Like Someone in Love (Criterion, Blu-ray+DVD Combo, DVD) – After making his first dramatic feature outside of Iran with Certified Copy, a film shot in Italy with stars from France and England, Abbas Kiarostami hopped cultures once again, landing in Japan where he put together an odd, opaque, knotty little piece on love and affection and sex and desire that is a perfect fit with both the director and the chosen cultural milieu.
If you didn’t know it was Kiarostami behind the camera, carefully framing those scenes to keep your perspective limited like a bystander from compromised vantage point, you might think you’d stumbled across a brilliant young Japanese talent (with a sympathy for an elder’s experience) exploring the codes and assumptions and ambiguities of modern relationships in a complex social crucible. Rin Takanashi plays college girl and part-time prostitute Akiko, who has to cancel on her boyfriend for a last minute client, and Tadashi Okuno is the retired professor Takashi who hires her services and can’t decide if he wants to be sugar daddy or sage grandfatherly guardian. There’s something tender and yearning in his relationship with Akiko which gets more complicated when he tries to pass on advice to her jealous, hotheaded boyfriend (Ryo Kase), who really blows up when he discovers that Takashi is no doting family relative after all.
The story is pretty straightforward compared to the Euro-arthouse conceptual play of Certified Copy and their motivations are almost nakedly simple, at least to us. There’s a kind of purity in the melancholy of Takashi, a lonely old man who hires a hooker and ends up with a lost young woman who stirs paternal feelings, and Takanashi is both worldly and naive as the student call girl who is genuinely afraid of her boyfriend.
The enigmatic quality that felt so European in Certified Copy is just as naturally Japanese in this context, a series of tentative moves, polite codes of conduct, and bursts of unchecked emotion that recall the formality of Ozu and Mizogucchi in the 21st century. The characters and knotty relationships are so tangled in the lies and obfuscations they tell others and themselves that they get lost in their own blinkered perspectives. Like the audience, channeled by Kiarostami’s beautiful and often aggravating compositions, they never see the big picture. As the facades fall away, the relationships unravel and fray into another perfect Kiarostami ending.
The director-approved release is mastered from a 2K digital film transfer and features 3.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Both editions include the 45-minute documentary “Making of Someone in Love,” featuring extensive interviews with Kiarostami, and a booklet with an essay by film scholar and critic Nico Baumbach.
The Monuments Men (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital, VOD, On Demand) should be a much more engaging film than the scattershot, episodic rush through Europe in the final days of the war that ends up on screen. George Clooney directs and scripts with his producing partner, Grant Heslov, essentially fictionalizing the real-life account of the men tasked with finding, rescuing, retrieving, and returning the cultural and artistic treasures of Europe looted by the Nazis during World War II and protecting the masterworks left behind from the violence of the Allied invasion. It’s an amazing true story and Clooney pulls together a likable cast (including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin) and takes the lead himself. He just forgets to give anyone characters to play.
Not that they aren’t good company, it’s just that there’s no story pulling together all of the scenes of his team splintered across Europe in missions that come off more as a narrative conceit than a logical use of team resources. There’s a great story to be told about the Monuments Men. This isn’t it, but you can get an idea of the scope and the challenge of the real-life history in the documentary The Rape of Europa, which is on DVD and VOD and available to stream on Netflix.
Both the Blu-ray and the DVD include two featurettes and a bonus UltraViolet Digital HD copy. The Blu-ray also adds two additional featurettes and deleted scenes.
3 Days to Kill (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand) casts Kevin Costner as an international special agent sent to hunt down the world’s most ruthless terrorist the same weekend he has to look after his estranged and rebellious teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Amber Heard co-stars. Exclusive to the Blu-ray are an extended cut of the film and two featurettes.
Pompeii (Sony, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, Digital, VOD, On Demand) sends video game movie specialist Paul W.S. Anderson to the ancient world for an action thriller set in the shadow of a deadly volcano eruption. Game of Thrones alumnus Kit Harrington stars with Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss and Keifer Sutherland. The Blu-ray editions feature commentary, deleted scenes and a bunch of featurettes, plus a bonus UltraViolet Digital HD copy.
In Secret (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital HD, VOD, On Demand), based on Émile Zola’s 19th century novel Thérèse Raquin, stars Elizabeth Olsen as Thérèse, with Oscar Isaac, Tom Felton, and Jessica Lange. The DVD features commentary and deleted scenes.
Raze (IFC, DVD) puts a female twist on the battle-to-the-death modern arena thriller, with Rachel Nichols and stuntwoman Zoë Bell leading the cast of distaff warriors imprisoned in a modern day coliseum. Doug Jones and Sherilyn Fenn co-star. On DVD with filmmaker commentary,
Documentaries: 16 Acres (First Run, DVD, VOD), which looks at the battle over the development of Ground Zero of the September 11 attack, arrives on disc the same week that the a day advance of the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum opens. Also new this week is God Loves Uganda (First Run, DVD), which looks as the American Evangelical involvement in Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws, and The Jewish Cardinal (Film Movement, DVD), a portrait of Jean-Marie Lustiger, a son of Polish Jews who became the Archbishop of Paris (French with English subtitles, with bonus short Kosher from France).
Four features are now available for purchase in Digital HD editions weeks in advance of their disc release.
On the big budget side is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount, Digital HD), the Tom Clancy reboot with Chris Pine and Kevin Costner, the true war story Lone Survivor (Universal, Digital HD) with Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch, and the Robocop (Fox, Digital HD) remake with Joel Kinnaman and Gary Oldman.
On the indie-ish side is Parts Per Billion (Millennium, Digital HD), an end-of-the-world drama with (among others) Frank Langella, Gena Rowlands, Rosario Dawson and Josh Hartnett.
Enemy, a doppelganger thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal and Mélanie Laurent, is now available to rent through Cable On Demand weeks in advance of disc.
The Big Ask, a comedy with Gillian Jacobs and David Krumholtz, is available through Cable On Demand in advance of theaters and on Friday, May 23, the comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn with Robin Williams and Mila Kunis will arrive On Demand in advance of theaters.
Vampire Academy (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand)
About Last Night (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand)
Stay (Kino Lorber, DVD)
McCanick (Well Go, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Great Flood (Icarus, DVD, VOD)
American Made Movie (Virgil, DVD)
Back in Crime (Kino, DVD, VOD)
Grand Piano (Magnet, Blu-ray, DVD)
The Right Kind of Wrong (Magnolia, Blu-ray, DVD)
Sophia Grace & Rosie’s Royal Adventure (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD)
Weekend of a Champion (MPI, DVD)
Garage Sale Mystery (Hallmark, DVD)
Way of the Wicked (Image, DVD)
Crook (XLrater, DVD)
The Pink Floyd & Syd Barrett Story (Eagle Rock, DVD, Digital)
House of Dust (Anchor Bay, DVD)
Birthday Cake (Ariztical, DVD)
Mischief Night (Lionsgate, DVD, Digital HD, VOD)
Gold (Screen Media, DVD)
Camp Blood (MVD, DVD)