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by Nigel M Smith
January 8, 2013 11:57 AM
1 Comment
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Why 'Compliance' and 'Samsara' Top Indiewire's 5 DVD/Blu-ray Picks This Week

"Compliance" Magnolia Pictures

This week on DVD/Blu-ray: One of the most controversial films to play at Sundance, well, ever; a documentary 25 years in the making; Tim Burton's animated love letter to the horror films of yore; the first season of a new hit HBO show starring a loony and wonderful Laura Dern; and an endearing indie that will make you want to pick up a kid's xylophone and form a band.

#1. "Compliance"

In "Great World of Sound" director Craig Zobel's acclaimed and controversial drama "Compliance," Dreama Walker stars as Becky, a young fast food employee who is accused of stealing from a customer after a man, under the guise of a police officer, calls the restaurant demanding to speak to her manager Sandra (Ann Dowd). What follows is a horrific true account of how the mystery caller managed to convince the young woman's supervisor (as well as others asked to help out) to commit a number of physically invasive acts, including sexual assault. "It's a movie that must be seen, processed and discussed, perhaps the first of its kind to transform the audience into a focus group," wrote Eric Kohn in his review out of Sundance, where the film world premiered last year to a divisive response.

READ MORE: Combative New York Premiere of 'Compliance' Latest Victim of the Most Provocative Film of the Year

Extras: Interviews with the cast and Zobel, as well as the film's theatrical trailer.

#2. "Samsara"

Filmed for more than five years in 25 countries and on 70mm, the documentary "Samsara," from the team that brought you "Baraka," can most simply be described as an experience. There are no words, just a driving score; no characters, just startlingly honest portraits; no sets, just a global stage. The title, a Sanskrit word that translates as “the ever-turning wheel of life,” is the center point around which a 99-minute series of moving images revolves, each one remote, unusual and absolutely beautiful in some way.

Extras: Included is a Behind the Scenes section with several featurettes that delve into various aspects of the film. All in all, the contents clock in at a robust 49 minutes. An internet teaser and the theatrical trailer can also be found on the disc.

#3. "Frankenweenie"

Tim Burton's most recent foray into stop-motion animation, following 2005's dark wonder "The Corpse Bride," finds the filmmaker molding the live-action short that launched his career into a charming, beautiful, black-and-white feature-length film sure to appeal to kids, and adults with fond memories of horror films of yore. The film centers on a boy who brings his dead dog Sparky back to life. The stellar voice cast includes Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau and Winona Ryder.

Extras: Several making-of featurettes and the music video "Pet Sematary" by Plain White T's. Best of all is Burton's original short that inspired the feature.

1 Comment

  • Daria | January 10, 2013 12:36 AMReply

    Great reviews Nigel! I am going to focus on the movie that is affecting me the most: Compliance. It’s unbelievable that this prank was repeated 70 times without a hitch. I don’t want to imagine innocently going to work one day and ending up a victim of a horrific prank, because I wouldn’t comply. This seems like an intriguing film based upon the realization that humans are capable of utilizing the darkest parts of our minds. Although it seems we try to use religion and other means to convince ourselves to think otherwise. Since, I’m a psychology major my friends who also work with me at my job at DISH have urged me to see Compliance. So, I’m going to use my DISH Blockbuster @Home to instantly stream this disturbing thriller right to my living room TV. I’ve become an expert at recreating the movie theater experience, complete with buttered corn and my faithful recliner.