November 10, 2010

The Goonies

Highlight of the Week 
The Goonies (Warner) It’s been a quarter-century since Richard Donner re-imagined Indiana Jones with preppy bullies standing in for Nazis and a petite pink bicycle replacing planes and motorcycles. There were many defining kid flicks throughout the ’80s, but none featured a Baby Ruth–munching, Superman-shirted freak who “smells like phys. ed.” Whether you’re a Gen-Xer or a Bieber brat, you’ll empathize with one of these treasure-hunting rejects. Experiencing the nostalgia of this gift set is like stumbling onto One-Eyed Willie’s sunken booty. This colossal package contains storyboards, article reproductions and a board game (!). None of the disc’s extras are new, but the commentary featuring Donner and his full-grown cast (Josh Brolin, Sean Astin, Feldog et al.) is essential for true Goonies. 
Also Available
Paths of Glory (Criterion) Stanley Kubrick’s fourth feature (counting his scarcely seen debut Fear and Desire) was as much of a technical feat as his later work — best demonstrated in a still-breathtaking sequence that tracks Kirk Douglas’ colonel as he leads his men out of the trenches and into their graves. The film also carries a sentiment about the absurdity of war that Kubrick revisited in Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket. With its widescreen transfer (it was only available on video in full frame until now), this is as good a place as any to see his early work. Extras: cast, crew and Kubrick interviews, insightful commentary from critic Gary Giddins (who argues that it isn’t actually an anti-war film).
The Bridge on the River Kwai (Sony) Another sweet collector’s set to emerge this week is David Lean’s 1957 WWII-POW classic starring the dashing William Holden and the indelible Alec Guinness. Winner of a boatload of awards including Oscars for best picture, best director and best actor, it was the British auteur’s first large-scale epic before he went on to make Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. The production values and lush visuals are among the finest of any film, and it now sports a gorgeous high-def transfer to go with choice extras like a making-of, newly discovered interviews and a book-to-screen comparison, all housed in a classy box containing replica vintage lobby cards and 32 pages of photos. 
Antichrist (eOne) It took a while, but Lars von Trier’s batshit-crazy shocker is finally on DVD and ball-crushing Blu-ray. Trier’s film about an anguished couple’s retreat to “Eden” is less audacious than it was on the big screen, where it caused someone in the audience to heave during its Toronto premiere at TIFF. But underneath its button-and-envelope-pushing nastiness lies a richly crafted and dense poetic work of art. One of the best films of 2009, it was indeed overshadowed by brief moments of genital violence and by its hotheaded maker. Oddly, Criterion’s edition isn’t being released in Canada, but this version is an acceptable substitute that contains solid AV and valuable extras like director’s commentary, cast interviews and lots of featurettes.