Numan: Android In La La Land
(2016/First Run DVD)/Hits
& Pieces: The Best Of Mark Almond and Soft Cell
(2017 Universal Music compilation CD Set)/Looking
For Johnny: The Legend Of Johnny Thunders
(2014/MVD Visual DVD)/The
Umbrellas Of Cherbourg
Varieties, Volume Three: 1928 - 1929
(Warner Archive DVD)/We
C+/X/C+/B/C/B- Sound: C+/B/C+/B/C/B Extras: C-/C-/C+/B/D/C
Main Programs: B/B/B/B/B-/C+
DVD is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner
Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
for our latest music releases...
Read's Gary Numan: Android In La
La Land (2016) shows us
the current life and career of one of the most underrated
singer/songwriters in electronica, new wave and rock music in
general, best known for his massive hit ''Cars''
(still played and licensed to this day) and a few other hits in that
late 1970s/early 1980s period. With fans as diverse as Prince and
Nine Inch Nails, et al, Numan was a big international success, but
the sad early dive of New Wave in favor of band hair bands (not to
mention political attacks on the genre) took Numan down with it,
leaving the likes of Grace Jones and Adam Ant to barely survive.
Duran Duran simply had to transform to survive, but then they fell
apart by 1986, so those results helped no one.
Numan has also had to deal with the condition Asperger's Syndrome and
with the depression it can bring and depression on its own, he went
through some awful times and is still coping with stage fright and
other issues that he bravely is fighting against. As we join him, he
is with his wife (a longtime fan who has been an immense help) and
they have three daughters. He is also working on his first album in
years and with record labels not knowing what they are doing, is
finding trouble getting it done and picked up, but we see the process
and so much more.
a fan, I was excited to see this and to see him be a survivor and be
able to never sell out his art, fans or self is remarkable and we get
a great portrait of an artist who deserves more than he got. I am
thrilled to see him back and if you only know his one song or like
him or are curious about him, you need to mark this one down as a
must-see. It is worth going out of your way for.
bonus scenes are sadly the only extras.
& Pieces: The Best Of Mark Almond and Soft Cell
offers 35 tracks by Almond and nine from his days in the New Wave duo
Soft Cell, which includes their remake of ''Tainted
Love'' (here in 12-inch
disco/dance vinyl single version with the remake of The Supreme's
''Where Did Our Love Go?'') that swept dance clubs and stayed at the
bottom of the charts for months before jumping up and becoming a top
ten hit and international megahit. That led to one of the longest
stays of any single on the pop chart in U.S. music history, but did
not lead to any other big hits for the duo despite a few other big
dance hits, so Almond went solo and pretty much has been ever since.
set includes collaboration with Gene Pitney, Bronski Beat covering
Donna Summer's ''I Feel
Love'' and more
interesting solo works than you might imagine he ever cut, so this is
a set very much worth catching up with and appreciating the work he
accomplished. Almond was always an underrated vocalist to begin with
and this set is a testament to his talent, too often ignored.
booklet on the music and its history is the only extra.
Garcia's Looking For
Johnny: The Legend Of Johnny Thunders
(2014) is a solid documentary about the singer/musician and Punk
original who co-founded The New York Dolls and much more, showing his
life, good times, bad ones and solo work up until his death at way
too young an age. No doubt he was a major talent and this portrait
finally shows how original and important he was to that movement and
how (like too many U.S. musicians) was more appreciated overseas than
in The States. A sad story, but a necessary one for us to know
about, he made some fine music and cheers to all who made this film
Scenes, Behind The Scenes footage, a Trailer and video clips are the
Demy's The Umbrellas Of
Cherbourg (1964) is the
world's most famous operetta, all singing and zero spoken dialogue,
an international hit with several reissues, we reviewed the classic
on DVD years ago at this link...
has picked up the rights and issued it in a new Blu-ray loaded with
extras (along with a separate release for Young
Girls At Rochefort) and
it is about as good as you'd expect, though I had some issues with
the video (see below), this is fine otherwise and find it amazing for
all the musical revivals, we STILL have not seen many film operettas.
Catherine Deneuve remains impressive here as does the rest of the
cast, along with the colors, the sets and what the film I trying to
say. Arriving as La La
Land hits home video, it
is worth watching the two back to back.
are all new and different here from the old DVD and include an
illustrated foldout on the film in the Blu-ray case with an essay by
critic Jim Ridley, while the Blu-ray disc adds Once Upon a Time
. . . "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," a 2008
documentary, Interview from 2014 with film scholar Rodney Hill,
French television interview from 1964 featuring director Jacques Demy
and composer Michel Legrand discussing the film, separate audio
recordings of interviews with actor Catherine Deneuve (1983) and
Legrand (1991) at the National Film Theatre in London, a restoration
demonstration and a Trailer.
Varieties, Volume Three: 1928 - 1929
is a bit different than some other compilations Warner Archive has
issued of these music shorts. The 15 we get here last 132 minutes
and include music turns by Edith Evans and Molly Picon, but it is
especially interesting to see any such early sound music work and
some of these are remarkable. Others are unintentionally amusing,
but all are very charming and anyone who loves film should give them
a good look. Glad they survived.
are sadly no extras.
we have Stephen Kijak's We
Are X (2016) about the
massively successful band X Japan, who never had any U.S. success, et
al, this 95-minutes look at the formation, rise and crazy success of
the group is the subject of this decent documentary. Almost a
Rockumentary, it is more typical of the pop style we have today, but
the music did not do much for me and none of it stayed with me.
Still, the backstory kept me watching and it is worth a look for
Scenes, Deleted Interviews, a fan video and two more music
performances are the extras.
1080p 1.85 X 1 High Definition image transfer on Umbrellas has
some good color to it, but it can show the age of the materials in
the oddest way since the digital restoration off of the original 35mm
materials (as shown in one of the supplements) overly isolates
foreground elements (especially actors) leaving backgrounds looking
too untouched. That makes it one of the oddest restorations of
hundreds now that I have ever seen. This is a 2K restoration, so
when it comes time for a 4K upgrade, they'll hopefully avoid this
folly. Otherwise, this looks about as good as I've seen the film, if
not as naturalistic or complete as I had hoped for.
1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on X is
a mix of some new HD digital shooting and more than its share of old
low/standard def digital and analog video, so expect a mixed bag when
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Thunders and Numan
also has some of the same problem, if not as extensively so, so for
the older footage, expect digital and analog videotape flaws
including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape
scratching, cross color, faded color, tape damage and even rough film
footage. They are otherwise very watchable and the DVDs come closer
to the quality on X than you might expect.
1.33 X 1 image on the Vitaphone shorts are the roughest here
with dirt, scratches and other signs of age that show they need some
work, but it is remarkable they survived looking as good as they do
here. You can even expect some good shots here and there.
for sound, DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on Umbrellas
is well mixed and presented, fairing better than the image, built on
thew original monophonic theatrical sound, the 1992 Dolby SR
soundmaster for the rerelease at the time and the original stereo
recordings of the actual music. It manages to sound as good as the
same audio presentation on X and
the PCM 16/44.1 2.0 Stereo CD sound on the Almond set, which says
something about the good job they did here.
offers both a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 and lossy
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix, but the 5.1 is better, while Thunders
only has lossy
Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, but they both sound as good as they can
with that older codec. Both deserve lossless presentations and
beyond these programs for all their great music for that matter.
leaves the Vitaphone
shorts with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono that shows its age with
background noise, some brittle sound and they could all use a little
cleaning up, so be careful of high playback volumes and volume
switching with this one.
Warner Archive Vitaphone
DVD, go to this link for it and many more great web-exclusive