It's Tuesday, which means that it's time to run down the best home video offerings of the week. Keep on knocking:
DVD & BLU-RAY
1. "Seconds" (John Frankenheimer) 1966 // Criterion Collection
The film: Read our full review of Frankenheimer's existentialist masterpiece here.
The disc: An exclusive 14-minute video in which Alec Baldwin waxes poetic about “Seconds” may not be Criterion’s finest hour, but I reluctantly admit that it’s amusing to watch the movie star reflect on John Frankenheimer’s disposition, his various ticks and inflections. The real highlight here is naturally Frankenheimer’s commentary track. Recorded in 1997, the alternate audio finds the director both feisty and wonderfully candid. A big personality, Frankenheimer tirelessly lauds his cast and crew (“Rock Hudson was one of the kindest men I ever met”), talks about how many of the film’s cast members were once blacklisted, details his choice of lenses, and explains why the shoot almost made him a vegetarian. The disc is rounded out with a selection of other interviews, clips from a 1965 television show about Rock Hudson, and a rather compelling visual essay by R. Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance. It’s not an especially overstuffed edition, but you won’t be hurting for context.
2.) "A Band Called Death" (Mark Christopher Covino & Jeff Howlett) 2012 // Drafthouse Films
The film: "Chalk it up to little more than happenstance that last year’s Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man,” would make the festival rounds mere months before the arrival of “A Band Called Death,” as both films chronicle the triumphant re-discovery of unheralded musicians decades after their prime. A spoiler? Hardly. No one makes movies about the guys who never made it — well, no one besides David Chase. At any rate, directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett have crafted a rousing account of the Hackney brothers, three Detroit siblings who would not only constitute the rare all-black punk band, but do so in the mid-‘70s, very nearly beating the Ramones and the Sex Pistols to the punch." -- Read our full review of this awesome, moving and most unlikely punk documentary here.
The disc: Audio Commentary with Directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett / Audio Commentary with the Hackney Family / DEATH Live at SXSW 2013 / Q&A Live at The Vermont International Film Festival / Deleted Scenes / "Let the World Turn" Music Video / Trailers / 20-Page Booklet / High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film
3.) "Reality" (Matteo Garrone) 2012 // Oscilloscope Laboratories
The film: "Many of us first became aware of Italian director Matteo Garrone a few years ago, when his “Gomorrah,” a brutally unflinching look at modern organized crime, earned praise at Cannes, Toronto and on the art-house circuit. How has Garrone followed this? With “Reality,” a satiric take on celebrity culture that is 100 percent different from “Gomorrah.” You’d barely know the films were made by members of the same species, let alone the same guy." -- Read our full review of "Reality" here.
The disc: Deleted scenes / New interview with director Matteo Garrone / Dreams Are My Reality - on-set footage with cast and crew / Inside Reality - score, special effects, production design / Profile of Aniello Arena - "Luciano", actor and felon / Theatrical trailer*
Correction: This post originally stated that "Reality" was a barebones release. We have since learned that Oscilloscope's disc is, on the contrary, quite loaded with interesting extra features.
1.) "Pain & Gain" (Michael Bay) 2013
"I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big! I'm hot! I'm big!"
2. "Magic Magic" (Sebastían Silva) 2013
“'Magic, Magic' is the visually stunning and mentally harrowing tale of a vacation that becomes an eerie nightmare.
Alicia (Juno Temple) is a timid American abroad, visiting her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning) in South America. Sarah’s friend Barbara (Catalina Sandino Moreno), boyfriend Agustín (Agustín Silva) and his best friend Brink (Michael Cera) attempt to make Alicia feel welcome as they head out on vacation, but when Sarah must stay behind for mysterious reasons, Alicia is left in the company of strangers. The fact that she doesn’t speak Spanish doesn’t help, and when the group reaches their island vacation, she feels even more isolated without cell reception. Alicia has trouble sleeping, and it isn’t long before she becomes totally unhinged, her troubling but seemingly innocuous tics developing into something far more threatening." – Read our full review here.
*Technically this was available last week, but it's really good and it's a slow week and I'm the one who knocks etc.
3. "The Great Gatsby" (Baz Luhrmann) 2013
"It’s not that Luhrmann’s overwrought, proudly anachronistic style is a surprise at this point. His “Romeo + Juliet,” “Moulin Rouge!” and “Australia” have made his directorial intentions quite clear, that more is more, newer is neater and bigger is better. However, just as our narrator is invited into Long Island’s most lavish parties whenever thrown by the enigma next door, Luhrmann hopes to kick the Roaring ‘20s up a notch with a heaping helping of hip-hop (Jay-Z counts among the film’s executive producers) and no small amount of digital augmentation.
One might like “Rhapsody in Blue” and Jay-Z’s own tracks in nearly equal measure, but one’s first instinct wouldn’t be to thrust the two together for maximum enjoyment. Updating “Romeo + Juliet” to reflect SoCal gang warfare was inspired, and even the pop fantasia of “Moulin Rouge!” suited the grandly ephemeral illusion of the club and its courtesans. The flourishes brought to “Gatsby” only serve to indulge in the excess that Fitzgerald’s novel intended to criticize, and while I wouldn’t believe that Luhrmann and co-writer Craig Pearce failed to gather as much themselves, the proper plot of the film’s second hour feels like a necessary price to pay for such an elegant kick-off." – Read our full review here.