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Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I have seen quite a few Peter Gabriel shows, but, alas, I missed this tour in support of his Us album, the long awaited follow-up to So. I was impoverished at the time and couldn't afford the long trip to the nearest venue offering the show. I still remember the phone call from my little brother back East who let me know that I had missed something spectacular.

This Blu-ray release allows those of us who missed this particular chapter in Gabriel's history to get a taste of the goings-on. His backup band included Paula Cole, who was yet to have her one big hit, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" when she hit the road with Gabriel. She was required to sing parts performed on albums by the likes of Kate Bush and Sinead O'Connor, and she does a rather nice job of it.

I suppose some of the staging for this show, filmed in Italy back in 1993, would be considered primitive, but it still struck me as quite innovative seeing it now. I liked Gabriel's struggle with a phone booth during "Come Talk to Me" and especially liked the paranoiac "Digging in the Dirt" delivered via a strange camera mounted on Gabriel's head. This show's version of "In Your Eyes" is a good one, but doesn't hold up to the version sung with Youssou N'Dour during the So tour. As for the "restored" audio and video, it looks and sounds decent.

For those of you who have never seen a Peter Gabriel show, you have a chance coming up. He will be touring starting in September, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of So. You'll have to do some driving though; as of press time, the closest tour stops are in Southern California and Las Vegas.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the show that includes a Gabriel interview. You also get an extra song performance of "Red Rain" and a spectacular 2011 performance of "The Rhythm of the Heat" with The New Blood Orchestra.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season One (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I was never a huge fan of this show, and I only liked a couple of the films with this cast. That said, Paramount has done a nice job of polishing this one up for Blu-ray, even redoing a lot of the special effects originally put together for standard-definition television. They worked their asses off on this restoration, and it pays dividends.

The first episode of the show, where Picard (Patrick Stewart) meets Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and they face off against lame adversary Q (John de Lancie), reveals a show far away from finding its identity. A brief cameo by DeForest Kelley as an aged and suddenly very Southern Bones is cringe-worthy.

But as we all know, things got better along the way, and this season did contain some winners.

Still, I could never accept Data (Brent Spiner), whom I always saw as a poor substitute for Spock. This cast had its moments, but it takes a back seat to the original Shatner-led group and even the current Chris Pine contingent.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are some documentaries along with cast interviews, and a look at how they restored the show. Sadly for Trekkies, there are no commentaries.

The Last Days of Disco (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

After this funny 1998 film, underrated director Whit Stillman virtually disappeared until he released the equally funny Damsels in Distress this year. His droll and often hilarious voice was sorely missed.

It was with this film that Kate Beckinsale got her indie breakthrough role. (Her big budget opportunity would come three years later in the lousy Pearl Harbor.) She plays Charlotte alongside Chloe Sevigny's Alice, two young women recently graduated, working shit jobs for a book publisher, and spending their nights at discos. Both actresses shine here, and let it be said that Beckinsale is eye-burning hot in this movie. Like, really hot.

The film contains Stillman's trademark barbed yet hilarious dialogue, poking fun at advertising executives, club-dwellers and yuppies. Chris Eigeman is brilliantly funny as club employee Des. He's so good it makes you wonder how he didn't have a bigger career.

The film is supposedly set during the early '80s, but it feels more like a '90s picture due to hairstyles and attitudes. One could probably cite it as a period-film failure, but the lack of success in depicting the time period adds a bizarre weirdness to the film that sort of works.

I'm a fan of this film, as I am of Damsels in Distress and Stillman in general. His other films include the equally fun Metropolitan, which has also gotten a recent Criterion release.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The now standard Criterion booklet, a fun cast commentary and a making-of featurette are the highlights.

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