Arts & Entertainment
Screen Queen: Desperate Housewives, Cinderella
By Chris Azzopardi
Originally printed 10/4/2012 (Issue 2040 - Between The Lines News)
Desperate Housewives: The Complete Collection (Deluxe Edition)
When Desperate Housewives ended last year with a flash-forward, we were left to believe that the four ladies who became our TV besties never saw each other again. This is why we have DVD box sets: With the complete series - that's eight seasons on 45 discs, packaged like secrets in a chest - Susan, Bree, Lynette and Gaby's friendship is eternally preserved. And so are some other show highlights: the hot gardener, the night Gaby cut the lawn in an evening gown and all the disaster that hit Wisteria Lane (I'm not talking about the tragedy known as season two). Marc Cherry's long-running satirical riff on burb life, where Mary Alice observes her friends from afar after she blows her brains out, was usually highly engrossing because of its dark comedy flair, mysterious season-long whodunits and a satisfying number of dead neighbors. Included are all the previous extras, but what's really special is a bittersweet send-off for the ladies - and the fans who loved them.
Before life taught us that a "Cinderella story" was a total delusion (look at the divorce rate), a young girl who went from scrubbing floors for a family of rich snobs - and had singing/sewing rodents as friends - to a princess was the life-dream of so many girls and gay boys. Cinderella returns to the ball looking better than ever in Blu-ray, as Disney releases the Diamond Edition of the whimsical 1950 classic - a movie that has more reincarnations than Madonna's career. This spruced-up version is, of course, as shiny as a glass slipper, but what Disney die-hards will really love is the new extras: a from-the-vault opening sequence, a sweet doc on the real-life inspiration for the fairy godmother and a live-action Cinderella short. The Little Mermaid is feeling very jealous right now.
Katy Perry: Part of Me
She can get creative with her mammaries and write songs as infectious as her charm, but how about carrying a whole movie? Even that, it turns out, isn't beyond the power of Katy Perry. The secretly obsessed pop-lovers who feel too old to watch Katy in Candyland will have to get over being a grown-up: Perry's story about being herself, and going from daughter of religious zealots to singing with Snoop Dogg, is endearing for the post-tween crowd, too. But it's not just her sweetness (or her pretty awesome grandma); the movie succeeds because the songs - "Not Like the Movies" foreshadows her divorce (chronicled here); "Firework" becomes an anthem more for Perry than her fans - coincidentally work into the film's uplifting trajectory. More of the flamboyant concert clips make the extras, and gram fans should be pleased - the firecracker has her own special feature.
Damsels in Distress
As far as schoolgirl comedies go, "Damsels in Distress" feels years older than its contemporaries - down to the way mumblecore star Greta Gerwig dresses. But style isn't the only thing that has a from-the-'50s feel: Here at Seven Oaks College, depression doesn't need a pill, according to the girls who run the school's suicide prevention center; it needs tap dance and hotel soap. Filmmaker Whit Stillman's sarcastic observations on collegiate life are stretched into comedic exaggerations: progress has sucked the coolness out of being gay and dance crazes are underrated forms of self-help. Gerwig, as the overachieving group leader Violet, stands out among a cast that all bring it. And there's a weird charm to the film's absurdist quirkiness - that rare comedy that makes you giggle "and" think. Extras are outtakes, behind-the-scenes, cast interviews and a commentary with Stillman and the cast.
Fifteen years ago, James Cameron's epic weepie about the Titanic became nearly as historical as the shipwreck itself. It made box-office bank, launched Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio into superstardom and turned Celine Dion's inescapable power ballad - a career-catapulter for her, as well - into a timeless classic. That music video is included on this hi-def anniversary edition, a fan-pleaser that goes, as Celine would say, on and on: a nearly 90-minute myth-busters documentary for history buffs that breaks down the cruise liner's sinking and a look back at the epic movie itself are both new, and 30 deleted scenes, 60 behind-the-scenes featurettes and parodies are carryovers. And the film itself? Still the old-fashioned romantic stunner it was in 1997 - just enhanced to ensure its status as king of the movie world.Chris Azzopardi is the editor of Q Syndicate, the international LGBT wire service. Reach him via his website at http://www.chris-azzopardi.com.