Just as Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s most recent film, The World, made its way to local theaters, the film that first brought Jia international acclaim, Platform, arrived on DVD. Platform is Jia’s second feature and bears more than a passing similarity to another famous second feature, The Magnificent Ambersons, for the way it measures the sweep of generational and cultural change in the intimate moments of private lives. Richly layered and emotionally rewarding, the film opens in 1980 and centers on a group of four young friends who perform in a state-run musical-theater troupe. While the ragtag group stages propaganda songs for children, politics exerts its influence from the periphery in government radio broadcasts and passing officialdom. Bell-bottoms, perms and Asian pop are the materials from which the troupe’s members forge their identities offstage as the government inaugurates its “open door” cultural policy and makes its first moves toward a Western-style economy. Around these markers of change, Jia structures the film as a series of subtle returns to significant locations in the foursome’s rustic hometown and repeated compositions that nevertheless explode with the poignancy of passing time. In its long takes and ineluctable flows, Platform captures the unique tension of youth, when every moment feels like it could last forever even as it has already begun fading to memory. The film was originally screened with a 196-minute running time at select film festivals; this New Yorker Video release features the 150-minute version edited by Jia for commercial release.

Other recommended new DVD releases: Chronicle of a Disappearance; Garbo: The Signature Collection: Anna Christie, Anna Karenina, Mata Hari, Ninotchka, Queen Christina; The Kiss of the Vampire; Lawless Street; Paranoiac; 3-Iron; Touki Bouki.

DVDs also released this week: The Adventures of the Little Prince: The Complete Animated Series; The Alligator People; The Beast Box; The Bible Collection: David; The Bible Collection: Samson and Delilah; Bleak House; The Blue Bird; The Boston Strangler; Brides of Dracula; Brubeck Returns to Moscow; The Cabinet of Caligari; Camille; Casanova’s Big Night; Charmed: The Complete Second Season; Chillogy; Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach; The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Editing; The Curse of the Werewolf; Días de Fútbol; The Doctor and the Devils; Doctor Who: Episode 45 — The Mind Robber; Doctor Who: Episode 92 — Horror of Fang Rock; Doris Day: It’s Magic; The Evil of Frankenstein; Fear and Trembling; The Ghost Next Door; The Girl in the Cafe; Great Expectations; Happy To Be Nappy & Other Stories; Hard Times; The Holy Girl; The House on 92nd Street; The Innocents; The Last Frontier; Lipstick & Dynamite; The Longest Drive; Lorna Doone; MacGyver: The Complete Third Season; Man in the Saddle; Martin Chuzzlewit; The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek; NFL Philadelphia Eagles: NFC Champions; Nos Miran; Oliver Twist; Our Mutual Friend; Phantom of the Opera; Princess Stories: Volume 3: Beauty Shines From Within; Quilombo; Real Wheels: Rockin’ Real Wheels; Real Wheels: Tractor Adventures; Red Garters; Rockin’ the Corps; Santa Fe; Santos Peregrinos; Scary House; La Segunda Noche; Shelly Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends; Sing Along Songs, Volume Two: Disney Princess Enchanted Tea Party; Somewhere in the Night; Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital; The Stranger Wore a Gun; The Teaser/Frankie and Johnnie . . . Were Lovers; Ten Wanted Men; Through a Child’s Eyes; Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition; Tracey Ullman: Live and Exposed; Trollz, Volume 1: Best Friends for Life; Trollz, Volume 2: Magic of the Five; Whirlpool.

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