DVD/Blu-ray Top Pick:
Title: “Blow Out”
Director: Brian De Palma
The Deal: “Blow Out,” one of Brian De Palma’s greatest (and seldom mentioned) masterworks gets the high-def treatment courtesy of the folks over at the Criterion Collection.
Filmed in the director’s hometown of Philadelphia, “Blow Out” stars a young John Travolta as a movie sound-effects man who believes he accidentally recorded a political assassination. When authorities try to act like nothing happened, he enlists the help of a possible eyewitness to uncover the truth.
“”Blow Out” stands by itself,” Roger Ebert wrote in his 1981 review of the thriller. “It reminds us of the violence of ‘Dressed to Kill,’ the startling images of ‘The Fury,’ the clouded identities of ‘Sisters,’ the uncertainty of historical ‘facts’ from ‘Obsession,’ and it ends with the bleak nihilism of ‘Carrie.’ But it moves beyond those films, because this time De Palma is more successful than ever before at populating his plot with three-dimensional characters.”
Extras: New, restored digital transfer, supervised by De Palma, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition; new hour-long interview with De Palma, conducted by filmmaker Noah Baumbach; new interview with star Nancy Allen; cameraman Garrett Brown on the Steadicam shots featured in the film within the film; select on-set photos from photographer Louis Goldman; original theatrical trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow and Pauline Kael’s original New Yorker review.
VOD Picks for This Week:
All synopses courtesy distributors.
Title: “The Bleeding House”
Director: Philip Gelatt
The Deal: On the surface, the Smiths are an average American family, with a happily married mother and father, a moody 16-year-old daughter, and a distracted 18-year-old son. But patriarch Matt Smith appears a bit on edge, and the family is eerily damaged by something in its past. One night when a sweet-talking preacher carrying a briefcase arrives at their home after his car is disabled on a nearby road, it seems like this Christian man’s presence may be just the breath of fresh air the family needs. But are the Smiths are ready for the atonement this neighborly guest has in store?
Where to Find: Tribeca Film.
Title: “The Invention of Dr. Nakamats”
Director: Kaspar Astrup Schr
The Deal: Dr. NakaMats is the utterly fantastic and eccentric 80-year-old Japanese inventor responsible for 3,357 inventions, including the floppy disk. NakaMats is an unlikely character made for the movies, with his deadpan English and impeccable comic timing. About his Love Jet potion, he says: “I’ve tested more than 10,000 women. Of course, I’m not doing the sex. I’m checking meters.” At a conference, he leads a singalong of a ditty he penned to memorialize the seven hours of snow shoveling he once did to get to a university class.
Where to Find: FilmBuff.
Title: “The Wild Hunt”
Director: Alexandre Franchi
The Deal: A medieval re-enactment game turns into a Shakespearean tragedy when a non-player crashes the event to win back his girlfriend.
Where to Find: FilmBuff.
Title: “The Bang Bang Club”
Director: Steven Silver
The Deal: “The Bang Bang Club” is the true story of four young combat photographers—Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva, Kevin Carter, and Ken Oosterbroek—bonded by friendship and their sense of purpose to tell the truth. In 1994, they risked their lives to tell the world of the brutality and violence associated with the first free elections in post-Apartheid South Africa, and exposed the plight of a nation to the international community through their courage under fire and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalism. This intense period of civil war produced their best work but cost a heavy price, as the group’s fearless dedication and willingness to push the limits of journalistic ethics brought about both their greatest professional achievements and also their most profound personal tragedies.
Where to Find: Tribeca Film On Demand.
And a little something extra…
Title: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam On-Demand Documentaries
The Deal: The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam recently posted a number of documentaries to watch on-demand on their site. Movies go for $2.99 and $3.99.
Where to Find: IDFFA Website.