DVDs & Blu-rays: The Giveaway Edition

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We've got DVD/Blu-ray combo copies of two of this week's releases as giveaways for readers, The Help and Cowboys and Aliens. All you have to do is send an e-mail to Olivia.Alvarez@houstonpress.com. Include the title of the film you would like to receive in the subject line and at 5 p.m. on Friday, we'll do a random draw from all the entries. (We'll notify the winners and get mailing info right after the drawing.)

Here are the trailers for The Help and Cowboys and Aliens, just to whet your appetite.

The Help

stars Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard; Tate Taylor directs.

Cowboys and Aliens Trailer 2by teasertrailer


Cowboys and Aliens

stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford; Jon Favreau directs.

On to another new release, Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Legacy. It's true we don't usually cover concert releases, but this one is just too delicious to pass up.

Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Legacy

stars Michael Feinstein, Leon Knoles directs with Bill Elliott as musical director.

The Setup: Feinstein, backed by a 32-piece orchestra at the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana, sings songs associated with Sinatra.

The Execution: Musically, Feinstein is on a level all by himself. It's not just his performance (technically, he's always right on the money), it's his commitment to the American songbook that sets him apart. And his ability to keep things fresh. How many times has New York, New York been covered? Like a million? Yet Feinstein manages to keep it new and make it his own. No, he doesn't have that Sinatra cool, but then again, who does? But what he lacks in suave, he makes up in enthusiasm. He's having a blast onstage, and his obvious enjoyment is infectious.

Feinstein starts the concert with Once in a Lifetime. A slow, soft version. Until 16 bars in, he kicks it into double time. (Poor trumpet players!)

He shares tidbits between songs. Among the most interesting is the story of how he met Frank Sinatra. Asked to play a private party for Sinatra, Feinstein learned all of the obscure songs Sinatra ever sang. Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson, Henry Mancini and Dinah Shore were among the guests. After an hour or so, Sinatra came over to Feinstein and asked him, "How do you know those songs? What are you? Twelve?" The two went on to become friends.

And one more release is worth your attention today: Medea, starring Maria Callas (in a non-singing role, unfortunately). This was Callas's only dramatic film role. The film has been restored and remastered, not that Callas's performance needed any extra shine. She is fierce as the title character. Filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini created a wonderful, timeless world for Callas as she plays out the ancient Greek tragedy. Almost as exciting as the film, is the bonus documentary about Callas by Tony Palmer.

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