Fast Scans: Top Foreign & Indie Picks, July 2013

Badlands. color. 94+ min. Criterion Collection. 1973. DVD ISBN 9781604657098. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657081. SDH subtitles. Rated: PG.

Before he started making less accessible films that played like narrative poetry (The Tree of LifeInto the Wonder), Terrence Malick made more approachable narratives suffused with poetic imagery, such as Days of Heaven and this, his feature-film debut. With the infamous 1958 Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate murder spree as inspiration, a very young Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek shine so brightly as outlaw lovers-on-the-run. Digitally restored, this near-masterpiece is essential viewing for all.

The Big Picture. color. 115 min. In French w/English subtitles. MPI. 2012. UPC 030306901695. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 030306186399. $29.99.

After accidentally killing his wife’s lover in a fit of jealous rage, successful attorney Paul Exben (Romain Duris) assumes the man’s identity, fleeing the good life in Paris for a rundown villa in Yugoslavia and a long-sought shot at artistic fulfillment. Passing himself off as a reclusive photographer, Paul gets his work discovered only to find his secret about to he revealed. While the plot strains credulity, Eric Lartigau’s adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s 1997 novel is an involving existential thriller for those not expecting profundity.

Lore. color. 108+ min. In German w/English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2012. DVD UPC 741360538221. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 741360538238. $34.95.

A teenage girl (Saskia Rosendahl, in an impressive debut) is forced to care for her younger siblings, including a newborn, when their Nazi parents are captured by Allied forces. Aided by a young Jewish refugee, the desperate kinder trek across occupied Germany, seeking refuge with their rarely seen grandmother. Based on Rachel Seiffert’s three-part novel The Dark Room, Cate Shortland’s (Somersault) atypical coming-of-age film dramatizes the plight of the barely considered fallout of the war. Not just for World War II buffs.

The Silence. color. 119+ min. In German w/English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2010. DVD UPC 741360538245. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 741360538252. $34.95.

The disappearance of a 13-year-old girl in a small German town evokes bad memories of an unsolved rape-murder case more than two decades earlier, particularly in the mind of an unwilling accomplice who finally confronts the perpetrator. Swiss filmmaker Baran bo Odar makes a promising debut with this stylish, methodically paced procedural drama that follows the efforts of investigators dogged by a feeling of déjà vu. A thinking person’s thriller, this genre-transcending piece gets points for not ending too neatly.

Strictly Ballroom. color. 95+ min. Lionsgate. 1993. Blu-ray UPC 031398160915. $14.99. Rated: PG.

Australian native Baz Luhrmann (Moulin RougeThe Great Gatsby), whose aesthetic sense is nicely summarized by Oscar Wilde’s dictum “Nothing succeeds like excess,” busted his first moves with this over-the-top but hilarious (and somewhat touching) look at ballroom dance competitions. Featuring actual hoofers along with well-known Down Under actors, this affectionate spoof makes its dance sequences strictly believable, even as its characters tend to be stereotypical. This Blu-ray update should be catnip for fans of Dancing with the Stars.