By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire April 10, 2012 at 11:29AM
This week on Blu-ray/DVD: An award-winning breakout from the 2010 festival circuit; a revealing portrait of the iconic Charlotte Rampling; one of the most controversial films to play at last year's Cannes Film Festival; the biopic that won Meryl Streep her third Oscar; and the latest from Werner Herzog.
Mike Ott's sophomore feature "Littlerock" (he made his debut with "Analog Days") was a hit on the 2010 film festival circuit, culminating in wins at the Gothams and Independent Spirt Awards.
The quietly engaging, bittersweet film follows two Japanese youth (Rintaro Sawamoto and co-screenwriter Atsuko Okatsuka) stuck in a dead-end California town, coping with insurmountable language barriers.
"Romance happens. Hearts get broken," Eric Kohn wrote in his review. "With a light, endearing touch, Ott navigates between the perspectives of the Japanese characters and their new American friends with an attentiveness to the universality of youth alienation."
Go HERE for Indiewire's profile of Ott.
Extras: Audio commentary with Ott and stars Cory Zacharia and Okatsuka; some deleted scenes; the official trailer; a picture gallery; screen tests; and festival promos.
# 2. "Sleeping Beauty" (DVD)
Australian novelist Julia Leigh's feature directorial debut "Sleeping Beauty" didn't win over all the critics in Cannes in its world premiere, but the premise and Leigh's cold and calculated execution sure got people talking. The psychosexual drama stars Emily Browning ("Sucker Punch") as Lucy, a college student who takes up job at a high-end prostitution operation where she is paid to take drugs that render her unconscious while her clients do whatever they want with her (except penetration).
"The tragedy that takes place in the final minutes is unfortunately undercut by her persistently cerebral approach," Kohn wrote in his review out of Cannes. "Still, there's nothing fairylike about this haunting tale, which maintains a dreamlike feel even when its adventurous protagonist wakes up."
Go HERE for Indiewire's profile of Browning.
Extras: Just the trailer, sadly.
#3. "Charlotte Rampling: The Look" (Blu-ray and DVD)
If there's anything to be gleaned from Angelina Maccarone's fascinating documentary "Charlotte Rampling: The Look," it's that its subject, the incomparable Charlotte Rampling ("The Night Porter," "Stardust Memories," "Swimming Pool"), is just as complex, wise, funny, sexy and mysterious as the array of memorable characters she's played over the last 45 years. Rather than present us with a talking-heads documentary portrait of the celebrated British actress, Maccarone uses the deft approach of having Rampling, 65, muse over a variety of large-scale topics (age, desire, death, love, etc.) with her peers and allies, to present a deeply personal look into what makes Rampling tick.
Prior to the film opening in theaters, Rampling spoke with Indiewire about being a documentary subject. "Certainly if you’re doing a thing like this, you’re not playing a role," she said. "That’s why I didn’t want to know from Angelina what we were going to talk about, or hardly who we were going to talk with. That was, of course, tougher," she laughed. "But I needed it to be as spontaneous because I knew if it wasn’t like that then I would mentally start to work things out. And I know for me that’s not helpful at all, it’s not a good way."
Extras: Not much. Included on the disc is a pretty small stills gallery, the film's trailer, and trailers of other Kino Lorber releases.
#4. "Into the Abyss" (Blu-ray and DVD)
"Into the Abyss" finds the veteran documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog delving into the legacy of a triple homicide in Texas. To flesh the story out, Herzog interviewed the victims' families and those convicted for the crime, including one man on death row, eight days before his execution.
Extras: A Herzog movie cries out for deleted scenes, but you won't find them here. All you'll find is the trailer.
#5. "The Iron Lady" (Blu-ray and DVD)
Meryl Streep gives a career-defining turn (and that's saying a lot) as the divisive, pearl-loving Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." She provided a bit of an upset at this year's Oscars by snagging her third Oscar for her efforts, over Viola Davis' favored win for her work in "The Help." The film -- directed by Streep's "Mamma Mia!" helmer Phyllida Lloyd and penned by "Shame" screenwriter Abi Morgan -- also won for Best Makeup.
Indiewire caught up with Welsh actress Alexandra Roach, who played Thatcher in her younger years, before the film opened. "When I was cast, I thought this would be intimidating with Meryl Streep attached," Roach said. "But all that disappeared as soon as I met Meryl. She's so open, kind and encouraging. She would watch me on set, but she was so calming. She'd just give me a wink every now then, a little thumbs up."
Extras: Included are some engaging mini-documentaries ("Recreating the Young Margaret Thatcher," "Battle in the House of Commons," and "Denis: The Man Behind the Woman"), along with making-of and costume design featurettes. Also included is a digital copy.