Thursday, October 25, 2007

DVD releases for October 23

Two good Criterion releases this week. Days of Heaven was also released by Criterion this week if you care. Here's the goods:

Breathless (1959) directed by Jean-Luc Godard
This has been a long time coming. The US Anchor Bay release was pretty lame to say the least. Finally, the film that defined the medium as a contemporary art form, finally gets the royal treatment. Check it out:
  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by director of photography Raoul Coutard
  • Archival interviews with director Jean-Luc Godard, and actors Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean Seberg, and Jean-Pierre Melville
  • New video interviews with Coutard, assistant director Pierre Rissient, and filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker
  • New video essays: filmmaker and critic Mark Rappaport's "Jean Seberg" and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's "Breathless as Film Criticism"
  • Chambre 12, Hotel de suede, an eighty-minute French documentary about the making of Breathless, with members of the cast and crew
  • Charlotte et son Jules, a 1959 short film by Godard, starring Belmondo
  • French theatrical trailer
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring writings from Godard, film historian Dudley Andrew, Francois Truffaut's original film treatment, and Godard's scenario
Under the Volcano (1984) directed by John Huston
"Under the Volcano follows the final day in the life of self-destructive British consul Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney, in an Oscar-nominated tour de force) on the eve of World War II. Withering from alcoholism, Firmin stumbles through a small Mexican village amidst the Day of the Dead fiesta, attempting to reconnect with his estranged wife (Jacqueline Bisset) but only further alienating himself. John Huston's ambitious tackling of Malcolm Lowry's towering "unadaptable" novel gave the incomparable Finney one of his grandest roles and was the legendary The Treasure of the Sierra Madre director's triumphant return to filmmaking in Mexico." Yet another double disc bonanza from Criterion, full of special features. I'll admit that I am not much of a Huston fan, but that probably has more to do with my ignorance than anything. I'm going to check this one out.

10 Question for the Dalai Lama (2006) directed by Rick Ray
"How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? Why do the poor often seem happier than the rich? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? These are some of the questions posed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by filmmaker and explorer Rick Ray. Ray examines some of the fundamental questions of our time by weaving together observations from his own journeys throughout India and the Middle East, and the wisdom of an extraordinary spiritual leader. This is his story, as told and filmed by Rick Ray during a private visit to his monastery in Dharamsala, India over the course of several months. Also included is rare historical footage as well as footage supplied by individuals who at great personal risk, filmed with hidden cameras within Tibet. Part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics, 10 Questions for The Dalai Lama conveys more than history and more than answers - it opens a window into the heart of an inspiring man."

Into Great Silence (2005) directed by Philip Gröning
"In this contemplative documentary from filmmaker Philip Gröning, the Grande Chartreuse monastery opens its doors to the public for the first time since being founded by St. Bruno in 1084 to offer an intimate look at a lifestyle rarely experienced by those outside of the brotherhood. Located in the remote regions of the French Alps, near the Dauphiné Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is the top monastery of the Carthusian order. In this documentary, the lives of the pious monks of Grande Chartreuse are captured on film as director Gröning adapts to their ascetic lifestyle for six months and captures their daily life without the intrusion of voice-over, musical score, interviews, or archival footage." I remember seeing the preview for this film at the Lagoon and it looked absolutely beautiful. But then the reviews sort of dampened by enthusiasm. No doubt this was a film to be seen on the big screen, but I will have to settle on the next best thing.

Interkosmos (2006) directed by Jim Finn
"With his docudrama Interkosmos, American writer-director Jim Finn creates a testament to an apocryphal East German 1970s space project. Finn intercuts recreations of phony newsreel footage (passed off as the real thing) with elaborate musical numbers. The farcical premise has the Communist DDR - historically, a close ally of Leonid Brezhnev - striving to colonize the moons of Jupiter and Saturn ahead of its capitalist enemies from the U.S. Against this backdrop, the director posits the burgeoning romance of a male and female cosmonaut - Falcon and Seagull - who at one point burst into a flamboyant rendition of 'The Trolley Song' from Meet Me in St. Louis. The structure itself is loose, freewheeling and episodic; Finn tints the images orange to create a nostalgic feel throughout." This film is about as quirky as it gets. This is a must see for fans of camp. Totally hilarious. (Click on the link above and go to "media" to see exactly what you are in for!)

Dog Bite Dog (2006) directed by Sio Cheang
"A Cambodian boxer smuggled into Hong Kong is pursued by a hotheaded young cop with serious authority issues in director Sio Cheang's hyper-violent crime thriller. Pang is a tattooed street boxer from Cambodia. Spirited away from the Cambodian garbage dumps he once called home and offered the opportunity to rise through the ranks as a fearsome triad hit-man, the ambitious young fighter carries out his first mission with rough but ruthless efficiency. Later, after wandering over to the local landfill and watching as a homeless man brutally rapes his own daughter, Pang murders the abhorrent offender and enters into a tender relationship with the frightened young girl. As Pang's gentle true nature is gradually awakened by the damaged innocence of his new companion, belligerent young cop Wai sets out on a restless crusade to bring the resourceful killer to justice no matter what the cost." This film has a great look and Edison Chen and Sam Lee are pretty compelling in the two leads. But. The narrative goes way way off track and will either have people laughing or rolling their eyes by the end. Another addition to the Weinstein's dumb-nut Dragon Dynasty label ("available exclusively at Blockbuster.")

The L Word - Season 4
I'm just another lesbian without Showtime. The moment than Shane left Carmen at the alter has been suspended for the past year. Finally I can find out what happened...

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