Kevin’s Digital Week #3

Blu-Rays of the Week:

Monsters Inc.
directed by Pete Docter
directed by Pete Docter
I must admit that I’m not a big fan of the Pixar movies: dazzling computerized animation, coupled with talking creatures, doesn’t thrill me much. (I do enjoy The Simpsons and South Park, neither known for expertly-drawn visuals or anthropomorphic non-humans.) But after watching Up, the latest Pixar blockbuster, I could pinpoint why this story of an old man who literally flies away with his house to a world of adventure after his beloved wife dies left me cold. Up begins with a sweetly touching, wordless sequence detailing the couple’s long relationship, then almost immediately degenerates into predictable and obnoxious foolishness when chattering, unfunny animals and stock villains take over. Oh well.

Happily, Monsters Inc. is much more entertaining: it’s a hilarious, sentimental and unpretentious comedy. Visually, of course, these two Blu-ray releases are peerless, with an almost crystalline 3-D quality to the animation, and aurally they are up to Disney’s usual high standard as well.  Both Up and Monsters Inc. are available in four-disc versions, with separate discs of the Blu-Ray, the standard DVD, a digital copy and an extras disc, which include directors’ commentaries, pre-production and production featurettes, new Pixar shorts, games, etc.

DVD of the Week:

Death in the Garden
directed by Luis Buñuel
One of Luis Buñuel’s least-known efforts from his many years spent making films in Mexico doesn’t have the pedigree of classics Los Olvidados, Nazarin or The Exterminating Angel, but for those interested in Buñuel’s career arc, enough of his sardonic personality peeks through to help this 1956 melodrama overcome a lackluster script. In an unnamed South American country, a group of people flees a budding revolution into the jungle, only to fall prey to the inevitable (and fatal) back-stabbing and in-fighting. Shot in beautiful Technicolor—which, in this newly restored release, looks absolutely pristine—Death in the Garden is Buñuel-lite, with little of the subversiveness marking his best films from L’Age d’Or to Simon of the Desert.

The presence of terrific French actors like Michel Piccoli (who would go on to star in several more Buñuel films) and Simone Signoret is another plus. Extras-wise, there’s a nice assortment: new interviews with Piccoli and with Buñuel scholar Victor Fuentes and an audio commentary by another Buñuel expert, Ernesto R. Acevedo-Munoz, give necessary context for a forgotten work by an audacious filmmaking master.