DVDs & Blu-rays: Zack Parker's Scalene, Lots of Marilyn and Weightier Issues


stars Margo Martindale, Hanna Hall and Adam Scarimbolo; Zack Parker co-writes, produces and directs.

Our featured release this week is filmmaker Zack Parker's Scalene. The story is a knotty tangle. Three characters - frumpy, middle-aged Janice (Margo Martindale), her brain-damaged mute son Jakob (Adam Scarimbolo) and Jakob's beautiful young caregiver Paige (Hanna Hall) -- each tell their own version of events. And those events are explosive.

The story starts with Janice standing on Paige's front porch with a loaded gun in her hand. How did things get to this? That depends on who you believe.

Janice, tired and overwhelmed by the pressures of dealing with her needy special-needs son, has hired Paige to help look after Jakob. Things seem to go smoothly for a bit -- at least maybe. We say maybe because Parker never lets the viewer get completely comfortable. As soon as we think we understand something, he gives us a different viewpoint that turns our previous assumptions on their head. It all goes to hell when Paige accuses Jakob of rape.

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Well-acted (Martindale is a stand out) and well-paced (it would have been easy to let the film's constant flashbacks disrupt the flow of the narrative), Scalene was called "a puzzle whose pieces refuse a perfect fit" by Village Voice film critic Michelle Orange.

Extras include trailers, the featurette Perceiving Reality: The Making of Scalene and scenes from the Q&A and awards ceremony at the Dances with Films festival.

There are two Marilyn Monroe box sets being released today. First is the Blu-ray box set

Forever Marilyn

. The seven-disc set includes seven of Monroe's films --

Some Like it Hot, There's No Business like Show Business, River of No Return, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch


The Misfits

. The films look stunning in Blu-ray. Easily one of the most beautiful women ever to work in Hollywood, Monroe simply leaps off the screen. And the choice of films is a solid array of her work, which was often overshadowed by her beauty.

The second set is Marilyn the Premiere Collection. We can recommend this one only for die-hard fans who are willing to overlook some less than stellar screen quality. (The set, just three discs, was previously released in 2009 and the films have not been remastered.) The collection includes 17 films released over 11 years, including well-known comedy gems such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven-year Itch and Some Like It Hot. There's also more dramatic fare in All About Eve, Niagra and Don't Bother to Knock.

If nothing else, Marilyn the Premiere Collection reminds us that Monroe was an incredibly prolific actress -- she had 11 films released between 1950 and 1953!

The Weight of the Nation

was directed by Dan Chaykin.

There's one really good reason to watch HBO Documentary Films' four-part The Weight of the Nation: almost 69 percent of all adults in America are overweight or obese. You might think you've heard it all before -- America is fat, our children are suffering from an epidemic of obesity and we're all gonna die, blah, blah, blah. Maybe you have, but somehow a majority of people over the age of 18 in this country still haven't got the message. Watch The Weight of the Nation -- and please, no snacking during the screening. (Did we mention we're all gonna die?)

Disc one includes Consequences and Choices, disc two Children in Crisis and Challenges and disc three has bonus shorts.

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