***Pick of the Week/Month/Year***
Nostalgia For The Light (Icarus Films) — When I first saw Patricio Guzman’s latest essay film months ago in conjunction with its theatrical release, I immediately watched it again (I had a DVD screener) in order to confirm my immediate suspicion that I had just witnessed something almost incomprehensibly great. A second viewing cemented that suspicion—the only trouble now being that I was now far too intimidated to write about it. But since we’ve decided to make it this week’s “Hammer To Nail Pick of the Week” at the Filmmaker Magazine blog, I will have to swallow my pride and get to typing. For now, I would simply like to politely, rudely, whateverly, demand that you track down this masterpiece as soon as you can, for Nostalgia For The Light is as mandatory as viewing can get. Available on DVD or Blu-ray.
Meek’s Cutoff (Oscilloscope) — Though Kelly Reichardt’s previous two features, Old Joy and Wendy and Lucy, were slight in length and narrative scope, they nonetheless delivered a full emotional impact, as if Reichardt was proudly proclaiming herself a “short story” director. Well, so much for that theory. Meek’s Cutoff is a full-blooded novel. It’s not just the longer run time (104 minutes) or period setting (1845) that makes it a grander affair, yet fans of Reichardt’s earlier work can rest assured that even though her world has expanded, she has not sacrificed her bracingly intimate approach to storytelling for one flash of a frame. Read my full review here. Available on DVD or Blu-ray/DVD Twin Pack.
Le Quattro Volte (Lorber Films) — They’re called motion pictures, but in the case of Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte, that term isn’t quite accurate. Motion painting is more like it. Spiritual yet not overtly religious, playful yet dramatic, patient yet never ponderous, Frammartino’s extraordinary celebration of the cycle of life is as close to church as cinema can get. Read my full review here. Available on DVD or Blu-ray.
Bill Cunningham New York (Zeitgeist Films) — Richard Press’s documentary about legendary New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham is just utterly, utterly excellent. Available on DVD or at Amazon Instant (BUY/RENT).
Lourdes (Tartan) — Is Jessica Hausner’s Lourdes pro-religion? Anti-religion? Pro-miracle? Anti-miracle? In deftly avoiding any hints as to where her own allegiances lie, Hausner has crafted a film that leaves just about everything up to the viewer. Typically, this ambiguous approach to storytelling is more infuriating (Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon) than stimulating (Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch), but even with its subtle injection of black humor, Lourdes doesn’t feel like the work of a smirking manipulator. If anything, Hausner is paying respect to her material by refusing to play God and provide concrete answers. Read my full review here. Available on DVD or Blu-ray.
Incendies (Sony) — Denis Villeneuve’s Academy Award-nominated drama plays like a series of beautifully crafted and extremely memorable shorts that are flawlessly weaved together. Each idea is conveyed with such precise artistry that you can almost see Villeneuve flexing his brain muscles beat for beat within the film, making Incendies a hard picture to ignore and an even harder movie to shake afterwards. Read Michael Lerman’s full review here. Available on 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo or at Amazon Instant (BUY/RENT).
New/Old to DVD/Blu-ray Picks of the Week
Have Not Seen Yet But Really/Kinda/Sorta/Maybe Wanna
Wild Card of the Week