DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: SIDE BY SIDE (Tribeca Film/Cinedigm Entertainment Group)
Keanu Reeves produced and hosts this engaging documentary that explores the recent but raging debate between traditional and digital filmmaking, and how the latter became the rule rather than the exception in only a few years’ time.A proverbial Who’s Who of Hollywood weighs in, including Martin Scorsese, George Lucas, James Cameron, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch, Andy and Lana Wachowski, Danny Boyle, the inescapable Lena Dunham, the late Don McAlpine and Gary Winick, and UNCSA School of Filmmaking faculty member Michael Chapman (the subject of a YES! Weekly cover story last month).Some filmmakers prefer traditional to digital — others vice-versa — but the cost-effectiveness of digital filmmaking has already compelled companies to cease manufacturing traditional cameras. Love it, hate it or don’t care, digital filmmaking is here to stay.The DVD retails for $26.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. ***
AFTERSHOCK (New Video/China Lion): An award-winning adaptation of Zhang Ling’s best-selling novel Tangshan Dadizhen dramatizing a family that survives the cataclysmic 1976 Tangshen earthquake and is later reunited in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The DVD retails for $26.95.
ALL DARK PLACES (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer/producer/director Nicholas Reiner’s intriguing shocker stars Joshua Burrow and Stephanie Fieger (in her screen debut) as a couple whose marriage is unraveling, hastened by the not-so-imaginary clown (Liam Siede in his screen debut) who taunts their young son (Dylan Mars Loff). Dark and weird, with definite cult possibilities. **’½
AMERICA STRIPPED: NAKED LAS VEGAS (Gravitas Ventures): Provocative title notwithstanding, David Palmer’s documentary follows photographer Greg Friedler as he shoots — and interviews — entertainers who doff their duds in Las Vegas. The DVD retails for $19.95.
ASYLUM (Synapse Films): Julien Courbey plays a young thug whose attempt to join the underworld backfires, leaving him chained to a tree, yet determined to make his escape. Steeped in atmosphere and attitude (with some Tarantino-esque black comedy thrown into the mix), this small-scale thriller (also known as I Want to Be a Gangster) is an enjoyable exercise in sustained suspense and a fine example of how to stretch a low budget. A noteworthy feature debut for writer/producer/director Olivier Chateau. In French with English subtitles. ***
CITADEL (Flatiron Film Company/Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Writer/director Ciaran Foy’s award-winning feature debut stars James Cosmo as a grief-stricken widower who strikes back against the street toughs who murdered his wife and are bent on abducting his daughter. The DVD retails for $26.95, the Blu-ray for $29.95. Rated R.
“CSI”: THE TWELFTH SEASON (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Entertainment): Marg Helgenberger bids farewell, but Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue continue the “CSI” juggernaut, in all 22 episodes from the 2011-’12 season of the long-running (obviously), award-winning CBS crime drama. The six-DVD boxed set (replete with bonus features for the “CSI” faithful) retails for $68.99.
DARK HORSE (Virgil Films): Writer/director Todd Solondz’s satire of suburban ennui stars Jordan Gelber as a thirtysomething slacker who thinks he meets the girl of his dreams in disillusioned, disaffected Selma Blair. One of Solondz’s more scattershot efforts, although there are some droll highlights and a solid cast: Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, Justin Bartha and scene-stealer Donna Murphy. **
EYEWITNESS (VCI Entertainment): Competent, straightforward 1956 thriller, with Donald Sinden (atypically villainous) and Nigel Stock as thugs attempting to silence a hospitalized woman (Muriel Pavlow) who saw them commit murder. Michael Craig, David Knight, Belinda Lee, Allan Cuthbertson and scene-stealer Ada Reeve round out the cast. Interestingly, this was written and directed by women: Janet Green and Muriel Box, respectively. **’½
FOX WORLD CINEMA (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment): A selection of critically acclaimed foreign films: Stephanie Sigman makes her screen debut in the title role of the topical, award-winning Spanish-language crime drama Miss Bala; writer/director Andres Baiz’ Spanish-language psychological thriller The Hidden Face (La Cara Oculta); and writer/ director Hong-jin Na’s award-winning Korean thriller The Yellow Sea (Hwanghae). Each film is rated R and each DVD retails for $29.98.
