DVD round-up: 12/21/05

Instead of making individual postings whenever a worthwhile DVD comes down the pike, I'll start doing a catch-all posting every now and then. I'll stick to the ones that make the most sense within the context of this blog and ignore other jaw-droppingly great releases, like Mizoguchi's Ugetsu monogatari. So, without further ado, here's the first DVD roundup:

Su Friedrich Box Set My friend Diana King alerted me that Su Friedrich's complete works have just been remastered from the original negatives and released on DVD by Outcast Films. A box set of five DVDs to be precise. Scratchy dreams. Messy break-ups. Lesbian nuns. Thirteen films, including her masterpiece, Sink or Swim. The price might seem a little steep ($150) for casual fans or the uninitiated, but it's hard to fault small distributors for charging a little bit more if you consider the filmmaker is probably getting a fairer cut of the profits than they would with some megacorp.

Ross McElwee Box Set Another five DVD set, this one from Ross McElwee, who was documenting his life, friends, and family long before the advent of "reality" TV. These are wry, smart, and sometimes heartbreaking films. McElwee's biggest claim to fame, I suppose, is Sherman's March (it's on the Library of Congress' National Film Registry as a "cinematic treasure"), but Time Indefinite (its sequel of sorts) is even stronger. Now you can have those two, along with four others, including his most recent, Bright Leaves.

Punishment Park Peter Watkins' work has long been absent on DVD, so the release of Punishment Park (1971) is a promising step in the right direction. I've been dying to get my hands on this since it arrived at my local video store a couple of weeks ago. It's been rented every single time. Thirty-four years after its release, could it be the world is catching up with Peter Watkins? Better late than never, I suppose.

Black Girl Black Girl (1966), Ousmane Sembene's first feature, was a seminal film in the history of sub-Saharan African cinema. I haven't seen it in a dozen years, but I still remember the ending. The New Yorker DVD release also includes Sembene's short Borom Sarret (1963). Sadly, some DVDs on New Yorker (like the Bressons) are less than stellar but, according to DVD Beaver, this one passes muster.