The Best DVDs of 2009

by PopMatters Staff

7 January 2010

 

5 - 1

 


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Blackadder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition

(BBC)

Review [3.Dec.2009]

5

Blackadder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition
BBC

Imagine a series that poked gentle fun at American ideals and factual history, all for the sake of a character that is mean, neglectful, incorrigible, cutthroat, bumbling, brazen, devious, shrewd, and on more than one occasion, completely off his nut. That’s Blackadder, in all its wild UK whimsy. Without Rowan Aktinson in the lead it would never work. Though he is usually the butt of the situational joke most of the time, the character (in all its incarnations) remains a significant comedy creation. He’s not just the man you love to hate—he’s the slimebucket you obsess over like a moonstruck school girl. There is just something so amazingly awful, so delightfully despicable about the man that you can’t help but hang on his every wicked wisecrack and/or deed. Bill Gibron

 

 


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Let the Right One In

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

4

Let the Right One In
Magnolia

Pale, brooding, and cold as ice. Such describes Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), an isolated Swedish boy who strikes up an unlikely romance—sort of—with a vampire. But these descriptors also capture the essence of the film itself, its imagery steeped in desolate, snowy landscapes and brutal flashes of carnage. This is no typical vampire fare. Director Tomas Alfredson eschews conventional scares in favor of slow-paced atmospherics; he arrives at a muted sort of Gus Van Sant-style tension (think Elephant, not Milk). The result, whatever it is, simply deserves to be seen on a big screen. At night. In the dead of winter. Zach Schonfeld

 

 


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The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Burt Lahr, Jack Haley, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton

3

The Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Warner Home Video

Unlike other mandatory motion pictures declared treasures by time, unclear consensus, and endless obsessive tirades, The Wizard of Oz maintains its long term defensibility for one important reason—it works. It entertains. It soars. It splashes across the screen in big fat sugar frosted hugs and emotionally honest kisses. For nearly two hours, we are whisked away to a world where no one is unloved, everyone is caring, and the dreams of a little girl find their final resting place in a small Kansas farmhouse among family and friends. Who needs winged monkeys when you can discover that there’s no place like home? That’s why The Wizard of Oz endures. That’s why it is one of the greatest films of all time. Bill Gibron

 

 


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The Prisoner (1968) - The Complete Series: Blu-ray

(ITV)

2

The Prisoner (1968) - The Complete Series: Blu-ray


A&E Home Video

With American Movie Classics gearing up to offer an update on this series (starring Passion of the Christ‘s James Caviezel and Ian McKellen), A&E has overseen a painstaking remaster of the original series, complete with a stunning Blu-ray release that brings everything brilliant about this show to dazzling life. The extras packed presentation, including new commentaries, making-of featurettes, character and setting documentaries, and a bevy of bonus background gives the Prisoner fan as much context as they could possibly want. With gorgeous imagery, razor-sharp sound, and a load of exciting content, the new format box set answers a lot of questions about the material… except one. Bill Gibron

 

 


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Life on Mars: Series 1 & 2

(BBC)

1

Life on Mars: Series 1 & 2
Acorn Media

Life on Mars was the best television show of the decade. Not just for its fantastically inventive and intriguing premise, in which a modern police detective wakes up in the year 1973; for its superb writing, which kept characters and viewers on their toes through all manner of plot twists or for its gritty, gorgeous cinematography that made every episode feel like a feature film. It’s not even the best for the performances of John Simm and Philip Glenister, though they were unquestionably brilliant at every turn. No, it was the best because it was a rare show that made it to television with all its creativity—premise, stories, performances, shots—in tact, and so it became something much greater than the sum of its parts. Life on Mars: Series 1 and Series 2 are the best DVDs because they allow us to experience that perfect execution again and again. Christel Loar

 

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