This week on DVD/Blu-ray: The altogether winning screenwriting debut of actress Zoe Kazan; one of the biggest crowd-pleasers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; a unique love story that’s not to be missed; a documentary sure to win over the “So You Think You Can Dance?” crowd; and a horror classic, perfect for viewing on Halloween.
#1. “Ruby Sparks” Criticwire Page
It was only a matter of time before Zoe Kazan penned her first screenplay. The actress, best known for her supporting turns in “Revolutionary Road” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” is the offspring of two Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord; the granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan; and the author of a play that premiered off-Broadway.
With the high-concept romantic comedy “Ruby Sparks,” Kazan now joins the ranks of stars such as Ben Affleck and Matt Damon — artists remarkably adept both behind and in front of the camera. Chances are she won’t net a little gold man for her “Ruby” efforts like the famous duo did for “Good Will Hunting,” but her screenwriting debut is a total winner.
“Ruby Sparks,” directed by “Little Miss Sunshine” dream team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, centers on Calvin (played by Kazan’s boyfriend Paul Dano), a revered young author who gets himself out of a writer’s block rut after dreaming up his latest protagonist, Ruby. Inspired by his new creation, Calvin finally begins penning a new novel, only to one morning wake up to the reality that Ruby (Kazan) actually exists. Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas co-star.
Extras: A behind-the-story featurette, plus the featurettes “Real-Life Couples: Co-Stars & Directors” and “Be Careful What You Wish For.” Also, on Blu-ray: cast and location (Los Angeles) featurettes.
There wasn’t a comedy more heartfelt and nutty at this year’s Sundance Film Festival than Colin Trevorrow’s “Safety Not Guaranteed.” The high-concept indie charmer won over critics and audiences with its blend of sci-fi and romance, culminating in a Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for the film’s writer, Derek Connolly, and a coveted distribution deal with FilmDistrict.
The screenplay, Connolly’s first to make it to the screen, centers on three employees (Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni) at a Seattle magazine who set out to profile the man behind a bizarre and hilarious classified ad that reads: “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’lll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.”
Extras: The 15-minute featurette “A Movie Making Mission,” which delves behind-the-scenes, and a quick look at the story behind the film’s origin titled “The Ad Behind the Movie.”
Marie Loisier’s visually captivating exploration of an unusual relationship profiles rocker Genesis Breyer P-Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle) and her powerful partnership with Lady Jaye. Going to great lengths to get cosmetic surgery to look alike and insisting on plural pronouns when anyone refers to them, Gensis and Lady Jaye essentially saw themselves as one person. It’s a love story that’s unique, deeply moving and shouldn’t be missed.
Extras: Additional interviews with Lady Jaye, Orlan, Gibby Haynes and Sleazy (of Throbbing Gristle and others); outtakes featuring Psychic TV, PTV3, Tony Conrad and Peaches; two short films, “Waiting to Go” and “Papal Broken-Dance”; photos from Genesis’ vast archives; and a behind-the-scenes segment.
A hit at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice first runner-up award for best documentary, “First Position” follows six young dancers as they compete at one of the most prestigious student ballet competitions in the world: the Youth American Grand Prix.
Extras: Footage of unedited and extra dances.
#5. “Rosemary’s Baby” (Criterion Collection) Criticwire Page
Just in time for Halloween, the Criterion Collection releases Roman Polanski’s horrifying (and darkly comic) classic “Rosemary’s Baby” on their label for the first time. Faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, “Rosemary’s Baby” stars a never-better Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors (played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon) and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby.
Extras: A new documentary featuring interviews with Polanski, Farrow and producer Robert Evans; an interview with author Ira Levin from a 1997 broadcast of Leonard Lopate’s public radio program “New York and Company” about Levin’s 1967 novel and its sequel; and the film “Komeda, Komeda,” a feature-length documentary on the life and work of jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for “Rosemary’s Baby.”