DVD Obscura: The New Indie and International Movies You Need to Watch

DVD Obscura: The New Indie and International Movies You Need to Watch

Jul 07, 2016

New Indie:

In 45 Years (Paramount Home Entertainment), two cinema legends join forces for a drama as gentle and as devastating as they come. In the latest film from acclaimed director Andrew Haigh (Weekend), Academy Award nominees Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star as a British couple preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary. Their life is peaceful and content, and as preparations for a party get underway, a long-buried secret is revealed, casting a shadow over not only the event but also the structure of their entire lifetime together. The two actors deliver beautiful, restrained, moving performances, and Haigh’s direction is thoughtful, subtle, and tender. Buy it now, save it for a (literal) rainy day.

Also Available: Clouds of Sils Maria (The Criterion Collection) finds Juliette Binoche as an actress agonizing over a role and Kristen Stewart as her conflicted assistant in this gorgeous, intelligent drama from Olivier Assayas; Hello, My Name is Doris (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) finds Academy Award–winner Sally Field as a 60-something office drone longing for a younger co-worker; three young, upscale, gay Manhattanites find themselves in a complicated love triangle in Those People (Wolfe Video).

Knight of Cups (Broadgreen Pictures) stars Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman in legendary director Terrence Malick’s latest excursion into the whispery, cosmic meaning of life; an unstable security guard must confront real and imagined demons on the night shift in the psychological thriller Abandoned (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory).


New Foreign:

In the world of acclaimed Thai art-film auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives), anything can happen. His realistic urban and rural settings are routinely inhabited by ghosts of the past, spirits of the present, fantastic creatures, the lingering presence of historical upheaval, and the unseen presence of Buddhist mythology. Nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that’s by design. In this peaceful, sun-filled, supernatural Cemetery of Splendor (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment), a group of soldiers who have developed a mysterious sleeping sickness are housed in a makeshift clinic inside a former school. A volunteer housewife watches over them, and psychics are brought in to communicate with the men in their dreams.

Together, the patients and their caregivers form bonds across the barriers of this unusually tender, and often funny, twilight world. Trust that it’s like nothing else you’ll see this year. The DVD also features a bonus short film, Mekong Hotel, that will entrance hardcore fans of the director who insists that you shouldn’t try to pronounce is gloriously complex name, but rather simply to call him “Joe.”

Also Available: The Midnight After (Well Go USA Entertainment), from director Fruit Chan, is about 16 people on a city bus who emerge from a tunnel to discover that everyone in Hong Kong has vanished; The Wave (Magnolia Home Entertainment) is a staggeringly entertaining disaster movie about how beautiful Norway is and about how it also produces tidal waves that will kill you; Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert star in Valley of Love (Strand Releasing Home Entertainment) as an estranged couple who receive a letter from their long-dead son telling them to find him in Death Valley.

A War (Magnolia Home Entertainment) is the Oscar-nominated Danish film about a military commander on trail for the war crimes against Afghan civilians; Margarita With A Straw (Wolfe Video) caused a stir in India for its portrayal of a teenager with cerebral palsy (Kalki Koechlin) who travels to New York and falls in love with a blind woman; Donnie Yen (soon to be seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) stars in Teddy Chen’s martial-arts historical drama Bodyguards and Assassins (Shout! Factory).


New Documentary:

The man behind Elstree 1976 (MVD Visual), Jon Spira, is Star Wars-obsessed, just like you. And he knows that you’re probably just as fascinated by the Storm Trooper who can’t see a thing in his helmet as you are by Carrie Fisher (who, let’s be clear, in 2016, is still the boss of everybody, and you know it). So he gathered up all those small role actors, the one-line extras, the silent background players, and at least one actor whose part was cut from the finished film entirely (and, let’s be more clear, in 2016 that still has to sting a little). What he found was connections forged across decades and lives still affected by a few weeks of sci-fi B-movie work in the mid-’70s. It’s a lovingly strange, powerfully human doc for fans both extreme and merely curious.

Also Available: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effect Titan (MVD Visual) is a loving look at the stop-motion animation legend; The Damned—Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead (Cleopatra) takes an at times uncomfortably close-up look at the pioneering punk band and their influence on generations of underground rock figures to come.

Intriguing biographical doc The Silence of Mark Rothko (Icarus Films Home Video) examines the legendary artist and how his mastery of color and texture helped to power a fresh understanding of contemporary art, while Frank van den Engel’s film about the frenzied contemporary art market, The Next Big Thing (Icarus Films Home Video), offers a freaky peek inside a world of money and status that few dare enter; the final film from the late, acclaimed filmmaker Chantal Akerman, No Home Movie (Icarus Films Home Video), is a profoundly moving documentary about the director’s relationship with her Holocaust-survivor mother.


New Grindhouse:

Roger Corman never met a filmmaking situation he couldn’t turn into something even stranger than what he might originally imagine. First, he invests in a Yugoslavian project with the working title Operation Titian. Then he demands that it be shot in English, sends actors William Campbell and Patrick Magee to the Dubrovnik set (along with uncredited story editor Francis Ford Coppola), yet ultimately he isn’t happy with the final product. The film is recut, retitled, and released to drive-ins as Portrait in Terror. Then Corman gets Jack Hill (Spider Baby) to do reshoots. Then Stephanie Rothman (Terminal Island) does reshoots. Now it’s a vampire movie called Blood Bath (MVD Visual). Later, the TV version chops scenes and adds others and the resulting product is called Track of the Vampire.

