Fetishistic, sadistic and, well, ick, Lars von Trier’s Antichrist divided and prickled the film community last year more than any movie in recent memory, and for good reason: Trier’s story of a man (Willem Dafoe, always game for “bad-sex” schlock) and a woman (Charlotte Gainesbourg, Trier’s latest victim) coming to grips with their grief over their son’s death – a tragedy played out in the opening sucker-punch sequence – is a study in how to alienate your audience. The horrors on display have our attention, but then Trier hates us for our curiosity and punishes disproportionately. Still, there is artistry within the madness and it’s something to behold, if only to bear witness. What better way to do that than with this pristine transfer from the ever reliable Criterion Collection? (available Nov. 9)
Special Features: High-definition digital master, audio commentary, interviews, featurettes
When I was shown this film by Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright – a pre-release press screening that my lovely wife and I spent slack-jawed when we weren’t roaring with applause and appreciation – I never expected it would fall under this column’s “lesser-seen” heading a few months later. Practically chased from theaters by appallingly low attendance (it opened at No. 5 behind Sly Stallone, Julia Roberts and Will Ferrell movies), Scott Pilgrim is, nonetheless, one of the most inventive, good-spirited and downright hilarious films of the last several years. Book-ended by a lovely indie rock rom-com, the meat of the film is its elaborate, NES-style fight sequences, all of which serve as metaphorical levels to be reached and conquered in the lovebirds’ budding relationship. Thankfully, Wright and distributor Universal Studios still believe in Scott Pilgrim enough to load this release with captivating deleted scenes and an alternate ending that, along with (not opposed to) the original ending, serves as a perfect note for the film – and its pitiable theatrical run – to end on. (available Nov. 9)
Special Features: Audio commentaries, deleted scenes, gag reel, trivia track, featurettes
Nobody does small and quirky like the Brits and this one from debut writer-director Nick Whitfield is a charmer par excellence. Two odd-couple “exorcists” travel from home to home, their old-fashioned equipment in Willie Loman-esque suitcases, drag out people’s traumas – their literal skeletons in the closet – and discard them so that their clients can move on with their lives. It’s as if Charlie Kaufman were fused with Ben Elton, or as one British critic proclaimed, “Ghostbusters rewritten by Samuel Beckett.” What starts as an oddball comedy eventually transitions into a wonderfully adept heartbreaker with grace to reveal a truly underappreciated gem. (available now)
Special Features: Deleted scenes, featurettes
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