Technological Conundrum

Readers, I need your help. When it comes to technology, I feel that I’m half idiot, half savant. Once I feel I’ve mastered something in computer science or home entertainment, it seems that the next new thing comes along. I had no trouble with social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but it took me a while to get used to Blogger and then WordPress. Ask me to write code and I’ll stare at you blankly, but I can tell you how to successfully embed an amazon associates link in your blog.

It’s that I don’t want to upgrade, it’s just that I’m wary of jumping on a moving carousel. I held onto my disc-men for years. Finally, I caved and bought my first iPod and wondered how I ever lived without it. I figured I would never use my cell phone for anything other than calls. Cut to this past May when I got my first smart phone (Droid). Now I can listen to music, check my email, tweet and update facebook from something the size of my wallet. And I wonder how I ever lived without it. Who knew? I’m now considering a Macbook for Christmas. My first computer was a Mac, but now it might be time for a return as I’ve spent ten years with PCs and am getting frankly a quite tired of them. (A night in the Apple Store in Midtown will do that to a person).

But the big hold out for me has been Blu-ray technology. I figured I had enough DVDs to last me and why would I need to upgrade? Well, as it turns out, (much like Betamax, VHS and now DVD) the new technology is slowly taking over the market. I’ve recently received two review copies in the form of Blu-ray and I currently don’t have the technology on which to play them. Thank God for my best friend who graciously lets me spend as much time as I need in his basement home entertainment center!

This digital technology fascinates me. I was thrilled when TVs expanded from 4×3 to 16×9 (I’ve been a champion of letterboxing since I was in middle school – that’s how much of a nerd I am). 720i 1080i? I didn’t know what any of this meant, nor what was best for my viewing. Plasma? LCD? LED? I’ve been unable to choose, so I haven’t gotten one yet. Then Blu-ray came about; that seems like a package deal. Why would I want to get a Blu-ray player for my 12 year old console that’s starting to die? My big main problem is I never know what brand I should go for. I’ve been buying Sony for years, but that’s mostly been my name recognition factoring into it, but keep an open mind in case I find out there’s something of superior quality.

I wonder if some day we’ll be able to close our eyes and immerse ourselves into Gone with the Wind or Star Wars in our own heads. Fanciful stuff, but at the rate we make these advancements my imagination may not be as outlandish as it may seem. But for now, I’m left with the task of upgrading my technology and I cannot think of a better way to get information than from my bloggers. What do you think of the upgraded digital technology? And what do you think makes for the best home entertainment experience?

Upcoming DVDs and Blu-rays of Note

A couple years ago, I would regularly check in with some interesting “DVDs of Note” that I thought seemed interesting. I’m going to bring that back on a monthly basis and have a look at some of the releases of the month that I want or at least want to have a look at (now expanded to include the ever growing world of Blu-ray).

While much of the focus this week has been on the 45th anniversary Blu-ray premiere of The Sound of Music (which I’ll be looking at early next week), 20th Century Fox also gave Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the Blu-ray treatment this week, with a bonus standard DVD and new features. Paramount also released the Blu-ray edition of White Christmas, which seems to receive a brand new release every year.

On November 9, 20th Century Fox will be releasing The Elia Kazan Collection, an 18-disc DVD box set featuring his most well known films, with cooperation from Warner Bros and Columbia. The films included in the collection have been selected by Martin Scorsese and will feature his new documentary A Letter to Elia which was recently seen in various film festivals and on PBS “American Masters” series. Five of the films are making their first appearance on DVD: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Man on a Tightrope, Viva Zapata!, Wild River and America, America. There are no plans at present to release these films individually. The set retails for $199.98. Having just seen America, America for the first time earlier this year, I am quite pleased that it’s finally receiving a DVD debut.

That same day, Warner Bros. will be reissuing the 1958 comedy classic Auntie Mame in a brand new keep case package. The film, whose original 2002 release went out of print about a year ago, is a perennial favorite and is based on the hilarious stage play by Lawrence and Lee. Star Rosalind Russell and featured actress Tony winner Peggy Cass reprise their stage roles for the screen. The film was a huge hit, garnering six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Actress (Russell), Supporting Actress (Cass). The new packaging isn’t as exciting, but it’s worth it just to keep the film in print. No word on any Blu-ray edition. Yet.

November 16, Image Entertainment releases Sondheim: The Birthday Concert on DVD and Blu-Ray. The NY Philharmonic concert, which took place on March 15 & 16, will feature a combination of performances from both evenings. Hosted by David Hyde Pierce, the concerts presented the best of Broadway. The first act consists of the songs for which he wrote only lyrics, as well as a parade of original performers recreating their signature numbers. The second act contains the now-legendary red dress segment, in which Sondheim divas, decked out in spectacular red gowns and outfits deliver showstopping renditions of some of his biggest numbers.

November 30: Disney Home Entertainment is going to release the documentary The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story, which chronicles the professional and personal lives of Richard Sherman and Robert Sherman, arguably the most prolific songwriters in Disney history. The very personal story of their estrangement belies the music that has brought joy to millions. Their sons made this film in an effort to both try to understand the personal relationship while celebrating the professional collaboration. Also that day, Disney will be bringing Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 out of its vault for with a DVD reissue and Blu-ray premiere.