Blu-Eyed Soul Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2011-06-02 18:34:37-04:00 No comments

I haven't done this in a while, so here are some recent Blu-ray issues that grabbed my attention. Some will end up on my own shelf by year's end or so.

Ridley Scott's Legend, a murdered movie (see my review), resurrected by its own director after many years and with great difficulty. I admire it for what it tries to do, even if I know all too well how flawed it is, and I admire the way its environments were created almost entirely out of practical, on-camera effects.

If my parents are to be believed, Once Upon a Time in the West was the very first film I ever saw, while I was all of one year old. Until I watched it again as an adult, I didn't remember a thing about it save for Henry Fonda's eyes. The most common sentiment about West I hear is "They don't make movies like this anymore," but I suspect the presence of True Grit would serve as a capable counter-argument: they still can, and sometimes they do, but boy is the deck stacked against us.

Tron: Legacy. This was, in retrospect, a better movie that I originally thought. It looks fantastic—design students will be fawning over it for years to come—even if the plotting is pretty much a ridiculous mess. But at the heart of it is a nice father-and-son story, and a parable about fatally flawed ambition and the urge to play god with all our shiny new goodies. Remember when you were six and you sat on the floor of your room with everything in your toybox spread out around you? That's Flynn, as of old, and I wonder if we are collectively turning into a version of that.

Alien and Aliens. The rest of the movies can go bury themselves in a landfill somewhere for all I care, but these two are indispensible. Now available outside of the collector's edition set, so I don't feel like I'm getting two additional bad movies for the price of four good ones.

I never imagined Alejandro Jodorowsky's catalog would turn up domestically, not in a trillion years, but hell has a way of spontaneously freezing over when your back's turned. El Topo, The Holy Mountain, Santa Sangre—these are the maddest, most infuriating, most captivating movies ever made with anything like a professional-level budget behind them. I'd still like to see The Rainbow Thief added to this lineup, even though I know objectively it's not a very good film. (And maybe Tusk as well, even though by all accounts that's not much more than a travelogue.)

American Graffiti was George Lucas's last gasp as a director before the technological fairytale of Star Wars devoured his imagination and turned him into a franchise-maker. If he had followed the thread laid down by this, THX-1138 and some of his student films, we might well be living in a completely different cinematic world. (Or maybe we would have just had Close Encounters of the Third Kind take over from where Star Wars would have been.)

Not on BD (why?) but recommended anyway: Todd Haynes's Poison, in a new edition. Saw it back on LD when I had a rental place near me; it'd be nice to see it in HD as well but this'll do for now.

The third Tetsuo film is here in a priced-down version. (What, no BD?) Mixed word about it, sadly. What say you good people?

One of the most utterly deranged big-studio movies ever made, Skidoo. How this ever got made needs to be subject of its own documentary. Where else can you see tapdancing garbage cans, Groucho Marx playing a drug dealer named "God" and Jackie Gleason on LSD? NOWHERE. After this, the only thing crazier is The Phynx.

Twelve Kingdoms. Blu-ray. I have my doubts about the picture quality (I suspect it'll be a nasty upsample), but ... here's hoping it's native HD. I know that Moribito is a better candidate for that, and have plans to add that to the collection eventually.

And of course, most everything Criterion is putting out these days, but Secret Sunshine, Pale Flower, Naked, The Makioka Sisters and if.... most recently caught my attention. (Hey, Warner Brothers, how 'bout a BD of O Lucky Man! while we're at it? At least the wonderful soundtrack is available as its own item, which works as a hilarious Greek chorus for the goings-on.)

Tags: Blu-ray Disc movies