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Harry's Top Ten Blu-Ray Releases of 2008!

Hey folks, Harry here – and it seems that everyone, everywhere is List Nuts, so why the hell not celebrate the year in which the High Def War was decided with a list of the best Blu-Ray releases of 2008. Like on my DVD Column, the art and titles are clickable – but since you are all awesome super film lovers, you won’t need to because, of course, you have these 10, don’t you?

I tend to shy away from awarding placement in my top ten for current releases – as I feel that genre of release is over-saturated and to me, the real treats of this format aren’t so much the movies that just came out, but the ability to see vintage beloved movies in an image quality that was impossible to attain at home or in most theaters given the sad state of so many 35mm prints. But that said, this release has been crack for me. One – the goofy fucking BATPOD that I originally thought just looked plum retarded… well, it’s wormed its way into my heart. That up the wall about face ruled SO HARD! SO HARD! That the bit of tech badassery put it somewhere below Blade Runner’s Spinners and TRON’s Light Cycles, but still pretty pimp ride. However, the jewel is the disc. Lots of exclusive to Blu-Ray extras – and the image and sound quality are simply brilliant. This would make just about anyone’s 10 of the year list.

I know people seem to think THE GOD OF COOKERY or KUNG FU HUSTLE or SHAOLIN SOCCER are Chow’s best work to date… but they surely have not seen the two film epic, A CHINESE ODYSSEY. This was not a domestic release this year, but it is our region and generated from Hong Kong – and it is exquisite. I’ve only seen a well loved 35mm print of this movie that Tarantino screened once, but to have this movie(s) in my home collection – to see Stephen Chow at his absolute best circa 1994 in this Epic Period Comedy Martial Arts Tragic Fantasy Romance in 1080p is religious. Seriously. It is astonishing. Each film has its own disc. And the quality is beautiful. This is essentially the story of the Monkey God – and it is Chow’s most complex and bizarre work – coming across as something like a Terry Gilliam Hong Kong affair. It’s fantastic and it is on Blu-Ray in 2008!

Stunning release. I’d never seen HOW THE WEST WAS WON in its full Cinerama mode before and watching it in this bizarre and trippy aspect ration is fantastic via HD Projection 9’ by 12’. You sit center and there are scenes that will literally make you feel the motion and the soaring of the film. The film was an epic undertaking and stars an brilliant cast and was directed by JOHN FORD, HENRY HATHAWAY and GEORGE MARSHALL (& Richard Thorpe doing linking work) – This release has the Cinerama version and the normal theatrical release version as well. So if you don’t like that bizarre aspect ratio (and why wouldn’t ya?) you can see it as most people did back when this classic was released. A Great release!

Welcome Criterion To The Wonderful World of Blu-Ray!!! And to start off with one of Welles’ most iconic and wonderful performances ever… WAY TO GO! First, the image quality and sound are the best we’ve ever seen for this title. Then you get two commentaries, an intro by Peter Bogdanovich, the 1951 radio versions of THE THIRD MAN along with THE LIVES OF HARRY LIME SERIES. And tons more extras. Thus far, this is Criterion’s best release in the format and with them jumping on board the format, we’re promised a very happy 2009!

You do not only get NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in Blu-Ray… which is reason enough to put this on this list, but you’re also getting in 1080p FRANKENWEENIE (with an intro and look at some sweet pre-work on the feature adaptation that Tim’s working on) and VINCENT! Then there’s Christopher Lee reading Burton’s original poem A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS that has this amazing animated thing going on to it. Very sweet. You also get commentary by Burton, Selick & Elfman!!! And TONS MORE EXTRAS. This was an incredible first rate job!

5. DIRTY HARRY Collection
A Loaded Collection if there’s ever been one! You get the complete works of DIRTY HARRY – and a 40 page hardcover book, a wallet with Harry’s badge and ID card – I’m serious, a map showing where Scorpio did his work and where Harry came across him – Five repro cards of the posters. THEN there’s the films. Everyone of them have extras, with truly exquisite attention being paid to the original DIRTY HARRY. However, when all the extras from all the films come together you’ve really heard from just about everyone responsible for the series and that’s fantastic.

The image quality on GODFATHER 1 & 2 are breathtaking. I felt like the dust in the air captured on film would leak into my existence it was so sharp. That said, the work on GODFATHER 3 was lacking. But you know what… I’m not gonna watch that disc so much anyways. I mean, why? Nobody ever wants to watch it, besides me. And I only want to watch it because it’s Francis’ intended conclusion to it all, even if the execution wasn’t up to the impossible standards of the first two films. But seriously – the work on GODFATHER & GODFATHER 2 and the extras are so wonderful, you can not deny it.

3. PLANET OF THE APES Collection
When I gave this to Quint – his eyes bugged out. First off – it’s the entire PLANET OF THE APES saga! And that my friends means… pantless monkey joy! The picture book included with this is a real real beauty. Every single film in the set is done beautifully – with restoration of a lost cut on CONQUEST which makes the film ungodly awesome! One would hope that PARAMOUNT would pay attention here and allow Shatner to do a magnificent DIRECTOR’S CUT of STAR TREK 5 – if such a thing would be possible. But this is how the Classic STAR TREK Features should be handled when they most likely come out next year. Something epic and great!

Holy Sweet Animated Awesomeness! Flat out stunning work. This film was originally captured for 70mm and the detail work of the animation and the stunning quality of the image has never looked so good. Everything on this disc except that lame game is perfection. The extras are great, but for me, the true greatness comes down to the image of the film itself. Truly truly a release to have friends over for. If they doubt that animation would look just as good on an up-res’d DVD, Disney has included a free copy of the DVD (for the kids’ room perhaps) but you can put that disc in your player and then educate your friends on their cynicism and set their mind’s free. The Blu-Ray on this is astonishing. I quiver in anticipation for PINNOCHIO next!

I love this movie. I can never remember a time when I didn’t love DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and several years ago I bought a stunningly beautiful print of DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL in 16mm. Not a scratch or bit of dust on it. I loved that print. I paid a shit load for that print. And I’ve seen the film in 35mm. Many times. MANY TIMES. And in all that time – I have never once seen the film as crisply and as sharp as this release. It is amazing. And I can say this with absolute certainty because I’ve shown a scene that every good film geek has seen – to several SERIOUSLY HARDCORE SCIFI FILM AFICIONADOS and it’s that scene of Klaatu walking out of the Saucer that first time. You know. The one with him in the silver suit with the silver helmet? Yeah. That helmet wasn’t silver. It was bake-lite plastic and you can SEE THROUGH IT to Klaatu’s face, you can see Rennie in there. You can see his hair, his cheekbones and his performance. It is unreal image quality. And the best part – with that level of detail being able to be seen – the effects and the movie absolutely holds up. I know there’s a generation that gets fidgety because this movie isn’t “BADASS” – but there was a time when Science Fiction wasn’t about gadgets, but about characters, ideas and story. The remake is about big visual effects and no real ideas. Bland characters and truncated ideas. THIS FILM IS EVERYTHING MISSING TODAY. There’s no irony, no pretense and a touch of awesome, without having to masturbate all over the film. This disc is exquisite and the best transfer of a classic film that I’ve seen yet. Stunning!

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