This week, one of the masters of Japanese cinema gets a double disc release through the Criterion Collection. Yasujiro Ozu, the master of early Japanese cinema has a hearty representation in the Collection, with his classic “Tokyo Story” joining packages of his silent films, his late films, and more in the prestigious Criterion library. This time, his films “The Only Son” and “There Was a Father” are released as a bundle. Jamie S. Rich at DVD Talk notes that “The Only Son,” a 1936 film that tells the story of a mother who educates her son despite financial woes who goes to visit him as an adult and finds him living a life he left secret from her. “Father” tells the story who gives up raising his son and his job as a school teacher to pursue a life with less responsibilities. Rich concludes, “Fans of the father of Japanese cinema will appreciate ‘The Only Son’ the most. Being the director’s first sound picture, it has historical significance; it also tells a wonderful little tale of the connection between mother and son, ruminating on the sacrifices a parent makes for her child and the offspring’s responsibility to do something with the opportunity.”
Two films from two of independent cinema’s most important contemporary directors also get a release today. Canadian helmer Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe” (criticWIRE rating: B) debuts on DVD this week, as does Noah Baumbach’s Ben Stiller-headlining “Greenberg” (criticWIRE rating: B). On “Chloe,” which has a doctor played by Julianne Moore send an escort (Amanda Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson), our Eric Kohn sums up his impressions by saying, “Part film noir, part unintentional B-movie parody, Atom Egoyan’s “Chloe” is a weirdly compelling expansion of the themes permeating the director’s work. Marred by an uneven screenplay, numerous implausibility issues and oddly dry, moody performances, it nevertheless maintains a basic guilty pleasure charm.” “Greenberg” follows the titular from New York to LA as he contemplates his life and housesits for his brother. On his film, Baumbach spoke with our Anthony Kaufman about the responses his characters get from the critical community, “They’re only ‘difficult’ compared to conventional movie characters. I don’t think they’re difficult compared to real human beings. I’m surprised how people react so strongly. Their argument is, ‘Who is like this?’ But they don’t realize they’re using other movies as comparison rather than using their own parents or themselves.”
Get your DVR’s ready for a hearty lineup of new films on the tube. PBS’s POV series rolls on tonight with a screening of “Good Fortune,” Landon Van Soest and Jeremy Levine’s film that investigates the effects of foreign aid in Kenya. Also tonight, HBO Signature premieres “Stuart: A Life Backwards,” a portrait of Stuart Shorter, which unfolds down various paths to tell the story of a man who became a violent convict and substance abuser who befriended the film’s screenwriter Alexander Masters. Tomorrow, July 14, HBO2 premieres Tribeca entry “An Omar Broadway Film.” The film documents the poor treatment of prisoners as exposed by co-director Omar Broadway, who snuck a video camera into a Newark prison and documented his experiences. HBO’s documentary series premieres Sundance alum “Lucky” (criticWIRE rating: C) from “Spellbound” filmmaker Jeffrey Blitz, next Monday, July 19. The film, which profiles people who have struck big on the lottery was difficult for Blitz to cast. In an interview prior to Sundance, the director said, “t was surprisingly hard to get lottery winners who were willing to participate. I guess, in retrospect, I was pretty naive to think it would be otherwise. They are people who go in one day from total anonymity to complete exposure, which inevitably entails being inundated with requests from the media and people trying to separate them from their money.”
Joining the ranks of the DVD shelves are Shana Feste’s “The Greatest” (criticWIRE rating: C+), which stars Carey Mulligan, Pierce Brosnan, and Susan Sarandon in a film that explores the inner workings of a family that loses their son, and Henrik Ruben Genz’s “Terribly Happy” (criticWIRE rating: B) which follows a Copenhagen cop to a small town after he has a breakdown. Also getting DVD releases this week are: Darko Lungulov’s “Here and There,” Warner Home Video’s fifth volume of the Film Noir Classic Collection (including “Cornered,” “Desperate,” and “Backfire”), SXSW alum “Artois the Goat,” the gay marriage docs “8: The Mormon Proposition” and “Saving Marriage,” America Ferrera and Forest Whitaker-starrer “Our Family Wedding” (criticWIRE rating: D+), Steve Buscemi’s vehicle “Saint John of Las Vegas” (criticWIRE rating: C), and “In Bruges” on Blu-Ray. This week’s most scandalous title goes to David Kittredge’s “Pornography: A Thriller” (criticWIRE rating: C+).
Bryce J. 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.