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.
Plus the comedies 'Killing Bono' and 'Bucky Larson' and the Christian cop drama 'Courageous'
George Clooney seems born to the mantle of presidential candidate in "The Ides of March" (Sony) but its Ryan Gosling who dominates the story as a passionate campaign operative, a driven, clever, charming young man with a future who risks it all for his ideals in the face of disillusionment in the process. Videodrone's review is here. DVD and Blu-ray, available through Redbox.
It's a week for epic filmmaking from overseas: Raul Ruiz's nearly 4 ½-hour "Mysteries of Lisbon" (Music Box), my pick for the best film of 2011, and Koji Wakamatsu's compelling three hour-plus "United Red Army" (Kino) debut. Videodrone reviews both films here. Other foreign releases include Wakamatsu's "Caterpillar" (Kino) and "Special Treatment" (First Run) with Isabelle Huppert. More foreign films here.
"Abduction" (Lionsgate), a young adult action film with "Twilight" wolfboy Taylor Lautner as the son of CIA agent on the lam who becomes targeted by his father's enemies, was a flop with audiences and critics alike. The film, directed by John Singleton, is notable largely for the moments when Lautner channels his sensitive werewolf persona or takes off his shirt: "less a movie than a piece of engineering, a glumly ludicrous cat-and-mouse blowout designed to win Lautner male fans along with his girl demo," explains Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman. Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver co-star.
The DVD includes three production featurettes and a gag reel, the Blu-ray adds the "Abduction Application" enhanced viewing mode and a bonus digital copy via iTunes. Available through Redbox. See a trailer below, after the jump.
The indie road movie comedy "Dirty Girl" (Anchor Bay) stars Juno Temple as an eighties-era high school wild child who hits the road with a gay classmate (Jeremy Dozier) to find her long lost father. MSN film critic James Rocchi complains of the film's "too-many indie clichés and bewildering moments of whimsy. There is, to its credit, one sequence in the film that makes it watchable, but that alone can't make up for a tired misfits-on-a-road-trip plot we've seen 10,000 times before." Milla Jovovich, William H. Macy, Marry Steenburgen and Dwight Yoakam co-star. On DVD only, with commentary by writer/director Abe Sylvia and deleted/extended scenes.
"Killing Bono" (Arc Entertainment) does indeed refer to the U2 singer, but this is a comedy inspired by the true story of musician brothers in Dublin who watch a rival band become international superstars while they toil away in obscurity. "Killing Bono whips up a frenzied mix of musical jealousy, wishful stardom and farcical lucklessness into a movie too slippery to hold onto," writes Los Angeles Times film critic Robert Abele. Ben Barns, Robert Sheehan, Krysten Ritter and Pete Postlethwaite star in the film co-written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (of "The Commitments" fame). DVD only, with a making-of featurette.
And for those who can't get enough of the tone-deaf comedies produced and co-written by Adam Sandler for his buddies, there is "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" (Sony) with Nick Swardson as a small-town geek looking for fame as a porn star, just like his mom and dad. Please, Adam, you're doing anyone any favors with these films. Certainly not co-star Christina Ricci and least of all us. If you're still not convinced, read more reviews here. DVD and Blu-ray, with four featurettes. Available through Redbox.
"Courageous" (Sony) is a Christian-themed drama about four police officers embracing their faith while on the job. According to Los Angeles Times film critic Gary Goldstein, the film "proves a particularly clunky, tunnel-visioned vehicle whose overbearing, overlong script nearly smothers the movie's quibble-free message." DVD and Blu-ray, available through Redbox.
"Age of Heroes" (eOne) is a World War II thriller starring Sean Bean as the leader of an elite commando unit, inspired on the true story of the "30 Commando Assault Unit" that author Ian Fleming served in. DVD and Blu-ray with bonus supplements, available on DVD through Redbox.
"Division III: Football's Finest" (Image) is an American college football comedy with Andy Dick as a psychotic coach. DVD and Blu-ray, with commentary. "KickOff" (Wolfe) is a British football comedy (we call it soccer) set in a gay sports league. DVD only, with featurettes, plus VOD.
"Bombay Beach" (eOne) is a documentary about the community living on the beach of the environmentally devastated Salton Sea. With commentary and deleted scenes. "The Forgotten Bomb" (Cinema Libre) looks over the history of nuclear weapons and the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Features extended interviews. Both on DVD.
