CATEGORIES Documentary, Drama, Independent, ThinkFilm, New on DVD, Home Entertainment, Cinematical Indie, Features, DVDs, CinematicalTwo notable indie releases this week are covered in more detail elsewhere (reviews not up yet, though): Julian Schnabal's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Todd Rahal's The Guatemalan Handshake.
Robert Wilonsky of The Village Voice wrote that Aaron Wolf's King Corn "is as much a thoughtful meditation on the plight of the American farmer as it is a rant against our expanding waistlines." The doc follows two college friends as they learn about their shared "agricultural heritage, and the tale of how kernels of corn have insidiously worked their way into America's diet." The DVD from Balcony Releasing includes deleted scenes, featurettes, a music video, photo gallery, and "the lost basement lectures."
The Japanese Army's horrific massacre of thousands of Chinese is documented in Nanking through the use of "vintage footage, interviews with survivors, and a staged reading of excerpts from journals and letters by a group of actors," according to Kim Voynar's review. She felt it was "deeply affecting" and that "the scripted reading actually works more effectively than mere voiceover would have, bringing to life the people who were a part of the events that happened." The DVD from ThinkFilm looks bare bones, with just a trailer gallery included.
Bobby Roth wrote and directed Berkeley with a great deal of affection. He based it on his own life experiences during the time that he attended UC Berkeley in the late 1960s and cast his son Nick Roth in the lead.
Truthfully, the film is too nostalgic for its own good; it's a pleasant trip, but doesn't cast any new light on that well-documented period. Henry Winkler is amusing as a perplexed father, and Laura Jordan and Sarah Carter supply attractive eye candy. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine has a nice turn as an influential friend, and also contributed to the soundtrack. Rivercoast is releasing the DVD, but I haven't found any details on extras.