Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Real Steel" (Disney) leads the hitlist of this week's New Release Rack: the rousing underdog robot boxer spectacle by way of father-son bonding drama, with Hugh Jackman as the absent dad with a shot at redemption. Director Shawn Levy leaves his bailiwick of comedy for the drama with rock 'em sock 'em robot action and emerges with a surprisingly engaging film. Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Download, On Demand, and day-and-date availability at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
"50/50" (Summit) is what Joseph Gordon-Levitt puts his chances of survival when he's diagnosed with cancer in the comedy inspired by the real-life ordeal of producer/screenwriter Will Reiser. MSN film critic Kat Murphy appreciates the "genuine sweetness and pure joy generated by this surprisingly feel-good flick." Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Angelica Huston play his support circle. DVD and Blu-ray, day-and-date availability at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
Death-obsessed boy meets dying girl in "Restless" (Sony), Gus Van Sant's romantic drama of quirky young adults with Mia Wasikowska and Henry Hopper (Dennis Hopper's son). DVD and Blu-ray. Rachel Weisz is "The Whistleblower" (Fox), a U.N peacekeeper who uncovers a conspiracy in Bosnia, in this international thriller. "Paranormal Activity 3" (Paramount) continues the zero-budget horror franchise of haunted houses and home video. All on DVD and Blu-ray.
"Happy Happy" (Magnolia), a black comedy of an eternal optimist in a failing marriage, won the grand jury prize for world cinema at Sundance last year. The Norwegian film arrives on DVD and Blu-ray. Other foreign release highlights this week include Jerzy Skolimowski's "Essential Killing" (Tribeca/New Video) with Vincent Gallo as a Taliban fighter, and the Hong Kong crime thriller "Punished" (Vivendi), from producer Johnnie To. More reviews here.
"Hell and Back Again" (Docurama), another Sundance 2011 winner and an Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, contrasts one American Marine's ordeal in Afghanistan with his troubled transition to civilian life after a life-threatening injury in battle. On Blu-ray, DVD and VOD. Other non-fiction releases this week include "Revenge of the Electric Car" (Docurama) and "Shut Up Little Man!" (Tribeca).
TV on DVD:
"Kojak: The Complete Movie Collection" (Shout! Factory) features eight made-for-TV movies starring Telly Savalas as the uncompromising Lt. Theo Kojak, the Greek-American New York homicide detective with a sharp mind for piecing cases together. The character was created by Abby Mann in the Emmy-winning TV movie "The Marcus-Nielson Murders," which makes its DVD debut in this four-disc set, which is filled out by seven telefilms made after the series came to an end, including five that helped launch the career of Andre Braugher. “Who loves ya, baby?” DVD only. Videodrone's review is here.
"WWII in 3D" (History) follows the History Channel's "World War II in Color" with a short (46 minutes) special showcasing 3D photos (including reconnaissance shots) and 3D motion picture footage shot by the Nazis in 1943. Blu-ray only
Also new this week: "Mad: Season One, Part Two" (Warner) offers 13 more very short episodes of animated spoofing and "Mannix: The Sixth Season" (Paramount) presents 24 episodes of the Mike Connors private eye series.
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Wings" (Paramount), the film that won the very first Academy Award for Best Picture, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in a newly restored and remastered edition. Clara Bow (the "It" Girl herself) takes top billing but the amazing aerial spectacle choreographed by directed William Wellman is the real star of this World War I fighter-pilot drama. Videodrone's review of the DVD and Blu-ray debut is here, along with an exclusive clip from the disc.
"Godzilla" (Criterion), the mother of all Japanese monster movies, is newly remastered on DVD and Blu-ray in a disc featuring both the original Japanese and revised American versions of the film, plus new supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
French director Jean Rollin is not a well-known name even to some fans of horror cinema, but his brand of erotic horror with a surreal sensibility has made him a major cult figure among those with a taste for le cinema fantastique. Five of his most distinctive films are remastered for DVD and Blu-ray this week, including his signature film "The Shiver of the Vampires" (Redemption/Kino) and his haunting "Lips of Blood" (Redemption/Kino). Videodrone reviews them here.