This two-disc limited edition compiles all four versions for geeked-out consumption alongside outtakes, essays, and new artwork. Taken as a whole, this saga is a sort of perfect encapsulation of the kind of hustle and imaginative thinking required to stay afloat in the film business. Corman did whatever it took, making weirdly enduring art in the process.

Also Available: Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol 2 (MVD Visual) compiles three more classic Japanese crime movies of the early 1960s: Buichi Saito’s Tokyo Mighty Guy, Ko Nakahira’s Danger Pays, and Haruyasu Noguchi’s Murder Incorporated; in The Funhouse Massacre (Scream Factory), a group of serial killers escape from prison and get back to work in a funhouse that just happens to be themed to their respective ways of eliminating life; Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 (Scream Factory) brings back “The Creeper” to terrorize good-looking teenagers, and writer-director Victor Salva makes sure this monster more than lives up to his name; Rabid Dogs (IFC Midnight/Scream Factory) stars The Beach’s Virginie Ledoyen, and is a remake of Mario Bava’s 1974 cult classic Kidnapped.


New Classic:

The Crush (Scream Factory) is one of the craziest examples of everyone’s favorite ’90s subgenre, the romantic obsession turned homicidal. Does that mean it’s a classic? Or even good? Look, that’s up to you, but we say yes, and with Buzzfeed posting articles about the legendary outfits of Troop Beverly Hills, the word “classic” is often in the eye of the beholder. This one stars post-Aerosmith, pre-Clueless Alicia Silverstone in her breakout role as a young woman who sets her sights on Cary Elwes. This is bad news for Elwes, of course, as she sets about to ruin him when he rejects her. Cue the critical essays about female sexuality as a lethal force, or just enjoy this awesome teen star running amok and making a cinematic name for herself. We choose the latter. And for the record, we agree about Troop Beverly Hills, too.

Also Available: With the latest installment hitting theaters soon, it’s Star Trek Summer. So here’s the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Star Trek Into Darkness (Paramount Home Media) and the Director’s Edition Blu-ray of Star Trek: II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount Home Media). You can watch them side-by-side and complain the way you’ve always wanted, to anyone within earshot; Rollercoaster (Shout! Factory) was one of the handful of 1970s thrillers released to theaters with the seat-rumbling gimmick of Sensurround, so if you turn up the volume really loudly, bump that low end, and get a friend to shake your chair during the rollercoaster-y parts, you’ll more or less simulate that effect at home.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (Olive Films) is a wacky ensemble comedy of the 1960s, starring Suzanne Pleschette, about a group of American vacationers on a package tour of Europe; Return of the Killer Tomatoes is the inevitable cheapo sequel to the even more cheapo cult horror-comedy, Attack of The Killer Tomatoes, and it is just as entertainingly dumb; Pentagon official Gene Hackman murders his mistress Sean Young in No Way Out (Shout! Factory), then brings in Kevin Costner to find the fake killer, but the wild twists in this espionage murder mystery (a remake of the noir classic The Big Clock) are just beginning; Shrek: Anniversary Edition (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Shrek: 4-Movie Collection (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) are finally here to teach your children all about green ogres who speak with Scottish accents for no good reason.

The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (Mill Creek Entertainment) is a wild live-action Dr. Seuss story whose visual invention and crazy imagination will turn it into your kids’ new favorite old movie; the black-and-white Hitchcockian thriller Suture (MGM Home Entertainment) stars Dennis Haysbert and Michael Harris as two brothers – one black, one white – with a very complicated relationship that also involves one trying to murder the other; the delightful musical Victor/Victoria (Warner Archive Collection), from the late great Blake Edwards, answers the question, “How do you solve a problem like Julie Andrews playing a woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman?”


New TV:

Coming on the heels of 12 Years a Slave, Underground: Season One (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) is the best new show you’re not watching yet. This powerful drama risked being lost in the wake of that other antebellum tale, but it confidently found both its audience and critical acclaim. The story of a group of slaves traveling the Underground Railroad in 1857 Georgia, it’s a show about sacrifice, endurance, and courage. They plan, they move, and they watch their backs every step of the way. Starring Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Jessica De Gouw, Alano Miller, and Christopher Meloni, it’s one you don’t want to miss, so here’s your chance to catch up.

While you’re at it, the newly-reissued Roots: The Complete Original Series (Warner Bros Home Entertainment) takes you all the way back to the groundbreaking, game-changing 1970s miniseries, the perfect starter show to prime you for your eventual addiction to Underground.

Also Available: Game of Thrones Steelbook Seasons 3 & 4 Collectors Sets (HBO Home Entertainment) provides you the opportunity to relive the outrage of people spoiling the show for you on Twitter, while you admire your permanent copies in these pretty, pretty packages; Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn returns as cranky mystery-solver Vera in the hit British mystery-solving series, Vera, Set 6 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn); Two Guys and a Girl: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory) dumped the pizza place and still managed to soldier on, though we’re not sure how they survived without delicious pizza.

Janet King, Series 1: The Enemy Within stars Australian actress Marta Dusseldorp (A Place To Call Home) in this fan-favorite legal drama; The Bible Stories: Jacob and Joseph (Shout! Factory) is just the thing to park the kids in front of if you get stuck filling in for your church’s vacationing Sunday School teacher; do not park the kids in front of Rick and Morty: The Complete Second Season (Adult Swim) because it’s animation for naughty grown-ups; Birds of a Feather, Set 1 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn) marks the return of the beloved British sitcom after a 15-year hiatus; Suspects, Series 1 & 2 (RLJ Entertainment/Acorn) is an innovative, improvised police drama that will change the way you think about scripted vs. unscripted TV.

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