This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Indiewire’s top film of 2012; one of the most harrowing documentaries of last year; Julia Loktev’s haunting follow-up to “Day Night Day Night”; Paul Thomas Anderson’s most ambitious film to date; and the live action debut the filmmakers behind “Persepolis.”
#1. “Holy Motors”
“Holy Motors,” the film that topped Indiewire’s 2012 year-end critics’ poll, marks Leos Carax’s first feature in 13 years. Beloved at Cannes, where many pundits thought it had a shot at the Palme d’Or (Michael Haneke’s “Amour” won out), “Holy Motors” proves that the French auteur has lost none of his verve or ingenuity, but maybe some of his mind. In the odyssey that is “Holy Motors,” Carax’s longtime collaborator Denis Lavant plays a rich man named Oscar who, with the help of his trusty female chauffeur, inhabits 11 different characters over the course of one very long day. If you thought “Mulholland Drive” was too much of a mindfuck, then steer clear. Everyone else: gear up for two surreal hours of cinema that you won’t soon forget. Did we mention that Kylie Minogue pops up as a singing airline stewardess? (Here’s our review from Cannes.)
Extras: Blu-ray bonus features incluse the behind-the-scenes featurette “Drive In: The Making of ‘Holy Motors'” and an interview with Kylie Minogue.
#2. “How to Survive a Plague”
A searingly powerful chronicle of AIDS activism in New York, “How to Survive a Plague” shows how a group of men and women fought against a homophobic establishment to help bring life-saving drugs to America. It’s a remarkable part of American history that too few are aware of, and one that comes to theaters exactly 25 years after ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) — the activist group at the core of “Plague” — held its first demonstration. Nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Oscars (it lost out to “Searching for Sugar Man”).
#3. “The Master”
Perplexing, astonishing, moving and opaque in equal measure, Paul Thomas Anderon’s “The Master” has to be seen to be believed. In the filmmaker’s veiled take on Scientology, Joaquin Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime as a disillusioned WWII vet who finds himself under the wing of an enigmatic cult leader (Anderson regular Philip Seymour Hoffman). Nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams) at this year’s Oscars.
Extras: All nine of the film’s various teasers and trailers (many of which feature deleted scenes); an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette; 20-minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes all edited together in the form of a short film, with music scored by Johnny Greenwood; and best of all, “Let There Be Light,” John Juston’s landmark 1946 documentary about WWII veterans.
#4. “The Loneliest Planet”
Julia Loktev’s haunting follow-up to “Day Night Day Night,” “The Loneliest Planet,” is a slow-burner that follows a couple (Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) whose relationship is tested in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia a few months ahead of their planned American wedding. Nominated for Best Director at the Spirit Awards, “Loneliest Planet” is a film of quiet power that rewards patient viewers with a pay-off worthy of post-screening debate.
Extras: A behind-the-scenes documentary; mountaineering photors; and the film’s trailer.
#5. “Chicken With Plums”
From Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the Oscar-nominated filmmakers behind the animated smash “Persepolis,” comes this live-action foray that’s no less beguiling than their breakout hit. Like “Persepolis,” “Chicken With Plums” is an adaptation of a graphic novel by Satrapi. Starring Mathieu Amalric and Isabella Rossellini, the Tehran-set period drama centers on a beloved violinist who has lost all taste for life and confined himself to bed to await death. There he’s visitied by the Angel of Death, who coaxes out of him his life story.
Extras: Commenary with Satrapi and Paronnaud and a Tribeca Film Festival Q&A with the filmmakers.