It was actually released on June 10, but as it’s featured in my MSN column this week, I’m happy to celebrate Cristian Mungiu’s beautiful and harrowing 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days as the DVD of the week. There’s no need to add to what I’ve already written on the film – both on this site and in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (I also interviewed the director earlier this year here) – but for those who have still not heard about the film, it’s about a college girl arranging an illegal abortion for her roommate in the last days of the Ceausescu dictatorship in Romania and is a grueling and deeply affecting human drama and a powerful portrait of life in an oppressive society.
Anamaria Marinca is heartbreaking as the young woman who hardens herself to help her friend (Laura Vasiliu) get through a devastating ordeal. Mungiu wields the camera with blunt power and subtle discretion , yet through it all, Mungiu finds strength and perseverance and commitment under the desperation, a small miracle in such circumstances, and a magnificent reward in such an exquisite film.
I review the film in my MSN DVD column here.
UPDATE – 6/17/08: After reviewing the DVD (complete with interviews and documentary) and posting the review, I discovered the disc was pulled from release. For whatever reason, I do not know, but the studio never even bothered to update me on the status. I found out from Michael Atkinson at IFC, via GreenCine Daily.
UPDATE #2 – 6/17/08: After making a few inquiries, I was informed that the disc is being made available exclusively through Borders for a window of time (I was not told how long). Sure enough, a quick search found this page at Borders, proclaiming it as an exclusive. No cover art, however.
UPDATE #3 – 6/18/08: The DVD publicist has informed me that the DVD will be widely available in October. Until then, it is exclusively available through Borders Books, in store and online.
Also new this week is Criterion’s release of Claude Sautet’s directorial debut, the tough, lean, smart crime drama Classe Tous Risques.
Stocky, barrel-chested French crime iconplays the career criminal who tenderly leaves his wife and children to execute a brazen broad-daylight robbery. Sautet delivers the tense details of the robbery and the elaborate getaway from the streets of Milan to a boat waiting to deliver Ventura back from exile to his home country of France with precision and crisp professionalism, but that’s merely prologue to the drama that follows when he’s betrayed by his former gang.
Read the complete review here.
Here’s a digest of the other DVD releases featured on my MSN column:
When conspiracy theorist goofballdemagnetizes all the rental tapes in a relic of a neighborhood video store in Passaic, N.J. (where DVD is merely a rumor), he hits the streets with his video clerk buddy ( ) and a secondhand video camera to shoot their own digest versions of Hollywood hits. The scrappy, scruffy little film would be just another crazy skit-comedy in the hands of most directors. For , it becomes a kind of folk art spin on Hollywood gloss and a tribute to his own preferred style of filmmaking, with imagination and ingenuity in place of big budgets and splashy production values.
I also previously reviewed the film on this site here.
TV: the second and final season of the heartland apocalypse survival drama Jericho, the debut season of the Showtime series Californication with David Duchovny as a self-destructive novelist with writer’s block, and the inaugural season of Burn Notice:
CIA agent Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) has been burned. The agency has revoked his status, frozen his assets, erased his identity and dumped him back in his home town: Miami, where he’s stuck until he finds out who burned him and why. Meanwhile he gets by as a kind of underground P-I, a mercenary with mad skills by way of Robin Hood. The snappy, witty series is great fun. Smiling through a sly grin, Jeffrey Donovan gives Weston plenty of attitude and amiability, even as he narrates his do-it-yourself recipes for homemade solutions to high-tech problems, Gabrielle Anwar is all sass as his sexy and volatile ex-girlfriend, a rogue operative in her own right, and Bruce Campbell brings a laid-back loyalty to his role as a low-level agent and partner in crime.
Special Releases: a bunch of collections centered around actresses: Catherine Deneuve 5-Film Collection, Sophia Loren 4-Film Collection, and The Carmen Miranda Collection. Okay, maybe Miranda isn’t quite in the same exalted company with the elegant Deneuve and the earthy Loren, but the Brazillian Bombshell is an unforgettable presence in the Fox musicals she sambas through.
The weekly column goes live every Tuesday on MSN Entertainment.