Tsotsi Gavin Hood

Tsotsi Gavin Hood
One of the most celebrated films from South Africa receives a superb DVD package. Tsotsi is a violent, young hood from the shantytowns of Johannesburg who discovers a baby in the backseat of a car he jacks. By caring for the baby, Tsotsi reconnects with his harsh childhood and learns to face the world as an adult. Newcomer Presley Chweneyagae excels in the title role, swinging from ferocious to reflective without resorting to sentimentality. The supporting cast is equally strong under the wise direction of Gavin Hood, who adapted the novel by the renowned Athol Fugard. Though the ending is debatable, Tsotsi is a moving and thoughtful film about choices, survival and redemption. For once, a foreign language film gets the Hollywood treatment on DVD. Hood’s commentary on the feature, three deleted scenes, two alternate endings, as well as his short film, The Storekeeper, are intelligent and concise. Hood thoughtfully explains the choices he made in casting, screenplay adaptation and shooting. Particularly, his comments excel when he sorts out the different endings and explains why he deleted one scene that delivered the back-story of supporting character Boston. Hood’s track also provides some needed context, explaining such things as the impact of AIDS on South Africa and the conditions of the shantytowns where this film was actually shot. The "making of” featurette is a standard EPK that is pleasant, but not revealing. Similarly, the music video is eye candy. However, The Storekeeper is the icing on the cake. Hood’s tragic, wordless 20-minute short is about a South African shopkeeper fighting burglars and acts as a precursor to his larger effort. All in all, this is a classy DVD of one of the best films of 2005. (Alliance Atlantis)