Film Movement: Audience Favorites [12 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Mother of Mine
The plight of displaced Finnish children sent to Sweden and Denmark to escape the horrors of World War II are explored in director Klaus Härö's tale of a young boy failing to adapt to his strange, and sometimes harsh, new surroundings. Following the death of his father, nine-year-old Eero (Topi Majaniemi) is sent by his mother to live with a foster family in rural Sweden for the duration of the war. Eero is begrudgingly accepted by a surrogate mother who had been hoping for a young girl to help with the chores, and he's mocked by his classmates for his frightened reaction to passing planes. Eero's already troubled childhood is further complicated when his resentful foster mother takes it upon herself to act as a filter for his mother's incoming letters. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Days and Clouds
In Bread and Tulips, director Silvio Soldini detailed the journey of a discontented housewife who threw caution to the wind to find true happiness in Venice; in Days and Clouds, the same filmmaker explores the opposite side of the coin by telling the tale of a middle-class homemaker from Genoa who suddenly finds her life turned upside down. Elsa (Margherita Buy) is the picture of middle-class contentment: she's happily married, well adjusted, and spends most of her spare time developing her skills as an amateur historian specializing in restoration. Recently, Elsa even decided to return to school in order to earn her degree. One day, after gently scraping the ceiling of a local chapel to reveal hidden angels that hadn't seen the light of day in decades, Elsa is informed by her husband, Michele (Antonio Albanese), that the couple will have to give up their posh apartment. Michele was formerly a partner in a successful shipping firm, but now that his partner has forced him out of the business, the happy husband and wife won't be able to maintain their current lifestyle. In the aftermath of that disheartening revelation, Elsa and Michele both try to find work while dealing with the predicament in directly opposing ways. Later, after moving into a much smaller apartment, the cracks in Elsa and Michele's now fragile marriage gradually begin to widen. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Ben X
An avid computer gamer who can't grasp what it means to live in the real world finds his plans of seeking vengeance on his true-life tormentors complicated by the appearance of a beautiful girl in first-time feature filmmaker Nic Balthazar's topical psychological thriller. Ben (Greg Timmermans) is a technical school student who is far more comfortable slaying adversaries in the online world of Archlord than attempting to find his footing in reality. Tormented by his classmates and misunderstood by everyone he knows, Ben drifts through every day just waiting for the moment he can log on and lose himself in the game. One day, fed up with the ridicule of his merciless classmates, Ben devises a plan that will show everyone what he is truly made of. But when Ben meets beautiful Archlord gamer Scarlite online and the pair steadily begin to develop an intimate relationship in real life as well, the vengeful gamer suddenly finds himself at an crucial crossroads in life. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

El Bola
A boy from an abusive home finds a new lease on life through friendship in this drama from Spain. Pablo (Juan Jose Ballesta) is a 12-year-old boy growing up in an underprivileged neighborhood in Madrid. Pablo doesn't have many friends, and his home life is not happy -- his father Mariano (Manuel Maron) often beats him, and his mother Aurora (Golria Munoz) doesn't know what to do about it. Alfredo (Pablo Galan) is a new boy in town who has just enrolled in Pablo's class at school; Pablo and Alfredo strike up an immediate friendship, and Pablo feels comfortable with Alfredo's family, particularly his father Jose (Alberto Gimenez), who draws tattoos for a living, and his mother Marisa (Nieve de Medina). Alfredo's godfather has been hospitalized with AIDS-related illnesses, and when Alfredo goes to visit him, Pablo tags along, which angers Mariano and leads to another violent episode. Alfredo notices Pablo's bruises and tells his parents, and Jose enlists a social worker, Laura (Ana Wagener), to help find a safer environment for the boy. El Bola was produced in association with UNICEF. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

