CATEGORIES Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, Romance, New on DVD, Cinematical Indie, DVDs, CinematicalPerusing the 126 titles listed by online retailer DVD Empire, The Lives of Others is so obviously the pick of the week that I hesitate to write any more about it. It's an engrossing, all-too-relevant drama that sneaked under my natural defenses and was quietly devastating. Martha Fischer reviewed it for Cinematical last fall and felt that both the film and actor Ulrich Mühe were "unforgettable"; Kim Voynar saw it in February and wrote: "At it's core .. this is really just a simple story told and acted extraordinarily well." The Sony DVD features an interview with and commentary by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, deleted scenes and a "making of" feature. This drama about spying in East Germany in the 1980s is made even more poignant by the news that Mühe died just a few weeks ago.
Broken English divided audiences and critics. Parkey Posey stars as a woman dealing with aging, loneliness and romance; Zoe Cassavetes wrote and directed. Our own Ryan Stewart was especially bothered by what he felt was an ending that was strongly reminiscent of another recent movie, while Kim Voynar was more positive overall in her review. Personally, I felt the positives outweighed the negatives. Now that Magnolia has released it on DVD, I hope more people will give it a shot.
Sometimes you see a familiar name on a DVD and you make an impulse decision to buy or rent the movie. Sometimes you must restrain yourself. From all reports, The Ex is the kind of romantic comedy that gives independent movies a bad name -- and I use the term "independent" only because this was released by The Weinstein Co. Scott Weinberg called it "resoundingly wretched"; read his review for all the gory details and make sure to pass by the pretty (?) faces of Zach Braff and Amanda Peet on the cover.