Monday, February 12, 2007

DVD TREASURES COMING TUESDAY


Tuesday, February 13, is going to be a very good day for DVD releases. In terms of last-minute catching up on Oscar contenders, if you’ve missed them up till now, there are no more excuses: Best Picture nominee The Departed becomes available for your home theater Tuesday, as does Best Costume Design nominee Marie Antoinette and Best Actor nominee Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson.

I’m glad to be able to see The Departed one more time before Sunday, February 25, but I’m probably even more glad to get a chance to catch up on Sofia Coppola’s film, which I dismissed at the time of its release as being of little interest. Yet the more I’ve read about it in the interim makes me think that might have been a big mistake. I don’t know just how Coppola’s vision of Antoinette as a anachronistically rendered teen queen will wash with my sensibilities, but I’m convinced it’ll be worth far more than the tinker’s damn I was willing to part with when it was in theaters.

Speaking of The Departed, the recent news that screenwriter William Monahan, himself nominated in the Adapted Screenplay category this year, has been hard at work on a sequel to the hit film ever since it started raking in the dough last fall is fascinating in that the body count at the end of Scorsese’s film is so very, very high. But if you’re interested in how the filmmakers Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak, creators of the Hong Kong crime thriller Internal Affairs, upon which The Departed was based, went about solving the sequel question, you’ll get your chance to investigate on Tuesday when Internal Affairs 2 and Internal Affairs 3 make their Region 1 digital bows. And speaking of Hong Kong sequels, Tuesday also marks the release of Jackie Chan’s Police Story 2, the dynamic sequel to Police Story, which was itself released on DVD here in December in its first U.S. domestic version—an excellent disc. Police Story 2 and the Internal Affairs sequels are on the Dragon Dynasty label.

One last Oscar connection: Ennio Morricone, who will be receiving an honorary Oscar this year whether he wants to or not, is honored in a digital way with the release of Ennio Morricone: Arena Concerto, recorded live in Verona in 2002, featuring a concert of the master’s film music conducted by Morricone himself. This might be just the corrective for the Celine Dion performance scheduled as part of the Morricone Oscar tribute.

But that’s not all, folks. Tuesday sees the long-awaited release of Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s snapshot of late-‘60s London and rock-and-roll decadence Performance; Andrew Bujalski’s follow-up to Funny Ha Ha-- now getting an official DVD release (it was available previously on Bujalski’s Web site)-- Mutual Appreciation; Federico Fellini’s warm and, of course, slightly strange tribute to stars Marcello Mastroiannni and Guiletta Masina, and also to the stars alluded to in the film’s title, Ginger and Fred; and two excellent offerings from the good folks at Criterion— a spectacular four-disc set chronicling the career of Paul Robeson, entitled Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist, which includes the documentary overview Portrait of the Artist, plus the features The Emperor Jones, Body and Soul, Borderline, The Proud Valley, Native Land, Sanders of the Rover and Jericho; and Sidney Gilliatt’s enormously entertaining WWII murder mystery Green for Danger, featuring Sally Gray, Trevor Howard, Rosamund John and the incomparable Alistair Sim.

But even given all that digital bounty made available on a single day, the release I’m most looking forward to (with Green for Danger coming a very close second), is the appearance, finally, of Neil Jordan’s superb adaptation of Pat McCabe’s novel The Butcher Boy. It stars Eamonn Owens as Francie Brady, a young boy left alone in the shadow of a demented, alcoholic father to fend for himself growing up, and chronicles Francie’s slide from precociousness to thuggery to obsessive behavior, paranoia and, finally, a homicidal thrashing out at both beloved friends and demonized enemies. Owens is spectacular in the role—his performance was, I thought, the best of 1997—and The Butcher Boy skimps not on immersing the viewer in the boiling madness of Francie’s point of view. It’s a visual and aural masterpiece, easily Jordan’s best movie. And it’s the best reason to welcome DVD Tuesday this week, and perhaps for the rest of the year.

UPDATE 2/12/07 10:04 a.m.: This is why I love the comments section. Readers Adam Ross and Flower helped paper over a couple of major oversights on my part that make this Tuesday's DVD release party an even more bounteous event. Adam tells us that the DVD he's most looking forward to is Criterion's sure-to-be-luxurious edition of Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves, and Flower gives some good advice in reminding us not to overlook (as did I) the DVD premiere of Tony Richardson's The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner starring Tom Courtenay and Michael Redgrave. Thanks, guys!

13 comments:

aaron said...

"This might be just the corrective for the Celine Dion performance scheduled as part of the Morricone Oscar tribute."

Surely you jest!

Peter Nellhaus said...

One of my neighborhood VDO stores has The Departed already. The sound mix was a bit off in one of the scenes, but such are the adventures of watching DVDs in Thailand. My signficant other, who hated The Aviator liked this, but I think Infernal Affairs holds up better to multiple viewings.

Adam Ross said...

The Tuesday DVD I'm most excited about is Bicycle Thieves: The Criterion Collection. Can't wait to see what magic they worked on one of the all time bests.

Flower said...

Great post, Dennis - but don't forget Tony Richardson's masterful The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner!

Steve said...

All right, another Butcher Boy fan! I'm totally in agreement with your assessment of Owens's performance... wonder what happened to him...

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Aaron: I wish I were.

Benaiah said...

I finally watched Unleashed this weekend. I was skimming through the movie section at my local library and a lightbulb went off in my head: "Dennis really liked this movie." And so did I. It was a little bit like Leon by Guy Ritchie, starring Bruce Lee (or Jet Li doing his best Bruce anyway, what with all the crazy facial expressions), but it didn't skimp on either the action or the story. The ending was a trifle sweet for my liking, but even Huck Finn went on 40 pages too long.

I room with one of the biggest dullards on God's green Earth, and the movie managed to do double time, keeping me emotionally invested while providing enough shiny objects and blood to keep him from complaining or chasing a ball in the park or whatever.

Afterwards he remarked: "This is the first good movie you've brought home, though it didn't have enough fighting."

"No, I think there was just the right ammount."

Thanks, as always, for the heads up.

Sal Gomez said...

Let's not forget about Mick Jaggers film "Performance" as I think this is the first time it's out on DVD.

David Lowery said...

And Mutual Appreciation! But yeah, I'm extremely excited about finally having the chance to see The Butcher Boy again. I saw it several times in theaters, once on VHS, and have been praying to Sinead O'Connor ever since for a good DVD release. I can't believe it's been ten years already!

CINEBEATS said...

I'm really looking forward to the Performance DVD which I ranted about in my own blog as well as The Lonliness of a Long Distnace Runner, but The Butcher Boy is probably my favorite Jordan film so I'm excited about it as well. Lots of good releases this week!

Joseph B. said...

This is a great week for DVD releases. I'm curious as to everyone's top choice for film not available on DVD. DVDJournal.com has a pretty exhaustive MIA list, and with all these good releases this week, I've been putting alot of thought into this topic recently. My vote goes to Nick Gomez's highly underrated 1992 "Laws of Gravity". In fact, I think Gomez has very little representation on DVD ("illtown", "new jersey drive" included). And apologies to Dennis for high jacking this thread, but it's a worthy question!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

No problem, Joseph. It's a great topic for an open thread, which is exactly what I think I'm gonna do with it tonight. I'm off to find that DVD Journal.com link, and we'll see what everybody thinks.

David: It seems that you've been doing the same devotionals as I have. And they do say that whenever two or more of you gather in Sinead's name...

New Movie Releases said...

Great Post ! Thank You very Much !I am looking forward for the result of DVD. I am hoping i will also buy it.