OT: Our Town
The Los Angeles community of Compton has become infamous thanks to news reports and rap music lyrics that have portrayed it as an African-American neighborhood brought to the edge of destruction by corruption and black-on-black crime. In 2003, a handful of students and teachers at Compton's Dominguez High School decided to do something that hadn't happened at the school in more than 20 years -- put on a play. When it became obvious that the financially strapped school (which had recently canceled its football program) couldn't provide a budget for sets or costumes, the students did what money-conscious high-school theater departments have been doing for decades -- they staged Thornton Wilder's Our Town, a drama commonly performed without the use of sets or large props. But what would Wilder's allegorical story of life in a small turn-of-the-century Midwestern hamlet mean to kids in Compton? And would the inexperienced students and faculty be able to bring it off? OT: Our Town is a documentary which looks at Dominguez High's brave experiment and the people who struggled to make it happen. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Somers Town
Dead Man's Shoes and This Is England director Shane Meadows takes the helm for this monochromatic childhood drama concerning two young friends living in London, and their efforts not to turn out like their aimless fathers. Tomo has just turned 16, and as a result he's no longer under parental care. Eager to escape the Midlands and seek out a better life in London, Tomo sets out for the big city and strikes up a friendship with Polish immigrant Marek while traversing the streets of Somers Town. Marek is a quiet and sensitive boy who harbors a growing interest in photography and still lives with his father. But Marek's father is a hopeless drunk, and doesn't even notice when his son invites Tomo to share their apartment. Most days, Tomo and Marek are content to pass earning some quick cash from an eccentric neighbor, wandering the streets, and admiring a pretty French waitress named Maria who works at a nearby café. Eventually, the two become obsessed with the girl and begin tracking her every move. But one day Maria simply vanishes, leaving the boys to feel as if they have lost their muse. Later that night, Tomo and Marek decide to dull their pain by sharing a bottle. Of course, it's this very same night that Marek's father discovers his son has taken in a new roommate, and Tomo is swiftly evicted. As a result, the growing bond between the two boys is put to the ultimate test. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

De Usynlige
How does one start anew after a checkered personal history threatens to extinguish all hope and the possibility of redemption? Such is the question that lies at the heart of De Usynlige, Norwegian director Erik Poppe's earnest psychological drama of second chances. Pal Sverre Hagen stars as Jan Thomas, a young man fresh from an eight-year prison sentence. The catalyst for his incarceration may have been an accident and may have been a premeditated murder, but regardless, the event still hangs over Jan like a dark shroud, tempering his memories and his actions. Upon release, Jan - a talented organist - lands a job in the local church as an organ player, and begins to develop feelings for Anna (Ellen Dorrit Petersen), a female priest who also happens to be a single mother. To avoid complications and protect the sanctity of the new relationship, Jan silently vows to withhold information about his troubled past from Anna, but the past catches up with him in the form of Agnes, a schoolteacher who visits the church and recognizes Jan - as the man responsible for her young son's death. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

Storm
A prosecutor at a tribunal in the Hague attempts to convince a potential witness to testify in a crucial case against the man accused of deporting and killing Bosnian-Muslim civilians in a small town now known as the Republika Srpska in this tense courtroom drama from director Hans-Christian Schmid. Hannah Maynard is determined to make Goran Duric pay for his crimes against humanity. Her case is complicated, however, when a key witness in the trial becomes ensnared by the contradictions of his own testimony. In order to gain a better understanding of the facts of the case, the court sends a delegation to Bosnia, where the suspicions regarding the reliability of the witness are quickly confirmed. When the witness commits suicide, it begins to appear as if Duric will walk free. Now, Hannah's last hope of keeping the case alive is to travel to the witnesses' funeral in Sarajevo. There, Hannah comes into contact with the witnesses' sister Mira, who seems to know more about the defendant than she readily admits. Hannah works hard to gain Mira's trust, eventually convincing the girl to face her fears of the past and testify in the Hague. When Duric's defense team attempts to have Mira's testimony disallowed and finds their efforts unexpectedly supported by the members of the judiciary, Hannah realizes that her greatest adversaries aren't necessarily at the docks, but standing right beside her in the courtroom every day. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Rage in Placid Lake
Australian playwright Tony McNamara makes his directorial debut with the offbeat comedy The Rage in Placid Lake, adapted from his own play The Cafe Latte Kid. In his first feature film, indie rocker Benny Lee stars as a troubled teen named Placid Lake. The child of new-agey eccentric parents (Garry McDonald and Miranda Richardson), Placid spends his childhood getting picked on by bullies. Fortunately, he finds friendship with classmate Gemma Taylor (Rose Byrne), whose father (Nicholas Hammond) pressures her to excel in school. After Placid shocks the school with his dark student film, he gets into an accident that lands him in the hospital. Upon his recovery, he reinvents himself as an conservative insurance agent and engages in an affair of sorts with emotionally detached co-worker Jane (Saskia Smith). The Rage in Placid Lake was screened at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

