By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 15, 2011 at 3:04AM
This week on DVD and Blu-ray the Oscar-nominated doc "Waste Land" lands, two classics get the deluxe Criterion treatment and Clint Eastwood takes a journey to the afterlife .
This Week's Top Pick:
"Waste Land" Dreams Big
The Deal: A testament to the transformative power of art, Lucy Walker's Oscar-nominated documentary “Waste Land,” (it lost to "Inside Job") documents famed contemporary artist Vik Muniz’s three-year collaboration with the catadores who make a living picking recyclables from Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest landfill located outside of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz, who grew up in Rio, travels home to shine a light on the hardships endured by catadores, by having them assist him in creating massive recyclable art projects.
"Muniz has a track record with capitalizing on the idea that a laborer’s craft can form his or her physical identity," Eric Kohn wrote in his review of the film. "(With the 1996 series “Sugar Children,” Muniz created portraits of young workers at a sugar plantation in the West Indies using the material they harvested.) “Pictures of Garbage” takes the concept about as far as it can go, turning ostensibly grotesque substances into a galvanizing representation of the individuals responsible for its management. The largest landfill in the world, Rio de Janeiro’s Jardim Gramacho blends the waste of rich and poor people into a vast, stinking heap of junk. In its contents, Muniz finds an intriguing representation of the national character. The workers, then, become symbolic faces of the Brazilian underclass, whose efforts sustain the society as a whole."
Extras: Extended bonus footage. Available on DVD.
Other Hot Picks:
"The Fighter" Packs a Punch
The Deal: A big winner at this year's Oscars, where it nabbed both supporting prizes, David O. Russell's "The Fighter" took a long time to make it to the screen (Darren Aronofsky was once attached to helm), but came out as one of last year's champs. The true, uplifting story follows Mickey (Mark Wahlberg), a fledgling boxer struggling to break free from his family and own the ring.
Extras: Audio commentary with Russell; the behind-the-scenes documentary, "The Warriors Code: Filming 'The Fighter;'" a slew of deleted scenes with optional commentary from Russell; and a digital copy of the film. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
"Au Revoir Les Enfants" Says Bonjour to Criterion
The Deal: Winner of seven Cesars in 1987, including Best Picture, "Au Revoir Les Enfants" is widely considered to be one of Louis Malle's ("My Dinner with Andre") most personal films. Set in a provincial Catholic boarding school in Nazi-occupied France, the film tracks the troubling friendship between Julien and new arrival, Jean.
Extras: Video interviews with biographer Pierre Billard, actress Candice Bergen and Malle's widow; "Josh: A Character Study," a profile of the lead character from the film; Charlie Chaplin's 1917 short comedy, "The Immigrant;" audio excerpts from a 1988 AFI interview with Malle; the original theatrical trailer and teaser; plus a book featuring essays by film critic Phillip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
"Yi Yi," An Intimate Epic
The Deal: This epic (it clocks in at a hefty 173 minutes) family drama from the late Taiwanese auteur Edward Yang ("A Brighter Summer Day") chronicles one year in the life of a middle-class family in Taipei. Composed of long shots and unusual angles, the film plays like a slice of life meticulously captured by a true master at the peak of his form.
Extras: Audio commentary by Yan and Asian cinema critic Tony Rayns; a video interview with Rayns about Yang and the New Taiwan Cinema movement; the film's U.S. theatrical trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film writer Kent Jones and notes from the director. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Eastwood Tackles Death in "Hereafter"
The Deal: Clint Eastwood's latest was no "Million Dollar Baby" size hit with the critics, but the metaphysical drama does have its admirers. Boasting a script by Peter Morgan ("The Queen"), "Hereafter" stars Matt Damon as a man with the ability to connect with the dead.
Extras: A feature length behind-the-scenes documentary divided into nine chapters: Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster, Is There Life After Death?, Clint on Casting, Delving into the Hereafter, Twin Bonding, French Speaking French, Why The White Light?, Hereafter's Locations - "Casting" the Silent Characters, The Eastwood Experience. Also featured is the 90-minute documentary, "The Eastwood Factor," filmed in HD. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.