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Small Screen | “Human Centipede” and “The Pentagon Papers” Make for an Eclectic Week

Small Screen | "Human Centipede" and "The Pentagon Papers" Make for an Eclectic Week

This weekend, the gross-out hit of the year Tom Six’s “The Human Centipede,” the Oscar-nominated animated feature “The Secret of Kells,” and the Sundance flicks “Don’t Let Me Drown” and “Holy Rollers” come home on DVD. Also on the small screen, POV debuts the Oscar-nominated doc “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”

Tonight on PBS, the POV series rolls on with Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith’s historical documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Paper” (criticWIRE rating: B+) an underdog in last year’s Oscar feature doc category and a Special Jury Awarrd winner at IDFA, screens. The doc follows the decision of Daniel Ellsberg to release classified Pentagon documents related to the Vietnam War to the public. For the Philadelphia Daily NewsEllen Gray, “this two-hour look at the events leading up to Ellsberg’s release of the classified reports about the war in Vietnam that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers is many things: a formidable history lesson, an examination of one man’s crisis of conscience, an action movie for wonks, even a love story.”

Hot on the heels of the announcement of the film’s sequel, Tom Six’s “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” (criticWIRE rating: B-) comes to DVD. The film, which concerns itself with a sadistic man who takes three people hostage and sews them together in ways indescribable right now, has made audiences the world over squeamish. Eric Kohn on our site noted, “Easy to deride, and easier to dismiss, “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” nonetheless works as a calculated provocation. Demented in premise and execution, Dutch filmmaker Tom Six’s grotesque exercise in shock cinema has enough competence on its own terms to allow for a deeper reading.”

This year’s surprise Best Animated Feature Oscar nominated film, Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey’s “The Secret of Kells” (criticWIRE rating: B-), comes home to DVD today also. On Slant Magazine, Nick Schager says of the whimsical film about a young boy who skips out on protecting his Irish home from an incoming Viking invasion to help with the illustration of a book, “The material’s deep debt to folklore recalls the work of Hayao Miyazaki, but it never results in a requisite emotional or visceral jolt, its plot particulars too schematic and underdeveloped to engender serious engagement, and thus compelling only insofar as they provide opportunities for visual inventiveness.”

Also on DVD this week: Ken Burns’s PBS series “Baseball,” a deluxe box set of the entire series of USA’s “Monk,” a special edition packaging for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse,” a director’s cut of “The Exorcist,” Gianni Di Gregorio’s Italian family drama “Mid-August Lunch” (criticWIRE rating: D+), the Jesse Eisenberg Hasidic Jew ecstasy-smuggling “Holy Rollers” (criticWIRE rating: C), and the Sundance post-9/11 immigrant drama “Don’t Let Me Drown.”

Making debuts on Blu-Ray this week are: “Troll 2,” “Secretary,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “The Home Alone” trilogy, “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” and “The Maltese Falcon.”

Finally, this week’s winner for best title: “All American Orgy.”

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.

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