DVD releases are slippery critters: one minute they are there and the next they are gone. I recently picked up a New Yorker from October and it mentioned the release of the Huillet-Straub film Moses and Aaron. Really? Well sort of. Online retailers (Amazon and DVD Empire) list a release date of January 27, 2009. However. Online rental services (Greencine and Netflix) have it available for queuing. Long story short, this film is or will be out on DVD and I apologize for oversights or mistakes.
Chungking Express Criterion (1994) directed by Wong Kar Wai
So so so exciting. A US DVD release of Chungking Express without Quentin Tarantino's flap trap. Of course, it's good for other reasons as well: it is going to look 10 times better than that Rolling Thunder release (and 50 times better than my Ocean Shores release); it's got an audio commentary from Tony Rayns and an essay by Amy Taubin (two of my favorite cinephile writers); and there's a BBC dealy-o called "Moving Images" that includes Wong and wild man cinematographer Chris Doyle. I shan't count the ways I love Chungking Express because it would take too long. From Kai Tak Airport and the resulting city flyovers to an incognito Brigitte Lin in her last film, I love-a-dove this movie. Being able to see the much improved Chungking Express on DVD and the revamping of Ashes of Time in the theater within the span of a month may be too much for me to handle. (For those interested, the first batch of Blu-Ray from Criterion come out December 16, including Chungking Express. I have pre-ordered my first Blu-Ray DVD!)
Still Life (2006) directed by Jia Zhangke
One of the best films from last year, Jia Zhangke's Still Life played this Spring at at MSPIFF. If Platform showed a generation reaching for the 21st century, Still Life shows them struggling in it. Contemplative and embellished, Still Life is near perfection. The literal translation of the title is "the good people of the Three Gorges" and indeed the film takes place in Fengjie, a town that will soon disappear under the flood waters of the Three Gorges Dam. Still Life is not only a study of the physical landscape of this town, but also a study of the people who live there.
Silence of the Sea (2004) directed by Vahid Mousaian
This looks like a worthy under the radar film. Settled comfortably in Sweden, Siavash finds himself at middle age consumed with guilt for having abandoned his parents when he left Iran. A hasty attempt to return finds Siavash stranded in the free port of Qeshm, an island no-man's-land, where the locals are as puzzled by this backwards-fleeing refugee as he is by their unfamiliar customs.
Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave (1972) directed by Alexander Kluge
Yet another release from this mysterious Alexander Kluge. I highlighted the release of Yesterday Girl a couple months back. When I get around to watching one of these, I will post my thoughts.
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold Criterion (1965) and Sounder (1972) directed by Martin Ritt
Although I can't personally attest to The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, Criterion can. And if I am to deem The Calamari Wrestler as worthy watching, I'm sure this is too. Also released this week (in a much more modest form) is Ritt's adaptation of Sounder. I really loved this movie as a kid, and I'm sure I haven't seen it for at least 25 years.
Bottle Rocket Criterion (1996) directed by Wes Anderson
Let me just say that my short love affair with Wes Anderson started and ended here. Two films later I realized Anderson was working on films I simply wasn't interested in, to the point were I have skipped his last two. Sue me. However, I still think of Bottle Rocket without my Wes Anderson baggage that I enjoyed at the time.