Digital Week - July 30th
4K/UHD Disc of the Week
The Doors (Lionsgate)
Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic tries to turn the Doors lead singer Jim Morrison’s drug-fueled personality—which culminated in his death at age 27 in a Paris bathtub—into something more than a simple biopic, but its ambition might be more of a liability, since Stone’s visual busyness at times overshadows Val Kilmer’s superb central performance as Morrison (unsurprisingly ignored by the Oscars). For this 4K release, Stone has fashioned a new “final cut” three minutes shorter than his earlier director’s cut (included on the accompanying Blu-ray disc). The film looks—and sounds—great in ultra hi-def; extras comprise a commentary by and new interview with Stone and new interview with sound engineer Lon Bender.
Blu-rays of the Week
Body at Brighton Rock (Magnet)
Writer-director Roxanne Benjamin’s would-be intense drama pits Wendy, a green national park ranger, at the mercy of the elements after she gets lost…and must remain overnight with a dead body she discovered in a remote area of the park. At first, it seems that Benjamin is setting us up for a comedy about stupidity—Wendy does the exact things to make her predicament worse—but by the end, after Wendy fends off a crazed visitor and a bear, it’s obvious that Benjamin’s movie is about heroism arriving when least expected. Karina Fontes does wonders making Wendy relatable even in her benightedness. There’s a fine hi-def transfer; extras are interviews and a Benjamin and Fontes commentary.
Bronco Billy (Warner Archive)
This 1980 feature about a traveling Wild West show is considered one of star-director Clint Eastwood’s most lighthearted films, and it may well be—but also, thanks to Billy’s horrible mistreatment of a jilted wife Antoinette (whom he lets join his crew and share his bed), which she of course loves, is awfully misogynistic and unfortunately played for laughs. Sondra Locke’s amateurish acting doesn’t help, and Eastwood and she have no chemistry. At least there’s the always welcome presence of Scatman Crothers—and a superior hi-def transfer.
Brian De Palma’s latest thriller plods along with static and stagnant action sequences that are as static and stagnant as his earlier ones were fast-paced and even occasionally thrilling. This ISIS-infused drama is set in Copenhagen and includes several fine Scandinavian actors (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Paprika Steen and Søren Malling) and the great Dutch actress Carice van Houten, but with a flimsy script, derivative directing and Pino Donaggio’s old-hat score, one of America’s former preeminent stylists has delivered a clinker. There’s a terrific hi-def transfer.
Footlight Parade (Warner Archive)
This classic 1933 musical might feature Jimmy Cagney, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell and Ruby Keeler in a story of a desperate director trying to keep audiences’ spirits up during the dark days of the Depression, but there’s a much bigger star on hand: Busby Berkley. The dazzling set pieces Berkeley created are his very best, including the most breathtaking of all: a sequence of precisely synchronized movement in a swimming pool by dozens of female aquatic performers that’s worth the price of admission all by itself. There’s a first-rate hi-def transfer; extras are archival featurettes and cartoons.
In this riveting true-life crime tale, Martin Clunes gives a forceful portrayal of Detective Sergeant Inspector Colin Sutton, who becomes so wrapped up in solving the murders of young women by a serial killer that he all but neglects his home life and his loving but frustrated wife. The three-part mini-series is done with intelligence and intensity, even its secondary characters—like the grieving parents of a French victim—strongly felt. The hi-def transfer is excellent; lone extra is an interview with Clunes and executive producer (and Clunes’ wife) Philippa Braithwaite.