This week on DVD/Blu-ray: One of the two films that put Brit Marling on the map; one of the best love stories ever committed to celluloid; Luc Besson’s deeply felt epic on Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi; a horror film courtesy of Joe Dante; and the latest from the director of “Buried.”
#1. “Sound of My Voice”
The 2011 Sundance Film Festival served as a springboard for a remarkable number of writer/directors. Mike Cahill of “Another Earth,” Dee Rees of “Pariah,” Sean Durkin of “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” Evan Glodell of “Bellflower,” all made strong impressions, garnering distribution deals and a wealth of buzz. But only Zal Batmanglij, the man behind “Sound of My Voice” (co-written by star Brit Marling, who was also in Park City with “Another Earth”), saw his film sell to Fox Searchlight and (more importantly) top Indiewire’s 2011 mid-year critic’s poll.
The thriller concerns a young documentary filmmaker couple who infiltrate an underground cult in the San Fernando Valley, headed by the enigmatic and mysterious Maggie (Marling). “Using a chapter-based structure and littering the story with unresolved details about Maggie’s origins, the director plays up the situational intrigue to a consistently provocative degree, maintaining a creepy feel from start to finish,” Eric Kohn wrote in his review of the film, out of Sundance.
Extras: Two making-of featurettes and two episodes of “Fox Movie Channel Presents.”
#2. “In the Mood for Love”
Wong Kar-wai’s visually sumptuous love story “In the Mood for Love” finally gets the high-definition treatment it deserves courtesy of the Criterion Collection, who today debut the film on Blu-ray for the first time. A masterful evocation of romantic longing and fleeting moments, “In the Mood for the Love” centers on two strangers (Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung Man-yuk) who move into neighboring apartments and develop a deep bond, despite the love of their respective spouses.
Extras: “In the Mood for Love,” director Wong Kar-wai’s documentary on the making of the film; deleted scenes, with commentary by Wong; “Hua yang de nian hua” (2000), a short film by Wong; an archival interview with Wong and a “cinema lesson” given by the director at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival press conference from 2000, with stars Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Tony Leung Chiu-wai; two new interviews with critic Tony Rayns, one about the film and the other about the soundtrack, featuring musical cues, on the Blu-ray edition; trailers and TV spots; the music of “In the Mood for Love,” presented in an interactive essay, on the DVD edition; essay by film scholar Gina Marchetti illuminating the film’s unique setting on the DVD edition; photo gallery on the DVD edition; biographies of key cast and crew on the DVD edition; plus a booklet featuring the Liu Yi-chang story that provided thematic inspiration for the film.
#3. “The Lady”
In Luc Besson’s deeply felt epic “The Lady,” Hong Kong action icon Michelle Yeoh embodies Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Oxford graduate who became the figurehead for Myanmar’s fight against military dictatorship. Suu Kyi, the Burmese daughter of slain independence hero General Aung San, was placed under house arrest in her home country for heading the National League for Democracy. She was released after 15 years in detention in 2010, while Besson and Yeoh were in the midst of filming. “The Lady” starts out in the 1980s during the Burmese student protests and tracks Suu Kyi’s tumultuous life until her release. It centers on the little-known love story between Suu Kyi and her British academic husband Michael Aris (David Thewlis), who died of cancer in 1999, while she was under house arrest. As the film makes clear, Aris played a key role in campaigning for Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize win in 1991.
Extras: A making-of featurette and the film’s theatrical trailer.
#4. “The Hole”
Joe Dante, the helmher behind the “Gremlins” franchise and “Small Soldiers,” is back to his old tricks with his latest funny spooker, “The Hole.” The supernatural creeper centers on two bickering brothers who, along with their new (and hot) neighbor, come upon a trap door in their basement the leads to a mysterious hole. Little do the three know that said hole hides buried secrets that, once unearthed, will force the trio to confront their darkest fears and battle for surivival.
Extras: A making-of featurette; a number of other short featurettes that delve into the world of the film’ and some movie stills.
#5. “Red Lights”
After wowing critics and audiences at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival with his high concept English language debut “Buried” (you know, the thriller starring Ryan Reynolds that takes place in a sealed coffin), Spanish filmmaker Rodrigo Cortes returned to Park City earlier this year to show he was no one trick pony with another exceedingly ambitious indie, “Red Lights.” The supernatural creepfest stars Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver as two scientific debunkers of paranormal hoaxes who meet their match when a blind, world-renowned psychic (Robert De Niro) resurfaces to prove their theories wrong. Like “Buried,” “Red Lights” is a breath of fresh air for those seeking original, thought provoking entertainment.
Extras: Cast interviews with Weaver, De Niro, Murphy and Olsen; a 5-minute director’s interview; a making-of featurette; and some behind the scenes footage.