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5/5/2010

Film & Video

DVDs nuts
Don’t overlook these lesser-seen OW-approved titles

 

Celestial Navigations: Short Films of Al Jarnow  From raps about littering to a two-minute time-lapse shot of his son growing out of his bassinet, this majestic collection of short films by animation veteran Al Jarnow showcases the man’s devotion to presenting educational material in a simple yet brilliant, often heartbreaking, manner. Most of Jarnow’s career consisted of stop-motion and hand-drawn interstitials for children’s shows like Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact, but, as seen in 15-minute epics like the title short – a science-minded look at Jarnow’s studio – Jarnow can be just as high-minded as any art-film auteurs. 

Five Minutes of Heaven  A present-day talk show brings together the brother (James Nesbitt) of a car-bomb attack fatality in Ireland in the 1970s and the man who perpetrated the crime (Liam Neeson) to discuss what happened and why. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) then shows us – in a tight 90 minutes of raw emotion – how it’s not that simple in a revenge tale that’s utterly human in its depiction of guilt and rage. The satisfyingly intense climax serves as an acting showcase for the two fully capable leads. 

Tetro When a new original piece of work comes down the pike from writer-director Francis Ford Coppola and editor Walter Murch, it’s time to sit down and pay attention. Thankfully, it’s a good yarn this time from a man who told some of cinema’s very best, before squirreling away his talent. Tetro might offer some answers regarding those decades of squandered vision through a beautifully rendered, semi-autobiographical tale of a tortured artist (Vincent Gallo) whose younger brother (Alden Ehrenreich, a young DiCaprio with buckets of charisma) crash lands at his doorstep. Tetro’s brother, a would-be composer like their father, possesses all the ambition Tetro was scared of acknowledging and wants to use it to turn their family story into an opera, setting off a mighty familial battle that spills into the streets and theaters of Argentina. Told in a deep black and white with occasional Powell and Pressburger flourishes of color, Coppola’s viewfinder is all over the map, but his command of story hasn’t been this solid in what feels like forever. 

Tokyo Sonata  Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who began cinematic life as a genre workman, takes a huge step here with the story of a family ripped apart in every fascinating direction by a downturn in the Japanese economy. When Ryűhei (Teruyuki Kagawa) is fired, the proud, angry man keeps it a secret. Kurosawa follows Ryűhei’s family on their individual journeys of self-discovery, rebellion and beauty, and the twists they all encounter – including a wild Stockholm Syndrome subplot.

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