Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Spy DVDs Out This Week: OSS 117: Lost In Rio Found In Region 1 At Last!

Today, Americans are finally able to buy the fantastic spy parody sequel OSS 117: Lost in Rio on DVD!  This hilarious follow-up to OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies (which I picked as the best theatrical spy release of 2008) is as loving and meticulous an homage to and send-up of Sixties Bond films, the Eurospy genre and of course the original OSS 117 movies (which played it straight) as you could hope for.  Read my review of the film here, and read my introduction to the character here if you're unfamiliar with OSS 117's current or past incarnations.  Suffice it to say, this film is a must-have for spy fans.  Director Michel Hazanavicius not only sets the film in 1967, but also shoots it as if it were made then, with rear projection and stock footage and appropriate lighting and film stock.  It looks great.  Sadly Music Box Films are not releasing this on Blu-ray, even though there was a Region 2 BD release in France, but happily they have included a subtitled version of the 24-minute Making-Of documentary from the French release!  This includes interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. 

The movie is still going strong in theaters, though, continuing its summer-long platform release.  It opens in Cleveland, OH on September 3 and screens in the Milwaukee Film Festival in Wisconsin the week of September 23.

Also debuting today on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray from Sony is the Michael Caine revenge vehicle Harry BrownHarry Brown isn't a spy movie, but any movie in which Michael Caine kicks so much ass at any age should definitedly be on the radar of a lot of spy fans.  That said, please bear in mind that you are not going into a fun, Taken-style old guy revenge movie.  Harry Brown is a gritty and, frankly, depressing character study that bursts into realistic and disturbing mayhem in its second half.  It is very good and Caine deserves an Oscar nod, but it isn't fun.  You can read my full review here

There are also a few notable releases on the other side of the pond today.  UK spy fans finally get a good version of The Protectors: The Complete Series, courtesy (as usual) of Network.  This colorful half-hour ITC series from Gerry Anderson features former Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn as international private detective Harry Rule.  The plots are fluff, but the action is legitimately international, with lots of location filming, and the music is awesome.  The Protectors is a lot of fun.  Also out in the UK is Mark Gatiss' and Steven Moffat's updating of Sherlock Holmes to the present day, Sherlock.  I haven't seen this yet, but I'm dying to.  (Regular readers will be aware of how much I like Gatiss, who penned the terrific Lucifer Box novels.)  The Region 2 DVD and Blu-ray include commentaries from Gatiss, Moffat and the cast as well as the unaired hour-long pilot episode.  Sherlock is due out on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States with the same special features this November, following a telivision run on PBS.

Fiesta Pre Emmy de Entertainment Weekly 2010, LA

Esta es una de las fiestas previas a los Premios Emmy 2010, celebrada el Viernes 27, espero que os guste.

Anna Paquin llevó un vestido rojo, con escote asimétrico, de Preen.

Michelle Trachtenberg llevó un vestido largo palabra de honor, en color gris. Lo que no me gustó nada fue el pelo, demasiado liso para mi gusto.

Jessica Lowndes me encantó con este vestido rojo, con escote en uve y falda a base de pequeños volantes, de Luisa Beccaria Invierno 2010.

Kate Wlash estaba guapisima con este conjunto, de blusa de encaje blanca de Stella McCartney y falda tubo de seda, de Valentino.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tradecraft: RED Director To Take On Ludlum?

It's been a long while since we heard anything about that Summit remake of Robert Ludlum's The Osterman Weekend (which was originally filmed by Sam Peckinpah in 1983). But apparently the project's got momentum again, according to a nugget buried within a Deadline Hollywood story about who's vying to direct Wolverine 2. According to the trade blog, "Robert Schwentke, who created Comic-Con buzz for his film RED, had been in the mix [to direct the Wolverine sequel] but he opted out of the competition. Instead, Schwentke is eyeing projects that include Robert Ludlum's The Osterman Weekend and Universal's Ryan Reynolds-starrer RIPD as possible next pictures." Ludlum's novel follows a reporter, John Tanner, who's co-opted by the CIA into spying on his fellow guests at a weekend getaway with friends, some of whom he's told are KGB agents. There's no word yet on whether the plot would be updated or set in its original Cold War period, like the new movie version of John Le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but my guess would be updated.  It's worked well (at the box office, anyway) for the Bourne films, and the themes in Ludlum's original story actually hold up well today.  Last we'd heard about this new Osterman Weekend, Simon Kinberg had written the script and was set to direct.  Obviously he's not directing anymore, but the short trade piece doesn't give any indication of whether or not his script is still in play.  Schwentke previously directed Flightplan and The Time Traveler's Wife. Based on the encouraging trailers for RED, I'd be keen to see him stay in the spy genre... and I'm always game for more Ludlum movies!
Movie Review: The Expendables (2010)

