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On not being chained to ‘Django’

“Django Unchained.”
Andrew Cooper/Weinstein Company
“Django Unchained.”

Among the various welcome things about catching “Django
Unchained”
(2012) on disc: We can finally unchain the movie from its lengthy, self-defeating running time. There’s plenty to satisfy genre fans in Quentin Tarantino’s characteristically
customized spaghetti Western ode, starring Jamie Foxx as a freed slave on a quest for his lost bride and bloody vengeance. Django’s meanderings with gentleman bounty hunter King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, shifting from “Inglourious Basterds” Nazi to liberator) are such an odyssey, in fact, that Tarantino considered splitting the film into two parts, as with “Kill Bill.” And maybe he should have. Think about it: Would we have grooved to
David Carradine’s “Kill Bill” Superman monologue quite as much if it came at the 200-minute mark of some one-shot cut, rather than at a timely moment in “Vol. 2”? Viewed in a theater, the first half of “Django” crackles, but there’s some good material in our heroes’ second-half showdown with villainous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) that falls victim to overlong buildup. After a point, you itch for Waltz and DiCaprio to stop chewing Tarantino’s Oscar-winning dialogue, and just get shootin’. Watching at home, though, you can make your own intermission, and come to such late-game moments with fresher eyes. It’s a DVD reviewer’s itty-boo lament that all too often films turn into miniseries: The phone rings, there’s a knock at the door, life intrudes in general.
Finally, a case where that might actually free a movie to be all it can be.
Extras: design and production featurettes. (Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99)

Nicola Dove/Focus Features
Bill Murray stars as Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Hyde Park on Hudson.”

HISTORICAL DRAMA

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012)

This biopic slice of Franklin Roosevelt’s life has the right story in it someplace — if only the filmmakers had pinpointed where. Bill Murray plays FDR in overburdened days at his upstate New York retreat, and Laura Linney is the distant cousin with whom he has an affair. The film asks everything of Linney: Play it whimsical here, kept-woman pathetic
(unintentionally) there. The recounting of a historic visit by King George VI (Samuel West) is stronger, with Murray’s president deftly acknowledging his polio and “Bertie’s” stutter, and how strength and disability can
coexist. Extras: commentary by
director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”). (Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98; already available)

COMEDY/SCIENCE FICTION

Universal/Photofest
1984’s Repo Man.
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REPO MAN (1984)

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Remember what secured Harry Dean Stanton’s enduring cult cred, and ponder why Emilio Estevez doesn’t have more, as Criterion gives a Blu-ray reissue to
Alex Cox’s wild ride through askew LA. Estevez plays punk repo padawan to old hand Stanton, but coachability and experience only get you so far when you’re after a vintage Chevy with dead aliens in the trunk. Not trippy enough? Criterion has also dug into its back catalog for David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch,” now in hi-def. Extras: Cox commentary; Stanton conversation; soundtrack segment with Iggy Pop and Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris. (“Repo Man,” $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95)

Tom Russo can be reached at trusso2222@gmail.com.