There are countless documentaries about film history, but few achieve a sense of wonder like When The Lion Roars, Turner Pictures’ magnificent account of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s history. With the brilliant Patrick Stewart as host and a mountain of interviews, filmclips and a lot of other historic footage, it is a documentary like no other. First shown on Turner Pictures’ cable stations TNT and TCM both in the USA and in Europe, I was very glad when Warner finally released a DVD in 2009, just in time before I decided to rescue my own old VHS recordings. Despite the less than perfect technical quality, owing to the video post-production, this is a wonderful DVD release preserving one of the best documentaries about Hollywood ever made that should be in the collection of ever film enthusiast. This review is based on the original German version from 2009, translated, slightly updated and improved.
Archiv vom September 2013
This is one of these movies you might have someday seen on tv and then it never surfaced again – that’s excatly what happened to me with Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen. Everybody knows that Peter Ustinov played Hercule Poirot lots of times, but his one and only appearance as Charlie Chan in this comedic take on the oriental detective is mostly unknown. Sporting a great supporting cast and a both funny and dramatic script, the movie is not the embarassing failure it is often referred to, but a great production which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Unfortunately its bad reputation has prevented Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen from getting a proper DVD release, but there’s at least one Canadian disc which I was really glad to find years ago. Today’s review is new for DVDLog, because I wrote the initial German article, now expanded and improved, before this website even existed.
The autumn and winter season on the BBC has already kicked off with new episodes of QI, but there are two more interesting series starting next week and one is already running.
This almost completely went by me – it seems that Brian Cox has been very busy filming a new three-part series called Science Britannica about the history of british science. The first episode airs on Wednesday, September 18th at 21:00 GMT / 22:00 CET on BBC2 and there’s also a very short trailer on Youtube. This series promises to be very interesting, because Brian Cox has always had a huge interest in the beginnings and evolution of science and often referenced to it in his previous programs.
David Attenborough is also back with a new two-parter called Rise of the Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates starting on Friday, September 20th at 21:00 GMT / 22:00 CET on BBC2. It’s about the evolution of the vertebrates and takes a similar approach as First Life, utilizing CGI in addition to real footage to show how extinct species evolved.
And there’s also Sound of Cinema: The Music that Made the Movies, a three-part series presented by author, composer and silent film music expert Neil Brand about the history of music in movies. The first episode has already aired on BBC4, but the last two episodes are aired Thursdays at 21:00 GMT / 22:00 CET and there’s also a repeat of the first episode later tonight on 22:35 GMT / 23:35 CET.
There is, however, no definitive word yet on an airdate for the long-awaited third season of Sherlock, the brilliant contemporary adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s victorian detective. A short teaser trailer has been posted by the BBC on Youtube and was also shown after a repeat of series 2 recently. There are rumours that the series will be broadcast at the beginning of 2014, which is quite possible considering that the BBC has said that the series’ production was only finished on September 1st.
Regular readers of this website should know that I have a particular fondness for the works of Tim Burton and when his stop-motion remake of Frankenweenie was announced some time ago, I instantly knew that it would be a very special movie – and I was right. It took me some time to see it, but it was really worth the wait. Far from being just an expanded version of the original, Tim Burton has transformed the movie he was once fired for from Disney into a delightful stop-motion world paying homage to the horror and monster classics of the 1930s and 1940s. While the movie is absolutely brilliant and together with Dark Shadows is one of Tim Burton’s best recent works, the DVD is somewhat of a disappointment with its lack of extras – but the technical quality is flawless and the movie is certainly watchable. Today’s review is the first new one for quite some time, even if the disc’s release was a while back.
There are many documentaries about the race to the Moon in the 1960s, but not many make really good use of the vast film archives of NASA. But today’s next entry in the Spaceflight Series does this extensively and exclusively – Al Reinert’s For All Mankind is the most fascinating and astounding documentary about the historic American spaceflight programs. Completely consisting of original NASA footage, which was carefully selected to represent all the flights as one single mission, the documentary shows the experience of spaceflight and moonwalking like no other. This review about the wonderful Criterion DVD re-release is just a straight translation of my earlier German article from 2010, but just because there was nothing much to improve or add.
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