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Pick of the Week

Fruitvale Station (Anchor Bay) — Ryan Coogler’s emotional splash of a debut feature (and by ‘splash’ I mean it will almost certainly bring you to tears if you give in to it) is one of those rare movies that transcends the confines of traditional film criticism (for that very reason, expect a backlash of sorts from the stiffer heads out there, but don’t begrudge them their insensitivity, just ignore them). The truth is that even though there are components of Coogler’s storytelling that are more blunt, more naive, one could justifiably say more ‘amateurish’ than others, what makes Fruitvale Station so special is that ultimately Coogler’s commitment and passion wins out. Minor faults and missteps are washed away as a more overwhelming, piercing wave of feeling crashes through the screen. At that point, all that is left is pure, throbbing emotion. Yes, Fruitvale Station is a scrappy low-budget production, but it also one of the most startlingly vital American releases of 2013. Read the full HTN review. Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Highly Recommended

The Spectacular Now (Lionsgate) — After last year’s Smashed, which took a refreshingly honest approach to an otherwise familiar story of alcoholism acceptance and subsequent recovery, James Ponsoldt tells another booze-soaked tale that is simultaneously frank and sweet. Ponsoldt has a rare knack for eliciting effortlessly natural performances from his young actors—in this case, Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are remarkably good—resulting in a movie that seems ‘young adult’ on the surface—perhaps that’s because its source material is a young adult novel—but ends up resonating much more deeply than that. (MT) Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes


Our Nixon (Docurama) — Culled from over 200 rolls of super 8 footage shot by Nixon white house youngsters Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chapin, Our Nixon is a breezy view of the whole Nixon presidency. Composed of silent super 8 home video footage, it is augmented by audio clips from the infamous Nixon office and phone tapes, as well as ‘80s era looking-back interviews with the key players. Penny Lane’s film doesn’t dodge the fact that Nixon was a paranoid, twisted caveman, but at the same time it’s told from a light-hearted open perspective that only could be rendered by someone who wasn’t alive at the time. Ultimately, Our Nixon makes us nostalgic for a time before all politicians became savvy, self-conscious manipulators of media. There is a warm glow to the revelry in seeing and hearing politicians dabbling with media before they grasped its true explosive power and use. (Mike S. Ryan) Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Blue Caprice (IFC) — ***HTN’s Number 13 Film of 2013*** It’s been almost a year since I first saw Blue Caprice, and I still can’t get the score (by Sarah Neufeld and Colin Stetson) out of my head. Two notes, see-sawing back and forth and mining up an unparalleled sense of dread; it is the perfect musical accompaniment to John Allen Muhammad’s apocalyptic manifesto, which is delivered with galvanizing force by Isaiah Washington; which is presented over the course of two scenes, the second looping back on the first; and which, through this bifurcation, represents one of the most boldly chilling directorial choices I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s an editorial affect which the trailer spoils, so I would suggest going into this movie blind, even going so far as to forget your memories of the true-life events that inspired it; they’ll be dredged back to the surface soon enough, with a clarity you didn’t ask for but won’t be able to forget. (David Lowery) Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Short Term 12 (Docurama) — It’s no wonder that Destin Daniel Cretton’s film took home both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and made so many year-end lists, for it does just about everything right on its way to the finish line. It sounds like some sort of backhanded compliment/criticism, but I perhaps found it too right on to make me become emotional—though, let’s be clear here: pick any three out of four folks who have seen this movie and I’d bet money they’ll tell you it made them cry. Featuring sterling performances by Brie Larson and Keith Stanfield. (MT) Available: DVD, Blu-ray/DVD Combo, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Rewind This! (MPI Home Video) — An entertaining ride through the birth, life, and death of the VHS era featuring a cavalcade of movie-loving experts. Available: DVD, DVD & VHS, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Breakfast With Curtis (BOND360) — Available: Amazon Instant, iTunes, VHX

Paradise: Hope (Strand Releasing) — Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

New/Old to DVD/Blu-ray

Buffalo ’66: 15th Anniversary (Lionsgate) — It’s been 15 years since Vincent Gallo’s instant classic was released? Man, time really flies when you’re spanning time! Available: Blu-ray

Rififi (Criterion) — Available: Blu-ray/DVD

Sunrise (20th Century Fox) — Available: Blu-ray

Thief (Criterion) — Available: Blu-ray/DVD

Terraferma (Cohen Media Group) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, iTunes

Have Not Seen Yet But Really/Kinda/Sorta/Maybe Wanna

20 Feet From Stardom (Starz/Anchor Bay) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Gasland Part II (Docurama) — Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Cafe de Flore (Kino Lorber) — Available: DVD, iTunes

Four (Wolfe Video) — Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray/DVD + Digital, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Enough Said (20th Century Fox) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

A Single Shot (Well GO USA) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

How To Make Money Selling Drugs (New Video) — Available: DVD, Amazon Instant, iTunes

Carrie (MGM) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

A.C.O.D. (Paramount) — Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant, iTunes

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Michael Tully is an award-winning writer/director whose films have garnered widespread critical acclaim, his projects having premiered at some of the most renowned film festivals across the globe. He is also the former (and founding) editor of this site. In 2006, Michael's first feature, COCAINE ANGEL, chronicling a tragic week in the life of a young drug addict, world premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film immediately solidified the director as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” a reputation that was reinforced a year later when his follow-up feature, SILVER JEW, a documentary capturing the late David Berman's rare musical performances in Tel Aviv, world-premiered at SXSW and landed distribution with cult indie-music label Drag City. In 2011, Michael wrote, directed, and starred in his third feature, SEPTIEN, which debuted at the 27th annual Sundance Film Festival before being acquired by IFC Films' Sundance Selects banner. A few years later, in 2014, Michael returned to Sundance with the world premiere of his fourth feature, PING PONG SUMMER, an ‘80s set coming-of-age tale that was quickly picked up for theatrical distribution by Gravitas Ventures. In 2018, Michael wrote and directed the dread-inducing genre film DON'T LEAVE HOME, which has been described as "Get Out with Catholic guilt in the Irish countryside" (IndieWire). The film premiered at SXSW and was subsequently acquired by Cranked Up Films and Shudder.

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