John Huston's 1958 "The Roots of Heaven" (Twilight Time) is a different kind of African wildlife adventure: the heroes are eco-warriors taking on elephant poachers. Trevor Howard leads the guerilla band but Errol Flynn (in one of his final screen performances) gets top billing as the barfly roused to action by Howard's dedication. Videodrone's review is here.
"Picnic" (Twilight Time), a small-town drama starring William Holden and Kim Novak, is better known and more revered. This 1955 adaptation of William Inge’s Broadway play tends to the stagey, but it's beautifully shot in CinemaScope and the disc looks superb.
Three Alfred Hitchcock classics – including the Oscar-winning "Rebecca," the psychological thriller "Spellbound," and his glorious romantic thriller "Notorious" – all produced by David Selznik, debut on Blu. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
New on Netflix Instant:
Fresh from the DVD New Release rack come the sweeping historical drama "United Red Army" from Japan, Isabelle Huppert in "Special Treatment" from France and the culinary documentary "Eat This New York."
It’s a boom week for fans of classic films. Among the hundreds of films and TV shows just added to the Instant Streaming library are: "Duck Soup" (1933) with the Marx Brothers, "Jane Eyre" (1944) with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" (1971) and Robert Altman's "3 Women" (1977), plus the first season of "Portlandia" (2011) and all three seasons of "United States of Tara" (2009-2011).
Available from Redbox this week:
"Final Destination 5" (Warner) is yet another installment in the high-concept franchise that finds yet more new ways to dispatch its victims. This one begins with a bridge collapse and ends with a lot of corpses dispatched in creative fashion. In the words of MSN film critic Kat Murphy, it "isn't really a movie any more than a meat grinder is." DVD and Blu-ray.
Also arriving this week is "Flypaper," a crime comedy starring Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd as rival bank robbers who target the same bank, and "In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds" (Fox), the latest video game movie from Uwe Boll. Both DVD only.
|Tags:||Week in review|
DVR alert: Four American classics that are not on DVD play Monday, January 23
On Monday, January 23, Turner Classic Movies is showing all four films made by Max Ophuls, the great German-born director, during his brief tenure in America (where he dropped the "h" and signed his films "Max Opuls").
The evening of "Max Ophuls in Hollywood" is followed by two of his greatest French films, "La Ronde" (1950) and "The Earrings of Madame de…" (1954), but while they are well represented in superb DVD editions stateside, the four American films showing Monday night -- "Letter From an Unknown Woman" (1948), "The Reckless Moment" (1949), "Caught" (1949) and the rarity "The Exile" (1947), his Hollywood debut -- have still not been released on DVD in the U.S.
The films of Ophuls haunt the space between the idealism of unconditional love and the reality of social barriers and fickle lovers. Yet his greatest films are anything but cynical; ironic certainly, but also melancholy, sad and wistful, and always respectful of the dignity of those who love well if not too wisely. His fluid, elegantly choreographed camerawork and intimate yet observant directorial presence have resulted in some of the most delicate and beautiful films made on either side of the Atlantic, but his American films have never been as celebrated as his more overtly stylized and seductively romantic French films.
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. stars in "The Exile," a lightweight adventure film that looks to Fairbanks Sr. for inspiration. The film, about a king in exile, lacks the showstopping stunts and show-off acrobatics of Sr.’s silent classics, but the old fashioned love story and simplicity of adventure is pleasantly retro. Even for 1948. Fairbanks does his best impression of his father ever, with a tiny mustache and a big smile and a leaping energy, even going as far as writing the scenario and producing the independent feature. And while Ophuls is no action director, he has nothing to apologize for in this rousing little film. His camera glides through some lovely scenes and while Fairbanks lunges and leaps, Ophuls choreographs the crowd scenes to give the film a scope the belies the budget and a grace lacking in most such adventure films.
