As things are shaking up here at indieWIRE, it’s been decided it was also time our weekly Small Screen and Big Screen columns got a facelift. From now on, this movies on DVD, VOD, and TV column, and Peter Knegt’s in theaters column, will be a list of top 5 recommendations. After all, who doesn’t like a good set of endorsements? Here goes:
1. “The Darjeeling Limited” & “The Magician” on Criterion
Just a few years after its theatrical release, Wes Anderson’s “The Darjeeling Limited,” the soul-searching journey of brothers played by Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody, is immortalized this week in the Criterion Collection. Says Ammon Gilbert in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “The Criterion Collection’s release of ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ on Blu-ray is impressive, not only is its transfer to high definition (the colors of India pop off the screen), but the special features are top-notch and, in many ways, above and beyond what you’d expect, even for a Criterion release. There’s an option to watch the short film Hotel Chevalier before the feature presentation; I suggest you do, it adds to the backstory of Schwartzman’s character.” In addition to the short, special features include behind-the-scenes footage, a conversation between Anderson and James Ivory about the film’s music, commentary tracks with Anderson, Schwartzman, and the film’s co-writer Roman Coppola, amongst others. Also released on Criterion this week is Ingmar Bergman’s 1958 tale of a band of performers headed across Sweden caught up with the law. Says Jamie S. Rich on DVDTalk, The Criterion Collection “at long last brings Ingmar Bergman’s 1958 tingler to disc, and the Blu-Ray package is phenomenal…The movie toys with horror tropes, challenging what we see and what we believe, and dissecting the nature of entertainment in the process. It’s a glorious ruse, and well worth watching.”
“I Am Love,” or the family drama that Tilda Swinton learned Italian for, may have been shut out as Italy’s choice for the foreign language Oscar, but most critics have kind words to say about the film. Says IFC.com’s Allison Willmore, “Luca Guadagnino’s lusciously told tale of how the wife of a wealthy Milanese blue blood falls in love with a younger man plays like a Douglas Sirk film on ecstasy. Tilda Swinton paces a gilt and teak villa like an exotic bird unjustly caged, supervising servants and smoothing over domestic dramas until a friend of her son’s, a chef, captivates her with a dish of perfectly prepared prawns. And while food plays a major role in ‘I Am Love’ — it may be the first film in which a secret is undone by the preparation of a soup — all of its senses are heightened, all kisses are moist, all sunlight golden, all boardrooms gleaming chrome and all family gatherings singing with dark wire-taut tension.” Our own Eric Kohn concludes his remarks on the film saying, “An orchestra has rarely swelled with such precision. If ‘I Am Love’ at times pushes the medium too hard, for the most part Guadagnino pushes it just right.”
3. Singing and Dancing Box Sets
Fred, Ginger, and Busby all get a grand song-and-dance release today, with a box set of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ films getting a re-release and a collection of Busby Berkeley musicals released. Warner’s 9-film Busby Berkeley box set includes “42nd Street,” the “Gold Digger” films, various featurettes, and more.
4. Behind the North Korean Curtain — “Kimjongilia” on DVD [film page]
From NC Heikin, whose prior work was mostly in theater, comes the story of a nation about which so little is known: North Korea. Through the rise to power of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the stories of refugees who managed to leave the secretive nation, Heikin weaves a story of 60 years of North Korean history.
5. Thursday on HBO – “Monica & David”
“Monica and David,” the 2010 Tribeca awardee for best documentary that chronicles the love and marriage of the eponymous couple who both have Down syndrome, gets its TV premiere this Thursday, when it goes into rotation on HBO. Speaking with indieWIREprior to the film’s Tribeca premiere, director Alexandra Condina, also Monica’s cousin, spoke about coming to the story, “Several weeks before my cousin Monica’s wedding it finally hit me. Everyone was very happy for Monica when she found David, but there seemed to be an unspoken feeling that this was a cute gesture between two kids, rather than a serious adult commitment. My initial motivation was my love and admiration for Monica and David, and frustration with people’s lack of understanding. As the project progressed, I began to understand the profound issues, including the vague line between adult and child, and how that inability to easily define Monica and David allows people to shut them out. I wanted to give people the opportunity to experience their world in an intimate way.”