FASTSCANS: Top Foreign & Indie Picks

Augustine. color. 102+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2013. DVD UPC 741360538290. $24.95; Blu-ray UPC 741360538306. $34.95.

A 19-year-old servant (French singer and actress Stéphanie Sokolinski, aka Soko) in an upper-class Parisian home, circa 1890, suffers a seizure resulting in her institutionalization for hysteria. Under the care of Jean-Martin Charcot (Vincent Lindon), the young woman is subjected to experimental treatments intended as much to advance her doctor’s career as to effect a cure. Eventually, a struggle for control develops between them as the relationship turns intimate in Alice Winocour’s fascinating exploration of medical authority. For period-drama buffs. [See Trailers, LJ 8/13.]

blanca FASTSCANS: Top Foreign & Indie PicksBlancanieves. b/w. 104+ min. silent w/English intertitles. Cohen Media Group. 2012. DVD UPC 741952749493. $29.98; Blu-ray/DVD 741952749592. $44.98. Rated: PG-13.

The defiant daughter of a gored bullfighter, whose mother died in childbirth, Carmen is brought up under the thumb of a stepmother whose infidelities occur under the nose of Carmen’s invalid father. Running away with a comedic troupe of dwarves, Carmen (marvelously played as an adult by Macarena Garcia) eventually becomes a matador and does her padre proud. Writer-director Pablo Berger’s take on the Snow White story is true to silent-film tropes, not least of which are its striking close-ups and evocative score. Viewers will say olé.

Early Fassbinder. 5 discs. color & b/w. 454 min. In German w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. (Eclipse Series 39). 1969–70. DVD ISBN 9781604657661. $69.99.

The prolific New German Cinema director Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945–82) made his feature debut with Love Is Colder Than Death, a bleak tale of romantic deceit. The similarly austere Katzelmacher followed, with its look at social intolerance. Gods of the Plague returned to Love’s theme of complicated entanglements. The American Soldier, a noirish gangster film, evinced an evolving style. Beware the Holy Whore went further by calling attention to the filmmaking process. For hard-core Fassbinder fans.

Kon-Tiki. color. 96+ min. color. Anchor Bay Entertainment & Weinstein Co. 2012. DVD UPC 013132607740. $24.98; Blu-ray/DVD UPC 013132607764. $29.99. Rated: PG-13.

Sailing from South America to Polynesia on a balsawood raft in 1947, explorer Thor Heyerdahl (Pål Sverre Hagen) and his five-man crew battle sharks, storms, and a water-logged craft to prove Peruvians centuries earlier had made the 5,000-mile journey. Based on Heyerdahl’s (1914–2002) international best seller and self-directed documentary, Joachim Ronning’s dramatization offers an inspiring adventure and a nod to dogged determination. The DVD contains the English-language version, whereas the Blu-ray includes also the 118-minute Oscar-nominated, Norwegian-language version, so purists and subtitle-phobes can both enjoy.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist. color. 130+ min. IFC Films, dist. by MPI. 2012. DVD UPC 030306987491. $24.98; Blu-ray UPC 030306191096. $29.98. Rated: R.

A Pakistani graduate of Princeton, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed) works as an up-and-coming Wall Street business analyst until his patriotism is questioned in the wake of 9/11. Based on Mohsin Hamid’s 2007 novel, Mira Nair’s (Salaam Bombay; Monsoon Wedding) adaptation imposes a thriller-film structure but retains the book’s provocative focus on one Muslim’s reconsideration of the American Dream. Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson, and Kiefer Sutherland costar in this compelling story of conflicted loyalties tailored for wide appeal.

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