This week on the small screen, Todd Solondz revisits the characters from “Happiness,” Canadian up-and-comer Xavier Dolan gets his heart broken and much more.
DVD/Blu-rays This Week
What to Buy
Why It’s a Must Own: Described by Todd Solondz as a “quasi-sequel” to “Happiness,” the sixth feature from the acclaimed auteur of the uncomfortable, finds the director once again working with a stellar cast and controversial material. Set in Florida, “Life During Wartime” revolves around the Jordan sisters, a trio of frustrated women (played by Shirley Henderson, Allison Janney and Ally Sheedy) with big issues to deal with. A bevvy of other familiar faces (Charlotte Rampling, Michael Lerner, Ciaran Hinds and Paul Reubens) pop up in supporting turns.
Extras: New digital transfer, supervised and approved by director of photography Ed Lachman (with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition); ‘Ask Todd,’ an audio Q&A with director Todd Solondz in which he responds to viewers’ questions; ‘Making “Life During Wartime,”’ a new documentary featuring interviews with actors Shirley Henderson, Ciarán Hinds, Allison Janney, Michael Lerner, Paul Reubens, Ally Sheedy, and Michael Kenneth Williams, as well as on-set footage; new interview with Lachman; original theatrical trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt.
What to Rent
Why Rent: Xavier Dolan’s anticipated follow-up to “I Killed My Mother” firmly solidified him as a young talent to watch out for, in front of and behind the screen. The latest from the Canadian wunderkind, follows the quest two best friends go on to snag the same man. The story is relatively simple and skimpy compared to “Mother,” but what the film lacks in narrative it more than makes up for in lush imagery, a swoon-inducing cast and a killer soundtrack.
Why Rent: David Schwimmer’s second feature directorial outing following 2007’s comedy “Run, Fatboy Run,” finds the ex-“Friend” exploring much darker content, namely child rape. In the drama (which had its world premiere at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival), Clive Owen and Catherine Keener star as trusting parents of a 14-year-old girl who are dealt with a tragic blow they never saw coming. It’s tough going, but worth it.
Extras: ‘Between the Lines,’ a behind-the-scenes featurette; outtakes; and previews.
Why Rent: Did “Grindhouse,” Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s homage to the American exploitation genre not fully satiate your appetite for the sick and surreal? Then be sure to check out this entertaining documentary that exposes the hidden history behind this often overlooked category of all-American cinema. It’s a bit sick, but helluva amounts of fun.
Extras: ‘Feel the Grind: The Making of American Grindhouse,’ a behind-the-scenes documentary; vintage radio spots; photo galleries; extended interviews; and more.
VOD Picks of the Week
Why Watch: David Robert Mitchell’s feature film debut “The Myth of the American Sleepover” has been generating buzz on the festival circuit for well over a year now and opened to critical acclaim last week in its limited theatrical release. The praise is warranted. This quiet, acutely observed crowd pleaser tracks four teenagers as they search for love and adventure on the last night of summer. Well acted by its large ensemble cast and beautifully shot, this small indie signals Mitchell as a talent to watch out for.
Where to Find It: IFC Films On Demand
“Amy Winehouse: The Girl Done Good”
Why Watch: The music world was dealt with a major blow this weekend with the sad news of Amy Winehouse’s passing. This revealing 2008 documentary draws on rare and classic performances and exclusive interviews to offer insight into the music and career of the icon.
Where to Find It: SnagFilms.
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