'Best in Blu-ray' sifts through the week's new releases, recommending titles for both the Blu-ray veteran and newbie, and reporting on the coolest special feature and most intriguing rental. Look for it every Tuesday.
For Blu-ray Vets:
'Enter the Void'
What It's About: A young drug dealer dies in Tokyo; his spirit then travels through time and space as he relives old memories and checks in on his sister.
Features: Deleted scenes, trailers, teasers, unused trailers, 12-minute VFX reel (no audio), "Vortex" and "DMT" extended scenes, posters.
Transfer/Audio: We haven't found any reviews of the Blu-ray yet, but Marina Antunes at Row Three reviewed the DVD and commented: "It's highly recommended that if you have the capability, bypass the DVD and head straight for the Blu-Ray release for the closest theatrical experience." [Note: Image above is not from the Blu-ray, which is being released by MPI.]
Replay Value: "A powerfully bizarre movie, a psychedelic trip that must be experienced -- not just seen and heard but experienced -- to be believed," wrote our own Eric D. Snider. Yours truly completely concurs with that opinion; my colleague Christopher Campbell and I felt that it was one of the best films of 2010. The first viewing is the litmus test; either you're completely swept up in the wash of imagery and sounds or completely repelled. If you're swept up, you'll want to experience it again; if not, you'll be asking for a refund before you're halfway through.
For the Newbies:
What It's About: Holly Hunter, William Hurt, and Albert Brooks form a romantic triangle at a network evening news show dealing with changing times.
Why See It (Again): Only because it's fabulous! Our own Todd Gilchrist observed that the film "chronicles what (particularly in retrospect) was a pivotal time in the history of, well, broadcast news, and filters that technological and social change not just through a well-told story, but the characters themselves."
Having watched the film multiple times myself, what struck me on a recent viewing was the timeless essence of the characters. It's not just the three stars, around whom the story revolves, but the humanity found in the supporting roles, the way they come to vivid life with just a look or a line of dialogue. Much of the humor comes from behavioral observations rather than telling jokes, and that helps keep the film evergreen.
What to Look (and Listen) For: Again we point to the article by my esteemed colleague Mr. Gilchrist: "Criterion's Blu-ray not only looks terrific, restoring and enhancing its no-frills cinematography (by future 'Goodfellas' director of photography Michael Ballhaus), but including a spectacular wealth of extra material, including an alternate ending, a series of deleted scenes, and an interview with Susan Zirinsky, an associate producer who served as a model for Holly Hunter's character."
Coolest Special Feature:
What It's About: Action comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich as retired secret agents who spring back into action when Willis is framed for murder. With Mary-Louise Parker.
Feature: "Access: Red"
Details: Exclusive to Blu-ray, "Access: Red" is a picture-in-picture video track "that features both random and film-related trivia and factoids, cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, expert commentary on real-life CIA procedure, a look into controversial CIA operations, and more," according to Blu-ray.com. Their conclusion? "This is PiP done absolutely right!"
Most Intriguing Rental:
What It's About: Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky, 'Santa Sangre,' originally released in 1989, flashbacks and flash forwards through the life of a young circus worker.
Why Seek It Out on Blu-ray: It's "psychedelic trips on Blu-ray" week! The film features "sequence after sequence of Fellini-esque spectacles," says Fangoria. The review of the DVD edition says it is "wonderfully clear," and the extras are "mind-boggling," adding up to more than five hours of material. We can only hope (and trust Severin Films, who are releasing the film) that the Blu-ray edition looks even better.
Why Rent and Not Buy: The film contains scenes of explicit violence and sensuality and is the definition of "not for every taste." But it's such an unusual, unique experience that it's worth a rental to check it out, rather than simply dismiss or ignore its value.
Criterion Corner Preview:
'The Double Life of Veronique'
What It's About: Our own David Ehrlich is probably saving his comments on this week's Criterion Collection releases until his monthly Criterion Corner is published on Cinematical on Wednesday. So we wait with bated breath, and read his thoughts on Eclipse Series #25 (DVD only) or gaze longingly at the gorgeous, lovely images he's collected from 'Une Femme Marie.'
Further reading: Criterion Corner on Tumblr.
More New Releases on Blu-ray:
'A Beautiful Mind'
'Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer'
'The Color Purple'
'Dead Space: Aftermath'
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest'
'Open Season 3'
'Quiet Days in Clichy'
'Saw: The Final Chapter'
Further reading: New on DVD & Blu-ray, Week of Jan. 25: 'Nowhere Boy,' 'Red' and 'Secretariat' (Moviefone)