“I literally feel like I'm going crazy,” actor John Malkovich, as actor John Malkovich, tells Charlie Sheen during a scene in Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich. He's not only talking about the film he's found himself within, but he could also speak for any formerly right-minded fan about this beautifully assembled, mind-bending tribute to the Charlie Kaufman-scripted 1999 Oscar nominee. As if the story of a puppeteer who discovers a literal portal into the mind of Malkovich wasn't weird enough, this Criterion DVD explores that world with the same WTF spirit. The audio commentary by Michel Gondry basically entails the heavily accented auteur grappling with professional jealousy and lust (toward “Catren” Keener, who rebuffed his drunken advance one night), a contentious Q&A with Jonze conducted by fictional Jonathan Lethem character Perkus Tooth and a more insightful sit-down with Malkovich and Daily Show contributor John Hodgman, during which he reveals Jonze's “steelier” side. To sum up: What?! (available now)
Special Features: Selected-scene audio commentary with Michel Gondry, conversation between John Malkovich and John Hodgman, making-of docs, new Spike Jonze interview, films within the film
It was a bold move for Vietnamese director Tran Ahn Hung to commit to adapt Haruki Murakami's breakthrough novel about the confusing conflation of young love and suicide in late-1960s Japan. So many people around the world have identified with its protagonist, Toru Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama), that he's become almost wholly removed from the novel and replaced by a cast of millions of sad young literary men and women, all of whom have projected their own ideas onto both of the women Toru's in love with: the emotionally fractured Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi), who was his best friends' girlfriend prior to his best friend committing suicide, and the sassy, outgoing Midori (Kiko Mizuhara), whom he meets at college after Naoko is sent to a sanitarium in the hills of Kyoto. There are two things to know about Norwegian Wood: first, it is one of the most beloved novels in modern fiction; second is that there is no way any adaptation could live up to its source material. (available now)
Special Features: Featurettes
Writer-director Oren Moverman and star Woody Harrelson continue the chemical flame they've been stoking since 2009's The Messenger with this character study of an L.A. cop (Harrelson) who spirals out of control after his caught-on-cell-phone beating of a suspect. The incident triggers the cop's long-simmering resentment, alcoholism, racism and rage, but Rampart is no typical shame-spiral melodrama. Harrelson can't help but be slightly sympathetic – the guy just exudes shaggy affability, even, as he's seen here, when he's bald and matchstick thin, chain-smoking his way into what he hopes is an early grave. But Moverman has a way of teasing out his actor's hidden mechanics, almost single-handedly recasting Harrelson as our generation's Jack Nicholson. (available now)
Special Features: Audio commentary, featurette
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