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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Comedy > Avant Garde > Gay > Sex > Counterculture > Japan > Concert > Music > Movies > Motion Pictures > Funeral Parade Of Roses & Avant Garde Short Films (1969/Cinelicious Blu-ray)/Hans Zimmer: Live In Prague (2016/Universal Music/Eagle Blu-ray)/How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000/in limited fur packag

Funeral Parade Of Roses & Avant Garde Short Films (1969/Cinelicious Blu-ray)/Hans Zimmer: Live In Prague (2016/Universal Music/Eagle Blu-ray)/How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000/in limited fur packaging/Universal Blu-ray w/DVD)/Lewis Black: Black To The Future (2017/MVD Visual DVD)/Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017/Lionsgate DVD)/Miracle On 34th Street: 70th Anniversary Edition (1947/Fox Blu-ray)/Richard Simmons: Sweatin' To The Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition (2017 compilation/Time Life DVD Set)/Sex In The Comix (2015/Doppelganger DVD)/TT Isle Of Man: 2017 Official Review (Duke Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B-/A- & B-/C+/B-/B+/C+/C+/B Sound: C+/B+/B+ & B-/C+/B-/B+/C+/C+/B- Extras: B-/C-/A+/C+/D/B/C+/D/C Main Programs: B-/B-/A-/B-/B/B/C+/B-/B

Here's a collection of Special Interest titles that include some music, comedy and revisited holiday releases...

Toshio Matsumoto's Funeral Parade Of Roses (1969) & Avant Garde Short Films (1961 - 1975) collects the filmmakers avant-garde works that usually are not about a narrative, but are sometimes about his sexuality. The films offer nudity and are implicit and sometimes explicit about gay sex, yet the films are at least as concerned about surrealism, any kind of experience that is different and certainly shows influence form filmmakers like Warhol, other Avant-Garde auteurs and an awareness of Japanese culture that seems as relevant now as ever.

Those eight shorts (Nishijin (1961), The Song Of Stone (1963), Ecstasis (1969), Metastasis (1971), Expansion (1972), Mona Lisa (1973), Siki Soku Ze Ku (1975) and Atman (1975)) are among shorts I have seen before and I can see why as they are thought provoking and create unique experiences. Some of the early ones offer images that do appear in the Roses feature film, but its idea of a more typical narrative is still more writerly than Hollywood readerly as we see couples having sex and see their semi-nude bodies, suggesting both genders. It turns out in several cases, it is young men as women and it is very hard to tell the difference. Physical women also show up nude, but the film offers enough of a gay subtext that it questions the separation of two genders.

Shot well in black and white, the case reminds us that Stanley Kubrick said it influenced his film of A Clockwork Orange (1971) which is actually the second version of the book after Warhol's 1965 short Vinyl (also black and white) so how and where? One is the use of modernist architecture, though Kubrick finds more futuristic versions for his film, but the idea of sped-up moments with odd music is something he wants to top and does for the most part in his film. However, the examples here have a different meaning and are part of the more lite, playful nature of Matsumoto's established world here, part of which offer guerrilla filmmaking to get done.

The result is the key work of an important artist of the time who wanted to take filmmaking to somewhere different and does for the most part. Not all of it works and it has its repetitions, but that is part of the immersive point. It is work that holds up, is enduring and influential enough and Cinelicious' Blu-ray here with new 4K transfers are a great way to see all the films. The main feature is 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition black and white, while all the shorts are 1.33 X 1 at 1080p and all (starting monochrome, then he moves into color in various ways) look good and all the monophonic sound has been cleaned up and restored at 24-bits. I cannot imagine these looking and sounding too much better than they do here.

Extras incliude a thick, high quality booklet with photos and plenty of informative text including a new essay by film scholar Hirofumi Sakamoto, whle the feature film Blu-ray includes an Original Theatrical Trailer, re-release Trailer and audio commentary track by the well-read Chris D. that is not non-stop and has too many silent gaps. Next time, perhaps he should have a co-commentator?

Otherwise, this is a must-see release for all serious film fans.

Hans Zimmer: Live In Prague (2016) has the famous, successful film music composer on tour with a huge band, playing many selections from his many movie hits, both commercial and critical. When he first arrived, some felt maybe his music is a little mechanical, too automatic or just too bare, yet his work on Driving Miss Daisy and Rain Man were better than that generalization would have us believe, then he expanded into one of the most successful composers in film since John Williams.

Eagle has released this show in several formats, but we are covering it on Blu-ray and it is a great format to cover it.


