For people who shop for physical media (Blu-rays, DVDs, CDs, etc) in San Antonio, there certainly isn't a lack of places to shop. Big media outlets like Best Buy and Barnes and Noble, department stores like Walmart and Target, and even small stores that carry a small amount of product like Dollar General, all have good deals depending on what you're looking for.
For example, let's say that you're looking for a copy of the movie 12 Angry Men starring Henry Fonda. It's one of your favorite movies, you see it on Turner Classic Movies all the time and want a copy for yourself. Let's also say that you don't want to buy it online and be made to wait a few days for it to show up in your mailbox. Instead, you decide to venture off, looking for it at some or all of the aforementioned retail outlets. You also know that it's an older movie and that many places probably won't carry it. Having a little knowledge about it ahead of time is probably a good idea, yes?
The point is not that you should know all of titles that a department store might carry, but instead to have a general idea of where to go when looking for something specific. 12 Angry Men's best home video release is on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection, and if you've done your homework, you will know that it will mostly likely be found at Barnes and Noble.
Unfortunately, there aren't any special deals going on for Criterion material this week at Barnes and Noble. You can pick up a copy at Best Buy or Half Price Books if you're lucky. Best Buy doesn't always carry Criterion titles nowadays like they used to and Half Price Books is always a gamble as to what they'll actually have on hand. In other words, treasure hunting can be fun unless you're out for something specific.
So as of right now, Barnes and Noble is your best for this title, at least in person. If you just want to go out and buy it, they'll most assuredly have it on hand. Not at the best price, but it'll be there. And if you have a difficult time finding it, they have a great staff on-hand to help you with it. It also doesn't hurt to sign up for a membership card with them. It's $25 a year to sign up, but it will save you money in the long run if you shop there often. Members get an additional 10% off of their purchase when it comes to Blu-rays and DVDs, which is great.
And if you're curious about Criterion's 12 Angry Men on Blu-ray, check out my review for it below.
Also visit Barnes and Noble's website to check back for any future deals on Criterion titles.
You can also check out my Dailies column at The Digital Bits for further reading on a variety of titles.
Oh, and check out some other links I've provided for other articles on Examiner.com for further reading on other movies.
REVIEW FOR 12 ANGRY MEN
12 Angry Men was released in 1957 by United Artists to very good acclaim but lackluster box office success. Since its release, it has been lauded as one of the best films of not just the era it was released in, but any era.
12 Angry Men was also the directorial debut of one of cinema's greatest filmmakers: Sidney Lumet. It stars a variety of talent including Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Frank Kluggman, among many others. The film comes from a script written by Reginald Rose that was originally produced for TV but brought to the big screen by both Rose & Lumet, and with a heavy influence by Henry Fonda. Technically, it's not a courtroom drama, not in the usual sense. It's instead all about what goes on inside the jury room and focuses on little else.
Once inside that jury room, the hot day and lack of air conditioning combined with the jury members' growing arguments against each other about the guilt or innocence of the young man in question makes for some of the most captivating drama you could possibly ask for. It also helps enormously that it was photographed and edited so well. In the beginning of the film, as the jury begins their deliberations, there are a lot of wide angles and very few close-ups, and the editing pace is very lax. As the film moves on and the arguments become more intense, more close-ups are used and the editing is much faster as well. So not only does the film suck you in with the performances from the actors, but also with the cinematography and style of the film.
Between Sidney Lumet's direction and everything I've mentioned previously, 12 Angry Men shines and draws you in like few films ever will. It takes the simple notion that one man isn't sure about another man's innocence and brings you into it, revealing more and more information in a way that a lesser film would have simply bored you with. But between the performances and the direction, and the style of the film itself, it grips you from beginning to end. It's one of my favorite films and one that I'm happy to have properly restored in high definition.
And for the film's release on Blu-ray via Criterion, you couldn't ask for a better presentation. The transfer was made utilizing a 35mm fine-grain master positive and the results are stellar, especially with a film its age that wasn't an enormous success at the time. First of all, there's a thick level of grain on display throughout the film, helping to showcase the source's image detail in amazing clarity. Close-ups especially are full of detail, as every bead of sweat on the actors' faces is clear enough that you can almost feel the heat in the room. Both blacks and whites are nice and solid, there are no traces of film defects and both brightness and contrast are perfect. Shadow delineation is quite remarkable as well. The only soundtrack available is the film's original monaural soundtrack, presented here uncompressed. There isn't a whole lot in the way of music and special effects as its almost entirely a dialogue-driven film, but what is there is more than adequate. Dialogue is always the focal point in the soundtrack and its very crisp and clear. The track shows its age in spots, but not enough for me to knock any points of off it. It's a perfect soundtrack for a perfect picture to a perfect film. There are also English subtitles available.
Extras are quite bountiful. Not only do you get the film itself, but also the great live TV version of 12 Angry Men that aired in 1955 on CBS with an introduction by Ron Simon, the curator at the Paley Center for Media. You also get a featurette on the production history of 12 Angry Men from teleplay to big-screen classic; archival interviews with director Sidney Lumet; an interview with screenwriter Walter Bernstein; another interview with Simon about writer Reginald Rose; an interview with cinematographer John Bailey; Tragedy in a Temporary Town, a 1956 teleplay also written by Rose and directed by Lumet; the film's original theatrical trailer; and finally, a 20-page booklet featuring an essay by writer and law professor Thane Rosenbaum.
And if that doesn't sound like the perfect package to you then I don't know what will. 12 Angry Men might have been overlooked at the time of its release, but its a very important film to many today, myself included. If you haven't picked this release up yet, I highly recommend that you do so. It's a powerful film with a fantastic release from the good folks at Criterion.
And that's all from me for now. :)