Rack Focus

The Glass Shield

Charles Burnett may have the lowest profile of any major contemporary American auteur, with many key works still virtually impossible to see. In The Glass Shield, a pair of young cops, respectively the only black and only female deputies at their L.A. sheriff's station, discover a network of deep-seated departmental corruption while probing into a racially charged murder case. Mismarketed as a by-the-numbers police thriller upon its 1995 theatrical release (a tactic that may well have contributed to its lukewarm critical and popular reception), Burnett's film subtly subverts the genre with its offbeat performances and unusual complexity, both visual and moral. Extras include an interview with the director and a feature on film scoring with composer Stephen James Taylor.

Ryan: The Special Edition DVD

Short films are notoriously difficult to market, but this exceptionally well-conceived disc circumvents the problem by packaging Ryan, this year's Oscar winner for best animated short, with several related works. Chris Landreth's terrific "animated documentary" profiles Ryan Larkin, a Canadian animator who mysteriously dropped off the map some 30 years ago following a handful of groundbreaking shorts. This DVD also includes three Larkin films, two earlier shorts by Landreth, and a 52-minute documentary entitled Alter Egos (directed by Laurence Green) that delves further into the relationship between the two men, climaxing with Landreth showing the finished Ryan to Larkin for the first time.

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