CATEGORIES Documentary, Drama, Independent, ThinkFilm, Warner Independent Pictures, New on DVD, The Weinstein Co., Home Entertainment, Cinematical Indie, Features, DVDs, CinematicalThis week is overflowing with potentially interesting indie DVD releases. What Would Jesus Buy?, an entertaining documentary directed by Rob VanAlkemade and produced by Morgan Spurlock, asks a very serious question in comedic form. As I wrote in my review, the film follows Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Choir on a trek across America as they deliver an anti-shopping, anti-materialism, pro-Christmas message, bolstered by the trappings of fundamentalist religion. The DVD from Arts Alliance America includes deleted scenes, an 8-minute public access show featuring Reverend Billy, the Choir and Morgan Spurlock, and printable lyrics of the Choir's customized Christmas carols.
Theodore Braun's doc Darfur Now "is solely about the power and the conviction" of six people who have made a difference in Sudan, according to our own Christopher Campbell. "If there's one flaw with the film, it's that it almost conclusively portrays the Darfur problem as no longer a problem." One of the film's producers is Don Cheadle, who also appears along with George Clooney. The DVD from Warner Independent includes additional scenes and an introduction and commentary with Braun.
Woody Allen may not be thought of nowadays as an "indie" auteur, but, really, how many directors enjoy his creative freedom? I admire his untiring work ethic, but many of his recent films feel half-chewed, and Cassandra's Dream is no exception.
Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell play ne'er do well brothers who get tangled up in a murderous plot with their Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson). A half-dozen choice scenes and a gloomy atmosphere don't make up for a story that feels very familiar and a plot resolution that Allen has used before. The DVD from The Weinstein Co. appears to be a bare bones edition.
Grace is Gone got roughed up by some critics, but Cinematical's James Rocchi was very impressed by John Cusack's performance, acting "in a way we've never seen him before," and the direction by James C. Strouse: "Grace is Gone has the look of life, and the glow of art." Cusack plays a man struggling with how to explain to his two young daughters that their mother has died in Iraq. The DVD from The Weinstein Co. includes a conversation on the film, a featurette on the inspiration for Grace and another on TAPS, a tragedy assistance program.
In the words of Scott Weinberg, while Paul Schrader's The Walker is not completely successful "as a crime thriller or a pulpy 'whodunnit' -- it does turn out to be an unexpectedly candid character study that features a supremely solid cast of characters," and holds special interest "if you'd like to see many of the author's old themes and ideas, only transplanted into the fake and facile world of upper-crust D.C. utopia." Woody Harrelson stars. The DVD from ThinkFilm includes a "making of" feature, trailer and gallery.