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HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published April 19, 2013 at 2:19 a.m.

Repo Man Directed by Alex Cox (R, 93 minutes)

Alex Cox’s enduring 1984 sci-fi cult comedy Repo Man stars Harry Dean Stanton (Paris, Texas) as a grizzled automobile repo man - yes, he looked weathered back then, let alone now - in desolate downtown Los Angeles, with Emilio Estevez (The Breakfast Club) as the loser suburban punk he chooses to mentor in the fine points of repossession. The job becomes more than either of them bargained for when they get involved in reclaiming a mysterious-and otherworldly-Chevy Malibu with a sizable reward attached to it.

One of the film’s best features, along with its politically acerbic approach to President Ronald Reagan’s domestic and foreign policy, is its early 1980s-era punk soundtrack.

“Crammed with quotable, often gnomic one-liners, and set to an achingly cool soundtrack of hardcore punk, it’s a movie with a disreputable, insolent charm,” says critic Ian Berriman in SFX Magazine.

The Blu-ray release includes a new high-definition digital restoration; audio commentary featuring director Cox, executive producer Michael Nesmith, casting director Victoria Thomas and actors Sy Richardson, Zander Schloss and Del Zamora; interviews with Cox, Richardson, and Zamora, producers Peter McCarthy and Jonathan Wacks, actors Olivia Barash, Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval and Stanton, musicians Keith Morris and Iggy Pop, and Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb. There are also deleted scenes, a cleaned up TV version of the film, and theatrical trailers. Best yet: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Sam McPheeters, an illustrated production history by Cox with his original comic and film proposal and a 1987 interview with real-life repo man Mark Lewis.

Django Unchained (R, 165 minutes)

Quentin Tarantino’s gory spaghetti Western concerns Django (Jamie Foxx), a former slave turned hired gun who heads back to where he was enslaved to free his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), from tyrannical plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), with the help of German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance).

“There’s a point in Django Unchained when its sheer absurdity, luridness and violence pose an inescapable challenge to the skeptical literalists in the audience: Sure, this is an outrageous distortion, the Django Unchained movie itself seems to say, but is it any more outrageous than The Birth of a Nation or Gone With the Wind?” says critic Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post.

Katy Perry: Part of Me the Movie (PG, 93 minutes)

A reissue of the DVD that was released last fall (the film was in theaters July 5), this live concert/documentary is directed by reality show specialists Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz. It trails pop superstar Katy Perry during her 2011 California Dreams world tour, a 124-concert marathon that followed the release of her hit album Teenage Dream.

Although the cameras faithfully follow Perry onstage and off, somehow the film never reveals all that much about her. Associated Press critic Jake Coyle says that Part of Me, like its forerunner Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, is an unabashedly commercial movie made about an unabashedly commercial enterprise. “And yet they’re kind of fascinating,” he says of the two films. “That’s because Part of Me is as good a document you’re likely to find of modern pop stardom: How it’s packaged, how it’s sold and what kind of power it holds over screaming ’tween girls.”

Gate of Hell (unrated, 89 minutes)

A winner of two Academy Awards (best foreign-language film, best costume design), 1953’s Gate of Hell is a visually dazzling, psychologically penetrating work from Teinosuke Kinugasa. In the midst of violent intrigue in feudal 12th-century Japan, a courageous samurai who falls for a lady-in-waiting will stop at nothing to win her love - even after he discovers she is married. Kinugasa’s story of obsession and unrequited passion is widely recognized as an early triumph of color cinematography in Japan.

“The film’s delicately choreographed battles, its use of texture and color, and its grace of movement and composition mark it as one of those rare Japanese films that survive despite over interpretation,” says critic Don Druker in Chicago Reader.

The Blu-ray release (in Japanese with English subtitles) features a new high-definition digital restoration and subtitle translation and a booklet featuring an essay by film historian Stephen Prince.

MovieStyle, Pages 36 on 04/19/2013

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