Check out the scene where Jennie Lee serenades a goo-goo eyed Falcon with the poetry of the film's only original composition, "Talk to Me":
"Like the wind talks to the trees,
Yeah, that's right. Suck on that, Bob Dylan.
Please, Santa. You've already denied me John Kerry—I think you owe me this much. Put Satisfaction on DVD. It's time we were able to witness Justine's pants-less fireside seduction in a restored and pristine digital transfer. To allow her torchy rendition of "This is Dedicated to the One I Love" to wash over us in magnificent Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. To finally view Julia Roberts unwittingly degrading, 24-hour "if this van's a-rockin'" sexual marathon in its original 1.85:1 widescreen, the way it was meant to be seen.
While we're at it, how 'bout some extras? Perhaps a commentary by a reunited Mystery? A "Where Are They Now?" featurette? I mean, we know what's become of bass player Julia Roberts—she's busting up marriages and cranking out twins with comical names. But what about those that didn't go on to become the biggest movie star in the world, like tomboy drummer Trini Alvarado or troubled-alkie-guitarist Britta Phillips? Sure, she went on to form the indie band Luna, but they're just the Wings to Mystery's Beatles. I need to know the important stuff, like if she's still got the attack Doberman she rescues at the end of the movie (sure, the dog has got to be, like, 112 in dog years, but a boy can dream, can't he?) And I wouldn't mind a "Jump to a Song" feature—that way I don't have to scan through half the movie before The Mystery's cover of "Knock on Wood," where I can see a miniskirted Justine Bateman jump up and down, wailing the hell out of a cowbell. I've got a fever, and that's the only cure.
So please, Mr. Kringle, don't make me order that VHS copy off of Amazon I've had my eye on—it's embarrassing, like the guy who works for Pepsi getting caught drinking a Coke…or…I don't know…milk. Give my taped-off-of-cable version a break—it's earned it after this many years. Make Satisfaction number one on your "To Do" list, and get it out on DVD already. And no tricks—let's make sure it has the original title, Santa. Don't try to fool me with any of this "renamed-for-NBC-network-airing-Girls of Summer" crap. I want the real deal.
One more thing—could you please see to it that no new format takes over the market for the next few years? I've got way too much already invested in my collection, and "Blue-Ray Verdict" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
Thanks, Santa. Stay sweet.
I've Got Cookies,
I've been a bad boy this year, and bought way too many DVDs. I deserve coal or at least some clothes to make up for it! But you know me, always asking for more. I'd really like to see a bunch of new releases under my tree. Santa, I know these aren't in stores yet…but get the elves on a production team and please send me:
Twin Peaks: the second Season and the Pilot Episode—I have this lovely set of the first season with great picture and sound plus a ton of extras. But it feels hollow without what came before and after it. I need more Agent Dale Cooper in my life!
Blade Runner—Ridley Scott seems to have multiple editions of every movie he's ever directed, and yet one of his cult classics is still just a bare bones, no extras, "not so special" edition. I know there are rights issues, but this seems wrong.
Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2—Where are the extras and commentaries? Please get me a collector's set of these post haste.
And if you could please leave switches and coals to all the studios that like to milk me for all my hard-earned cash with double dips? I really don't need another Anchor Bay edition of Halloween or Manhunter ever again. Why do they always re-release their "limited" editions over and over? This year the "double dip" is out of control. Why do I have two copies of Daredevil, Hellboy, and Underworld? Couldn't they have done these on one release? Hammer in their reptile brains "one and we're done!"
Judge Brett Cullum
How are you? I hope that all is forgiven in regard to that unfortunate "burnt cat" episode from earlier this year. In my defense, I can only say that I sincerely thought that the device was a pet carrier, and not a toaster oven. Surely you won't fault me for a simple mistake? However, on to other matters. After mulling over a number of enticing options to fill out the empty spaces under my tree (and since you already gave me a Bobby Darin biopic), I've settled on a television series that I'd like to see on DVD: The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
Brisco was a western, certainly—but it was also so much more. The show featured Bruce Campbell (star of the cult-favorite Evil Dead series and writer of the outrageously funny If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor) as the titular Brisco County, Jr., a Harvard law graduate who turns bounty hunter after his father, a legendary US Marshall, is gunned down by the evil John Bly (Billy Drago,The Untouchables). Brisco vows to bring in Bly and his gang—dead or alive—but faces some stiff competition from a rival bounty hunter, the volatile Lord Bowler (Julius Carry, The Last Dragon). The show delivered a blend of comedy, adventure and science fiction (think The Wild, Wild West meets The X-Files, with a sprinkling of Maverick for flavor), with a roster of colorful and strangely satirical supporting characters to pull from. Chief among these were Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson), the rather stiff lawyer who represents the group of wealthy men that back Brisco's quest; Dixie Cousins, a bathycolpian saloon singer and Brisco's sort-of girlfriend; and nutty Professor Albert Wickwire (John Astin, The Addams Family), who was a man ahead of his time.
