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DVDs Nuts!

Lesser-seen OW approved titles

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Life During Wartime

If you’re a fan of director Todd Solondz, then you know exactly what to expect from his latest, a bizarre, head-spinning retelling of his earlier film Happiness with an entirely new cast and subtle character changes: pain, misery and dysfunction. While Wartime lacks anything as visceral as the, erm, money-shot immediacy of Happiness, the interesting cast (including Paul Reubens, Charlotte Rampling, Ally Sheedy, Allison Janney and Shirley Henderson) eases worries about continuity – or even cohesion – and allows viewers to settle into an echo of something familiar yet entirely new. Solondz’s precious unpreciousness isn’t as beguiling as it was in the ’90s, and he seems to grasp that himself; here he ups the character-development ante. His silence is more deafening while his abrupt disturbances are more bracing and, in some guilty way, more entertaining. (available now)

Special features: Q&A, featurette, essay by David Sterritt

Music Video Exposed: The Collection

The VH1 series Music Video Exposed applies the Behind the Music style to the art of the music video (remember those?), but does it in a way that’s similar to the now-classic Director’s Series DVDs that combined all of a director’s music videos into one package. This delivery makes it easy to see both the evolution and the consistency of a director’s style. While the Director’s Series focused on the then-mature medium’s output in the ’90s, in true VH1 style, this series has a more nostalgic angle. One could argue that, in the ’80s, the nascent form was more about quantity than quality, but by dividing this three-disc set into the ’80s works of Russell Mulcahy (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Culture Club), David Mallet (AC/DC, Joan Jett, David Bowie) and Wayne Isham (Def Leppard, Metallica, Judas Priest), it’s clear that each of these directors were working hard to evolve the visual language of music videos in often playful, but generally daring ways. Interviews with the musicians themselves (especially the boys in AC/DC) provide even more perspective on the process. (available now)

Special features: Extended interviews

The Sentiment of the Flesh

A protégé of Roman Polanski, writer-director Roberto Garzelli knows that eroticism can’t be the only element of any successful movie, no matter how twisted the nature of the sex. With this Cronenberg-esque festival favorite, Garzelli injects morbid humor and ceaseless passion into the sensual tale of an anatomical artist who falls into bed with a radiologist. Together, they fetishize the human body in ways that most of us could never dream, pushing each other further and further to a shocking final shot. Boasting gorgeous cinematography and ethereal performances, Sentiment captures well the kind of infatuation that breeds ultimate possession fantasies. (available now)

Special features: None

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