Despite a few standout titles like The Wild Geese (starring Roger Moore), I’ve never been a big fan of the mercenary genre. For better or for worse, it’s one that frequently intersects with the spy genre, from TV shows like Saracen that straddle the line to my least favorite episode of Return of the Saint (which tries to cast Simon against type as an out-and-out soldier of fortune) to movies like The Wild Geese and Sylvester Stallone’s new action all-star jam, The Expendables. The Expendables is not a perfect movie (though it’s plenty entertaining!), but it definitely ranks among the better mercenary pictures, in my opinion.

Bruce Willis cameos as an Agency spook who tasks Stallone’s titular soldiers of fortune with overthrowing the government of a small island nation in South America. The island is ruled by a military dictator named General Garza, but the real threat is the guy pulling his strings: rogue agent James Munroe (Eric Roberts) who could prove an embarrassment to the CIA, hence farming out the assignment to mercenaries rather than using American forces. Munroe bankrolls Garza’s junta in exchange for massive quantities of cocaine he can sell back in the States. If that plot sounds right out of the Eighties, well, that’s the point.

The whole movie is a throwback to the sort of Eighties action movies Stallone and his co-stars used to make, like the second two Rambo movies, Cobra and Commando. It takes place today, but other than a brief (and underwhelming) opening featuring Somali pirates, the CIA/cocaine threat is torn from Eighties headlines. There is nary a mention of Iraq, Iran or the War on Terror. Just as American and British Cold War audiences took comfort in reliving WWII victories on screen throughout the Fifties and Sixties, I think contemporary audiences find solace today in the threats of the Eighties: the Cold War itself (as seen on the final season of 24 and in Salt–as well in newspaper headlines this summer) and islands full of drugs led by evil juntas. These are threats that we’ve conquered (to some degree, anyway; I’m not saying there isn’t still a huge drug problem!) and which seem manageable compared to rogue nuclear states and terrorists hiding in caves. Movies that try to take on realistic contemporary threats head-on, like Green Zone or Syriana, tend to falter at the box office. It’s much easier to embrace nostalgic threats.

The nostalgia in The Expendables is not limited to the bad guys, however. The whole movie is an unabashed throwback, both in its cast and its direction. Eighties and early Nineties icons like Stallone, Dolph Lundgrun (who many forget began his career as a Bond baddie in A View to a Kill) and even Arnold Schwarzenegger (who pops up extremely briefly in the same scene as Willis, which was my favorite scene in the movie) mingle with the most old-school action stars of today, like the great Jason Statham, whose Transporter series is one of the last vestiges of the pre-Bourne action movie. The Expendables itself is defiantly pre-Bourne (or anti-Bourne?) in its approach; Stallone directs action the old way, without an abundance of confusing quick cuts or an over-reliance on obvious CGI. In one of the coolest touches, the general’s army all paint their faces like Aladdin Sane, with yellow bolts cutting across black greasepaint. This not only makes them easy to differentiate from the heroes in the battle scenes (which is kind of necessary since there are so many heroes packed into this flick), but also successfully dehumanizes them, turning them into something more akin to robots or monsters than men, and making the ridiculously high body count easier to accept. Yes, there’s an Eighties level of violence, with death tolls reaching and probably exceeding Commando levels. There’s also a certain exuberance to the violence only found in the films of that era–especially Commando, Cobra and Rambo III. Obviously a film that so gleefully celebrates violence isn’t for all tastes, but if you check any PC inhibitions at the door and let yourself be transported back to a past era of action movie, you’ll probably enjoy it.

