National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Picks & Passes 04.21.13

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Film Critic

April 21-May 4, 2013 Issue | Posted 4/15/13 at 4:19 PM


Jurassic Park (1993) PICK

Lincoln (2012) PICK

A Man Escaped (1957) PICK

If Robert Bresson isn’t a household name in your household, maybe he should be. There’s a reason the prize for spiritual filmmaking given each year at the Venice Film Festival, in collaboration with the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications, is called the Robert Bresson Prize.

Best known to Catholic cinephiles as the director of the masterful Diary of a Country Priest, Bresson’s equally brilliant follow-up film, A Man Escaped, is at last available on both Blu-ray and DVD from the Criterion Collection (which also distributes Diary of a Country Priest).

Based on the true account of a French Catholic resistance fighter’s arduous efforts to escape from a Nazi internment camp, Robert Bresson’s masterpiece A Man Escaped faithfully follows its source material while transforming it into a metaphorical reflection on spiritual bondage, rebirth and the mysteries of grace and Providence.

Generous bonus features include a long early interview (over an hour, with footage from various films) with Bresson discussing his approach to cinema; a pair of documentaries exploring Bresson’s style (one 56 minutes, one 46); and a featurette on the use of sound in A Man Escaped.

Among releases of new films, the best bet is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis’ sublime interpretation of the most iconic figure in American history in the last months of his life — during the struggle to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

The drama is largely concerned with the sometimes sordid, sometimes amusing business of trying to add enough vulnerable Democratic votes to those of the Republicans to amass the necessary supermajority — if necessary, with threats, offers of positions and other inducements short of direct vote buying.

At the same time, underlying these ambiguities is the starkness of morality and the natural law, to which both sides appeal — one more plausibly than the other.

Also from Spielberg, Jurassic Park, now in theaters in 3-D conversion, is again available in new Blu-ray/DVD editions, with or without 3-D.

Either way, Jurassic Park is the ultimate theme-park adventure movie, with terrific set pieces, likable actors and of course the dinosaurs themselves, brought back to life with a still-astonishing blend of robotics and CGI.

Amid much nonsense about chaos theory and such is one resonant line: "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should." There’s a thought with endless applications in our brave new world.


Content Advisory: Jurassic Park: Much intense menace and stylized dinosaur-related violence, including a number of deaths; a few crude terms. Teens and up. Lincoln: Brief depictions of graphic battlefield violence, slain soldiers and amputated limbs; an obscenity, some profane and crude language and racial epithets; a depiction of cohabitation. Mature teens and up. A Man Escaped: Constant suspense; offscreen torture and sometimes deadly violence. Subtitles. Teens and up.