National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Picks & Passes 07.28.13

BY Steven Greydanus

Film Critic

July 28-Aug. 10, 2013 Issue | Posted 7/22/13 at 9:35 AM

 

Babe (1995) PICK

Babette’s Feast (1987) PICK

The Bourne Identity (2002) PICK

Charade (1963) PICK

 

Vatican film list honoree (religion), Babette’s Feast is newly available from the Criterion Collection in both Blu-ray and DVD.

Winner of the 1988 "Best Foreign Language" Oscar, Babette’s Feast is a feast in itself, for the heart, the senses and the spirit. Sensitive, funny and ultimately joyous, it has a restrained, almost ascetical, quality. Elevation, not mere gratification, is the goal here.

The simple story is almost a parable of religion and life. Two pious spinster sisters lead quiet lives of service among the elderly residents of a tiny 19th-century Danish community where their late father, a Protestant minister, held sway. Hairline fractures threaten the community; what is missing is grace.

Then an unexpected figure arrives: a refugee from 1871 revolutionary violence in Paris, asking only for room and board. The kindhearted sisters take the woman in, little guessing that their community is in a way just as needy — or how their guest (presumably a "Papist," little better than a heathen) will supply what they lack.

Also available in new Blu-ray and DVD editions are a host of films from Universal touted as "best in the decade" for their various decades. Among those that actually are the best, three stand out.

Charade is a sparkling thriller-comedy-romance pitting Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant against Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George Kennedy in a race to find a hidden fortune. Hepburn and Grant have wonderful comedic and romantic chemistry, the dialogue snaps and crackles, and the tension of the climax is worthy of Hitchcock.

Babe is simply among the best family films ever made, a wise fable about a misplaced piglet on a sheep farm whose good heart enables him to bridge the gap between sheepdogs and sheep. Gorgeously designed, brilliantly acted by James Cromwell and Magda Szubanski and shrewdly paced by director George Miller, it’s a winner that sustains any number of repeat viewings.

The Bourne Identity is among the most compulsively watchable action movies of the last 15 years, starring Matt Damon as a man with no past who doesn’t know who he is, who’s trying to catch him or why he has such formidable skills that their efforts are in vain. "I’m just trying to do the right thing," he tells Franka Potente — and he is.

 

Content Advisory: Babe: Some scenes of menace and animal fighting; a single instance of profanity. Fine family viewing. Babette’s Feast: Nothing problematic, but won’t hold the interest of young children. Subtitles. The Bourne Identity: Recurring deadly gunplay and violence; brief sensuality and off-screen nonmarital bedroom scene; some strong language. Adults. Charade: Some menace and violence; recurring references to divorce. Teens and up.