This week on DVD and Blu-ray: Bobcat Goldthwait’s violent and very funny attack on reality TV; a moody psychological thriller starring Willem Dafoe; Jane Fonda’s sexy space outing; a BBC romance sure to make you swoon; and some black-and-white silent oldies.
# 1. “God Bless America”
“God Bless America,” the latest from comedian turned button-pushing filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait (“Sleeping Dogs Lie,” “World’s Greatest Dad”) is one angry movie. Goldthwait (who also penned the screenplay) takes aim at America’s narcissistic culture by centering his story on Frank (Joel Murray), a divorced, recently fired and possibly terminally ill man, who takes it upon himself to rid America of dumb, bigoted people by buying a gun and hunting said people down with the help of high-school student Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), who shares his rage.
Given that this comes from the mind of Goldthwait however (he played Zed in a string of “Police Academy” films back in the eighties and is best known for his high-pitched comedy act), “God Bless America” is also hilarious. You might be shocked to see how far Goldthwait and his game cast takes it, but you’ll also be hard pressed not laugh most of the way.
“Goldthwait writes some of his best monologues in years for his loony leading man, wrote Eric Kohn in his review, “but while “God Bless America” rants about society’s downward slide into a media-fueled oblivion — it’s Goldthwait’s “Idiocracy” — the movie also serves as a bold indictment of pop culture’s destructive potential, and a catharsis for anyone willing to confess that beneath the Murray character’s blatantly psychotic behavior, his targets are spot-on.”
Go HERE for our interview with Goldthwait and Murray.
Extras: A lot of good stuff here. Included is an audio commentary featuring Goldthwait, Murray and Lynne Barr; an extensive making-of-doc that covers every aspect of production; deleted and extended scenes; outtakes; a video interview with Goldthwait, Murray and Lynne Barr; a Roxy & Frank music video; and the film’s theatrical trailer.
#2. “The Hunter”
Rookie director and established author Julia Leigh — whose feature directorial debut “Sleeping Beauty” ignited a flurry of interest in its Cannes premiere — is the mind behind “The Hunter,” a psychological thriller starring Willem Dafoe. She penned the 2001 novel of the same name, which the film, directed by Daniel Nettheim, is based on. In “The Hunter,” Dafoe stars as Martin, a mercenary sent from Europe by an anonymous biotchech company to the wilderness on a hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger. Sam Neill and Frances O’Connor co-star.
Extras: A pretty solid set. Included is an informative audio commentary featuring Nettheim and producer Vincent Sheehan; a great four-part documentary on the making of the film; deleted scenes; and the film’s theatrical trailer.
If you think Jane Fonda looks good now, just wait till you get a peek of her in the horny sci-fi cult classic “Barbarella,” which lands for the first time on Blu-ray today. In the titilating romp, directed by Fonda’s ex-husband Roger Vadim, Fonda plays the titular space adventurer who lands on planet Lythion in the year 40,000. Faced with monsters and evil robots, Barbarella is forced to vanquish her foes — in tight and revealing attire, of course.
Extras: Unfortunately, all you’ll find is the film’s theatrical trailer.
#4. “Madame Bovary”
Gustave Flaubert’s dramatic masterpiece “Madame Bovary” gets another film adaption, this time courtesy of the BBC. Frances O’Connor puts her stamp on the iconic role of Emma Roualt, a woman with dreams of escaping her provincial upbringing. Her dream comes true when she marries local doctor Charles Bovary (“Downton Abbey” star Hugh Bonneville), but it’s not long before Emma begins to feel constrained and frustrated by married life, leading her on a string of affairs (Hugh Dancy being one of them).
Extras: A 30-minute profile of the author and the places that inspired him.
#5. “The Devil’s Needle and Other Tales of Vice and Redemption”
If “The Artist” made you nostalgic for the silent film era, then take the plunge with this set of extremely rare silent films from the 1910’s, via specialty label Kino Classics, that explore controversial social issues of their day. The collection includes “The Devil’s Needle” (1916), “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” (1913) and “Children of Eve” (1915). “The Devil’s Needle” centers on a morphine addict who messes with the morals of a neurotic painter; “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic” looks at the methods employed by a group of pimps to enslave unsuspecting women into a life of prostitution; while “Children of Eve” depicts the Triangle Shirtwaist Factor fire of 1911.
Extras: Program notes by film historian Richard Koszarski; unedited outtake footage from “Children of Eve”; and raw surviving footage of “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic.”