DVDs Nuts

Lesser-seen, critic-approved films on disc and on demand

The Hedgehog Little captured on film this year has moved me as much as the words, "Old fool," harrumphed from the lips of the titular, self-loathing superintendent in Mona Achache's adaptation of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It poignantly occurs after a lovely, rare date in which the super, Madame Michel (Josiane Balasko) is listened to attentively and admired with a sparkle in the eyes of Kakuro Ozu (Togo Igawa), a new, aged tenant. Few actresses could hope to convey the defeatism Balasko taps into throughout the entire film, and hers is such a perfect portrayal that it (helpfully) takes the wind out of the premise's precocious sail: Paloma, an 11-year-old tenant smack in the middle of existential crisis, decides that she will kill herself on her 12th birthday, giving her several months to document the absurdity of her existence. Paloma (Garance Le Guillermic) speaks in soliloquies and holds a camcorder to the world, and seems to have plenty to say. But once Madame Michel, who reads Tolstoy to her cat, Leo, is found by Paloma's viewfinder, it's hard to pay attention to anyone else. (available now)
Special Features: Deleted scenes

Scalene Filmed with a gentle but unflinching touch, Scalene stars Justified's Emmy-winning Margo Martindale as the mother of a special-needs son who gradually becomes unraveled when an act of violence throws her parenting into question. Hanna Hall stands out as a college-age caregiver whose concern for the boy's safety morphs into a bizarre obsession that comes with a heavy price, while Adam Scarimbolo does troubled Jakob justice and shades the character just enough to make us wonder how exactly events got to the heated pitch of the opening. (The film is told in a non-linear fashion that ultimately works but comes with a bit of creakiness.) But the true star is Martindale – her character, Janice, comes into focus only when the whole story is told, and she makes Janice's journey one of surprising intrigue and tragedy. (available July 31)
Special Features: Featurettes

Some Guy Who Kills People With its YouTube-era, lay-it-all-out-there title and provocative marketing campaign, one might assume this is a Hobo with a Shotgun-esque face-value slasher flick. Its driving plot – a graphic artist (Kevin Corrigan) with a grudge is suspected of killing off the now-grown members of the high-school baseball team that rejected then brutalized him years ago – conjures recent revenge fantasies like Super and God Bless America, especially with the introduction of a long-lost daughter (Ariel Gade) whose high-school basketball team similarly rejects her. But director Jack Perez can't help but explore more intimately the life of a perennial loser newly released from a psychiatric hospital and reveals a genuinely affecting rom-com heart that, far from feeling tacked-on, enlivens the proceedings and deepens the stakes for the hero (and possible villain). Bonus points go to Barry Bostwick, whose investigating sheriff with a gift for levity makes every scene he's in a must-watch. (available now)
Special Features: Audio commentary, short film, featurette