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Night on Earth [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1991]

Night on Earth [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1991]
$29.99

Jim Jarmusch's globe-trotting study of five cab rides taking place at the same time in five different cities gets a fresh presentation on DVD in this excellent release from the Criterion Collection, created with the participation and approval of the filmmaker. Night On Earth has been given a widescreen transfer to disc in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which is letterboxed on conventional televisions and enhanced for anamorphic playback on 16x9 monitors. The subtly distinct look for each segment (created by cinematographer Frederick Elmes) is preserved in this transfer, and shows how masterfully Jarmusch can manipulate the color palate, despite his fondness for working in black and white. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, and the lively sound mix is crisp and well-detailed on this DVD, with Tom Waits' musical score benefiting from the careful treatment. The dialogue for the various segments is in English, French, Italian and Finnish, and no multiple language options appear, though the disc contains two sets of subtitles - one translating non-English dialogue, the other presenting the full dialogue track for the hard of hearing. The disc includes an optional audio commentary from cinematographer Elmes and location sound mixer Drew Kunin, who talk about the many logistical challenges presenting by the shooting of each segment; among the other bonus features are a profile of Jarmusch created for Belgian television in 1991, an audio-only feature in which Jarmusch answers questions submitted to him by film fans from around the world, and a booklet which includes a separate essay on each of Night On Earth's five stories. Night On Earth has never looked or sounded as good as it does on Criterion's DVD release, and fans of Jim Jarmusch will find it a worthy addition to their collections.

Earth, Wind & Fire: Live By Request [DVD]

Earth, Wind & Fire: Live By Request [DVD]
$9.99

This disc documents the 1999 appearance on A & E's Live By Request of Earth, Wind & Fire. The disc contains a standard full-frame transfer that preserves the original broadcast aspect ratio. English soundtracks are rendered in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and PCM Stereo. There are neither subtitles nor closed captions on this release. Supplemental materials include one song not aired during the original airing of the show, a discography, and a band commentary on three of the songs. The tunes from the concert are "Shining Star," "Boogie Wonderland," "Got to Get You Into My Life," and over a dozen others. This is an excellent disc for fans of the band and music enthusiasts in general.

The Wash [DVD] [2001]

The Wash [DVD] [2001]
$7.99

DJ Pooh directs rapper Snoop Dogg in the comedy The Wash. The widescreen anamorphic transfer preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The closed-captioned English soundtrack is rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1. English and Spanish subtitles are accessible. Supplemental materials include a trailer, interviews with the cast and crew, and a music video. This is a fine Trimark release for those in the market, but the film is also available in a two-pack that include the soundtrack for the movie.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [WS] [2 Discs] [DVD] [2002]

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [WS] [2 Discs] [DVD] [2002]
$4.99

New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson continue their string of excellence in the first release of the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on DVD. Presented here in its theatrical cut, the focus isn't quite heaped on the extras as much as it's presenting the film audiences saw and loved in the theaters in the most spectacular presentation possible for home viewing. Visually, The Two Towers has never looked better, with its 2.35:1 widescreen picture working as a perfect vehicle to show off cinematographer Andrew Lesnie's skillful eye and the amazing digital color-correction done in post-production. The audio as well is powerful and full, thanks to the 5.1 Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound and 2.0 tracks supplied - for proof, look no further than the Battle of Helm's Deep, whose layers of rain, thunder, and carnage are mixed perfectly with Howard Shore's driving score, creating bombastic booms that will no doubt rock whatever sound system you're running. The rest of the two-disc edition follows the same groundwork laid by the original Fellowship DVD in which the extras are mostly just but a taste of what's to come. Even though audiences are licking their lips for the later, more beefed-up Special Extended Edition (featuring a longer cut of the film along with an unbelievable amount of extras), this edition still holds its own with bonus materials that won't make it onto its sister disc - most notably, the ten-minute preview of The Return of the King, which finds Peter Jackson in the editing lab teasing the audience with snippets of footage that will no doubt leave fans on the floor ready for more. With equal time split between behind-the-scenes and actual film footage, for most, this is the main draw of this release and not surprisingly, it doesn't disappoint. For more sneak peeks into the third film's goodness, simply head to the preview of Electronic Arts' The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King video game, which showcases more choice footage from the upcoming film along with interviews from the cast and creators of the game. For those that just can't wait for The Two Towers: Extended Edition, there's also a preview of the four-disc set, which highlights Boromir's (Sean Bean) cut flashback scenes, along with many other large and small plot lines that are now added back into the film (which should lay rest to any of the hardcore Tolkien fans' initial complaints). There are two full specials that make an appearance on the disc, both filmed especially for the Starz/Encore and WB cable channels. Each provide the same levels of insight into the production of the second film, which are in turn, built upon in the lordoftherings.net featurettes - eight small behind-the-scene video bits that were available on the web before the release of the film. The teaser and theatrical trailer are also supplied, along with a whopping 16 TV spots ready for you to jump into. Throwaway to most, though probably important to the remaining few, there's also Emiliana Torrini's music video to "Gollum's Song," which basically comes off as a classy, but still throw-together compilation of footage from the film and her in the studio (a duet with Gollum would have been better). Finally, one of the best things about the disc is the inclusion of Sean Astin's terribly sweet short film The Long and Short of It, filmed in the town of Wellington on an off-day from the production utilizing everything from extra cameras to various cast and crew alike, followed by a behind-the-scenes clip with some hilarious interviews with Andy Serkis and company. Far too easily written off as the lesser of the two initial releases of the film, this disc is an assurance that the original version of the film will live on for years to come.