This week on DVD/Blu-ray: A tender coming-of-age tale; a documentary on the life of late photographer Francesca Woodman; a peek into the life of Hole ex-drummer Patty Schemel; an expose on the gay bear subculture; and the latest film from “Monster’s Ball” director Marc Forster.
Filmmaker Céline Sciamma (“Water Lillies”) is back with her sophomore feature “Tomboy,” another coming-of-age tale, this one concerning a 10-year-old girl who assumes the identity of a boy after moving to a new town in the heat of the summer. An award-winner on the festival circuit, “Tomboy” is a tender and warm tale of early sexual awakening, with an amazing performance by Zoe Heran as the conflicted child.
“There’s not a whole lot beyond the basic premise of ‘Tomboy,’ and anyone familiar with the trailer or even the self-explanatory poster can probably get the gist of this light, touching portrait of early sexual awakening.,” wrote Eric Kohn in his review. “However, Sciamma excels at keeping the movie’s bare essentials in place, turning ‘Tomboy’ into a pitch-perfect sketch..”
Extras: Interview with Sciamma and the film’s trailer.
#2. “The Woodmans”
Late photographer Francesca Woodman gets the documentary treatment in “The Woodmans,” C. Scott Willis unflinching portrait of the artist. Told through the young artist’s work and interviews with Woodman’s artists parents, Betty and George (each of whom have continued to practice their art while watching their daughter’s work eclipse their own), “The Woodmans” is a deeply engaging and sad look at the pressure of the New York art scene, and parent-child competition.
“I always thought of ‘The Woodmans’ as a sort of ‘anti-verite’ film,” Willis told Indiewire. “Instead of placing the camera in the middle of the action we backed the camera up so you could take in and examine the context and beauty of Betty and George Woodman’s world. And instead of constructing a narrative meant to trigger a reaction, I just wanted it to provoke thought.”
Fans of Courtney Love’s seminal rock band Hole owe it to themselves to check out this revealing documentary that sheds light on the harrowing life of the band’s ex-drummer, Patty Schemel. P. David Ebersole’s portrait touches on everything from Schemel coming out as a lesbian to her mother, to her vicious battle with drugs. Best of all, Ebersole interviews all of the alive Hole members (yes, even Love makes an apperance) to get their take on the woman, and manages to recover some extraordinary personal home videos of Kurt Cobain and Love playing family with their daughter.
Go HERE for our interview with Ebersole.
Extras: Audio commentary with Schemel and Ebersole; some of Schemel’s private home movies; a Q&A conducted at MoMA with Hole and the filmmakers; and a featurette titled “Teen Fan Really Can Play.”
#4. “Bear Nation”
If you rent/buy this expecting a documentary in the vein of “Grizzly Man,” chances are you’ll be in for a surprise. In the film (executively produced by Kevin Smith, who makes an appearance late in the film) director Malcolm Ingram traverses the globe to uncover the gay bear subculture – essentially overweight (or obscenely muscular) men with an affinity for body and facial hair.
Extras: Additional extended interview with Smith, Tracy Mogran and Bob Mould, as well as the film’s trailer.
Critics for the most part weren’t kind to “Machine Gun Preacher,” the latest from “Monster’s Ball” director Marc Forster that tells the true story of Sam Childers (played by Gerard Butler in the film), a former drug-dealing criminal who turns his life around to head an orphanage in Sudan. While the film is indeed conflicted (is Forster going for “Rambo”-lite or a dead serious drama?), Butler’s never been cast to better effect, and Michelle Monohan impresses as his conflicted, devout Christian wife. Michael Shannon also provides ample supporting work by playiing against type as Childers’ best bud.
Extras: A 14-minute piece on composer Thad Spencer’s score, and the film’s trailer.