This week we begin on France’s Cote d’Azur:
Rust and Bone
Rated R, 120 minutes.
This intense, much praised character study stars Marion Cotillard as Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident, only to fall into deep depression.
Matthias Schoenaerts plays Ali, the rough-hewn immigrant Stephanie meets after her accident. While he survives as a street fighter and she withdraws further into herself, the two somehow find reviving strength in the other.
Noted French director Jacques Audiard creates a contentious situation for the two strong-willed personalities to play off each other, which they do with constant onscreen electricity.
The DVD includes commentary, an hourlong “making of” featurette, six deleted scenes with commentary of around seven minutes, and a brief analysis of the film’s special effects. Plus: a three-minute glimpse at the film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Falcon: Mystery Movie Collection Volume Two The Warner Archive Collection releases the second batch of the entertaining B-movie series, with two discs containing six titles: The Falcon Out West, The Falcon in Mexico, The Falcon in Hollywood, The Falcon in San Francisco, The Falcon’s Alibi and The Falcon’s Adventure.
Tom Conway stars as Tom Lawrence, an amateur sleuth also known as the Falcon and who also always seems to be around right after a murder. The role originated with Conway’s brother, George Sanders, before the series’ odd sibling handoff.
These six films, all made between 1944 and 1946, marked the end of the franchise, one that saw Tom Lawrence leaving Manhattan for Western adventures.
The slick detective witnesses one murder in a nightclub before heading to a ranch to uncover the killer in The Falcon Out West. Lawrence travels south of the border and is accused of murder in In Mexico. He becomes embroiled in a murder at a movie studio in In Hollywood (look for brother George in a very brief cameo).
The Falcon in San Francisco is the best of the lot because of the fast pacing and skewed camera angles by Joseph Lewis, director of the seminal Gun Crazy. All the films are unrated and run between 62 and 70 minutes.
The Other Son (***) Character involvement builds in this Israeli film despite its premise resting on a whopper of a contrivance.
Two 18-year-olds and their parents discover the two boys were switched at birth in a Tel Aviv hospital. One who thought he was Jewish learns he is Arab, and the other, who has grown up as Palestinian, finds out he is Jewish. Identities, parentage and prejudices come under analysis and attack as the two boys go on to form an unsteady bond with each other.
Rated PG-13, 105 minutes. The DVD includes a 31-minute “making of” featurette, nine minutes of deleted scenes and a three-minute blooper reel.
This Must Be the Place (**1/2) This extremely odd film from last year never caught on despite an impressive cast featuring Frances McDormand, Judd Hirsh and David Byrne.
But it’s Sean Penn, as faded rock star Cheyenne, who is mesmerizing — talking in a slow gravelly voice and moving like a glacier. He leaves his massive home in Ireland to come to the U.S. when his father dies, leaving him the burden of seeking revenge against an ex-Nazi living in the country.
Cheyenne’s wandering odyssey provides much of the bulk of the movie that slowly gains momentum. Those who stick around long enough might find the payoff rewarding, however delayed. Rated R, 111 minutes.
Curandero: Dawn of the Demon (**1/2) Robert Rodriguez wrote this thriller directed by Eduardo Rodriguez. A federal Mexican agent, Magdalena (Gizeht Galatea) asks the local curandero (Carlos Gallardo), a sort of exorcist-sorcerer, to cleanse the nearby police station. They discover they have more than they bargained for, including uninvited guests of the horror variety.
Rated R, 92 minutes. The DVD comes in both Spanish and dubbed English versions and includes commentary.
Border Run (**1/2) Sharon Stone turns in a credible performance as Sofie, an Arizona TV reporter with rigid views on immigration who travels to Mexico when her brother, Aaron (Billy Zane), disappears.
Sometimes director Gabriela Tagliavini shows a heavy hand, but she also creates several harrowing scenes depicting the dangerous life led by the “coyotes” who smuggle people into the U.S. as well as the perils encountered by those who do enter. Rated R, 96 minutes.
In Their Skin (**1/2) This nerve-wracking film delivers an unpleasant experience when a couple (Josh Close and Selma Blair) and their young son go to their secluded home in the woods for solace. There, the Hughes eventually are joined by the reluctantly invited new neighbors the Sakowskis (Rachel Minor and James D’Arcy) and their young son.
The newbies make the Hughes feel increasingly awkward, and before long it’s an unsettling situation, vaguely similar to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. It’s entertainment by discomfort. Not rated, 96 minutes.
Super Bowl XLVII Champions Anyone who missed last month’s Super Bowl can now catch the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. In addition to the exciting game, the DVD includes the postgame ceremonies; an interview with coach John Harbaugh, who led the Ravens to defeat the 49ers, coached by his brother Jim; an interview with their parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh; and more. Not rated, 120 minutes.
24 Hour Love (**1/2) The revolving cast constantly changes in this look at a day in the lives of seven interconnected people, all destined for love before the day concludes. Starring Darius McCrary, Malinda Williams, Tatyana Ali, Keith Robinson, Lynn Whitfield and directed by Fred Thomas Jr.
Not rated, 98 minutes. The DVD contains deleted scenes and a photo gallery.
And now, something for young ones:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II; Mulan: 15th Anniversary Edition and Mulan II; Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2 Walt Disney Studios has packaged several past classics along with their sequels in these high-definition reissues, available in Blu-ray and various combo packs. Supplements vary, but most versions offer commentary, a “making of” featurette, and copious deleted scenes.
The original Hunchback, which debuted in 1996, has a score by Alan Menken and features the voices of Jason Alexander, Demi Moore and Kevin Kline. Mulan first appeared in 1998 with a voice cast including Eddie Murphy, Miguel Ferrer, Harvey Fierstein and Ming-Na Wen as Mulan. Recent Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix voiced Kenai in 2003’s Brother Bear, sharing voice time with Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas and Michael Clarke Duncan. All six movies are rated G.
And finally, from this week’s TV fare:
Ghost Hunters: Season Eight, Part 1 The first 12 episodes featuring the paranormal investigating team TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) arrive on four discs. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson examine haunted roller coasters, bed-and-breakfast outlets and even an entire family. And more. Not rated, 8 hours, 48 minutes.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Bachelorette, The Great Magician, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.