This week on DVD/Blu-ray: A comedy about a gay guy and his best girl friend who decide to have a baby (cough, a “Gayby”); the complete first season of Lena Dunham’s extremely successful foray into television; a demented and totally fun forgotten gem from the ’80s; Christopher Nolan’s black-and-white debut, remastered for the first time on Blu-ray; and a mostly wordless trio of films with music by composer Philip Glass
#1. “Gayby” Criticwire Page
A raucous hit on the festival circuit (and recent nominee at the upcoming Spirit Awards) “Gayby” is the long form version of Jonathan Lisecki’s award-winning short of the same name about two thirty-something friends from college, Matt (Matthew Wilkas) and Jenn (the hilarious Jenn Harris,) who decide they want to bring a baby into the world the old-fashioned way. The couple continues to navigate the daunting New York dating scene throughout their ups and downs of attempting pregnancy, leading to some crazy baby drama and a whole lot of laughs.
Extras: Theatrical trailer and a crop of deleted scenes.
#2. “Girls: The Complete First Season”
Few indie stars blew up this year quite the way “Tiny Furniture” writer/director Lena Dunham did with her much-hyped about HBO show “Girls.” Her secret? The show, exec produced by Judd Apatow, actually delivered on its buzz, culminating in a second season order which premieres next month, and a slew of Emmy nominations including one for Oustanding Comedy Series. In “Girls,” Dunham plays one of four young women trying to crave out a life herself in New York. If you’ve already seen the first season then why no revisit before round two? And if you’re late to the party, see what all the fuss is about!
Extras: “The Making of Girls,” a making-of documentary; deleted and extended scenes; two extended gag reels; cast auditions; table reads; six extended commentary with Dunham and Apatow; NPR Fresh Air interview with Dunham; a conversation with Dunham and Apatow; a conversation with the “Girls”; and a 20-page booklet containing a collection of Dunham’s tweets and behind-the-scenes photos.
#3. “Miami Connection” Criticwire Page
If ’80s synth rock, bone crushing TaeKwon-Do and motorcyle-riding ninjas are your thing, then you can’t do any better than “Miami Connection,” the long forgotten martial arts action film directed by 9th degree black belt philosopher Grandmaster Y.K. Kim, given a new life thanks to the fine folks at Drafthouse Films. The film failed to catch on with audiences when it was initially released theatrically back in 1987. It was resurrected some twenty years later by Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson, who purchased a 35mm print for $50 via eBay and began test screening it as part of the Drafthouse’s exploitation series. The action yarn, which tells the story of a fearless synth rock band who take to the streets of Orlando to rid the city of its criminals, lands on Blu-ray today following its theatrical re-release this past summer.
Extras: “Friends for Eternity: The Making of Miami Connection”; audio commentary with star/producer Y.K. Kim and writer/star Joseph Diamand; deleted scenes; the 25th anniversary Dragon Sound reunion concert from Fantastic Fest 2012; theatrical trailer; “Who Is Y.K. Kim?” promo video; and “The New American Dream” promo video.
#4. “Following” (Criterion Collection)
“The Dark Knight” auteur Christopher Nolan joins the Criterion Collection’s roster of directorial heavyweights this holiday season, as the highbrow label releases Nolan’s 1990 black-and-white, 16mm debut “Following” on Blu-ray and DVD. Calling to mind the twisty narrative of his own “Memento,” “Following” is the fragmented tale of an unemployed young writer who stalks strangers throughout London, hoping they will help inspire his writing. He gets inspiration and a whole lot more when one of his subjects leads him down a criminal path the writer didn’t see coming.
Extras: Audio commentary by Nolan; a new interview with Nolan; a chronological edit of the film; a side-by-side comparison of the shooting script with three scenes from the film; “Dodlebug” (1997), a three-minute film by Nolan, starring “Following”’s Jeremy Theobald; trailers; plus an essay by film critic and programmer Scott Foundas.
#5. “The Qatsi Trilogy” (Criterion Collection)
Extras: “Essence of Life,” an interview program with Reggio and composer Philip Glass on Koyaanisqatsi; new interview with cinematographer Ron Fricke about Koyaanisqatsi; television spots and a new interview with Reggio relating to his 1970s multimedia privacy campaign in New Mexico; early forty-minute demo version of Koyaanisqatsi with a partial scratch soundtrack featuring poet Allen Ginsberg, along with a new introduction by Reggio; a new interview with Reggio about Koyaanisqatsi’s original visual concept, with behind-the-scenes footage; “Impact of Progress,” an interview program with Reggio and Glass on their collaboration; “Inspiration and Ideas,” a new interview with Reggio about his greatest influences and teachers; public television interview with Reggio from 1989 about the trilogy; “Anima Mundi” (1992), Reggio’s twenty-eight-minute montage of footage of over seventy animal species, scored by Glass; a new video afterword by Reggio on the trilogy; “The Making of Naqoyqatsi,” a brief documentary featuring interviews with the production crew; a panel discussion on “Naqoyqatsi” from 2003, with Reggio, Glass, editor Jon Kane, and music critic John Rockwell; an interview with Glass and cellist Yo-Yo Ma; trailers; plus a booklet featuring essays by film scholar Scott MacDonald, Rockwell, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben.