Pick(s) of the Weeks
Computer Chess (Kino Lorber) — The dislocation caused by the physical aspects of the production, the weird haircuts, lingo, clothes and the black-and-white imagery transport you to a world that for sure existed but has never really been explored on the big screen with such texture. Unlike other films of this period, Computer Chess doesn’t attempt to evoke warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings of a bygone era; instead, it uses the dislocation generated by the video image to cause us to be hyper-aware of how different the world was in the past from how it is now. Andrew Bujalski depicts an innocent computer age when the excitement of technology was driven by a pure pursuit of exploration, rather than the pursuit of application value. At one point a programmer says the future of computers is in dating and we are reminded that there was a time when computer science had yet to be fully co-opted by the corporate consumer driven mentality that currently fuels the dreams of young tech geniuses. Read Mike S. Ryan’s full HTN review. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
Tabu (Lorber Films) — When was the last time you saw a film in which you were fully aware, from very early on, that you were watching a masterpiece? Miguel Gomes’s Tabu hits so many of my cinematic sweet spots that before I was even halfway through my first viewing I couldn’t wait to see it again. It’s easily the best film of 2012 and lucky for us it has emerged from the thickets of the international film festival circuit to open theatrically here in America (thanks to Lorber Films). Shot in glorious 16mm and 35mm black-and-white, Tabu is both a sublime celebration of life’s passage and of cinema itself. Read Mike S. Ryan’s full HTN review. Available on DVD.
The Green Wave (Strand) — Ali Samadi Ahadi’s fourth film, The Green Wave, begins as a calmly narrated, fairly traditional documentary. The story is meticulously set up for the viewer, the omniscient narrator speaking in unaccented English in a clearly modulated voice. Through talking head interviews and slickly produced, precisely narrated animated scenes, the story of this second stolen election is revealed. The careful detail, the reliance of first-person accounts, the tone and mood of the country and the people at the time is explicitly recounted. Which makes the onslaught of the most horrid human rights violations that follow all the more shocking and devastating, whether it’s directly from live footage or from recreated animations, and gives this documentary its urgency as a powerful testimony to a revolution solely documented by the victims of a vicious crackdown by the state militia, one fully sanctioned by Iran’s governmental and religious leaders. Read Pamela Cohn’s full HTN review. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
As I Lay Dying (Millennium) — From afar, the idea of James Franco adapting William Faulkner’s classic novel sounds… well, frankly, it doesn’t sound like a very good idea, now, does it? And while I’m not here to tell you that Franco does Faulkner justice and delivers a classic of his own, his adaptation might just surprise you. It at least surprised me. If you’ve got too much Faulkner baggage, there’s no way this one will win you over, but as an example of well acted, well executed low-budget independent cinema, you could do much, much worse. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
Redlegs (FilmBuff) — Full disclosure: This micro-budget drama was written and directed by frequent HTN contributor Brandon Harris, but I ain’t gonna let that stop me from recommending it here. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
New/Old to DVD/Blu-ray
Have Not Seen Yet But Really/Kinda/Sorta/Maybe Wanna
Under the Dome (Paramount) — Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Totally Nerded Out Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-ray.