This week there are a number of worthwhile mainstream releases out on DVD, as well as two very cool box sets:
The Films of Sergei Paradjanov: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964), The Color of Pomegranates (1968), The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984), and Ashik Kerib (1988)
If you like dense narratives and engaging visuals, these are films not to be missed. Georgian filmmaker Sergei Paradjanov demanded a lot from his audiences and he took his art very seriously. The Color of Pomegranates cost him 4 years in a labor camp until fellow directors we able to petition for his release. Although reviews of the set report very little if any improvement of picture quality from previous versions, there are plenty of special features on each disc to make it more than worthwhile. Hailed as a genius and respected by his contemporaries, most notably Tarkovsky, Paradjanov's films are largely under-appreciated, and until now, fairly hard to find. This set does wonders for making his art more accessible.
Jean Luc Godard Box Set
This is an interesting set from Lions Gate: three discs, four films (Passion 1982, First Name: Carmen 1983, Detective 1984, and Helas Pour Moi 1993) and one documentary (Jean-Luc Godard: A Riddle Wrapped in an Enigma) all for 25 bucks.
Across the Universe (2007) directed by Julie Taymor
Julie Taymor's most recent film is full of razzle and dazzle and 60s melodrama that segues perfectly into Beatles songs. Although somewhat shallow, Across the Universe is exactly what a musical should be: entertaining.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) directed by Andrew Dominik
I am still dubious of a film boasting that Brad Pitt can act, and that has a title that long. (I mean, can't we decide for ourselves if Robert Ford is a coward?) Nonetheless, I am still curious about this film that has earned accolades not only for Pitt, but also his co-star Casey Affleck. The trailer looks fine, indeed.
Elizabeth - The Golden Age (2007) directed by Shekhar Kapur
I feel like I am going to have to watch Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth (2007) back to back in order to see the justification for the film. Kapur (Bandit Queen, Four Feathers) is obviously a director who is motivated by personal passions, so I don't doubt that he had good reasons to presue this subject matter for the second time.
The Brave One (2007) directed by Neil Jordan
This film would be a good one for home viewing, because when the phoney baloney music montages come up you can fast forward or take a restroom break until the music ends. The Brave One is an interesting movie from several different aspects, and Jodie Foster is hot...I mean, gives the performance of a lifetime, but the pseudo emotional chick-flick segues with Sarah McLachlan (no kidding) are just wrong.
Two other notable releases that I feel pretty apathetic about but are probably worth mentioning nonetheless: Great World of Sound (2007) directed by Craig Zobel, 2 Days in Paris (2007) directed by Julie Delpy.