Digital Dynamite

The 30 Best DVDs of 2007

by PopMatters Staff

24 January 2008


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The Complete Second Season

US DVD: 10 Jul 2007

Review [24.Jan.2007]
Review [26.Sep.2005]


Extras: The Complete Second Season HBO Home Video

If the first season of Extras was about the angst of middle aged stasis then the second, which begins at the pilot taping for Andy Millman’s dreadful workplace sitcom When the Whistle Blows, focuses on the problems of dealing with a promotion one might not be equipped to handle. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant restructured the series around the angst of the creative act with much funnier and cohesive results. They struggled with Andy in trying to understand their love of comedy and its relation to themselves. The DVD lightens the caustic undertones of the series with backstage footage showing that the creators aren’t perpetually neurotic about their sense of humor. Plus it includes an interview with David Bowie that proves he is a very funny man. Michael Buening

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Knocked Up

Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel

(Universal Pictures)
US theatrical: 1 Jun 2007 (General release)

Review [25.Sep.2007]


Knocked Up: Unrated and Extended Edition Universal

Even in this new, expanded form Knocked Up is a Tootsie for our times, a smart, subversive comedy that meshes different forms of wit to create a singular source of hilarity. It’s a combination of the practical and the profane, the character driven and the crazy. It has more heart than any standard RomCom ridiculousness and goes places your normal motion picture matchmaking would never attempt. Fleshing out his constantly coupling foursome with an amazing array of supporting and cameo casting choices, Apatow never lets his movie meander. It stays constantly focused, drawing even the most oddball remarks and riffs into a devastating study of what it takes to be human. Unlike other comedies of its type, Knocked Up is out to expand and dimensionalize its personas, careful to give even the most obscure references a concrete connection to reality. Bill Gibron

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The Sergio Leone Anthology



The Sergio Leone Anthology MGM

He was born into the belly of Italian show business. By the time he was a teenager, he was very familiar with the Italian film biz. While helping out on the peplum epic The Last Days of Pompeii, he suddenly found himself behind the lens, and it would be a place he’d remain for the rest of his career. He only made nine credited films, but for fans of the spaghetti Western, four would remain major motion picture milestones. But there was much more to Sergio Leone than squinting antiheroes and one-horse towns draped in quick-draw bloodshed, as illustrated all throughout this sensational box set. It’s the perfect place to begin your journey into the bleak bombastic world of the director, and all the cinematic splendor that comes with it. Bill Gibron

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The Monster Squad

Director: Fred Dekker
Cast: Brent Chalem, Leonardo Cimino, Michael Faustino, Lisa Fuller, Andre Gower, Jack Gwillam, Jason Hervey, Robby Kiger

(Tristar Pictures)
US theatrical: 14 Aug 1987 (General release)


Monster Squad: 2 Disc 20th Anniversary Collection Lionsgate

It’s one of the oddest tales in revisionist cinema—a slightly surreal late ‘80s horror comedy that suddenly became a glorified geek stepping stone for an entire generation of cinephiles in training. Naturally, this meant any future DVD release had to meet the messageboard masses exacting standards. After many battles over copyright and bonus features, this 20th anniversary release did the terror tale proud. It’s overloaded with extras, and provides the kind of critical clarification that helps illustrate the film’s endearing qualities. Even better, it allowed fans a chance to rest, if only to ratchet up their obsession on some other lost in limbo title. Bill Gibron

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Pan’s Labyrinth (El Laberinto del Fauno)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Cast: Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Sergi López, Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdú, Álex Angulo, Roger Casamajor, Sebastián Haro

US theatrical: 29 Dec 2006 (Limited release)
UK theatrical: 24 Nov 2006 (Limited release)


Pan’s Labyrinth - Two Disc Special Edition New Line Home Video

Guillermo Del Toro’s harrowing adult fairytale set in Spain under Franco’s fascist rule casts as much of a spell on DVD as it did on the big screen. Del Toro uses a combination of old-fashioned movie trickery (puppetry, costumes) and CGI compositions to create an earthy fantasy in which Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) escapes her grim reality by imagining another world of fauns and fairies, one in which she might be a princess. Del Toro uses his visual artistry not just on the fantasy elements but on the dark-hued forests in which the war-story unfolds. And the story is simplicity at its best: good and evil exist in all realms, imagined or not. Peter Swanson

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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

Director: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper
Cast: Eleanor Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola, Charlie Sheen, Marlon Brando, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Albert Hall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Robert Duvall, George Lucas

