Jodorowsky’s Dune (Sony, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, Cable VOD) is probably not “the greatest science film never made,” as the movie poster tagline insists, but this journey through the most improbable screen epic embarked upon in the seventies isn’t really about mourning what could have been. Alejandro Jodorowsky, director of the aggressively trippy cult classics El Topo and The Holy Mountain, is a spellbinder of a storyteller and it’s not hard to get caught up in the vision he spins of his dream adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel, which he and his producer, Michel Seydoux, managed to option. With his artistic idealism and beaming smile (the man lights up with creative energy whenever he starts describing his vision of the film), Jodorowsky’s enthusiasm is intoxicating. It’s no wonder he attracted such a passionately loyal and dedicated team of collaborators—his “warriors,” as he called them—along the way, including artists Jean “Moebius” Girard, H.R. Giger and Chris Foss, special effects designer Dan O’Bannon, and actors Orson Welles, Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali.
If filmmaker Frank Pavich gets caught up in the dreams of the Jodorowsky and his warriors and the hyperbole of commentators like Richard Stanley and Nicolas Winding Refn, filmmakers who proclaim the project some kind of lost masterpiece so visionary that Hollywood was scared of the possibilities, he at least gives voice to the more measured response of the Hollywood studios via producer Gary Kurtz. Any practical look at the project finds a rickety foundation built on promises rather than contracts, a budget insufficient to meet the scope of Jodorowsky’s ideas, and elaborate special effects beyond anything Hollywood would accomplish for years to come. And that doesn’t even address Jodorowsky’s utter dismissal of studio concerns of his ability to create a commercial film for the millions of dollars he was asking for. He was ready to make a 12-hour epic if that’s what his muse demanded.
What’s most interesting is not that the project failed to get made but that it got as far as it did and Jodorowsky and Pavich let us revel in the conceptual art, costume and character designs, storyboards, musical concepts and other elements that Jodorowsky pulled together for his presentation. He gives us an art movie of a space opera with a spiritual message and a mad poetry to its execution. And rather than treat this as a wake for a stillborn film (as many of the interview subjects do), Jodorowsky celebrates the entire endeavor as a creative effort in its own right, which inspired ideas that he used in other projects. It’s unlikely that he could have brought to the screen anything resembling the grand vision he shares with us given his resources and the technology of the era, but it sure is exciting it imagine, and that imagination is what powers the film: the sense of artistic freedom, idealism, freewheeling creativity at work in the preparation, and the excitement he raised in his warriors, inspiring them to imagine beyond what had been done before. That is a work of art in its own right.
The Blu-ray+DVD Combo also includes 46 minutes of deleted scenes, or rather expanded sections that explore elements of the project in more detail than the finished film allows.
Le Week-End (Music Box, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital VOD, Cable VOD) is a twilight romantic comedy of British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) celebrating their marriage anniversary with a return trip to Paris, directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and written by Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Launderette). Jeff Goldblum co-stars in the well-reviewed comic drama of life and love after 60. I’m a fan of both Michell and Kureishi and their previous collaborations (The Mother with Daniel Craig and Venus with Peter O’Toole) and was hoping to review this but my review copy never arrived (possibly a victim of July 4 weekend postal holidays). So you can peruse the reviews here.
On Blu-ray and DVD with filmmaker commentary and a behind-the-scenes featurette among the supplements.
The Raid 2 (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, Cable VOD) ups the ante of the original Indonesian action hit with an even longer blast of sustained extreme action. Indonesian with English subtitles, with two featurettes and a deleted scene. The Blu-ray Combo release includes director commentary and an optional English language dub soundtrack.
Lars Von Trier’s latest provocation, the life story of a sex-addicted woman (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg as an adult and Stacy Martin as a youth), was released in two parts in theaters is available on disc in separate volumes or in a set: Nymphomaniac Volume I (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD), Nymphomaniac Volume II (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD), and Nymphomaniac Volumes I and II (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD)
Bad Words (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, Cable VOD) is the directorial debut of actor Jason Bateman, who plays a grade-school drop-out who uses an obscure rule to compete against kids in a National Spelling Bee.