62 Edición de los Premios Emmy 2010, Parte II

Eva Longoria llevó un vestido negro, palabra de honor, con cola, de Robert Rodríguez, lleno de rosas en la parte inferior, muy en su línea.

Lea Michele está muy delgada, o esa es la impresión que tengo yo. Llevó un vestido azul marino, con volantes y escote corazón, de Oscar de la Renta Resort 2011.

Anna Paquin me encantó con este vestido negro, con los hombros y el pecho en dorado, a base de tachuelas, de Alexander McQueen Resort 2011.

Claire Danes llevó un vestido brillante, en color perla de Armani Privé Couture Invierno 2010. Aunque ya dije que las lentejuelas estaba muy vistas, encuentro que este vestido tiene un toque diferente y original, parece que desprende luz, me parece increíble.

Kim Kardashian estaba preciosa con este vestido que tiene un estilo entre corte helénico y el cuello me recuerda a los vestidos egipcios, es de Marchesa Resort 2011.

Heidi Klum estaba impresionante, aunque no me cuadra demasiado un vestido corto para una gala de noche. Llevó un vestido negro de Marchesa Invierno 2010, a base de flores y abalorios.

Dianna Agron es una de mis favoritas con este vestido de dos volantes, de encaje, en colores nude y negro, de Carolina Herrera Resort 2011.

Nina Dobrev, actriz de Crónicas Vampíricas, llevó un vestido color nude de Zuhair Murad Couture Invierno 2010

January Jones llevó un vestido precioso de Atelier Versace Primavera 2010, a base de pétalos, en color azul intenso.

Emily Blunt llevó un vestido color lila, con escote asimétrico, y pequeñas flores blancas por el escote y la cintura, de Christian Dior Resort 2010.

62 Edición de los Premios Emmy 2010, Parte I

Ya está aquí uno de mis eventos favoritos por la gran pasarela de looks y vestidos impresionantes. Esta es la primera parte de la 62 Edición de los Premios Emmy, ¡espero que os guste!

Rose Byrne llevó un vestido increíble en color blanco, de Gucci. Me encantan los detalles metálicos en dorado que lo forman, además le sienta genial.

Tina Fey llevó un vestido color gris, con bordados geométricos y lentejuelas en negro, de Oscar de la Renta Resort 2011

Emily Deschanel llevó un vestido morado a base de volantes, con escote asimétrico, de Max Azria Atelier. No me gustó demasiado su peinado, le veo un pelín salidas las orejas y no le favorece mucho el recogido.

La actriz de Mad Men, Christina Hendricks llevó un vestido lila, con plumas en hombros y falda, de Zac Posen Resort 2011.

Naya Rivera, actriz de Glee, es una de las que peor he visto de la gala. El vestido color verde esmeralda no es una maravilla, pero el pelo estilo Amy Winehouse me parece muy desafortunado. Lo único que se salva son las sandalias "Lance", de Jimmy Choo.

Heather Morris, también actriz de Glee, me sorprendió para bien con este vestido dorado de lentejuelas, de Ina Soltani Invierno 2010, y, aunque lo encuentro muy poco original, este tipo de vestido está muy visto en las grandes galas.

¿Que decir de Lo Bosworth y su extraño peinado?... El vestido color verde no está nada mal para una comida formal, pero para unos Emmy no lo veo. El peinado no se si es una mezcla entre el mal gusto o que se acostó con él puesto la noche anterior y tal cual se levanto se marchó a la gala...

Stephanie Pratt me gustó bastante con este vestido color lila con encaje en el cuello, aunque mejor fijémonos en el vestido y dejemos de lado su muy descarada cirugía labial...

No esperaba demasiado de Jennifer Carpenter, actriz de Dexter, pero como ya he dicho creo que las lentejuelas están muy muy vistas.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mejor Vestida de la Semana 35 del 2010

Aquí está la sección semanal con las elegidas a mejor vestida de la semana. Espero que os guste, y que votéis por vuestra favorita. ¡Gracias por Votar y Feliz Domingo!

Todavía podéis votar a este Blog en el Concurso de Galicia de Moda, podéis hacer click aquí.

Jessica Szohr, Mejor Vestida de la Semana 34 del 2010

Esta semana Jessica Szohr es la Mejor Vestida, con este vestido rojo de volantes de Notte by Marchesa.

