discs le tableau

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Painting A painting of a far away kingdom reveals glimpses of people, but unseen is a caste system separating the perfect Alldunns from their lessers, the incomplete Halfies and the ghostly Sketchies. The Alldunns look down on the others treating them as less than second class citizens, but a cross-caste romance threatens to upset the status quo. Three of them, one from each group, are forced on the run where they discover and pass through the edge of the painting. Only to find themselves in the painter’s shack among several other discarded creations. International animation doesn’t get a lot of play here in the States, but thanks to the GKids label a few gems have been making their way into our Blu-ray players. Their latest is a French film cut from the same cloth as Pleasantville in its aversion to subtlety and fantastic mix of beauty and entertainment. The parable tackles racism, xenophobia, and more including the existential quest for meaning and a creator. And the final line and shot are simply masterful. If it weren’t for the fact that it was actually released in 2011 it would easily be the best animated film of the year this year. [Blu-ray extras: Trailer, making of, slide show]



After pulling in an Oscar nomination, Kon-Tiki is going to hit theaters on April 26th. The adventure film tells the story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who (in real-life) crossed the Pacific ocean on a balsa wood raft in a voyage that took 101 days. The trailer is absolutely thrilling. It’s got dangerous sharks, sweeping camera shots and indefatigable optimism. Plus, you shouldn’t feel bad if you get a sense of Cast Away going on, because the beard Pål Sverre Hagen is sporting as Thor is pretty wicked. Check it out for yourself:


Best Foreign Language Film

More so than every other category at the Academy Awards, the winners of the Best Foreign Language category are rarely the actual best film. That’s due as much to the Academy’s voters as it is to the process that sees countries having to each choose a singular film to represent their entire annual output for the year. The process leaves brilliant and fantastic films out of the running each and every time. This year’s nominees feature a rarity in that one of the films is also up for Best Picture. That’s only happened three times, and in all three cases (Algeria’s Z, Italy’s Life is Beautiful and Taiwan’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) the films won in the latter category. It seems obvious that they would simply by definition… if it’s the only one of the five up for Best Picture then isn’t it the Best Foreign Language by default? But I digress. The staggeringly problematic structure of the category aside, keep reading for a look at all five of this year’s nominees for Best Foreign Language Film along with my predicted winner in red…



Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 


The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  Even the most visionary and original films can seem derivative, especially to those of us who watch tons of movies on a regular basis. Occasionally it’s intended for the audience to spot certain allusions and apply them to our experience with this new work, as in the case of Holy Motors. Other times it’s not so deliberate, and the fact that new movies trigger memories of older movies (and vice versa depending on when they’re seen) is all on us, yet not totally without reason given how there are really only a few base plots and themes in existence and also given that our comprehension of things, particularly imaginative things, has to be relatable to other things we’ve comprehended previously. That’s why a movie like Avatar can be “like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” but only to an extent. For it to be accessible to a wide audience — let alone be one of the biggest worldwide hits of all time — it has to “unfortunately” resemble other movies. And now Life of Pi can be likened by critics to Avatar for similarly giving us spectacle like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It sounds ironic but it’s not. Even if the magical island in Pi may even further remind us of […]

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published: 12.23.2014
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