DVD/Blu-ray Top Pick:
Title: "Blue Valentine"
Director: Derek Cianfrance
The Deal: Derek Cianfrance's two-hander drama "Blue Valentine" made headlines before its theatrical release last winter for all the wrong reasons. For some unfathomable reason, the MPAA decided to slap the Ryan Gosling/Michelle Williams' starring drama with an NC-17 rating, causing people who hadn't caught the flick at film festivals to presume it was a racy, sexually explicit romance in the vein of "Last Tango in Paris." Thankfully, justice for The Weinstein Company picture prevailed (Harvey has his ways) and the film was able to reach an audience, garnering rave reviews and an Oscar-nomination for Williams' baring turn.
"Essentially the anatomy of a break-up, it places exclusive focus on a young couple as their marriage disintegrates," wrote indieWIRE's Eric Kohn in his review of the film at Sundance. "Cianfrance, whose directorial debut “Brother Tied” premiered at Sundance in 1998, spent over a decade working on this lyrical follow-up; his efforts come through in every artfully composed frame."
Extras: 20 minutes of deleted scenes, the behind-the-scenes featurette, "The Making of Blue Valentine," audio commentary with Cianfrance and co-editor Jim Helton, and home movies shot during the rehearsal process of "Blue Valentine."
VOD Picks for This Week:
All synopses courtesy distributors
Title: "How I Ended This Summer"
Director: Aleksei Popogrebsky
The Deal: At an isolated science station in the Arctic, meteorologist Sergei and young intern Pavel face the impending closure of the now-irrelevant base. While Sergei eagerly anticipates returning to his family, Pavel still hopes for a grand adventure. Time is distorted so far north, where the never-setting summer sun can make a day stretch into weeks, and this engrossing thriller examines how altered perceptions affect the two men.
Where to Find: Netflix Streaming
Title: "Milking the Rhino"
Director: David E. Simpson
The Deal: Decades ago, the creation of Africa’s national parks and vast game reserves forced out thousands of indigenous people who had coexisted in harmony with wildlife for millennia on a land without borders. The “fences and fines” approach to preserving wildlife disrupted traditional lifestyles, making the wildlife refuges and parks the property of the “white man” and turning ordinary food gathering into a criminal act. Exploring wildlife conservation from the perspective of the indigenous people, "Milking the Rhino" presents the struggle of two traditional cattle-herding cultures: the Maasai tribe of Kenya and the Himba tribe of Namibia. Both find themselves clashing with the myth of “wild Africa,” which brings millions of tourists to the continent every year, particularly because the wildlife that draws these visitors competes for grazing land with the tribes’ domestic cattle.
Where to Find: SnagFilms
Title: "A Somewhat Gentle Man"
Director: Hans Petter Moland
The Deal: With revenge on his mind, a gangster (Stellan Skarsgård) who spent 12 years in prison for murder sets out to kill the man (Henrik Mestad) who put him there. But the promise of a normal life -- and news that he's on the brink of becoming a grandfather -- proves a tempting distraction. Suddenly, seeking vengeance doesn't seem nearly as important. Hans Petter Moland directs this Norwegian drama about sons and second chances.
Where to Find: Netflix Streaming
Title: "Gone Too Soon"
Director: Ian Halperin
The Deal: Culled from 300 hours of shot inside Michael Jackson's camp, Gone Too Soon is a documentary that depicts some of the more scandalous aspects of Michael Jackson's life.
Where to Find: FilmBuff