Five recent releases from the Warner Archive Collection show the rise of Davis from contract player to Hollywood superstar
There wasn't another actress like Bette Davis in the golden age of Hollywood, and I doubt there ever will be. In a film culture that prized beauty over talent, she became a leading lady and a dominant movie star by the sheer force of her talent and screen presence and dedication. She drove her career, going to war with the studios to demand better roles and more control over her career, and remained a force to be reckoned with through the 1960s. Only Kate Hepburn and (at least so far) Meryl Streep can boast of careers with comparable virtues of longevity and seriousness (poor Joan Crawford slipped into self-parody after her career-reviving "Baby Jane" while Davis maintained her dignity even through substandard roles).
The Warner Archive recently released a collection of Bette Davis films from the 1930s and they offer a snapshot of the rise of her career, from the snappy, street smart dame of Warner Bros. pre-code movies to the leading lady of serious dramas and lavish historical pictures. While they may not all be among her best films of the era (most of those have already been released to DVD), they show that Davis is never less that committed to her work and is constantly striving to be at her best.
In "Housewife" (1934), she's second billed but really only a supporting player, the "other woman" who seduces -- or at least makes a valiant attempt to -- advertising professional George Brent from his devoted wife Ann Dvorak. It's not hard to see the attraction; Davis' big city advertising copywriter is all confidence and sophistication next to Brent's meek company man and she essentially grooms him for better things. He returns the favor by trading up, at least until Dvorak follows suit by considering a suitor of her own. It's a fairly unremarkable piece of pre-code filmmaking, but Davis -- not yet a major star but certainly a leading lady working her way up the studio hierarchy -- shows the rest of the cast (including the reliable Warner girl Friday Ruth Donnelly) how it's done.
"The Sisters" (1938) is, by contrast, a standout role for Davis, playing opposite Errol Flynn (for the first time) as the quiet and sensible of three sisters who proves to be a passionate woman under her guarded restraint. She falls head over heels for reporter Flynn, a dreamer and a drunk, and runs off to San Francisco with her ne'er do well husband. It all takes place between 1904 and 1908 -- the elections bookend the story -- which also means Davis gets to endure the great San Francisco quake, which is just the kind of dramatic spectacle that Hollywood melodramas thrived on. The film looks like it may have been developed as an ensemble piece (much like Warners' later "Four Daughters") but redesigned to feature Davis, who takes a more nuanced, underplayed approach in contrast to her attention-getting performance in "Jezebel" earlier that year. Anita Louise and Jane Bryan play her younger, prettier, more vivacious sisters, who don't fare much better, and Henry Travers and Beulah Bondi are their protective parents.
In "Juarez" (1939), Davis is the "mad" Empress Carlotta opposite Paul Muni's revolutionary Benito Juarez, with Claude Rains as Napoleon and Brian Ahern as Emperor Maximilian. This is the kind of production that Davis became particularly suited for, historical, sweeping, "important" drama, and she held up her end. John Huston co-wrote the script.
Available exclusively from Warner Archive:
Plus these thirties productions with Davis, previously released from the Warner Archive and still available:
MOD stands for "Manufacture on Demand" and represents a recent development in the DVD market, where slipping sales have slowed the release of classic, special interest and catalogue releases. These are DVD-R releases, no-frills discs from studio masters, ordered online and "burned" individually with every order. You can read a general introduction to the format and the model on my profile of the Warner Archive Collection on Parallax View here and on the MGM Limited Edition Collection on Videodrone here.
Videodrone's thumbnail guide to what's new, notable and recommended (or not) this week
Here's our thumbnail guide to what's new, notable and recommended (or not) this week for home viewing. Just click on the titles and links for full reviews and more information.
