'Koyaanisqatsi', 'Qatsi Trilogy' on DVD: Dazzling

In "Taken 2," sequel to the high-octane kidnap thriller, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his daughter are pitted against an Albanian mob.
In "Taken 2," sequel to the high-octane kidnap thriller, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) and his daughter are pitted against an Albanian mob. (MAGALI BRAGARD)
Posted: January 18, 2013

In 1982, the sci-fi film Tron proved filmmakers could create entirely artificial digital worlds for actors to populate.

That same year, a no less dazzling, exciting, and hypnotic feature named Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance reminded us of that other - organic - world, nature. An odd sort of documentary directed by Godfrey Reggio and shot by time-lapse photography expert Ron Fricke, it dispensed with narrative structure and dialogue in favor of a sublime, haunting score by Philip Glass.

Titled after the Hopi word for "unbalanced life," the film juxtaposes natural and urban landscapes, showing the effects of human encroachment on the environment.

Reggio has teamed with Criterion Collection to release The Qatsi Trilogy, a restored edition of the film and its two equally intense sequels, Powaqqatsi (1988) and 2002's Naqoyqatsi. ( www.criterion.com/; $79.95 for DVD or Blu-ray edition; not rated.)

Other DVDs of interest

Taken 2. Irish actor Liam Neeson turbocharged his career in 2008, redefining himself at age 56 as a high-octane action hero in writer-producer Luc Besson's wildly entertaining kidnap thriller Taken. Besson and Neeson return in 20th Century Fox's sequel, which pits Neeson and his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) against the Albanian mob. ( www.foxconnect.com/; $29.98 DVD; $39.99 Blu-ray; rated PG-13.)

Cosmopolis. Never afraid to push himself to the edge, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg pulls out all the stops for this surreal adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel. Robert Pattinson, so heartfelt in the Twilight films, plays a cold, distant, deeply alienated billionaire who goes on an odyssey through a strange, yet almost recognizable cityscape in his tricked-out stretch limo. ( http://entertainmentonegroup.com/films; $24.98 DVD; $29.98 Blu-ray; rated R.)

To Catch a Dollar. Dozens of films and TV shows have been dedicated to the financial collapse. Director Gayle Ferraro's documentary isn't one of them: It's about recovery. The film explores Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus' microfinance program, which offers educational support and microloans for low- and middle-income folks who want to establish their own business. The DVD is due Jan. 29 from Shout! Factory. ( www.shoutfactory.com/; $19.93; not rated.)

Detective Montalbano. It's difficult to explain just how much pleasure one derives from watching an episode of this murder mystery series, which aired on Italian TV from 1999 through 2011.

Adapted from novelist Andrea Camilleri's international best-sellers, it stars Luca Zingaretti as Commissario Salvo Montalbano, a police detective in a small Sicilian town who solves brain-twisting murders, kidnappings, and robberies despite the interference of virtually everyone around him, from his sub-Mensa sergeant to the town's conniving, cowardly prosecutor, to the many femmes fatales who regularly come his way.

Camilleri's Italy is a place where virtually anyone can be bought, and corruption is the rule when it comes to the police force and the government. The show handles all this, and the most grisly crimes, with an ingenious balance of pathos and comedy. Each episode runs a solid 90 minutes, giving the viewer ample time to take in the beautiful coastal locations and to appreciate Montalbano's quirky personality.

All 22 episodes of the series are available from MHZ Networks in two- and three-episode sets. ( www.mhznetworks.org/; each set ranges in price from $29.95 to $39.95; not rated.)

Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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