Belle Du Jour / 9 ½ Weeks I can’t imagine two directors with more disparate sensibilities than Adrian Lyne and Luis Buñuel and, not surprisingly, the release of these two sensual classics couldn’t be more different. Belle du Jour is surrealist Buñuel’s most accessible (and most erotic) film, starring a stunning Catherine Denueve as a bored housewife who escapes her life by spending her afternoons working as a prostitute.
Belle Du Jour / 9 ½ Weeks
I can’t imagine two directors with more disparate sensibilities than Adrian Lyne and Luis Buñuel and, not surprisingly, the release of these two sensual classics couldn’t be more different. Belle du Jour is surrealist Buñuel’s most accessible (and most erotic) film, starring a stunning Catherine Denueve as a bored housewife who escapes her life by spending her afternoons working as a prostitute.
9 ½ Weeks, of course, is Lyne’s stylish but ultimately empty-headed story of a commodities trader, John, played with sleazy relish by Mickey Rourke in his prime, who slowly degrades a gorgeous blonde, Kim Basinger, over the course of an obsessive, and ultimately sado-masochistic affair. While Criterion’s Belle Du Jour is marked by a stunning new high-def transfer and audio commentary, copious liner notes, interviews with legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and vintage interviews with Deneuve and Carriere, the Warner Bros. bargain-basement 9 ½ Weeks release offers a middling transfer of its unrated cut and is absolutely devoid of any additional supplemental materials. Given its place in ’80s soft-core film history, as well as Rourke’s rollercoaster career, it’s a disappointment. — Kevin Rubinstein
VERDICTS: 93/100 (Belle du Jour); 78/100 (9½ Weeks)
Big G has stomped Tokyo nearly as many times as the titular “King of the Monsters” has been re-released on home video but, after many years, the definitive release comes to Blu-ray courtesy of the ever-reliable cinephiles at Criterion. This special edition includes both the 1954 Japanese release and reworked 1956 American version with Raymond Burr, and both look as good as they’re ever likely to given their source elements. The additional features aren’t as exhaustive as some Criterion releases and far more scholarly than kitschy, but are nonetheless welcome. — K.R.
A twisted and delightfully depraved Hardy Boys adventure writ large, Blue Velvet has never gotten particularly stellar treatment on home video. And while the new MGM/Fox BD inherits most of the bonus material previously seen on the DVD in SD, the hi-def transfer is a decided improvement. The real fun here, though, is a litany of recently unearthed deleted scenes, especially a series of superfluous moments between Jeffrey and his dispirited college girlfriend whom he leaves to return home to tend to his sick father, as well as a scathing Siskel & Ebert review of the film, which makes this disc a must-own. — Mark A. Altman
While it’d be hard to argue that this is one of the Master of Suspense’s best films, it is one of his most purely entertaining, as cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) finds himself involved with one of the most gorgeous women in the history of cinema, Grace Kelly. A superb transfer from Paramount Home Video, despite some occasional artifacting, does justice to the bucolic French locales and the special features are surprisingly plentiful, lifted from the two previous DVD editions. — K.R.