Around this time six years ago, three admiring actor-directors – Stanley Tucci, Bob Balaban and Steve Buscemi – announced they would each remake, in English, three films by Theo Van Gogh, the button-pushing Dutch filmmaker (and great-great-nephew of artist Vincent) who was murdered by an Islamic fanatic in 2004 over one of Van Gogh’s Muslim-poking short films. Only two made it to the screen (for better or worse), but all three originals are here in this appreciative, if not entirely slavish, set. While the films – Interview, in which a cynical journalist reluctantly sits down with an actress he presumes to be vapid; Blind Date, a tender heartbreaker with fits of mischievousness; 1-900, a dated look at late-night obsession – may have been adaptation-friendly, one can’t help but wonder when Van Gogh’s more overtly political outings will get the treatment they deserve. (available now)
Special Features: None
There were many who mourned this astounding historical thriller’s technical status as a miniseries; it originally aired on the Sundance Channel as a nearly six-hour special event and showed in more condensed versions in theaters later. That meant it was ineligible for an Academy Award despite winning trophies from the New York Film Critics Circle and National Society of Film Critics for best foreign film and a Golden Globe for best miniseries. As proven by its inaugural DVD run by Criterion, the thing is Oscar-level good. Director Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours) beautifully and horrifyingly lays out the life and times of Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal (Édgar Ramírez) who led an OPEC raid in the 1970s that killed three people. This is no jacked-up glorification, however; in the lengthy stretches of time between operations, Assayas takes care to dig in and subtly uncover the man behind the legend, and the results aren’t pretty. He finds a shallow, surface-level revolutionary – the very opposite of the film itself. (available now)
Special Features: Video interviews, making-of doc, selected-scene commentary
Canadian writer-director Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) enlists fellow Canadians Scott Speedman and Jay Baruchel for this Canada-set thriller with a, well, very Canadian sensibility. Canadian Emily Hampshire plays a curt, cat-obsessed waitress who becomes obsessed with a rash of murders tied to a serial rapist-murderer. Her neighbor (Speedman) is a wheelchair-bound hottie with a temper, while her newest neighbor (Baruchel) is a mensch who builds an access ramp for Speedman and practically apologizes for breathing when he speaks. While one of these unusual souls might be a criminal, they’re all psychos in one way or another, and that’s part of Good Neighbors’ Northern charm: Even the silly conclusion is like a ramped-up comedy of manners. Taken with a grain of salt, it’s a fun diversion. (available now)
Special Features: Deleted scene, featurette
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