THE LIVES OF OTHERS
Sony DVD -- $26.96
When The New Yorker runs an essay on the allure of biography and headlines it "Lives of Others," you know this film has reached an ultimate of chic. But this year's Oscar-winner for best foreign film deserves more than its brilliant media and arthouse success; the film's sweeping, intricate narrative could make subtitle-readers out of pulp espionage fans.
Magnolia -- $26.98
"If there's any happiness to be found, it's in the arts," says Gena Rowlands in an interview on the DVD of Broken English. The work she does with her writer-director daughter, Zoe Cassavetes, on this low-key charmer bears her out. Rowlands drolly plays a crucial supporting role: the mother of the heroine, a thirtysomething New York hotel-services manager (the funny and affecting Parker Posey) who thought she'd be involved in the arts and just about gives up on happiness until a magical Frenchman enters her life. The film is wispy, but mostly in a novel, gratifying way. Weeks afterward it tickles your memory.