From the Big Screen:
This Week's Highlights:
The films of Jacques Rivette (1928-2016) — unarguably the grand master of the French New Wave Cinema — have long been the Holy Grail of cinema. Most of his 28 films have had little or no distribution on the big screen — and have appeared sporadically on DVD. And not because of their quality — his films are brilliant if not genius — but, like so many works of art, they are at times difficult to fathom. His first feature, "Paris Belongs to Us" (1961), began production as the first New Wave feature in 1958 but, because of financing difficulties, was not released until 1961 (previously, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer all worked with Rivette on his early short films). The cinematic themes that he would deal with for the rest of his career — the theatricality of film, the thin line between dream and reality, the prominence of the actor and improvisation, the importance of magic and imagination, and the stand of the individual against the institutional conspiracies that want to control us — all came forth in his early films and were refined in his subsequent productions. Last year Carlotta Films released a DVD/Blu-ray box set of Rivette's magnum opus, the nearly 13-hour "Out 1: Noli me tangere" (1970), a gigantic canvas on which he made a major break from the confines of narative film structure. Now, Arrow Academy has done a great service for cinema history by releasing the "Jacques Rivette Collection Limited Edition," a six disc DVD/Blu-ray combo set with three of Rivette's late-1970s outings. In 1975, Rivette reunited with "Out" 1 producer Stéphane Tchal Gadjieff with the idea of a four-film cycle. He would create a quartet of interconnected films, each in a different genre. One was to be a love story, another a Western, and there was to be a fantastical thriller and a musical comedy starring Anna Karina and Jean Marais too. Ill health intervened, and only two of the films were completed. "Duelle (une quarantine)" (1976) sees Rivette in fantasy territory, cross-pollinating Val Lewton, Jean Cocteau and film noir as the Queen of the Sun (Bulle Ogier) and the Queen of the Night (Juliet Berto) search for a magical diamond in the present day. Its parallel film, "Noroît (une vengeance)" (1976), is a pirate tale — and a loose adaptation of "The Revenger's Tragedy" — starring Geraldine Chaplin ("Nashville"). A third film began production — "Marie et Julien" starring Albert Finney and Leslie Caron — but Rivette succumbed to nervous exhaustion and shooting was abandoned. When he did return to filmmaking, Rivette borrowed some of the elements of "Duelle" and "Noroît" and came up with" Merry-Go-Round" (1981). Joe Dallesandro ("Trash," "Flesh for Frankenstein") and Maria Schneider ("Last Tango in Paris," "The Passenger") are summoned to Paris, which leads to one of the most surreal and mysterious tales in a career that was dominated by surrealism and mystery. Now if someone would just release a DVD/Blu-ray version of Rivette's most accessible and populkar film, the playful, mysterious and shape-shifting 1974 "Céline et Julie vont en bateau: Phantom Ladies Over Paris" ("Celine and Julie Go Boating") — along with the "Godfather," "Citizen Kane," "El Topo" and "The Searchers," for me one of the greatest films of all time — cineastes would be in seventh heaven. Extras on the "Jacques Rivette Collection" include "Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers," an archive interview with the director, in which he discusses "Duelle (une quarantaine)," "Noroît (une vengeance)" and "Merry-Go-Round"; "Remembering Duelle": Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz recollect their work on the 1976 feature; interview with critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, who reported from the sets of both "Duelle" and "Noroît"; and an exclusive perfect-bound book containing superb writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens and Nick Pinkerton plus a reprint of four on-set reports from "Duelle" and "Noroît." Distributed by MVD Entertainment.
With the Palme d'Or-winning drama "Dheepan" (2015), which deftly combines seemingly disparate genres, French filmmaker Jacques Audiard cemented his status as one of the titans of contemporary world cinema. In an arresting performance, the nonprofessional actor Antonythasan Jesuthasan (himself a former child soldier) stars as a Tamil fighter who, along with a woman and child posing as his wife and daughter, flees war-torn Sri Lanka only to land in a Paris suburb riddled with drugs. As the makeshift family embarks on a new life, Dheepan settles into an intimate social-realist mode, before tightening, gradually and organically, into a dynamic turf-war thriller, as well as an unsettling study of the psychological aftereffects of combat. Searing and sensitive, Audiard's film is a unique depiction of the refugee experience as a continuous crisis of identity. On DVD and Blu-ray from a high-definition digital master, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection … "Cops vs Thugs" (1975), Considered by many to be director Kinji Fukasaku's greatest single-film achievement in the yakuza genre, was made at the height of popularity of Toei Studios' jitsuroku boom: realistic, modern crime movies based on true stories taken from contemporary headlines. Returning to the screen after completing their "Battles Without Honor and Humanity" series together, Fukasaku joined forces once again with screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara, composer Toshiaki Tsushima and star Bunta Sugawara to create one of the crowning achievements of his career, and a hard-boiled classic which is still ranked as one of the best Japanese films of the 1970s. It's 1963 in the southern Japanese city of Kurashima, and tough-as-nails detective Kuno (Sugawara) oversees a detente between the warring Kawade and Ohara gangs. Best friends with Ohara lieutenant Hirotani (Hiroki Matsukata), he understands that there are no clear lines in the underworld, and that everything is colored a different shade of gray. But when random violence interrupts the peace and an ambitious, by-the-books lieutenant (Tatsuo Umemiya) comes to town, Kuno's fragile alliance begins to crumble. Greedy bosses and politicians alike seize the opportunity to wipe out their enemies, and Kuno faces the painful choice of pledging allegiance to his badge and keeping a promise to his brother. Echoing the great crime films of Sidney Lumet and Jean-Pierre Melville, in Fukasaku's world, there's no honor among thieves or lawmen alike, and the only thing that matters is personal honor and duty among friends. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo with a high definition digital transfer and original uncompressed mono audio. From Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment.
From TV to DVD:
"Outsiders: Season Two<" (2017) is a four-disc set with 13 episodes. A struggle for power and control continues in the rugged hills of Appalachia as the battle between the clan and the town escalates with the Farrells becoming more isolated than ever before. The uneasy truce that had previously existed between the townspeople and the family tribe came to an abrupt end when Big Coal headed up the mountain and the standoff continues to have repercussions. Also available today is "Outsiders: Seasons One and Two" (2016-17), an eight-disc set with all 26 episodes. From Sony.