The New Release Rack: Robert Pattinson Seduces as 'Bel Ami'
Plus indie drama 'Blue Like Jazz,' documentary 'Marley,' foreign epic 'Seediq Bale' and more
"Bel Ami" (Sony) stars Robert Pattinson as a seductive gigolo who sleeps his way from poverty to wealth in turn-of-the-century Paris. The film is "a relentlessly leaden rethink of the rollicking tale of opportunism and social-climbing in late 19th-century Paris by Guy de Maupassant," complains MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. "What we get instead is a dumb, entitled-but-tortured dreamboat falling into bed with a bunch of aristocratic women, and then turning inexplicably and insupportably Machiavellian only after he's thoroughly slighted." Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Christina Ricci star as the women on the rungs of his social ladder.
DVD only, with the featurette "Bel Ami: Behind the Scenes." Available day and date at Redbox.
"Blue Like Jazz" (Lionsgate), based on the autobiographical book by Donald Miller, tackles the tricky subject of faith and self-discovery through the story a young man (Marshall Allman) fleeing his religious upbringing for the secular experience of a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. "It is - somewhat surprisingly, given the heavy-handed subject - neither sanctimonious nor preachy," affirms Washington Post film critic Michael O'Sullivan. "Without being parodistic, it manages to poke fun at the air of privilege and strenuous political correctness common to lefty, liberal arts schools, while retaining a certain affection for their heartfelt quirks." Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary with co-writer/director Steve Taylor, author/co-writer Donald Miller, and cinematographer Ben Pearson, seven featurettes, and deleted scenes. Also available On Demand and at Redbox.
"Marley" (Magnolia) celebrates the life and legacy of reggae superstar Bob Marley, from Jamaican musician to international legend and revolutionary icon. Kevin Macdonald ("State of Play," "The King of Scotland," and the Oscar-winning documentary "One Day in September") directs the documentary, which features previously unreleased performance footage. "What Marley and its wonderful performance footage leave you with most of all is the joy the man took in the music that set him free and enchanted the world," writes Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan. Blu-ray and DVD, with commentary by director Kevin Macdonald and David “Ziggy” Marley, the featurette "Around the World," and additional interviews among the supplements.
"Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale" (Well Go), the most expensive film Taiwanese film ever made, is a massive historical epic about the rebellion of the aboriginal Seediq tribe against the Japanese occupiers of Taiwan in the 20th century. Originally released internationally in a 270-minute epic version, it was cut almost in half when released in the U.S.. Both versions are available separately on Blu-ray and DVD, but only the short version was made available for review. This is the version that Los Angeles Times film critic Robert Abele described as "a bruising, relentless experience, one more tiring than inspiring." The 150-minute version includes a 22-minute "Behind the Scenes" and two short featurettes, while the two-disc International (270-minute) version features the two-hour-plus "The Epic Journey of the Warriors" documentary plus an interview with John Woo (who co-produced the film).
"Girlfriend" (Strand), a coming-of-age drama starring Shannon Woodward, Amanda Plummer, and Evan Sneider as a young adult with Down's Syndrome, arrives on DVD from the film festival circuit. Reviews here.
"Foreign Letters" (Film Movement) is the story of two 12-year-old girls, both immigrants in the U.S., whose friendship runs up against their own prejudices. The DVD also features the short film "A Summer Rain." Reviews here.
"Foreign Parts" (Alive Mind) is a portrait of Willets Point, New York, and its culture of scrapyards and salvage shops. DVD only. Reviews here.
"The Guest House" (Wolfe) is a lesbian love story (reviews here) and "Goliad Uprising" (Water Bearer) is an indie sci-fi thriller about an insidious new technology. And "Jesus Fish" (VCI) is… I'm not really sure, but it appears to be the feature version of Titus Jackson's 2008 short of the same name. All DVD only.