Fantastic Mr. Fox Blu-ray Movie Review by Blu-ray.com

Fantastic Mr. Fox Blu-ray Movie Review
A Cussin’ Masterpiece

Reviewed by Brian Orndorf February 13, 2014

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When most directors repeat themselves, it’s typically a sign of artistic exhaustion or perhaps unshakable fixation. In Wes Anderson’s case, his visual repetition has become an irresistible thumbprint, and one of the great moviegoing joys I’ve encountered in recent years is the opportunity to watch this supremely gifted filmmaker use his leather-bound imagination to impart varying stories of eccentric outsiders and their enduring emotional wounds, with each picture connected by exotic aesthetic degrees of detail-oriented splendor. Now Anderson takes his cinematic language to the hand-woven field of stop-motion animation for “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” and, yet again, the helmer shapes a breathtaking cinematic marvel; he finds a magnificent home nestled firmly in the lush textures of the animation, the dancing vocal performances, and delicious wry tone that makes for stunningly fanciful cinema.

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Taking a day job as a newspaper columnist to support wife Felicity (voiced by Meryl Streep) and son Ash (Jason Schwartzman), Mr. Fox (George Clooney) has grown tired of suppressing his animal instincts. Planning to infiltrate the chicken and cider farms of the feared Boggis, Bunce, and Bean (Michael Gambon), Mr. Fox and opossum partner Kylie (Wallace Wolodarsky) spring into action, finding the thrill of the steal irresistible. When the heavily armed Bean vows revenge on Mr. Fox, the gruff corporate farmer tears the countryside apart looking for his sly enemy. Digging into the ground, Mr. Fox drags the locals into the fight, leaving the wolf-fearing hero responsible for the community, pushing him to come up with a plan to outwit the unrelentingly combative humans.

Emerging from the divine mind of author Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach”), “Fantastic Mr. Fox” offers Anderson a hefty slice of whimsy to work with. The filmmaker sticks surprisingly close to Dahl’s plot, showing enormous reverence for the author’s dark tones and natural animal behaviors. Where Anderson’s imagination deviates from Dahl is in the neurotic delivery.

Taking idiosyncratic motifs established in such pictures as “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” to the family film arena, Anderson unveils a sure gift for the genre. That’s not to suggest the helmer has watered down his sense of mischief to make a PG animated feature; in fact, “Fantastic” retains a nice edge — think “Wallace and Gromit” but with flicked cigarettes, dance parties, shoot-outs, and severed fox tails. Anderson conforms to the softer side of the material, having the characters cuss by actually stating the world “cuss” when the mood strikes, and investigating young Ash’s malformed sense of purpose, aggravated by the appearance of cousin Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson), a fox of the same age who can do no wrong.
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Anderson, scripting with Noah Baumbach, leans into the merry attitude of Mr. Fox, arranging an adventure effort teeming with the sort of frame minutiae the filmmaker is well known for. The world of stop-motion animation only emboldens Anderson’s design fetishes, indulging in this vast world of miniature animals living in miniature homes, fitting Dahl’s characters for new clothes and a hipper soundtrack (which includes The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and “Love,” a cut from the other major fox family film, Disney’s “Robin Hood”), taking his primary colored American Empirical conceptualization to an exhilarating level of visual elasticity and creativity. The animation is stunning to behold, not only for its playfulness and brilliant fluidity, but also for the soft fur textures of the characters, which almost require a reflexive reach toward the screen to sate curiosity. It’s 3-D with 2-D tools, molding a resplendent storybook visual handle to a clever, urban comedy. The ornate decoration goes beyond the animals to the entire “Fantastic” world, teeming with design particulars that will require weeks of study, just to digest how much wit and affection Anderson has crammed into the vast corners of this outstanding picture.

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Clooney’s spirited voice work pulls “Fantastic” in a few unexpected directions, humorously teetering between Mr. Fox’s domesticated leadership skills and his feral nature, typically unleashed around food and homestead containment. Anderson’s stocked the rest of the roles with a dynamic range of vocal personalities, with Streep offering a velvety counterpoint to Clooney’s gravely enthusiasm, and Schwartzman and Anderson enjoying the battle of popularity and Whack-Bat skills as the disgruntled child and his more Zen relative. Anderson’s even called in a few favors from old friends (Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Brian Cox also appear) to help personalize the piece.

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All my Criterion Collection blu-rays

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My Awesome (yet small) Criterion Collection

Seven Samurai (Spine #2)

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Brazil (Spine #51)

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Videodrome (Spine #248)

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Repo Man (Spine #654)

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I will get more just don’t know when, probably during Barnes & Noble’s 50% off sale.

