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Rockshow

Cast: Paul McCartney & Wings

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Rockshow: Paul McCartney & Wings
Eagle Rock Entertainment

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Most Paul McCartney fans have been waiting a long time to see Rockshow. Many fans were not alive when Rockshow premiered in theaters in 1980. Furthermore, those few who were able to snag a copy of the 1982 laserdisc release were subject to grainy picture quality, and sub-par sound. This version also formed the basis for the numerous bootlegs floating about the internet in recent years. The most recent release on DVD and blu-ray is, naturally, a marked improvement over the old laserdisc edition, with crystal clear picture quality, and a stellar 5.1 digital surround sound mix. To see McCartney perform in 1976 was to see him at his best. Since the Beatles had ceased touring a decade earlier, McCartney had only made sporadic live appearances, though you wouldn’t know it by watching Rockshow: the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is obviously well-rehearsed and in top-form, and accompanied by a more-than-capable supporting group composed of drummer Joe English, rhythm guitarist (and Moody Blues alumnus) Denny Laine, lead guitarist Jimmy McCullogh, keyboardist Linda McCartney, as well as a four-man brass and woodwinds section. Zachary Stockill


 

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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season

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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season
HBO


After a second season that can only be described as disappointing, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire sprang back to life. Yes, a bad season or episode for this show is still pretty good, but the 2011 version was a little self-conscious, a little heavy on the Oedipal stuff, and just a notch down from the Boardwalk‘s impressive debut. (But, hey, is the Eiffel Tower as breathtaking the second time around? OK. Never mind.) With Jimmy Darmody gone, Nelson Van Alden living under an assumed name and Eli Thompson out of prison, there’s plenty of action to be had. This time out we meet a handful of new characters, including Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), Billie Kent (Meg Steedle), Dean O’ Banion (Aaron Shiver) and Gaston Means (Stephen Root). Each season it seems needs an ephemeral showgirl for Nucky (Steve Buscemi) to bed and in this case it’s Billie Kent who becomes the object of his obsession. Though, in truth, he’s also obsessed with maintaining his power and early on he and Rosetti clash, leading to a series of events that are violent, depraved and, yes, sometimes even funny. Extras on this five-DVD set include audio commentaries with Steve Buscemi, Gretchen Mol, Bobby Cannavale, and others, a look at the season with Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, directors Tim Van Patten and Allen Coulter breaking down various scenes from the season and a look back at season two. Jedd Beaudoin


 

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The Vincent Price Collection

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The Vincent Price Collection
Shout! Factory


Much like The Abominable Dr. Phibes, The Vincent Price Collection leaves the audience wanting more, perhaps in the form of more entries into the potential series of discs. Shout! Factory has proven to be excellent at finding and collecting bonus features from around the world, from multiple eras. The films themselves and their impact, as well as the bonus features that give great focus and revelation to the star of this package make the whole thing worth enjoying. That said, fans who are forking over their hard-earned $80 for this package can be forgiven for wanting a bit more perfection in the film transfers. The best features on this disc, that rival the entire collection, are the interviews. Price’s daughter Victoria Price gives a great insider view of the man himself and talks about who he was as a father and what it was like to grow up with a master of terror for a parent. The 1987 interview entitled Vincent Price: The Sinister Image was conducted by David Del Valle and goes into great depth with Price about much of his career (with a slight refocus on his horror films). This hour-long interview with Price is worth every second of the time it takes to watch and gives us a real look at this classic actor in his own words. His remembrances of co-stars like Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and so many others and his in-depth behind-the-scenes stories of the making of so many of his biggest films are enchanting and often feel like a favorite uncle regaling the audience with cool stories that never get boring. Del Valle also writes a 24-page book for this package with deep knowledge of the films and several pages of glossy promotional materials for these movies. J.C. Macek


 

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Things to Come (Blu-ray)

Director: William Cameron Menzies

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Things to Come
The Criterion Edition