Plus Koji Wakamatsu's 'United Red Army' and 'Special Treatment' with Isabelle Huppert
Raul Ruiz's exquisite, elegant, nearly 4 ½-hour "Mysteries of Lisbon" (Music Box) begins with an orphan boy in a Catholic boarding school searching for his identity. While his schoolmates have many names and titles, their rank becoming their identity, he is simply Joao, a boy with no background. But others have also recreated themselves, through marriage or money or status purchased with fortune and power, and the biggest mystery is the protective priest who watches over Joao. As the boy's ancestry unfolds in a magnificent tapestry of flashbacks that slowly weave a portrait out of dozens of characters and stories, so does the story of the quietly driven Father Dinis (Adriano Luz), which is inextricably tied to the boy's past.
Chilean-born Ruiz is a director whose love of storytelling and narrative play is often more engaging than the films themselves but with "Mysteries of Lisbon," an epic based on a classic Portuguese novel (one yet untranslated into English), his engagement with the characters and their defining stories guides his direction, and his graceful camerawork and unerring eye for images both classical (like paintings in a cinematic frame) and fluid (his camera moves with purpose and grace) are in the service of the trajectories of the characters. This is a film of labyrinthine storytelling and cinematic weaves of character and narrative that stretch across countries and time itself, rewinding for elaborate flashbacks that redefine everything we know and understand, and of compassionate insight into human nature and the contradictions that define us.
Ruiz died just as the film made its American debut, having completed shooting one last film before passing. I look forward to his swan song, as well as looking back through the scores of earlier films yet to be released in the U.S. Until then, I can lose myself in this magnificent production, which I chose as the best film of 2011, and the beautifully mastered Blu-ray presentation of Ruiz's elegant images.
In Portuguese and French with English subtitles. Music Box releases the film on DVD and Blu-ray, both of them in three-disc presentations. This is the theatrical cut of the film, which was presented in two parts and an intermission, and each part is given its own disc. The third disc is filled with supplements: a 40-minute video interview with Ruiz from the French TV program "CinéCinéma," a five-minute video interview screenwriter Carlos Saboga, a 28-minute French radio interview with Ruiz conducted by esteemed critic Michel Ciment (with English subtitles over a still image), a roundtable discussion on the film conducted for French TV and a featurette on novelist Camilo Castelo Branco made for Portuguese television. There is also an American trailer and a 10-page booklet with an introduction by Ruiz and an essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Also available on VOD.
See the trailer below, after the jump.
From Japan comes Koji Wakamatsu's "United Red Army" (Kino), an intense study of the extreme militant left movement in 1970s Japan and a historical drama as psychological thriller. It could be Japan's answer to "Carlos," a chronicle of how the militant United Red Army came out of the student protest movement of the 1960s and transformed into an ideologically-confused, slogan-spouting revolutionary band. Most of the film takes place in the group's self-imposed exile in the mountains, where a training program becomes twisted by the megalomania of its leaders and their tyrannical cult-like domination. And just when you think you've slipped into a horror movie, Wakamatsu reminds us that, while this is a dramatization with fictionalized elements, it is based on history. The young zealots killed by their own comrades, and the would-be revolutionaries who fed into the cult of personality and enabled the abuse, were real people. Many of the survivors are still in prison. Though it runs over three hours long and is at times grueling, it is also utterly compelling and affecting. Japanese with English subtitles, no supplements. DVD only. See the trailer below.
Also from Wakamatsu is his 2010 drama "Caterpillar" (Kino), about a soldier who returns home from World War II with his arms and legs blown off and burns across half his face and the toll it takes on his wife, who becomes his sole caretaker. Japanese with English subtitles, no supplements. DVD only.
Isabelle Huppert stars in "Special Treatment" (First Run), an erotic comedy with a dark sense of humor about a high-class prostitute who specializes in serving up the sexual fantasies of her high-roller clients. Bouli Lanners co-stars as a psychoanalyst who teams up with her to explore the overlapping worlds of psychotherapy and sex therapy. "At the end, there is no great revelation, but Huppert has succeeded once again in making us wonder what's going on in there," writes film critic Roger Ebert. French with English subtitles, no supplements. DVD only.
"Romeos" (Strand) is romantic drama from Germany about a pre-op transgendered person who, in the midst of transformation from female to male, engages in the gay scene in Cologne and falls in love with a gay man. German with English subtitles.
"Cold Sweat" (Dark Sky), from Argentina, is a horror film about a pair of men who keep captive women soaked in unstable nitroglycerin: the "cold sweat" of the title that threatens to blow up with any wrong move. Spanish with English subtitles. DVD only, with commentary, a featurette and deleted/extended scenes.
