Here is the last Blu-ray shopping list of the year, including a preview of some of the movies out the week after Christmas. Fortunately we close with a strong line-up of female driven movies: Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker, Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins and Renee Zellweger’s long awaited return in Bridget Jones’s Baby, plus Federico Fellini’s romantic ode to the city of Rome.
This may be the fleekest movie of the year, and since it only enjoyed a limited theatrical release, Blu-ray is your chance to see The Dressmaker. I don’t know why it wasn’t as big as Titanic. Who wouldn’t want to see Kate Winslet get revenge via fashion?
All of the dresses look stunning in HD, with the texture of the fabric visible and the bright red dress Winslet wears or the golden frocks in which she dresses the townspeople. When Winslet wears a black dress, it makes her hair glow golden. The Australian town is a dry desert upon which the dresses can stand out, but it’s even grayer in her flashbacks to the traumatic past. You can appreciate the difference on Blu-ray.
There are only two brief behind the scenes features, three and a half minutes each. One goes over the plot and characters, another features a brief discussion of the costumes. I’m sure if The Dressmaker were a bigger hit they could have gone in depth. Everyone buy a copy so they release a special edition!
The true story of the most famous bad singer of all time really comes to life on Blu-ray. It opens with Jenkins (Streep) in a gaudy stage show with bright theater lights and stage color. Her home is a fancy British chamber with frilly pillows and every wall or shelf cluttered with detailed decoration. Compare that to the chipped walls where her pianist (Simon Helberg) lives. It’s also great to see the detail in the ‘40s New York streets with cars and flappers, and the reconstructed detail of Carnegie Hall’s upper balconies.
A series of behind the scenes shorts, all no more than five minutes each, cover the basics of the story, the music and design. A Director’s Guild Q&A with Streep goes 15 minutes and a 10 minute spot on the history of Carnegie Hall features some fascinating artifacts. The deleted scenes include an extended Florence Foster Jenkins performance. What more could you want?
I’ve always wanted to see more Fellini. Who better than the Criterion Collection to deliver. Roma is not a narrative film. It’s just two glorious hours of cinematography in 1972 Rome. When there are occasional dialogue interludes it is more like just peeping in on strangers hanging out, even stopping to see a show, or attend a church service. Parts of Roma are a straight up documentary on the transit system or behind the scenes with Fellini’s very film crew. It’s beautiful though, and it’s art, man.
This 2K restoration has beautiful images of bright green fields and forest, haunting silhouettes in the dark, snow that looks like it’ll flutter into your living room. Then of course those historic travelogue shots passing by the Colosseum or rainy modern day highway. The underground tunnels are striking, and there’s some good food porn of pasta dishes.
Then there are 17 more minutes of deleted scenes that include more with the film crew, the stage show and the subway workers. Fellini historian Valerio Magrelli and Fellini admirer Paolso Sorrentino speak to the bigger picture of Fellini including all of his classic movies. I never knew Fellini offered to direct a James Bond movie. They even allow Magrelli to say Roma isn’t Fellini’s best film, ON the Roma Blu-ray! But he does say it’s good.
Roma is the favorite Fellini film of author Frank Burke who gives the commentary track. It sounds like he prepared all of his information and is reading for us, which is great. There’s no rambling. It’s all information and analysis.
While it’s great to have Bridget Jones back, she wasn’t quite herself 15 years later. Still, taken on its own Bridget Jones’s Baby is a decent comedy about a love triangle with two potential dads. The Blu-ray is a perfectly polished delightful Working Title movie with a very Hollywood golden glow to scenes in otherwise mundane locations.
Bonus features reflect some of the film’s identity crisis. The alternate ending is a series of wedding video testimonials that are as lame as the film’s most uncharacteristic jokes. Deleted and alternate scenes are better, giving us more Bridget-y moments in a supermarket and with Jude. The gag reel shows that Hollywood men aren’t always so smooth carrying leading ladies in their arms. Behind the scenes features run 18 minutes total, but they’re mostly recaps and soundbites.