The Top 5 DVDs and Blu-Rays of the Week: 'Spring Breakers' & More

Here are your the five best new home video releases for the week of July 9, 2013. All of these titles are set to hit store shelves tomorrow.

1.) "THE LIFE OF OHARU" (Kenji Mizoguchi)

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One of the greatest Japanese films ever made, "The Life of Oharu" is one of several Kenji Mizoguchi films that has been difficult to get ahold of here in the United States, especially in a format worth watching. The good folks at The Criterion Collection have been doing their utmost to address this problem, having already released a number of Mizoguchi's other masterpieces, and now they're finally releasing what might be the filmmaker's most famous work, "The Life of Oharu." As Daniel Walber describes the socially conscious tragedy in his Blu-ray review, "'The Life of Oharu' is, to a degree, an important reframing of how women are represented. Its emphasis on sexuality and life outside of marriage is certainly more progressive than much of Ozu’s work. Yet at the end of the day, perhaps Mizoguchi has told a story with too narrow a definition of female virtue. This enigmatic, problematic masterpiece deserves to sit in dialogue with films written and directed by women."

"The Life of Oharu" is an essential part of any home video library, and it sure would make one hell of a weird double-feature with "Spring Breakers."

Extra Features: An audio commentary for the first 28 minutes of the film, a video essay about the art that influenced Mizoguchi, and a documentary about the turbulent career of actress Kinuyo Tanaka.

Buy it on Blu-Ray. Buy it on DVD.

2.) "SPRING BREAKERS" (Harmony Korine)

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From Jordan Hoffman's review: "It would be easy to dismiss 'Spring Breakers.' Lord, I’d like to. Anything that exploits women this ruthlessly begs to be dismissed. (And, sorry, Disney Girls Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens, you may think this is your ticket to an adult career, but this isn’t “Ruby in Paradise” and none of you are Ashley Judd.) Unfortunately, there are moments, somewhere in the cannabis haze of day-glo bikini buttocks and cocaine-topped nipples where an abstract expressionism starts to seep off the screen. The swirl of horny jocks, skanky girls and inadvisable behavior mixed with booze, bongs, bling and ridiculous signifiers like wiggers and bronys all starts to become. . .beautiful."

Extra Features: 

  • Breaking it Down: Behind Spring Breakers" - A Behind-the-Scenes 3-Part Documentary
  • Deleted Scene/Outtakes
  • "Harmony's Ear Candy" featurette - An Insightful Look at the Music of Spring Breakers
  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Harmony Korine
  • VICE featurettes - An Inside Look at the ATL Twins and Real Life Partying in Panama City Beach
  • Theatrical Trailer/TV Spots

Buy the Blu-ray. Buy the DVD.

3.) "THE GATEKEEPERS"  (Dror Moreh)

From Laremy Legel's review: “'The Gatekeepers' considers one of the most pressing global problems of the last 50 years: The Israeli – Palestinian conflict. Waged across decades, with chaos and violence ending up the prime winners, there haven’t been any permanent fixes to the tumult. Many are familiar with the issue, the apparent intractability of each side, the 'no compromise' view that each group (and sub-group) generally advocates. Thankfully, 'The Gatekeepers' is not another re-telling of the main issues; instead it’s a look at the complexity of the region through the eyes of the covert and powerful, the very men who were on the front lines deciding life and death on a daily basis."

Buy the Blu-ray. Buy the DVD.

Extra Features: An audio commentary by director Dror Moreh as well as a Q&A.

4.) "ADMISSION" (Paul Weitz)

Admission

From William Goss' review: Director Paul Weitz is aiming for something a bit more grounded as Princeton admissions officer Portia (Fey) goes about contending with the fact that John (Rudd), the persistent founder of a progressive school in upstate NY and an old college classmate, thinks that he has a prodigy on his hands in the form of Jeremiah (Nat Wolff). Furthermore, he’s convinced that Jeremiah is the son that Portia gave up for adoption so long ago, a revelation which sends her orderly career into a tailspin...

In adapting Jean Hanff Korelitz’ novel of the same name, screenwriter Karen Croner (“One True Thing”) tries to contrast Portia’s potential ethical compromise on the eve of a promotion against her abandonment guilt, and to present a possible relationship with the more impulsive John after she finds herself ditched by long-time boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen, all awkward grins) in a very public fashion. With Fey in the role of harried singleton, though, it’s hard to avoid comparing Portia to “30 Rock’s” Liz Lemon or the baby-crazed professional she played in 2008’s much broader “Baby Mama,” and while she’s clearly aced romantic neuroses as a comedienne, all her fluster feels a bit too twice-baked this time around."

Extra Features:  A 12 minute-promotional featurette. Yawn.

Buy the Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy combo.

5.) "BOY" (Taika Waititi)

Haven't seen this one, but I've been reading raves about it for years. Here's the key info from Blu-ray.com: 

It's 1984, and Michael Jackson is king—even in Waihau Bay, New Zealand. Here we meet Boy, an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his gran, a goat, and his younger brother, Rocky (who thinks he has magic powers). Shortly after Gran leaves for a week, Boy's father, Alamein, appears out of the blue. Having imagined a heroic version of his father during his absence, Boy comes face to face with the real version—an incompetent hoodlum who has returned to find a bag of money he buried years before. This is where the goat enters.

Inspired by his Oscar-nominated short, Two Cars, One Night, Taika Waititi offers a charming, funny, and earnest coming-of-age story where everybody has some coming of age to do—particularly Alamein (affably played by Waititi himself). Never short on humor, Waititi's story is ultimately about three boys (one grown) reconciling fantasy with reality.

Extra Features: 

  • Two Cars, One Night - a short film by Taika Waititi
  • Interviews and B-Roll Footage
  • Kickstarter Update Videos
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

Buy the Blu-ray.