This week on DVD/Blu-ray: One of last year's contenders for the Best Foreign Feature Oscar; a slow-burning crime thriller; a film to steer you away from the woods; the black-and-white phenonmenon that brought back the silent film; and one of Alfred Hitchcock's all-time greats.
In 2010, Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam came to the Berlin Film Festival with his first feature "Bullhead" as an unknown. Cut to two years later and Roskam's an Academy Award nominee, who went up against world-renowned directors Phillipe Falardeau ("Monsieur Lazhar"), Joseph Cedar ("Footnote"), Asghar Farhadi ("A Separation") and Agnieska Holland ("In Darkness"), for the Best Foreign Feature Oscar at this year's show. In the end Roskam lost out to Farhadi, but don't let that sway you from catching his blistering and promising debut.
The Drafthouse Films release stars up-and-comer Matthias Schoenaerts ("Rust and Bone") as Jacky Vanmarsenille, a steroid-addicted cattle farmer with a mysterious past. When he intiates a shady deal with a notorious mafioso meat trader, things go haywire, forcing Jacky to face his demons in order to deal with the present.
"With each needle that penetrates Jacky's skin, the movie teeters on the edge of a wild exploitation movie where the souped-up hero engages on a warpath aided by superhuman abilities," Eric Kohn wrote in his review. "That it never goes that route, favoring understatement and patient character development over excess, is a testament to Roskam's respect for the world he's created. Demonstrating an awareness that even crazy people live, breathe and think, "Bullhead" moves with an intelligence that never wanders off-track, identifying Roskam as a talent to watch."
Go HERE for our interview with Roskam and Schoenaerts.
Extras: A making-of documentary; video interview with Roskam; video interview with Schoenaerts; "The One Thing to Do," a 2005 short film by Roskam that stars Schoenaerts; a special collector's edition booklet with an introduction by Michael Mann; and the film's theatrical trailer.
A co-winner of the Grand Priz at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" is not for those with short attention spans. Clocking in at a robust 157-minutes, "Anatolia" is full of long, pregnant takes with minimal action, but for those willing to go along with the ride, the payoff is plentiful. The film's plot centers on a police procedural and then men whose job it is to crack the case.
"A slow-burn study of investigatory obsession and police bureaucracy, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's mesmerizing "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" plays like "Zodiac" meets "Police, Adjective,"" wrote Kohn in his review. "That's a tough combination to pull off: Neither David Fincher's epic tale of the infamous decade-spanning serial killer hunt nor Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu's minimalist cop drama come with easy answers. But Ceylan has made a similarly analytical brain teaser, rendered in patient and sharply philosophical terms."
Extras: A feature-length making-of documentary (exclusive to Blu-ray) that includes interviews with everyone involved; a 49-minute featurette on the film's reception in Cannes; a video interview with Ceylan; a visual essay by Haden Guest, director of the Harvard Film Archive; the film's theatrical trailer; and trailers for other Cinema Guild releases.
#3. "Deliverance: 40th Anniversary Edition"
John Boorman's harrowing outdoors thriller "Deliverance" gets the definitive Blu-ray treatment for its 40th anniversary. To this day it still remains as shocking as ever. Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox play four friends who venture off the remote North Georgian wildness to canoe the Cahulawassee River before its flooded by the construction of an incoming dam. Their holiday takes a turn for the ugly when two locals take advantage of one the crew.
Go HERE for our interview with Cox, timed to the anniversary.
Extras: The disc comes housed in a sturdy matte-finish Digibook with 42 pages of behind-the-scenes photos, essays, cast bios and quotes. Included on the disc itself is a 30-minute documentary, titled "Deliverance: The Cast Remembers"; feature-length audio commentary by Boorman; a four-part retrospective documentary that clocks in at just under an hour; a vintage promotional piece; and the film's theatrical trailer.
#4. "The Artist"
Last year's beloved black-and-white love letter to the silent era is finally available for purchase via The Weinstein Company, who worked hard to snag the film its multiple Oscar wins. Academy Award-winner Jean Dujardin stars as George Valentin, a silent movie star, who struggles to stay relevant in Hollywood with the arrival talking pictures.
"The real star of the show is director of photography Guillaume Shiffman," wrote Kohn in his review. "Shooting in a 1.33 ratio and imitating the complex grey scales of innumerable silent traditions–from German Expressionism to the shadowy American noirs that came out of it–Shiffman provides the foundation for the movie's appeal."
Extras: A two-minute long blooper reel; "The Artist: The Making of an American Romance," which delves into the production; a 45-minute Q&A with the filmmakers and cast; a five-minute rundown of the shooting locations titled "Hollywood As Character: The Locations of the Artist"; "The Artisans Behind the Artist," a featurette that delves into the film's production design; and trailers for other Weinstein releases.
#5. "The 39 Steps (Criterion Collection)"
One of Alfred Hitchcock's cleverest and downright entertaining film, "The 39 Steps," gets a glossy makeover thanks to the folks over at The Criterion Collection. The spy story, adapted from a novel by John Buchan, follows Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) as he finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that takes him on a chase across the Scottish moors. He also finds time for a little romance with the cool and reserved Pamela (Madeline Carroll).
Extras: Audio commentary by Alfred Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane' "Hitchcock: The Early Years" (2000), a British documentary covering the director’s prewar career; original footage from British broadcaster Mike Scott’s 1966 television interview with Hitchcock; complete broadcast of the 1937 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, starring Ida Lupino and Robert Montgomery; new visual essay by Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff; audio excerpts from François Truffaut’s 1962 interviews with Hitchcock; original production design drawings; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Cairn.