Jake Cole January 28, 2014
1. “The Long Day Closes” (Criterion)
The film: Terence Davies is one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, but the unavailability of his best features in the United States has kept the quintessentially British director from wider exposure. Criterion rectifies that with a release of “The Long Day Closes,” the capper of Davies’ early run of semi-autobiographical films. Not as pervasively harrowing as “Distant Voices, Still Lives,” “The Long Day Closes” nonetheless shows off the director’s patented balance of traumatic recollection and glimmers of nostalgic warmth clung to as if driftwood. Plenty of films have positioned the cinema as a means of survival and self-actualization, but rarely does it seem so blessed a relief as it does when Bud finds solace in it.
The disc: A 2K restoration of Michael Coulter’s shimmering, reminiscing cinematography would be reason enough to purchase this, but Criterion adds a commentary with Davies and Coulter, an archival episode of a British television program featuring interviews and footage, as well as new interviews conducted with production designer Christopher Hobbs and executive producer Colin McCabe.
2. “The Lady from Shanghai” (Turner Classic Movies)
The film: TCM’s sporadic Blu-Ray production scores a coup for putting one of Orson Welles’ most beguiling pictures, “The Lady from Shanghai” in hi-def. A noir so warped and bizarre that its climax in a room of distorting funhouse mirrors is the only logical conclusion, “The Lady from Shanghai” shows Welles fully giving in to his penchant for legerdemain, with fake-outs and oblong approaches that puzzle even as the sheer mastery of his form sucks the viewer deeper and deeper into its mire.
The disc: A commentary track by Peter Bogdanovich is the most substantive extra, with the rest of the disc comprising various galleries of production material.
3. “Treme: The Complete Series” (HBO)
The film: “Treme” has been subjected to all the scrutiny and impossible expectations inevitable to the series that had to follow “The Wire,” but by the time the series came to an end in late December, the goodwill it had earned from critics, fans and New Orleans locals firmly established it as its own distinct work of art. Those of us who remain uninitiated to the show may find the prospect of shelling out for the complete series a bit too daunting, yet that may be the best way to approach it, given David Simon’s predilection for writing TV as a whole, not as a week-by-week series of ups and downs.
The disc: Repackaging the previous individual seasons, the Complete Series box set contains all of their extras and adds to it an exclusive bonus disc of musical performances. Those who have collected the seasons on home video to date can content themselves with simply picking up the final season, released concurrently with the set.
4. “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (Paramount)
The film: Modifying the “Jackass” formula of painful, inane antics with a sheen of “Borat”-esque candid camera footage, “Bad Grandpa” has no right being as good as it is. For where “Borat’s” selective, manipulative editing cast people’s baffled interactions with Sacha Baron Cohen’s fake as displays of Yank ignorance and repulsiveness, “Bad Grandpa” proves unexpectedly warm-hearted, showcasing its bystanders’ innocence (and, in the case of an unexpectedly rousing climax in a biker bar, their selflessness). One must also marvel at the fearlessness of young actor Jackson Nicoll, who commits to the pranks more thoroughly than the made-up Johnny Knoxville and barrels right through even the most unbearably awkward scenarios. Some of the film’s most entertaining moments come when Knoxville breaks in uncontainable admiration of the boy.
The disc: The Blu-Ray comes with a longer cut of the film filled with more antics, along with deleted scenes and behind-the scenes material.
5. “Metallica: Through the Never” (Picturehouse Entertainment)
The film: Despite its defiantly asinine title and its dubious, “The Song Remains the Same”-esque filler story, “Metallica: Through the Never” is one of the best concert films in ages, capturing better than any previous attempt the contradictory precision and shambling rawness of a Metallica show. As the camera creeps along with a perpetually slinking Rob Trujillo and takes bird’s eye views of the animated stage, it also peeps roadies setting up the Spinal Tap-like stage props. Combined with the impressionistic narrative formed by the energy of the band’s pummeling riffs, “Through the Never” is not only the best document of Metallica’s live act, but one of the best films to depict, with no talking heads or behind-the-scenes documentation, what goes into putting on a show.
The disc: Blu-Ray and Blu-Ray 3D editions come with a making-of documentary, music videos, interviews and Q&As from screenings at the Mill Valley Festival and at the band’s own Orion Festival.
Categories: DVDTags: Bad Grandpa, Best DVD / Blu-ray, Jake Cole, Metallica: Through the Never, The criterion collection, The Lady from Shanghai, The long day closes