The Teen Camelot steps closer to Arthurian myths and legends
"Merlin: The Complete Third Season" (BBC) continues the teen reworking of the King Arthur legend as a coming-of-age tale. This one is centered on the parallel odysseys of two characters: peasant sorcerer Merlin (Colin Morgan), learning the potential of his powers and his responsibility, and arrogant young prince Arthur (Bradley James), son of King Uther (Anthony Head, of "Buffy" fame) and Merlin's hope for a more idealistic future. There's also a young Morgana (Katie McGrath), King Uther's ward and budding sorceress, and a lady in waiting known as Gwen (Angel Coulby), short for (you guessed it) Guinevere, plus a dragon voiced by John Hurt, who is both council to and reluctant servant to dragon-lord Merlin.
I found the first couple of seasons a little light in its mix of mix of pop mythology, medieval fantasy and young adult melodrama, but I have to say the show has grown into its premise a little, thanks to maturing characters and the incorporation of more of the classic legend in the show. Morgana, who went all dark at the end of last season, opens Season Three as the repentant young rebel saved from her misguided path, while in fact she's still in league with the sorceress Morgause (Emilia Fox) and proves it by raising an army of skeletons to attack Camelot from within while Morgause sends a human army to attack the gates.
The rest of the season is all about Morgana's subterfuge and manipulations while hiding behind the protection of Uther, while the season finale introduced another key piece of the Arthur legend: Excalibur, complete with an entrance lifted right out of John Boorman's 1981 film "Excalibur" (sans the Wagnerian accompaniment and Boorman's emerald sheen of earth magic). Along the way we also get Arthur falling in love with Gwen (much to the ire of his father), the Fisher King, the Cup of Life and the Druids, plus a return visit from Lancelot. It's still episodic and lacks the gravity of something like "Game of Thrones," but the show is improving and it ends by planting the promise of the show taking on more and more of the myths and legends of the Arthur story.
13 episodes on five discs. There is commentary on numerous episodes plus the behind-the-scenes featurette "The Making of Merlin Season 3" and 40-minute featurette from the show's 2010 Comic Con panel -- its first appearance at Comic Con. A collection of deleted scenes and outtakes and a gallery of stills fills out the set. DVD only.
See the Season Three trailer below, after the jump.
Ryan Gosling stars in the political drama directed by and co-starring George Clooney
George Clooney seems born to the mantle of presidential candidate in "The Ides of March" (Sony), a political drama loosely inspired by the Howard Dean presidential campaign and adapted from the play "Farrugut North" by Clooney (who also directs) and his producing partner Grant Heslov. He's confident, cool, charming and looks every inch the telegenic veteran politician navigating the turbulent waters of the modern election cycle.
But while Clooney is the bedrock of the film, Ryan Gosling is the star as the passionate campaign operative who is as dedicated as he is savvy. This driven, clever young man is a brilliant electioneer who is also a true believer, which is also his weakness when he becomes disillusioned in his candidate and in the campaign process.
Unfortunately, the film's portrait of a cynical political landscape and idealized political figures with all-too-human failings doesn't tell us anything we haven't seen play out in real life in even that past few months, and the dramatic revelations lack the weight of tragic flaws that drive Gosling's character to takes such career-threatening risks. It's ultimately less political thriller or election allegory than morality play in partisan dress.
MSN film critic Glenn Kenny, however, proclaims that this Clooney-directed project "may be his most successful picture yet, bringing old-school quality and tone to content that plays as both up-to-the-minute and classically timeless."
"A lean, clear-eyed, square-jawed, finely calibrated and lightning-bolt-vivid political thriller that recalls not just the great acidic tragicomedies of political manners… "The Ides of March" manages to satisfy on those fronts without falling into any of the more predictable pitfalls of those genres. If anything, some viewers might find the picture a little, shall we say, withholding, as it depicts its ostensibly idealistic characters indulging in genuinely vile, backbitingly opportunistic behavior, without overtly inviting conventional judgment on them."
Clooney brings in a superb cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download and VOD, and available same day at Redbox.
The DVD features commentary by George Clooney and Grant Heslov and two brief featurettes: "Believe: George Clooney," featuring glowing testimonials from the cast and crew, and "On The Campaign: The Cast of Ides of March," which cast the lens on the rest of the cast.
The Blu-ray adds two more, slightly longer featurettes -- "Developing the Campaign: The Origin of Ides of March" and "What Does a Political Consultant Do?" -- and a bonus UltraViolet edition for digital download and streaming.
