It may have won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but In a Better World (Hævnen, literally “The Revenge,” which gives you a better idea of the movie’s content than the odd English substitute) is really simplistic moralizing set against the backdrop of injustice great and small. It concerns two families in Denmark. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt), a doctor, works at a refugee camp in Sudan, where a vicious warlord is overseeing brutal attacks. Back home, his son Elias (Markus Rygaard) is bullied until a new kid named Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen) stops the bully with a knife. From there, things escalate, with both Anton and Elias forced to make a decision about how they will behave in the face of aggression. Available on DVD/Blu-ray Combo.
Three of Joel and Ethan Coen’s best films (plus a personal favorite of theirs) makes this collection a must-own. Blood Simple, their debut, is a sinister neo-noir set in Texas about regular folks pushed to the edge. Raising Arizona is comedy on a high-wire that starts off manic and never lets up. Miller’s Crossing concerns the Irish mafia in a truly unique way. Fargo, one of the very best films of the 1990s, puts a load of incompetent criminals together to screw up again and again as a small-town cop slowly but surely tracks them down. The films are available separately (see the links above) or as a set for a pretty good deal.
The Criterion Collection upgrades its release of Lindsay Anderson’s If…. for Blu-ray. A truly radical film about a populist uprising against the establishment of a British all-boys school that is defined by its period (the late 1960s) but, with its climactic dream about a school shooting, still holds much relevance today.