2007_04_arts_auradvd.jpgThe Aura (directed by Fabián Beilinsky): When a talented director passes away after making just a few really great movies, it's tempting to wonder "what if." The Argentinian filmmaker Fabián Beilinsky only had the opportunity to make the serpentine thrillers Nine Queens in 2000 and then The Aura in 2005 before suffering from a heart attack in 2006. However, let's focus on the positive--now that The Aura is out on DVD, you can rent both movies for one hell of a double feature. It'll be a heist-filled evening you won't soon forget. Ricardo Darin (who also appears in Nine Queens) plays an unnamed taxidermist, a meticulous city dweller who spends all of his spare moments fantasizing about the ultimate robbery. Unfortunately, his debilitating epilepsy, which the taxidermist knows is coming on when he's engulfed by "an aura," has kept him frustratingly mild-mannered. While on a hunting trip with a colleague in the mountains, the taxidermist finds himself using his self-taught skills for trickery as he's caught up in a plot by some locals to rob a casino that's about to close.

Beilinsky's real strength is layering just enough plausible details on top of one another to keep you believing in his fantastic plot twists. Without one element or another, the whole film might seem ridiculous but together, the plot points add up to something magical. Much of The Aura's success is owed in particular to Darin's subtle performance. His regular guy looks mask a real charisma on screen and he can make even the most morally gray characters incredibly likable. We may not have Beilinsky around any more, but at least we can look forward to more work from Darin.

Other new discs gracing shelves this week include the director's cut of a pissed of Mel Gibson getting some Payback, the deliciously smarmy Garry Shandling playing his faux self in a box set of his HBO series Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show and Emilio Estevez's beehive hairdo parade Bobby.