Recommendation of the Week:
North by Northwest: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray)
It's been 50 years since Alfred Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest first appeared in theaters, and Warner Bros. has put together an amazing package that includes a new one hour documentary about Hitchcock called "The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style," and a new half-hour documentary about the film itself. It also carries over older extras like a documentary about Cary Grant, commentary and more. It's packaged in the Warner Blu-ray Book format that I loathed at first, but now love: No inserts or booklets to lose, and they look fantastic on a shelf. You've probably seen the iconic image of Cary Grant running in terror from a biplane, but never seen North by Northwest. For my money, it's his best film.
Read on for the rest of the recommendations, and as usual, we'll see you at the popcorn sta -- well, actually, we won't see you at all. But you catch our drift. Plus, be sure to tell us what you'll be watching, or what you've seen recently that bowled you over.
Xbox Live Video Marketplace (Xbox 360)
WWII in HD (240($3) HD, 160 ($2) SD, to purchase, per episode)
Note that the Xbox Live Video Marketplace is now simply Zune Video, although it requires leaping through a couple more hoops and barrels to access. There's no easy way to go online and see which Zune videos are available for the Xbox, which is slightly maddening. Hopefully they'll iron out the kinks in this. WWII in HD (which is available for the Xbox) is from the History Channel, and it brings you tons of never before seen, newly discovered color footage from the war. They've pushed the envelope on both the picture and the sound, and the conflict has never looked so beautiful, or so brutal before.
Netflix Watch Instantly (Mac/PC, Xbox Live, PS3, subscription required: starts at $8.99 per month)
Saturday Night Live
Netflix has recently added a ton of Saturday Night Live content to Watch Instantly, and there's enough hours of comedy here to keep you occupied well into next year. They've included full seasons of the show, as well as many of the "Best Of..." sets, like Chris Farley, John Belushi, and even Commercial Parodies ("Happy Fun Ball" is in there, along with "Little Chocolate Donuts"). If you've been waiting to see Steve Martin and The Kinks from season two way back in 1976, or Neil Patrick Harris from Season 34 last year, then you're in luck. This definitely showcases one of the reasons that streaming video is going to supplant bulky DVD collections.
PlayStation Store (PlayStation 3 or PSP)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving ($9.99 SD to own)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is probably the best Thanksgiving movie ever made, and rightfully tops the short list of movies about that holiday. However, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving shouldn't forgotten, especially because Snoopy cooks up probably the best Thanksgiving meal ever in this one: Two slices of buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn and jelly beans. Plus Woodstock dresses up like a pilgrim. How cute is that? Even though it originally aired in 1973, it's still a great view of Turkey Day from a kid's perspective. And seriously, that menu just can't be beat. Forget cranberries and pumpkin pie. Bring on the buttered toast.
Blu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
Star Trek ($39.99, lower at many retailers)
A lot of great Blu-ray discs came out this week: Fight Club, Galaxy Quest, Leon: The Professional and Rome: The Complete Series are all new to the format. However, Star Trek ends up taking the cake. I have to admit, I enjoyed this movie when it came out, but I wasn't over the moon about it. But something happened when I saw it a second time, and I've been waiting on this to come out on Blu-ray ever since. Thankfully, the wait was worth it. There's a ton of actually good extra material on this disc, and it's not filler material that you normally see on three-disc sets (like interviews with the key grip). I mean, two of the featurettes are called "The Shatner Conundrum" and "Red Shirt Guy." I would've been sold with that, but the video just looks ... perfect. This is the disc that you want to show off your PS3's Blu-ray capability to drooling friends.
What are you watching?