Today's DVDs: Secret Sunshine, Poetry and TV on DVD
stars Jeon Do-yeon and Kang-ho Song; Lee Chang-dong directs.The setup
: A woman and her young son leave city life in Seoul behind and move to a small town after the woman's husband dies. The pair is settling into their new life when the boy is kidnapped, leaving the woman to deal with ransom demands and face down the kidnapper. Hit with such an emotional blow, she turns first to and then away from the Christian church in her town.
Our take: Do-yeon, who won Best Actress honors at the Cannes Film Festival for this performance, is superb as the delicate and yet unbreakable Shin-Ae. She moves from fragile uncertainty to explosive anger to deep grief in a way that's believable and heart-rending. The tag line for Secret Sunshine is "After grief, comes rage. After rage, comes madness." Do-yeon gives a riveting performance as her character constantly moves toward whatever it is that comes after madness.
DVD/Blu-ray extras: The DVD/Blu-ray releases include a new digital transfer, supervised and approved by the film's director and cinematographer, an interview with the director, a featurette with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Jeon Do-yeon and Kang-ho Song, the U.S. theatrical trailer and improved English subtitles.
Also of interest: Director Lee Chang-Dong was also at the helm of the brilliant and touching Poetry, the story of a woman who turns to learning poetry in order to escape from the harsh reality of her life (she has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and her grandson is accused of taking part in a gang rape).
The fall TV season is upon us and several series have new releases on DVD. NCIS: Seasons One Through Eight come as a package deal (for a whopping $200-plus price tag). Series lead Mark Harmon is taking home a $500,000 paycheck per episode, and while younger, action-hungry audiences may not understand why, the over-40 fan base has remained extremely loyal. Pick up the eight-season package and watch as the storylines unfold from one year to another (the one where Harmon's character murders the Mexican drug dealer who killed his wife and daughter and gets away with it for years only to have it blow up in his face in season 8 is a personal favorite). NCIS: Los Angeles, the spin-off from Harmon and company's was supposed to be the series' answer for the under-30 crowd. LL Cool J (yes, with his six-pack abs) and Chris O'Donnell star as the LA-based NCIS undercover team. Like Harmon's character, O'Donnell's is also a man with a past -- one he doesn't know much about, unfortunately.
Out today are Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Fifth Season with Sally Field and Calista Flockhart, and Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season with Blake Lively and Leighton Meester.