DVD Obscura is a monthly column written by Alonso Duralde, film critic and author of Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas, focusing on new DVD and Blu-ray releases, usually of the indie, international or just plain rare persuasion.
New: Man in housedress, man in woman’s body
David Fincher’s much-buzzed-about take on Stieg Larsson’s mammoth best-seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo hits theaters later this month, but Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy was already the basis of three very popular Swedish films, now repackaged as The Dragon Tattoo Trilogy (Music Box Films; now available). Even if you’re a hard-core fan who’s already bought the movies individually, this new box set comes with a full two hours of extra material never before seen in the United States.
You already know if you’re the kind of person whose ears are going to perk up at the title Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (The Play) (Lionsgate; now available) or the kind who’s going to go running, fast, in the opposite in the direction, so far be it from me to guide you either way. But if you were hoping for some broad humor, some sermonizing about Jesus, and Perry in drag whooping people upside the head, you won’t be disappointed.
Before making headlines as a competitor on Dancing with the Stars, Chaz Bono shared his story of transitioning from female to male with the world in the documentary Becoming Chaz (Virgil Films; now available), which premiered at Sundance 2011 before launching Oprah’s Documentary Club on OWN. Bono was shrewd enough to know that there was no way to go through the process away from the spotlight, but he worked with documentarians Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) to tell this very personal story through his own filter; the results are riveting.
And here’s something cool about the DVD release of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; December 20), besides the fact that it’s one of his best movies in recent memory — it’s the first one to feature an actual extra, a making-of doc. Can an actual Woody commentary be far behind?
Classic: A very sophisticated threesome
A saucy bauble of the pre–Production Code era, Ernst Lubitsch’s screen adaptation of Noel Coward’s Design for Living (Criterion Collection; now available) takes liberties with the original play but nonetheless generates ménage-à-trois sparks between Miriam Hopkins, Fredric March, and — in a role totally unlike the silent, laconic Western roles for which he’s most famous — Gary Cooper. The Criterion edition features a Lubitsch short starring Charles Laughton and a 1964 British TV version of the play, among other goodies.
Cool movies that look good in Blu-Ray, but are shockingly light on features, are Heavenly Creatures (Lionsgate; available now), which at least features 10 extra minutes, and a 20th anniversary edition of The Rocketeer (Walt Disney Home Entertainment; available now).
And since there’s no getting through the holidays without hearing Judy Garland sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” it’s perfect timing for the Blu-Ray release of Meet Me in St. Louis (Warner Home Video; available now), which comes packaged in a hardcover booklet and features a CD with highlights from the soundtrack, including the aforementioned standard.
TV: Bring on the sister-wives!
One of the best shows of the last decade gets the all-in-one-box treatment with the release of Big Love: The Complete Collection (HBO Video; now available), a gorgeous 20-disc set featuring all 63 episodes. And if you’ve been keeping up with the DVD releases of this smart show about a Utah entrepreneur and his three wives, The Complete Fifth Season is also sold separately.
If you’re looking for laughs, check out the quirky animated series The Life and Times of Tim: The Complete Second Season (HBO Video; available now) and Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII (Shout Factory; now available), featuring four hilarious episodes, including clunky Japanese imports Mighty Jack and Time of the Apes.
Duralde is the author of the holiday film guide Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas. [http://amzn.to/b444F8]