Rigor Mortis (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital) is a horror film from Hong Kong about a housing project under assault by supernatural monsters and a former vampire hunter roused to battle them. Cantonese with English subtitles.
Non-fiction: Maidentrip (First Run, DVD) documents Laura Dekker’s two-year voyage as the youngest person to ever sail solo around the world. Director Jillian Schlesinger directs, using footage Dekker recorded herself during the voyage. Also new: Watermark (eOne, Blu-ray, DVD, Cable VOD), a look at how water shapes civilization.
Snowpiercer (Cable VOD), the ferocious end-of-the-world science fiction allegory about class warfare on a perpetual motion train circling the frozen globe, is coming to Cable On Demand two weeks after it debuted in theaters. An international action thriller built on one big metaphor—the class system of the industrial revolution in microcosm, in one giant closed system hurtling through the frozen world in a man-made ice age—and it’s just the way I like my genre cinema: with the metaphors muscular, richly-imagined, and punchy. Chris Evans is the ostensible hero, the angry young(-ish) leader of a rebellion from the oppressed back to the train battling their way through the class divisions and social pockets of the runaway train, like a socio-political “The Odyssey” by way of Brazil and Oldboy. The English language debut of Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (The Host) co-stars Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung (both also from The Host), Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, and Tilda Swinton as a dedicated bureaucratic functionary dedicated to keeping everyone in their place.
It arrives on Cable VOD on Friday, July 11.
VEEP: The Complete Third Season (HBO, Digital HD) will be available as a digital purchase months ahead of its disc release.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa .5 (Paramount, Blu-ray, DVD)
Pleasure or Pain (Kino, DVD)
Favor (Horizon, DVD)
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Film Movement, DVD)
Dear Viola (eOne, DVD)
Don Peyote (XLrator, DVD)
Kid Cannabis (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD)
Ragamuffin (Millennium, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD)
Half the Road (First Run, DVD)
Hunting the Legend: The Search Continues for Sasquatch (RLJ/Image, DVD, Digital)
Dead Drop (Lionsgate, DVD)
Hunting the Legend (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital)
Wings: Sky Force Heroes (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, Cable On Demand)
Banana Motherf*ck*r (Troma, DVD)
30 Girls in 30 Days (Troma, DVD)
Vicious (PBS, DVD)
Prisoners of War: Season One (Shout Factory, DVD)
The Soul Man: Season One (Shout Factory, DVD)
Endeavour: Series 2 (PBS, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Mill (BFS, DVD)
The Big Valley: Season 3 (Timeless Media, DVD)
Hidden Kingdoms (BBC, Blu-ray, DVD)
Frontline: Locked Up In America (PBS, DVD)
American Pharaoh (PBS, DVD)
D-Day 360 (PBS, DVD)
Day of Days: June 6, 1944 (PBS, DVD)
Nova: D-Day’s Sunken Secrets (PBS, DVD)
Time Scanners: St. Paul’s Cathedral (PBS, DVD)
Nature: The Gathering Swarms (PBS, Blu-ray, DVD)
Nature: Leave it to Beavers (PBS, DVD)
Southern Comfort (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray)
Caught (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Point Blank (Warner, Blu-ray)
The Time Machine (1960) (Warner, Blu-ray)
Brannigan (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
Violent Saturday (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
Radio Days (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
Born Yesterday (Twilight Time, Blu-ray)
The Lost Moment (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (Olive, Blu-ray, DVD)
Lake Placid (Shout Factory, Blu-ray)
I Vinti (Raro / Kino, Blu-ray)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Criterion, 2-DVD edition)
Red River (Criterion, 2-DVD edition)
The Baby (Severin, Blu-ray)
Bloody Birthday (Severin, Blu-ray)
Bloody Moon (Severin, Blu-ray)
42nd Street Forever: The Peep Show Collection, Vol. 3 (Synapse, Blu-ray, DVD)
Vintage Erotica anno 1970 (Cult Epics, DVD)
Runaway Nightmare (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)
Peekarama: Erotic Adventures of Candy / Candy Goes to Hollywood (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)
Peekarama: All Night Long / Tapestry of Passion (Vinegar Syndrome, DVD)