The Thin Red Line (Criterion) — While we bide our time until the latest long-awaited Terrence Malick opus, Tree of Life, is released (by next year, pretty please, Fox Searchlight???), I guess we just have to make do with this new Criterion release of Malick’s sterling third feature. Of course, none of the supplemental extras feature Malick himself, but there appears to be a lot of good material for the taking, including 14 minutes of outtakes! Buy it on DVD and Blu-ray.
The Oath (Zeitgeist Films) — A look inside the troubled heart of an ambivalent jihadist, Laura Poitras’s follow-up to her Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country (to date the most sublime documentary yet about our misadventures in Iraq) is an equally stunning meditation on the costs of extremism and the ways in which the perceived threats of terror, Islam and otherness have perverted our nation’s long held notions of justice and due process. Abu Jindal is a taxi driver in Yemen with a young son and a mountain of debt. He lives in perpetual fear of assassination or capture, having been the US’s central informant after 9/11 regarding the protocols and possible location of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda’s leadership. After serving as Bin Laden’s personal bodyguard and protege from 1997-2000, Jindal yearns for a former life he has all but rebuked, even while he counsels younger men in the ideology of Jihad and regrets the capture and torture of his brother in law, Salim Hamdan, a former driver for Osama Bin Laden, who was held in Guantanamo from 2001 until 2009 and whose trial was the first of our legally ambiguous military tribunals. An act of great love and deep sorrow, The Oath is as essential a documentary as any that will grace American screens this year. Press the masterpiece button now. Buy it on DVD. (Brandon Harris)
I’m Gonna Explode (MPI Home Video) — Gerardo Naranja’s follow-up to Drama/Mex is a real treat. It’s an interesting choice for Naranja to make Roman, the “hero,” a son of privilege, for some viewers will find his rebellion frustrating. For others, his rebellion is a reaction to being raised in a privileged, hypocritical home. Naranja’s most clever invention is to have his runaways camped out on the roof of Ramon’s house—it’s an anti-”lovers on the run” movie, if you will. When they are forced to hit the road, reality strikes, bringing a melodramatic end to the story. Naranja’s justification for this third act turn of events makes sense, although the film does feel more conventional when it heads in this direction. Still, Naranja and his young actors bring the hyper-charged emotions of young love and adolescent frustration to colorful life. Buy it on DVD.
The Killer Inside Me (MPI Home Video) — I’m still not sure what I think of Michael Winterbottom’s controversial adaptation of Jim Thompson’s classic 1952 novel. Especially since I didn’t read said novel until directly after watching the movie (note to self: that was probably a bad idea). I will say that when taking the book into account, the excessive pummeling of Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) by the story’s psychotic protagonist, Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), seems appropriate. But as often happens in these types of translations, a hefty amount of the character’s interior dialogue is left on the cutting room floor, leaving him more two-dimensional than he is on the page (though Affleck is once again ace here). Having said that, I doubt most viewers will be wondering if this is “an accomplished adaptation” or not. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.
Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna