New DVD Tuesday: Irish Gangsters, Hong Kong Gangsters, Suburbanites with Drug Habits, Brigitte Bardot's Bikini and more!
13 Tzameti - French movie with an Eastern European sensibility about a young handyman who decides to follow instructions intended for the owner of the house he's repairing. He ends up in a remote house, where he is forced to take part in a brutal game of Russian Roulette in which only one of the 13 participants will survive.
Bicycle Thieves - Criterion has released a DVD of Vittorio De Sica's 1947 classic of Italian neo-realist cinema, a simple but amazingly moving story set amidst the urban poverty of post-WWII Rome. Lamberto Maggiorani stars as Antonio Ricci, a humble man thrilled to have a job after two years of unemployment. But on his first day of work his bicycle is stolen, and with son Bruno in tow he wanders the city searching for the stolen bicycle he so desperately needs to earn his livelihood. I think this is the first American release to use the correct translation of the Italian title, Bicycle Thieves; the plural refers to the multiple thefts in the film. Beautiful and deeply emotional without being at all sentimental, there's a good reason this film is considered a masterpiece.
The Departed - Martin Scorsese has taken a slick but ultimately shallow Hong Kong action thriller (Infernal Affairs), lifted the best plot elements from it and transformed it into a profound examination of power, cultural identity, masculinity and personal ambition all wrapped up in a nail-biting crime drama. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an undercover cop who has infiltrated the ranks of a Boston Irish mafia clan led by Jack Nicholson. Matt Damon plays his polar opposite, a dirty cop who has risen through the ranks with impressive speed thanks partly to his covert activities with Nicholson. Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg shine in their respective supporting roles as a blustering police captain and hard-ass rank-and-file flatfoot, and Vera Farmiga is great as a sympathetic psychologist. The DVD includes nines deleted scenes.
Down to the Bone - Vera Farmiga stars as a working class woman hiding a nasty drug habit.
Half Nelson - Ryan Gosling stars as an inner-city history teacher hiding a nasty drug habit.
Performance - 1970 film directed by Nicolas Roeg stars James Fox as a violent gangster who needs a place to lie low and ends up in a posh hippie enclave presided over by a reclusive former rock star (Mick Jagger) who lives a life of dissipation amidst an entourage of beautiful women that includes Rolling Stones alpha groupie Anita Pallenberg, who co-wrote the film with Donald Cammell. Drug use and kinky games abound as gangster and rocker gradually take on each other's identities.
Plenty more releases after the jump.