1) Medley: Driving (Driving Miss Daisy) / Discombobulate (Sherlock Holmes) / Zoosters Breakout (Madagascar)

2) Medley:
Crimson Tide / 160 BPM (Angels And Demons)

Gladiator Medley: The Wheat / The Battle / Elysium / Now We Are Free

4) Chevaliers De Sangreal (
The Da Vinci Code)

5) The
Lion King Medley: Circle Of Life (Prelude) / King Of Pride Rock

Pirates Of The Caribbean Medley: Captain Jack Sparrow / One Day / Up Is Down / He's A Pirate

7) You're So Cool (
True Romance)

Rain Man: Main Theme

9) What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World (
Man Of Steel)

10) Journey To The Line (
The Thin Red Line)

11) The Electro Suite (themes from
The Amazing Spider Man 2)

The Dark Knight Medley: Why So Serious? / Like A Dog Chasing Cars / Why Do We Fall / Introduce A Little Anarchy / The Fire Rises

13) Aurora

Interstellar Medley: Day One / Cornfield Chase / No Time For Caution / Stay

15) Inception Medley: Half Remembered Dream / Dream Is Collapsing / Mombasa / Time

Now any concert is only going to be as good as its music and for me, those Pirates songs get tired very quickly, but Zimmer is generous in talking to the audience, about the other musicians and about his life and work, so he being a really good host that makes this not just another movie music concert. It even gave me more respect for someone I already liked. The result is a great showcase more than worth your time, especially with solid playback like this.

The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer can have issues with shadow detail and Video Black, as well as a few other flaws, but that is about as good as this shoot can look here, including some good moments of color. The Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 5.1 or 7.1 on older systems) sound is much better, really showing off how well recorded and performed the whole show is and as sonically fine as any release version of this program will have. The only extra is an illustrated booklet on the show including informative text, an essay and fine illustrations.

Ron Howard's How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) is back in a Blu-ray/DVD set, but this one is wrapped in 'Grinch Fur' and all contained in a clear plastic slipcase for a limited time.

Based on Dr. Seuss' beloved book and animated TV special (reviewed elsewhere on this site), Jim Carrey plays the Grinch in the live action movie musical comedy. It is a holiday classic telling the story of Christmas and the spirit of the holiday of how the Grinch steals all the present of Christmas but is unable to steal the heart of Christmas. He regains his heart after hearing the people singing and returns all the presents, but not without all kinds of unexpected twists and turns.

Why did the Grinch steal Christmas? Why does he hate it so much? Learn the origins story of the Grinch, how he was bullied as child and ended up as the Grinch. Years later a young girl wonders if Christmas just about the presents? She invites the Grinch for Christmas and even after he steals all the presents, she has faith and helps remind the people (and the Grinch) of the spirit of the holiday is more than gifts and helps them all regain the spirit of Christmas. After the Grinch regains his heart, he repents and returns all the gifts and decides to live with the people once more.

A little girl is turned into the hero instead of the Grinch, in how the faith of one child can change a heart of stone. Extras include deleted scenes, outtakes, spotlight on Location, Who School, makeup application and design, Seussian Set Decoration, Visual Effects, Faith Hill "Where Are You Christmas" Music Video, Commentary and Trailers. Picture and sound quality for the Blu-ray is the same as our coverage of this Blu-ray, the same transfer, at this link...


And the also-included DVD is the same as the DVD part of this even older review...


Lewis Black: Black To The Future (2017) is another hilarious release from one of the premiere stand-up comics of our time, this time going after the 2016 Presidential Campaign in the U.S., but he has plenty of other things to complain about in his 50-minutes-long concert and somehow does not have much overlap with his previous concerts on DVD as he is always up on events.

In addition, we get a bonus show with a difference in ''The Rant Is Due: Live From Napa'' where he answers questions from his fan club both on line and in the audience with interesting results that have in in a different light and even rare form. It is worth seeing as well.

Black is a great talent telling it like it is when so many people are lying, in deep denial or just plain slap-happy stupid. He cannot issue enough DVDs or Blu-rays. Please continue!!!

For more of Black's work on DVD, try these DVD releases we reviewed before...

Old Yeller Live... DVD


Root Of All Evil: Season One DVD Set


Based on the the best seller "Remembering the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days", Michael Jackson: Searching For Neverland (2017) takes a look in to story of Michael Jackson behind the scenes, not as the King of Pop, but the man behind all the pop and glamour, the man, the father. Through the eyes of his bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, they tell the story of the man the family they had to protect from the world. It is his story of his life ...and what happened in the last two years of his life.

Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, but before that he was a man and father. He was so popular that he had to hide his face, his family from the public. Bill and Javon were hired to be body guards/private concierge to Michael Jackson and his kids Paris, Prince and Blanket. All he wanted was for them was live like a normal family, to have a home, a place where his children could live in peace, love and joy, but everyday they had to protect them from media vultures, crazy fans and so much more. Through their eyes they saw more than what the world saw ...they saw the truth. Through their time of employment they became part of the family and in the end they were able to see, talk and be with him, not as a king of pop/music ...but like a man.

This tribute shows the life he had to deal with, with being Michael Jackson, and while people love fans and fame, he could never get away from it. And while the world could only understand what they saw or heard through the media, it is only after you watch this movie you can begin to understand him as a man. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital sound are as good as they'll ever be on DVD. Extras includes trailers.

