It's hard not to get into the politics of 5 Broken Cameras. The documentary was made by Palestinian cameraman Emad Burnat and Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi and chronicles Burnat's life in a West Bank village that's threatened by Israeli settlements. Burnat bought his first camera to capture the birth of his son, but ended up filming the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Burnat, a farmer, lost each of his five cameras in increasingly violent ways (one camera saved his life when it stopped a bullet that was shot directly in his face). Burnat and Davidi crafted together a moving if somewhat flawed look at life on the West Bank. Politics creep in, if for no other reason than that one side can't be right without making the other side at least a little wrong. 5 Broken Cameras is a good effort and certainly fills in some of the gaps about the Palestinian/Israeli struggles, but it can't help but have a point of view.
The Criterion Collection releases two titles worth noting this week. First is Alfred Hitchcock's 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much with Peter Lorre as a seriously creepy bad guy. A couple gets caught up in a spy operation when a stranger passes sensitive information to them. To keep the couple quiet, Lorre's character kidnaps their daughter setting the pair on a frantic search. Hitchcock remade Man Who Knew several years later, reportedly to fill in some blanks, but the 1934 version stands up well on its own. The new Blu-ray release features high-definition digital restoration, new audio commentary by historian Philip Kemp, a new interview with Guillermo del Toro, a 1972 interview with Hitchcock, audio excerpts from 1962 interviews with Hitchcock and an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme.
The Criterion Collection's second release today is The Tin Drum. The film by Volker Schlöndorff, who has both director and co-writer credits, is equally mesmerizing and repulsive, making it a must-see. The story, based on Günter Grass's novel, follows a little boy named Oskar. Disappointed by the adult world around him, Oskar decides to stop growing at age three. Set in the first half of the 20th century, the film shows the rise of Nazi power and Oskar's matching rise in anger and rejection of the world. The new Blu-ray release includes a restored high-definition digital transfer of the film and remastered soundtrack, both approved by Schlöndorff. There's also a new interview with Schlöndorff, television interview excerpts with the director, actors and co-writer, theatrical trailer, new subtitle translation, and an essay by critic Michael Atkins. Tin Drum was banned in parts of the United States due to its depiction of sexual acts between Oskar (supposedly three years old, remember) and a teenage girl. In reality, David Bennent, the actor who played Oskar, was 11 years old and the girl was 24.
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Two more releases that crossed our desk this week are Love Me and Detropia. Fans of Pretty Little Liars might enjoy Lindsey Shaw's performance as a teenage girl at a prep school who falls for the new guy in Love Me. Things get twisted when the new guy is the lead suspect in the case of a missing girl. The documentary Detropia tells the story of Detroit, a once shining city that's fallen on hard times in postindustrial America.