Out of Africa

Universal Pictures will turn a century old on April 30, and in advance of their 100th birthday, the studio has trotted out a new (shiny!) logo that touts their triple-digit age. Why they didn’t get Willard Scott to do one of those Smuckers Jam birthday label shout-out things on The Today Show, I simply don’t know, but there’s still time! Of course, that new logo is neat and all (and, again, shiny!), but what’s most exciting about this news is the studio’s announcement that they will also celebrate their centennial with the restoration of thirteen of its most famous films. THR reports that the studio has restored All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), the Spanish-language Dracula (which was filmed on the same set at night), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting, and To Kill a Mockingbird. The studio plans to release the restorations throughout 2012. Many of the restorations will be sold in “collectible book style packaging with memorabilia.” Moreover, Universal is reportedly quite happy with the work on previously damaged films, particularly when it comes to crisper sound in Frankenstein and “appalling graininess” in To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, fans of Out of Africa can breathe a sigh of relief – as “Meryl Streep loses a weird wobble in her walk possibly caused by projectors that enlarged the sprocket holes.” I wish it was Universal’s 100th birthday every day!

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John Barry, the prolific and almost peerless film composer, has died of a heart attack. The beauty and complexity of his work cannot be overstated – a fact bolstered by his five Oscar wins (for Out of Africa, The Lion in Winter, Born Free (2 wins), and Dances With Wolves). Of course, Barry will be less known for the statues and more known for his decades of collaboration on the James Bond franchise. He worked on eleven of the first Bond movies starting with Dr. No and ending with The Living Daylights. Barry worked on or has had his music included in 143 films. It’s a massive achievement, and one that leaves the question of which score is the best open to a wild range of interpretation. Do you go with the brassy edge of the Bond music? The sheer hugeness and intensity of the Zulu score? The sophisticated jungle rhythms of the 1976 King Kong remake? The man left behind some impeccable work – film scores that should be studied and emulated for years to come. Not to mentioned enjoyed by movie fans of all stripes. He will absolutely be missed.

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After two very light weeks of releases, This Week in Blu-ray is as full as she’s ever been. We’ve got new movies, movies from yesteryear, good movies, bad movies and seemingly everything in between.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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