The New Release Rack
George Clooney seems born to the mantle of presidential candidate in "The Ides of March" (Sony), a political drama turned thriller with Ryan Gosling as a passionate and driven campaign operative disillusioned by his candidate. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download and VOD, and available same day at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
Alternative pick of the week (and my vote for best film of 2011) is Raul Ruiz's nearly 4 ½-hour "Mysteries of Lisbon" (Music Box), an exquisite epic of labyrinthine storytelling woven through time and space. Portuguese and French with English subtitles. On DVD, Blu-ray and VOD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Also new this week:
"Dirty Girl" (Anchor Bay) – an indie road movie comedy starring Juno Temple. DVD only.
"Abduction" (Lionsgate) - a young adult action film with "Twilight" wolfboy Taylor Lautner. DVD and Blu-ray, available same day at Redbox.
"United Red Army" (Kino) - Koji Wakamatsu's riveting study of the extreme militant left movement in 1970s Japan. DVD only.
TV on DVD:
"Merlin: The Complete Third Season" (BBC) continues the teen reworking of the King Arthur legend as a coming-of-age tale, and while it's a slight take on a resonant myth, it's getting better with each season. 13 episodes on five discs. DVD only. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new this week:
"Thurgood" (HBO) - a one-man stage show with Laurence Fishburne, recorded live for cable. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Pacific Blue: The Complete Series" (Mill Creek) - the nineties-era the series about bicycle cop unit of the Santa Monica Police Department. DVD.
"Delocated! Seasons 1 & 2" (Warner) - the Cartoon Network's comedy about a family in witness protection who stars in a reality TV show. DVD.
"Waking the Dead: The Complete Season Six" (BBC), the British cold case detective series with Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston. DVD.
Off the Rack – Classic, Cult and Blu-ray Debuts
"Belle de Jour" (Criterion) - Luis Bunuel’s sly satire of sexual repression and erotic fantasies is in the running for Bunuel’s kinkiest film, and that’s saying a lot. While it's been on DVD before, Criterion remasters it for this new deluxe edition. DVD and Blu-ray. More on Videodrone here.
Also new this week:
"The Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin (Eclipse Series 31)" (Criterion) - with three documentaries from the former Jean-Luc Godard collaborator. DVD only.
"First Squad: The Moment of Truth" (Anchor Bay) – World War II set anime feature with supernatural theme. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Redline" (Anchor Bay) – another anime feature, this one set in the world of extreme racing. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Road to Nowhere" (2010) - Monte Hellman's dense and enigmatic drama, built around the making of a film, blurs the margins between reality and storytelling. The 79-year-old rebel brings a whole new beauty to digital photography. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new on Netflix Instant Streaming:
"Small Town Murder Songs" (2010) - an indie drama about a small town sheriff (Peter Stormare) and a haunting murder.
"District 13: Ultimatum" (2009) – a French action film filled with absurdly outrageous action and jaw-dropping stunts.
New at Redbox
Arriving at Redbox day and date with stores:
"The Ides of March" (see above)
"Abduction" (see above)
Coming next week:
"Real Steel" (Disney)
"The Whistleblower" (Fox)
"Happy Happy" (Magnolia)
"Essential Killing" (Tribeca/New Video)
"The Moment of Truth" (Criterion)
"The Shiver of the Vampires" (Redemption/Kino)
|Tags:||Week in review|
Also new on Netflix Instant: 'Small Town Murder Songs,' 'District 13: Ultimatum' and more
"Road to Nowhere" (2010), Monte Hellman's first feature in 21 years, is as dense, enigmatic and challenging as his early masterpieces, "The Shooting" and "Two-Lane Blacktop." The layers of reality blur and merge in the most fascinating ways in this drama built around the making of a film and Hellman weaves the references back and forth between "reality" and film representation, actors and characters, and playing roles within roles, with a pattern akin to an optical illusion. Shannyn Sossamon stars as an unknown actress who just may be recreating a role she played in real life and Tygh Runyan is the filmmaker losing himself in the film. Piecing together the "truth" is part of the engagement. That may frustrate viewers looking for guidance and, well, Hellman isn't big on clarity or momentum, but it fascinates me, and the 79-year-old rebel brings a whole new beauty to digital photography with images are as rich (and sometimes as still) as paintings. Originally reviewed on Videodrone here.