As was the primary bad guy, super villain John Bly—but in a different way. Bly's obsession was not with Brisco, but with a mysterious golden orb that was…what, exactly? A strange invention? A mystical artifact? Some sort of extraterrestrial technology? Ah, but that would be telling. Bly was supported by a crew of henchmen that were every bit as colorful as Brisco's buddies. My personal favorite was Mad Pete Hutter, a strange, twitchy little outlaw who once stopped a train by rolling a boulder onto the tracks and painting a false set on the front of it, receding into the distance—all the while arguing the merits of the burgeoning French Impressionist movement versus other, more traditional schools of painting.
Over the course of one season, Brisco took satirical swipes at any and everything, spoofing everything from The Godfather to Agatha Christie novels. The show's rapid-fire mix of thrills and laughs made for one of the best offerings from any network in the early '90s, and it still remains for many a favorite Friday-night memory. So with the recent proliferation of TV shows on DVD—Seaquest, for cryin' out loud?!?—could someone please find it in their heart to bring this much-loved and sorely-missed show out of the vaults and into the collections of the People? If you have any influence on the executive types, Santa—use it!
And later, we'll talk about how to get Police Squad! on DVD, too.
Merry Christmas! How have you been? I know you've been watching, and I hope you'll agree that I've been pretty good this year. Well, except for the mayonnaise incident, but come on, those were extenuating circumstances. I hope you won't hold that against me; I would think if the Fire Marshall could understand, so will you.
I do hope you have a chance to stop by on Christmas Eve. If you do bring me anything, here is my list. I've picked mostly DVDs this year, since they're light and you can fit more of them in the sleigh.
This year I want:
1. Complete season sets of Mystery Science Theater 3000. While I know that Sandy Frank, copyright lawyers, and other grinches do make such a thing unfathomable, surely you can understand my wish to have a worthy package for the greatest TV show in the history of western civilization.
2. I'd also like to see even more emphasis on TV shows on DVD. With Nick at Nite now moving away from Mr. Ed and more toward The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I'm going to need to find different ways of enjoying my favorite reruns. Getting Alf and Green Acres on disc is a great start, but where is Get Smart or Duckman?
3. While we're at it, let's cut down on "Special Edition" deluxe box sets that are merely an aesthetic improvement upon the disc-only release. I have no problem spending the extra money for a Special Edition of a worthy movie, but that money should pay for commentaries, deleted scenes, documentaries, and other things that provide insight into the movie. I don't plan to spend an extra $20 just to get a film cell and Certificate of Authenticity.
If all this is too much, I'm still quite grateful for what's available now. The past few years have brought us fantastic DVD packages. Examples are plentiful, but I would certainly be happy to come downstairs, look under my tree, and find the Back to the Future Trilogy, the Star Trek Director's Editions, or the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. Contemporary films like Spider-Man 2 and Big Fish also remind us about what a blessing DVD can be to a good movie. For all I could wish for, I know I've already been given seven times more. Hey, let's face it: with an ample supply of great DVDs, I'll probably be too busy to do anything worthy of bumping me off the "good" list next year.
I'm sure you'll have no difficulty finding the house; you've never had trouble before. There will be milk and cookies, as well as some eggnog and possibly some leftover General Tso's chicken. Your company will be greatly appreciated.
P.S. Is it too late to ask that 2005 be free of bad movies based on old TV shows? Yeah, I thought so. Just checking.
Well, here we are at yet another Christmas season—although I have to admit that I'm not holding out much hope this year. Not that I've entirely lost faith in the distinctive "Santa" brand of festive magic, you understand, but as all of my recent Christmas DVD requests to you have gone unanswered, I've begun to wonder if you've given up the wish fulfillment business for the more lucrative world of cola endorsement.
That's right: if you'll check your records, you'll notice that I'm still awaiting the hoped-upon Black Belt Jones: Ultimate Edition I asked for in 2002, and last year's request for A Pistol for Ringo resulted only in a Region 2 release, which now that I think about it, really seems more like a cruel joke than anything.