My Blu-ray Collection

JAMES BOND 50 BLU-RAY COLLECTION

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ALIEN ANTHOLOGY

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THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY: BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

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STAR WARS EPISODES IV, V, VI

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INDIANA JONES COMPLETE ADVENTURES

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LORD OF THE RINGS (EXTENDED EDITIONS)

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ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MASTERPIECE COLLECTION

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BRAZIL

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VIDEODROME

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BLADE RUNNER

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KILL BILL VOL. 1 & 2, RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION

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BLAZING SADDLES

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SPACEBALLS

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ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS

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EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

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BEETLEJUICE

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THE LAST STARFIGHTER

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SIN CITY

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FROM DUSK TILL DAWN

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HOT FUZZ

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THE FLY

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MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL

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BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA

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ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

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GOODFELLAS

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FIGHT CLUB

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THE FRIGHTENERS

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ERNEST GOES TO CAMP / ERNEST GOES TO JAIL

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FIRST BLOOD

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Criterion Collection Spine #51 (Brazil)

One of my all time favorite movies. I can watch this over and over and still get something out of it. Such a great film. I Highly recommend!

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In the dystopian masterpiece Brazil, Jonathan Pryce plays a daydreaming everyman who finds himself caught in the soul-crushing gears of a nightmarish bureaucracy. This cautionary tale by Terry Gilliam, one of the great films of the 1980s, has come to be esteemed alongside antitotalitarian works by the likes of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. And in terms of set design, cinematography, music, and effects, Brazil is a nonstop dazzle.

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Disc 1

Audio Commentary – this is the same audio commentary with Terry Gilliam which was recorded by Criterion in 1996 and appeared on the DVD release of the film. The director offers an enormous amount of information about the history of Brazil, from conception to execution, the unique style of the film, some of the specific influences (for example Star Wars’s influence), the important message(s), the costumes, the key characters, etc.

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Disc 2

What is “Brazil”? – on this on-set documentary directed by Rob Hedden, Terry Gilliam, editor Julian Doyle, co-writer Top Stoppard, co-writer Charles McKeown, co-producer Patrick Cassavetti, and actors Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond, Kim Greist and Michael Palin, among others, discuss what Brazil is and what its messages is. In English, not subtitled. (30 min, 1080i).

The Production Notebook – a collection of original documents, storyboards, photographs, and interviews compiled by Criterion and Brazil expert David Morgan.

We’re All in it Together: The Brazil Screenwriters – Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard discuss the screenplay of Brazil. (11 min, 1080i).

Dreams Unfulfilled: Unfilmed Brazil Storyboards – a collection of nine storyboards by Terry Gilliam with an introduction. These storyboards have been animated and include narration by David Morgan. (22 min, 1080p).

— Introduction
— The Eyeballs
— The Storeroom of Knowledge
— The Cages
— The Stone Ship
— The Fall
— The Samurai
— The Sky Cube
— The Forces of Darkness

Designing Brazil – a visual essay by David Morgain focusing on the style and look of Brazil. Also included are audio excerpts from interviews with director Terry Gilliam, production designer Norman Garwood, costume designer James Acheson, etc. (21 min, 1080p).

Flights of Fantasy: Brazil’s Special Effects – in this visual essay, David Morgan discusses the special effects in Brazil. Also included is an excerpt from an audio interview with second unit director and visual effects specialist Julian Doyle. (10 min, 1080p).

Fashion and Fascism: James Acheson on Brazil’s Costume Design – designer James Acheson discusses Brazil’s costumes. Also included are original design sketches and research materials. (7 min, 1080p).

Brazil’s Score – director Terry Gilliam and composer Michael Kamen discuss the genesis of Brazil’s score. The interviews were conducted by Criterion in 1996. (10 min, 1080i).

The Battle of Brazil: A Video History – an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding Brazil’s U.S. release, with Terry Gilliam, producer Arnon Milchan, and studio executives Frank Price, Marvin Antonowsky, Bob Rehme, and Sidney Sheinberg. The documentary was produced by Criterion in 1996 and based on Jack Mathews’ book The Battle of “Brazil”. (56 min, 1080i).

— Introduction
— The Filmmakers
— Cannes, 1983
— The Executives
— Mr. Gilliam and Mr. Sheinberg
— Guerrilla Tactics
— Clandestine Screenings.
— Release

The “Love Conquers All” Version – the ninety-four-minute “commercial” version of Brazil, which was shown only on syndicated television. This version of the film includes various alternate takes, new footage, and dialog. With optional commentary by Brazil expert David Morgan. (94 min, 1080i).

