This week on home video, there aren’t any major new releases to speak of, so our list is stocked with independent and foreign fare. Luckily, however, most of the choices we do have are quite good. See below for the full list!
Elizabeth Olsen made quite a splash with Martha Marcy May Marlene, and she follows it up with a film just as ambitious, though for different reasons. Silent House, a psychological thriller about a young woman who is terrorized in a remote country house she is helping to fix up with her father and uncle, is most notable for its touted real time story, which is depicted in a single, unbroken take. The filmmakers did employ some clever methods to achieve the feat, and most critics were impressed by the movie’s technical merits, but they were also largely let down by the story and its eventual payoff. At 41%, Silent House is probably best enjoyed as an example of technical prowess, as it may be unsatisfying as a proper thriller.
A documentary about a sushi chef may not seem like the most compelling way to spend an hour and a half, but Jiro Dreams of Sushi is, according to almost everyone who’s seen it, a masterful portrait of a unique man that doesn’t require an appetite for raw fish to enjoy. Beautifully composed and thoroughly engrossing, Jiro depicts the single-minded dedication of Jiro Ono, widely considered the greatest sushi chef in the world, and his relationship to his son, Yoshikazu, who struggles to step out from under his father’s rather imposing shadow. Certified Fresh at 98%, Jiro Dreams of Sushi is thoughtful and captivating, and it’s almost impossible to come away from a viewing without salivating just a little bit.
A very small release that came and went back in March, The Deep Blue Sea is a romantic drama based on the stage play by Terence Rattigan and starring Rachel Weisz, Simon Russell Beale, and Tom Hiddleston (aka Loki in the Marvel movies). The story follows a married woman named Hester (Weisz) who falls into a heated affair with a Royal Air Force pilot (Hiddleston) and suffers the consequences as her stale but stable home life begins to crumble. Thanks to stylish direction and a potent adaptation from Terence Davis, as well as a powerhouse performance by Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea is Certified Fresh at 80%. And it didn’t even need any sharks (you knew that was coming).
From Israel comes another small indie that earned widespread acclaim, winning the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes and achieving a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at this year’s Oscars. Footnote is a dry comedy about a father and son, both distinguished professors of Talmudic Studies, who find themselves in a precarious situation when the father is mistaken for the son and awarded a prestigious honor. Under this “comedy of errors” setup, the film explores themes of ambition, love, and hypocrisy with sharp satire and deadpan wit, and with a Certified Fresh 91% Tomatometer score, Footnote is worth a look, even if you don’t know the first thing about Hebrew scholarship.
A couple of films by Whit Stillman that are already available in Criterion Collection editions are getting the Blu-ray treatment this week: 1990’s Metropolitan and 1998’s The Last Days of Disco. The former, Stillman’s feature debut, is a witty, satirical portrait of upper class New York socialites as seen through the eyes of a reluctant up-and-comer, and it earned Stillman a Best Screenplay Oscar nod. The latter is a similarly wry look at privileged partygoers featuring a pair of Hollywood’s own young up-and-comers in Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. Both new discs come with commentary tracks and deleted scenes, while Disco also features a behind-the-scenes featurette and an audio recording of Stillman reading an excerpt from his book of the same title.