To make it a little easier on you this year, I'm asking for a DVD of a film that has been at the top of many lists since DVD debuted, a title long-neglected by Warner Brothers and ripe for a Criterion edition: John Boorman's quintessential 1967 color-noir, Point Blank. Only ever available in a horrendous pan and scan VHS edition, this is a film that thousands of lucky boys and girls would love to find in their stockings on Christmas morning. Heck, most would probably be willing to settle for a bare bones 2.35:1 anamorphic release, though I'd personally love to see a commentary by Boorman, the vintage promotional featurette "The Rock," and documentaries about the locations, star Lee Marvin, and Johnny Mandel's score.
Granted, it's probably not cost effective for the elves to spend so much time on one unique request when they're so desperately needed on the assembly line to crank out wooden trucks, jack-in-the-boxes, and PlayStations, but as you've already dropped the ball twice in a row, now is definitely the time to break out one of those Christmas miracles I keep hearing about so often on animated holiday specials.
Can't beat the real thing,
Would you please deliver these two DVDs under my Christmas tree, or stuff them into my stocking over the fireplace.
The first is Vicente Aranda's Amantes (Lovers) (1991).
Aranda recreated the true story of a genuine and poignantly tragic love triangle that took place during Franco's regime in 1995 Spain.
There is a pan & scan VHS release, but the film was shot in Panavision, so José Luis Alcaine's spectacular cinematography has been severely compromised. An anamorphic DVD transfer would be most appreciated.
The acting by Jorge Sanz, and Maribel Verdú is top-notch. To be honest, I tend to shy away from foreign films, because I've learned that subtitles don't always deliver the inuendo of the real dialogue spoken on screen. But, in "Lovers," the subtitles have a noirish ring, as if they were written by James M. Cain or Jim Thompson.
The second is the Amantes: Unrated Director's Cut. Why would young Sanz dump his beautiful, same-age girlfriend Verdú, in favor of older-woman Victoria Abril? Well, Abril is also beautiful, more seductive—and she knows sexy and seductive tricks you won't see, unless, you've been to a Tiajuana or Old San Juan whorehouse.
I have both versions on VHS, and Victoria Abril's sexual seduction of Jorge Sanz renders the R-Rated unbelievable. The Un-Rated version, however, Abril hits all of Sanz's hotspots, and lures him him.
How've you been? I've been a good boy this year, pretty much. Well, except for sneaking some of the cake when Jimmy came over to play. And I snuck some Halloween candy in bed, too. Y'know, it took me three days to get the Sugar Babies out of my hair. But I never hit anyone this year, except my sister but that's because she spit on me first—don't tell her I told you. And I've tried not to annoy my big brother even though he always gives me the broken Pop-Tarts and saves the whole ones for himself. It's not easy being a little brother—but I don't want a little brother for Christmas, okay? Anyway, I think I've been pretty good so I go ahead and ask for something this year.
I guess you know I watch a lot of TV on Saturday morning but I always seem to miss my favorite shows. I get mad when my brother and sister push me out of the way to watch their stupid programs like The Impossibles or Mr. Magoo. I wish there was some way I could watch the shows I like best, whenever I like. If you can think of a way to do this, for Christmas I'd really like to have a way to watch Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Shazzan! My brother says they're done by the same people who did The Flintstones. He says they're called Hanna-Barbaric, but I don't know what that means. Was that a naughty word? If it was, I didn't say it, my brother did—but don't tell him I told you or he'll give me another atomic wedgie. It's not easy being a little brother.
Well, I'm sure you're busy with other kids' letters but I hope you can find a way to bring the cartoons I asked for. Thanks for the choo-choo last year even though it scared the cat. Sorry I wasn't real happy about the new underwear—I kinda needed slippers after the dog chewed mine. Have a great Christmas Eve. I'll leave out some Fig Newtons just like last year—Dad says you like those the best.
It's sometimes easy to forget that we live in a world that doesn't necessarily care whether or not an early Kate Hepburn comedy or obscure Czech New Wave title is released on DVD. And as we conclude a year when an unjust war is being fought, the Middle East remains in bitter turmoil, AIDS, and other conflicts are still engulfing Africa, and Dubya was elected to another term, I suppose it's not unjustified to focus attention elsewhere.
You know that if I could only receive one gift this Christmas, it'd be Before Sunset, but I don't think you need to bother—I've stressed the point so repeatedly I'm sure a family member picked it up for me. But anything else you could manage to slip under the tree (I'm thinking the Warner Brother's Film Noir Classic Collection, Short Cuts, Battle Of Algiers, John Cassavetes: Five Films, etc.) would be gladly accepted as well.