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
George Clooney seems born to the mantle of presidential candidate in "The Ides of March" (Sony) but its Ryan Gosling who dominates the story as a passionate campaign operative, a driven, clever, charming young man with a future who risks it all for his ideals in the face of disillusionment in the process. Clooney directs this drama set behind the scenes of the presidential primary race and he brings in a superb cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download and VOD, and available same day at Redbox. Videodrone's review is here.
The indie road movie comedy "Dirty Girl" (Anchor Bay) stars Juno Temple as an eighties-era high school wild child who hits the road with a gay classmate (Jeremy Dozier) to find her long lost father. MSN film critic James Rocchi complains that the film is burdened with "too-many indie clichés and bewildering moments of whimsy." DVD only.
"Abduction" (Lionsgate), a young adult action film with "Twilight" wolfboy Taylor Lautner as the son of CIA agent on the lam who becomes targeted by his father's enemies, was a flop with audiences and critics alike. DVD and Blu-ray. "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" (Sony), with Nick Swardson as a small-town geek looking for fame as a porn star, is another tone-deaf comedy co-written and produced by Adam Sandler for a buddy.
It's a week for epic filmmaking for overseas. Raul Ruiz's nearly 4 ½-hour "Mysteries of Lisbon" (Music Box) is a film of labyrinthine storytelling and cinematic weaves of character and narrative across time and space, a work of exquisite elegance and magnificent insight into human nature and the contradictions that define us. Portuguese and French with English subtitles. On DVD and Blu-ray, with bonus interviews and other supplements, and on VOD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
From Japan comes Koji Wakamatsu's "United Red Army" (Kino), an intense study of the extreme militant left movement in 1970s Japan and a historical drama as psychological thriller. It's over three hours long and never less than compelling. Japanese with English subtitles, no supplements. DVD only. Videodrone's review is here. Also new this week: Wakamatsu's 2010 drama "Caterpillar" (Kino) and "Special Treatment" (First Run) with Isabelle Huppert.
TV on DVD:
"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. The series has improved since the first season, thanks to maturing characters and the incorporation of more of the classic legend in the show, including the dark schemes of Morgana (Katie McGrath) and the introduction of Excalibur, complete with an entrance right out of the 1981 film "Excalibur." 13 episodes plus commentary tracks, deleted scenes and a featurette on five discs. DVD only. Videodrone's review is here.
Laurence Fishburne is Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in "Thurgood" (HBO), a one-man show recorded live on stage for HBO. DVD and Blu-ray.
Also new this week: "Pacific Blue: The Complete Series" (Mill Creek), the nineties-era the series about bicycle cop unit of the Santa Monica Police Department, and "Delocated! Seasons 1 & 2" (Warner), the Cartoon Network's comedy about a family in witness protection who stars in a reality TV show, debut on DVD, and "Waking the Dead: The Complete Season Six" (BBC), the British cold case detective series with Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston, continues.
Flip through the TV on DVD Channel Guide here
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"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. It's Bunuel's color film debut and the beginning of his richest period of filmmaking. Previously on DVD, it is freshly remastered for DVD and Blu-ray on Criterion, which supplements the film with commentary by film critic Michael Wood and new and archival interviews and featurettes. More on Videodrone here.
"Il Cappotto" ("The Overcoat") (Raro), from director Alberto Lattuada, updates Nikolai Gogol's short story and moves it to the poverty and political corruption of post-war Italy, where a meek scrivener in a rural city hall is elevated -- and then dashed -- by the purchase of a new coat. It's a nuanced satire set against the same backdrop as the neo-realist films of the era with a different perspective. Features commentary, deleted scenes and an accompanying booklet among the supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
"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).
"Traffic" (Blu-ray) (Criterion), Steven Soderberg's Oscar-winning 2000 drama of the drug trade, debuts in a director-approved Blu-ray from Criterion. Starring Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Benecio Del Toro, it takes the viewer from Tijuana to Washington, with side trips to middle America and border crossings, to examine the instability and corruption that makes the drug war so futile. The lavish edition features three commentary tracks, deleted scenes and bonus footage, and three behind-the-scenes featurettes among the supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
Robin Williams stars in "Good Morning Vietnam" (Touchstone) as an unconventional armed forces radio deejay in Vietnam and in "Dead Poets Society" (Touchstone) as an inspirational English teacher who engages his pupils with unconventional methods.
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), and "The Josephine Baker Story" (HBO) with Lynn Whitfield as the African American dancer who became an international star in 1930s Paris.
