MGM may not be in great shape as a modern day studio, but that’s certainly not hurting the continued release of some of their most cherished films on Blu-ray. This week offers up new Anniversary Editions of Raging Bull and Dances With Wolves, the latter of which is available for the first time in HD (in the US, at least). The specific features found on these respective sets is outlined below, but they’re comprehensive enough that they’re worth checking out even if you’re not particularly a fan of the films themselves (here’s looking at you, Dances With Wolves).
If heavy dramas aren’t up your alley, however, Piranha 3D hits shelves this week (in both 2D and 3D flavors). It’s by no means a great movie, but it delivers on everything you expect from a movie called Piranha 3D. And then there’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars on Criterion Blu, which is a welcome blast from the past.
Oh, and some movie called The Social Network comes out on Blu-ray this week. Have you heard of it?
The Movie: I’m in no position to declare Raging Bull to be Martin Scorsese’s most personal film, but it certainly feels that way. The whole production just heaves with the kind of passion and fury you only see when a filmmaker cuts a piece of themselves off and makes a film out of it. And I realize that’s a strange thing to say considering this is a biopic about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta, a man whose easily riled temper and inarticulate nature is the exact opposite of Scorsese’s, but every delivery found in Raging Bull – be it from the mouth of an actor or from the movement of the camera – feels as though it was anguished over. This is a film that just sweats exasperation.
But it’s not an angry film. Its cinematic fervor isn’t a condemnation of the beast that is LaMotta; it’s not a seething portrait of a man out of control. No, Raging Bull is a fascinating, superbly crafted study of man as a modern day animal. It’s also one of the very best films of Scorsese’s career.
The Features: And what a set of features MGM have put together for this 30th Anniversary Edition. It carries over all of the supplementals from the previous Blu-ray release (themselves holdovers from DVD), but it also comes with five new featurettes, four of which were produced just for this release (the fifth being Cathy Moriarty’s appearance on The Tonight Show to promote the film) and are available in crisp HD. Of the new features, the highlight is certainly “Marty on Film,” a one-on-one wherein Scorsese explains the importance and strength of film as an art form and what made him fall in love with it. The rest of the exclusive new features are mainly of the self-congratulatory kind, but they don’t come off as so self-serving thanks to interviews with various filmmakers who are all eager to heap praise on Raging Bull and explain how it helped shape their films.
But even with those new features, and even with three separate commentary tracks, the real treasure of the disc (aside from the film itself, of course), is an 82-minute making-of that goes into great depth with all involved. If you already own previous Raging Bull releases, chances are you’ve already been exposed to its four parts, but it’s still a must watch for anyone who loves the film.
Who Should Buy It: That’s simple: Scorsese fans. Even if Raging Bull doesn’t rank as one of your favorites, the amount of quality special features on this set essentially form a love letter to Scorsese.