DVD Review: House of Flying Daggers, Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor, Tampopo

Lisa Franek
Exhibition and programming director
MACSD/San Diego Latino Film Festival

I was recently inspired to revisit Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers. It’s such a visually stunning film, with a nice romantic/wuxia storyline. I never get tired of the music. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything with a horse in it.

Secondly, since I’m gearing up for upcoming SDLFF films, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s so frightening and fantastic. Set in Franco-era Spain anchors the film and adds an important dimension. Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination never ceases to amaze, mystify, and thrill, and I’m always excited to see what he’ll do next.

House of Flying Daggers (China) 2004, Sony Pictures
List price: $14.94
Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain/Mexico) 2006, New Line
List price: $12.98

Leland Batson
Children’s book author

The documentary Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor explores the life and career of a television pioneer and one of the greatest children’s entertainers of our time. Sesame Street taught us our ABC’s and Mr. Rogers taught us to love ourselves first. Relive all the magic, music, and wonder through clips and behind-the-scenes footage.

A village is turned upside down after the death of a beloved cow in the groundbreaking Iranian film Gaav (The Cow). The villagers’ attempt to hide the death from the owner only exacerbates matters and soon the distraught man’s life is altered as he becomes one with his lost companion. Can the villagers bring him back from the brink of insanity before it’s too late? 

Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor (USA) 2004, Triumph Marketing
List price: $39.95
Gaav (The Cow) (Iran) 1974
First Run Features
List price: $29.95

Marvin Choi

Bitter Film Volume One: 1995–2005 is a compilation of Don Hertzfeldt shorts, pre-Everything Will Be OK. It’s worth getting for The Meaning of Life alone, but the entire DVD itself is one giant Easter egg, and you’ll be compelled to explore every nook and cranny to find all the jokes.

Juzo Itami’s Tampopo is one of my favorite films. If you’re just looking for a fun time, you can’t go wrong with this mish-mash genre pile-up of Westerns with gangsters with Rocky with absurdist humor with Japanese melodrama with food snobbery. From a filmmakers’ perspective, it’s a license to go nuts. Screw narrative continuity — if Itami wants to tell an interesting anecdote, or five, in the middle of his film, he’ll do it. Several times.

Bitter Film Volume One: 1995–2005 (USA) Bitter Films
List price: $24.00
Tampopo (Japan) 1985, Itami Productions
List price: $19.95

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I love Tampopo! Just watched it (again) last week.

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