Latest Software Reviews
OK, I'll admit up front I'd give this movie a good review if Elisha Cuthbert sat for two hours reading the 9/ 11 Commission Report. But here we get to see Cuthbert—best known as Jack Bauer's daughter on 24—in the role she was born to play: a porn actress who's house-sitting next door to a sexually frustrated high school senior (Emile Hirsch). As such, she swims, teases, drips and, yes, strips, more than once. Ah, the joys of DVD, and the A-B repeat function.
This is the unrated cut of the film, but even in the R release it's hard to say who the intended audience is. Director Luke Greenfield points out in his scene-specific commentary that they purposely made a mature film, not a teen comedy. Which begs the question, who went to see it? Not many, apparently, but the DVD should draw the legions of hormone-spewing men who lust for No. 21 on Maxim magazine's Hot 100 list.
Aside from the director's commentary, the two leads provide comments for a handful of scenes each, and they have interesting things to say. We also get a bland text commentary and one of the more bizarre supplements to come along in awhile—a video "diary" by one of the supporting actors, taped during the Adult Film Convention in Las Vegas.
The anamorphic 1.85:1 picture is rock solid, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is workmanlike if not particularly showy. All in all, a good showcase for an okay movie starring a major television babe. —Gary Frisch
DVD: Candyman—Columbia TriStar
While researching her master's thesis on the origins of modern legends, Helen (Virginia Madsen) inadvertently disturbs a murderous spirit haunting a Chicago housing project in Candyman. Although Helen's goal is to debunk the story of a hook-handed killer who can be summoned by repeating his name five times, she soon learns that he's her next target.
The special-edition DVD presents this tale of terror in a 1.85:1 anamorphic picture that offers a crisp image with natural-looking fleshtones. The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack offers surprisingly clear dialogue and robust music. Just don't expect much from the surrounds, even with a little Pro Logic help.
The disc's extras are a little disappointing. The commentary track includes much of the original cast and production team, but it's not timed with the movie and so obviously edited together from separate interviews that it ends up being distracting. And those same interviews pop up again in two featurettes, making it all seem like a rehash. The one high point in the supplemental material is director Bernard Rose's original storyboards, which demonstrate the detail Rose put into his vision of the film.—Christy Grosz
SACD: Richard and Linda Thompson—Shoot Out the Lights (Rykodisc)
The last of Richard and Linda Thompson's half-dozen studio albums is also the first to appear on SACD. Gerry Rafferty originally produced a different version—rejected by the Thompsons as too ornate—before they went back into the studio and slammed out this ruthlessly stripped-down version in three days. The songs benefited from the production's raw immediacy. Unfortunately, the recording also suffered from a dull drum sound and the kind of airlessness that comes from overzealous noise reduction. Whether a multichannel remix might correct those flaws remains to be seen, since this SACD release uses the original stereo master. It includes only the eight tracks originally released on LP, omitting "Living in Luxury," the CD bonus track.
Richard wrote most of these songs years before his partnership with Linda dissolved. That didn't prevent the media from interpreting Linda's gracefully passionate performances of "Walking on a Wire" and other songs as scenes from a dying marriage. Richard's playing on the title track cemented his reputation as arguably the world's best player of the Fender Stratocaster. When the Thompsons blended their voices on songs like "Wall of Death," they created spine-tingling art that long outlasted their life together.
This is not Richard Thompson's first foray into high-resolution audio. It follows the revelatory DVD-Audio surround remix of his solo album Rumor & Sigh two years back. Let's hope Capitol does the same for more of Thompson's solo work—and that Ryko releases his Hand of Kindness and Small Town Romance, two beautiful recordings that would benefit from the SACD treatment even in stereo.—Mark Fleischmann