Commenting on the Critics with Simon Columb…
This week saw a range of articles discussing the latest Michael Jackson re-release ‘Bad 25‘, and reviews for Spike Lee’s documentary exploring the making of and criticism of ‘Bad‘ in 1987.
Randall Robert’s of the LA Times asks whether the re-release is worth it:
“Worth noting are other versions of this collection that are also available. A two-CD set features only the remastered “Bad” and disc of outtakes and is available for $12.99, and you can get just the Wembley show and DVD for the same price. A “Deluxe Collector’s Edition” features all of the above plus a fancier box and an MJ T-shirt, and is available for $199.99.“
And, with regard to Spike Lee’s documentary, Peter Bradshaw writes for The Guardian, a review almost a month ago, on August 31st, saying:
“Spike Lee’s emphasises instead what Jackson’s achieved in the public sphere: in music and in dance, and his exuberant reverence for the lonely King of Pop is contagious. It’s impossible to watch this film without a great big smile on your face.“
And earlier in the week, Emma Jones wrote an article for the BBC titled Spike Lee’s ‘Love Letter’ to Michael Jackson.
What is not easy to decipher is the access to the documentary that us fine folk in the UK have. Despite many different releases of the album, which to some extent seem quite definitive, no version includes the documentary. A £30 collection includes 3 CDs and one DVD includes a live show, and a broad range of tracks that are previously unreleased, but alas, no Spike Lee documentary.
A premiere, with Spike Lee in attendance, was even screened in Leicester Square. A huge buzz ‘spiked’ on Twitter but it seems that no release date for a cinema screening or DVD has appeared anywhere. ABC has recently bought the rights for the film in the US, so we may see the film in the UK next year… but, by that point, the album ‘Bad‘ will be 26 years old. The small ‘craze’ over the album will have passed.
This type of messy release of a film frustrates me immensely. Indeed, documentaries are not exactly the biggest sellers at the best of times – and, knowing that it has screened across the world, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which illegal route people will take to watch the film.
Why is the boxset of all The Avengers films so pathetic – even in comparison to all the double-disc releases so far of the series? Why do the Disney releases on Blu-Ray fail to include the features originally released on the DVD versions less than 10 years ago? Why does the Davis Guggenheim U2 documentary From The Sky Down only come as either a stand-alone DVD or as part of a boxset which is priced between £100 and £500 (!!!)?
I am a huge Michael Jackson fan – but I won’t buy the £30 boxset because clearly it doesn’t include everything. I am a U2 fan, but I will not pay over £50 – let alone £500 – for one album (however ‘deluxe’ it is). I will eventually buy all The Avengers films on Blu-Ray, ideally in a ‘Phase 1’ boxset … but I won’t pay for some paltry boxset that doesn’t even include the already-recorded commentary tracks (Joss Whedon’s directors commentary only appearing on the US release, but not the UK one).
Can’t distributors simply agree on a fair release, worldwide? Is that too much to ask? Because they are simply pushing people away from buying the products at all. I am willing to pay for the products – I am waiting, cash-in-hand, to buy these films and CDs. But I can see the ‘game’ these distributors are playing and I’ll wait. I can wait. And, in time, maybe I won’t care at all and just watch, and listen, to these things online.