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DVD RELEASES 2009/10/27

This week has horror on its brain for rather obvious reasons, but those aren’t the only goodies for the taking. Still, let us pay our respects to Halloween by starting with the most applicable titles to that spooky holiday before expanding our horizons:


I Can See You (w/ The Viewer) (Kino) — Accomplished sound designer Graham Reznick steps out of the background and into the directorial spotlight in a major way with this exceptional one-two punch. Having honed his sonic post-production skills most recently on Ti West’s The House of the Devil and Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead, Reznick proves that he has his own vision to share with the world. I recommend you start by watching the 3D short, The Viewer, which sets a firmly bizarre tone (and is a feat of low-budget technical ingenuity). For my money, however, the feature is the real reason to check out this release. I Can See You tells the story of three young Brooklyn ad guys who leave the city behind for a weekend in the woods, where they hope to come up with a jackpot campaign idea for the cleaning product Claractix. But, once there, things begin to go haywire. There is a sequence midway through this film, set to a Badalamenti-esque score by Jeff Grace (another frequent West collaborator), that took my breath away. With this one-two punch, Reznick reaffirms his status as another boundlessly talented member of Larry Fessenden’s Scareflix team. Buy it on DVD.


Orphan (Warner Home Video) — I don’t even know if this movie is “scary,” necessarily, but at the very least, it makes for a ridiculously wild ride. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax), the story follows a grieving young family whose parents (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) adopt a young Eastern European girl, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), to make their home even homier. But Esther isn’t who, or what, she seems. This is one of those weird movies that won’t make you suspend your disbelief, but will have you riled up by it nonetheless. And when it gets to the “are you kidding me?!” of a climax, all bets are off. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Messiah of Evil: The Second Coming (Code Red) — I usually only like to recommend movies that I’ve seen, but this is an exception. I’ve heard so many things about Willard Hyuck’s 1973 shocker—production designed by none other than Jack Fisk!—that this re-release is the perfect opportunity to finally get over that viewing hump. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be watching it this Saturday at midnight with a roomful of friends. Buy it on DVD.


Medicine For Melancholy (IFC Films) — It’s crazy that Barry Jenkins’ feature-length directorial debut is just now being released on DVD, but what’s even crazier is that it’s only been with us since last March. What a journey it’s been for Jenkins and his team. Here’s a snippet from my full review: Part romance (or is that anti-romance?), part love letter to San Francisco (or is that hate letter?), Jenkins’ debut feature is an ambitious, thoughtful, absorbing, artistic treatise on the complicated dynamics of what it means to be a twenty-something African-American in one of America’s most gentrified cities. Buy it on DVD.

Z (Criterion) — It’s been too long since I’ve seen Costa-Gavras’ seminal 1969 political thriller to write about it with some semblance of personal authority, but I will say that it is a groundbreaking work and you need to see it if you haven’t already. This becomes a much more enticing prospect now that we have this Criterion edition, which features audio commentary, new interviews, archival interviews, and an essay by none other than Armond White! Buy it on DVD.

— Michael Tully

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Michael Tully was born and raised in Maryland and now lives on Tennis Court in Brooklyn. His most recent narrative feature, Septien, world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for distribution by Sundance Selects. In addition to directing Cocaine Angel (2006) and Silver Jew (2007), he is also a proud alumni of Filmmaker Magazine's annual "25 New Faces of Independent Film" club (2006). Visit his indieWIRE blog Boredom at its Boredest——for more sporadic personal updates.

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