Welcome to the first edition of my personal list/recommendations for weekly US DVD releases. Living in my import vacuum, many of the US releases pass me by. This is a good week to start because there is literally only two items I would even recommend looking at, and one of them has a very narrow viewing demographic. Because everyone is too preoccupied with making my dog a neurotic mess with fireworks and eating hot dogs, movies, at least in the form of DVD releases, get put on the back burner. That being said here are the highlights for Tuesday, July 3:
Taste of Tea (2004) directed by Katsuhito Ishii
This film gets my overwhelming unapologetic recommendation. I really can't imagine someone not liking this film. It showed here at the Mpls/St Paul International Film Festival a few years ago, and I've had the Japanese DVD for just as long. Taste of Tea is Katsuhito Ishii's third feature film after making the very sharp Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl and the inconsistent Party 7. Taste of Tea is a true unique gem: charming without being overly sentimental and quirky without being ironic. Ishii has since made a forth feature, Funky Forest, which takes all the best elements of his first three films and throws them all together to make a three hour mind-boggling non-sequiter. VIZ has released two versions of Taste of Tea: one with just the film and another that includes a feature length Making Of.
Ghost in the Shell - Solid State Society (2007) directed by Kenji Kamiyama
Another addition to the Ghost in the Shell franchise; in this case a feature based on the Stand Alone Complex series produced by Production IG. Solid State Society picks up two years after the series ends with the boys in Section 9, sans Major Kusanagi. The Major is no doubt lingering seeing that she is included on the cover art of the DVD. Given the money spent and the production company involved in Solid State Society, there is no doubt that the animation will be fantastic. Some familiarity with SAC series will probably be helpful, but not essential if you are a fan of animation. Apparently this played on the Sci-Fi Channel early in June.
If neither of those releases strike your fancy, just wait a week: loads of cool things coming out July 10.