Since we’re in the thick of the holiday season, I should mention that the instrumental theme song to Spectacle: Elvis Costello With… (Wednesdays at 9pm EST/PST on the Sundance Channel) is incredibly similar to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”—specifically, the “He knows when you are sleeping” line. Except that last note (“sleeping”) goes pear-shaped on what sounds like an oboe. Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-DUUUUH. Subliminal holiday tie-in? Or have the seasonal jingles merely corrupted my sentimental (and susceptible) brain?
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Continuing in the Hitchcock vein, Universal has reissued three of the auteur’s finest films in deluxe two-disc sets packed to the gills with extras. If I had to pick a single Hitchcock flick to own, I’d say Rear Window in a heartbeat. The film is a master class in movie making art, reflecting on the voyeuristic nature of film itself, exposing the audience’s complicity in that very voyeurism. There’s hardly a more frightening moment in film than when Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) looks straight out at the window at L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) and us the audience, knowing that he’s been seen and that we know of his guilt. Not a single drop of blood or a scream. Just a look. That’s the Hitchcock genius. These Legacy Series discs come with in-depth documentaries detailing the making of the films and make these sets worth owning even if you already have DVDs of these movies.
With this new set of eight early Hitchcock classics from 1927-1947, there are now three fine sets on the market spanning the majority of the Master of Suspense’s career, the other two sets being the superlative Alfred Hitchcock - The Masterpiece Collection and the also excellent The Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection. The highlights here include the World War II era Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman and Spellbound with Gregory Peck and Bergman. Other movies include Lifeboat, The Paradine Case, Sabotage, Young and Innocent, Rebecca, and The Lodger. Essential for any fan of classic thrillers or Hitchcock completists, which all film geeks really ought to be.
The downloadable offerings on all of the three major consoles were particularly strong this year, but World of Goo stands out above all others. This may well be the most addictive “build a structure to help things get home”-style puzzle game since the original Lemmings. World of Goo achieves this highly subjective title through a pleasantly Seussian art style, music that recalls Elfman doing a Burton film, and a difficulty curve that’s gentle without being insulting. It’s quite literally a game the entire family can play. Its price is a little bit steep as WiiWare games go ($15), but it’s well worth every penny, offering a much better experience than all but a select few of the Wii games released to retail thus far.
‘Obsessed’ is the operative word, here. This is a seriously silly interactive trivia game for the über Star Wars geek. ‘What type of stew was Yoda preparing when Luke Skywalker was visiting his hut?’ You can choose from four answers. Got it wrong? You get a rather R2-D2-esque audible “raspberry” from a built in electronic tracker which randomly chooses from 2,500 questions, quite accurately tracks scores and yes, ‘comments’ in digital language on how you’re doing. The other operative word: fun.