But I thought it would take this opportunity to address you directly to try and persuade you to use your (assumed) connections with the powers that be to give these titles a thought for upcoming DVD releases. I think of it as laying the groundwork for next Christmas.
How about in 2005 there's a concerted effort to get the films of female auteurs out on DVD? Admittedly, Mystic Fire's Maya Deren: Experimental Films is a godsend, but many female directors have important films that have never even received home video releases of any kind. Consider:
Marguerite Duras. I got the chance to see several of her films this year in a retrospective, and I'm desperate to see more! But not one of her films are accessible, so I'd strongly suggest: India Song, La Navire Night, Nathalie Granger, and Le Camion.
Vera Chytilová. Daisies is a gem, but nothing else is available! I hear from reputable sources that Fruit Of Paradise and Prefab Story are both masterpieces too.
Agnés Varda. Her most recent film, the luminous Cinevardaphoto, is receiving accolades on the festival circuit, so the time is ripe for some new releases. How about Le Pointe Courte, Jacquot De Nantes, and Diptych Dedicated To Jane Birkin I and II?
Chantal Ackerman. Jeanne Dielman is considered an important feminist classic, but has never had any kind of video release. I'd also love to see Je, Tu, Il, Elle and Rendez- Vous D'anna while you're at it.
Ida Lupino. The Hitch-Hiker can be found on DVD, but how about the terrific Outrage or The Bigamist or Hard, Fast, and Beautiful?
Dorothy Arzner. Dance, Girl, Dance is getting more and more attention these days, and I'd throw in Christopher Strong and Craig's Wife in for consideration as well.
Claire Denis. Granted, several of her films have received DVD releases, so why shouldn't her recent Trouble Every Day join them soon?
Of course, there are many others, but these are some particular interest to me, and I hope other film fans too.
Criterion's recent announcement of Tout Va Bien (with Letters To Jane as an extra) is good news, but there are many treasures in Jean-Luc Godard's filmography that need to make their way to DVD as well. And not just Weekend, but I'm thinking favorites like La Chinoise and Hail Mary as well as Numero Deux, Made In U.S.A., Une Femme Mariee, and even the Histoire Du Cinema series. Please?
I don't mean to be a complainer, Santa, I really don't. I'm just thinking ahead to next Christmas. And with titles like Bunny Lake Is Missing, A Letter To Three Wives, Stage Door, and Nick Ray's Bitter Victory announced for release in early 2005, there's lots to look forward to this next year, and I'm grateful for that.
I've been a good boy this year, Santa, remember that.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Michele Lanza reported to her job at Fiduciary Trust, a business located on the 97th floor of the World Trade Center's South Tower. Michele never made it home.
Filmmaker James Ronald Whitney and his cameras focused on Lanza's missing status almost immediately after the attack. Most importantly, the focus was on the devastating impact that Michele's disappearance had on her family and her young son, Nicholas. The family wrestles with coming to terms and accepting the loss of Michele as well as how and when to tell Nicholas that his mommy is not coming home. The resulting documentary is called Telling Nicholas, and earlier this year, I was able to view this remarkable film on HBO.
Never have I been so moved or devastated by a film. I wept hours after the viewing, and it took days for me to shake the profound sadness I felt for Nicholas and his family. Of all the DVDs produced about 9/11, it's this film that does the best job of putting a real identity, a flesh-and-blood person, a loving daughter and mother with whom we can all identify, to one of the casualty numbers. And in viewing the story of Nicholas, Michele, and her family, we realize there are hundreds—thousands—of untold stories that must share similarities and parallels. We're able to better grasp the full scope of the human loss on that terrible and bright September morning. As heartbreaking as it is to watch Telling Nicholas, it's no understatement to say that it should be required viewing for future generations of students studying the events of 9/11 in history classes.
Santa, this film, as far as I can tell, is not yet available on DVD. Like the spectacular "In Memoriam" program (also an HBO production), Telling Nicholas deserves a release on DVD. It's not so much to be seen as it is to be experienced, and in a time of great hostility and hatred across the globe, people need to see this film and be reminded that terrorism simply has no place in this world. Please bring this DVD to us, Santa, and may all of us do our best to keep the spirit of Christmas within us throughout the year. May you also bring peace to Nicholas and his family.
Judge Dave Packard
• 2,000th Review Press Release
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