Director Spotlight: Your Friends & Neighbors/Possession/The Shape of Things/Nurse Betty (DVD)

Neil Labute is one of my favorite directors, he’s a man who specializes in making movies about the ugliness of humanity, and he never really aspires to pull punches. Before being sadly well known for his god awful “The Wicker Man” remake, Labute delivered on some unique arthouse cinema, all of which garnered some big star power. They acted as the cushioning for the inevitable upsetting story that Labute would unfold for us. I guarantee you at least one of these movies in this “Director Spotlight” DVD from Mill Creek Entertainment will make you want to punch something out of sheer anger.

Your Friends & Neighbors, from 1998, is a dark drama and ensemble picture about three couples, all of whom are experiencing some kind of dilemma. Starring the likes of Ben Stiller, Aaron Eckhart, Catherine Kenner, and Amy Brenneman respectively, Labute focuses on six people all of whom are friends and garnering their own insecurities and difficulties involving sex and their sexual relationships. “Your Friends and Neighbors” is a shocker of a dark drama filled with some interesting twists, a dark finale, and Jason Patric, who delivers perhaps one of the most shocking monologues in movie history. Featured is an audio commentary with Director Neil LaBute and Producer Steve Golin.

The Shape of Things from 2003 is a genuinely dark and upsetting drama starring Rachel Weisz and Paul Rudd. Weisz is a gorgeous art student named Evelyn who takes a liking to Rudd’s Adam seemingly over night. As the sparks fly, Adam begins to change for Evelyn, which puts him in a conflict with his two best friends. This is a great film but one that’ll most definitely leave you in a rotten mood when the credits have rolled. The Bonus Features includes an audio Commentary with Director Neil LaBute and star Paul Rudd, and Introduction by Neil LaBute, and a vintage behind the scenes segment called Welcome to Mercy College. Nurse Betty from 2000 is a dark comedy stars Renee Zellwger as Betty, a woman who never misses an episode of her favorite soap opera, A Reason To Love.

After a mind-altering run-in with two hit men while watching an episode, Betty transforms into Nurse Betty and embarks on a mission to find her one true love, Dr. David Ravell. Follow Betty on a wild and hysterical cross-country trek in search of the man of her dreams. Can Betty find him before the hit men find her? The Bonus Features includes audio commentaries with the Cast & Crew, and Deleted Scenes. Finally, there’s 2002’s Possession which co stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart as Maud Bailey and Roland Michell, two dedicated literary scholars with nothing in common – except their obsession with the two Victorian poets they have devoted their lives to studying.

As they embark on a wildly romantic journey in search of the truth, the mysteries of the past engulf them, even as the passions of the present possess them. It’s a hell of a movie to go out on as “Possession” is genuinely boring, but hey, two out of three isn’t bad. I wish they’d taken out “Possession” and replaced it with “In the Company of Men,” but hey, it’s still a good four pack.