The Sleeping Beauty

This Week in DVD

Today’s edition of This Week In DVD is brought to you from the Brazilian city of Manaus where I’m currently winding up a week of fantastic film festival fun. The only downside is that I’m on Brazilian time which means I’m not on time with this column. But it’s here now, so let’s get to it. Not a lot came out today, most likely because this week’s biggest release is a mighty one. The final installment of the Harry Potter franchise is here along with Catherine Breillat’s The Sleeping Beauty, the holiday horror film you never knew you wanted, Thankskilling, the classic Dragon’s Lair cartoon series, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Little Big Man (Blu-ray) Yes, this week’s pick is a bit of a cheat seeing as it’s a Blu-ray and not a DVD, but none of today’s DVD releases really deserved the honor. Arthur Penn’s 1970 classic however, does, and one viewing will show you why. Dustin Hoffman stars as an old man named Jack Crabb who reflects on his life with tales of action, drama, and absurd comedy. He was abducted and raised by the Cheyenne from the age of 10 before being “rescued” by US soldiers six years later and later went on to cross paths with Wild Bill Hickok and General Custer. The film is an emotional ride at times but rarely strays from the laughs for long as it uses crimes and fictions […]

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Catherine Breillat’s new film The Sleeping Beauty (La belle endormie) marks yet another entry in what seems to be a growing set of preoccupations for the feminist auteur: the costume drama and the fairy tale. In her follow-up to 2009’s Bluebeard, The Sleeping Beauty is her second consecutive deconstruction of a Charles Perrault fairytale, and her third past-set movie when taking into account 2007’s The Last Mistress. This is an interesting transition for a filmmaker whose previous work focused frankly and explicitly on contemporary gender politics and the exercise of power through the human body. Breillat’s intellectual obsessions remain largely the same even as her aesthetic and spatiotemporal settings have changed, but Bluebeard and The Last Mistress, while a welcome transition into ostensibly “new” territory, were in this writer’s opinion far from her best work. It’s difficult to deny a feeling of rejuvenation throughout The Sleeping Beauty — a joyful embrace of carnival ambivalence in both tone and content that looks and feels inspired, a film that explores (in a way unprecedented in her work) the potentially irreverent (and, let’s face it, fun) excesses of the medium while still providing room for Breillat to exercise her signature mode of critique.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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