DVD RELEASES 2010/8/3
If the first three movies on this list don’t crack my Top 10 of 2010, they will certainly be hovering around there somewhere. This is one of those weeks we should all be very, very thankful for.
Most Highestly Recommended!
A Prophet (Sony Pictures Classics) — [Jacques Audiard’s] A Prophet is steeped in the U.S. crime-movie canon, from the old-school classics up to and including the moderns—the Godfather trilogy, GoodFellas, and Casino as well as contemporary TV dramas like The Wire and Oz, all of which it recalls in its epic sweep, ethnic specificity, and hardcore violence. (Audiard told the New York Times that he was also inspired by recent European crime films, citing Gomorrah and the Pusher trilogy in particular.) But A Prophet is no mere footnote; it stands on its own as a strong contribution to the genre tradition. Read the rest of Nelson Kim’s review, then buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.
The Ghost Writer (Summit Entertainment) — Not to take away from Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, but for my money, Roman Polanski’s artfully executed b-movie thriller confirms which aging master is still in full, total control. Starring Ewen McGregor as a writer who finds himself caught up in a deadly maelstrom when he accepts an offer to ghost write a book for a shamed British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan), The Ghost Writer is exemplary cinema on all fronts. Buy it on DVD or in a Single-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo.
Sweetgrass (Cinema Guild) — Certain movies are made for certain viewers, plain and simple. When it comes to myself and Sweetgrass, that statement couldn’t be truer. That said, this quiet, observational documentary about Montana farmers taking the grueling journey through Big Sky country to deliver a herd of sheep to market has a poignant, universal charm. During it, I kept thinking that I was watching a distinctly 21st century Western, which had the air of finality with regards to this fading genre. Then, at the end, when Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor reveal that this particular tradition has been forever placed to rest, it took my breath away. Sweetgrass might indeed be the very last Western (at least when it comes to the real world and not movieland). In preserving this special, lost American tradition, Barbash and Castaing-Taylor have made a lasting contribution to the canon and one of the year’s best nonfiction films. Buy it on DVD.
The Living Wake (Breaking Glass Pictures) — Producer Sol Tryon (Bomb the System, Explicit Ills) makes a bold directorial debut with this unique low-budget American effort. Co-writer Mike McConnell portrays K. Roth Binew, an Ignatius J. Reilly type who is as confident of his own genius as he is sure that today is the day he’s going to die. Along with his devoted sidekick Mills (Jesse Eisenberg), K. Roth spends his last day saying farewells and building to an epic folly of a wake that night. The Living Wake is one of those movies that will wow your pants off if it catches you on the right day, and confound you if you sit down to watch it in the wrong frame of mind. But in either case, it’s a wonderful example of a filmmaker taking a gigantic risk, and for that alone, it deserves to be seen. Buy it on DVD.
The Patterns Trilogy and Other Short Films by Jamie Travis (Zeitgeist Films) — I’ve only seen the Patterns trilogy, but it is something quite distinct and bodes well for the other films in this collection. Buy it on DVD.
Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna/Kinda/Sorta
Eclipse 23: The First Films of Akira Kurosawa (Criterion) — Includes Sanshiro Sugata, The Most Beautiful, Sanshiro Sugata Part Two, and The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail. Buy the 4-DVD Set.
‘night, Mother (Universal Studios) — Anne Bancroft and Sissy Spacek playing a mother and daughter is a good enough reason for me to check this out. Buy it on DVD.