This week boasts a rather magnificent line up of films on disc.
Disc Of The Week
Les Enfants Du Paradis – Typical. You wait a lifetime for a Marcel Carné film to appear on Blu-ray, only for two to come along in successive weeks (following last week’s rather wonderful Le Quai des Brumes disc). While question marks remain over the authenticity of the presentation, this remains by far the more preferable option for home viewing when compared to earlier discs, and a fantastic package of supporting material makes up for any other shortcomings.
The Avengers – One of the finest American films of the year thus far, Joss Whedon’s punctuation point of a movie is a remarkable affair. Drawing together four seperate franchises and five films to create one almighty blockbuster was deemed by many to be a disaster from the off, and yet the film exceeded expectations by some distance.
Unfortunately this Blu-ray release is anything but the straightforward and brilliant exercise that the film was, with Disney causing all manner of trouble in their rather cynical attempts to draw as many dollars from the project as possible. First of all there’s the now traditional 2D and 3D (separate) editions, but there are also individual store exclusives for Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and HMV. While the latter is but a tacky steelbook casing for the 2D set, and the Asda exclusive is a reprint of a comic, the Tesco and Sainsbury’s editions contain actual content that arguably ought to have been included in the standard edition. The Tesco set comes with an audio commentary from Whedon, while the Sainsbury’s one has a second disc with a 90-minute documentary on it.
A Woman Under The Influence – The BFI’s plan to release each of John Cassavetes independently produced films continues apace, with A Woman Under The Influence, so often declared to be his directorial masterpiece, the latest to receive the lavish treatment. Gena Rowlands and Peter Folk’s performances are little short of masterclasses of the art.
Ghost Stories – Also from the BFI is the second instalment in a three-pronged plan to make available the BBC’s classic A Ghost Story For Christmas strand from the 1970’s. This release strand includes two discs, with the fifth and final disc due next month. DVD Only.
The Warner Bros. Westerns Collection – Notable mainly for it’s inclusion of the now OOP Blu-ray edition of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, this box-set collects a group of films that proves just how diverse a genre often written off as too one-note could be. The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, Pale Rider and How The West Was Won join Rio Bravo.