This week two film festival darlings hit DVD shelves alongside a sexy French comedy and two classic titles.
Top Pick of the Week:
Mexico's Beloved "Alamar"
Mexico's Pedro Gonzalez Rubio had a good run in 2010 with his second feature "Alamar," which hits DVD this week courtesy of Film Movement. A winner at a number of 2010 festivals including Rotterdam, Morelia and Miami, the film is currently listed as criticWIRE's fourth best-reviewed film, right above Olivier Assayas' "Summer Hours."
The 73-minute family-friendly drama centers on Jorge, a father intent on teaching his five-year-old son about his Mayan heritage before the boy is whisked off to Italy by his mother. To do so, Jorge takes his son Natan to Chinchorro, home to the second-largest coral reef on the planet. There, Jorge eases Natan into the slow rhythms of a fisherman's life.
""Alamar" could easily have been an anthropological travelogue of a simpler, idealized way of life, or worse, could come across as someone's extended vacation photos," wrote criticWIRE member Allison Wilmore over at IFC News, "but it's a far more complex brew, at heart a reminder that time may be fleeting, but that doesn't make life any less sweet."
The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips shared in the praise by declaring "Alamar" "one of the true delicacies of the filmgoing year." Available on DVD.
Extras: César Díaz Meléndez's short film "Take It Easy."
criticWIRE Grade: A-
Other Hot Releases:
Sundance Rom Com "The Freebie"
Katie Aselton made a splash at Sundance last year with her film "The Freebie," which she wrote, directed and stars in alongside Dax Shepard. A no-frills look at modern love, Aselton's comedy centers on a sexually frustrated young married couple who decide to give each other a night with someone else. When it played at Sundance 2010, indieWIRE's critic poll named it the best film in the NEXT section. Available on DVD.
Extras: Audio commentary with Aselton and Shepard; "National Freebie Day": four fake public service announcements performed by Shepard and Aselton; a photo gallery featuring 20 stills; and the theatrical trailer.
criticWIRE Grade: B-
A Charming Gallic "Heartbreaker"
A by-the-books romantic comedy in the purest sense, Pascal Chaumeil's French blockbuster "Heartbreaker" is a frothy, fun and sexy charmer from start to finish. Limber French heartthrob Romain Duris plays Alex Lippi, a man breaks up couples for a living. When he's hired to prevent a gorgeous rich woman (Vanessa Paradis) from marrying a British millionaire, Alex finds himself falling for his prey. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Extras: Trailer; English titles; and TV spot.
criticWIRE Grade: B-
"Army of Shadows" Stomps Onto Criterion
Made in 1969 but not released in American cinemas until 2006, Jean-Pierre Melville's classic thriller "Army of Shadows" charts the journey of a small, secretive band of French Resistance fighters during World War II. Starring a crop of some of France's finest, including Lino Ventura ("Le Deuxième Souffle"), Paul Meurisse ("Diabolique") and Simone Signoret ("Diabolique"), the film is coming to Blu-ray and DVD via the Criterion Collection, who have previously released Melville's earlier classics "Bob Le Flambeur," "Le Samourai" and "Le Cercle Rouge." Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Extras: Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau; interviews with cinematographer Pierre Lhomme and editor Francoise Bonnot; on-set footage and excerpts from archival interviews; "Jean-Pierre Melville: Filmmaker," a four-minute French TV news segment from 1968; "Melville and Army of Shadows," a half-hour documentary; a section devoted to the French Resistance; a booklet featuring essays by film critic Amy Taubin; and much more.
"Raging Bull" Returns for its 30th Anniversary
Martin Scorsese's boxing classic "Raging Bull" hit select theaters in a new 35mm print last fall for its 30th anniversary. To keep the party going, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and MGM Home Entertainment have partnered to re-release the black and white drama onto a Blu-ray/DVD combo, with over 50 minutes of brand-new features. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Extras: Three audio commentaries featuring Scorsese, DeNiro, editor Thelma Schoonmaker along with other cast and crew; a slew of new documentaries including "Mary & Bobby," "Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic," "Remembering Jake," and "Marty on Film;" a TV excerpt of Cathy Moriarty on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson; and much more.