Blu-ray Movie Reviews: ‘Man on the Moon’ and ‘House of Gucci’


Here’s a look at two new movie releases in Blu-ray Disc format with award-winning performances.

The Man on the Moon: Special Edition (Kino Lorber, R-rated, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 118 mins, $29.95) – Arguably one of the best performances of actor Jim Carrey’s early career on the Blu-ray disc format to allow American home theater audiences to appreciate his bizarre transformation into the legendary Andy Kaufman.

For those who didn’t know, Kaufman was a fearless comedian turned performance artist who made people laugh by making humans as uncomfortable as possible.

His personas were legendary, ranging from his impersonations of Elvis, lounge singer Tony Clifton, Latka on “Taxi” and culminating with him acting as a pro wrestling champion, with the caveat of only fighting female opponents. .

Director Milos Forman crafted the professional and memorable biopic in 1999 and relied heavily on Mr. Carrey who carried the charge creatively flawlessly.

The actor also received widespread support from actors such as Danny DeVito as manager George Shapiro, Courtney Love as girlfriend Lynne Margulies, and Paul Giamatti as best friend and co-conspirator Bob Zmuda.

The film even featured appearances from real friends and acquaintances of Kaufman, including Mr. Zmuda (as a writer for the TV show “Fridays” Jack Burns); Lorne Michaels, founder of improv Budd Friedman’s “Saturday Night Live”; David Letterman; and most of the “Taxi” actors reprising their roles.

Viewers get a 2K remaster of the film, approved and graded by cinematographer Anastas Michos, which is by far the best-looking version of “Man on the Moon” released in the home entertainment realms.

Colors pop when needed (Tony Clifton’s vibrant tuxedo, the star backdrop of the “Merv Griffin Show,” Andy’s outdoor meditation sessions, and the Carnegie Hall Christmas pageant, for example); clarity shines everywhere; and the set visuals make it look like the film was in theaters just last week.

The best extras: A new optional commentary track features film historian Howard S. Burger interviewing the film’s screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

Viewers are first reminded that all are socially distant in different places due to COVID-19, a totally irrelevant piece of information Mr. Burger said as if the pandemic police were listening.

The group talks non-stop. The writers are obviously full of stories about Kaufman, plenty of production fodder and cast choices as they dissect their work and the artist’s life.

Mr. Burger is essentially moderating as the couple recalls that Mr. Shapiro kept meticulous records of all of his conversations and appearances; how Mr. Forman, the director, was determined to get pure reactions from the audience while Mr. Carrey performed; and how Mr. Carrey was in character the whole time on set.

The track remains entertaining throughout and easily the highlight of the extras.

Viewers also receive a 21-minute audio recording of Mr. Alexander and Mr. Karaszewski interviewing Mr. Forman on August 13, 1999, filled with more memories.

Additionally, a Universal Studios-produced vintage “Spotlight on Location” episode, taken from the 2000 DVD release, further explores “Man on the Moon” with interviews with the cast and crew, including Mr. Zmuda and Mr. Carrey.

Finally, viewers get 12 minutes of deleted scenes. All of this could have been part of the film to further explore Kaufman’s logic of engaging his audience at all costs.

House of Gucci (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, rated TV-14, 1.66:1 aspect ratio, 468 minutes, $44.99) – Filmmaker Ridley Scott’s biographical crime drama is moving to Blu-ray players to give home theater owners a chance to enjoy another original, award-winning performance from Lady Gaga.

Miss Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani, an ambitious woman on a mission to meet and seduce Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), grandson of famed Italian clothing designer Guccio Gucci.

When Maurizio’s father threatens to disinherit him, the brash son marries anyway, resulting in his being excised from the famous family.

The pair find their way back into Gucci’s good graces thanks to mentor uncle Aldo (Al Pacino), while Patrizia having a child also cements the deal.

The couple’s acceptance leads to family feuds and the unwitting collapse of the dysfunctional Gucci dynasty as well as one of the most notorious tabloid-style murder plots in Italian history.

The over-the-top performances of Lady Gaga, Mr. Driver and Mr. Pacino are complemented by an unrecognizable Jared Leto as Aldo’s dimwitted and clumsy son Paolo, Jeremy Irons as Aldo’s brother Rodolfo Gucci and Salma Hayek as the clairvoyant Giuseppina “Pina” Auriemma.

Mr. Scott delivers a long, almost satirical account of the events disguised as a 1970s period piece. “House of Gucci” may be rich in production detail and star power, but light in energy and purpose.

The high-definition presentation will be remembered for cinematographer Dariusz Wolski’s panoramic exploration of Italy and spotlighting Miss Gaga’s flow of fashion statements.

The best extras: Viewers are treated to a trio of featurettes (about 22 minutes in total) that superficially cover production, why we should love Lady Gaga, and set and costume design. All are too self-satisfied and gushing for my liking, and I would have preferred an optional commentary track with the venerable but still cantankerous Mr. Scott.


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