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Pick of the Week

Sálo, or The 120 Days Of Sodom (Criterion) — Pier Paolo Passolini pulled no punches in his work, but the notorious Sálo stands apart; 36 years after its release, it remains a portrait of cruelty and suffering that is unrivaled in the cinema. Of course, unlike many filmmakers who depict torture in a voyeuristic way, Passolini’s choice was purely political; how better to expose the degradation of Italian life under fascism? A full review of Criterion’s new Blu-ray edition, loaded with extra features, will appear next week, but don’t wait for us. Get it now. (Tom Hall)


Buck (MPI Home Video) — Read Susanna Locascio’s HTN review of Cindy Meehl’s guaranteed crowd-pleasing documentary about horse trainer and people learner Buck Brannaman. Available on DVD.

The Juche Idea (Lorber Films) — I’m not sure if it’s a) Jim Finn’s ingenuity as a filmmaker; b) Kim Jong Il’s outlandishly hokey propaganda tactics; or c) my own embarrassingly broad political ignorance, but trying to distinguish between fact and fiction in Finn’s latest mini-feature, The Juche Idea (62 minutes), is a confounding task. Are there really artist retreats in North Korea that house outsiders like the South Korean video maker that is profiled here, in which the North Korean ideology of “The Juche Idea”—based around the importance of political independence and economic self-reliance—is fostered? (No way.) Did Jong Il really devote so much time to writing film theory? (Yes way.) Are those the correct subtitled translations of those old movie clips or have they been reworked by Finn to best serve his purposes? (Maybe way?) While I think I understood what was what while watching The Juche Idea, I also can’t deny that my head was tilted to the side, locked in a state of pleasant bafflement throughout (note: this is a very good thing). Read my full review. Available on DVD.

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (Pathfinder Home Entertainment) — Available on DVD.

Beijing Taxi (Passion River Films) — Available on DVD.

New/Old to DVD/Blu-ray Picks of the Week

Pulp Fiction (Lionsgate/Miramax) — Available on Blu-ray.

Jackie Brown (Lionsgate/Miramax) — Available on Blu-ray.

Harakiri (Criterion) — Available on Blu-ray.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Warner Bros.) — Available on Blu-ray.

Dead Alive (Lionsgate) — Available on Blu-ray.

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

Amer (Olive Films) — Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Submarine (Anchor Bay) — Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Little Sparrows (Film Movement) — Available on DVD.

Friday Night Lights: The Complete Series (Universal) — Available in a Very-Multi-Disc Set.

Ken Burns: Prohibition (PBS) — Available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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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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