In spite of the fact that this is the week when we celebrate Valentine's Day, looking at the list of new DVD and Blu-ray releases, it seemed like there were more important - not to mention culturally relevant - movies to look at and place within a contemporary context. At one point, Sir Richard Attenborough's 'Chaplin' was a candidate for this week's column, but its minor awards season attention didn't render it worthy enough to supersede other films (and it certainly didn't help that we received the Blu-ray late Monday for Tuesday publication). Meanwhile, Warner Home Video is releasing two digibook Blu-ray sets for some of their most acclaimed films, and what resonates about those titles (at least in theory) is not just the quality of the films themselves but the way in which they anticipated and continue to reflect the artistic and cultural values of subsequent generations.
One of these two releases, 'Network,' is pretty unassailable, in a slightly different and yet equally powerful way as James L. Brooks' depressingly prescient 'Broadcast News' – both depict sea changes in the focus and impact of media, filtered through different sorts of stories. But Alan J. Pakula's 'All the President's Men' is another animal entirely, a ice-cold (and yet because of it, somehow irresistibly sexy) chronicle of news reporting in an era when the news cycle hadn't yet overtaken the possibility that real stories would get overlooked or ignored. But is it still a genuinely great movie? That's what this week's "Shelf Life" intends to determine.