Just in time for the holidays, you can get two of the more disturbing movies ever made with one purchase. These are documentaries covering the trials and tribulations of the West Memphis Three, three men arrested for child murders that many are convinced they didn't commit.
Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jesse Misskelley were convicted of murdering three boys in what prosecutors portrayed as a satanic ritual. A viewing of these films leaves the impression that the boys (now men) were convicted because of the way they dressed and the music they liked. Misskelley actually confessed to the murders, but his confession was obtained under duress and has since been recanted.
They still sit in prison, with Echols on death row. I know it's the holidays, but these films are must-sees for anybody who is curious about how the judicial system works.
The set contains both Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, and the follow-up, Paradise Lost 2: Revelations.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The Paradise Lost disc contains exclusive trial footage and updates.
Charlton Heston's chest hair gets the high-definition treatment in this excellent presentation of a great science-fiction classic.
You can get the disc as a stand-alone, or you can purchase it as part of the Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary Collection, which contains all of the original Apes movies in Blu-Ray format. Right now, this is the only way to get the sequels in Blu-Ray.
Some older films don't transfer well to Blu-Ray, but this one looks great. Heston delivered one of the great camp performances of all-time as an astronaut who thinks he's landed on another planet where apes rule the land. He's in for a big surprise at the film's end.
Isn't it weird that Roddy McDowall is dead? He has been for 10 years now. Bizarre.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Loaded with commentaries, making-of docs and more. If you own previously released standard discs, you have these features already.
I will be pissed off if "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" doesn't get an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
This film's lack of box-office success surprised me, because it was very funny. Steve Coogan plays Dana Marschz, a down-on-his-luck actor who has resorted to teaching high school drama here in Tucson. When his department is threatened by budget cuts, he pens a sequel to Hamlet and becomes determined to stage it. The play is so epically bad that it's good, resulting in redemption for Dana.
Coogan is funny throughout, especially during the film's depiction of the play, where he portrays Jesus in his iconic robe--and blue jeans. Elisabeth Shue is charming in one of the year's best self-deprecating performances, and indie goddess Catherine Keener brings credibility as Dana's long-suffering wife.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Director Andrew Fleming contributes a commentary with his co-writer, Pam Brady. There's a making-of documentary and a deleted scene that shows a little more background between the characters played by Keener and David Arquette. (He plays their roommate.) There are also sing-alongs for "Raped in the Face" and "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus." "Raped" is actually a very moving song. It should get an Oscar nomination, too!
I feel the need to mention that I'd already purchased this film both in its standard version and in the now-defunct HD-DVD format. And now I've purchased it on Blu-Ray. Home-entertainment junkies: Are you feeling my pain?
I couldn't resist the chance to own Sean Penn's excellent adaptation of Jon Krakauer's fine nonfiction book about the life and death of Christopher McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch). The packaging was so blue and pretty. I didn't really need to have it, because my HD-DVD player still works; I just had to have it, thus proving I am afflicted with some sort of deranged Blu-Ray addiction that is wreaking havoc on my finances.
This is not the first time I've purchased a movie in all three formats. I did it with John Carpenter's The Thing, too. I'll probably do it a few more times before I'm through. Even sadder, I'll purchase it again if and when the Super Deluxe Edition of Into the Wild is released 10 years from now. DVD manufacturers officially have their hooks in me. It's sad. It's very, very sad.
Oh yeah ... I freaking love this movie, and this disc will look amazing on your high-def TV set. If you just got a Blu-Ray player, this one is a great place to start.
SPECIAL FEATURES: A couple of short docs are carried over from previous editions ... previous editions that I happen to own.