Tuesday, August 21, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen ), 2007, directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Germany
Set in 1980s East Berlin, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut feature (which earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged. When a successful playwright and his actress companion become subjects of the Stasi's secret surveillance program, their friends, family and even those doing the watching find their lives changed too.

Crazy Cartoons, 2006, directed by Juan Miguel Figueroa Vega, Mexico
This compilation features more than 50 maniacally funny shorts from Mexico's CineFilms Animation Studios, the outfit spearheading Mexico's animation renaissance. Fans of "Beavis and Butt-Head," "The Simpsons" and the faux cartoon "The Itchy and Scratchy Show" will not be disappointed with this delightful collection, which includes episodes from four south-of-the-border series: "Cimerias," "Dobos," "Obeso" and "La Prepa."

Human Beings (Seres Humanos ), 2002, Mexico
After struggling for years to ignore their agony, a seemingly successful Mexican couple slips into despair a decade after the accidental death of their young daughter in this complex examination of the value of family. Dulce (Clarissa Malheiros), the mother, is a popular celebrity who's unable to reconcile her increasing popularity with the tragedy in her past, while her husband, Derek (Rafael Sánchez Navarro), retreats into a quiet insanity.

The Castle (Das Schloss ), 1997, directed by Michael Haneke, Germany
When land surveyor K. (Ulrich Mühe) arrives at a small village that houses a castle, local authorities refuse to allow him to enter. As he tries to convince the officials that they sent for him, they clamp down with increasingly complicated bureaucratic obstacles. Directed by renowned European filmmaker Michael Haneke, this visually stunning adaptation of Franz Kafka's absurdist novel first aired on Austrian television.