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Today brings another new slate of DVD releases that doubles nicely as a revue of what the the film festival circuit looked had to offer in 2008 and 2009. If your life keeps you from taking advantage of your local film fest, now’s the chance to have your own mini-fest in the comfort of your own home:

Tokyo Sonata (E1 Entertainment) — Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s prescient 2008 drama is probably my favorite new release of the week. Kurosawa directs films like a classical music conductor, ebbing-and-flowing between tones, to the point where his work begins to have the emotional impact of a strange dream. Yet in our still dire economic times, this story of a newly unemployed father is especially grounded and topical. Ultimately, it’s how Kurosawa tells his tale that makes it so noteworthy and special. Check this one out, or buy it on DVD.

Paper Covers Rock (MPI Home Video) — Joe Maggio’s low-budget drama is one of the more unheralded American indies of the past few years, which can most directly attributed to the star-making performance of Jeannine Kaspar, who plays a beautiful young mother who can’t seem to conquer a case of stifling depression. Watching Kaspar’s Sam go through the motions in trying to readjust to a ‘normal life’ in New York City is a sobering experience, but neither Maggio nor Kaspar wallow in Sam’s predicament. Paper Covers Rock is a small film that deserves to be seen on a much wider scale. Buy it on DVD.

P-Star Rising (PBS) — This documentary, about an upstart young female rapper in Harlem—and when I say young, I’m talking nine years young—isn’t as breezy as it might sound. For though the film is about the effervescent Priscilla Star Diaz and her path to stardom, that path is guided by her father, Jesse, who is blatantly trying to realize his own smothered dreams through the much more mature P-Star. It seems like the general reaction to this film has concentrated on its jovial moments, but I found it to be a heavy, uncomfortable ride. Buy it on DVD.

The Lost Coast (Breaking Glass Pictures) — Like Paper Covers Rock, Gabriel Fleming’s San Francisco set drama world premiered in competition at the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival, and while I didn’t love it, I think it’s a valid effort that shows a side of that city that we don’t see often enough (ala another 2008 SXSW world premiere, Medicine For Melancholy). Buy it on DVD.

Have Not Yet Seen This But Very Much Want To

California Dreamin’ (MPI Home Video) — Shame on me for not having gotten to Cristian Nemescu’s prematurely final film yet, as I am a staunch member of the Romanian New Wave fan club, but I can’t see friggin’ everything. I do promise to make this one happen sooner than later, however. Buy it on DVD.

Tetro (Lionsgate) — The most recent “indie” effort from Francis Ford Coppola, who appears determined to keep making films with his own money, is finally making its way to home video. I have heard wildly different things about this one, so I look forward to seeing it for myself and coming to my own conclusion. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Chelsea On The Rocks (Hannover House) — An Abel Ferrara documentary about the Chelsea Hotel? Yes, please! Seriously, this thing sounds like a fascinating mess, if not a great film. Whatever. I’m there either way. Buy it on DVD.

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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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