DVD RELEASES – 2010/3/2

An interesting, rather well rounded week for new home video releases. Let’s get to it:

Fully Recommended

The Beaches of Agnes (Cinema Guild) — Playfully linking together experiences and memories, observations and thought, culminating in revelations that are far outside the limitations of a linear biography, The Beaches of Agnes may be [Agnes] Varda’s most completely realized cinematic essay. Read the rest of Holly Herrick’s review, then buy it on DVD.

Tell Them Anything You Want (Oscilloscope) — At only 40 minutes, Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s portrait of acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak is an unexpectedly moving experience. Bangs and Jonze go into Sendak’s home to let him tell his own life story. Hilariously, Sendak explains that his lifelong fascination with childhood surely isn’t because he likes kids. Another ongoing obsession is death. Watching Sendak grapple with his own eventual demise provides the film with another layer of bittersweet humor. More than just a complement to Jonze’s feature-length adaptation of Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, Tell Them Anything You Want stands as a tender portrait of a sheltered man whose imagination and talent continues to bless so many lives. Buy it on DVD.

Recommended

Gentlemen Broncos (Fox Searchlight) — To this day, I still don’t understand the vitriol that accompanied so many people’s harsh dismissals of Jared Hess’s latest film. To my eyes, Gentlemen Broncos is an example of low-budget filmmaking at its scrappiest and most spirited. It feels like Hess’s most accomplished and deeply personal work so far, and it features an award-worthy performance by Jemaine Clement. If you listened to all those naysayers and avoided it during its shamefully limited theatrical run, watch it now and join me in wondering what in the hell those people were talking about. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Where The Wild Things Are (Warner Home Video) — Even speaking solely on technical terms, I found Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are to be a more emotionally absorbing achievement than Avatarded. However, its rather grating twee-pop score and somewhat lackluster narrative brought me back down to Earth. Still, I look forward to revisiting this one again, if only to admire the incredible art direction and special effects on display. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Home Video Recommended

This Emotional Life (PBS) — I only saw the first part of this 6-hour PBS series dedicated to understanding and improving our personal lives in such trying times, but it made me want to very much catch up with the whole thing when this day arrived. Now’s my chance to finish it off. Buy it on DVD.

Cold Souls (20th Century Fox) — Try as I might, it was impossible for me not to think of Charlie Kaufman when watching Sophie Barthes’s Cold Souls. A philosophical comedy in which Paul Giamatti plays himself as he tries to shake up his passionless life by receiving a controversial “soul extraction” operation, the film is well acted and looks appropriately clinical. But it left me wondering if I was missing something or if it simply hadn’t hit its mark all the way. Which makes it a perfect candidate for revisiting on Netflix, in the comfort of my own home. Buy it on DVD.

Have Not Seen But Very Much Want To

Ponyo (Studio Ghibli) — I’m not sure how I managed to miss Hayao Miyazaki’s latest on the big screen, because it seemed to be in theaters for a refreshingly extended period of time, but now I have no more excuses. Buy it in the following formats: Two-Disc DVD Edition, Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo, or Two-Disc Special Edition + Plush Toy.

Wild Card of the Week

Elvis [A 1979 made-for-TV movie about Elvis, directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell??? Why have I never seen this???]

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