En segundo lugar encontramos a Olivia Palermo, guapisima como siempre. En tercer lugar mi favorita, Jennifer Aniston con un vestido gris de Dolce & Gabanna. Gracias por votar!

Eventos de la Semana

Premiere de "Machete" en Los Ángeles

Jessica Alba estaba muy guapa con este vestido de lentejuelas, dorado y negro, de Balmain. Los botines que lleva me encantaron, son los "Tinazata" de Christian Louboutin.

Drew Barrymore asiste al "Show de David Letterman"

Drew llevó una camiseta de lentejuelas, en color bronce, de Richard Chai Love Invierno 2010, con pantalones negros, de talle alto, de Camilla and Marc. Los zapatos de ante gris que lleva son de YSL.

Kim Kardashian primociona su nuevo Perfume

Me parece precioso el vestido que llevó Kim Kardashian para presentar su nuevo perfume, el estampado geométrico marca su figura y le sienta genial.

Christina Applegate asiste al "Show de David Letterman"

Christina estaba muy guapa con este vestido negro, de lunares rojos, de Valentino.

Fiesta de Chopard por la semana de los Emmy 2010, LA

Jessica Lowndes llevó un vestido estampado, en color marrón y amarillo, con escote en uve y cinturón naranja, de Matthew Williamson Resort 2011.

Fiesta Benéfica "Kiss for a Cause", LA

Whitney Port llevó un vestido blanco, con el cuello y los hombros como algodonados, de Camilla and Marc Invierno 2010.

Katy Perry en el "Show de David Letterman"

Katy llevó un vestido naranja, estilo bandage, de Herve Leger. Las sandalias que lleva en color nude, con tachuelas en punta, son las "Jeannette Spiked" de Christian Louboutin.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mission: ... Something

Last week it was John Le Carre; this week it's Mission: Impossible that just won't stop generating headlines.  Yesterday we learned from Deadline that Jeremy Renner will play another agent alongside the returning Tom Cruise, with a view to a possible torch passing in subsequent installments.  Today, Variety has a story that suggests that this outing will be much more of a reboot than previously suspected.  In fact, it won't even be called Mission: Impossible 4.  Weirdly, it might not even be called "Mission: Impossible" anything!  According to the trade, "insiders" disclosed that "it's possible that the title won't even include any variation on the familiar moniker (much as Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel was simply titled 'The Dark Knight')." To which I say... huh?

As I've stated many times on this blog, the film series has basically ignored the premise of the superior TV show on which it's based, going so far as to make the show's hero, Jim Phelps, a traitor in the first film and then kill him off.  That left them with more of an imitation James Bond series (not that we have anything against Bond imitators around here, mind you!), focusing mainly on a single maverick secret agent played by Tom Cruise with occasional support from others.  Fine.  So that means that the studio was paying royalties to someone for what basically amounted to a title and a musical theme.  Again, nothing wrong with that.  It's a great title, and possibly the most recognizable theme music in the world.  But to lose the title part, after long ago abandoning any vestige of the TV series... well, then they're just paying for the theme!  Which is honestly kind of weird.  And what are they planning to call it, anyway?  Batman has long been known as "The Dark Knight" in other media, so that title made perfect sense.  What else is Mission: Impossible known by?  "Lit Fuse?" I suppose Tom Cruise's character's name, Ethan Hunt, is pretty recognizable by now, but when the whole point of this reboot is to phase out Cruise in favor of Renny, that means you can't call the new sequel "Ethan Hunt!"  (The only title I can think of that would really fit these cryptic clues would be Mission Accomplished, which isn't bad but sounds very final.)

Many times I've suggested here that the simple solution to Paramount's dilemma would be to return the franchise to its roots; to go back to a team concept rather than a single lead.  Then they're not so dependent on any one star's box office draw. But the Variety story makes it clear that they're not going in that direction.  In fact, they seem to be going in the exact opposite direction!  And lest fans of the TV series think that it wouldn't be possible to get any further away from it, well, Variety seems to feel that they've hewn closely so far: "In the first three installments, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) worked with a team of agents, reprising the premise of the '60s TV series.  In [director Brad] Bird's film, there will be only two agents, played by Cruise and Renner, who will have a role as big as Cruise's.  While Paramount envisions Cruise returning for subsequent films, Renner could play the central character in future installments."  Again: huh? Will they be seguing Cruise into more of an M role?

