Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Blu-ray of 'Barbarella' is this week's pop culture highlight

Joe Gross, The Stuff

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Barbarella

The most fabulous release of the week, in every possible idea of the term?

"Barbarella" on Blu-ray.

Oh sure, Japanese psych-rockers Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.'s "Son of a Bitches Brew" (Important) is out today. But they have more than 20 albums to their name.

Noted jerk Chris Brown's "Fortune" (RCA) also hits the shelves, as does rapper Flo Rida's "Wild Ones" (IMG/Poe Boy/Atlantic), death metal titans Nile's "At the Gate of Sethu" (Nuclear Blast) and an ancient live set from power poppers Jellyfish called "Live at Bogart's 1991" (Omnivore).

But we're talking "Barbarella," director Roger Vadim's camp-o-riffic adaptation of the French comic strip of the same name.

Starring Jane Fonda, Vadim's third wife, and the astoundingly named John Philip Law, "Barbarella" was a bomb in 1968, but, thanks to its space-mod look and extremely campy vibe, it picked up a serious cult following in the late 1970s and resonates to this day. It is impossible to imagine, say, the French lounge-pop act Air without the "Barbarella" soundtrack.

Also on the DVD and Blu-ray front, Oliver Stone's Vietnam War vet epic "Born on the Fourth of July" (featuring one of Tom Cruise's stronger '90s performances) appears on Blu-ray/DVD combo as part of Universal's 100th anniversary series.

Kino, which can always be counted on for some vintage oddness, releases "Kino Classics Presents: The Devil's Needle and Other Tales of Vice and Redemption" on Blu-ray, part of an ongoing series spotlighting early cinema, often mastered from original film elements (some of which have not survived well, or at all) with new scores.

This rough beast contains three features:

"The Devil's Needle" (1916, directed by Chester Withey) is all about the dangers of morphine addiction.

The somewhat nonidiomatically titled "The Inside of the White Slave Traffic" (1913, directed by Frank Beal) is a legendary silent, a docudrama about forced prostitution. (The original four-reel version is long gone, this is a two-reel edit with a ton of decay and damage. Still, bonkers.)

And "Children of Eve" (1915; directed by John Collins) takes a look at the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, one of the great tragedies of the early 20th century sweatshop era and a galvanizing moment for American labor. Yes, an actual four-story factory was set on fire for this picture. Those were different times.

"Good in Bed" author Jennifer Weiner's new novel, "The Next Best Thing," about a young woman trying to make it as a screenwriter, is out today, as is "Gold," the new novel from "Little Bee" author Chris Cleave, a tale of two competing female track cyclists whose fortunes have changed since they were 19-year-old friends.

Also look for "The Apocalypse Codex," the newest book in the Laundry Files series from English science-fiction and fantasy master Charles Stross, about a British special services agency that battles occult threats.

Contact Joe Gross at 912-5926