Home Movies/Out on Digital: March 30, 2017
Ali and Nino
Asif Kapadia achieved prominence with Amy, a groundbreaking documentary composed in part from cellphone video left behind by the troubled singer Amy Winehouse. He veers sharply rightward with Ali and Nino, a bodice-ripping romance story between a Georgian princess (Maria Valverde) and an Azeri prince (Adam Bakri). The setting is impressive for its lavish recreation of the Caucasus in the early 20th century. Love will keep the impossibly beautiful couple together through political turmoil.
An accident on a dark road leads to an apparent act of revenge murder and suicide—but maybe there’s more to the story? Zachary Shedd’s directorial debut, Americana, is moody and paranoid, forcing viewers to put the pieces together jigsaw fashion. It suffers from an unsympathetic protagonist, Avery (David Call), a sulky, alcoholic, self-absorbed film editor caught up in a confluence of Hollywood money and intrigue. Peter Coyote adds a good performance as Avery’s lawyer.
A Game of Death
Directed by Robert Wise, who went on to helm West Side Story and The Sound of Music, Game of Death (1945) concerned a mysterious island inhabited by a decadent sophisticate who plays games of life and death. He hunts captive people as if they were animals. Along with many allusions to Nazi master-race theories, A Game of Death expresses sympathy for non-human quarry and wonders about the perverse connection between sex and violence.
The Russian Ballet Collection: Don Quixote
This splendid 1978 performance by the Bolshoi Ballet was culled from Soviet television archives. Set before beautiful backdrops, dozens of dancers step and swirl on the expansive stage, colorfully garbed in Baroque Spanish costumes with castanets clicking and lacey black fans fluttering. Joy balances with discipline, athleticism harmonizes with artistry in this pantomime rendition of Cervantes’ novel set to Ludwig Minkus’ gorgeous score. Nadezhda Pavlova and Vladimir Levashev dance the roles of Dulcinea and Don Quixote.