While this "only two agents" business doesn't seem to jibe with Deadline's story today that casting was underway for someone to play a young female agent, it's kind of alarming that the project seems to have undergone such a radical shift since Cruise's Knight and Day flopped at the box office.  (And it wasn't even as huge a flop as everyone seems to want it to be; the film has earned $222 million to date, which is hardly a blockbuster, but also nothing to sneeze at.) But when Alias writers (and frequent J.J. Abrams collaborators) Andre Nemec and Josh Applebaum first turned in their script, there was no report about its being a radical reinvention of the franchise.  In fact, Paramount seemed quite pleased when it was able to lure Cruise back after such a messy public split following the release of M:I-III.  So has the script been radically re-worked to introduce another agent with a role as big as Cruise's in just the last few months?  With shooting set to begin soon?  And if so, is that a good thing?  As a fan of the brand, I really hope so.  I just don't understand what we're hearing. 

The trade also reveals that "the story brings a fresh perspective to the action-spy franchise and does not pick up where the last film left off."  That also seems a little weird, considering J.J. Abrams really steered that one in the right direction, and since he's producing this one, I would have expected it to continue in that direction.  (Plus, Ethan Hunt was left with a wife or a fiance or something.  Hopefully they'll explain why if she's not in the new film.)  I just can't help but wondering if the Knight and Day situation sent people into panic mode desperate to fix something that wasn't all that broken.  Or at least wasn't broken in the way they thought it was. 

Okay, rant over.  Now I'm going to go do what everyone at Paramount should do: fire up the DVD player and watch some good old Peter Graves Missions...
Tradecraft: T-Dalt Joins Chuck

According to Deadline Hollywood, the great Timothy Dalton will continue his 2010 career resurgence (begun in Toy Story 3 and continuing this winter in The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie) by appearing on the NBC spy series Chuck.  The trade blog reports that Dalton will play "a mysterious stranger who has a history with Chuck’s mom (Linda Hamilton)." Wow, this is great news!  As cool as when Roger Moore turned up on Alias! I'm definitely going to have to start watching Chuck again.  (I confess, I fell behind and eventually gave up during this last season.)  Not only was Timothy Dalton one of the very best Bonds, but he's also one of the best actors working today (just watch Hot Fuzz if you need any further proof!), and it's a shame he hasn't gotten more high profile roles these past few years.  Hopefully this year marks a full-on comeback.  I want to see T-Dalt everywhere come 2011!  (Watching The Expendables, I felt like he would have been a good addition to the cast as a wrongly overlooked Eighties action star.)  Deadline adds that this is Dalton's first TV series role since a guest spot on Charlie's Angels way back in 1979.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tradecraft: IMF Recruits Jeremy Renner

The Mission: Impossible franchise is being Daniel Craiged up.  Deadline Hollywood's Mike Fleming reports Hurt Locker star and Best Actor nominee Jeremy Renner has been cast as a new IMF agent opposite returning series star Tom Cruise, who will reprise his Ethan Hunt role, in the Brad Bird-directed Mission: Impossible 4.  This news comes days after Fleming reported that the studio was looking at young actors like Anthony Mackie (Renner's Hurt Locker co-star), Kevin Zegers (Gossip Girl) and Christopher Egan (Letters to Juliet).  Renner, who next stars in Ben Affleck's crime thriller The Town, is almost 40.  The trade blog reports that their screen tests have been cancelled, but it's still unclear whether Renner's been cast in the same role that the younger actors were up for, or whether that's a separate part still up for grabs.  At any rate, the casting of Renner clearly recalls the casting of another rugged, very serious blond actor pushing forty (with similar looks, even) cast to anchor a major spy franchise: Daniel Craig.  (Fleming even quotes a top Paramount executive as citing Renner's "Daniel Craig quality.") I'm not sure the super-serious Daniel Craig route that's been so successfull for the James Bond series is the right way to go for Mission: Impossible, but as for Craig, I have a lot of respect for Renner as an actor, so I'm game to see what he brings to the table.  I'm also elated to see that the Bond movies are now back on top when it comes to leading the way for other spy franchises!  (Renner is not a "Matt Damon type.") 

