[16 February 2010]
Director Martin Scorsese’s absorbing look at mob life, “GoodFellas: 20th Anniversary Edition” (Warner Brothers, 1990, $34.99), tops this week’s list of Blu-ray releases.
Scorsese’s classic is accompanied by a 34-page book, three featurettes, commentaries and a bonus discs with the documentary “Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film” (Cagney, Bograt, Robinson, etc.). “GoodFellas” earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the U.S. Library of Congress.
Ray Liotta stars as Henry Hall, an Irish-Italian kid who grows up in a predominately Italian neighborhood in East Brooklyn, N.Y. Henry’s heroes are those who work for the Mob. “As far back as I can remember,” Henry begins the film’s narrative, “I always wanted to be a gangster.”
Henry gets his wish. Once he is of age, he becomes involved with the “organization” headed by Paul Cicero (Paul Sorvino). Also around are Jimmy “The Gent” Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci). All of the actors are at the top of their game as the film covers a 30-year span of life with the Mob. Pesci won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
It is a riveting film. Highly recommended.
Other Blu-ray releases:
“The Lady Killers” (Lionsgate, 1955, $39.99): Five crooks rent a couple of rooms from an elderly widow, who is told that the group wants to use the space to practice their music. What they are really doing is plotting a big bank robbery. Alec Guiness is at his best as Professor Marcus, the mastermind behind the “perfect crime.” A young Peter Sellers gives a good account of himself as Harry. This delightful British comedy was the inspiration for the 2004 film starring Tom Hanks. Highly recommended.
“Ran” (Lionsgate, 1985, $39.99): Legendary Akira Kurosawa directed this epic based on Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” In 16th century Japan, an aging ruler, Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai), decides to retire and divides his kingdom among his three sons. Hidetora preaches unity to his offspring but soon a power struggle erupts among the three. Two of the sons, both liars, convince their father to banish the third and youngest son. Eventually the kingdom crumbles. A film that was made for high definition. Highly recommended.
“Contempt” (Lionsgate, 1963, $39.99): Bridgette Bardot was known for her great beauty rather than her thespian prowess. But French director Jean-Luc Godard gives her a chance to act as she plays Camille Javal, the wife of screenwriter Paul Javal (Michael Piccoli) in this move about the making of a movie. Paul is called in by a crude American filmmaker played by Jack Palance, who wants the script re-worked for a new version of “The Odyssey.” Palance, obviously, wasn’t pleased with Homer’s vision. Set to direct the movie is German legend Fritz Lang, played by Lang himself.
“Coco Before Chanel” (Sony, 2009, $34.99): Audrey Tautou shines as Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, who built a fashion empire. The film follows her from the early orphan years through her various jobs and personal incidents. Along the way, she is driven by gritty determination to be successful. It is that journey that proves so captivating. Recommended.
“Dirty Harry Collection” (Warner Brothers, $79.95): Here is Clint Eastwood is all five Dirty Harry films in high definition. Included are “Dirty Harry” (1971), “Magnum Force” (1973), “The Enforcer” (1976), “Sudden Impact” (1983) and “The Dead Pool” (1988). Highly recommended,
“Black Dynamite” (Sony, 2009, $34.99): A funny takeoff of the blaxpoitation movies of the 1970s. Michael Jai White stars as Black Dynamite, a former CIA agent who is out to avenge his brother’s death. He’s going to have to go through a sea of drug dealers, pimps and even some king-fu dudes. Also in the cast are Arsenio Hall as Tasty Freeze, Tommy Davidson as Cream Corn, Buddy Lewis as Gunsmoke and Kevin Chapman as O’Leary. Recommended, especially for those who remember.
“Cabin Fever” (Lionsgate, 2003, $19.99): Five friends, fresh out of college, decide to have one last fling before they go out into the real world. They head to a remote cabin in the mountains for a vacation. The party doesn’t last long because one of them becomes sick. Some “thing” has invaded the body of Karen and is crawling through her flesh. The others began to fear that they might get the infection, too. Their vacation soon becomes a nightmare.
“Halo Legends” (Warner Brothers, 2010, $34.99): Inspired by a video game, this animated film is made up of seven stories spanning eight episodes focusing on Halo’s 26th century mythology. Fans of the video game, no doubt, will enjoy it.