See a clip from the film below, after the jump.
"Small Town Murder Songs" (2010) is an indie drama about a small town sheriff (Peter Stormare) struggling with the ghosts of his own past while investigating a murder. "Ed Gass-Donnelly, who wrote, directed, and edited, knows that roads and streets become beautiful and auspicious if you put your widescreen camera in the right place and honor the power of the frame," writes Richard T. Jameson at Parallax View. "There’s nothing in this nowhere community that could be called scenic or even picturesque, yet Gass-Donnelly allows us to soak in the ambience and become haunted by it."
For action fans, check out "District 13: Ultimatum" (2009) from France, starring Cyril Raffaelli (who plays the ultra-serious and insanely dedicated police captain) and David Belle (the acrobatic Robin Hood of the slum) who reunite to fight the power once more. There's plenty of absurdly outrageous action (love Raffaelli going undercover in drag) but it never captures the visceral charge or fluid momentum of the original and trades the distinctive martial arts and urban gymnastics that defines the film for more generic action spectacle. Still, there are some jaw-dropping stunts.
Legendary film director Jean-Luc Godard has stated that "Film Socialisme" (2010) will be his final film. The typically dense, discursive and idiosyncratic film is, in classic Godard mode, not a narrative in any conventional sense but an essay, a contemplation of social politics in the capitalist world of today, and an often dryly witty play with idea of storytelling and character and the way we expect movies to, well, move. It debuted on DVD and Blu-ray last week; see review here.
Also from overseas comes "The Strange Case of Angelica" (2010), Manoel de Oliveira's dreamy ghost story / love story from Portugal; "Change Nothing" ("Ne Change Rien") (2009), Pedro Costa's documentary on actress Jeanne Balibar's singing career from France; and "Protektor" (2009), a drama from the Czech Republic set in Nazi-occupied Prague in 1938.
And on the nonfiction front: "Eames: The Architect and the Painter" (2011) profiles the lives and achievements of Charles and Ray Eames, the design team whose modern furniture made them legends, through interviews with employees in their studio and archival footage.
Plus Robin Williams in 'Dead Poets' and 'Vietnam' and more
Steven Soderberg tackles the drug trade with startling clarity in "Traffic" (Criterion), quilting a complex checkerboard screenplay into a unified piece.
Taking the viewer from Tijuana to Washington, with side trips to middle America and border crossings, Soderberg explores the instability and corruption that makes the drug war so futile. Michael Douglas stars as the well meaning drug Czar and Catherine Zeta-Jones is a pregnant socialite turned lioness, but the heart belongs to Benicio Del Toro, a Tijuana cop ambiguous to the final scene, playing the opportunist while hiding his passion and disgust under a mask of indifference. Del Toro earned one of the film’s four Oscars; the others went to director Steven Soderberg, editor Stephen Mirrione, and screenwriter Stephen Gaghan (who adapted, condensed, and transplanted the original British mini-series "Traffik"). Soderberg never lets his anger overflow into the film, but his emotional restraint makes this critical portrait of a doomed struggle even more cutting.
The film is also available on Blu-ray from Universal, in an edition with a short featurette and deleted scenes. The "Director Approved" Criterion edition, by contrast, is packed with supplements, including three separate commentary tracks: a sharp and articulate track by director Steven Soderbergh and writer Stephen Gaghan; one by producers Laura Bickford, Edward Zwick, and Marshall Herskovitz and consultants Tim Golden and Craig Chretien, which brings a completely different set of insights and background information to the film; and one with composer Cliff Martinez (with two music cues not included in the film).
