Time for another DVD round-up. This one covers new releases and a few that have yet to be released. My reasoning in pointing out the not-yet-released DVDs is that Amazon is giving nice discounts on the pre-orders (especially the Free Cinema boxset). All releases are Region 1 unless otherwise noted.
Eraserhead and The Short Films of David Lynch — Released on January 10
David Lynch’s first feature, Eraserhead took five years to make, was rejected by the first US (later Sundance) Film Festival, and is inarguably a seminal American film, independent or otherwise. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve seen it. If you haven’t, it is essential viewing. The short films, released on DVD the same day, make a nice companion piece for fans, but probably only for fans.
Hustle and Flow — Released on January 10
While Hustle and Flow might not be the definition of a “self-reliant film”, we’ll use the occasion of its release to lobby the DVD powers-that-be to release writer-director Craig Brewer’s first feature, The Poor and Hungry . That film, made for $20,000 on a Digi8 camcorder with a skeleton crew, has some great writing, shooting, and editing (all by Brewer). In the meantime, check out Hustle and Flow. Craig writes killer dialogue, and the well-directed cast is deserving of all the praise and Oscar-talk.
Chan is Missing — Released on January 23
Wayne Wang’s first solo feature (he co-directed A Man, A Woman, and a Killer with Rick “Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices” Schmidt) follows two cabbies searching San Francisco’s Chinatown for a mysterious character who has disappeared with their $4000. Made for $20,000 in 1982 — two years after The Return of the Secaucus Seven and two years before Stranger than Paradise — the film was selected for the National Film Registry.
David Holzman’s Diary Release date: January 30
Just years after the advent of cinema verite and the Direct Cinema movement, Jim McBride created this, the first mockumentary and still a classic of the genre. Also included in the release is McBride’s My Girlfriend’s Wedding, as well as an essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Nice! NOTE: Region 2.
Edvard Munch — Release date: February 21
One of the most riveting and exhausting moviegoing experiences I had last year was seeing Peter Watkins’ (Punishment Park) one-of-a-kind film biography of the tortured Norwegian painter Edvard Munch at Philadelphia’s International House. Watkins calls this film “the most personal film I have ever made.” This is demanding, intense, and rewarding. The DVD features a director-approved high-definition transfer of the restored film.
Free Cinema Box Set — Release date: February 27
In all honesty, I can’t tell you much about this release, but I’m as excited about it as any on this list. It’s a box set of short films from Britain’s Free Cinema movement, which predated (and anticipated) the French New Wave. The shorts are a mix of documentary and fiction, but I confess that I’ve not seen any of the them. After reading about the movement on the BFI site, I can’t wait. NOTE: Region 2.