CATEGORIES Documentary, Drama, Foreign Language, Independent, New on DVD, Home Entertainment, Cinematical Indie, Features, DVDs, CinematicalMy personal pick is the powerful, haunting There Will Be Blood, but there are other intriguing titles to explore. Manda Bala (Send a Bullet) won the inaugural Cinema Eye Award for Best Feature; according to one synopsis, the documentary examines the "cycles of violence that plague Brazil's upper and lower economic classes in fits of rampant corruption and violent kidnappings." The DVD from City Lights includes an audio commentary by the director and producers, as well as several additional scenes.
Linda Hattendorf first met the subject of her documentary, The Cats of Mirikitani, on the streets of New York. He was homeless; she bought one of his drawings. "Thus began a strange, intimate relationship," Martha Fischer wrote in her review. She called the doc "a treasure of personal filmmaking, created on a shoe-string budget and completely devoid of pretensions or aspirations beyond simple, intimate, storytelling." The DVD from Arts Alliance America includes 20 minutes of bonus footage, deleted scenes and Mirikitani art gallery images.
Produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, enviro-doc The 11th Hour "seeks to summarize and draw awareness to the poor health of planet Earth in general," wrote Ryan Stewart. "Overall, The 11th Hour does a serviceable job of preaching to the environmental choir, without bothering to refute or even acknowledge any reasonable resistance to the basic tenets of the movement." The "environmentally friendly" DVD from Warner Independent includes more than 60 minutes of extras "exploring action plans for rescuing the planet."
A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar ... tackles the very serious task of trying to pass the bar exam in California. I saw this doc at AFI Dallas last year and enjoyed the gentle battle between idealism and realism among the tense law students profiled, as well as the entertaining sound bites provided by the famous lawyers interviewed. The DVD from Indican Pictures is listed with a "pending" release date at the company's web site, while online DVD retailers have various dates listed; whenever it comes out, it's worth a rental.
Speaking of sharks, Erik Davis saw Sharkwater at the 2007 Gen Art Film Festival and declared it "fantastic." He elaborated: "Not only are sharks represented as the good guys here, but the film -- which starts off as a calm, peaceful nature documentary -- quickly turns into a battle between the filmmakers and a group of illegal shark poachers, corrupt governments and the shark mafia (I swear, there's a shark mafia!)." The DVD from Warner Home Video includes a behind the scenes featurette, shark defense naval training film, theatrical trailer and TV spots.
Ron Livingston's magnetic performance is the main reason to check out Music Within. The film itself never rises above biopic conventions in relating the story of Richard Pimental, an aimless Vietnam vet who found his true calling as an advocate for the disabled, but Livingston is so engaging that the running time passes quickly. The DVD from MGM includes an audio commentary by director/producer Steven Sawalich, writer Kelly Kennemer and producer Brett Donowho, deleted scenes, and Pimental himself telling his story.