Archive for the ‘New on DVD’ Category

“OUTSIDE THE LAW” (Now available)

The latest from French/Algerian filmmaker Rachid  Bouchareb takes the same three Algerian brothers featured in his sweeping WW2 yarn “Days of Glory” and plops them down in post-war France, where they become urban terrorists on behalf of their homeland’s independence movement.

The oldest, Messaoud (Roschdy Zem), is a former French soldier who returns from the Indochina debacle missing an eye. He hopes to marry, settle down and never again raise a weapon.

Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila), the intellectual, has spent years in a jail for his opposition to French colonialism. He’s a particularly dangerous sort — an doctrinaire revolutionary (think Robespierre) who loves ideology but apparently has little use for people. He doesn’t think twice about ordering the murders of those who disagree with him politically — even family members.

Baby brother Said (Jamel Debbouze) is apolitical. He gets involved in the Parisian crime scene, runs a nightclub and wants only to be left alone to make money.

Bouchareb’s epic tale,  nominated for a foreign language Oscar, has stirred controversy in France, (more…)

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“JANE EYRE”  (Available Aug. 2)

It’s an old story in Hollywood: A fresh young director makes a splash with a first movie, but loses his/her way with a followup effort.

But Cary Fukunaga has avoided the sophomore slump. His “Jane Eyre” got rave reviews when it opened in March, and despite coming out on DVD this week the latest adaptation of Emily Bronte’s Gothic romance is still playing theatrically in Kansas City (it’s more or less taken up residence at the Screenland Crown Center).

Fukunaga, 34, is a native of Oakland CA and a film graduate of NYU who wowed many of us two years ago with “Sin Nombre,” a Spanish-language yarn about a Central American banger who hops a northbound freight train to elude his murderous fellow gang members and travels right up to the U.S. border, befriending a young woman hoping for a better life in America.

“Sin Nombre” suggested a major talent; “Jane Eyre” confirmed it. (more…)

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A pre-Oscar Melissa Leo in "Streetwalkin'"

“STREETWALKIN’” (Available Aug. 2)

One of the downsides to winning an Oscar is that the home video industry starts digging through the movies you made early in your career, hoping to peddle some dross as gold.

That’s pretty much the story with “Streetwalkin’,” a 1985 innocent-in-the-big-city melodrama starring the then 25-year-old Melissa Leo.

This was, of course, before Leo registered with TV audiences as a member of the “Homicide: Life on the Streets” cast and, more recently, scored an Academy Award for her supporting performance in “The Fighter.” (more…)

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“EXPORTING RAYMOND” (Available Aug. 2 )

When “Everybody Loves Raymond” ended its run after nine years and 210 episodes, creator Phil Rosenthal began thinking about whether his TV show about a bickering but basically loving middle-class family might translate to other cultures.

After all, “The Nanny” became a hit in Europe with casts of various nationalities. Why not “Raymond”?

With that in mind Rosenthal agreed to help a Russian TV network develop its own version of “Raymond.” Rosenthal brought along a video crew to document the progress, and the result is “Exporting Raymond,” a fish-out-of-water real-life comedy in which the Hollywood mover and shaker gets a sobering lesson in how the rest of the world operates.

"Everybody Loves Kostya"...the Russian "Raymond"

OK, I don’t want to make Rosenthal seem like some sort of boorish Tinsel Town heavy hitter. (more…)

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"Zonad"...it's not another "Once"

“Zonad” (Now available)

Everybody who follows pop music has heard of the one-hit wonder.

Same thing can happen in movies.

A couple of years back Irish filmmaker John Carney had an international hit with “Once,” a modest mini-musical about a Dublin street busker who falls for an immigrant girl.

They end up making beautiful music together…so beautiful that “Once” won the Oscar for best original song.

I loved “Once”; thought it may have been the year’s most satisfying film.

But Carney’s followup, just out on DVD, suggests that “Once” was indeed a one-time-only deal.


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Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale in "Of Gods and Men"

“OF GODS AND MEN” (Now available)

Terrific movie.
Infuriating DVD packaging.

“Of Gods and Men” is one of the year’s finest films. This French release, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year, centers on the monks of the Tibehirine Monastery in Algeria’s Atlas Mountains, who in 1996 were abducted by Islamic revolutionaries then waging war against the government.

Several months later the monks’ severed heads were returned to the monastery for burial.

Happily, this isn’t a film about dying. Rather, Xavier Beauvois has made a movie about living. (more…)

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Rutger Hauer goes postal in "Hobo with a Shotgun"

“HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN” (Available July 5)

Is it a good bad movie? A bad good movie?

“Hobo with a Shotgun” muddies the distinctions.

It’s based on a fan-created faux trailer that won Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse Trailer Contest, which means that from the outset this tale of a hobo (Rutger Hauer) who single-handedly cleans up a corrupt, crime-riddled city is packed with over-the-top violence and bad (deliberately so, one hopes) acting.

After all, the Grindhouse concept embraces the lurid tackiness (more…)

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