Here at Inside Pulse Movies, we compile all the best deals for DVD and Blu-ray releases, as well as report on some that are so good they’re criminal. DISCLAIMER: Inside Pulse is an Amazon affiliate (therefore we make a small percentage of every sale). So just know that every dollar earned helps run the site.
Author’s note: Okay, I dropped the ball. I’ve been skirting my weekly Disc Deals and Steals column and have left you in the dark regarding some sales in February. I didn’t get any e-mails wondering of my disappearance or messages of hate. So I got that going for me. But to my credit, there was at least one week in February that there were no good sales at all, so I figure at least one of those weeks I was doing you a favor by not writing anything. Now it’s time to start the month with a fresh outlook.
As much as James Franco would have you believe with his glassy-eyed, no-really-I’m-not-stoned look, 127 Hours is not the best home video release this week. A quality flick to be sure, this week’s top pick is a coming-of-age story involving a young’un who loses his mother but befriends a variety of woodland creatures as he grows older. Why that’s Bambi, of course. Next summer it will turn an impressive seventy. At the time of its release, though, it was considered a disappointment. But it rebounded nicely after the end of World War II being re-released in 1947. It was re-released five more times from 1957 to 1988. Another strike against Bambi at the time of its release is that it also portrayed humans as evil, specifically men who hunted animals for sport.
The film runs a brisk 70 minutes and is able to accomplish more in that period of time than most live-action films could ever dream possible. It is a simple yet profound tale about the lives of animals in the forest. Even the most basic movements of a deer look more arcane upon first glance. And the reason is simple: Walt Disney and his team of animators spent hours examining real animal attributes, in how they moved and reacted, so that they could enhance their animations of them. Most animated shows and movies give us bi-pedal versions of animals to make them more human-like. Ever wonder why Yogi Bear is mostly walking on two legs? And don’t say because he’s smarter than the average bear.
The research conducted for Bambi would lead Walt Disney to create a genre of film that is thriving more than ever: the nature documentary. Wildlife was one of Disney’s obsessions. As such, he is cited for creating the genre, and it is one that has been copied and emulated so many times by others that his influence on the 21st century docs Planet Earth and Life are unmistakable. Bambi may be an animated work, and a masterpiece at that, but it would also have a prevailing influence on national awareness of hunting and fire prevention, ultimately leading to the creation of Smokey Bear. Plus, not many studios can claim having loaned a fictional character to the government for public service campaigns.
Looking at the bells and whistles of this Diamond Edition Blu-ray release, you have your typical deleted scenes (including two that are exclusive to Blu-ray), theatrical trailer, and documentary. Plus there are other extras specific for children viewers and those that will keep the cinephiles entertained. By this I mean “Bambi: Inside Walt’s Story Meetings”. If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in one of those meetings this is the next best thing. The feature is a PiP track that culls together archived footage and transcripts to fill in the gaps to give us a full account of how Bambi came to be. If you have seen Bambi countless times, try it with this feature selected. You might learn something.
Other titles that I missed recommending during my dereliction of duty (don’t call it AWOL) include arguably the best film of the ‘80s and Christopher Nolan’s best film not named The Dark Knight.
Two years ago MGM released Raging Bull on Blu-ray. This year the film got a re-release on the high-def format because the Martin Scorsese pic is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. The one thing you should know before deciding to double-dip on the title is that the audio and video are exactly the same as the 2009 release. So the only aspect that will pique the interest of film buffs is the supplemental material.
You get four new featurettes, each running between 10 to 14 minutes each. If you are fan of Scorsese and of film in general you’ll definitely want to check out two features. The first, “Raging Bull: Reflections of a Classic,” involves directing contemporaries who analyze Scorsese’s style, the performances, and its lasting impact over the last thirty years, among other attributes. Remember, when the American Film Institute did its ranking of the top 100 films of all time, Raging Bull was listed at 24. Ten years later the list was updated and it jumped twenty spaces, above the likes of Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz to rank fourth. What a difference a decade makes. The other extra, “Marty on Film,” has Scorsese reflecting on his introduction to film and also offers up childhood memories and what he’d like to do as a director in the future.
