By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire June 7, 2011 at 3:33AM
This week in Small Screens, Mike Leigh's latest character study hits a home-run with critics, "The Housemaid" gets a kinky redo, Bill Hicks gets the doc treatment and more.
DVD/Blu-ray Pick of the Week: Mike Leigh's "Another Year"
The Deal: A Mike Leigh release is typically greeted with critical acclaim. His latest, the solemn character study "Another Year," which premiered at Cannes last year, is no exception. The drama centers on four seasons in the lives of Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri Hepple (Ruth Sheen), a couple living happily together after many years of marriage, and their friend Mary (Lesley Manville), a boozy, sad sack of a woman. "With “Another Year,” a skillfully understated character study from the master of subtext, Leigh magnifies the existential reflections of his middle-aged subjects, eschewing plot for mere observation and stuffing emotional realism into near-theatrical constraints," Eric Kohn wrote in his review. "Smoothly oscillating from comedy to crisis with an unparalleled eye for naturalism, Leigh once again puts intangible feelings in the spotlight and—using brilliant finesse—makes them funny and profound."
Extras: Feature-length audio commentary with Leigh and Manville, a 12-minute 'making of' documentary, the 11-minute featurette "The Mike Leigh Method," and the film's theatrical trailer.
Also Hitting DVD/Blu-ray...
The Deal: A hit at last year’s Cannes, Toronto and Fantastic Fest film festivals, Im Sang-Soo’s “The Housemaid” is a thriller notable for explicit sex scenes, class warfare and lavish set pieces. In this remake of Kim Ki-young’s 1960 Korean classic, Jeon Do-yeon (Cannes Best Actress winner for “Secret Sunshine”) stars as a young woman hired as a nanny in a mansion by businessman Hoon (Lee Jung-jae) and his very pregnant wife, Hae-ra (Seo Woo). Once living with the soon-to-be parents, it’s not long before the nanny embarks on a torrid affair with Hoon, leading to disastrous results.
"Children of God"
The Deal: With the Bahamas-set "Children of God," first-time filmmaker Kareem Mortimer grapples with homophobia, religion, conservatism, interracial gay romance to serve up a thought provoking heartfelt drama. The film centers on Johnny, a white Bahamian art student who strikes up a romance with a local Black Bahamian man.
"American: The Bill Hicks Story"
The Deal: UK based directors/producers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas spotlight American comedian Bill Hicks in their innovative documentary, "American: The Bill Hicks Story." Incorporating interviews with 10 of his closest friends and family members alongside photo-realistic animation that recreates key scenes from Hicks' life, "American" offers up a powerful portrait of the controversial comic who died of pancreatic cancer at aged 32 in 1994.
Extras: Over three hours of extended interviews, 30-minutes of deleted scenes, a number of featurettes that delve into the family's journey and the making of the film, Bill's own personal audio diaries, trailers and a 16 page collectors' booklet.
VOD Pick of the Week: "Hello Lonesome"
The Deal: With an enchanting mixture of laughter and longing, the worlds of six flawed yet endearing individuals are woven together as they explore those age-old human desires: to love and be loved. Single urbanite Gordon (Nate Smith) meets Debby (Sabrian Lloyd) online and finds their new relationship put to the ultimate test. A suburban widow (Lynn Cohen) gets much more than she was looking for when she loses her license and leans on her neighbor (James Urbaniak) for support. And in the country, successful voice-over artist Bill Soap (Harry Chase) starts to make amends for being such a lousy father. Sparkling with wit and humanity, Hello Lonesome is the first feature film from writer/director Adam Reid. [Synopsis courtesy of Film Movement]
Where to Find: Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Bresnan, RCN, Brighthouse and more.