Susan Granger’s DVD Update for week of March 1
“This Is Not a Film,” shot partly on an iPhone and smuggled into France inside a cake, is an experimental documentary film about acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. In March, 2010, Panahi was arrested and taken to Evin Prison, noted for its incarceration of political prisoners. Since his detention and six-year sentence, Panahi has been awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, winning international support from the film community, including directors Joel and Ethan Coen, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Robert De Niro, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moore, Terence Malick, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese and Frederick Wiseman.
In writer/director Julia Loktev’s “The Loneliest Planet,” Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg play an engaged couple backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. After hiring a local guide to lead them into the stunning wilderness, the trio’s adventure takes a dark turn when they encounter an armed man and his two sons.
Based on Elmore Leonard’s best-seller, Charlie Matthau’s “Freaky Deaky” is a crimedy, starring Christian Slater, Billy Burke, Crispin Glover and Michael Jai White. There’s
also “Happy in the Valley,” a dark, twisted comedy reflecting the craziness of
reality television with William Forsythe as an aging photographer and Dee
Wallace as his lonely, alcoholic neighbor in the San Fernando Valley.
Michael Madsen, Steven Bauer, Danny Glove, John Savage and Anne Jeffreys head the cast of the Mafiosa thriller “Sins,” as the wages of sin turn deadly when a chosen son of the violent, Sicilian Cortello family betrays them.
Exuding sexual tension, David Trueba’s “Madrid 1987” is a May/November seduction as a powerful Spanish journalist (Jose Secristan) engages a student (Maria Valverde) in an emotional duel involving sex, age, intellect, ambition and experience.
“Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon” finds the animated super sleuth and Shaggy battling the legendary super villain, Mr. Hyde, from the classic Blue Falcon television series.
PICK OF THE WEEK: The Oscar-nominated documentary “How to Survive a Plague” recounts how a fearless, dedicated group of people demanded the attention of a fearful nation and successfully reversed the tide of the AIDS epidemic. These improbable activists formed ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), infiltrating government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medications and treatments, moving them through trials and into drugstores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives and lifted AIDS’s death sentence.