And Everything Is Going Fine. 89+ min. 2010. DVD ISBN 9781604655988; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604655971. [See Trailers, LJ 5/1/12.]
Gray’s Anatomy. 79+ min. 1997. DVD ISBN 9781604656008; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604655995.ea. vol: color. Criterion Collection. DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95.
Actor Spalding Gray (1941–2004) is best known for his autobiographical theatrical monologues (Swimming to Cambodia; Monster in a Box), several of which were adapted for film—including Steven Soderbergh’s Anatomy, where the monologist’s unusual ocular malady provides the catalyst for a biting rumination on medicine, mortality, and other thought-provoking issues. Soderbergh’s Everything offers an adroitly edited performance clip and interview assemblage chronicling a unique talent. For biography fans.
The Fairy. color. 94+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 2011. DVD UPC 738329079628. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329097929. $34.95.
The Belgian comedy trio behind L’Iceberg (2006) and Rumba (2008)—Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, and Bruno Romy—return both behind and in front of the camera for another round of absurdist physical comedy with minimal dialog that evokes the work of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and, more recently, Jacques Tati. A self-professed fairy from a mental hospital strikes the fancy of a hotel desk clerk in this oddball romantic comedy with a sketchy story but mostly funny set pieces. For those with a taste for something different.
The Heineken Kidnapping. color. 122 min. In Dutch w/English subtitles. MPI Home Video. DVD ISBN 9780788615788. $24.98; Blu-ray ISBN 9780788615771. $29.98.
In his first Dutch-speaking role since his career-making collaborations with fellow countryman Paul Verhoeven (Turkish Delight; Soldier of Orange; et al.) in the 1970s, Rutger Hauer cuts an imposing figure as beer-making mogul Alfred Heineken, who was abducted for ransom in 1983 by a quartet of callow but resolute kidnappers. Writer-director Maarten Treurniet turns in an exciting, fact-based drama that ratchets up the tension while humanizing its characters. As a discriminating person’s thriller, this goes down smoothly.
La Promesse. 94+ min. 1996. DVD ISBN 9781604656169; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656152.
Rosetta. 93+ min. 1999. DVD ISBN 9781604656183; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656176.
ea. vol: color. In French w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95.
The 15-year-old son of a scammer using undocumented immigrants promises to care for the family of a fatally njured worker, forcing the troubled teen to choose between following his misguided but loving father or his conscience in La Promesse. Rosetta finds a desperate young woman struggling to support herself and her alcoholic mother in a mostly but not exclusively inhospitable world. These first works by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes offer intimately filmed, minimalist, neorealist dramas for serious film buffs.
Monsieur Lazhar. color. 94+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2011. DVD UPC 736211215550. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 736211215758. $38.94. Rated: PG-13.
After the classroom suicide of a Montreal sixth-grade teacher, an Algerian immigrant (Mohamed Fellag), who suffered a grievous personal loss of his own, is hastily hired as a substitute teacher. Despite a few cultural hurdles, the students grow to like the new instructor, who helps them deal with their grief as well as introducing some novel educational techniques. Nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Philippe Falardeau’s tenderly potent drama is widely appealing enough to transcend the usual art-film audience.