For a week that started to look so crappy that I was thinking about mentioning 10,000 B.C. as an interesting DVD release, a little more research proved a much better week than first anticipated for DVDs:
Glitterbox: Derek Jarman x 4
This is absolutely the grand poo-bah of the week. A box set made for the buying and keeping. The set includes The Angelic Conversation (1985), Caravaggio (1986), Wittgenstein (1993), Blue (1993), and the posthumously edited Glitterbug (1994). Zeitgeist isn't exactly known for their great DVD releases, but it seems that they were up to the task of providing a worthwhile set for one of the most important avant-guard filmmakers of our generation. (See a very detailed review of the set of DVD Talk here.) Although Caravaggio and Wittgenstein are offered separately, The Angelic Conversation, Blue and Glitterbug (included as an extra on the Blue DVD) are available in the set only. $70 for a four DVD set isn't exactly a great deal, but the set is invaluable for fans. I look forward to re-watching those I have seen (Caravaggio and Blue) alongside those I have not seen. I spent a couple years trying to be a Wittgenstein groupie (but finally realized I was overall too stupid) and was thrilled when I heard Jarman had made a sort of fan-boy art film about my Wittgenstein! But alas, I have never had the chance to see it until now. I'm pulling out my weathered Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus right now!
Hana (2006) directed by Hirokazu Kore-Eda
Kore-Eda seems to have fallen from favor, at least here in the US market. Afterlife (1998) made a pretty big slash, but not big enough to give his next (and even more eloquent and stunning) film Distance (2001) any distribution. Subsequently, Nobody Knows (2005) got limited theatrical distribution and failed to pull in even the arthouse crowd. Which leads us to today and the very quiet release of his 2006 film Hana (Tale of a Reluctant Warrior was added on to the ambiguous English title.) A period film was hard to imagine for a director who seemed so grounded in the here and now, but Hana is perfectly situated between the here and now and the there and then: a period piece that doesn't seem so distant. I picked up the Japanese DVD when it came out two years ago, but would recommend this film to anyone who appreciates the kind of low-key drama that Kore-Eda is known for. It is a beautiful and very sweet film that should have received much more fanfare. (There is a great Japanese website for the film that is pretty easy to navagate.)
Long Dream (2000) Higuchinsky
Fantastic! This man has only made two films, and the only one I have seen, I love! (Uzumaki - rent it now! Region free able, I will loan you the R3 DVD!) This is serious fan-boy stuff that just makes me giddy in a way I don't even understand. Long Dream is something Higuchinsky made for TV the same year as Uzumaki , also based on a manga from Junji Ito. This has low-budg J-horror written all over it. It may quickly dispel my enthusiasm for Higuchinsky, but I am nonetheless very excited.
Solo Sunny (1979) directed by Konrad Wolf
"Classic" film from East Germany.
From the Ground Up (2007) directed by Su Friedrich
Su Friedrich made a documentary about coffee? Okay.
As my hot air runs out, here are the other notable releases that need no introduction: Persepolis (2007) directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi; In Bruges (2007) directed by Martin McDonagh can finally end its theatrical run here in the Twin Cities; two from Criterion, Before the Rain (1994) directed by Milcho Manchevski and The Furies (1950) directed by Antony Mann; and if you really wanna there is always 10,000 B.C.