Sure, movie discs as we know them are on their long journey to techno-obsolescence, but for now, they can still make a film lover very, very happy.
Bill Cunningham New York
The Skinny: A candid and thoroughly entertaining doc by Richard Press about the legendary street-shooting New York Times fashion photographer, the film features Cunningham as a charming and highly successful throwback — still shooting on film and tooling around the city on a beaten up bicycle. The fact that he’s doing this in his mid-80′s, in a field that ravenously eats its young is even more amazing.
The Skinny: Pixar’s summer 2012 entry was perhaps not as full-bodied or richly drawn as some of their best titles, but the story of a young Scottish princess who instead of caged-in comfort yearns to be an independent warrior still manages to strike a lot of fine notes. Plus, the art direction and animation are truly stupendous.
Linkage: Brave: Three-Disc BD Edition
The Skinny: Any cinematic Todd Solondz experience requires a certain girding of one’s humanist psyche — his despondent trips down the emotional worm hole are anything but uplifting — but if you look closely you can also usually find a good deal of (jet) black humor. This film, about a man-child who thinks he’s finally found the right woman to lead him out of his parents’ basement, offers equal dollops of pathos and arch sensibility.
Linkage: Dark Horse: BD Edition
Empire of the Sun
The Skinny: Steven Spielberg’s moving film about a British boy suffering through Japan’s WW II occupation of China is primarily notable as the big movie debut of one Christian Bale, just 12 at the time of shooting, who largely carries the film’s emotional center.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Linkage: Empire of the Sun: 25th Anniversary BD Edition
The Skinny: One of Pixar’s many high-water marks, this new “collector’s edition” feaures multi-formats (blu-ray, dvd) and a series of bonus features. Happily, the story, about a neurotic clownfish who has to brave the unknown in order to track down his lost son, remains delightfully unchanged.
Linkage: Finding Nemo Three Disc Collector’s Edition
The Skinny: Christopher Nolan’s first directed feature, shot on 16mm with a budget that probably wouldn’t have paid for a stale danish on the Dark Knight Rises craft table, concerns a writer who surreptitiously follows subjects around for story material, and the burglar whose acquaintance he makes in the process. Dark, creepy and paranoid — sound at all familiar?
Linkage: Following: Criterion BD Edition
The Forgiveness of Blood
The Skinny: Joshua Marston’s masterful film concerns a besieged Albanian brother and sister whose lives are irrevocably entwined in a blood feud between their father and other members of their extended family. Harrowing to be sure, but emotionally honest to the core.
Linkage: The Forgiveness of Blood: Criterion BD Edition
The Skinny: Makeshift brothers growing up in a Venezuelan slum see futból as a way out of the ghetto, but when they’re finally given a chance, things turn violent and tragic in director Marcel Rasquin’s upsetting drama.
Studio: Music Box
In the Mood for Love
The Skinny: Wong Kar-wai’s quiet masterpiece from 2000, is ostensibly about a couple of apartment neighbors who discover each other’s spouses are having an affair, but despite the potential melodramatic possibilities laid out before him, Wong instead keeps the film small, intimate and deeply affecting.
Linkage: In the Mood for Love: Criterion BD Edition
The Qatsi Trilogy
The Skinny: One of the most irrepressibly mesmerizing cinematic collages ever shot, the trilogy of films released over about twenty years (1983-2002) wordlessly depict our world, and the ways in which human beings have transformed everything around them. Powerful, haunting and utterly absorbing.
Linkage: The Qatsi Trilogy: Criterion BD Edition
The Skinny: The film concerns a particular reality of the human condition, one that is very sharply brought into focus: We all see things hopelessly subjectively. Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece added a crucial element to post-modern cinema and its interpretation. As such, it might stand as one of the more important and psychologically significant films of the 20th century.
Linkage: Rashomon: Criterion BD Edition
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Skinny: A would-be time traveler who takes his crackpot theories very seriously, comes up against a trio of typically cynical young journalists looking to make a mockery of him in Colin Trevorrow’s bittersweet comedy. The stand-out in the cast is Mark Duplass, whose increased turns in front of the camera (he also stars in the hilarious FX show, “The League”) has cemented him as a charming and off-beat leading man (see also below).
Linkage: Safety Not Guaranteed
The Skinny: Buckle up for this one: Jean-Luc Godard’s contemptuous satire of the French bourgeois — always a sitting target for cinematic auteurs — starts as something of a couple’s road trip, but quickly descends into traffic jams, savagery and, yes, cannibalism.
Linkage: Weekend: Criterion BD Edition
Your Sister’s Sister
The Skinny: The aforementioned Mr. Duplass stars alongside Emily Blunt and Rasemarie Dewitt in fellow mumblecore veteran Lynn Shelton’s comedic follow-up to the well-received Humpday. Duplass plays a depressed man who follows the advice of his late brother’s girlfriend and takes off to her family’s Lake Puget cabin for some solace. Things get kooky when he arrives to find he’s not, in fact, alone.
Linkage: Your Sister’s Sister