I watched Juan Antonio Bayona's The Orphanage (pictured) with expectations set perhaps too high. I thought it would be a thrilling Spanish ghost story; instead it's a rather pallid drama about a mother and a lost son with just a smidgen of suspense and supernatural overtones. Jette Kernion had a response similar to mine, but others liked it much more, including our own Scott Weinberg, who praised it as "entirely captivating from start to finish." The DVD from Picturehouse includes three featurettes and something on the somewhat misleading marketing campaign.
Family dysfunction and elder care may not sound like sexy subjects, but Tamara Jekins "simply takes us into the story of her fascinating characters, and the integrity with which she handles it makes it ring true throughout." That was the reaction of Kim Voynar to The Savages; she was especially impressed by the performances of Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The DVD from Fox Searchlight includes an extended scene, director's snapshots, and a featurette entitled "About the Savages."
Director Andrew Wagner made a terrific debut with the family road trip flick The Talent Given Us, a picture I loved. His sophomore effort, Starting Out in the Evening, received mixed reviews (James Rocchi was mostly positive; Ryan Stewart less positive), but the performances got high marks. Frank Langella stars as a novelist who yearns for his earlier work to be rediscovered; Lili Taylor is featured as his daughter and Lauren Ambrose plays a graduate student who is writing her dissertation on the novelist. The DVD from Roadside Attractions features an audio commentary by the director.