Friday, April 1, 2011

March '11 Classic Films on Disc

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King of Kings (Warners Blu-ray) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (MGM Blu-ray) – These two “life of Christ” epics were certainly made on a grand scale, but their best assets remain the actors playing Jesus: handsome Jeffrey Hunter in Kings and noble Max von Sydow in Greatest Story. Nicholas Ray's 1961 King of Kings also features a reverent cast and Orson Welles as narrator, while George Stevens' 1965 The Greatest Story Ever Told contains too many star cameos to count; location shooting for both films—Spain and the U.S. desert southwest, respectively—helps with the countless authentic and gorgeous compositions, which look absolutely breathtaking on Blu-ray. Special features include the vintage featurette The Camera's Window of the World (Kings) and two Greatest Story documentary featurettes: He Walks in Beauty and Filmmaker.


Alien from the Deep (One 7 Movies) is an unabashedly trashy B horror movie that doesn't care that it's laughably amateurish—but that is not a recommendation; the flesh-eating monsters threatening life on this planet in Alien 2 on Earth (Midnight Legacy Blu-ray) are less scary than laughable in a poker-faced but failed attempt at a sci-fi thriller (best extra: special effects outtakes); in the campy Chinese Kamasutra (One 7 Movies), oft-naked Georgia Emerald plays a straitlaced librarian whose libidio is unleashed by the ancient title book (lone extra: deleted scene); Girls, Guns and G-Strings (Mill Creek) comprises a dozen films starring such 80s Playmates as Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez and Hope Marie Carlton—and with titles like Savage Beach, Hard Ticket to Hawaii and Fit to Kill, you know exactly what you're in for (lone extra: Andy Sedaris introductions); Legally Blonde 2 (MGM Blu-ray) brings back Reese Witherspoon for another go-round as a Southern gal making it big in Washington, with less than stellar comedic results than the first chapter (best extra: Blonde Ambition featurette); Material Girls (MGM Blu-ray) pairs sisters Hilary and Hailie Duff for this unoriginal comic tale about rich sisters who must deal with the horror of becoming poor; the animated feature Miracle Maker—The Story of Jesus (LionsGate Blu-ray) pairs stunning Russian stop-motion animation with excellent voiceover actors led by Ralph Fiennes in the title role, Julie Christie, Ian Holm and William Hurt (best extra: making-of featurette); from the director of the seminal documentary The Battle of Chile comes Salvador Allende (Icarus), Patricio Guzman's compelling portrait of the Chilean leader whose overthrow in 1973 led to the Pinochet dictatorship; gorgeous international star Edwige French takes the title role in The Sins of Madame Bovary (One 7 Movies), a classic 1969 soft-core version of Flaubert's novel; still Rob Reiner's best movie, 1986's Stand by Me (Sony Blu-ray) stars a bevy of smart teen actors like River Phoenix, Kiefer Sutherland, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell (best extra: Reiner, Wheaton and Feldman picture-in-picture video commentary); the late Edward Yang's family epic Yi Yi (Criterion Blu-ray), nearly three hours long, might overstay its welcome, but at its best is filled with compassion and insights (best extra: Yang and critic Tony Rayns commentary).

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