This week on DVD/Blu-ray: A warmhearted comic yarn from acclaimed Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki; a harrowing rock documentary that world premiered at SXSW; the latest from filmmaker/actor Mario Van Peebles; a History Channel mini-series on America’s most famous feud; and an indie high-concept horror film sure to make your palms sweat.
#1. “Le Havre” (The Criterion Collection)
A standout at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Aki Kaurismaki’s political fairy tale “Le Havre” centers on the bond between a young African refugee and a kindly old bohemian who shines shoes for a living in the French harbor city of the title. When the city officials call for the boy’s deportation, the man does everything in his power with the help of his tight-knit community to keep the boy put.
“With its bouncy soundtrack, deadpan humor and good-natured disposition, Kaurismaki’s “Le Havre” is an endearing affair,” wrote Eric Kohn in his review out of Cannes. “Combining his clownish storytelling with a life-affirming plot, Kaurismaki churns a fundamental scenario through his own unique narrative tendencies, yielding a product both heartwarming and irreverent, two qualities that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his distinctive touch. Beyond that, it also introduces an element of political commentary to the director’s work that deepens its impact.”
Extras: New interview with actor André Wilms; footage from the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, including a press conference and a French television interview with cast and crew; Finnish television interview with actress Kati Outinen from 2011; concert footage of Little Bob, the musician featured in the film; trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sicinski and a 2011 conversation between Kaurismäki and film historian Peter von Bagh.
#2. “Last Days Here”
“Last Days Here,” a documentary directed by Don Argott and Demina Fenton that world premiered at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival, documents the life of heavy metal legend Bobby Liebling and features the music of his band, Pentagram. Over the course of the film, Liebling, with the help of friend/fan/manager Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, tries to pull himself out of his parents’ basement despite decades of drug addiction and trouble. It’s the unbelievable true story about a man at the crossroads of life and death.
Go HERE to watch a scene from the film, exclusive to Indiewire.
#3. “We the Party”
Filmmaker/actor Mario Van Peebles (“Baadasssss!”) takes a revealing look at contemporary youth culture, showing how teenagers really are behind closed doors with his comedy “We the Party.” Set amidst the latest trends in music, dance and fashion, “We the Party” centers on five friends as they come of age.
Go HERE for a First Person, exclusive to Indiewire, in which Peebeles shares a scene from his comedy and opens up about the making of the film.
Extras: Feature-length commentary by director Mario Van Peebles, and stars Mandela and Makaylo Van Peebles; four music videos from the film; and the theatrical trailer.
#4. “Hatfields and McCoys”
America’s most famous feud gets the mini-series treatment from the History Channel in an event produced by and starring Kevin Costner as “Devil Anse” Hatfield (he also worked on the soundtrack with his band Modern West). Bill Paxton plays Randall McCoy, who leads his family in an escalating battle with the Hatfield clan after returning home to the West Virginia/Kentucky border after the Civil War.
Extras: “The Making of Hatfields & McCoys” featurette, and the “I Know These Hills” music video featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West.
This horror film from first-time filmmaker David Brooks, has a premise that begs you to give it a shot. The film revolves around three co-workers who stop by an ATM booth after their company’s Christmas party, only to find themselves locked inside and fighting for survival after a stranger donning a scary-looking parka (!) starts to terrorize them. Yep, you heard that right. If that synopsis doesn’t sell you, then the stellar cast — headlined by Alice Eve (“She’s Out of My League”), Josh Peck (“The Wackness”) and Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker”) — should.
Extras: An eight-minute making of featurette, and the film’s trailer.