June 2014 Home Video Picks
A look forward at the month's most interesting home video titles, from banner local releases and Criterion Collection special editions to international exclusives.
The Nutty Professor 50th Anniversary Ultimate Edition (Dir. Jerry Lewis, 1963)
Jerry Lewis, in all seriousness, is perhaps one of America’s most underrated directors. A comedic performer of mammoth proportions, the man is equally as skilled behind the camera as he is in front of it. Following in the footsteps of other classic film anniversaries such as The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, Warner have decided to add Lewis’ 1963 film The Nutty Professor to this cannon of Ultimate Edition formats. Coming bundled in an impressive box with a bunch of special features, the set also comes with two other Lewis films, Cinderfella and The Errand Boy. If you love Lewis, you’ll already have a pre-order for this. If not, it’s a reasonably affordable place to begin. You won’t regret it. Released in the United States on June 3, 2014 — Blu-ray.
L’Eclisse (Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni, 1962)
Released a year before The Nutty Professor, Antonioni’s modernist masterpiece couldn’t be further from Lewis’ crass, colourful humour. The last in what has been dubbed the “alienation trilogy”, L’Eclisse follows Monica Vitti and Alain Delon as young lovers in a bustling Rome whose relationship begins to symbolically crumble before their very eyes. A truly beguiling and intense experience, L’Eclisse is the ultimate in ambiguity, a film rooted in the cinematic process that sheds light on the growing communicative gap of modern individuals. Of course, this release is through Criterion, so as well as an incredible digital restoration you also get some great special features which include a couple of full-length documentaries about Antonioni and his contributions to cinema and a booklet of essays from Jonathan Rosenbaum and Gilberto Perez. Released in the United States on June 10, 2014 — Dual Format DVD/Blu-ray.
A Hard Day’s Night (Dir. Richard Lester, 1964)
Yet another Criterion release from the 60s here, with the infamous first film from Liverpudlian upstarts The Beatles. What might seem a strange choice for the boutique label to release is instantly verified when actually seeing the film. A vibrant snapshot of bubbling youth and exciting cultural shifts, A Hard Day’s Night is an absolute joy to behold. Caught at the height of Beatlemania, the film crystallises the idolisation of the Fab Four by combining many of their classic pop singles with the group’s fondness for alternative British comedy movements of the period and is effortlessly rewatchable. Knowing that Beatles fans are rabid for new content, Criterion seem to have pulled every rabbit out of their hat with this one. If you like The Beatles (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you’ll want this one on your shelf immediately. Released in the United States on June 24, 2014 — Dual Format DVD/Blu-ray.
The Chris Marker Collection
A cultural iconoclast and one of the great thinkers of the cinema, this collection from UK label Soda Pictures brings together a number of Marker’s lesser known works that spans almost his entire career from 1956 to 2004. Split across 2 DVDs and a Blu-Ray disc, this box set delves into his early travelogues and his late era political work, a rare collection of films that spans about five hours of footage. On top of that, it contains a 32-page booklet with newer and older pieces dedicated to his work and will surely be a veritable treasure chest for any Marker advocate. Best not to start here with Marker’s works, however; this collection seems only for those already familiar with his more famous films. Released in the United Kingdom on June 2, 2014 — DVD and Blu-ray.
Boy Meets Girl / Mauvais Sang (Dir. Leos Carax, 1984/1986)
French filmmaker Leos Carax’s 2012 film Holy Motors was an independent sensation, a film that won countless awards and had many exclamatory phrases of praise thrust upon it. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading now and go buy it because it’s an act of pure cinematic revelation. If by chance you have already been transformed by Carax’s cinematic magnificence, then perhaps you might want to check out these blu-ray releases of his first two films; 1984’s Boy Meets Girl and 1986’s Mauvais Sang (titled The Night is Young for this release). Even this early in his career one can feel the spark of vibrancy and visual excitement that sparks his later masterpieces, especially in the moody yet thrilling Mauvais Sang. On top of that, these films showcase the inexplicable talent of Denis Lavant, the yang to Carax’s yin, a performer of the highest order. Oh yeah, did I mention that Juliette Binoche is here also? Yeah, just buy them and thank me later. Released in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2014 — DVD and Blu-ray.
12 Years a Slave (Dir. Steve McQueen, 2013)
Steve McQueen solidified his reputation as one of the great filmmakers of our generation with 12 Years a Slave; a brutal, poetic and highly cinematic confrontation of America’s troubling history with slavery and racism as seen through the eyes of one man, Solomon Northup. Based on Northup’s memoirs, the film details his experience as a free man to his kidnapping and subsequent thrust into slavery for, yep you guessed it, 12 years. The film is a tour de force of filmmaking, and while confronting and upsetting, a wholly necessary experience, especially considering the trauma that still ripples through American society. While the special features are certainly lacking, it’s the film that’s dead centre here, and deservedly so. Released in Australia on June 4, 2014 — DVD and Blu-ray.
Miyazaki Hayao Kantoku Collection
Been holding off on buying Miyazaki’s films on blu-ray? Well, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. Although they have yet to release anything of this magnitude on this side of the pond, Japan has compiled 13 of the anime master’s finest works into one, single box set collection. Although it’s going for quite the inflated price at the moment, it’s worth noting that it includes new releases Spirited Away, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro and The Wind Rises among previously released, but equally as exciting, Miyazaki titles. It also contains a number of earlier Miyazaki works as well as some of his storyboarded TV episodes and his wonderful short film On Your Mark. You’ll be the envy of every otaku in Australia if you own this bad boy. Released in Japan on June 18, 2014 — Blu-ray.