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Picks of the Week
The Music Room (Criterion) — Satyajit Ray has been notoriously ill-served by the U.S. home-video market. This new version of his 1958 drama marks the first time any of his films has received the Criterion treatment; let’s hope there are more on the way. During the late 1920s, feudal landlord Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) passes his days in a fog of hookah smoke and a series of private musical recitals, sustained by the last dregs of the family fortune. But a changing world—as personified by a crass, new-money neighbor—awaits him outside his perfumed chambers. The Music Room is a fascinating character study; if Roy represents everything that’s wrong with the clueless, entitled rich, in his time and ours, he’s also a mad dreamer chasing a true aesthete’s vision of beauty. Ray lets the story unfold at his characteristically unhurried pace, but stops you short time and again with an unforgettable image or a sequence of shocking poetic intensity. Criterion’s supplements to this edition include essays by Ray and critic Philip Kemp; interviews with Mira Nair and Ray’s biographer Andrew Robinson; a roundtable discussion of the film from 1981 featuring Ray, Michel Ciment, and Claude Sautet; and a feature-length documentary on Ray and his work directed by Shyam Benegal. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray. (Nelson Kim)
Con Artist (New Yorker Films) — While the asshole-ish ego of Phillipe Petit kept me from being as swept away by Man On Wire as everyone else, I didn’t have the same reaction to director Michael Sladek’s portrait of the similarly egotistical artist Mark Kostabi. Kostabi is like one of those stink bombs that permeates and stains whatever room he is in, but he seems to understand this. As does Sladek, who has made a film that is more breezy and funny than aggravating and grating. Come to think of it, Con Artist would make for a really neat double-bill with Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop. Buy it on DVD.
New/Old to Blu-ray
Have Not Seen But Really/Kinda/Sorta/Maybe Wanna