Paramount have been keen to cast a marketable co-star ever since Cruise's entertaining spy parody Knight and Day (review here) failed at the American box office.  So does Jeremy Renner have what it takes to accept the torch from Cruise and carry on the franchise?  Perhaps, but he's unproven as a box office star.  (Despite winning the Oscar for Best Picture, The Hurt Locker was not a big financial hit.)  I still stand by what I said then: the studio should steer the film franchise back towards its TV roots, and make it more of an ensemble series.  Good Mission: Impossible stories depend on a team of experts in various fields working together to pull off miraculous heists and cons against enemies of the state.  J.J. Abrams brought more of that aspect to his Mission: Impossible III than either of the previous two films had, and it was a step in the right direction.  But while that team worked, we've only heard about Simon Pegg (who had a small, deskbound role) and Ving Rhames (who's been in all the M:I movies so far) signing on to return, not Jonathan Rhys-Meyers or Maggie Q, both of whom had much more to do in the field.  Whether those two return or a whole new team is brought in, I would still love to see Abrams and Bird return the series to the team formula.  That way, Renner will have lots of familiar faces to back him up next time, and Cruise can be easily shuffled out the way Steven Hill's Dan Briggs made way for Peter Graves' iconic Jim Phelps on the TV show.

This is Renner's second high-profile spy casting since his Hurt Locker Oscar nomination.  As previously reported, he will also play S.H.I.E.L.D. agent "Hawkeye" in Joss Whedon's Marvel superhero jam The Avengers (no relation to the real Avengers). Today's  Deadline Hollywood story also reveals (for the first time, I think) Mission: Impossible 4's shooting locations, which show a lot of potential: according ot the trade blog, "The film will shoot in the U.S., Vancouver, Prague and Dubai." And, presumably, the Paramount backlot, if they want to show any deference to the TV show!

Read Deadline Hollywood's whole story on Renner's casting here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Sixth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fifth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Fourth TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Third TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The Second TV Season here.
Read my review of Mission: Impossible: The First TV Season here.
Latest Avengers Special Features Announced

The Avengers Declassified has revealed the special features on the latest volume of remastered Avengers Special Edition DVDs in the UK from Optimum Entertainment, and once again it's a mouthwatering assembly of goodies. Besides a beautiful remastered picture looking better than ever (if previous installments are anything to go by), The Avengers: The Complete Series 5, a 7-disc set comprising the color Emma Peel episodes, will include multiple audio commentaries, episode introductions, cut scenes, archival television presentations and more.  Brian Clemens contributes a commentary track for "Murdersville," as does scriptwriter Richard Harris on "The Winged Avenger." Diana Rigg sadly doesn't do a commentary, but her stunt double, Cyd Child, does, on "Return of The Cybernauts." And possibly best of all, we get a commentary from scene-stealing guest star Peter Wyngarde on his greatest, most scenery-chewsing Avengers role in the classic episode, "Epic," one of my personal favorites! But that's not all... 

Clemens provides filmed episode introductions to "The Bird Who Knew Too Much," "The Living Dead," "Epic," "The Correct Way To Kill," "The Superlative Seven," (love those two!), "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station," "The Joker" (oh, another favorite!) and "Murdersville." There's also a German TV interview with Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg, ATV newsreel footage of Rigg receiving a TV Award, "film trims" (short cut bits) from "The Fear Merchants," "Escape in Time," "From Venus With Love" and "The See-Through Man," a "They're Back!" archive trailer, original Sixties German titles, "Granada Plus Points" for each episode (previously released as "Follow the Hat" on the old UK Contender DVDs), stills galleries, copious PDF material (scripts, TV Times, etc.), an insert reprint of the original Series 5 promotional brochure, more painstaking "episode reconstructions" for lost Series 1 episodes ("One For The Mortuary," "Death on The Slipway," "Tunnel of Fear" and "Dragonsfield") and the 1993 documentary presented by Patrick Macnee, "The Avengers – A Retrospective." Whew! Just typing all those episode titles gets me really excited to watch them again.  The Avengers is my very favorite spy show (and Rigg's tenure my favorite era on it), and it's been a long while since I've watched it.  I've been vacationing, exploring all the other British adventure shows of the era, for pretty much the duration of this blog, and I look forward to returning to my spy fan roots, so to speak, just as it's always refreshing to go back to Bond after long stints of Eurospy watching. I just wish these sets weren't so expensive to import.  Hopefully some enterprising American company will pick up the rights abandoned by A&E, port the features from Optimum and re-release the show Stateside on DVD and Blu-ray. 

