ON BLU-RAY / FILMSTRUCK
Super Fly: Just in time for the release of Director X’s slickly entertaining and slyly funny new remake, Warner Archive brings Gordon Parks, Jr.’s ‘70s classic to Blu-ray (it’s also newly streaming on FilmStruck, as part of a “Best of Blaxpoitation” bundle). Those are some high-tech options for such a scrappy, Scotch-taped picture, albeit one with a hustler’s spirit and run-and-gun style that’s influenced many a low-budget filmmaker. Some of the staging is clumsy and (aside from star Ron O’Neal) the acting is amateurish. But there’s real power here, particularly when Parks just lets the music and images tell the story (literally, in Curtis Mayfield’s astute, and famously counter-narrative, lyrics). And that ending sure is a crowd-pleaser. (Includes audio commentary, featurettes, and interviews.)
Bowling for Columbine: Michael Moore’s 2002 Academy Award winner for Best Documentary, new to the Criterion Collection, has its detractors — it’s become particularly noted for playing fast and loose with the facts — but it remains Moore’s best and most moving film. Moved to its making by the Columbine massacre (the kind of school shooting that rarely merits more than a hopeless shrug anymore), Moore explores gun culture in America with the irreverence of an editorial cartoonist, and often with about as much discipline. But his rambling, stream-of-consciousness approach works here, taking him down unexpected side streets and into the path of assorted weirdos, even if its most affecting sequence (a wordless look at the footage from that fateful day in April 1999) is the one that plays it straightest. (Includes new documentary, featurettes, archival interviews, and Awful Truth segment.)
El Sur: Writer/director Víctor Erice’s 1983 drama (also new to Criterion) finds a young woman sifting through her memories of an enigmatic father, and how his mysteries and absences shaped who she became. In its elements of memory play and magic realism, it’s easy to find the DNA of Latino successors like Alejandro Amenábar and Guillermo del Toro (particularly the latter’s Pan Labyrinth), though El Sur is is also unquestionably its own, irreplicable thing, filled with haunted performances, elegant narration (the source material is by Adelaida García Morales), and José Luis Alcane’s atmospheric, theatrical cinematography. (Includes featurettes and new and archival interviews.)
Two Weeks in Another Town: In 1952, Vincente Minnelli directed The Bad and the Beautiful, an inside-Hollywood melodrama starring Kirk Douglas as a ruthless film producer. Ten years later, Minnelli reunited with Douglas (along with the film’s screenwriter Charles Schnee and producer John Houseman) for this adaptation of Irwin Shaw’s novel – making it something of a Fish Called Wanda/Fierce Creatures situation, a non-sequel that nonetheless revisits the same themes with much of the same personnel. If anything, the ‘60s allow Minnelli to bite the hand that feeds him with even more vigor, producing a charged and cynical work that features Douglas in his Ace in the Hole mode: tough, nasty, and decidedly unsympathetic. A mostly forgotten gem; hopefully this Blu-ray upgrade from Warner Archive will prompt some discoveries.