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This Week on DVD & Blu-ray

April 11, 2013

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The two big releases this week  are two vastly different cult  films that came out in 1953 and 1991. They are the Japanese romantic drama “Gate of Hell” a period piece which won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film and then from Canadian director David Cronenberg we have “Naked Lunch” which fits perfectly amongst his examination of bodily transformation films. “Hyde Park on Hudson”, distributed by Universal,  is the only recent major studio release out this week. Taking place in 1939, it stars Bill Murray as FDR, focusing primarily on his intimate relationship with his suspected mistress (Laura Linney) and the visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth that would lead to the U.S. involvement in WWII.  While not a bad film, it definitely didn’t perform the way the studio had hoped, even with nomination talk at the end of last year.

Regardless, “Hyde Park” isn’t a mess or a complete waste of  your time. It offers some fine cinematography, costume design and a nice “humanizing” quality to its characterization, thanks to Chicago playwright Richard Nelson’s screenplay. Thinking about it now, it does feel like stage material. As it expands to the screen though, it doesn’t quite resonate the way it could (that’s not even to say it should). Director Roger Michell has proved himself to be a confident hand behind the camera in the past (“Notting Hill” and “Changing Lanes”), but here it seems like he’s coasting, or maybe it’s just the tone of the material. Without a doubt, the reason to see it is for Murray. It’s not a role that leans too far to the dramatic, playing more to the actor’s comedic chops as it portrays a jovial, often inebriated President, but the problem is that Murray is too recognizable in the role, making it hard for us to feel invested in Roosevelt the man.

Let’s close out with a look at the two  releases from the Criterion Collection: “Naked Lunch” and “Gate of Hell”. “Naked Lunch  brings author William S. Burroughs and filmmaker David Cronenberg together for the first time – a fitting pair if there ever was one. Cronenberg’s screenplay is probably one of the best page-to-screen adaptations that I can recall, with the director maintaining the weirdness in the book and expounding on his favorite subject: the physical and emotional damage when one’s psychological urges spin out of control. I haven’t since he early 90’s and at that time I was enamoured but completely lost by what I was watching. So, it’s due for a revisit.

Teinosuke Kinugasa’s “Gate of Hell”, or “Jigokumon“,  has the dinsctincton of being the first Japanese color film to be released outside its homeland. It also won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film and the Palme d’Or at Cannes. The romantic drama is a period piece that tells the story of a samurai (Kazuo Hasegawa) who tries to marry a woman (Machiko Kyō) he rescues, only to discover that she is already married to someone else. He becomes obsessed in his attempts at winning her over. Criterion says the film is, “a visually sumptuous, psychologically penetrating work from Teinosuke Kinugasa” and “an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan, is an unforgettable, tragic story of obsession and unrequited passion.” I’ve never even heard of it, but I’m interested.

That’s it for this week! Enjoy the Rundown….

 

  • Boss: Season Two (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Cary Grant Film Collection (DVD)
  • Crush (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Deadball (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Season 1 (Blu-ray)
  • Down the Shore (DVD)
  • Errol Garner: No One Can Hear You Read (DVD)
  • Family Ties: The Sixth Season (DVD)
  • The Four (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Gate of Hell (Criterion Collection) (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • The Great Barrier Reef (Blu-ray)
  • Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan (Blu-ray)
  • The Great Barrier Reef (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Hyde Park on Hudson (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Into The Cold: A Journey of the Soul (DVD)
  • The Last Flight of Petr Ginz (DVD)
  • Love Free or Die (DVD)
  • Naked Lunch (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray)
  • One Life (Blu-ray)
  • Paranormal Movie (DVD)
  • Planet Ocean (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Sexy Evil Geniusn (DVD)
  • The Sorcerer and the White Snake (DVD/Blu-ray)
  • Woochi: The Demon Slayer (DVD/Blu-ray)

 

 

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