Gift Guide: November Discs
Look out! The holiday tsunami of gift-worthy DVDs and Blu-rays has begun. But you might wind up keeping some of them for yourself.
(Paramount, $26.99 Blu-Ray, Nov. 6)
If ever a classic was ready for its Blu-ray close-up, it's Billy Wilder's noirish horror flick about the fatal collision of a crazed silent-movie crone (Gloria Swanson at 50, 17 years younger than Helen Mirren is now) and a luckless young screenwriter (William Holden) who turns gigolo. Though the two and a half hours of extras annoyingly reuse some of the same interviews, they're still wonderful, and one is never before seen: the deleted musical number "The Paramount Don't Want Me Blues," sung at the young-Hollywood New Year's Eve party whose liveliness makes the old star's dark mansion feel deader than the pet chimp she buried in the courtyard. This picture will never get small, but the Blu-ray's historical insights will enlarge it in your imagination.
The Incredible Mel Brooks
(Shout Factory, $89.99 Blu-Ray, Nov. 13)
Now that Brooks is within 1,914 years of outliving his famous character The 2,000-Year-Old Man, Shout Factory unearths gems from his Oscar-, Emmy-, Tony- and Grammy-winning past. It's a gag-apalooza, from his 1950s breakthrough on Sid Caesar's show to Springtime for Hitler, Mad About You and scads of good interviews. His Emmy-nominated 2011 HBO doc with Dick Cavett is tops, as is the 60-page book by Leonard Maltin, Gene Wilder and others.
(Lionsgate Miramax, $119.99 Blu-Ray, Nov. 20)
Even if you quibble with Tarantino's choices of his best movies since his 1992 debut (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, both Kill Bills, Jackie Brown, Death Proof, True Romance, Inglourious Basterds), check out the five hours of interviews with his colleagues and critics, the tribute to his genius editor Sally Menke (who died in 2010) and Elvis Mitchell's LACMA Q&A with Tarantino, Pam Grier and Robert Forster.
Universal 100th Anniversary Collection
($349.98 Blu-Ray, Nov. 6)
To celebrate its centenary, Universal spent a bundle restoring some of its classics, including most of the 25 on this must-have disc. Pillow Talk's intense colors really pop (as do Doris Day's and Rock Hudson's performances), and Jaws practically bites your nose off.
(HBO Home Entertainment, $59.99 Blu-Ray, Nov. 27)
David Milch's brilliant, complex, subtle horserace gambler series not only rewards repeat viewing, it demands it. And with a finger on the remote, viewers can rewind and finally figure out what great lines Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and John Ortiz were actually mumbling.