What Do Bull Durham, Kalifornia and Escape from New York Have in Common?

MGM may be struggling to get new movies off the ground, but the Blu-Rays keep on coming: in recent weeks, classics such as Bull Durham and Escape from New York have hit high definition, along with an early Brad Pitt thriller called Kalifornia. None of the films need the Blu-Ray format (Escape from New York succeeds in part due to its low-budget effects), but Blu-Ray format they have received nonetheless.

Bull Durham, which of course stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, comes with several bonus features, including audio commentaries and several featurettes. Strangely, the extra features are provided on the DVD disc, while the Blu-Ray is solely devoted to the picture itself. This approach counteracts the [logical] trend, which is to provide both the DVD and Blu-Ray but pack the high definition disc with the full goods. I don’t get it, but then again I don’t get how Kevin Costner’s career has gone so far downhill in the last decade (oh, wait, Waterworld and The Postman).

The same problem does not occur with the Escape from New York Blu-Ray, because the combo pack (DVD + Blu-Ray) comes with no special features whatsoever. This is a shame because the audio commentary with director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell is damned entertaining. The Escape from New York Blu-Ray is the definition of a quick money grab.

As for Kalifornia, I hadn’t seen it before, let alone heard of it. Starring Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis, David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, the movie is a thriller about a writer (Duchovny) and his girlfriend/wife (Forbes) who set out on a road trip to document serial killers. They drive west with white trash couple Early Grayce (Pitt) and his girlfriend Adele (Lewis); Early, as it turns out, is a violent serial killer. Convenient, or unfortunate? It’s hard to tell.

Kalifornia is a decent film. Directed by Dominic Sena, the movie’s shining quality is the rugged, insane performance by Pitt. Pitt has always been an actor willing to go out on a limb to deliver a fine performance (he want to a dentist to have his tooth chipped for the role), and he gives it all here, a slightly restrained and more violent version of his 12 Monkeys character. The movie itself is well made but not particularly memorable.

It too lacks any special features, though the Blu-Ray boasts an unrated version. Having not seen the original theatrical version, I don’t know what was different. The unrated version is only three minutes longer, so the”unrated” label is likely a marketing ploy, nothing more.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews
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