In movies, the one this week that tells a story worth watching is not genre; Norwegian Wood is an amazing wake-up call straight to the heart, based on the 1987 novel by Haruki Murakami. I can think of a very few movies from the 1960s and 70s that had a touch of this same spirit, like Harold and Maude, King of Hearts, and Butterflies are Free. But the story this one tells is unique, and deserves a place in your awareness. The book has been translated into at least 33 languages so far, the director was nominated for an Academy Award, and the film has won awards at Venice, Toronto, and Dubai.
In genre, Chronicle is the tale of teens with superpowers who fall into the trap you would expect of anyone thinking with their hormones instead of their brains. Descendents tells the story of a virus that turns people into zombies. I don’t see anything here we haven’t already seen done to death many times over, so I will be passing on adding these to the collection. The other title available this time is Dirty Blondes from Beyond, which may at least be silly and sexy, but again shows no promise of anything actually new and interesting.
There is a TV classic becoming available for the very first time: Ghost Story: The Complete Series was William Castle’s attempt to follow his role model Alfred Hitchcock into TV. It only lasted one season, but the actors involved included Sebastian Cabot, Jason Robards, Helen Hayes, Jodie Foster, Angie Dickinson, Geraldine Page, Martin Sheen, Stella Stevens, Karen Black, Rip Torn, Mariette Hartley, and many more. Just as impressive, the writers included Richard Matheson, D.C. Fontana, Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison. I approve of the fact that this series is being released in a MOD (manufacture on demand ) production model, meaning they don’t burn the disk until you order it. While it may not work in every player or computer (you have to be able to do DVD-R disc format, which most but not all do), it is wonderful to see any RIAA/MPAA organization facing the inevitable and embracing the decades-old changes in the media distribution system. The fact that it also means there is no waste, no warehouse full of discs no one ordered, no pile of money spent on things they can not sell, no resources turned into a finished product that might end up gracing landfills, is nothing but bonus points all the way as far as I can see. Of course, the flip side of that probably means you will be hard pressed to find it on sale anywhere, since there will be no overstocked stores looking to dump it cheap to minimize their loss; but such is the nature of change.
The other TV programs of note this week are much less fictional, but just as entertaining. Mythbusters: Buster’s Biggest Crashes is silly fun for the science/adventure geek from beginning to end, and I probably need to pick up a Buster T-Shirt by now. The Universe: The Complete Season Six is another wonderful History Channel production telling you more about the world you live in, with some high quality simulations to give you visual examples of the various processes driving the stars and galaxies. And the Smithsonian Channel: Air & Space Collection is a DVD version of their online website which I for one want in my permanent collection. If you have any doubts, go to each web site and play the videos; these ARE the Droids you’re looking for!
In Anime, The Book of Bantorra – Collection 1 is about a world where when you die, your soul becomes a book, with all of your secrets there to be read by anyone. It is the job of the Armed Librarians to keep those books out of the hands of evildoers, and they definitely have their work cut out for them. Also new this week, Cat Planet Cuties: Complete Series has sexy alien cat-girl Eris setting up her planet’s embassy in Kio’s house, with various secret agencies and enemy dog-aliens all circling round, looking for an opening. I watched this when it streamed from Japan on Crunchyroll last year and it was silly fun all the way, but see if the dog’s laugh doesn’t remind you of another famous cartoon canine.
Finally, D.Gray-man – The Complete Second Season has been released in a S.A.V.E. edition, so you can now pick up all 26 episodes for around $20 or less.