Here’s a look at a pair of new movie releases to the Blu-ray disc format with award-winning performances.
Man on the Moon: Special Edition (Kino Lorber, rated R, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 118 minutes, $29.95) — Arguably one of the best performances of actor Jim Carrey’s career debuts on the Blu-ray disc format to allow American home theater audiences to appreciate his uncanny transformation into the legendary Andy Kaufman.
For those unaware Kaufman was a fearless stand-up comic turned performance artist that got laughs through making humans as uncomfortable as possible.
His characters were legendary, ranging from his impersonations of Elvis, the lounge singer Tony Clifton, Latka on “Taxi” and culminating with him acting as a professional wrestling champion, with the caveat of only fighting female opponents.
Director Milos Forman crafted the workmanlike and memorable biopic back in 1999 and relied heavily on Mr. Carrey who creatively carried the load flawlessly.
The actor also got ample support from actors such as Danny DeVito as manager George Shapiro, Courtney Love as girlfriend Lynne Margulies, and Paul Giamatti as best friend and co-conspirator Bob Zmuda.
The movie even featured appearances by Kaufman’s real friends and acquaintances including Mr. Zmuda (as writer for the TV show “Fridays” Jack Burns); Improv founder Budd Friedman’ “Saturday Night Live’” Lorne Michaels; David Letterman; and most of the cast of “Taxi” reprising their roles.
Viewers get a 2K remaster of the film, approved and color-graded by cinematographer Anastas Michos no less, that is by far the best-looking version of the “Man on the Moon” released to home entertainment realms.
The colors pop when needed (Tony Clifton’s vibrant tuxedo, the star backdrop on the “Merv Griffin Show,” Andy’s outdoor meditation sessions and the Carnegie Hall Christmas show, for example); the clarity shines throughout; and the overall visuals look as if the film was in theaters last week.
Best extras: A new optional commentary track offers film historian Howard S. Burger interviewing the film’s screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.
Viewers are first reminded that all are socially distanced at different locations due to COVID-19, a totally irrelevant piece of information from Mr. Burger, stated like the pandemic police were listening.
The group talks nonstop. The writers are obviously packed with stories about Kaufman, lots of production fodder and cast choices as they dissect their work and the life of the artist.
Mr. Burger basically moderates as the pair remember Mr. Shapiro keeping a meticulous archive of all of his conversations and appearances; how Mr. Forman, the director, was fixated on getting pure audience reactions as Mr. Carrey performed; and how Mr. Carrey was in character the whole time on the set.
The track remains entertaining throughout and easily the highlight of the extras.
Viewers also get a 21-minute audio recording of Mr. Alexander and Mr. Karaszewski interviewing Mr. Forman on Aug. 13, 1999, filled with more memories.
Additionally, a vintage Universal Studios produced “Spotlight on Location” episode, culled from the 2000 DVD release, further explores “Man on the Moon” with cast and crew interviews including Mr. Zmuda and Mr. Carrey.
Finally, viewers get 12 minutes of deleted scenes. All of which could have been part of the film to further explore Kaufman’s rationale to engage his audience at any cost.
House of Gucci (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated TV-14, 1.66:1 aspect ratio, 468 minutes, $44.99) — Filmmaker Ridley Scott’s biographical crime drama moves to Blu-ray players to give home theater owners a chance to appreciate another quirky, award-winning performance by Lady Gaga.
When Maurizio’s father threatens to disinherit him, the brash son marries anyway leading to his being excised from the famed family.
The couple gets back into the Gucci‘s good graces courtesy of the mentoring uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), while Patrizia having a child also cements the deal.
The pair’s acceptance leads to family squabbles and unwittingly the unraveling of the dysfunctional Gucci dynasty as well as one of the more celebrated tabloid-style murder plots in Italy’s history.
The exaggerated performances of Lady Gaga, Mr. Driver and Mr. Pacino get complemented by an unrecognizable Jared Leto as Paolo, the bumbling idiotic son of Aldo, Jeremy Irons as Aldo’s brother Rodolfo Gucci and Salma Hayek as psychic Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma.
Mr. Scott delivers a long-winded, near satire of the events dressed up in a 1970s period piece. “House of Gucci” may be high in production detail and star power but slightly lumbers in energy and purpose.
The high definition presentation will be most remembered for the panoramic exploration of Italy by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski and the highlighting of Miss Gaga’s stream of fashion statements.
Best extras: Viewers get a trio of featurettes (roughly 22 minutes total) that superficially cover the production, why we should love Lady Gaga, and sets and costume design. All are too self-congratulatory and gushing for my taste, and I would have preferred an optional commentary track with the venerable but always cantankerous Mr. Scott.