February 28, 2013

DVD Releases

New on the shelf: 'The Master' / 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part Two' / 'Africa' / 'Chasing Mavericks'

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Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master.”

The Weinstein Company

Suggested retail price: $21.95

"SANSHO THE BAILIFF," starring Kinuyo Tanaka and Yoshiaki Hanayagi. Considered by many film scholars to be one of the best Japanese movies ever made, this Criterion release brings this 1954 classic to the masses with a beautiful transfer and the usual host of extras.

Not a film to shy away from brutality, "Sansho" isn't an easy watch, but its tale of a pair of siblings working to escape the appalling conditions of the slave camp where they've been imprisoned remains mesmerizing and timeless. Special features include interviews with cast and crew and a commentary from Japanese literature professor Jeffrey Angles. Not rated. Running time: 2:04

Suggested retail price: $39.95

VIDEOPORT PICKS

"HOLY MOTORS," starring Denis Lavant and Edith Scob. What exactly is "Holy Motors"? Only its creator, writer-director Leos Carax ("Pola X") knows for sure, and even that may be up for debate.

We can tell you that it's crazy, exhilarating and endlessly creative, following what is apparently a normal day for a man named Oscar (Lavant). He's a chameleonic man of indeterminate means and employment who travels the streets of Paris via stretch limo, stopping at various intervals to portray a variety of intriguing characters: An actor in a sexually explicit film one minute, a crippled beggar the next, even pulling an assassin job at one point.

Visuals and performances are unforgettable throughout, although viewers in search of a plot or easy answers are destined to come away unfulfilled. Not rated. Running time: 1:55

Suggested retail price: $19.97; Blu-ray $39.95

"THE LONELIEST PLANET," starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg. Contemplative relationship study from director Julia Loktev ("Day Night Day Night") effectively relies on subtlety to convey the emotional shift that unexpectedly emerges between engaged couple Bernal and Furstenberg, a pair of young lovers whose playful camaraderie during a hiking trip takes a hit following a moment of cowardice on Bernal's part in the midst of an altercation with unwelcoming locals.

Reminiscent of some of Gus Van Sant's more experimental work ("Gerry," "Elephant"), "Planet" is likely to frustrate viewers looking for the fish-out-of-water thriller that some of the ads have implied. But Loktev and her talented cast manage to get across the myriad ways that even the strongest relationship can sour, throwing in some gorgeous scenery besides. Not rated. Running time: 1:53

Suggested retail price: $24.98

- Courtesy of Videoport

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