There is really not much for big releases this week, but on closer inspection there are quite a few hidden gems. Here are eleven worth checking out:
Three Films by Hiroshi Teshigahara: Pitfall (1962), Woman in the Dunes (1964), The Face of Another (1967)
This is a four DVD set from the good people at Criterion, and might be worth the fifty clams if this is your type of thing. Teshigahara is best known for Woman in the Dunes, but the set bookends his best known film with two lesser known films, Pitfall and Face of Another. As one might expect, the set is full of worthy special features. If you haven't seen Woman in the Dunes, by all means rent that one first. It is truly an amazing film. I will be in line to rent the other two, if I don't pick it up myself.
Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006) directed by Cam Archer
Kudos to Wellspring for releasing this touching coming of homo-age film. This screened last year at the Walker's Queer Takes series. If you missed that screening, here is your second chance to see this unique film.
Sweet Land (2005) directed by Ali Salim
Ali Salim's it'll-make-you-laugh-it'll-make-you-cry drama finally comes to DVD. If you missed the one-year run of this film, like yours truly, rent the DVD and pretend you saw it at the Edina, like everyone else. Alim Salim is, of course, from Minnesota and has done us proud with this film. Reliable sources have boasted about the sheer visual beauty of this film and I'm embarrassed that I missed it in the theaters.
The Page Turner (2006) directed by Denis Dercourt
I was intrigued by this film when it opened, but it was gone before I could get a chance to see it.
Princess Raccoon (2005) directed by Seijun Suzuki
How, at the age of 82, a man can shoot this kind of film, I really don't know. Princess Raccoon is a surreal colorful whirlwind of love and song and dance and Zhang Ziyi. Suzuki is one of the most under-appreciated directors out there, and this is demonstrated by the lack of international attention he has gotten for almost all his films. Princess Raccoon may very well be his last film. After shooting this film Suzuki only expressed an interest in taking a rest. Do yourself a favor and watch this film and Pistol Opera and the Taisho Trilogy, all available in the US.
Iraq in Fragments (2006) directed by James Longley
There are a lot of documentaries out there addressing the current problems in Iraq from just about every angle. This is an intimate look at the ordinary people involved from three perspectives: Sunni, Shia and Kurd. And while this film draws no conclusions, it does draw a pretty complex picture of the situation. Another aspect of this doc that makes it stand out even more is how well it is made. If you have seen screen shots of the film, you know that it is visually captivating.
Hana and Alice (2004) directed by Shunji Iwai
This film may not be for everyone, but I am a Shunji Iwai fan and find his films so utterly against the grain: unabashedly beautiful and sentimental. And for the most part, he pulls it off. With the exception of All About Lily Chou Chou, none of his other films are available in the US.
Police Beat (2005) directed by Robinson Devor
You can watch this film and get ahead of the curve. Robinson Devor most recent film, Zoo (about a zoophile), is sure to be one of the most controversial releases of the year, providing it gets released. Unfortunately I have heard no rumblings about Zoo since it screened at Sundance. In the meantime, we can all check out his prior film, which at the very least seem interesting.
That's all for now. Please support you local independent video stores, and if they don't have these releases, request them. Tell them I sent you.