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Recommended Discs & Deals of the Week: ‘Nightcrawler,’ ‘Don’t Look Now,’ ‘Force Majeure,’ and More

Written by on February 10, 2015 

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Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.

A Day in the Country (Jean Renoir)

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This bittersweet film from Jean Renoir, based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, is a tenderly comic idyll about a city family’s picnic in the French countryside and the romancing of the mother and grown daughter by two local men. Conceived as a short feature, the project had nearly finished production in 1936 when Renoir was called away for The Lower Depths. Shooting was abandoned then, but the film was completed with the existing footage by Renoir’s team and released in its current form in 1946, after the director had already moved on to Hollywood. The result is a warmly humanist vignette that ranks among Renoir’s most lyrical works, with a love for nature imbuing its every beautiful frame. – Criterion.com

Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg)

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Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie mesmerize as a married couple on an extended trip to Venice following a family tragedy. While in that elegantly decaying city, they have a series of inexplicable, terrifying, and increasingly dangerous experiences. A masterpiece from Nicolas Roeg, Don’t Look Now, adapted from a story by Daphne du Maurier, is a brilliantly disturbing tale of the supernatural, as renowned for its innovative editing and haunting cinematography as its naturalistic eroticism and unforgettable climax and denouement, one of the great endings in horror history. – Criterion.com

Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund)

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Beautifully simple yet breathtakingly bleak, the family turmoil at the heart of Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure hits a deeply resonant emotional chord. The plot revolves around an unexpected force of nature in the Alps that plunges a Swedish family into a frigid turmoil on a holiday retreat. There is an undercurrent of darkly comedic vibes that are accentuated with minimalist cinematography that carefully uses the wintery elements, like the encompassing blindness of snow, to great effect. But it’s the deadpan stares and demeaning looks between husband Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke) and his wife Ebba (Lisa Loven Kongsli) that make it hard to turn away from the awkwardness of this powerful family drama. – Raffi A.

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

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The world of Nightcrawler is a strange and terrifying one, but one in which you cannot help but want to dwell. For one thing, it is repulsively beautiful, all neon and sulphuric street lights, blasted planes of blacktop and palm trees. Then of course there is our guide through this nocturnal hellscape, Lou Bloom. Gaunt, gazing, and possessed of a fiery passion for his own self-interest, Jake Gyllenhaal inhabits a skeletal monster with the kind of vigor and power that would make him a compelling hero were his intentions and actions not so repellent. The story tightens like a noose, but one which you know Bloom will slip out of while still finding another neck for the karmic hangman to dangle. It’s powerful, crazy stuff, and surprisingly fun. – Brian R.

Stray Dogs (Tsai Ming Liang)

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In Stray Dogs, three actresses play the same character, with the first of them departing after the film’s first shot and the third taking over after the film’s central ellipse. The Buñuelian tactic gives the film a narrative ambiguity that could easily feel cheap and pointless, but Tsai makes it work. Perhaps it’s because Stray Dogs qualifies unambiguously as “Slow Cinema,” with shots of eating or looking at murals taking up several minutes, making it easy for the impatient and skeptical to say that “nothing happens.” But Tsai’s style forces us to question conventions, and among those conventions is the way in which we make sense of narrative. The ambiguity is therefore not just earned, but crucial. Tsai is equally subtle and clever in a series of four non-consecutive shots in which the protagonist (Lee Kang-sheng) serves as a human billboard, where the personal and political are gradually privileged, his aesthetic decisions being central to everything the film has to say. Never is this more clear or well-done than in the stunning penultimate shot, the film’s longest, in which humans — or at least the better of us — are implicitly differentiated from stray dogs because of our ability to find solace and make sense of art. Or, at least, that’s one interpretation of it. Thanks to that narrative ambiguity, Stray Dogs is not just perfectly executed — it’s also a gift that keeps on giving. – Forrest C.

Also Available This Week

Kill the Messenger (review)
Laggies (review)
Rosewater (review)
Predestination

Recommended Deals of the Week

(Note: new additions are in red)

12 Years a Slave (Blu-ray) – $11.99

21 Jump Street (Blu-ray) – $6.96

Alien Anthology (Blu-ray) – $24.96

The American (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Amelie (Blu-ray) – $6.74

Atonement (Blu-ray) – $9.98

Beginners (Blu-ray) – $6.60

Black Swan (Blu-ray) – $9.49

Bronson (Blu-ray) – $10.91

The Cabin in the Woods (Blu-ray) – $7.88

Casino (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Contagion (Blu-ray) – $8.83

Do the Right Thing (Blu-ray) – $8.10

The Fly (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Gangs of New York (Blu-ray) – $7.50

Goodfellas (Blu-ray) – $5.99

Good Will Hunting (Blu-ray) – $7.50

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Blu-ray) – $11.99

Gravity (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Grey (Blu-ray) – $6.96

Haywire (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Hugo (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Inglorious Basterds (Blu-ray) – $7.99

In the Loop (Blu-ray) – $7.93

Inside Llewyn Davis (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Jackie Brown (Blu-ray) – $8.12

Killing Them Softly (Blu-ray) – $8.00

L.A. Confidential (Blu-ray) – $8.64

Looper (Blu-ray) – $8.00

Lost In Translation (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Margaret (Blu-ray) – $9.99

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray) – $6.99

Observe & Report (Blu-ray) – $9.29

Office Space (Blu-ray) – $8.99

Persepolis (Blu-ray) – $7.26

Public Enemies (Blu-ray) – $7.99

Reality Bites (Blu-ray) – $9.25

The Rover (Blu-ray) – $9.99

The Secret In Their Eyes (Blu-ray) – $8.17

A Serious Man (Blu-ray) – $9.03

Seven (Blu-ray) – $5.99

sex, lies, and videotape (Blu-ray) – $8.25

Shutter Island (Blu-ray) – $7.50

A Single Man (Blu-ray) – $8.87

Snowpiercer (Blu-ray) – $9.99

Spring Breakers (Blu-ray) – $9.96

There Will Be Blood (Blu-ray) – $8.68

The Truman Show (Blu-ray) – $7.99

This is the End (Blu-ray) – $9.99

To the Wonder (Blu-ray) – $12.49

Vanilla Sky (Blu-ray pre-order) – $8.46

Volver (Blu-ray) – $6.56

We Own the Night (Blu-ray) – $6.91

The Wrestler (Blu-ray) – $6.49

Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) – $9.99

What are you picking up this week?


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