Man, I really been slacking in this department. Fortunately there hasn't been anything super duper interesting...until this week. If you, like most cinephiles, are frustrated by the lack of Chris Marker available on DVD, things got much much better. Don't look for it on Amazon.com or at Best Buy or even at Nitwitflix. Three new DVDs (and one more on the way) of Marker's work are now available at the "Chris Maker Store" run by the Wexner Center for the Arts. Sure these DVDs are a little spendy and the shipping costs suck, but it is probably worth it. Here's what you get for $99.44:
The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004)
Marker's newest film is an investigation into the appearance of some grinning cat street art in Paris. This film played in NYC and other locations more important than the Twin Cities and was pretty widely reported on. The exciting thing about the Grinning Cat DVD is the fact that you not only get Grinning Cat but you also get "7 bonus films!" I love bonus films.
The Sixth Side of the Petagon (1967) and The Embassy (1973)
I don't know any more about these two short film than what is included in the synopsis on the page that I have linked to.
The Last Bolshevik (1993) and Happiness (1934)
This two disc set includes Marker's film about the Russian film director Alexander Medvedkin as well as Medvedkin's silent film Happiness. There are also a host of extras that will probably make more sense once I get the DVDs: Medvedkine and the Ciné-train adventure: Watch Your Health! – Journal No. 4 – How do you live Comrade Minor? – The Conveyor Belt; the entire Alexander Ivanovitch Medvedkine monologue (extract from the film The Train Rolls On by Chris Marker with the voice of François Périer); and 2 reenactments by Nikolaï Izvolov of lost films of Medvedkine: Stop the Thief! – The Story of Titus.
If you are not satisfied by Chris Marker goodness, here are some other DVDs that have come out and deserve a little blah blah blah:
There Will Be Blood (2007) Paul Thomas Anderson
You have probably heard of this film. Don't be fooled by the "collector's edition," as there is really not much there. Personally, I want to let some time pass before I watch this again.
Manda Bala (2007) Jason Kohn
Hey, this was a good documentary that kind of came and went. Also known as Send a Bullet, it focuses on the cause and effect of rampant kidnapping in Sao Paulo. It's quite a sprawling topic and it does a good job of covering the bases while opening doors to the implications. Want to know why the best plastic surgeon for ears is in Sao Paulo? Check out this movie.
Nana (2005) Kentaro Otani
Maybe save this one for the fans of the manga. It's a notable release, as it was a big hit in Japan. It is pretty schmultzy stuff and there are some pretty funny moments that are supposed to be dramatic, but if you happen to watch it and like it, Nana 2 came out last year in Japan and is readily available on DVD from you favorite Asian DVD importers.
Heroes Two (1973) Chang Cheh
Another Shaw Brothers film that is worth taking note of starring Chen Kuan Tai and a very young Alexander Fu Sheng. There is nothing too extraordinary about this film, but the final fight makes watching this movie more than worth it.
The Mist (2007) Frank Darabont
This came out a few weeks ago, but I think there are a couple things that make this movie worth watching. First is it's lack of star power, which it could have easily exploited, while still having decent acting. Second is the social microcosom that emerges that may not be wholly original, but is interestin. And lastly is very very unconventional ending that I have no problem reading into. The Mist is not your average horror/end of the world filck, deviating from the formula. Oh yeah, and there are cool monsters.
Ils aka Them (2006) David Moreau, Xavier Palud
At some point I must have read something that caught my attention regarding this French/Romanian production that made me write it down and underline it twice. Well, here it is on DVD. Them seems to be one of those on-the-edge-of-your-seat well-crafted horror films that stands out from the rest. It's worth noting that these two also directed the recent US The Eye remake.