by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Two of the greatest sports films of all time both just happen to be boxing movies: Sylvester Stallone's Rocky and Marin Scorsese's Raging Bull. While I consider Rocky the better movie emotionally—it's an honest underdog story with real heart—Raging Bull is the pure technical marvel, pure art on celluloid. Robert DeNiro — back when he was the greatest actor of his generation and not a Fock-ing joke — becomes legendary boxer Jake La Motta, a true brute of a man with so many violent psychological and sexual hang-ups, proclivities and jealousies that they all but ruin his career. Filmed in crisp, startling black and white, Bull is given a new life on Blu-Ray. Every shot looks so clean and clear, you realize that the true star of the picture is cinematographer Michael Chapman. In addition to the seminal film, the Blu-Ray also contains numerous commentaries, making of docs and old press clips.
The last time I saw Dances With Wolves was when it first premiered on VHS in the early '90s. Pretty much the only movies my dad — who was a proud Choctaw — ever watched or remotely enjoyed were westerns, with Dances With Wolves being his favorite. I thought it was boring at the time, but I was a stupid kid who didn't have the same sense of tribal pride that he did. Twenty years later (and with dad long dead), I've finally had the chance to rediscover Wolves, via the new Blu-Ray special edition, and I gotta say ... this movie is one of the best things I have ever seen. The story of a Civil War hero befriending Plains Indians as the West slowly comes to an end ... hey wait a minute! This sounds like Avatar! James Cameron ripped off Dances With Wolves! Just like the white man to pull something like that!
Image Entertainment keeps up its smashing line of reissues from British studio Handmade Films (co-founded by George Harrison) with Bruce (Withnail & I) Robinson's surreal black comedy How to Get Ahead in Advertising. A brutally cynical Richard Grant stars as an overworked ad-exec who can sell just about anything to anyone. As he has a nervous breakdown while trying to come up with an ad campaign for a zit cream, he begins to question his morality and decides to quit the ad world forever. That's all well and good, but as he gets better, a second head starts to sprout from a zit on his neck, encompassing everything he ever hated about himself and his business. As they fight for control of the body, Robinson uses this as a bile-spewing forum for everything that is dirty and underhanded in advertising, and, in a way, calling us all stupid for buying into it. Only a British comedy could get away with a pitch like that.