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Pick of the Week

Mysteries of Lisbon (Music Box Films) — In 19th-century Portugal, João, an orphan being raised in a church-run boarding school, sets out to learn the secret of his parentage. That mystery gets cleared up fairly early on, but the story of João’s parents leads to new stories and new mysteries: the priest who helped save young João, the assassin sent to kill him, the nobleman tricked into a loveless marriage, the noblewoman obsessed with avenging a past hurt—all these lives and many others weave their way in and out of Raul Ruiz’s vast tapestry. The soap-operatic tale, adapted from an 1854 novel by Camilo Castelo Branco, teems with startling revelations and sudden reversals, multiple changes of identity, fortunes gained and lost, dream sequences, flashbacks within flashbacks: a virtual anthology of melodramatic plot devices and narrative flourishes. In nearly every scene, Ruiz knowingly teases us by exaggerating the contrivances, coincidences, and bald-faced implausibilities of the plot and foregrounding the artifice involved in creating this fictional world—and yet, for all his postmodern gamesmanship, he somehow manages to make the whole thing utterly captivating on the level of old-fashioned, what-happens-next storytelling, like a magician showing us how he put his tricks together and enchanting us even more by doing so. The film is nearly five hours long including intermission, but it’s swift and sure-footed from the first scene to the last. (Nelson Kim) Available on DVD and Blu-ray.


Life 2.0 (Virgil Films and Entertainment) — A double-feature of Jason Spingarn-Koff’s Life 2.0 and Ariel Shulman and Henry Joost’s Catfish would make for a seriously dirty excursion. For those of you who participate in the Second Life phenomenon, I am f**king scared of you. Spingarn-Koff isn’t overtly obnoxious in his condemnation of the SL lifestyle, but he certainly went out of his way to find participants whose hobbies have become more than just time-sucking obsessions (or is there no such thing as a casual Second Lifer?). Particularly fascinating is watching one of these SL couples connect in real life, breaking up their families in the process, only to realize that their human manifestations are no match for their perfectly aligned avatars. Grody to the max. Available on DVD.

Bombay Beach (Entertainment One) — Read Pamela Cohn’s illuminating HTN Conversation With Alma Har’el. Available on DVD.

New/Old to Blu-ray

Traffic (Criterion) — Traffic doesn’t discriminate. Its interwoven narrative threads may be seen through color-coded filters, but the story they come together to form equalizes the sprawling array of characters. A tale of the US-Mexico drug war with a concern for how addiction and a desire for more—drugs, money, power, what have you—seep into the lives of bystanders and instigators alike, Steven Soderbergh’s 150-minute opus features as many victims on one side of the border as it does on the other. Read Michael Nordine’s full HTN review. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Belle de Jour (Criterion) — Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Eclipse Series 31: Three Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin (Criterion) — Contains Poto and Cabengo, Routine Pleasures, and My Crasy Life. Available on DVD.

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

United Red Army (Lorber Films) — Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.

The Ides of March (Sony) — Available on DVD, Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy, and at Amazon Instant.

Caterpillar (Lorber Films) — Available on DVD.

Dirty Girl (Anchor Bay) — Available on DVD.

Wild Card of the Week

License to Drive (Starz/ Anchor Bay) — Truth be told, I call this movie anything other than I wild card. I call it a sure shot. But that’s because I was 14 when I saw it. Available on Blu-ray.

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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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