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Top 5 New DVD Releases - May 16, 2006


Eccentric teens, existential despair, and a frisky cheetah: this week's new DVDs offer a number of peculiar choices. Hipsters can rejoice in the release of Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever! while cinephiles will settle down to Michael Haneke's Glacial Trilogy. Better still, the critically acclaimed Duma, starring a big cat and indie favorite Hope Davis, offers stunning vistas and family-friendly drama.

1. Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever!

Here's a confession. Napoleon Dynamite didn't do much for me. But not to mention Jared Hess' instant cult classic seems a disservice to the film's zealous fans who continue to vote for Pedro. This special two-disc edition is loaded with goodies: commentary tracks galore, embarrassing actor's auditions, and three short featurettes.

2. The Seventh Continent

Always trust Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke (Hidden, The Piano Teacher) to provide a good time.... OK, so I'm kidding. Critics use the words disturbing and harrowing to describe Haneke's first feature film, a portrait of a middle class Austrian family degenerating into apathy, alienation and self-destruction. The Seventh Continent is the first part of his "glacial trilogy": Benny's Video and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance are also available today.
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3. Duma

Normally, the actors are of little important when the film stars a wild cat. In this case, Hope Davis and Campbell Scott have speaking roles. Such independent stars can't be ignored. Carroll Ballard's Duma is gorgeous and moving.
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4. Winter Passing

Be warned: Ed Harris gives maudlin, housebound writers a bad name in New York stage director Adam Rapp's feature film debut. Zoey Deschanel, however, lives up to the promise she first showed in Almost Famous as a caustic, drug addicted daughter who rolls back into town. Will Ferrell wears eyeliner and says "right on." This quirky indie drama is a pleasant suprise.
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5. The White Countess

Set in 1930s Shanghai, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory's final collaboration The White Countess rounds out this week's list. The film's extraordinary pedigree includes a script by novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day), cinematography by Christoher Doyle (Chunking Express) and acclaimed actors Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson in the starring roles.
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