It's hard to suggest renting a DVD when there are so many good things going on in theaters right now. I certainly hope that is the case where you are. However if you are stuck in the house with chicken pox or are simply a shut-in, here are a few options from this week and last:
Touch of Evil 50th Anniversary Edition (1958) directed by Orson Welles
You can't really go wrong with Touch of Evil, and it seems, from the comparison here on DVD Talk, pretty substantial improvements have been made to the picture quality. This edition includes three versions of the film: a "preview version" (a test print, not approved by Welles), the "theatrical version" (part appeasement to Welles, part blowing off Welles) and finally the "restored version" (producer Rick Schmidlin, editor Walter Murch, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's 1998 reworking to Welles specific notes.) There are also commentary tracks to make watching and re-watching different versions of this film more interesting. All this may seem like a bit much, but it is a really great movie, some say Welles greatest.
Paranoid Park (2007) directed by Gus Van Sant
I sincerely enjoyed this film, but I am surprise at how quickly it has left my mind. It is a beautiful yet understated film that echoes some of the same aesthetics Van Sant was exploring in Gerry, Elephant and Last Days. Although his upcoming film, Milk, looks to be something different altogether, I am very very very excited about it.
Boy A (2007) directed by John Crowley
Watch this movie for one of the best performances of the year. (Actually it was from last year, but whatever.) I had more to say about this film here.
Le Deuxieme Souffle (1966) and Le Doulos (1962) directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Two Jean-Pierre Melville film from Criterion.
Slacker Uprising (2007) directed by Michael Moore
I don't know. This is free on the internet, but if that is too weird you can rent it now too. I just don't know what to think about Michael Moore anymore, but I'm having a little trouble getting enthusiastic about this doc. Please just vote, because you know those people at the McCain rally in Lakeville last week are going to.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) directed by Cristian Mungui
I don't understand why this is listed as a new release...perhaps it just gives me another chance to recommend or reminds me that I would like to see it again.
Mongol (2007) directed by Sergei Bodrov
Another 'man-behind-the-megalomaniac' movie that would be tired if I didn't like Asano Tadanobu so much. Much of the epic focuses on Temüjin (Genghis Khan's name before he became Genghis Khan) youth and young adulthood and the circumstances leading to his rise to power. Much of the story is predictable even if you don't know the history, and I guess I was hoping for something a little more interesting from the director of the quirky melodrama Schitzo.
Standard Operating Procedure (2008) directed by Errol Morris
More thought provoking than informative, Morris examines the "truth" behind the most notorious photographs in the world. Through interviews with people involved with Abu Ghraib, from Brigadair General Janis Karpiski to the "bad apples" themselves, to dig deeper than the knee-jerk reaction solicited by the photos.
Edge of Heaven (2007) directed by Fatih Akin
A thoughtful and sensitive drama about people from different places making life altering connections. This played at MSPIFF and had a short run here in the Twin Cities. Edge of Heaven paints a picture of fate that, at times, is slightly implausible, but it is unique in the very real issues of family, class and race it touches upon.
XXY (2007) directed by Lucia Puenzo
As gender modification and surgery becomes more and more sophisticated, the more complex gender identity becomes. Coming-of-age is completely different for Alex, who is 15 years-old and an intersexual—neither male nor female, but both. It boldly puts forth the notion that perhaps Alex doesn't need to choose a gender and might simply exist as a unique individual. There is something very sweet and genuine about the film without glossing over the cruel nature of society toward someone "different." XXY screened at this summer's Queer Takes.
Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (1963) directed by Kon Ichikawa
For a second I thought I hadn't seen this film and that Ichikawa has two very similar films out there, but this is indeed An Actor's Revenge. It's is a fantastic film that is not only unbelievably beautiful, but amazingly acted by Kasuo Hasegawa. The tagline is brilliant: "Only a man can portray the perfect woman—and only a perfect woman can wreak the perfect revenge." Ichikawa dies earlier this year at the age of 92.