A superb animated offering and a quirky network series among the new DVD releases for Feb. 20.
“The Girl Without Hands”: The feature film debut from Sibastien Laudenbach (better known for making short films) is a production based on a Brothers Grimm tale that delivers a deep and haunting beauty in an animation style that is so primitive in design it looks to be one step above cave paintings. The style works because each partially drawn line or hastily hand-painted moment is as powerful for what’s not on the screen as what is there.
The visual style is used to tell the story of a young woman who is accidentally sold to the devil in return for a river of gold. What the devil never anticipated in making the bargain was the girl would be so pure of heart she would be able to elude him. Her escape comes at a price when her father is forced to cut off her hands.
As has been the case with other adaptations of the story, there have been some changes made in how the tale unfolds, but overall it is a smart and skillfully presented lesson about love, life, greed and salvation.
But, it is the stunning visuals that make the film a reminder that movies are definitely a powerful art form.
(BTW, this Grimm fairy tale also was the basis of Spokane writer Stephanie Oakes’ debut novel, “The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly.”)
“Midnight, Texas”: A vampire, a witch and a psychic walk into a bar. The setup for what could be a macabre joke is the abbreviated description of the NBC series. Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris (whose work inspired the “True Blood” series), “Midnight” follows Manfred Bernardo (Francois Arnaud) as he heads to the nearly dead Texas town of Midnight as a way of escaping his demons.
His skills will come in handy as the once safe haven of Midnight is being threatened by parties, ranging from a nasty biker gang to a confused police department. The death of a local woman the day Bernardo arrives in town doesn’t help matters, but does give the first episode a nice mystery hook. It’s up to those with special abilities to save the town and themselves.
“Midnight, Texas” may sound familiar in the beginning, but it has all the elements to feed the need for fans of the genre.
Also new on Feb. 20
“The Star”: Animated recounting of the birth of Jesus told from the point of view of the animals.
“Daddy’s Home 2”: Dusty (Mark Wahlberg) and Brad (Will Ferrell) must deal with their fathers.
“Same Kind of Different as Me”: Two very different men must get past their differences to find a connection. Greg Kinnear stars.
“In His Own Home”: Examination of the 2010 shooting of Kofi Adu-Brempong by University of Florida campus police responding to a 9-1-1 call.
“Mom and Dad”: Teen must protect herself and her younger brother from their parents, who have been infected with a virus.
“The Nine Lives of Marion Barry”: Documentary on how Marion Barry went from political extinction to dominating Washington city politics.
“American Satan”: Stranger brings darkness to a rock band. Malcolm McDowell stars.
“Doomsday Device”: The world is in peril when the FBI discovers an ancient Japanese artifact.
“The Florida Project”: Young friends spend a summer at a budget motel managed by a stern man who hides a deep kindness.
“The Vanishing Black Male”: Melvin Jackson, Jr., speaks with African American men of all walks to determine the state of the black man in America.
Tribune News Service