Pick of the week: "The Cove"
Louie Psihoyos' chronicle of activist and former Flipper trainer Ric O'Barry's efforts to capture video of the slaughter of thousands of dolphins in a remote Japanese cove is clearly biased - the director also co-founded the ocean preservation group that produced the documentary. Nevertheless, his finely polished treatment of this real-life story is as riveting as any cloak-and-dagger Hollywood adventure. And last month it made the shortlist of 15 documentary features eligible for an Oscar nomination.
The home version includes feature-length audio commentary with Psihoyos and producer Fisher Stevens that delves into the year-and-a-half spent shooting the film, three deleted scenes that include a visit from dolphin lover Hayden Panettiere and three behind-the-scenes featurettes. Grade: A-
Also new this week:
"AK100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa"
Anticipating the 100th anniversary of the Japanese master's birth, this handsomely packaged Criterion Collection set offers 25 Kurosawa films such as Rashomon, Yojimbo, Ikiru and four features new to DVD.
Following the evolution of Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, Margaret Kilgallen and others from a disparate assortment of creative misfits into an international DIY art scene, this doc could use some additional context, but as a snapshot, it's an illuminating view of those who've helped bring down the wall around high art. Grade: B+
"Gozu: Two-disc Collector's Edition"
Workhorse Takashi Miike, known for the cult horror hit Audition and for being all over the place with style and genre, earned praise among critics and Cannes Film Fest audiences for this absurd, pro-lactating spin on Japanese gangster movies from 2004. The second disc has over two hours of extras and unseen footage.
"Julie & Julia"
Nora Ephron's two-pronged tale of life fulfillment through food serves up the unadulterated delight of Meryl Streep as Julia Child, and her chemistry with Stanley Tucci as Paul Child is as delicious as anything out of a cookbook. Grade: B
"Lost: The Complete Fifth Season"
Starting with a lot of questions and ending with an all-around ferocious bang, season five of ABC's endlessly fascinating drama - at least until next season's series finale - arrives with just enough time for a leisurely re-viewing before season six starts in January. Grade: A
Johnny Depp is perfect to evoke John Dillinger and Marion Cotillard gives the movie some heart, but Michael Mann's Depression-era gangster film is missing a needed sense of desperation. Grade: B
"Rescue Me: Season Five, Volume 2"
Relive some seriously messed-up s--- in the life of Denis Leary's NYC firefighter, but also one of the best TV cliffhangers of 2009.
"World's Greatest Dad"
Bobcat Goldthwait's third feature as director has Robin Williams in low-key mode as a frustrated author and single dad with the world's worst son (Spy Kids' Daryl Sabara).