There are also deleted scenes with optional commentary by Soderbergh and Gaghan and 30 minutes of additional footage from the scenes of the El Paso Intelligence Center and the Washington D.C. cocktail party, but the disc’s most compelling features are demonstrations of the three key production elements. There is a step by step look into the film processing technique used to achieve the sun-blasted look of the Mexican scenes; a demonstration of the editing choices and process of three scenes narrated by editor Stephen Mirrione (watching each scene become subtly sharpened and focused through each successive cut is a real education in the art of editing); and an instructional look at the art and technique of sound editing, hosted by sound editor Larry Blake. While a little on the technical side (Mirrione’s talk of “layering” isn’t always clear), each of these demonstrations is attacked with the kind of professional insight rarely seen in such DVD productions. Also features a gallery of U.S. Customs trading cards of the K-9 squad (!), TV spots, and trailers.
“Oh Captain My Captain!” Robin Williams is an unconventional English teacher who inspires the conservative students of a stuffy New England prep school to seize the day and live life to the fullest in Peter Weir’s coming of age drama "Dead Poets Society" (Touchstone). Williams won accolades for his performance, which in retrospect looks mannered (except when he launches into his shtick, where it’s more cabaret than character driven teaching), but young, fresh-faced Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles (all circa 1989) are a winning bunch who hew decent characters from familiar material. Features commentary by director Peter Weir with writer Tom Schulman and cinematographer John Seale, the featurettes "Dead Poets: A Look Back," "Master of Sound: Alan Splet" and "Cinematography Master Class," and deleted scenes.
Robin Williams also stars in "Good Morning Vietnam" (Touchstone), or as Williams puts in the film, “Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-od morning Vietnam!” Williams plays armed forces radio deejay Adrian Cronauer, the real life figure who brought rock and roll to the American soldiers in Vietnam and shook up the staid format, and he single-handedly powers Barry Levinson’s comedy. Features a six-part "Production Diary" (following the production from conception to finish) and "Raw Monologues" (a collection of outtakes from Robin Williams’ monologues).
Debuting for Black History Month are two made-for-HBO dramas. "The Tuskegee Airmen" (HBO), the first film about the all-black fighter squadron ("Red Tails" comes out later this month on the big screen), stars Laurence Fishburne and Cube Gooding Jr. and is presented in an illustrated Blu-ray book. "The Josephine Baker Story" (HBO) stars Lynn Whitfield as the African American dancer who became an international star in 1930s Paris and features commentary by star Lynn Whitfield, writer Ron Hutchinson and associate producer Alisa Taylor.
"The Coast Guard" (Palisades Tartan), from South Korea, is Kim Ki-Duk's thriller of a fanatical Coast Guard private patrolling a lonely stretch of beach who mistakenly shoots a civilian and becomes unraveled and unhinged by guilt. In Korean with English subtitles, with commentary by and an interview with director Kim Ki-Duk (in Korean with English subtitles) and galleries of promotional materials and stills.
Plus Luis Bunuel’s 'Belle de Jour' gets the Criterion treatment and three films from Jean-Pierre Gorin
"Il Cappotto" ("The Overcoat") (Raro), from director Alberto Lattuada, updates and expands Nikolai Gogol's short story about a mousy clerk who gets a newfound respect when he purchases a handsome new overcoat. Renato Rascel plays the meek scrivener Carmine De Carmine, a clerk in City Hall oblivious to the corrupt ways of small town politics whose bumbling almost costs him his job and then rewards him with an unexpected "bonus" (it doesn't even occur to him that it's a bribe) that he uses to finally buy a handsome new coat. The sense of pride and the look of affluence and dignity gives him sudden respect, but his odyssey takes unexpected turns when the coat is stolen and his fortunes leave with it.
