20 Hidden DVD Gems to Seek Out: Vol. 2: Part Four

Over the course of this week, we will uncover twenty titles you need to seek out at your local DVD store. Here is Part 4.

The list is laid out something like this. The title, year it was made, genre, synopsis and finally my rating. I hope to do more of these lists as I uncover some of the treasures hidden at the local videostore.

13. In a Savage Land (Australia – 1999)

(Drama): Martin Donovan and Maya Stange star as a married anthropologist-couple who journey to Papua New Guinea for field research in pre-World War II.

The couple’s ideal working conditions become frustrating when a culture clash happens in the world around them and in their inevitably dissolving marriage. Rufus Sewell (“Dark City”) co-stars.

I found this film by utter accident. But the powerful performance of Maya Stange and the film’s whole concept left me engrossed. The film stars off like throwing a rock into a pond. The rock is the couple’s marriage when they land in New Guinea. As the film meticulously moves forward we watch not only the marriage splinter but the War comes calling.

In every aspect this film is Stange’s and she is utterly brilliant as this strong woman who has to defy the odds to finish her dissertation. It’s been a long time since I have seen a woman written this strong and engaging. It is a brilliant performance.

(115 mins) (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

14. The Infiltrator (1995-TV)

(Drama): Yaron Svoray (Oliver Platt) is a Jewish freelance reporter who goes to Germany to write an article about neo-Nazism.

In a slight twist of fate, Yaron finds himself able to become a part of the neo-Nazi movement after he is arrested with a group of skinheads following a rally. The film is based on the book, “In Hitler’s Shadow” written by the real Svoray.

This little seen HBO cable movie is a gem and probably the best I can recollect on the subject of neo-Nazism. The film delivers a powerful message as Platt gives one of the best performances of his career.

Even if Platt doesn’t probably fit the role it is the story and his performance that makes up for a controversial casting.

What makes this movie so incredible is the way it allows an audience to see how hate and pure evil can affect even the most pure of men like Svoray. It is shocking, brilliant and very hard to forget.

(92 mins) (3 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

15. Last Days of Disco (1998)

(Dramedy): During the twilight of disco, a group of friends celebrate each other, reflect on their lives, strike out plans for the future and fall in love. As they grow over the course of one night, they wonder if disco is truly dead.

Director Whit Stillman brilliant screenplay that is “Last Days of Disco” is the third film in his analysis of emerging Generation X. His previous films “Barcelona” and Metropolitan” are brilliant in their own right but “Disco” remains Stillman’s crowning achievement.

The dialogue, striking presence of his leads Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale and the uproarious wit of Chris Eigeman make this film a very worthy gem.

(113 mins) (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Extra note on this film: Why hasn’t Stillman made another movie? He is utterly brilliant and I so want more of his genius on celluloid.

16.  Live From Baghdad (2003-TV)

(Drama): This directly released to HBO film stars Michael Keaton and Helena Bonaham Carter as journalists who find themselves deep within Baghdad during the break of the Gulf War.

There have been plenty of “journalists-on-the-frontlines” movies. One of the best of those is hands down “The Killing Fields” but “Live From Baghdad” is definitely in the same league as “Fields”.

The performance of Michael Keaton is probably the best of his career and the film just builds off his charisma and magic.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the film is the historical information revealed and how close that hits home in a Post-War Iraq.

(110 mins) (4.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

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