Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August Classics on Disc

L'enfance nue (Criterion), an understated 1968 drama by underrated French director Maurice Pialat, makes no concessions to conventional filmmaking in its portrait of a 10-year-old boy who is passed from family to family because he can't—or won't—fit into a “normal” family structure, even when he finds a loving home with an elderly couple. Pialat's debut feature doesn't condescend to anyone, least of all young Francois (played by an amazing youngster, Michel Terrazon), and the result is the first of what were many singularly realistic pictures from Pialat (who died prematurely in 2003). A Nos Amours is already part of the Criterion Collection, but other Pialats also deserve to be. Extras comprise L’amour existe, Pialat’s 1960 short; Choses vues, autour de “L’enfance nue,” a 50-minute documentary; a 1973 French TV Pialat interview; visual essay by Kent Jones; and video interview with Pialat collaborators Arlette Langmann and Patrick Grandperret.

Adam 12—Season 5 (Shout Factory), a five-disc set, features all 24 episodes from the 1972-3 season of Jack Webb's police procedural which stars Martin Milner and Ken McCord as two L.A. cops on patrol; Ron Shelton's droll 1988 baseball comedy, Bull Durham (MGM Blu-ray) has been given in HD upgrade and remains one of the best sports films ever made, with what is easily Kevin Costner's finest, most unaffected performance—and Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins are not far behind (best extras: commentaries by Shelton, Costner and Robbins); Joy and Joy & Joan (Severin) are surprisingly sexy mid-80s softcore flicks about an uninhibited model and her sexual adventures with men, women...and groups of men and women (lone extra: interview with Joy star Claudia Udy); Judy Garland Show—Volume 5 (Infinity), containing two more episodes of the beloved entertainer's short-lived variety show from the 1963-4 season, includes Judy and guests Steve Allen, Mel Torme, Jayne Meadows and Diahann Carroll; National Lampoon's Vacation and National Lampoon's European Vacation (Warners Blu-rays) are typically hit-or-miss Chevy Chase vehicles, with the original coming out ahead on points, even though the dumb American humor of the sequel has its moments—on Blu-ray, both movies look sharper than ever (best extra: Chase's European Vacation commentary); back in 1993, Sally Potter’s Orlando (Sony) seemed like a weak Peter Greenaway knock-off—now seen anew in this DVD upgrade, Potter’s flamboyant art direction and bold visuals are far more than mere window-dressing for Tilda Swinton’s extravagantly androgynous performance (best extra: Potter’s scene-specific commentary); the e six-disc set Patty Duke Show—Season 3 (Shout Factory) includes all 32 episodes of the series set in New York featuring the beguiling duke as herself and her cousin (best extra: reunion TV movie, Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights); Sam Mendes' Road to Perdition (Paramount Blu-ray), his 2002 disappointing follow-up to the Oscar-winning American Beauty, doesn't show off its stars Tom Hanks, Jude Law or Paul Newman to their best advantage—and on Blu-ray, director of photography Conrad Hall's magic comes to life (best extra: Hall's cinematography featurette); Shogun Assassin (AnimEigo Blu-ray), the classic 1980 samurai flick, now has an HD transfer to reckon with, and the frequent bloodblettings—usually witnessed by a young boy in one of the movie's cleverest touches—are redder and more detailed than ever (best extra: interview with Samuel L. Jackson, big samurai fan); 3 Silent Classics by Josef von Sternberg (Criterion) collects a trio of the best of the director's silent-era movies—Underworld, The Last Command and The Docks of New York—and includes two separate music scores for each film (best extra: 1968 Sternberg interview covering his entire career).

originally posted on timessquare.com

No comments: