This week on DVD/Blu-ray: The deserving winner of the Grand Jury Prize (Documentary) at last year's Sundance Film Festival; the film that put Lena Dunham on the map; a documentary that delves into the life of one of America's most beloved filmmakers; the sequel to one of the sickest films of all time; and a period musical drama.
1. Critic's Pick: "How to Die in Oregon" (DVD)
No matter where you stand on the legalized physician-assisted suicide debate, there's no denying the power of last year's Grand Jury Prize Winner (Documentary), "How to Die in Oregon."
Peter D. Richardson's fearless documentary tackles the controversial subject head-on by opening with a home video recording of one man's last breath. From there on in, Richardson opens his film up to people in Oregon who, for their varied reasons, chose to take advantage of the state's Death With Dignity Act.
"Despite assuming a one-sided perspective on the divisive issue, Richardson's moving documentary artfully lingers on its dark topic with incessantly powerful results," Eric Kohn wrote in his review out of Sundance. "It works like a retroactive propaganda piece arguing for the existence of the act. It shows the dignity in droves."
Extras: 43 minutes of deleted scenes featuring subjects not seen or featured briefly in the film; trailer.
Here's an exclusive scene (go here to learn more about the making of the film):
2. "Tiny Furniture" (DVD and Blu-ray)
Fans of Lena Dunham's SXSW award-winning breakthrough comedy "Tiny Furniture" have been waiting a good long while for this release (it hit theaters in 2010), but Dunham and Co. have a good reason for the delay. Three words: The Criterion Collection. In a surprising move that infuriated some, perplexed others and no doubt made Dunham a very happy woman, the folks over at the DVD/Blu-ray label added her film to their acclaimed roster. "They definitely said this wouldn't be a very orthodox choice for our label," Dunham told Indiewire of the initial offer, "but also, this is really what Criterion is about: unexpected choices."
Extras: Nora Ephron interviewing Lena Dunham about the writing and technical details of the film; a featurette where Paul Schrader expresses his admiration for Dunham; four short films made by Dunham before "Tiny Furniture;" "Creative Nonfiction," Dunham's first feature film made while she was in college; trailers.
3. "Woody Allen: A Documentary" (DVD)
If you're familiar with the work of Woody Allen, but not the man in question, then this PBS documentary should do the trick. Warning: It's extensive, so plan to set aside 3 hours, 15 minutes to watch the opus.
Extras: Five deleted scenes including Allen visiting his old neighborhood, outtakes, and interviews; an interview with director Robert Weide, who talks about his love of Allen's films.
4. "Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence" (DVD and Blu-ray)
If your idea of a perfect Valentine's Day involves watching a deranged man slice up butt cheeks and tendons in graphic close-up, then this is the release for you. If not, we advise you to steer clear. People who rent/buy this flick know what they're in for. As Kohn wrote in his review out of Fantastic Fest where the film premiered, "The premise is self selecting: It invites only those viewers up for the task." The question is, are you?
Extras: An informative commentary from director Tom Six where he discusses how he achieved the film's gruesome special effects and managed to get "Human Centipede: First Sequence" cast member Ashlyn Yennie to return for a sequel; three featurettes including an interview with Six, tour of the film's set and making of the film's sound effects; a deleted scene and trailers.
5. "Mozart's Sister" (DVD and Blu-ray)
Fans of "Amadeus" (and really, who isn't), should not miss this historical drama centers on Maria Anna "Nanneri" Mozart, the older sister to Wolfgang Amadeus. This fictionalized take on Nanneri's teenage years from French filmmaker Rene Feret, suggests that Nanneri had the talent of her brother, but was never able to act on it due to her sex. "With scene after scene of understatement, 'Mozart's Sister' constantly approaches the possibility of teen rebellion while making its impossibility the only certainty of Nannerl's oppressed existence," Kohn wrote in his review.