HOME VIDEO PICKS
The Tillman Story (Sony Pictures) — Back when I saw it at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, I firmly believed that Amir Bar-Lev’s feature-length documentary about NFL star-turned-fallen soldier Pat Tillman would have been best served as a 30 For 30 documentary on ESPN, for that seems to be the place where it would have the most powerful impact (i.e., I barely remember it arriving in theaters and it’s my job to know when good movies are opening theatrically). Removing the “football star” aspect of the equation, Tillman’s death was still a tragic story, but as Bar-Lev gradually reveals, The Tillman Story isn’t about one heroic family’s loss. It’s about our government’s shamefully inappropriate handling of such a delicate situation. It’s an infuriating betrayal, and if Bar-Lev doesn’t break new ground in the telling of the tale—though cinematographer Sean Kirby (Zoo) injects it with style—he tells it very, very well. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.
Night Catches Us (Magnolia Pictures) — It is often debated but generally agreed upon among scholars of the Civil Rights era that the election of Jimmy Carter (widely embraced by the burgeoning black middle class in the North and Midwest) drilled a final nail into the coffin of the more aggressive and militant Black Power movement. Thus it is striking and yet odd to hear Mr. Carter’s progressive, southern voice hover over the handsome HD images of Tonya Hamilton’s Night Catches Us, a curious look at the last gasps of the Black Panthers in Philadelphia. Anthony Mackie plays Marcus, a man haunted by the past who has recently returned to his working class Philadelphia community after years of exile to attend to his recently deceased father. He’s widely
despised; his brother (Tariq Trotter of The Roots, who contributed the score) thinks of him as a louse and quitter. An ex-Panther, he’s widely considered a snitch among the last vestiges of the once vital organization. Thought to have sold out his long dead friend and colleague Neal to the Feds in an attempt to win his away lawyer girlfriend Patricia (Kerry Washington), he doesn’t care much about winning anyone’s trust. Ably directed and wonderfully acted, Night Catches Us seems to be both elegy for and condemnation of the various strengths as well as the many excesses of the the black power ideology. What it wants to say about the legacy of Black Power I’m not quite sure, but it’s a powerful tale well told. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.
New To Blu-Ray
Boys Don’t Cry (20th Century Fox) — It’s been years since I thought back to the time when Kimberly Pierce’s debut feature rocked my world, but this seems like as good an occasion as any to revisit it. My hunch is that it will hold up very strongly. Buy it on Blu-ray.
Have Not Seen But Really/Kinda/Sorta Wanna
Let Me In (Anchor Bay) — When I heard about this remake I was disgusted, but pretty much everything I’ve heard and/or read is that this film packs a solid wallop and stands on its own as a haunting achievement. Now that it’s on home video, I am going to definitely take the plunge. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.
A Woman, A Gun And A Noodle Shop (Sony Classics) — Zhang Yimou remakes the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple? Like Let Me In, skepticism prevented me from taking an initial plunge, but I can now see myself settling into this one dark winter night. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.