Jaws stars Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss; Steven Spielberg directs.
Universal has been cranking out Blu-ray releases of its most treasured films as it celebrates its 100th anniversary. This week it's the Steven Spielberg classic Jaws. The highly anticipated release features a completely remastered and fully restored film and 7.1 surround sound, all done in conjunction with Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment's postproduction team.
Jaws launched the summer blockbuster phenomenon back in 1975 when it hit theaters, and the story of a monster shark that terrorizes a small beach town and the three men who set out to destroy it (Roy Scheider as the town's chief of police, Robert Shaw as a tough-as-nails shark hunter and Richard Dreyfuss as a marine biologist) still resonates with viewers. But thanks to careful restoration, the shark is seen in six times the resolution of previous DVD releases (the better to see its huge, sharp teeth) and the ocean is blue again (the images had deteriorated to a mushy yellow). The Blu-ray/DVD combo is packed with extras, including The Shark Is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws, a feature-length documentary of never-before-seen footage and interviews with Spielberg, Scheider and Dreyfuss, The Making of Jaws, a two-hour documentary filled with interviews with the cast and crew, deleted scenes, the original theatrical trailer and lots more.
Breathless stars Gina Gershon, Kelli Giddish, Val Kilmer and Ray Liotta; Jesse Baget writes and directs.
You'll notice that Lorna (played by Gina Gershon) didn't even bother to take the pins off the clothesline before she tied up her no-account husband Dale (Val Kilmer). That's to be expected, since she's in a bit of a hurry. Seems Dale, a petty thief with no real talent for crime, has managed to rob a local bank, getting away with some $100,000 in cash. Low-life that he is, he didn't bother to tell his wife Lorna about his big score. Doesn't matter; she figured it out. Now, with the help of her ditsy friend Tiny (Kelli Giddish), she plans on finding the loot and cutting herself in. Trouble is, Dale is a hardheaded son of a bitch. He won't tell her where he's hidden it. Hence the need to tie Dale to a chair while she threatens him with a pistol. Of course, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that this isn't going to end well. And it doesn't. Before long, Dale's dead, Lorna and Tiny are splattered with blood, and there's a sheriff (Ray Liotta) knocking on the door. Out comes the electric knife and the two women set about cutting Dale up into pieces small enough to dispose of without arousing suspicion from the nosy lawman.
Oh, did we mention this all happens in a trashy trailer in the middle of Nowhere, Texas?
Writer/director Jesse Baget's created broad, over-the-top characters for his newest black comedy, Breathless. And he's given his very talented cast free rein to take the audience on a rip-roaring ride, which they gleefully do. There's nothing poignant or deep about Breathless. This is just bigger-than-life fun, marked by a Texas twang. Extras on the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack include audio commentary with Baget and producer Christine Holder, along with a Making of Breathless featurette.
We've got three Blu-ray/DVD combo pack copies of Breathless to give out to lucky readers. To enter the giveaway, just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the phrase "Breathless giveaway" in the subject line. Winners will be randomly drawn on Friday. Please note, you must live in the United States to participate.
There are a few more DVD/Blu-ray releases worth your notice this week, starting with Kill List, by director Ben Wheatley. An IFC Midnight release, Kill List stars Neil Maskell as Jay, a mentally unstable, out-of-work hit man who lets his best friend and partner Gal (Michael Smiley) talk him into taking a dangerous assignment. The job pays well, but it won't be easy to pull off. Their targets? A priest, a librarian and a member of the British Parliament. The two men track down and kill their targets with a brutality that sets Jay's muddled head spinning. Equal parts thriller and psychological horror film, Kill List takes viewers on a trip into the dark heart of a killer. Kill List was an official selection in the Toronto Film Festival 2011 and SXSW 2011.
Extras on the DVD include commentary with director Ben Wheatley, writer Amy Jump, and actors Neil Maskell, Myanna Buring and Michael Smiley. There's also a Making of Kill List featurette and trailer.
Sylvester Stallone fans anxiously awaiting the August 18 release of The Expendables 2 can get their Sly fix with the Stallone 3-Film Collector's Set. The set includes Rambo: First Blood (1982), Lock Up (1989) and the director's cut of Cop Land (1997). This isn't a deluxe collectors' edition or anything like that. It's just Stallone filling the screen with his large biceps in vintage Stallone style.
Stallone shares the screen with Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro in Cop Land, a tense drama that centers on Freddy Heflin, a low-key sheriff of "Cop Land," a small town that's home to police officers who work in a nearby city. Freddy stumbles onto a conspiracy by the hero cops he's admired his whole life and is faced with a difficult and dangerous choice: go against the powerful men he looks up to or play it safe and do nothing. This is Stallone, so guess which he does?
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There's also Rambo: First Blood with Stallone former Green Beret John Rambo tangling with a crooked sheriff. Richard Crenna and Brian Dennehy co-star. DVD extras include audio commentary by Stallone and an alternate ending. And there's Lock Up, with Stallone as a convict doing hard time under a sadistic warden (Donald Sutherland). DVD extras include a Cast & Crew featurette and theatrical trailer.
And finally, there's Fidel. The landmark documentary by San Francisco-based television producer and activist Saul Landau was made in 1968 and recently restored by the National Film Preservation Foundation. It was filmed just nine years after Castro had taken power in Cuba, and Landau was allowed seemingly unprecedented access to the leftist leader. Landau traveled with Castro as he drove through the island nation's eastern mountains over the course of the week. Here Castro plays baseball with some peasants. There he recalls Simon Bolivar. Che Guevara, Castro's revolutionary cohort, is seen, along with archival footage of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
There's no denying that Landau's personal beliefs colored the film. He looked on Castro favorably, painting a positive picture of a larger-than-life political legend. But not everyone shared Landau's views; they still don't. When the film was aired on Public Broadcasting stations in the United States in 1969, a bomb was thrown at the New York station broadcasting it. When it was later scheduled for theatrical release in 1970, a fire was set at a theater scheduled to screen the film, presumably by Cuban expatriates who saw Castro as a ruthless dictator and the film as biased propaganda. We mention Fidel here not because we admire Castro, but because as a historical document, the film, however skewed, gives viewers a rare early glimpse into a man who changed Cuba. Whether that was for the better or the worse depends on your own political leanings. DVD extras include Cuba and Fidel, a film short made in 1974, and filmmaker commentary.