George Seaton's Miracle On 34th Street: 70th Anniversary Edition (1947) is the original Christmas classic now celebrating its 70th anniversary in this new release that isn't too different presentation-wise than the previous release of the film on Blu-ray disc a few years back and has the same extras. However, if you don't own that release and if you haven't seen this holiday gem in a while, then you should definitely get around to watching this three-time Oscar winner this Holiday season.

The classic film stars Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn, Natalie Wood, Harry Antrim, and Jerome Cowan.

Set in 1940's 'modern day' New York City, the real Kris Kringle (Gwenn) gets hired in a Macy's to play himself around the holiday season. Brining his charm and holiday spirit to all who sit on his lap, he ends up changing lives and keeping the faith strong, which his boss (O'Hara), whose raising her daughter (Natalie Wood) to not believe in Santa. Declaring Kringle as insane, he's soon put on trial... but will those who believe in him step forward?

Presented in 1080p high definition black and white with its original 1.37:1 full frame aspect ratio and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless track, is a nice presentation on disc that makes an old film up to today's standards. A 4K Ultra HD release is mostly likely on the way in the future, hopefully not colorized. There's also Dolby Digital 2.0 lossy tracks on the disc in various language tracks.

A digital UV copy is also included.

Special Features...

Feature Audio Commentary by Maureen O'Hara

Hollywood Backstories: Miracle on 34th Street

Fox Movietone News Footage: Hollywood Spotlight

Miracle on 34th Street TV Version

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History Featurette

Promotional Short

Poster Gallery

For more on the film, see our coverage on the old DVD edition here...


Richard Simmons: Sweatin' To The Oldies: 30th Anniversary Edition (2017 compilation) seems like a gag or joke release for a star whose off-screen/off-stage antics have involved lawyers, police, disappearances and reports of being near death, for starters. But back in the 1980s when exercise videos became a huge surprise hit in the early days of VHS and Beta videocassettes, Simmons had a surprise hit series aimed at nerds, very heavy set and even depressed people selling on the idea that you do not have to look 'sexy' or already in shape to get into shape. Annoying as some might have found him, it was a best-selling series and here is the whole set on DVD in a Complete Collection.

I never disliked him until he started to go way overboard by the end of the 1980s (he never recovered, to be blunt), but he does deserve credit for getting some people in shape who likely otherwise would have never tried. There is a slightly exploitive side to this (his fight with Roseanne on her brief-lived talk show was a moment) that never set well with me and the 'oldies' used here are not that exciting, but this worked for enough people to justify its existence.

This set has all five (!!!) volumes, plus a booklet and bonus DVD with a new interview, testimonials and program that gives you six steps (where they work or not is unknown) to have better health, self-esteem and 'permanent' weight loss. Some people will by this as a joke gift for others, while others will buy it for the nostalgia, but it should be in print at some point like everything else and here's its moment. Needless to say it is repetitive and not for everyone, but here it is, including the 1.33 X 1 color videotaped image looking about as good as it ever will and the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo filling the bill without impressing much. I was surprised they played as well as they did.

Joelle Oosterlinck's Sex In The Comix (2015) takes a short (at 52 minutes) but rich look at explicit erotic content in various comic books in the world, the various subgenres, various artists and variations in general, with the advent of the 1960s and especially 1970s unrated Comix permanently establishing the counterculture sensibility of the material. Robert Crumb is the leading name interviewed here, but many others, especially many you may not have heard of before, get into the world that has grown into a permanent adult faction of the huge comic book industry. I did not even know how much this had expanded.

You night not think all of it is funny or even erotic, but it exists and is worth knowing about. I give credit to the artists for being brave, though sometimes, some are being too silly or passive about what erotic is. However, that can be debated like anything else here and that makes it worth a look in itself.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo are fine for a documentary, but expect minor video flaws like video noise, video banding, cross color, faded color and older footage not transferred at its best. There are no extras.

Finally we have the TT Isle Of Man: 2017 Official Review, yet another one of Duke Video's limited-run Blu-rays (they must figure after while, anyone who'll buy this has bought it and that's enough for the pressings) and this is as strong an entry in the series of these great pro motorcycle racing discs as we have seen to date with several hours of racing all over the world with great coverage and truly exciting action that can only happen out of true competition.

We also get bonus footage that is always a plus and at least as much as before, but the sport itself is fun and fun to watch when it is this well captured and edited. Like soccer, you wonder why this is not more popular in the United States, but is it that the combination of fun, intensity and even smarts is too much for some audiences? Either way, its a great release and every serious home theater owner should at least own one volume of this series because it is that good. This one is as good as any of them, including one of the most steady 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition presentations we've seen in a while and DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless sound that is pretty good for all the problems that can go wrong for location audio.

Get it!!!

- Nicholas Sheffo, Ricky Chiang (Grinch, Jackson) and James Lockhart (Miracle)



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