Blu-ray Round-up: Johnny Depp in 'Ed Wood' in Tim Burton's Tribute to the Filmmaker
Plus Sylvester Stallone as 'Judge Dredd,' Keanu Reeves as 'Devil's Advocate,' 'Love Exposure' from Japan and more
"Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures" (Paramount), a five disc set with the Blu-ray debut of the original trilogy featuring hours of supplements, is the definitive home video incarnation of the pulp adventure series. Videodrone's review is here.
Johnny Depp is "Ed Wood" (Touchstone), the angora loving, cross-dressing cult director in Tim Burton’s loving film biography, perhaps the most loving portrait of a filmmaker ever put on screen. Who’d have though such an honor would go to the filmmaker commonly (and unfairly) branded as “the worst director of all time”? As portrayed by a wired Depp, Wood is all ambition, energy, and passion, a filmmaker so in love with the idea of filmmaking that he lets some of the rudimentary details slip by -- little things like sets getting bumped by actors, gravestones falling over, and shots mismatched so incompetently that scenes change from night to day to night again.
While that’s funny, Burton and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski never make him a figure of derision. He presides over his flea-pit filmmaking circus like the world’s most inviting host, and his regular band of players seem drawn not so much to the art as to the affectionate, eccentric artist. Burton’s direction makes every one of his productions feel like a floating party turned experimental theater. Martin Landau’s Oscar winning performance as Bela Lugosi in his declining, morphine-addict years, is compassionate and moving, and Sarah Jessica Parker, Patricia Arquette, Jeffrey Jones, Bill Murray, and Lisa Marie co-star. The B&W photography is crisp and beautiful and Howard Shore’s score is playful and perfect.
The Blu-ray ports over all the supplements of the DVD special edition. The well-edited commentary track, created from separate recollections by director Tim Burton, actor Martin Landau, screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky (with Landau reprising his Bela voice as your host), is a rich and engrossing tour through the inspiration, conception, and production of the film. It's dominated by screenwriters, who contribute the most interesting insights to Wood and Lugosi lore, as well as the liberties they took with history. The 15-minute behind-the-scenes documentary "Let’s Shoot This F#%@r!" is an impressionist behind-the-scenes glimpse from the set, introduced by Johnny Depp in full Ed Wood drag. Also includes five deleted scenes, the short featurettes "Making Bela" (with Landau and make-up artist Rick Baker), "Pie Plates Over Hollywood" (production designer Tom Duffield creates the world of "Ed Wood"), and "The Theremin" (on the unique electronic instrument used in the score) and a Tim Burton-directed music video.
"Love Exposure" (Olive), a four-hour drama of youth culture in Japan from director Sion Sono, follows the odyssey of a good kid (Takahiro Nishijima) from a Catholic family who turns to upskirt photography to commit sins big enough to impress his father and falls in love with a man-hating martial arts whiz (Hikari Mitsushima). "This intricately plotted Japanese epic has so many twists and turns - not to mention bizarre characters with even more bizarre backstories - that the time will fly by," writes San Francisco Chronicle film critic David Lewis. "As the old cliché goes, you will not have another moviegoing experience quite like this one all year." In Japanese with English subtitles.
Sylvester Stallone is "Judge Dredd" (Touchstone) in the 1995 film version of the satirical British comic book, directed Danny Cannon (who went on to create the "CSI" franchise on TV). It debuts on Blu-ray in advance of the new movie version rolling out in theaters later this season. Includes the featurette "Stallone's Law: The Making of Judge Dredd."
"Halloween II" (Shout! Factory) and "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" (Shout! Factory), the two sequels produced by John Carpenter, arrive on Blu-ray a few weeks after installments "4" and "5." Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode in "II," which picks up right where the original leaves off, and the disc features two separate cuts of the film. "Season of the Witch" leaves the boogeyman altogether for a strange tale about cursed Halloween masks. Both feature two commentary tracks and multiple featurettes.
"Devil's Advocate" (Warner), starring Keanu Reeves as a young attorney in a shadowy New York firm and Al Pacino as his (literally) Satanic boss, is presented in an extended, unrated version. Features commentary by director Taylor Hackford and over twenty minutes of deleted scenes
"Queen of the Damned" (Warner) stars Stuart Townsend as the legendary vampire Lestat and Aaliyah is the mother of all vampires awakened by his voice in this glitzy gothic adaptation of the Anne Rice novel. With commentary, featurettes (including a tribute to Aaliyah), deleted scenes and music videos.
Also debuting on Blu-ray: Marcel Carné's "Children of Paradise" (Criterion) and "Les visiteurs du soir" (Criterion), Orson Welles' "Macbeth" (Olive), "A Double Life" (Olive) with Ronald Colman, "Cyrano De Bergerac" (Olive) with Jose Ferrer, and Mario Bava's "Black Sunday" (Kino), "Lisa and the Devil" (Kino), and "Hatchet for the Honeymoon" (Kino). See Cool and Classic for more.