While big-budget features move like clockwork from theater to pay-per-view cable to DVD to premium cable to regular cable -- regardless of quality -- it's obviously a much tougher trip for independent and foreign-language films to undertake. That's why I'm glad to see unexpected titles popping up on DVD release lists this week. I'll start with the only one I've actually seen in its entirety: How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) details the artistic life of Melvin Van Peebles. His son Mario Van Peebles is probably the one you've heard of -- Mario made Baadasssss!as a tribute to his father a few years ago -- but as good as that film was, it only hints at the full life that Melvin had already led. How to Eat Your Watermelon reveals Melvin's life in France as a writer and ground-breaking filmmaker, and then shows his life as a Wall Street trader and influential musician. Director Joe Angio includes interviews with Melvin, Mario and other family members, as well as Spike Lee, Elvis Mitchell, Gil Scott-Heron and many more. The doc is well-paced, informative and entertaining.

Rosie Perez co-directed and appears on-camera in Yo Soy Boricua, Pa'que Tu Lo Sepas! Using the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City as a starting point, the doc "uncovers the complex and controversial history between Puerto Rico and the United States." I've seen parts of the film, and it deals with some troubling issues. Perez' bubbly personality doesn't hide her outrage at certain historical facts that are revealed. On the other hand, Warrior of Light (pictured) doesn't have any celebrities, but is no less noteworthy for filmmaker Monika Treut's portrait of human rights activist Yvonne Bezzerra de Mello and her work with homeless boys in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The production company's web site has much more information; the reviews quoted there make it sound like it's worth checking out. Finally The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanaiis a wild comedy/drama from Japan that has been highly praised by certainpeople I respect, so I mention it here, but be advised that it contains a multitude of soft-core sex scenes.
categories Cinematical