New on Netflix Instant:
"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 the 79-year-old rebel brings a whole new beauty to digital photography. More on Videodrone here.
"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.
For action fans, check out "District 13: Ultimatum" (2009) France, the sequel to the hit urban action film filled with absurdly outrageous action and jaw-dropping stunts.
Also from overseas comes Manoel de Oliveira's "The Strange Case of Angelica" (2010) and "Change Nothing" ("Ne Change Rien") (2009) with Jeanne Balibar, plus Jean-Luc Godard's "Film Socialisme" (2010), which debuted in DVD and Blu-ray last week.
Newly available from Redbox this week:
"A Dolphin Tale" is a family drama based on the true story of an injured dolphin saved by a dedicated marine biologist and starring Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. MSN film critic Glenn Kenny recommends the film for what it is: "A smart, sweet and even -- dare I say it? -- inspiring kid-engineered story of real-life courage and ingenuity…"
"Glee: The Concert" is the big screen concert film featuring the cast of the TV series doing their thing: singing and dancing. And from the archives comes "Darkman," Sam Raimi's mix of superhero movie and "Beauty and the Beast" drama from 1990
Arriving day and date with stores is "The Ides of March" (Sony), "Abduction" (Lionsgate), "Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" (Sony) and "Courageous" (Sony).
|Tags:||Week in review|
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
It's not too early to start handicapping your Oscars. This week, weigh the chances of Brad Pitt for Best Actor and Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Moneyball" (Sony), a drama about the business of baseball in the era of multi-million dollar payrolls. On DVD, Blu-ray, Digital Download and VOD, and available on Redbox.
Indie pick this week is "Higher Ground" (Sony), the directorial debut of the fiercely talented actress Vera Farmiga. Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack, Digital Download and VOD, available on Redbox.
Also new this week:
"The Killer Elite" (Universal) - the action thriller with Jason Statham and Robert De Niro. DVD, Blu-ray and Digital.
"What's Your Number" (Fox) - a crude romantic comedy with Anna Faris. DVD, Blu-ray and Digital.
"Film Socialisme" (Lorber) - Jean-Luc Godard's typically challenging film essay, on Blu-ray and DVD,
"Night and Day" (Zeitgeist) – a wry, meandering character study from South Korean director Hong Sang-soo, DVD only.
TV on DVD
Director/producer Martin Scorsese teams up with "The Sopranos" writer/producer Terence Winter for "Boardwalk Empire: The Complete First Season" (HBO), HBO's gangster drama set in the Atlantic City of the prohibition era. The second season already ran on HBO, but this the first time the show has been available to non-subscribers. DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download.
Also new this week:
"Primeval: Volume Three" (BBC) features the fourth and fifth series from the British sci-fi action series about dinosaurs, holes in time and human conspiracies. DVD and Blu-ray.
"Hawaii Five-O: The Twelfth and Final Season" (Paramount) - Jack Lord is the last man standing in the final season of the original series. DVD only.
Off the Rack – Classic, Cult and Blu-ray Debuts
"The Hellstrom Chronicle" (Olive) won the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1972, but this look at the savage world insects is not your typical documentary. On DVD and Blu-ray.
"Sid & Nancy" (Fox), Alex Cox's tribute to the strange real-life love story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, was Gary Oldman's breakthrough role. It debuts on Blu-ray.
Abbas Kiarostami's "Certified Copy," starring Juliette Binoche, was hailed as one of the best films of the year. It's not on DVD yet, but you can stream it on Netflix and there is an HD edition available.
Also new on Netflix Instant Streaming
"The African Queen" (1951) - John Huston's classic romantic adventure with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.
"True Grit (1969)" - the original with John Wayne
"True Grit (2010)" - the Coen Bros.' remake with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon
"Tucker & Dale vs. Evil" – the absurdly gory horror-comedy
New at Redbox
"The Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (Fox), the superb reworking of the classic science fiction series, is smart, exciting and built on the most vivid simian star since King Kong (courtesy of Andy Serkis), and it's now available through Redbox.
Arriving day and date with stores at Redbox:
"Moneyball" (see above)
"Higher Ground" (see above)
Coming next week:
"The Ides of March" (Sony)
"Dirty Girl" (Anchor Bay)
"Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star" (Sony)
"Mysteries of Lisbon" (Music Box)
"Killing Bono" (Arc Entertainment)
"Merlin: The Complete Third Season" (BBC)
"Belle de Jour" (Criterion)
"The Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin (Eclipse Series 31)" (Criterion)
"Traffic" (Blu-ray) (Criterion)
|Tags:||Week in review|