Little House on the Prairie

Raro Video

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Death Occurred Last Night A young woman has gone missing, and while that’s distressing enough for her father it’s made worse by the fact that she’s mentally challenged and has the awareness of a child. Her concerned father pressures the police to step up their search, but as he and the detectives narrow in on the truth it becomes clear that they may be too late. This dark, violent Italian thriller was a bit rough upon its release, and the years since haven’t made it any softer. Part procedural, part suspense, the film doesn’t shy away from the sex or violence and is most definitely not for the PC crowd. If the scene where good old dad helps his gorgeous adult daughter put on her bra doesn’t stop some people the idea of a handicapped woman being put to use as prostitute just might, but Duccio Tessari‘s film moves beyond its exploitation tease to become a solid adult thriller unafraid to head in some truly dark directions. Raro Video’s new Blu-ray isn’t loaded with extras, but the film looks and sounds fantastic. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Booklet, interview, trailer]


Toni Servillo in THE GREAT BEAUTY

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Great Beauty (Criterion) Paolo Sorrentino’s almost plotless portrait of the glamorous nightlife of contemporary Rome may seem on the surface to be an obvious choice for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. After all, it quite deliberately follows the footsteps of La Dolce Vita as an ode not only to Rome’s vast history, but its history of cinematic glitz. Yet there’s a great deal going on below The Great Beauty’s exquisitely realized surface. Rather than a simple 21st century upgrade of Fellini’s Rome, The Great Beauty is an existential travelogue, a decadent and detailed portrayal of a place uncertain about how to realize its future as a definitive global city in the culture so content to rest its champagne-soaked laurels on its extensive reputation. We see Rome through the eyes of Toni Servillo’s Jep Gambardella, whose failure to produce a second novel after a monumental first success sets the stage for his engrossing tour of Rome’s beguiling but hollow surfaces. While it made nary an appearance on op-ed trendpieces on the topic, Sorrentino’s film belongs directly alongside 2013’s many portrayals of excess for an era of economic uncertainty. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautifully shot and edited exegesis on the sweet life. – Landon Palmer [Blu-ray/DVD extras:  Interviews with the director, lead actor, and screenwriter; deleted scenes; trailer; an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by Philip Lapote]


In news that’s so bizarrely in line with two of my greatest cultural interests that it’s frankly eerie, Deadline Hollywood reports that Sony Pictures is currently in negotiations to launch a new Little House On The Prairie feature film that would be helmed by David Gordon Green. The outlet reports that the deal is not done yet, but that it’s currently being working towards. Which is awesome, because Little House On The Prairie is awesome and Laura Ingalls Wilder is so, so awesome that she ranks as both my first female heroine of literature and my favorite female heroine of literature. If you’re not familiar with the Ingalls family –well, first of all, what’s wrong with you? Second of all, they are wonderful. Wilder penned eight books about her life growing up in the 19th century American West, a series that was published between the years of 1932 and 1943. Wilder’s life was rich and fascinating, particularly because she and her family moved so extensively around the burgeoning states, first in Wisconsin and on to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Missouri, and their trials and tribulations and successes serve as a wonderful microcosm of life during that time period. If there was something to be experienced in the 19th century, the Ingallses experienced it. The Little House books are truly enduring literature.


Zack and Miri could be worse. It could be as bad as Little House on the Prairie, that torrid, sex-filled, drug-induced romp through the open west?

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