NEW DVD RELEASES 9/15/09

Due to Toronto overload, we’re going to keep it nice and short this week. Be sure to check out the following:

Treeless Mountain (Oscilloscope) — So Yong Kim’s follow-up to In Between Days proves that Kim is one of the brightest new voices in American cinema. Treeless Mountain tells the semi-autobiographical of two young sisters in South Korea whose innocence is tested when their mother abandons them. Beautifully shot on celluloid and featuring some of the finest child performances of distant memory, Treeless Mountain is one of 2009’s best. Read my full review, then buy it on DVD.

Rumba (Koch Lorber) — This gleefully spicy update of the classic physical comedy genre (Chaplin, Keaton, Tati) follows a married couple who have a passion for dancing the rumba. Yet when tragedy strikes, their relationship is tested to its seemingly limitless extremes. Written and directed by the film’s stars, Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon, as well as their co-star Bruno Romy, Rumba has a breezy, undeniable charm. Buy it on DVD.

Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (Docurama) — Ben Niles’ gorgeous documentary focuses on the ingenuity, precision and attention to detail that Steinway factory workers spend on each and every Steinway grand piano (they take twelve months to manufacture entirely by hand). The Steinway factory itself represents the center of the Queens neighborhood it has inhabited for 150 years. Note By Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 is about the cultural weight of the factory and its meaning in our modern, mass-produced world, as well as the discovery of the life and work that goes on inside a remarkably unique workplace. Buy the Deluxe Edition DVD. (Holly Herrick)

Nightwatching (E1 Entertainment) — While Peter Greenaway’s Nightwatching might not reach the soaring heights of his earlier work, it still casts a Greenaway-rific spell. Martin Freeman (The Office) plays the Dutch painter Rembrandt, whose latest painting subjects turn out to be dangerously corrupt, sparking his own investigation. The 2-disc Special Edition includes Rembrandt’s J’Accuse, a feature-length documentary by Greenaway that explores the many conflicting theories surrounding Rembrandt’s painting “The Night Watch.” Buy it on DVD.

Winter Soldier (Millarium Zero/Winterfilm) — In 1971, a group of Vietnam veterans gathered in Detroit for a landmark public confession of the atrocities of the Vietnam War, which was documented by a group known as the Winterfilm Collective (which included a young Barbara Kopple, among others). Some of them spoke of war crimes they had seen committed, others of crimes they had committed themselves. All their stories had one thing in common, however: the unspoken acceptance of these horrors that had, up until then, gone unchallenged. The raw power of these testimonies (mirrored by the film’s gritty, unpolished aesthetic) remains undiminished thirty-eight years later. Buy it on DVD. (Cullen Gallagher)

— Michael Tully

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