A Bullet for the General, The Aggression Scale, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Each of these three films, due shortly on Blu-ray, uses violence in its own way, be it as a storytelling tool, or for shock value, or as a means to reveal the nature of man. They're all from different genres, too, although you won't find any violent romantic comedies in this roundup. Maybe next time.
A Bullet for the General (Blue Underground)
There are Westerns, Spaghetti Westerns and even "Zapata" Westerns, this sub-sub-genre weaving tales of banditos-turned-revolutionaries against oppressive regimes and evoking profound political parallels for a modern world in turmoil. Damiano Damiani's Bullet (which began its life in Europe as El Chuncho, quién sabe?) is one such radical oater, packing all the hot lead that the title suggests but also with a remarkably strong script full of compelling characters, and further distinguished by acting that is surprisingly good if a bit over-the-top at times. While not as well known as any of Sergio Leone's masterworks of the era, this film remains a '60s gem.
Handsomely remastered in HD by Blue Underground, it's presented here in both the U.S. cut and three-minute-longer International version, with English and Italian mono DTS-HD Master Audio options. Damiani sits down for a quick retrospective interview, but Disc Two in this set is a DVD with a two-hour, 2005 documentary all about star Gian Maria Volonté.
The Aggression Scale (Anchor Bay)
Home-invasion thrillers seem to strike a universal chord with audiences, unsettling perhaps as we're forced to imagine that we're not even safe within our own dwelling in this world gone mad, and wondering what we would we do in the characters' place. This setup was mined for comedy gold in Home Alone, but what if lovable Kevin was a little older, even craftier but also a certified psychopath?
Find out as a bunch of mob hitmen with trouble in mind pick the wrong house and come face-to-face with a fearless youngster (Ryan Hartwig) determined to show his unwelcome guests who's king of this castle. The disc includes a brief "making of." Ooo, fun fact: Aggression co-stars Dana Ashbrook and Ray Wise are both Twin Peaks alumni.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Without gratuitous violence, and with neither schmaltz nor preachiness, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores parenthoodparticularly the mother/son dynamicin a way we've never seen on film before. Directed by Lynne Ramsay and anchored by the amazing Tilda Swinton as a beleaguered matriarch to a bad, bad seed, this is a challenging drama about flawed people in an unbearable situation, forced to question the very essence of evil itself. This one's heavy, and it'll stay with you.
Supplementing the movie are on-set interviews with cast and crew, plus another with the author of the source novel, as well as additional footage and a segment following Ms. Swinton at the Telluride Film Festival. The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo arrives in one of the most cleverly designed packages I've seen in a while, too, an Oscilloscope trademark.