Casual fans of French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg will find much to love about graphic novelist and first-time filmmaker Joann Sfar's biopic, especially the large portion of the movie devoted to Gainsbourg's romps with swinging London's most fabulous women – Jane Birkin (played by the tragic Lucy Gordon), Laetitia Casta's Brigitte Bardot, Salvador Dali's lover Elisabeth Levitsky – scenes made livelier by the obvious soundtrack of those moments, especially “Je T'Aime … Moi Non Plus.” The more pure devotees of Gainsbourg, however, won't find much to latch onto in Sfar's affectionate yet surface-level imagining for the same reasons. Although fanciful elements like the masked, beaked imaginary friend who represents (and taunts Gainsbourg mercilessly for) the musician's insecurity over his Jewish ethnicity, or the Jacques Brothers' Seven Dwarves-like existence, sleeping backstage, ever ready to entertain, the inescapable rise-and-fall biopic routine takes over far too easily. Still, Eric Elmosnino is stunning as Gainsbourg. (available now)
Special Features: Documentaries, original storyboards, character sketches
One of last year's great pleasures was seeing Ron Eldard on the big screen again in Super 8 – he's a little more bloated but has retained the same earnest twinkle in his eye that I came to adore in his ER and Deep Impact heyday. I looked forward to his capitalization vehicle, Roadie, a music-driven team-up with another name from the past, L.I.E. director Michael Cuesta. Roadie only played on one screen nationwide, but that means it came to DVD in a jiff, and thank goodness. Not only is Eldard's pliable face and coarse voice welcome and familiar, it finds great pathos in the story of a Blue Oyster Cult road tech who gets unexpectedly fired and is forced to face his demons back home in Queens, N.Y. Although Cuesta's direction is at times shockingly rusty (a fact unremedied by the labored script), there's a lot of soul here waiting, however tentatively, to be discovered. (available now)
Special Features: Audio commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes
“Outside of a person's love,” says 1992 Bill Clinton strategist and current Bill Hader impression James Carville in this remarkable documentary about that historic presidential run, “the most sacred thing that they can give is their labor.” Carville drops this piece of folk wisdom not to make a complicated issue more palatable to the masses, as he so brilliantly did over and over again during the campaign (“It's the economy, stupid,” “horseshoes and hand grenades”), but to bid farewell to a staff that would surely move on to bigger and better things. Carville admits the campaign trail is where he belongs, so despite him becoming a star for his tactics, his role, as he sees it, is that of a teacher on the last day of class, after a particularly special year, and the result is utterly endearing. Directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker, two masters of the doc genre, celebrate their third outing to earn the Criterion stamp of approval, and as the general-election machine revs back to life, the timing couldn't be better to revisit this gem. (available now)
Special Features: Documentaries, panel discussion, interviews, booklet
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