This Friday, Magnolia Pictures will release Neil Jordan’s Colin Farrell-starring historical drama “Ondine” (criticWIRE rating: B) on Xbox, Playstation, Amazon, & Vudu VOD, a month before the film debuts in U.S. theaters. Michael Rechtshaffen, writing at The Hollywood Reporter, says of the film, “A gentle, unassuming fable about a fisherman (Colin Farrell) who pulls up a fetching, mysterious woman in his catch, the film represents a back-to-basics return to form for Jordan, who in recent years has been looking to reconnect with the character-driven pieces (‘The Good Thief,’ ‘The Crying Game’) for which he is known.”
Last year’s “Nine,” from Rob Marshall, which went quickly from Oscar frontrunner to Oscar wannabe, comes to DVD and Blu-Ray, with several featurettes spotlighting the film’s all-star cast. The film received a C on our criticWIRE poll, and led many critics wanting for the film and source musical’s root, Fellini’s “8 1/2.” Also on DVD this week is the film that topped my list for the best film of 2009, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s “Tokyo Sonata.” Roger Ebert sums up the film’s relevance and formal strengths in his review’s opening paragraph: “Just as the economic crisis has jolted everyday life, so it shakes up “Tokyo Sonata,” which begins as a well-behaved story and takes detours into the comic, the macabre and the sublime. All you know about three-act structure is going to be useless in watching this film, even though, like many sonatas, it has three movements.”
David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago” also gets an update for its 45th year in circulation. The new Blu-Ray release gets high praise (and a A- rating) from Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Nashawaty, who says, “cinematographer Freddie Young’s wide-screen shots, which capture the snowy steppes with the same haunting beauty he found in the desert on Lean’s previous film,’Lawrence of Arabia’ (and which look better than ever on this digitally restored print). Sadly, most of the extras are retreads, except a doc on Zhivago’s impact on the next generation of filmmakers. The Blu-ray version adds a 44-page book of essays and photos plus a soundtrack CD.”
Also this week, the Roger Corman Cult Classics series unleashes two discs from its collection. The series, distributed under the name of the 2009 Academy Award Lifetime Achievement honoree and producer/director of many a low-budget B-movie and released by Shout! Factory, will release Allan Arkush’s “Rock ‘N’ Roll High School” and Penelope Spheeris’s “SubUrbia.” “High School,” which stars The Ramones, gets a glowing recommendation from DVD Talk‘s Bill Gibron, who says in a review of the Blu-Ray discs (released next week), “With Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Marky, the movie becomes an embarrassment of rags to riches, a wonderful argument for the power in punk and the vitality of four freakish lads from New York City. The comedy and coming of age material just makes the experience that much more memorable…Frankly, they are owed much more than they ever received…and that’s a shame. Luckily, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll High School’ is a lasting testament to who they really were – loud, fast, and a whole lotta fun!”
The “SubUrbia” disc, which features two audio commentary tracks, one from Spheeris, from the original release, and another new one from Spheeris, producer Bert Dragin, and Jennifer Clay, gets a middling review from DVD Maniacs. Writing on this site, Ian Jane sets up the film: “The film follows a teenage named Evan Johnson (Bill Coyne) who finally gets fed up with his abusive alcoholic mother and leaves home. Broke and alone on the mean streets of Los Angeles, he wanders into a club where D.I. are playing and after unwittingly taking some drugs and puking outside the venue, meets a kid named Jack Diddley (Chris Peterson). Jack and Evan become friends and before you can say dirty squatters Evan’s moved into the abandoned house that Jack and the rest of his crew, who call themselves The Rejected have made into their home.” He concludes, “Suburbia, as dated and at times hokey as it can be, actually does hold up rather well.” “Saving Private Ryan” on Blu-Ray, Francis Ford Coppola’s box office dud “Tetro,” and queer festival favorites “Greek Pete” and “College Boys Life” will also get home theater releases this week.
Bryce Renninger, an indieWIRE contributor in the New York office, is also the shorts programmer for Newfest and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Media Studies at Rutgers University. He can be reached via Twitter.