Every week, we sift through all the new Blu-ray releases and single out the "must-see" titles. Look for the column every Monday. This week: Cybill Shepherd makes a man crazy, plus state-of-the-art computer animation (circa 1982).
Our Top 5 Picks for This Week: What to Buy or Rent
1. 'Taxi Driver.' Our pick of the year, so far, with early reviews indicating a top-notch transfer for one of the most powerful films of all time. DVD upgrade. Buy.
2. 'Tron.' OK, all you punk kids, now you can finally see what made all of us older geeks fall crazy in love with lightcycles. And hacking. And Cindy Morgan. DVD upgrade. Buy.
3. 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence.' A science-fiction hybrid -- Kubrick-originated, Spielberg-directed -- that divided audiences and critics; demands a second look. DVD upgrade. Buy.
4. 'The Cove.' An essential documentary that exposes how Japanese fishermen slaughter dolphins. Watch it before expressing your opinion. DVD upgrade. Rent.
5. 'And Justice for All.' An unhinged Al Pacino -- "You're out of order!" -- stars in an underrated legal satire written by Barry Levinson and Valerie Curtin, directed by Norman Jewison. DVD upgrade. Rent.
Let's Get Righteously Angry at the Legal System:
'And Justice for All'
If this film is remembered at all nowadays, it's for Al Pacino angrily yelling at a judge, "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order" Like the film in general, the scene strikes deeper than an out-of-control retort; it's a slap at a judicial system that, by 1979, had become hemmed in by abuse and technicalities. Admittedly, the film is a bit of a mess, yet Pacino is the glue that holds it all together and makes it very much worth a rental.
Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg Share a Dark Vision:
'A.I.: Artificial Intelligence'
Few films have divided audiences and critics so decisively. Of course, we all wonder how this adaptation of a story by Brian W. Aldiss would have turned out had Stanley Kubrick lived to direct it himself. As it is, it stands as the most mature approach to science fiction that Steven Spielberg has ever attempted, shorn of easy audience appeal. It cleared the way for his remake of 'War of the Worlds,' which was three-quarters of a great film. 'A.I.' needs to be seen (again).
Special Feature(s) of the Week:
If you find yourself watching Martin Scorsese's magnificent 'Taxi Driver' and thinking to yourself, I wonder if that's what life is like for a real taxi driver?, then the special feature 'Taxi Driver Stories' is for you! It is "the most compelling feature" in the new Blu-ray edition, according to DVD Savant, and is "an interview piece with taxi drivers, association reps and a lady official from the Taxi Limousine Commission, who regale us with tales of the exhausting job of driving a hack in New York, and how the job has changed over time."
Two Blu-rays to Skip:
'Little Fockers.' Life is hard and we'd all like a few laughs. Sadly, this movie does not even rise up to the low level of humor established by its 'Fockers' predecessors. This is not the comedy you are looking for, because it is not funny.
'Taxi.' Oy. Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon have no chemistry. Do not be deceived by the presence of Ann Margret and/or supermodels. Also, if you're looking for that movie with Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, this is not that movie.
Check out all of this week's new DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Latest Blu-ray Release Announcements:
'Brazil.' Terry Gilliam's wonderfully bleak tale of the future is one of the best-realized films of the '80s, at least in the director's cut. Universal is bringing it to Blu-ray, but right now it looks like a bare-bones version (no extras announced), lacking anything featured by Criterion when it issued a DVD edition in the past. Thus, while this is the most notable announcement of the week, it bears a closer watch to see what actually ends up on the disc, and whether it might not be worth waiting a year or more to see if Criterion issues a more deluxe edition.
'Another Year.' 6/7
'Das Boot: The Director's Cut' 6/7
'Gnomeo and Juliet.' 5/24
'I Am Number Four.' 5/24
'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.' 5/13
'The Long Rides.' 6/7
'Red Planet.' 7/27
'The Roommate.' 6/7
'Sleeping With the Enemy.' 6/28
'The Terror.' 4/26
Blu-rays We've Been Watching This Week: Mysteries by Masters
'The Ghost Writer.' Roman Polanski knows how to construct a mystery, teasing us with hints of the large story that envelops Ewan McGregor as a writer hired by a former (British) Prime Minister to complete his memories. The Blu-ray looks very good, though it's not quite a state-of-the-art presentation; most likely, however, it reflects Polanski's vision, and that's good enough for us.
'Shutter Island.' When we first glimpsed Martin Scorsese's latest, it resembled a ghost story. The film uses some horror movie techniques, but it's more a psychological mystery, with Leonardo DiCaprio fighting to unravel the biggest questions in his life. Watching it on Blu-ray is a mesmerizing experience, with the muted colors and ever-present shadows displayed with incredible precision and detail.
Poll: (Last week's top vote-getter: 'Black Swan' with 32.8 percent. Runners-up: 'The Ten Commandments,' 20.7 percent and 'Tangled,' 13.8 percent).
If you had enough money to buy one Blu-ray this week, what would it be?