July 14, 2010


Highlight of the Week

Greenberg (Alliance) Audiences going to see Ben Stiller in Greenberg surely weren’t anticipating Night at the Museum 3, yet they were still up in arms (refunds through the roof!) about this offbeat character study of a mid-life misanthrope attempting to reconnect with former friends and flames (to their chagrin) while house-sitting for his brother in California. Even if the film risks alienating viewers from its reprehensible protagonist, it’s a pity some folks couldn’t see past the pessimism: this is Noah Baumbach’s most emotionally and intellectually involved film yet, with Stiller delivering a landmark performance. Yes, Greenberg is a downer that will probably grow even bleaker as we get older, but it’s moreover a brutally sincere eye-opener. Extras include three pitifully short featurettes containing a few worthwhile insights from the director and Stiller.  

Also Available

When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors (Eagle Rock Entertainment) Continuing our week in divisive releases, Tom DiCillo’s Doors doc pulls together rare stills and archival footage that further verify Jim Morrison as both a compelling artist and a deeply troubled clown. It’s no secret that the band’s mythic stature is a source of dispute, but fans left unconvinced by Oliver Stone’s spaced-out biopic should be content with never-before-seen material (including restored clips from Morrison’s “lost” experimental film). Narrated by long-time fan Johnny Depp, When You’re Strangeeschews interviews and nostalgia and puts us on the psychedelic frontlines of a doomed rock circus. It’s more of a mood piece than a history lesson, and DiCillo stretches documentary conventions with rewarding results. Extras: short but fantastic interviews with Morrison’s sister and father, mini poster. (Where’s the entirety of Morrison’s lost flick?)

There Was a Father/The Only Son: Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu (Criterion, eOne) Good on Criterion for combining two of Ozu’s little-seen should-be classics (one his first talkie, the other a WW II–set weepie) in one tidy package. If you are unfamiliar with the name, for god’s sake get on that right now. If you are already well acquainted, seeing this invaluable twofer of Tokyo stories on DVD will still be a first — they have never before seen the digital light of day in North America. In typical fashion, Criterion has made sure the wait was worth it. These near-forgotten gems boast impressive transfers and newly improved subtitles. So take a break from Kurosawa and mellow out with some quintessential Japanese domestic drama. Extras: fantastic interviews with film scholars Tadao Sato, David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, lengthy essay booklet. 

Chloe (eOne) A middling erotic thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction — only queer, Canadian and a remake of a French film (how trangressive) — Chloe falls somewhere in the middle of CanCon darling Atom Egoyan’s adequate oeuvre. Glossily mounted with solid performances from Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried (who bare all in the film’s awkward-hot sex scene that you obviously have to see), it also includes welcome cameos by such Toronto landmarks as CafĂ© Diplomatico, the Rivoli and an ultra-glammy-looking Yorkville. In all fairness, the script has a couple of strong twists up until its bumbling last stretch. Extras: Egoyan commentary, hearty making-of, deleted scenes.