Moving the story from 19th century Russia to a small town in post-war Italy gives Gogol's story a new context, placing the portrait of petty bureaucrats and blithely corrupt politicians in the same real-world backdrop as the famed neo-realist films of the time, and Lattuada adds fragments of stories playing out in the periphery, all of which add both tender grace notes and wry satirical asides to the film. Behind the bouncy caricatures and deft satire is a quiet humanism that sneaks up on the story and haunts the final images quite literally. Overshadowed by the neo-realist films of the day, the satirical, smartly-made "The Overcoat" is just as contemporary and relevant as those acclaimed street
Raro Video's DVD release is mastered from a restoration by the Turin National Film Museum and features commentary, an interview and an accompanying booklet among the supplement. In Italian with English subtitles.
See a trailer below, after the jump. The quality of the disc far superior to that of this trailer.
"Belle de Jour" (Criterion) - Luis Bunuel’s sly satire of sexual repression and erotic fantasies is in the running for Bunuel’s kinkiest film, and that’s saying a lot. Catherine Deneuve is the bored bourgeois wife of an adoring middle class husband who leads a double life: while he’s at work, she is too, as a high priced prostitute in an exclusive brothel where she is able to fulfill her erotic daydreams. It's Bunuel's color film debut and the beginning of his richest period of filmmaking.
"It is possibly the best-known erotic film of modern times, perhaps the best," wrote Roger Ebert in his "Great Movies" series. "That's because it understands eroticism from the inside-out--understands how it exists not in sweat and skin, but in the imagination."
Previously released on DVD from Miramax, it is freshly remastered for DVD and Blu-ray on Criterion, which fills out the disc with new supplements. Film critic Michael Wood (author of BFI monograph "Belle de jour") provides commentary, sexual-politics activist Susie Bright and film professor Linda Williams are interviewed for the new 18-minute featurette "That Obscure Source of Desire" and screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere discusses the film in a new 2011 video interview. Also features an excerpt from the French television program "Cinéma" featuring interviews with Carrière and actress Catherine Deneuve from the set of "Belle de Jour" (originally broadcast in 1966) and a booklet with an essay by critic Melissa Anderson and a printed interview with director Luis Buñuel from the seventies.
See Criterion's "Three Reasons" preview below, after the jump.
"The Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin (Eclipse Series 31)" (Criterion) features three documentaries from the former Jean-Luc Godard collaborator, including his acclaimed (and highly engaging) "Poto and Cabengo" (1980). The film begins as a portrait of twin girlsin San Diego who are believed to have created their own private language. As Gorin trains his camera (which was operated by Les Blank, an acclaimed documentarian in his own right) on the young girls and their working class family, he found a different story, about the social and economic world they lived in. It was the first of three films he made in Southern California and the two subsequent documentaries -- "Routine Pleasures" (1986), which looks at the artwork of critic turned painter Manny Farber, and "My Crasy Life" (1992), a portrait of a Samoan street gang in Long Beach -- are also included in this three-disc set from Eclipse, the budget-line from Criterion. Features notes by film critic and programmer Kent Jones.
"The Last Hard Men / Sky Riders" (Shout! Factory) is double feature of James Coburn action films, both released in 1976. Charlton Heston takes top billing in "The Last Hard Men," playing a lawman after a group of escaped convicts led by Coburn. Andrew V. McLaglen directs. Coburn leads a team of mercenaries to rescue the kidnapped wife and child of a wealthy industrialist (Robert Culp) in "Sky Riders," using hang gliders to get into the mountaintop lair of the terrorist kidnappers. Susannah York and French crooner Charles Aznavour co-star and Douglas Hickox directs. No supplements beyonds galleries of stills and trailers.
Two award-winning animated features from Japan debut this week. "First Squad: The Moment of Truth" (Anchor Bay), directed by Yoshiharu Ashino, is a World War II drama set on the Eastern front, where a special unit of gifted young Soviet soldiers take on an SS officer trying to raise a supernatural army of undead crusaders from the 12th Century. "Redline" (Anchor Bay), produced by Madhouse and scripted by Katsuhito Ishii (director of "Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl" and the anime segment of "Kill Bill Vol.1"), is a racing thriller set during the biggest and most deadly racing tournament in the universe. Kind of like a souped-up "Speed Racer" episode pushed to limit. Both available on DVD and Blu-ray, with original Japanese and English dub soundtracks and optional English subtitles.
