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Why 'Damsels in Distress' Tops Indiewire's 5 DVD/Blu-ray Picks for the Week

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 25, 2012 at 9:13AM

This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Whit Stillman's first film in 14 years(!!); a dirty Danish comedy that puts its American counterparts to shame; a relentless French actioner; a twisted thriller from David Fincher; and every 007 film, available for the first time in one massive collection.
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This week on DVD/Blu-ray: Whit Stillman's first film in 14 years(!!); a dirty Danish comedy that puts its American counterparts to shame; a relentless French actioner; a twisted thriller from David Fincher; and every 007 film, available for the first time in one massive collection.

#1. "Damsels in Distress"

After a 14-year absence from feature filmmaking, Whit Stillman -- the beloved chronicler of preppy, privileged and highly literate youth -- made his comeback earlier this year with the release of his wry comedy "Damsels in Distress." Those familiar with Stillman's brand of wordy quirk and knack for doing wonders with ensemble casts will no doubt respond well to "Damsels." The film finds Stillman ("Metropolitan," "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco") in familiar territory, exploring the dynamics among a group of verbose and driven female students at an East Coast college with whimsical glee.

READ MORE: Whit Stillman On Why His Comeback, 'Damsels in Distress,' Was Born Out of Rejection

Indie darling Greta Gerwig ("Greenberg") stars as Violet, the leader of the pack, who heads a group at college that seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and upbeat musical dance numbers. Analeigh Tipton ("Crazy Stupid Love") plays transfer student Lily, a doe-eyed beauty whom Violet welcomes into their brood.

Extras: A feature-length commentary with Stillman and cast; a 10-minute behind-the-scenes featurette; a 30-minute Q&A session with Stillman and cast titled "An Evening with Damsels in Distress"; a handful of deleted scenes; and a short outtakes reel.


#2. "Klown"

One of the wildest comedies to come along in quite some time, the Danish import "Klown" follows two wildly inappropriate friends -- played by celebrated international comedians Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen -- as they run amok through the Danish countryside, plowing through endless awkward confrontations and unspeakable debaucheries. Hopelessly wrongheaded Frank 'kidnaps' the 12-year-old nephew of his pregnant girlfriend in an eager attempt to prove his fatherhood potential, and they join sex-crazed Casper on his secret adulterous weekend canoe trip. "On the surface, 'Klown' is familiar stuff," wrote Indiewire's Eric Kohn in his review. "Frank keeps making wrongheaded attempts to man up and become the responsible person his girlfriend doesn't believe exists. Still, where most comedies of this sort might wind toward a neat conclusion, 'Klown' constantly veers off-path and careens toward chaos, with moments of apparent tidiness used merely to emphasize the next inevitable fuck up. Because Frank can do no right, 'Klown' does a lot of it."

Extras: Audio commentary with director Mikkel Nørgaard and Hvam and Christensen; a making-of featurette titled "Klown From Behind: The Making Of Klown"; an episode of the "Klown" television series written by Lars Von Trier; a handful of deleted scenes; an outtake reel; and a slew of trailers for the film.


#3. "Sleepless Night"

If relentless action is your thing, then you'll no doubt surrender to "Sleepless Night," Frédéric Jardin's critically acclaimed French thriller. The film centers on seemingly corrupt cop Vincent (Tomer Sisley), whose attempt to steal a bag of coke leads to the kidnapping of his teenage son. This all occurs within the first few minutes; the rest of the film is one extended action sequence that takes place in a single crazy night. Reviewing the film at Fantastic Fest last year, Kohn said it was a "brilliant, frenetic action vehicle" with a "near-perfect realization of action dynamics," while noting that the planned American studio remake probably won't live up to the quality of the original.

Extras: An interview with the cast.

#4. "The Game" (The Criterion Collection)

Two years after he shocked audiences with "that ending" in "Se7en," David Fincher returned with the less critically acclaimed but still mightily impressive mindscrew "The Game." The twisted thriller centers on enormously wealthy and emotionally remote investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), who receives a strange gift from his wayward younger brother (Sean Penn) on his birthday: a live-action game that, if he agrees to play by its rules, will change his life. "The Game" is by no means definitive Fincher, but it still makes for quite the sordid ride, with a paranoid Douglas in top form and enough twists to keep you guessing until the final reel. And thanks to the folks over at the Criterion Collection, the film's never looked better.

Extras: Audio commentary by Fincher, Douglas, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, digital animation supervisor Richard “Dr.” Baily, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug; an hour’s worth of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and film-to-storyboard comparisons of four of the film’s major set pieces, with commentary; an alternate ending; the trailer and teaser, with commentary; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt.


#5. "Bond 50"

With "Skyfall," the 23rd James Bond outing to make its way to screens, opening in late October timed to the franchise's 50th anniversary, MGM presents all 22 previous 007 films packaged in one massive box set for the first time ever. Among the crop, nine ("Goldeneye," "Octopussy," "The Spy Who Loved Me," "You Only Live Twice," "The Living Daylights," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Diamonds are Forever," "A View to a Kill" and "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service") are making their Blu-ray debuts.

Extras: Over 130 hours of bonus features, including never-before-seen content from the Bond archives, and one disc of brand new bonus content approximately one hour in length.

This article is related to: Small Screens, Blu-ray, DVD / Blu-Ray, Klown, Sleepless Night, Damsels in Distress, Bond 50