The Avengers: The Complete Series 5, a PAL Region 2 DVD set, comes out September 27.  SRP is £59.99, but it's currently available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk for £42.99.

Premiere de "Going The Distance" en Los Ángeles

Drew Barrymore estaba increíble con este vestido dorado, estampado, de Catherine Malandrino, acompañado de un cinturón dorado de Balmain.

Kate Beckinsale llevó un vestido blanco, con las solapas de los bolsillos en estampado de cruadricula color negro, de Versace Resort 2011.

Christina Applegate llevó un vestido por debajo de la rodilla, en color morado, de Max Mara.

Malin Akerman llevó un vestido estampado en colores blanco, amarillo y negro, de J. Crew.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Spy CDs: Assignment: Vienna

Well, this is an obscure one!  Film Score Monthly has announced their latest Silver Age Classics soundtrack CD release, and it's a box set of rare TV music from the Sixties and Seventies, including the score music to a few made-for-television spy movies and an eight episode Robert Conrad spy series so obscure it's not available on DVD.  I've never seen Assignment: Vienna, although I've wanted to ever since I got into The Wild Wild West (if anyone has it, please shoot me an email!), so I can't really speak to its music, but I certainly never expected to see a soundtrack released.  Assignment: Vienna music by Dave Grusin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and John Parker (CHiPs) takes up the better part of two CDs out of the five that comprise the box set TV Omnibus Volume One (1962-1976).  Among the tracks included are some vocal tracks (available for the first time in their entirety) performed in the bar that Conrad's chracter runs as a cover. A George Romanis track from the TV pilot movie that spawned the series, Assignment: Munich (not only was the city different, but so was the star; Roy Scheider played American spy Jake Webster instead of Conrad) is also included. 

But that's not the only spy music in this collection!  There's also the soundtrack by Billy Goldenberg to a possibly even more obscure TV movie called High Risk.  This was a failed pilot for a Mission: Impossible-style show about a group of former circus performers recruited to pull off daring heists for the U.S. government.  Victor Buono and Don Stroud starred.  The composer of the actual Mission: Impossible, Lalo Schifrin, is also represented, via his score for the sci-fi pilot Earth II.  Other composers featured on TV Omnibus Volume One inlcude John Williams, Gil Mellé, George Duning, Jerry Fielding and Leonard Rosenman on such short-lived series and TV movies as Then Came Bronson, The Deadly Tower, The Phantom of Hollywood and The Eleventh Hour.  The set comes with a 32-page booklet including "extensive background notes by film and TV music historian Jon Burlingame, plus stills and artwork."  And because even a booklet that generous couldn't contain all the liner notes they wanted to include, FSM has also made additional notes available online!  These detailed notes are well worth reading for some further background information on these shows and to better guage if this is a release you'd be interested in getting. 

TV Omnibus Volume One (1962-1976) is available from Screen Archives Entertainment for $59.95.  The edition is strictly limited to 2000 units.  You can listen to clips from many of these shows (including Assignment: Vienna) on SAE's website.
Tradecraft: The U.N.C.L.E. Rights Affair

Remember just a few scant years ago when The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was still conspicuously absent on DVD?  Fans clamored for it forever, it seemed, before we finally got word that it would come out in season sets from Anchor Bay, and that Robert Vaughn and David McCallum had recorded new commentary tracks for the release.  It was very exciting.  Then that excitement was quickly dashed when Warner Bros. took the wind out of Anchor Bay's sails by issuing a cease-and-desist on the project, and asserting that they owned the rights to the classic spy series.  (It was particularly frustrating at the time, because then they didn't seem to have any plans to actually do anything with those rights.  Obviously that situation changed when they put out a really excellent and feature-laden collection through Time-Life a few years later.)  Well, all's well that ends well, and we all kind of forgot about that Anchor Bay situation when the official release happened.  But I always kind of wondered what went on there, and how a major distributor could be duped into thinking they had the rights to such a major license when they didn't.  (And what happened to those commentaries!)  Now we have some of those answers, thanks to a story in yesterday's Hollywood Reporter

