Rashomon Is the Pick of the Week

Not to get too philosophical for a post about upcoming DVD releases, but as I’ve gotten older the nature of Truth has become more allusive. I grew up in a very conservative Christian household and as such was taught that Truth was something concrete, and it was discoverable. There was a Right and there was a Wrong and I was supposed to choose the Right path. As I’ve aged, traveled, and talked with more people from many different backgrounds, I’ve come to realize that these things are more in flux. That Truth for me may be different than Truth for you (and in fact it may be different for me in a week or two as I grow and learn more about myself.) Its a big world, with many different sides to it and I now no longer want to be pinned down to an exact morality.

Anyways, that’s enough of my armchair philosophizing, but I say that to introduce Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon. It is a film that examines the very nature of Truth and the subjective nature of our own realities. At its simplest, it is the story of a rape and murder that is told from four different and contradictory points of view, but at its heart it ponders the very nature of reality. It is often considered one of the all-time greatest films every made and its influence not only philosophically but in the narrative and style of the film reaches far and wide across all of moviedom. This in itself would make it my Pick of the Week but that fact that Criterion has given it a high-definition upgrade and loaded it with extras elevates it beyond just that and into the category of an absolute must-have by everyone.

Extras include audio commentary by film historian Donald Richie (this is the same commentary released on the standard DVD from Criterion several years ago), a discussion with Robert Altman on the film, excerpts from a Japanese documentary on cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa, a 69-minute documentary starring many of the people who worked on the film, an illustrated booklet with an essay and the two stories that Kurosawa used as source material, and the film’s original trailer.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

The Amazing Spider-Man (Four Disk Combo Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy): I’ve got to admit I’m kind of burned out on comic book movies so I skipped this one. But it got decent reviews and of course lots of people saw it. There are loads of special features including lots of featurettes on the making of the film (and the videogame) plus audio commentaries and deleted scenes.

Call the Midwife: Season One: I’ve not caught this British show based upon the true stories of a midwife living in England in the ’50s, but I hear good things so its on the list.

The Muppets Christmas Carol 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray): I know I’ve seen this, but I can’t honestly remember it at all, but it’s the Muppets and you can’t really go wrong with them. It has lots of Muppety special features including audio commentary by many of the characters (and another with the director), Muppet carollers, and several features.

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams: Season One: I adored this show about an outlaw mountain man so much as a kid. I’ve often wished it would come out on DVD and now I can rejoice that that time has finally come.

Entourage: The Complete Series (Blu-ray): I stopped watching this show a few seasons ago and to tell the truth I never thought it was great, but Jeremy Piven is a joy to watch and it is a perfectly fun, if very light, show to just throw on, relax and enjoy.

Fritz Lang: The Early Works: The only Lang film I’ve ever seen is M, but it was masterful and he is considered one of the great early directors of cinema. This set has three films: Harakari, The Wandering Shadow, and Four Around a Woman.

Gator Bait: When VCRs first became popular, there were a couple of mom and pop stores in our town and one of them had a bunch of sleazy B-movies for rent. Gator Bait was one of them. I never got it because I was too young to rent on my own and there was no way my mom was gonna get it for me, but I used to stare longingly at the badge on the cover and wonder what bountiful things would I see were I to ever make it home with a copy. I guess now I can finally find out.

Mat Brewster

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