The DVDs of 2009

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Time Out's Film team select the ten best (and one worst) DVD film releases of 2009

Hits

1 ‘La Gueule Ouverte’ (Dir Maurice Pialat, Fr, 1974)Buy DVD here Allowing for the rediscovery of seminal French director, Maurice Pialat, to continue unabated, Masters of Cinema unleashed this curt Bressonian study of death and its effects on body and mind as a superb double-disc set which, amid all the commentaries and essays, contained no fewer than nine of Pialat’s early shorts.2 ‘For All Mankind’ (Dir Al Reinert, US, 1989)Buy DVD here Sick of all the God-bothering this Christmas? Treat yourself to a genuine spiritual experience: documentary maker Al Reinert’s soaring, impressionistic study of the US space programme, expertly scored by Brian Eno and voiced by the astronauts themselves.3 ‘Divorce Iranian Style’ and ‘Runaway’ (Dir Kim Longinotto & Ziba Mir-Hosseini, 1998/2001, GB/Ir)Buy DVD here These two stunning mid-career works from British documentary stalwart, Kim Longinotto, both look at the human cost of bureaucracy in Iran, with ‘Divorce’ covering their harsh, but cryptically poetic judiciary, and ‘Runaway’ their provisions for women escaping abusive families. 4 ‘Hardware’ (Dir Richard Stanley, 1990, GB)Buy DVD here Richard Stanley’s nifty slice of grimy British cyber-splat has aged surprisingly well, but the real reason to grab this DVD was the wealth of fascinating extras, from Stanley’s ridiculously ambitious early Super 8 experiments to some enlightening interviews with the man himself.5 ‘The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang’ (Dir Tim Skousen, 2006, US)Buy DVD here Tim Skousen’s straight-to-DVD teen-geek fable is a verbose conflation of eccentric charm and good old-fashioned storytelling that never puts a foot wrong.6 ‘Blood' ('O Sangue') (Dir Pedro Costa, 1989, Portugal)Buy DVD here The debut movie from Portuguese maverick Costa is a timeless rites of passage drama chronicled in twilight monochrome and whose every frame throbs with passion, artistry and a profound understanding of both the charted and uncharted cinematic terrain. 7 Wise Blood (Dir John Huston. 1979, US)Buy DVD here John Huston's gorgeous, allegorical adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s post-war novel of religious exploitation is one of American cinema's lost classics. Pitched somewhere between Terence Malick, Harmony Korine and John Ford, it’s a wholly singular, utterly unforgettable experience.8 Timecrimes (Dir Nacho Vigalondo, 2007, Sp)Buy DVD here This cryptic Spanish time-travel braintwister might not clear the final hurdle quite as cleanly as it might have, but it's invention, smarts and economy make for a race well run.9 Celia (Dir Ann Turner, 1989, Aus)Buy DVD here This fascinating Aussie oddity is part coming-of-age fable, part political tract and part subterranean psychological horror movie, pitching the winsome, world weary pre-teen of the title into an adult world of underground communism, government brutality and murder.10 Dear Diary (Dir Nanni Moretti, 1994, It)Buy DVD here Despite the cruddy disc transfer, re-seeing this much-loved Euro-doodle from Moretti reminded us what a witty, inquisitive and sensitive talent he is.

Misses

‘Bad Jim’ (Dir Clyde Ware, 1990, US)James Brolin, John Shaft, Clark Gable’s son and C Montgomery Burns fave Rory Calhoun sleepwalk through a wholly dismal western that centres on Billy the Kid’s horse. So cheapjack that a major bank robbery set-piece is told entirely through the use of still images.

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