1999 was a landmark year for cinema. Labeled “the year that changed movies,” that singular year saw releases like The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, The Sixth Sense, Election and Three Kings. Coincidentally, all can be found in my home library of films. Director-wise we saw P.T. Anderson directing Tom Cruise in the art of “taming” women (Magnolia) and David Fincher telling Meat Loaf (and his “bitch tits”) to hit his mark (Fight Club). If 1999 ushered in a changing of the guard of new, refreshing narratives, then Christopher Nolan’s Memento the following year was the test to see if audiences were still open to the idea.
Memento is all about its execution. Instead of being told in a non-linear fashion like Pulp Fiction and others, the movie plays backwards. The protagonist, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), has short-term memory loss, the result of nasty bump to the head. He can remember everything up until his wife being raped and murdered. He cannot form new memories. Driven by revenge, he goes hunting for her killers. Along the way he writes himself notes, takes Polaroid photos (remember those?) and tattoos more notes over his body as way to remember things and keep things straight. From the very first reel we see him exacting his revenge on Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) in a slow-motion sequence that constructs his vengeance in reverse.
Memento I’ve seen numerous times and yet it gets me every time. It’s one of a few films that is able to survive its loose ends. Like did Teddy really have a role in Leonard’s wife’s murder? And are we to trust Leonard’s memories about a man named Sammy Jankis (Stephen Tobolowsky), who also has short-term memory issues. Its black-and-white look would suggest yes, but that could just be Nolan screwing with us.
When the first Blu-ray of Memento was released, it was always too costly for those who were new to the high-def format. For those who held off a purchase until now, you will be rewarded with newly restored picture and sound (as approved by Nolan), and a few new special features. I should point out that Criterion has plans to release Nolan’s debut feature, Following, as part as its pact with IFC, so we could very well see another anniversary edition release from them when Memento turns fifteen. Neither of new features included are essential viewing, but they may be enlightening to the curious. Sadly, the new 10th anniversary Blu-ray does not include the chronological order version of the film, which can be found, though it is hidden, on the two-disc limited edition DVD release.
Other noteworthy releases this week:
127 Hours (BD/DVD), Love & Other Drugs (BD/DVD), Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould (BD/DVD), Burlesque (BD/DVD), Faster (BD/DVD)
Two Best Deals of the Week
BAMBI: DIAMOND EDITION
Deal: $12.99 at Best Buy (After $10 Disney Rewards Coupon – expires 03/05/11)
THE HANNIBAL LECTER COLLECTION (Amazon’s Blu-ray Deal of the Week – Sale ends 03/05/11)
Deal: $26.99 at Amazon
Best Buy is offering the Pirates of the Caribbean: Ultimate Trilogy Collection with collectible Blu-ray packaging for $49.99. Release also comes with a free movie ticket to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Arrrgh! Other exclusives available this week are a collectible Bambi lunchbox ($4.99 with the purchase of the film on Blu-ray) and a free corset with the purchase of Burlesque on either format.
If you purchase both 127 Hours and Love & Other Drugs on either DVD or Blu-ray you can save $7 on your purchase. Best Buy has a similar combo purchase deal, but you’ll actually spend a $1 more.
A good thing to remember is that Amazon routinely matches the sale prices of Best Buy and Target weekly, so if you want to avoid the crowds or pay tax, Amazon is always the way to go. And this week the online retailer has a number of good deals going on.
Sideways – $8.49
Big – $8.99
There’s Something About Mary – $8.99
Casino Royale (1-Disc) – $9.99
Rob Roy – $11.49
Clerks – $11.99
Last Man Standing/The Last Boy Scout – $12.49
Taxi Driver (Pre-Order) – $12.99
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – $13.99
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – $15.99
Rabbit Hole (Pre-Order) – $19.99
Black Swan (Pre-Order) – $19.99
Lost: The Complete Fifth Season – $31.49
Tags: Amazon, Casino Royale, Deals, Memento, Raging Bull