(American Zoetrope)
UK theatrical: Available as import


Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse Paramount Home Video

There were rumors for years that the strangely long delayed DVD release of this thoughtful, eye-opening 1991 documentary about Coppola’s self-immolation during the seemingly cursed making of Apocalypse Now was due to it possibly being included in a future DVD package of Coppola’s pretentious war epic (maybe a new six-hour edit, Apocalypse Now Redux Redux). Such was not the case but at least we finally have George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr’s film to present to future generations of filmmakers who may wish to avoid similarly self-destructive hubris in their own work. Chris Barsanti

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Ford at Fox: The Collection



Ford at Fox: The Collection Fox

It’s an absolutely astounding overview—one man, one studio, 24 career defining films. John Ford remains the very epitome of American movie making. Including such classics as My Darling Clementine, How Green Was My Valley, The Grapes of Wrath, and Young Mr. Lincoln, this must-own box set cements Ford’s status as one of the greatest directors of all time (especially when you consider the amazing masterpieces—Stagecoach, The Searchers—not included). While the price may seem a bit steep, it’s worth every penny. Like owning a cornerstone of cinematic history, there’s a lifetime of pleasures to be pulled from this dense DVD collection. Bill Gibron

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The Cinema of Peter Watkins

5-Disc Box Set
Director: Peter Watkins



The Cinema of Peter Watkins New Yorker Video

A perennial winner of the most underappreciated director award, Peter Watkins gets the retrospective he deserves with New Yorker Video’s superb collection of his work leading up to 1974’s Edvard Munch. From his “amateur shorts” to his dramatic-documentaries addressing historical and alarmist alternative reality scenarios it tracks the heady development of Watkin’s filmmaking skills, political ideas, and aesthetic theories during his formative years. Watkins is a provocateur and there is a grand tension between the stubborn individualism and humanistic communalism in his work that can be maddening, heartrending, and inspiring. He demands the active participation of the viewer in a world marked by increasing consumerist complacency. The Cinema of Peter Watkins is waiting for a new generation of filmmakers to take notice. Michael Buening

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Hot Fuzz

Director: Edgar Wright
Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Paddy Considine, Steve Coogan, Timothy Dalton, Martin Freeman, Paul Freeman, Bill Nighy

(Rogue Pictures)
US theatrical: 20 Apr 2007 (Limited release)
UK theatrical: 17 Feb 2007 (General release)


Hot Fuzz: 3 Disc Collector’s Edition Universal

Stop with all the spoof talk, already. The latest masterpiece from Brit wits Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, the spectacularly anarchic action buddy cop caper Hot Fuzz is more than just a simple-minded lampoon. Such a categorization limits what the amazing movie manages to achieve, bringing it down to a level of creative crassness that the duo manage to transcend time and time again. The truth is, Wright and Pegg have much larger funny business fish to fry than merely taking on the Bruckheimer/Bay gonzo gunplay dynamic—and it’s an intention illustrated over and over again by this stunning three disc presentation. There’s so much here, one could get lost in it. Bill Gibron

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Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen

US theatrical: 17 Aug 2007 (General release)

Review [18.Aug.2007]
Review [17.Aug.2007]


Superbad Sony

An argument at a New Year’s Day party over Superbad ended with the compromise that, fine, the movie was funny but, admit it, will get less funny each time you see it.  With the release of the DVD, this theory proves unable to hold water and the reasons aren’t hard to find.  Michael Cera’s note-perfect performance as half of a the teenage duo determined to demolish the mysteries of GIRLS before splitting up for college, grows to awe-inspiring upon closer inspections; in a movie that seemed to be defined by its willingness to heap the shocking on top of the obscene, whether he’s facing down a roomful of stubborn cokeheads or hurrying away down a high school hallway, his laughs never feel cheap.  He balances Jonah Hill’s cruder acting and provides Superbad’s center.  The film’s other duo, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader as police officers who seem determined to remain stuck in high school, gains the most laughs, cheap or otherwise, and keep things from bogging down.  The film’s closest relative is the day-in-the-life model of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, though it never aspires to that film’s patient artistry.  Superbad, instead, stakes its claim on being loud, crude, and obsessed with dicks; the noisy workings of a teenage boy’s mind transposed to film.  And though certain bits of it will age worse with time and the inevitable Judd Apatow-backlash, the more thoughtful moments that co-exist with the vulgar, and the film’s affinity for the banter of teenagers, will ensure thatSuperbad will continue to ring true for quite a while. Jon Langmead

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