Things to Come is one hell of a movie, an ambitious, audacious polemic that strives to pack all of humanity’s future history into 96 minutes. Penned by H.G. Wells (based upon his book The Shape of Things to Come), it’s not a conventional story as we are accustomed to, but it’s a good representation of the books Wells was producing later in life, works he called “future history”. Unsurprisingly, the Criterion Collection has done a masterful job with this release. The picture is gorgeous and the sound as clear as can be expected, with Bliss’s score sounding vibrant and impressively dynamic. There is a commentary by film historian David Kalat, which is useful in placing this film in context, and an interview with Christopher Frayling focusing on the movie’s visual look. Other features include an audio recording of HG Wells reading an extract from his book (be prepared for an unexpectedly reedy voice) and a “visual essay” about Bliss’s score. Moreover, there is four minutes of unused, previously unseen special effects footage created by artist Lazlo Maholy-Nagy that was removed from the final cut of the movie (originally much longer, the film was edited several times before and after release); these images are strikingly abstract. Finally, O’Brien’s essay is included in a substantial, 24-page booklet filled with photos and production notes. David Maine


 

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A Token of His Extreme

Cast: Frank Zappa

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Frank Zappa: A Token of His Extreme
Eagle Vision


Never before available for commercial release A Token of His Extreme isn’t the Holy Grail Frank Zappa release, but it’s one of them. In August 1974, Zappa and the Mothers of Invention could do no wrong. The maestro had assembled arguably the best lineup of the group since he first disbanded the group in 1969. He’d retire the name entirely in 1975 after Bongo Fury, his final collaboration with Captain Beefheart. For the rest of his career as a live performer he’d move through a series of lineups that offered varying degrees of awesomeness but few could match the unit he’d brought together for this recording on 27 August at KCET in Hollywood. This is the same lineup featured on 1988’s You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore Vol. 2: The Helsinki Concert and more or less the same one found on Roxy and Elsewhere, most of which was recorded in late 1973 and released just a few weeks after this show took place. These were players—bassist Tom Fowler, percussionist Ruth Underwood, keyboardist George Duke, drummer Chester Thompson and vocalist/saxophonist Napoleon Murphy Brock—who had an incomparable musical rapport and their tenure with FZ has probably been under-documented in the wide Zappa oeuvre. Jedd Beaudoin


 

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The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)

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The Dick Van Dyke Show: The Complete Series
Image Entertainment


The Dick Van Dyke Show certainly was, if not the first modern sitcom, at least the proper lead-in to the modern sitcom. Its seamless duality as neither a workplace-only sitcom nor a family-centered sitcom layered the show in a way that modern shows have emulated and carried forward. Instead of watching a father and his briefcase come home from a mysterious unseen job, like on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet or Leave It to Beaver, the series admirably devoted equal time to the main character’s workplace and family life, which was unheard of during that era, yet the storytelling in both settings remained remarkably strong. The gag writing scenes at work were especially rambunctious with each actor hamming it up; meanwhile, the droll scenes at home were especially relatable. Though humor was almost always present, the Petries even showed that it was possible to argue about virtually anything that happened under their roof. Jeremiah Massengale


 

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Shoah: The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Director: Claude Lanzmann
Cast: Various

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Shoah
The Criterion Collection


Much of the first half of Shoah is shot in places that no longer resemble death camps. Instead of the concrete bunkers and shacks that one might expect, there is simply nothing. At some sites, huge stone monoliths engraved with the names of Jewish communities exterminated during the Holocaust are the only reminder of what happened at those places. Despite these reminders, the visuals of the film are still very much idyllic. It’s a striking contrast to the words spoken by witnesses who were at the death camps or lived in the communities where the camps were located. That only the memory of these grizzly places still exists is the perfect illustration of Karl Marx’s sentiment that, in modernity, “all that is solid melts into air”. Made up entirely of footage shot by Lanzmann, the film is a powerful reminder of events and places that the Nazis intended history to forget. Dorothy Burk


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