Friday, September 16, 2005

Notable DVDs released this week

Four siblings live happily with their mother in a small apartment in Tokyo. The children all have different fathers and have never been to school. The very existence of three of them has been hidden from the landlord. One day, the mother leaves behind a little money and a note, charging her oldest boy to look after the others. And so begins the children's odyssey, a journey nobody knows. Though engulfed by the cruel fate of abandonment, the four children do their best to survive in their own little world, devising and following their own set of rules. When they are forced to engage with the world outside their cocooned universe, the fragile balance that has sustained them collapses. Their innocent longing for their mother, their wary fascination toward the outside world, their anxiety over their increasingly desperate situation, their inarticulate cries, their kindness to each other, their determination to survive on wits and courage. Purchase it here.

Palindromes is a fable of innocence: 13-year old Aviva Victor wants to be a mom. She does all that she can to make this happen, and comes very close to succeeding, but in the end, her plan is thwarted by her sensible parents (Ellen Barkin and Richard Masur). So she runs away, still determined to get pregnant one way or another, but instead finds herself lost in another world, a less sensible one, perhaps, but one pregnant itself with all sorts of strange possibility. Like so many trips, this one is round-trip, and it's hard to say in the end if she can ever be quite the same again, or she can ever be anything but the same again. Palindromes features an all-star supporting cast including Debra Monk, Stephen Adly-Guirgis, Jennifer Jason Leigh and seven different and equally brilliant, risk-taking actors of different ages, races and sizes to play the young heroine. Acclaimed writer/director Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling) once again presents a film of moral complexity, and while this may be his most political and philosophical film yet, it is, in many ways, his most tender. Purchase it here.

In 2003, Palm Pictures joined with director’s Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham to create The Directors Label, a groundbreaking series of DVD collections curating the work of todays most innovative filmmakers. Now, Palm is releasing Volume 2, promising to take the Director’s Label to the next level with four exciting new DVDs with superb content featuring the biggest stars in music and film.
The Director's Label Boxed Set Vol. 2 features the work of video auteurs Mark Romanek, Stéphane Sednaoui, Anton Corbijn, and Jonathan Glazer. There is a bounty of superb material here, with watershed videos from some of the biggest acts of the past twenty years (Metallica, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madonna) as well as from lesser-knowns (Eels, Mirwais, David Sylvian, Herbert Gronemeyer). Beyond the videos, extras include commercials, beautifully-produced booklets for each director, and an exhaustive selection of documentary shorts. When future generations debate the artistic merit of the music video, this is where they'll start. Purchase it here.

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