The Bothersome Man
A 40-year-old man arrives in a mysteriously idyllic city with no memory of having traveled there, only to realize that there is something decidedly sinister about his emotionally sterile new home in director Jens Lien's surreal, genre-jumping mystery. Shortly after arriving in the curiously colorless city, Andreas (Trond Fausa Aurvag) is presented with a new apartment and told to report to the office where his amiable new boss, Håvard (Johannes Joner), will provide him with all the details of his new accounting job. Friendship seems to come fast and flavorless in this new town, and no one ever seems to get too upset or too happy. It isn't long before Andreas marries an attractive interior designer named Anne-Britt (Petronella Barker), and as the pair settle into a comfortable routine of emotionally vacant dinner parties, never-ending home improvement, and mechanical sex, the newly arrived citizen gradually begins to question why everyone seems so superficial, the food has no taste, and excessive alcohol intake fails to induce inebriation. As the ubiquitous "Caretakers" who preside over the city take note that their latest arrival just doesn't seem to fit in, Andreas attempts a daring but failed escape. When Andreas meets the like-minded Hugo, who reveals that beautiful music streams out of a crack in the wall of his cellar, the pair quickly concoct a foolproof escape plan that is sure to succeed. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Arranged
Two women whose peoples are often at odds find they're more alike than anyone expects in this drama from directors Stefan C. Schaefer and Diane Crespo. Rochel (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Nasira (Francis Benhamou) are two young women who have begun teaching at a public grade school in Brooklyn, NY. Rochel is an Orthodox Jew and Nasira is a Muslim of Pakistani descent, and the students and the administrators at the school are concerned there might be friction between the two teachers. However, over the course of their first year of teaching, Rochel and Nasira discover they have far more in common than they imagined -- both sometimes find themselves culturally out of place in 21st century New York, and both are trying to live within the traditions of their faith while struggling with their own feelings. In particular, Rochel and Nasira bond over the fact both are expected to enter into arranged marriages, Nasira with a wary optimism and Rochel with a great deal of trepidation. Arranged was screened in competition at the 2007 South by Southwest Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

For My Father
A man prepared to commit a profound act of hatred unexpectedly discovers compassion and understanding in this drama from Israeli filmmaker Dror Zahavi. Tarek (Shredi Jabarin) is an Arab man in his early twenties who left behind a promising career in soccer to join a radical terrorist group. Tarek volunteers to be a suicide bomber and travels from Tulkarem to Tel Aviv, planning to explode himself in the Carmel Market on a busy Saturday morning. However, Tarek's bomb turns out to be a dud, and he's left stranded with nowhere to go. Looking for a place to spend the night, Tarek is befriended by Katz (Shlomo Vishinsky), an aging electrician who lost his only son to fighting against the Arab states. As the day wears on, Tarek meets Keren (Hili Yalon), a woman who was raised in an ultra-Orthodox household and left her family behind in search of her own freedom. Tarek finds a kindred spirit in Keren and acceptance in Katz, forcing him to reexamine the choices that brought him to Tel Aviv in the first place. Sof Shavua Be-Tel Aviv (aka For My Father) received its North American premiere at the 2008 Montreal World Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi


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