Believe the hype. Charles Burnett’s long-unreleased slice of Americana is every bit the lost classic its partisans have declared it for the last 30 years. There’s nothing flashy or innovative about its style, nothing innovative or groundbreaking about its technique. As David Denby suggested in The New Yorker earlier this year, it’s kind of like a great blues record — scruffy and familiar in some ways, startlingly expressive and singularly mournful in others, Or, as I put it back in March, “I’ve seen quite a few films about growing up in America, but there’s a nonchalant immediacy to this one that I’ve never seen matched.”
Buy it from Amazon.com: Killer of Sheep: The Charles Burnett Collection
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Criterion)
Fassbinder. Schygulla. 15 hours. It didn’t take long for Criterion to turn the recent restoration by the German Cultural Institute into a Region 1 DVD — and the viewing circumstances are close to ideal, since it was created for television, where it was serialized in 14 installments, and your TV set is almost certainly superior to whatever Fassbinder’s German audience watched this on when it originally aired in 1980. If you shudder at the thought of dedicating so much time to a single work, then consider a gift purchase for the most inveterate cinephile on your shopping list. They’ll be grateful for it, believe me.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Berlin Alexanderplatz – Criterion Collection
Paris, je t’aime (First Look)
18 short films by the likes of Olivier Assayas, the Coen Brothers, Alfonso Cuaron, Christopher Doyle, Alexander Payne, and Gus Van Sant? Another cinephiles’ delight for those who were — like me — too lazy to drag ass into the theater to catch this on its arthouse run. At any rate, sign me up!
Buy it from Amazon.com: Paris, Je T’Aime or Paris, Je T’Aime (Two Disc Limited Collector’s Edition)
la Vie en Rose (HBO Home Video)
Gets by, just, on tunes and a lively, intense performance by Marion Cotillard, but the very last thing this weighty biopic needs is an “extended version.”
Buy it from Amazon.com: La Vie en Rose (Extended Version)