Not a terribly exciting day for new releases, but there’s a few intriguing titles out today including the Criterion Collection Blu ray of David Cronenberg’s 1991 cult classic NAKED LUNCH. The film, called by Jonathan Rosenbaum “a highly transgressive and subjective film adaptation” of William Burrough’s 1959 novel, has been given a Cronenberg-approved High-definition digital transfer, a commentary featuring Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller, Chris Rodley’s 1992 television documentary “Naked Making Lunch,” Special effects gallery, a collection of original marketing materials, audio recording of William S. Burroughs reading from his novel “Naked Lunch,” a gallery of photos taken by poet Allen Ginsberg of Burroughs, and a booklet featuring reprinted pieces by film critic Janet Maslin and more. If that doesn’t satisfy NAKED LUNCH fans or obsessive cinephiles, I don’t know what will.
The Criterion Collection is also releasing Teinosuke Kinugasa’s 1953 Japanese drama GATE OF HELL today on Blu ray and DVD, which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1954. The Special Features aren’t as extensive as NAKED LUNCH’s, but the film also got a High-definition digital transfer and features a fancy booklet.
Despite a charming Bill Murray performance as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Robert Michell’s HYDE PARK ON HUDSON was one of 2012’s most disappointing films. It got mostly dismissive reviews from critics (though Roger Ebert liked it and gave it 3 stars), and got little award season action (it won one British Independent Film Award for Olivia Colman’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth), but here it is out today on Blu ray and DVD in a prestigious looking package pretending to be more popular than it is. The ample Special Features attest to that: Audio Commentary with Director Roger Michell and Producer Kevin Loader, deleted scenes, and a few featurettes (“First Days,” “A Look Inside HYDE PARK ON HUDSON”), and something called BD Live.
A much better use of your time would be to watch Sang-soo Hong's IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, out today on DVD and available on Netflix Instant, which is where I saw it. French actress Isabelle Huppert stars as three different women, all named Anne, in three different scenarios (though some elements and people overlap) in the seaside town of Mohong, South Korea. It's freewheeling nature reminded me of some of Altman's spare experimental work (like THREE WOMEN). The DVD (no Blu ray release) doesn't have any bonus material but a film so spare and pretty really doesn't need any.
The second season of the Starz show Boss, starring Kelsey Grammer as the sinister Mayor of Chicago, is also out today in 2-disc Blu ray or 3-disc DVD sets. The show, which at times comes off as a blend of House of Cards and The Wire, was cancelled at the end of last year, but a movie follow-up is reportedly in the works. It’s obvious that Grammer want to get as far away from Frasier as he could with this role (he also executive produces the program), and his steely gravitas is effective here, but it’s pretty standard-issue political blackmailing stuff over and over.
The premise of the mayor suffering from a disease of dementia (Lewy bodies) makes the show get more interesting, however, as his guilt filled hallucinations start getting the better of him. The surreal messiness of the man’s mind, captured with some of Grammar’s finest acting, is a welcome contrast to the boring slick office-set surroundings, and that helps make the last few episodes of this 10 episode batch of Boss something I wish the rest was: great T.V. Special features: audio commentaries on 3 episodes, and the 15 minute featurette “The King and His Court.”
If you’ve been at all curious about Snoop Dog’s recent re-invention of himself as a Reggae artist named Snoop Lion, then Andy Capper’s documentary REINCARNATED is for you. We hang out with the always stoned superstar as he visits Jamaica and gets even more stoned, but that’s because it’s part of his spiritual journey, you dig? I’ll go into more depth next week about the doc when it goes digital (on iTunes, Amazon, XBox, Playstation/Sony), but for now I’ll just say that the single disc DVD release out today contains Special Features such as the featurettes dealing with “Tuff Gong Studios,” and deleted scenes featuring “Snoop Meets Ali,” and “Rita Marley” among others.