According to the trade, "a Los Angeles jury has awarded $7.3 million to Anchor Bay Entertainment from a woman who was accused of selling rights to the classic TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that she didn't own. Lindsay Dunlap and her Ember Entertainment were on trial for fraud and breaching a 2005 contract with Anchor Bay."  Apparently the fact that she could produce the masters and "footage for DVD extras" was enough to convince Anchor Bay she was on the level, and the company paid her $625,000.  Obviously, they've now been recompensated and then some.  But my biggest question remains: what happened to those commentaries that Anchor Bay recorded, and will they ever see the ligh of day?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Spy DVDs Out This Week: The Sandbaggers

This week BFS bundles their remastered Sandbaggers sets that came out to little fanfare last winter into the handy set The Sandbaggers: The Complete Collection.  While I can't fathom why the company chose to divide three seasons into five extra-chunky sets, I can attest that the remastered discs are actually a marked improvement over BFS's previous editions (which were available in three traditional season sets).  They don't add any new special features (though they do retain the scant but welcome ones from the original releases), but the picture quality is noticeably better... within the limits of Seventies British television with videotaped intereriors and exteriors shot on 16mm film, anyway.  But more important than the improved quality is the improved availability.  The Sandbaggers: The Complete Collection is a bit pricy with an SRP of $160, but consider that this is, along with Callan, one of the two best serious spy shows ever made.  The Sandbaggers is absolutely essential viewing for fans of the grittier, more realistic side of the genre.  That "custom-crafted, red presentation chest with gold foil lettering on the flip-top lid" doesn't look like much to write home about, but the "twenty digitally re-mastered and color corrected episodes" contained within are worth their weight in gold.  The individual sets (beginning with First Principles) are still available on their own, and may be a better buy.  However you choose to get them, though, no spy DVD library is complete without these remastered Sandbaggers sets.

I didn't do a DVD post last week because the only major release was Network's Region 2 PAL Mr. Palfrey of Westminster in the UK, and I'd just blogged about that the day before.  But Mr. Palfrey is another great serious spy show, and likely to appeal to fans of The Sandbaggers or, especially Callan.  A Region 1 version comes out stateside from Acorn next month.
New X-Men Movie To Evoke James Bond, Avengers?

Harry Knowles has posted some major updates about the new X-Men movie on Aintitcool.  I know, I know: who cares about the X-Men on a spy blog?  I, for one, haven't really cared about an X-Men movie since Bryan Singer's X2 (which was awesome).  But some of the things that Singer (who's producing this new movie) told Knowles have my interest decidedly piqued.  X-Men: First Class, directed by Matthew Vaughn (who was at one time attached to direct a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie), will be a prequel set in the 1960s rather than a modern-day reboot of the superhero franchise.  More than once, Singer refers to the "James Bond vibe" of that era that he and Vaughn hope to capture in the film, and he mentions that Vaughn is inspired by Bondian technology.  A superhero movie set in the Sixties with Bond gadgets and style? Okay, now I'm intrigued!  Let's hope for Incredibles-like Ken Adamish sets as well!  But that's not all.  Singer also reveals that the storyline includes The Hellfire Club, a group of baddies introduced into the X-Men comics by Chris Claremont in the early 80s inspired by the infamous Queen of Sin episode of The Avengers, "A Touch of Brimstone." X-Men's Hellfire Club storyline included a Black Queen (whose costume was based on Diana Rigg's Queen of Sin), a White Queen named Emma (after Peel) Frost, and a character based on guest star Peter Wyngarde's role (and likeness!) named "Jason Wyngarde" (in homage not only to the actor but also to his famous bouffanted character Jason King).  Provided that the set and costume designs are as Avengers-inspired as the artwork in the comics, this could be pretty great.  (Or not.  We'll see.)