"Eat This New York" (First Run) is a 2003 culinary documentary on the opening of a new restaurant from director Andrew Rossi (late of "Page One: Inside the New York Times" and "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven"). DVD only, with over two hours of bonus interviews with top restaurateurs.
Plus 'Delocated!,' 'America in Primetime' and the Complete 'Pacific Blue'
"Merlin: The Complete Third Season" (BBC) continues the teen reworking of the King Arthur legend as a coming-of-age tale centered around the parallel odysseys of peasant sorcerer Merlin (Colin Morgan), learning the potential of his powers and his responsibility, and arrogant young prince Arthur (Bradley James), learning to become a king and a leader of his people. Videodrone's review is here.
Laurence Fishburne is Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in "Thurgood" (HBO), a one-man show recorded live on stage at the Eisenhower Theater of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.. It's reprise of a Broadway production from writer George Stevens Jr. that earned Fishburne a Tony nomination. "This is dramatized legal history of the best kind," praised New York Times TV critic Ginia Bellafante, reviewing the show on its February 2011 premiere on HBO. DVD and Blu-ray.
From PBS comes "America in Primetime" (PBS), the latest installment in the ongoing documentaries on the history of American television This four-part production takes us up to the contemporary television landscape, "the new Golden Age of television," with interviews with over a hundred creators, writers and actors working today. The two-disc set features additional segments from twenty interviews, including David Chase, Shondra Rhimes, Normal Lear, Bryan Cranston, Judd Apatow and David Simon.
"Delocated! Seasons 1 & 2" (Warner), a comedy about a family in witness protection who stars in a reality TV show, was created for The Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block of evening programming but it is most assuredly a live action comedy, with its actors all performing under ski masks to obscure their identities from possible retaliation. Yeah, that's going to work great. Jon Glaser writes and stars as the narcissistic "Jon," who just can't help but be the center of attention at the very time in his life when it would behoove him to lay low. The first season features seven 11-minute episodes, the second expands the running time to 22 minutes and the count to 12 episodes. Also includes commentary tracks, deleted scenes, outtakes and other supplements. DVD only.
"Pacific Blue: The Complete Series" (Mill Creek) marks the home video debut of the series about bicycle cop unit of the Santa Monica Police Department. Think of it as "Baywatch" on wheels, with Rick Rossovich as the unit's Lieutenant (he left after three seasons) and Mario Lopez joining the show in 1998 as the unit's new chief stud, a tough cop who has to tame his instincts for the bike beachfront patrol. It certainly gives a new spin to the high-speed chase, and the show was as notable for stunt riding as it was for beachwear. The series ran on USA from 1996 to 2000, before it mastered its current formula for original series. 101 episodes on 19 discs in Mill Creek's curious but effectively designed keepcase that holds the discs in separate paper sleeves stacked in a snug holder.
"Waking the Dead: The Complete Season Six" (BBC), the British cold case detective series, continues with Trevor Eve as the no-nonsense, quick-tempered DS Peter Boyd, leader of the special unit of detectives and scientists assigned to "unsolvable" crimes with fresh eyes and cutting edge techniques, and Sue Johnston as his partner, team psychologist Dr. Grace Foley. DVD only, three discs.
"The Race to Space: America's Greatest Journey" (Mill Creek) features three classic made-for-television documentaries about the space race made between 1959 and 1965 -- "The Race For Space," "Project: Man in Space" and "Race for the Moon," all narrated by Mike Wallace -- plus the original documentary "Journey off the Moon: The Apollo 11 Story" and six short documentaries from the NASA archives. Two disc DVD set.
"Bill Moyers Amazing Grace" (Athena) is a feature-length documentary about the origins and historical resonance of the beloved hymn, originally made for PBS.