This week on DVD and Blu-ray: Last year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner; the latest from one of the world’s most revered auteurs; the UK’s most succesful documentary of all time; season one of HBO’s biggest new shows; and the first mainstream effort from the director of “Hustle & Flow.”
#1. Critic’s Pick: “Like Crazy” (DVD and Blu-ray)
Last year’s Sundance Film Festival showcased a slew of impressive films, but none quite stole the hearts of festival-goers like Drake Doremus’ follow-up to “Douchebag,” “Like Crazy.” The fully improvised love story, starring Anton Yelchin (“The Beaver”) and hot Brit import Felicity Jones (“The Tempest”), netted the Grand Jury Prize and a Special Jury Prize for Jones, in addition to coming out of Park City with the biggest deal of the festival (it sold to Paramount for a mere $4 million).
Jones stars as a British exchange student who falls for her American classmate (Yelchin). Their relationship is put to the test they try to mess with the U.S. immigration system, and Jones’ character is sent back to Britain.
“As the relationship grows increasingly strained, Doremus offers a terrific showcase for both actors,” Eric Kohn wrote in his review after catching it at Sundance last year. “Yelchin, currently best known for playing Chekov in J.J. Abrams’s ‘Star Trek’ reboot, has a natural vulnerability that plays into his character’s fragile nature. Jones, meanwhile, credibly exhibits a gentle naivete… Doremus handles the ensuing drama well enough. You’ve been here before, but it’s not a bad place to visit.”
Go HERE for our new interview with Doremus.
Extras: There’s only one extra on this bare bones disc, but thankfully it’s a great one. Included here is a full-length audio commenary with Doremus, editor Jonathan Alberts and cinematographer John Gulesarian.
#2. “The Skin I Live In” (DVD and Blu-ray)
Spain’s greatest living filmmaker, Pedro Almodovar, is back with “The Skin I Live In,” a sordid revenge tale that reunites him with Antonio Banderas for the first time in two decades. Banderas stars as a plastic surgeon invested in creating a new skin that could have saved the life of his wife, who burned to death in a car crash. After 12 years, he has finally succeeded. The gorgeous Elena Anaya (“Talk to Her”), in a showstopping turn, plays his human guinea pig.
“Pedro explained to me that by taking on this role, there will be a kind of no return,” Anaya told Indiewire back before the film hit theaters. “My character lives that journey of not being able to return and in a way I do, too.”
Extras: The Blu-ray comes with a DVD, so there’s that. The extras include a promotional behind-the-scenes documentary and a brief video from the New York premiere. The best special feature (we’re being a little biased here) is a long interview with Almodovar before a live audience, conducted by Indiewire’s very own Anne Thompson.
#3. “Senna” (DVD)
Compiled entirely of past footage and without a single talking head, “Senna” tells the story of how Brazilian motor-racing champion Ayrton Senna became a icon in his homeland and a legend around the world. The film’s already become the highest-grossing documentary in U.K. history, earning over $5 million since hitting theaters in early June of last year.
Director Asik Kapadia addressed his unique way in bringing Senna’s story to the screen with Indiewire before the film hit the U.S.: “When I was younger, I worked in television,” he said. “And that’s all I did, shoot talking heads. In a way I felt like I was always shooting a scalp. I didn’t have a way to do cinematic storytelling. The filmmakers that inspired me were people who tell stories visually and make films for the cinema. For me, the talking head model is just a bit more TV. But that’s just my taste. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it one day. But in terms of movies, I always try to make a film as cinematic as possible.”
#4. “Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season” (DVD and Blu-ray)
HBO had a built-in audience for their latest hit show, “Games of Thones,” thanks to the series of fantasy books by George R.R. Martin. But thanks to an emphasis on character and not on action, the series has crossed over to the mainstream. Sean Bean (“Goldfinger”) heads the sprawling cast as the warrior Eddard Stark, who reluctantly assumes the role as the Hand of the King after the mysterious death of his predecessor. All 10 hefty epiosdes are included on this release.
Extras: Fans have plenty to be happy about. Spread over the five discs are a slew of featurettes that delve into creating the Dothraki language, adaptaing the series for TV and much more. Also included are seven audio commentaries.
MTV’s “Footloose” reimagining was helmed by “Hustle & Flow” director Craig Brewer. Despite being a very faithful remake, Brewer manages to put his stamp on the material. His fans will not want to miss it.
Extras: To keep the good times, coming check out the music video for “Fake ID” by Big & Rich. Other than that, there’s a few deleted scenes worth watching, and feauture-length audio commentary provided by Brewer.