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Romeo + Juliet (Blu-ray)

20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE A

SPECIAL FEATURES B+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.75

(OUT OF 10)

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With this, director Baz Luhrmann's extraordinary take on Shakespeare's classic, an actor named Leonardo DiCaprio delivered on his earlier promise and primed the world for his Titanic superstardom.

Luhrmann's breathless, bawdy filmmaking makes this one of the all-time-great—and unique—takes on the Bard's work. DiCaprio seized the moment with the authority of an actor who had been at work for decades, and Claire Daines was no slouch as Juliet. The film is also notable for John Leguizamo's take on Shakespearean villainy, and a soundtrack that included a couple of astoundingly good Radiohead tracks.

I love the way the lines are delivered in this movie, as if they were just naturally flowing words rather than over-dramatized monologues.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A great picture-in-picture mode with Luhrmann and his crew allows you to leave the film to watch behind-the-scenes footage when an icon appears.


The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut and Original Theatrical Version (Blu-ray)

WARNER

MOVIES A (BOTH VERSIONS)

SPECIAL FEATURES A-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9

(OUT OF 10)

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The blood is extra-red, and the green puke is super-gross in this high-definition transfer of one of the scariest movies of all time. While the film always benefited from having that raw, documentary-like feel, the polished transfer only manages to enhance the experience, much like the Blu-ray transfer of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead earlier this year.

If you are looking to freak yourself out, and you have a Blu-ray player, get this one now. Not only is the picture more vivid; there is stuff going on with the soundtrack that I never heard before. All of the extra little noises were scaring the piss out of me.

Director William Friedken revisited his film 10 years ago, and arguably made it better with the addition of scenes like Linda Blair's spider walk and a meeting between the two priests near the film's end.

SPECIAL FEATURES: On top of some archival supplements like commentaries, you get a fantastic new behind-the-scenes look at how they created many of the film's special effects. The set footage is remarkable, considering how happy Linda Blair appears during filming, no matter what atrocious thing they were making her do.


Apocalypse Now: Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition (Blu-ray)

LIONSGATE

MOVIES SEE REVIEW

SPECIAL FEATURES A-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 9.5

(OUT OF 10)

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This is Blu-ray done the right way. Rather than releases of one version of this film at a time, this three-disc set includes both the theatrical version and Apocalypse Now: Redux, Francis Ford Coppola's revisit to his infamous Vietnam War epic. On top of that, you also get Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, Eleanor Coppola's arresting documentation of this insane production.

The high-definition transfer is beautiful, for the most part, but some of the darker scenes have a bit of distortion. When those helicopters swoop in to Wagner's music, the rumbling may cause stuff to fall off of your bookshelves.

While the Redux version is a good watch, I prefer the theatrical version. In Redux, the French plantation scene is too long; the revisit with the Playboy bunnies is silly; and scenes that make Martin Sheen's Willard seem like a jokester and fun-loving guy seem out of place. Coppola had it right with the first cut. Theatrical Version (A), Redux (A-), Hearts of Darkness (A).

SPECIAL FEATURES: Many of the features are repackaged from prior versions, including Coppola's commentary and deleted scenes. There's a new interview with Martin Sheen done by Coppola, during which Sheen goes into detail about his fears on the set, and his mild heart attack that brought filming to a halt. Coppola also has a sitdown with screenwriter John Milius.


Paths of Glory (Blu-ray)

CRITERION

MOVIE A-

SPECIAL FEATURES B+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8

(OUT OF 10)

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French World War I soldiers refuse to advance during an impossible mission in director Stanley Kubrick's first masterpiece, which is also his first pairing with Kirk Douglas (they would re-team for Spartacus). The soldiers are charged with cowardice, and the movie winds up being one of the great cinematic anti-war statements.

Douglas gives one of his best performances as the colonel who leads soldiers into an ill-fated battle, and then must defend them during their court marshal. The movie pulls no punches and offers no happy endings.

This film is also notable for the freestyle performance put forth by Timothy Carey as one of the condemned soldiers. He had legendary problems on the set and was eventually fired and replaced by a stand-in. Fired or not, his moments leading up to his character's death by firing squad are among the film's most memorable.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A commentary by film critic Gary Giddins, archive interviews with Douglas and Kubrick, and new interviews with producer Jan Harlan and Christiane Kubrick are the highlights.

More by Bob Grimm

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