“GOSSIP GIRL”: THE COMPLETE SIXTH AND FINAL SEASON (Warner Home Video): Glamour and gossip come to a head in all 10 episodes from the 2012 season of the awardwinning CW Television Network drama series based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s bestseller, starring Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford, Penn Badgley, Matthew Settle and Kristen Bell (in the title role). The DVD boxed set retails for $39.98. Warner Home Video is also releasing “Gossip Girl: The Complete Series,” a 20-DVD boxed set that retails for $199.70.
HIDE AWAY (Flatiron Film Company/Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Grief-stricken Josh Lucas comes to terms with his past while restoring a broken-down sailboat in Chris Eyre’s award-winning drama, originally titled A Year of Mooring. Well-shot and wellacted (the cast includes James Cromwell, Jon Tenney and Ayelet Zurer), with a good eye for little moments — yet the overall impact is rather subdued. Still, worth a look. Rated PG-13. **’½
LAST CALL AT THE OASIS (Docurama Films/Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Writer/director Jessica Yu’s award-winning documentary ($29.95 retail) examines the world’s water crisis in detail. Rated PG-13.
LIBERAL ARTS (IFC Films/MPI Media Group): Josh Radnor writes, directs and stars in this romantic comedy about a thirtysomething bachelor who falls for brilliant, beautiful college co-ed Elizabeth Olsen. Richard Jenkins, Zac Efron, Allison Janney and Elizabeth Reaser round out a highprofile supporting cast. The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98.
LITTLE WHITE LIES (MPI Home Video): Jean Dujardin and Marion Cotillard star in this comedy-drama (originally titled Les Petits Mouchoirs) about friends whose annual summer getaway proves anything but a relaxing vacation. Written and directed by actor Guillaume Canet (Cotillard’s offscreen partner). The DVD retails for $24.98, the Blu-ray for $29.98. In French with English subtitles.
THE LONG MEMORY (VCI Entertainment): Ex-con John Mills sets out to exact revenge on those who framed him for murder 12 years before in this taut 1953 adaptation of a Howard Clewes novel, with some interesting twists along the way — including that Elizabeth Sellars (the girl who set him up) is now married to the police detective (John McCallum) on his trail! Look for Thora Hird, Laurence Naismith and Geoffrey Keen (especially good as a cynical reporter) in smaller roles. Well-paced and watchable throughout. ***
MY PERESTROIKA (Docurama Films/ Cinedigm Entertainment Group): Director Robin Hessman’s award-winning documentary ($29.95 retail) looks at the fall of the Soviet Union as seen and experienced by five Russians who were children when the USSR disbanded in 1991.
THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY (Music Box Films Home Entertainment): The title tells all in Mark Cousins’ 15-part documentary series ($69.95 retail) tracing the history of motion pictures, featuring interviews with Bernardo Bertolucci, Haskell Wexler, Robert Towne, Paul Schrader, Claudia Cardinale, Abbas Kiarostami, Gus Van Sant, Stanley Donen, Wim Wenders, Lars von Trier and many others.
TRUE NATURE (Monarch Home Entertainment): Writer/co-producer/director Patrick Steele’s award-winning feature debut stars Carolyn McCormick and Reg Land as a wealthy couple whose daughter (Marianne Porter, in her screen debut) mysteriously vanishes, then just as mysteriously reappears a year later. This low-key, brooding psychological thriller with supernatural overtones is a little ragged around the edges but worth a look. Steele is a talent to watch. **’½
MARK BURGER can be heard Friday mornings on the “Two Guys Named Chris” radio show on Rock-92. ‘© 2013, Mark Burger.