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New on Disc: 'Senso' on Blu-ray and more

7 Mar, 2011 By: Mike Clark


Criterion, Drama, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Alida Valli, Farley Granger, Christian Marquand.
Though establishing works Ossessione and La Terra Trema are hallmarks of Italian neo-realism (with operatic flavoring), most audiences probably think of Luchino Visconti in terms of his opulent color period pieces. But the first of these was this 19th-century war/romance “bad-luck project,” which by no stretch was the last one Visconti would have in his career. Until a recent and costly restoration (the negative had shrunk, for openers), Senso’s photographic rep was mostly based on memory. In a loving first-hand essay included in Criterion’s package, writer-filmmaker Mark Rappaport notes that he thought it was the most beautiful movie ever. Here are the visuals Visconti intended. Every shot is a painting, as you’ve heard said of other movies in a common refrain, but as Rappaport says, you don’t want to hang the images on the wall; you want to live in them.
Extras: Included are a Senso excerpt from Farley Granger’s autobiography and an unrestored version of the shorter, inferior but tantalizingly rare alternate English-language version. There’s a making-of documentary with lots of still-living production heavyweights, a visual essay by the great Peter Cowie, a 1966 BBC portrait of Visconti and a super featurette that deals Visconti’s theatrical work and the film’s impact.
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Michael Jordan to the Max (Blu-ray)

Lionsgate, Sports, $19.99 Blu-ray, NR.
The intention of Imax presentations, at least when they’re chronicling a real-life event, is to put us in the arena. To this end, the Jordan Imax movie was a success. The selling point (even on home screens, modest or large) is supremely pristine game footage. Fortunately, this portrait captures a great moment in time: the Chicago Bulls’ final NBA Championship before the team started to break up.
Extras: A 20-minute bonus featurette explains the arduous filmmaking process and notes the intimidating shutter speeds of the Imax cameras. From what one can discern here, filming the on-court (but non-game) sequences with Jordan must have involved as much photographic blue smoke and mirrors as it took for him to interact with the Warner animation stable in 1996’s Space Jam.
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On the Double

Street 3/8
Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Danny Kaye, Dana Wynter, Wilfred Hyde-White.
There’s something kind of end-of-the-road-ish about this last “pure” Danny Kaye vehicle, given that before too long after its release, you didn’t see too many comical Nazis (at least in World War II settings) on screen. Even at its occasional best, On the Double is very old school. Kaye is an American private first class with a gift for mimicry. Facing court martial for having previously impersonated an officer and stolen a jeep, Kaye agrees to impersonate a British colonel targeted for assassination by Germans.
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The Public Eye

Available via Amazon.com’s CreateSpace
Universal, Drama, $19.98 DVD, ‘R.’
Stars Joe Pesci, Barbara Hershey, Jared Harris.
Though this apparent labor of love dropped out of sight about two seconds after it got to theaters, I suspect there’s still the remnants of a moviegoer demographic who conceivably might have a good time with the screen project that gave Joe Pesci his shot at becoming a leading man. Set early in World War II during the onset of gas rationing, the film was transparently inspired by the career of Arthur “Weegie” Fellig, the New York photojournalist who specialized in capturing crime scenes and the everyday life of the predominantly downtrodden in the most urban of all settings.
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