CATEGORIES DVDsThis week we take a brief journey back in time to revisit 'The Golden Age of Television,' a compilation of eight classic TV dramas from the 1950s; and 'The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History,' a boxed set that takes a look at a ground-breaking comedy act featuring two relatively unknown comedians (Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner). Then we fast forward back to the present for 'Gomorrah,' a brutal tale of the modern Italian Mafia. The Golden Age of Television
What's the Deal? The hugely popular live American television plays of the 1950s have become the stuff of legend, combining elements of theater, radio, and filmmaking, bringing Broadway-quality drama to homes across the country. The era is often referred to as the Golden Age of Television, when live drama ruled the airwaves. This Criterion Collection three-disc set brings together eight live kinescope broadcasts: 'Marty' (1953), 'Patterns' (1955), 'No Time for Sergeants' (1955),' A Wind From the South'' (1955), Requiem for a Heavyweight' (1956), 'Bang the Drum Slowly' (1956), 'The Comedian' (1957) and 'Days of Wine and Roses' (1958).
Noteworthy Special Features: Commentaries by directors John Frankenheimer, Delbert Mann, Ralph Nelson, and Daniel Petrie; interviews with select cast and crew, including Frankenheimer, Andy Griffith, Julie Harris, Kim Hunter, Richard Kiley, Piper Laurie, Nancy Marchand, Jack Palance, Cliff Robertson, Mickey Rooney, Carol Serling, Rod Steiger and Mel Torme; a booklet featuring an essay and extensive liner notes on each program.
Is It Collection-Worthy? These are some of the greatest TV dramas of all time, with superb acting and direction. Anyone serious about American drama needs to add this to their collection; anyone interested in the history of TV need to revisit this era that provided such an artistic high for the medium.
The 2000 Year Old Man: The Complete History
What's the Deal? In 1959 Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner teamed up for an offbeat comedy routine that catapulted the pair to success in other realms (TV and films): The 2000 Year Old Man. In the bit, Reiner interviewed Brooks as the oldest man in the world, who would answer straight questions about history with loopy responses using a Yiddish accent. The routine resulted in five comedy albums as well as a TV special. This collection by Shout! Factory brings together a DVD of the '2000 Year Old Man' TV show with the five comedy albums.
Noteworthy Special Features: Features a new exclusive interview with Reiner and Brooks discussing the history of the routine, vintage clips of the two appearing on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' and 'The New Steve Allen Show.' Also includes extensive liner notes, rare photos and tributes from some of the biggest names in comedy.
Is It Collection-Worthy? These are two of the funniest men alive and any opportunity to hear/see them at work (before 'The Producers' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show') merits opening space in my collection.
What's the Deal? Director Matteo Garrone's 'Gomorrah' (2008) is a stark, shocking vision of contemporary gangsterdom, a tour-de-force adaptation of undercover Italian reporter Roberto Saviano's best-selling expose of Naples' Mafia underworld (known as the Camorra). Garrone links five disparate tales in which men and children are caught up in a corrupt system that extends from the housing projects to the world of haute couture. Filmed with an exquisite detachment interrupted by bursts of violence.
Noteworthy Special Features: 'Five Stories,' a 60-minute documentary on the making of 'Gomorrah'; new video interviews with Garrone and actor Toni Servillo; interview with writer Roberto Saviano; deleted scenes; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Chuck Stephens.
Is It Collection-Worthy? As always, the folks at The Criterion Collection bring to American cinema-lovers the best of world cinema, impeccably produced and remastered in exquisite DVD editions. For foreign-film addicts, this is another great opportunity to see some worthwhile foreign material that just doesn't make it to your local multiplex. Plus it's also availabke in a Blu-ray edition.
Angel Heart Blu-ray
Ghost in the Shell Blu-ray