Happy Thanksgiving to all our OnVideo friends.
From the Big Screen:
“The Expendables 3,” “Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas” and “The November Man.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Highlights:
The Criterion Collection ends November with three important releases on Blu-ray and DVD, headed up by one of the great classics of cinema: One of the first truly modern films, Michelangelo Antonioni’s “L’avventura” (1960) on the surface revolves around the enigmatic disappearance of a young woman (Anna) during a yachting trip off the coast of Sicily, and the search taken up by her disaffected lover, Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti), and best friend, Claudia (Monica Vitti). The first 30 minutes of the film revolves around young, spoiled, wealthy Anna — she’s the protagonist of the film. But her disappearance disrupts and dissolves the film’s plot and its meaning; the rest of the film becomes that of characters in search of meaning, seeking something that escapes them. This loss of meaning is at the heart of modernity — and Antonioni invented a new film grammar to translate this to the cinema. It’ a gorgeously shot tale of modern ennui and spiritual isolation. This set the stage for Antonioni’s unequaled string of masterpieces: “La Notte,” “L’eclisse,” “The Red Desert” and “Blow-Up.” In a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include audio commentary featuring film historian Gene Youngblood; selected-scene commentary by filmmaker Olivier Assayas; “Antonioni: Documents and Testimonials,” a 58-minute 1966 documentary by Gianfranco Mingozzi; writings by Antonioni, read by Jack Nicholson, plus Nicholson’s personal recollections of the director; and an essay by critic Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, along with the statement Antonioni made about the film and the letter that circulated in support of it after its 1960 Cannes premiere (the film was not well-received by audiences at the fest but went on to become a success).
The other Criterion releases: “Les Blank: Always for Pleasure” (1968-1995). Les Blank (“Burden of Dreams”) was an uncompromisingly independent filmmaker who made documentaries for nearly 50 years, elegantly disappearing with his camera into cultural spots rarely seen on-screen — mostly on the peripheries of the U.S., but also occasionally abroad. Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to musicians, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights. This collector’s set provides a diverse survey of Blank’s vast output, including the warmly funny “The Blues Accordin'” to Lightnin’ Hopkins,” about the legendary Texas musician; “Always for Pleasure,” which captures the vivacious spirit of New Orleans; “Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers,” a hilarious celebration of the pungent, flavorful “stinking rose” of the title; and 11 other unexpected features, plus eight of Blank’s short films. And there’s “Tootsie” (1982), a multilayered comedy from director Sydney Pollack that follows the increasingly elaborate deception of a down-on-his-luck New York actor (Dustin Hoffman) who disguises himself as a woman to get a coveted soap opera gig; while his female persona skyrockets to fame, he finds himself learning to be a better man. Hoffman’s ball-busting yet disarmingly sweet Dorothy Michaels is a sensational comic creation, given support by a stellar cast including Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Teri Garr, George Gaynes, Bill Murray, and, in her first Oscar-winning role, Jessica Lange. In a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray, with the always superb complement of Criterion extras.
To bring you back into the 21st century, the folks at Magnolia Home Entertainment have released
“Nymphomaniac: Extended Director’s Cut Vol. 1 & 2” (2014) Director von Trier’s wild and poetic story — of a woman’s journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) — offers almost and hour and a half of extra footage, making for a five and one-half hour odyssey that leads from innocence to dark complications. Stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, Willem Dafoe, Mia Goth, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Uma Thurman, Michael Pas, Connie Nielsen and Ananya Berg. On DVD and Blu-ray.