DVDs of the Week

French suspense master Claude Chabrol makes like James M. Cain.

Blood Diamond

Warner Bros., $34.98

Ed Zwick's Blood Diamond, about the civil war over diamonds that devastated Sierra Leone in the late 1990s, plays like a guilt-ridden Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It's little more than action-adventure pulp, drenched in someone else's blood—which it tries to wash off by proselytizing to the audience about the evils of the diamond trade. That it had to use two famous white faces, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly, to tell its story only makes it that much more inessential; Djimon Hounsou is great, but he's rendered a supporting character in his own movie. Far better than the film itself is the disc-two documentary in which Sierra Leone journalist Sorious Samura chronicles the horrific images—rotting corpses, severed limbs, starving children—and the prepubescent soldiers who pay the highest of prices for the so-called "conflict diamonds." ROBERT WILONSKY

The Bridesmaid

First Run, $29.95

Claude Chabrol has made more than 50 films in his 76 years, but still he's best known as "the French Hitchcock." It may be useful shorthand, but it's also lazy. This story of a man who falls for his sister's bridesmaid (Benoît Magimel and Laura Smet, both excellent), who eventually asks him to prove his love in a very unpleasant way, owes as much to steamy film noir and the novels of James M. Cain and Jim Thompson as it does to a certain fat Englishman. Of course, all these big names are also a roundabout way of saying that The Bridesmaid is a very good movie. It unfolds at a stately pace that some may find maddening, but once it gets rolling, it's a wonderful mass of psychosexual amorality and suspense. Twenty minutes in and you're hooked. It's practically Chabrolian. JORDAN HARPER

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film

ThinkFilm, $24.98

Based on Adam Rockoff's book of the same name, Pieces gouges deeper into its subject than your average straight-to-DVD documentary would, covering everything from the gory antics of Paris' Grand Guignol theater to the recent works of Rob Zombie. And it's not afraid to get its hands dirty: The many interviews with horror luminaries are broken up with plenty of piercings, stabbings, and beheadings. Even if you're not crazy about Sleepaway Camp or Prom Night, you may find interest in the earnest discussion of teen murders and marketing. The film's also great for middle-aged uncles to share with budding horror fans: "In the good old days, there was none of this torture garbage—they just chopped their heads off!" JORDAN HARPER

Other Releases

One of last year's very best films, Children of Men arrives in a no-frills package, a prelude to what we have to assume will be a holiday '07 set with director Alfonso Cuarón doing a commentary. Zhang Yimou's Curse of the Golden Flower provides oodles of CGI eye candy. Will Smith picked up an Oscar nom for The Pursuit of Happyness. The current anthology Cinema of Death samples underground films dealing with taboo subjects from around the globe. John Prine is featured in a concert performance in Live on Soundstage 1980. From even older TV vaults come Family Affair (season three), The Jeffersons (six), Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (one), and Dick Van Dyke in Rare Form (a compendium from 1958 to 1959). Lou Diamond Phillips shows he can act a little in El Cortez, which caused barely a theatrical ripple. Color Me Kubrick provides a silly showcase for John Malkovich, debuting only a week after its run at the Varsity. Heath Ledger plays an Aussie junkie in Candy. An Errol Flynn collection includes Gentleman Jim and four other titles. Mario Bava's 1966 Kill, Baby, Kill! provides a kind of prelude to Grindhouse (in theaters April 6). That Oscar-winning animated penguin movie, Happy Feet, is also available for kids to drive their parents crazy. With Werner Herzog's feature film Rescue Dawn (starring Christian Bale and Steve Zahn) expected this spring, his 1998 source documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly, is also new to DVD. For extremely bored teens only: Turistas and Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj.


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