Trailer – original trailer for Brazil. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).

Booklet – illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt
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Videodrome Review From Blu-ray.com

Videodrome Blu-ray Movie Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov December 8, 2010
Source: blu-ray.com

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David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome” (1983) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include two audio commentaries, one with David Cronenberg and Mark Irwin, and another with James Woods and Deborah Harry; “Camera”, a short film which David Cronenberg directed in 2000; roundtable discussion with David Cronenberg, John Landis, and John Carpenter; various featurettes; promotional materials; and more. The disc also arrives with a 38-page illustrated booklet. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A “locked.

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James Woods is Max Renn, a cocky, fast-talking man in charge with a small Toronto-based television station looking for unique content to boost its ratings. One day, he stumbles across Videodrome, a brutal pornographic broadcast, which Harlan (Peter Dvorsky, Mesmer), one of Max’s best men, has recorded while playing around with the station’s pirate satellite dish. Impressed with the raw visuals, Max decides to find out more about Videodrome.

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While researching Videodrome, Max meets Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry, Hairspray), a beautiful psychiatrist who likes sex as much as she likes pain. Before Max beds Nikki, he shows her footage from Videodrome, which proves to be exactly the type of show she has been dreaming about. Nikki decides to go to Pittsburgh, where Videodrome apparently is based at, while Max decides to see Professor Brian O’Blivion (Jack Creley, All in Good Taste), a mysterious character who apparently knows everything there is to know about the show.

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Max meets Bianca (Sonja Smits, That’s My Baby!), Professor O’Blivion’s daughter and personal assistant, who gives him a videotape containing an important message. After he views it, Max begins hallucinating – first his body gets a giant vagina in which one could insert various objects, including videotapes, then he starts seeing dead people, and finally he enters Videodrome where Nikki has been patiently waiting for him. While trying to figure out what is real and what is not, Max loses his mind.

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Most critics who have written about David Cronenberg’s Videodrome argue that it is a horror film with a prophetic message about the destructive power of television. To a certain extent, I agree with them. A lot of what Cronenberg predicted in Videodrome has come true – by merging with the Internet, television is increasingly affecting the way we live our lives; television is easily transforming lies into truths, which is why each year billions of dollars are spent on political advertising; television is brainwashing our minds, which is why various religious groups pay big money for prime-time slots.

What critics rarely mention in their articles, however, is the fact that Videodrome is above all a film about the power of philosophy – the ideas that give meaning to the torture and pornography seen in it, the environment that has nurtured them, the culture that breeds their consumers. What terrifies in Videodrome are not the various graphic scenes, or Max’s colorful hallucinations, but the logic that supports their existence.

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There is a common theme amongst great horror films – they all balance well the reasonable with the unreasonable. When we watch a great horror film, we are terrified because there is a possibility that everything that happens in it could be real. Videodrome is one such film – a lot of the images in it are incredibly disturbing and unsettling but far from unrealistic; even Max’s hallucinations are not completely devoid of objectivity.

The cast is excellent. Woods is very convincing as the cocky businessman who slowly but surely evolves into a violent, paranoid loner. Harry, the famous voice of new wave and punk legends Blondie, looks incredibly seductive. Creley has a small but very important role. Smits is the only one who occasionally looks a bit stiff in front of the camera.

ALL CREDIT GOES TO Dr. Svet Atanasov of blu-ray.com

Criterion Collection Spine #3

#3 The Lady Vanishes

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Synopsis from Criterion.com

“In Alfred Hitchcock’s most quick-witted and devilish comic thriller, the beautiful Margaret Lockwood, traveling across Europe by train, meets a charming spinster (Dame May Whitty), who then seems to disappear into thin air. The younger woman turns investigator and finds herself drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure. Also starring Michael Redgrave, The Lady Vanishes remains one of the great filmmaker’s purest delights.”

-High-definition digital restoration (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition)
-Audio commentary featuring film historian Bruce Eder
-Crook’s Tour, a 1941 feature-length adventure film starring Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne as Charters and Caldicott, their beloved characters from The Lady Vanishes
-Excerpts from François Truffaut’s legendary 1962 audio interview with director Alfred Hitchcock
-Mystery Train, a video essay about Hitchcock and The Lady Vanishes by Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff
-Stills gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and promotional art
-PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and Hitchcock scholar Charles Barr

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