Lightning Bug, Compliance, Cosmopolis

As big a fan as I am of movie magic, I can honestly say that I'd never watched the personal tale of an effects artist before, and Lightning Bug was a real eye-opener. Filmmaker David Cronenberg channels the trippiness of his earlier work with the recent Cosmopolis, but the riveting Compliance might be the real sleeper of this batch.

Lightning Bug (Image Entertainment)

A poignant semi-autobiographical drama from an unexpected source, 2004's Lightning Bug has finally found its way onto Blu-ray. Sometimes-director and frequent makeup/special effects artist Robert Hall tenders the heartfelt story of Green Graves (Bret Harrison), an understandably unhappy small-town fellow who has a real talent for creating beautifully scary things. He dreams of faraway Hollywood where his work will be appreciated, and his upcoming job designing a local Halloween extravaganza might just be the stepping stone he needs.

Nothing's ever that easy though, so a team of angry bible thumpers and a wicked stepfather threaten to put the kibosh on young Green's plans. In the plus column however is a romance with Angevin (That '70s Show's Laura Prepon), a kindred spirit with her own "demons."

The film is presented in an extended cut and accompanied by an audio commentary from Hall, Prepon and others. The ensuing years have made possible a new retrospective as well as a vintage "making of", in addition to deleted scenes and more.

Compliance (Magnolia)

Allegedly inspired by actual events and playing out like some psychological experiment gone horribly awry, Compliance explores an all-too-credible scenario in our post-9/11 world, wherein a restaurant manager (Ann Dowd) receives a call from the police—so the caller says—stating that one of her employees (Dreama Walker) is suspected of a crime. The information age and modern cynicism notwithstanding, that's all it takes for ordinary citizens to take the law into their own hands and throw common sense and decency to the wind, privacy and personal freedom be damned in this genuinely disturbing drama.

Included here are a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interview with director Craig Zobel, and a slickly packaged look at the film from AXS TV.

Compliance might also make an interesting double feature with Defiance. Just sayin'.

Cosmopolis (Entertainment One)

How does a seriously stylized motion picture directed by the great David Cronenberg and starring The Twilight Saga's Robert Pattinson just slip by without so much as a blip? Well, perhaps it's just too frickin' weird for mainstream audiences, cruising along at its own unhurried pace, character-driven and on the talky side surely, without the sort of action and plot progression we might expect.

We follow Eric Packer (Pattinson), an easy-on-the-eyes financial whiz kid making his way across town for a haircut. But a series of bizarro encounters—this one earns its R rating, folks—turn a seemingly ordinary day into one of those ones that can change everything. For the better? We don't know for sure, but we do meet a quirky, engaging cat named Benno (a memorable Paul Giammati) along the way. So Cosmopolis has that going for it.

Thank God Mr. Cronenberg provides a commentary, which illuminates this journey somewhat. There's also on-camera cast/crew interviews and an overview of this strange new world.

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