Sunday, December 14, 2008

A few of Black Sheep's Favorite Things

Thus far, this has proven to be a fairly interesting holiday season. I’m not sure how many of you find yourselves in the same boat as me but I don’t have any time to shop this year, let alone think of what to buy people. Then of course, there is the small matter of being able to afford said gifts but hey, it’s the holidays; that’s what credit was created for. Seeing as how it would be best to be modest this season, stocking stuffers are the way to go Do you know fits perfectly in your average sized stocking? A blu-ray disc! They are even smaller than DVD’s and they carry more information than a DVD but yet are somehow no heavier. Funny that. Here are a few perfect disc suggestions for that perfect someone …

We all have one of them in our family. It’s that little cousin that used to walk around with a “Trust No One” T-shirt and had an “I Want to Believe” poster tacked above his bed during the majority of the ‘90’s. In my family, that guy is me and I was big X-Phile (that’s what we’re called) back in the day. Last Christmas, one of my best friends bought me the first three seasons and I practically watched the entire series before the second feature film THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE was released in theatres last summer. Now, I was among the many that blasted the film upon its release but then I watched it again on blu-ray and I realized what was missing – me in my sweats lounging on my couch. The X-Files belongs on the small screen and it has been released in time for the holidays, packaged alongside the new to blu-ray, THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE. Both films are packed with the kinds of extras only true X-Philes will appreciate. Geek it up, yo!

Speaking of television, I am a HUGE fan of TV on DVD. There are no commercials, no waiting until next week to see what happens and I can run to the kitchen for more holiday treats as often as I darn well want. My favorite television discovery this year has got to be NBC’s 30ROCK. This is Tina Fey’s crowning achievement. As creator of the show, head writer and star, she has finally found a vehicle to culminate all of her talents and she does so with very little ego. This stylish show centers around the stars and staff of a “Saturday Night Live” type show and features brilliantly hilarious ensemble cast, including Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan (who is not the least bit annoying so be not afraid). Fey anchors the show as Liz Lemon, a woman in her 30’s whose career is her life. Her constant struggle between the importance of her career and her ever distant personal life makes her the perfect modern woman and her back and forth with Baldwin is priceless. Pick up the first two seasons now and let the laughter carry you through the new year.

If laughter isn’t what you’re looking for, I have just the thing. I’m sure you all have an artsy friend who would have already scoffed at the suggestions I’ve made here. Well, this next film was just re-released in 8K Ultradigital High Definition. I don’t know what that means exactly but I can tell you it looks amazing. BARAKA is both beautiful and breathtaking. It was shot in 24 countries and is a genuinely moving experience to behold. Now that is has been restored, it is even more magnificent. It is 97 minutes of nothing but imagery, music, humanity and nature. It draws you in, shows you the wonders of our world and humbles you right before it shows you how we are teetering so closely to losing it all. Clearly, this isn’t for all and requires a certain amount of patience to be appreciated but photography lovers will love you even more if you get this for them.

I cannot say enough about this last suggestion and I assure you, I’ve said plenty about it already. There is something altogether magical about this film. Every time I’ve seen it, and yes, I’ve seen it a number of times now, I see something new or I have a deeper appreciation for the craft that created it. I am speaking about WALL-E. Pixar’s pinnacle of perfection is unabashedly romantic and an altogether unique experience. WALL-E himself will enchant you within minutes and you will be able to enjoy his antics with the entire family. In addition to this, the values your kids will take from this film will make them better people so get them watching young! The 3-disc blu-ray edition contains a digital copy, the feature itself and plenty of games for the kids. There are also two shorts, two commentaries and extensive background footage to satisfy all the big kids out there too.
And for the true WALL-E fanatics (Mom, are you paying attention?), you can add the Pixar book, “The Art of WALL-E”, as the perfect companion piece under the tree.

Now that you have stuffed everyone’s stockings with great movies and TV on DVD, you’ll need something to play these blu-ray discs on. Might I suggest the Playstation 3. Not only will it look great in your living room but it only costs a fraction more than straight blu-ray players and it does a ton more. Your DVD’s will look better on the Playstation 3; your new blu-ray’s will be right at home; and you can play games too. Santa can’t go wrong with this one. Besides, you’ll be able to enjoy this gift too and don’t you deserve a little something after all that hard shopping?

Happy Holidays … and shop responsibly.

1 comment:

Treasures By Brenda said...

A great list here! I wrote a page based on Sound & Vision Magazine's top ten recommended blu-ray movies. Of course, there list is based on movies that will use the technology well for sound and picture rather than the best-ever movies. You might enjoy visiting it at Top 10 Blu-ray Movies or Discs.