DVD Round Up, Dec. 31, 2009: ‘Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,’ ‘Sita Sings the Blues’

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CHICAGO – The DVD Round-Up has traveled the globe this week to bring you a diverse slate of under-the-radar titles received in the HollywoodChicago.com offices this holiday season. With so many major releases this time of year, it’s hard to cover everything, but we wanted to make sure you knew these were out there in case you have a gift card burning a hole in your pocket.

One quick note: We don’t usually inject opinion into the DVD Round-Up. It’s a recurring column merely designed for informational purposes regarding some lower profile titles new on shelves. We’d like to make a rare exception for “Sita Sings the Blues,” a simply wonderful animated film that we only wish we had more time to spotlight but that we wanted to make sure you knew was available before the end of the year. Don’t just go rent it. Buy it. (“Gozu” kind of rules too.)

“Gozu: Collector’s Edition” and “This Beautiful City” was released on December 8th, 2009.

“Sita Sings the Blues” was released on December 15th, 2009.

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” was released on December 22nd, 2009.

“Sita Sings the Blues”

Sita Sings the Blues
Photo credit: FilmKaravan

Synopsis: “Sita is a Hindu goddess, the leading lady of India ’s epic the Ramayana and a dutiful wife who follows her husband Rama on a 14 year exile to a forest, only to be kidnapped by an evil king from Sri Lanka. Despite remaining faithful to her husband, Sita is put through many tests. Nina (the filmmaker Nina Paley herself) is an artist who finds parallels in Sita’s life when her husband – in India on a work project - decides to break up their marriage and dump her via email. Three hilarious Indonesian shadow puppets with Indian accents – linking the popularity of the Ramayana from India all the way to the Far East - narrate both the ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the epic.

In her first feature length film, Paley juxtaposes multiple narrative and visual styles to create a highly entertaining yet moving vision of the Ramayana. Musical numbers choreographed to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw feature a cast of hundreds: flying monkeys, evil monsters, gods, goddesses, warriors, sages, and winged eyeballs. A tale of truth, justice and a woman’s cry for equal treatment. Sita Sings The Blues earns its tagline as “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.””

“Sita Sings the Blues” was directed, written, produced, designed, and animated by Nina Paley. The film runs 82 minutes and is not rated. It is presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio.

Special features include director’s commentary and interview, the bonus short “Fetch!,” and more

“Gozu: Collector’s Edition”

Gozu
Photo credit: Cinema Epoch

Synopsis: “Yakuza underling Minami (Hideki Sone) has a problem. He’s been ordered by the Boss (Renji Ishibashi) to dispose of his “brother” and crime family mentor Ozaki (Sho Aikawa), and he’s having a hard time completing the mission. Things grow even more difficult when the target disappears from the backseat of his convertible. In a nearby isolated town, Minami soon learns that help will be next to impossible to find. The local inn is run by a degenerate brother and sister team, while the local crew provides him with a subordinate named Nose (Shohei Hino) whose motives are unclear at best. When he finally discovers what happened to Ozaki, Minami is faced with a new dilemma. Among all the nightmare elements, his loyalty is put to the test - along with his sanity.”

“Gozu” stars Kimika Yoshino, Shohei Hino, Sho Aikawa, Harumi Sone, and Hideki Sone. It was written by Sakichi Sato and directed by Takashi Miike. The film runs 129 minutes and is not rated. It is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and accompanied by a Dolby Digital Japanese Stereo track.

Special features include Behind-The-Scenes Footage, Essay by Film Critic Bill Gibron (Pop Matters), Takashi Miike interview featuring directors Guillermo Del Toro and Eli Roth, Production Featurette, Audio Commentary with film critics Andy Klein and Wade Major, Still Gallery, Trailer, and Title Theme Song.

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Photo credit: Starz/Anchor Bay

Synopsis: “High profile lawyer, Mark Hunter (Academy Award winner Michael Douglas) has an impeccable record putting criminals behind bars. But when ambitious rookie journalist, C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) begins investigating Hunter for tampering with evidence to secure his convictions, the district attorney’s perfect record if up for scrutiny. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the corrupt D.A. in the act. Romantically involved with C.J., but unaware of his assignment, Assistant D.A. Ella Crystal (Amber Tamblyn) becomes caught between her boss’ political ambitions and C.J’s dangerous expose. As mounting evidence stacks up against both men, Ella’s own life, becomes threatened when she discovers incriminating proof that puts the fate of both C.J.’s innocence and Hunter’s reputation in her hands.”

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” stars Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Joel David Moore, and Orlando Jones. It was written and directed by Peter Hyams. The film runs 105 minutes and is rated PG-13. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen with its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and accompanied by a Dolby Surround 5.1 audio track.

Special features include Audio Commentary with Writer/Cinematographer/Director Peter Hyams and Actor Jesse Metcalfe, “The Whole Truth: The Making of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” and “Criminal Forensics - The Burden of Proof”.

“This Beautiful City”

This Beautiful City
Photo credit: E1

Synopsis: “When a woman plummets from her condo balcony in Toronto’s downtown westside, five turbulent lives collide, releasing spurts and geysers of long suppressed sexuality and aggression.”

“This Beautiful City” stars Kristin Booth, Caroline Cave, Stuart Hughes, Noam Jenkins, and Aaron Poole. It was written and directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly. The film is presented in standard 1.33:1 and accompanied by a stereo track. It is not rated and runs 87 minutes.

Special features include Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Still Gallery, and Trailers.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com

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