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The King of Comedy

by Jake Mulligan
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Tuesday Apr 22, 2014
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The release of a Martin Scorsese film onto Blu-ray is always an occasion worthy of celebration. No matter what film he’s directing -- from the pulpy masses of Cape Fear and Shutter Island to ostensibly highbrow entries like Kundun and The Age of Innocence -- Scorsese’s visuals have never been anything less than unimpeachable. And "The King of Comedy", one of his most striking and idiosyncratic films, absolutely gains something from that HD upgrade. This feature, which sees characters played by Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard living out their wannabe-celebrity dreams when they kidnap a Jerry Lewis-like celebrity played by Jerry Lewis, is an atypically designed one for Scorsese. It’s marked by slinky-slow camera movements, and there’s even quite a few compositions with no movement at all. On Blu-ray, as in a theater, you can appreciate the little details of those frames.

The Blu-ray also comes with some major insights into the way that the American cinema’s national living treasure does his work, too, and thankfully they don’t come in the form of a thoughtless promotional special feature. The major extra inclusion on the disc is about 40 minutes worth of deleted footage and extended scenes from the film (deleted scenes are a rarity on home video releases of Scorsese films, and the amount included here is basically unprecedented.) There’s some stuff from the Lewis character’s television show, and a few short expository sequences as well, all wisely deleted. About half of the 40 minutes of it is made up of two extended scenes that see De Niro’s Rupert Pupkin out with a woman he wishes to bed; painfully excrutiating bad-date-going-worse scenes; here they last well over 5 minutes each. They would’ve stopped the film dead in its tracks if they’d been included in the film proper at that length -- so what this footage offers us is a look at the marble rock that Scorsese carves his masterpieces out of.

There are two other significant extra features as well, most notable a half-hour-long interview with Scorsese, De Niro and Lewis that was filmed about a year ago at the Tribeca Film Festival. (Sandra Berndhard also videoconferences into the reunion.) The disc then offers a much more promotional behind-the-scenes featurette, sourced from the original release of the film. (Lastly, an original theatrical trailer is included.) But really, if you’re not getting the Blu-ray for the video-quality-upgrade, then you should be getting it for the deleted scenes. Even a few mere moments of heretofore-unseen footage directed by Martin Scorsese is always going to be worth your money.

"The King of Comedy"
Blu-ray
$24.99
foxmovies.com

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