Digital Week – November 27th

Blu-rays of the Week

Some Like It Hot (Criterion)

Still one of the funniest movies ever made, Billy Wilder’s 1960 classic might now run afoul of those who find it sexist and condescending, but it remains a breathless comic romp, with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and Joe E. Brown giving best-ever performances in a drag comedy that has one of the all-time great final lines of dialogue. The brand-new hi-def restoration looks magnificent; extras are a 1989 commentary by film scholar Howard Suber; new featurette on Orry-Kelly’s costumes; three making-of documentaries; 1982 Dick Cavett Show appearance by Wilder; 2001 Curtis conversations; and a 1988 French TV interview with Lemmon.

Bel Canto (Screen Media)

For this strangely inert drama about an American soprano in a deadly hostage situation at the South American mansion where she is performing, Julianne Moore seems out of her element, giving a technically accomplished but chilly performance (even her lip-synching to Renee Fleming’s glorious singing seems off). Director Paul Weitz also appears out of his comfort zone, with many dramatic moments missing their targets; he’s resigned to melodramatic clichés in the relationships that develop during the stand-off. Too bad that excellent German actor, Sebastian Koch, is also wasted. The film looks quite good on Blu; extras are short featurettes.

Crackdown Big City Blues (The Film Detective)

It perilously skirts Ed Wood territory at times, but it’s also what’s actually watchable about this 1991 time-capsule docudrama about a local community battling drug dealers on their own turf. Director/writer Paul DeSilva and producer/writer Frazier Prince’s cautionary tale has perfectly wooden acting throughout, but set during the NYC crack epidemic it manages to make its case persuasively. The film looks decent enough on Blu-ray; extras are a vintage featurette and interviews with Prince and sound man Jim Markovic.

Luciferina (Artsploitation)

Argentine writer-director Gonzalo Calzada’s crazy idea is surreal, bloody and legitimately creepy: mix together a novice nun, evil spirits, pregnancy and sex and you have a bizarrely compelling watch that culminates with what may be the first successful sexorcism sequence in movie history. And kudos to actress Sofía Del Tuffo for giving it her all—especially physically—as the young woman who fights back against the devil by having sex with him on the altar in a scene that must be seen to be believed. There’s a crisp, first-rate hi-def transfer.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula / Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure (Warner Archive)

In 1973’s Satanic Rites of Dracula, Christopher Lee’s undead Count and Peter Cushing’s stake-wielding Van Helsing meet again in contemporary London for another ho-hum showdown courtesy of director Alan Gibson. 1959’s Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure is anything but: this lazy programmer pits Gordon Scott’s brawny but brainy Tarzan against villains Anthony Quayle and a young Sean Connery. John Guillermin’s direction is slickly competent, but the climactic cliff fight is sheer hokum. Both films have excellent hi-def transfers with fully-realized grain and color.