Today's DVDs: Uncle Boonmee Who can Recall His Past Lives, Naked and Strip-Tease
stars Thanapat Saisaymar and Janjira Pongpas with Apichatpong Weerasethakul directing.
The set up: Family members visit Uncle Boonmee, who is dying, in his home in the Thai jungle.
What our critic J. Hoberman said about the movie: The acme of no-budget, Buddhist-animist, faux-naïve, avant-pop magic neorealism, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a movie in which conversing with the materialized spirits of the dead and watching the so-called living on TV exist on the same astral plane ... Ending with one last, playful paradox, Uncle Boonmee seems the fullest expression yet of Weerasethakul's singular sensibility.
Here's our take: While our tastes often bend toward fast-paced films with plots that include significant conflict (as in "somebody has to save the world - right now!"), Uncle Boonmee completely captured our heart. Weerasethakul brings the slow, introspective story, with an emphasis on one man's internal life, to the screen in a way that is quietly enchanting.
DVD/Blu-Ray extras: Interview with the director, deleted scenes, improved sound and trailers from Weerasethakul's other films.Miral
stars Freida Pinto with Jullian Schnabel directing.
The set up: A look at the Israeli/Palestinian struggle through the eyes of a young girl who is growing up in the center of the conflict.
What our critic Nick Pinkerton said about the movie: Less the intuitive scene-to-scene storytelling it pretends to be than checklist filmmaking, Miral is a scavenger hunt for the issues and representative characters that you simply must include in a panoramic survey of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ... These are images of people we scarcely know, suffering under circumstances we don't understand, and only further obscured by travelogue impressionism.
Here's our take: Yawn. Putting aside the politics, the struggle for independence - as a person, as a people - should make for a great story. Should. Jullian Schnabel and Freida Pinto both fail to capture our attention.
And as for the film's tagline: "Is the is the face of a terrorist?" Ah, yeah. Everyone seems different, strange and dangerous to someone, somewhere. Little kids, old ladies, and yes, even attractive young schoolgirls. We get it. If we see people as individuals, and not as "them" it's more difficult to see them a possible enemy. Trouble is, we don't see individuals in Miral; we see stand-ins, composite, representative characters that never seem important enough for us to care about, much less embrace. And, ultimately, as neither Schnabel nor Pinto overcome a sense of otherness, the characters remain squarely in the "them" arena.
DVD/Blu-ray extras: Deleted scenes, commentary by the principles and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Other releases that warrant your attention: David Thewlis stars in the 1993 release Naked,director Mike Leigh's character study of a young man filled with anger and bitterness about the state of British society. The film took best director and best actor nods at the 1993 Cannes International Film Festival. DVD/Blu-ray extras include a restored, high-definition digital transfer approved by Leigh, audio commentary by Leigh, Thewlis and co-star Katrin Cartlidge, a 1982 comedy short by Leigh and an episode of the BBC program The Art Zone that features an interview with Leigh, as well as the original Naked trailer.
Strip-Tease features Nico, of Velvet Underground fame, as a young ballet dancer living in Paris. Money problems lead her to take a job as a stripper, but she can't bring herself to take it all off. The 1962 gem was directed by Jacques Poitrenaud.
TCM Greatest Film Classics: Shakespeare includes four films in total: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) with Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney and Mickey Rooney; Othello (1965) with Laurence Olivier in the title role opposite Maggie Smith as Desdemona; Romeo and Juliet (1936) starring Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard as the young lovers and John Barrymore as Mercutio; and Antony and Cleopatra (1972) with Charlton Heston as Marc Anthony.
The documentary Card Subject to Change is director Tim Disbrow's look at independent pro wrestling (as in the glitz, glamour and giant following are replaced with sweat, pain, and lots performances in half filled rec centers). Think gritty, bone-shattering action and insight.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars, Episode III - We mention this only because the extras include an interview with George Lucas on the animated send-up of his Star Wars.
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