From the Big Screen:
“Little Boy” and “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.” For more information on this and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
This Week’s Best Bets:
“La Grande Bouffe” (1973 — France/Italy) is the most famous film by Italian director Marco Ferreri (“Dillinger is Dead”): it was reviled on its release for being decadent, self-loathing, cynical and frequently obscene — yet it won the prestigious FIPRESCI prize after its controversial screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Though on its release it was amazingly anti-bourgeoisie and anti-church (along the lines of Luis Bunuel), the film feels a little dated today — though there are some outrageous scenes that stand out and still shock with their outrageousness. The story: Four friends — played by international superstars Marcello Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Ugo Tognazzi and Philippe Noiret — tired of their boring, wasted lives, retreat to a country mansion where they are determined to eat themselves to death while engaging in group sex with prostitutes and a local school teacher (Andrea Ferreol), who seems to be up for anything. It’s kind of “Babette’s Feast” meets “Salo” for a fart-filled, sex-filled, gluttonous orgy of black humor and promiscuity. The four leads –all at the height of their powers — are just superb as the world-weary gourmands. “La Grande Bouffe” — which translates to “The Great Feast” or “The Great Blow-Out,” has long been out of print or available only in crummy copies. This Blu-ray/DVD Combo has been lovingly restored by the folks at Arrow Video in a 2K remastering from the original camera negative with original French audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray). Extras include “The Farcical Movie,” a French television profile of Marco Ferreri from 1975 in which the director discusses, among other things, the influence of Tex Avery, Luis Bunuel and Tod Browning’s “Freaks”; behind-the-scenes footage of the making of “La Grande Bouffe”, containing interviews with Ferrari and Mastroianni, Piccoli, Tognazzi and Noiret; extracts from the television series “Couleurs autour d’un festival,” featuring interviews with the cast and crew recorded during the Cannes Film Festival; a news report from the Cannes Film Festival where “La Grande Bouffe” caused a controversial stir, including Ferreri at the press conference; original trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; and a booklet featuring new writing on the film by Johnny Mains, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. From MVD Entertainment Group.
“Lambert & Stamp” (2015) is the remarkable story of Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, aspiring filmmakers in the 1960s who set out to find a subject for their first film and inadvertently helped launch The Who. Lambert, who was from an upper crust British family and Stamp, from a working class family and the younger brother of actor Terence Stamp, met in London in 1963 as assistant film directors; the pair teamed up and decided to make a movie on a rock group to highlight the flourishing London pop scene. They chose a group called the High Numbers, changed their name to The Who (actually, their name had been The Who before High Numbers and they were persuaded to change it back), bought their contract, helped mold their image and style, and turned the rebellious musicians into the hit-making machine that created “Tommy,” “The Who’s Next” and a bevy of chart-topping songs and albums. They founded Track Records, which released albums and singles by Jimi Hendrix, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Marc Bolan, Golden Earring and, of course, The Who. By the late 1970s both had left the music scene; Lambert moved to Italy, dying in 1981 of a brain hemorrhage while in London, and Stamp, overcoming drug addiction, helped out on The Who related projects but mainly worked as a psychodrama therapist and addiction counselor until his death by cancer in 2012. The film is a testimonial to the genius of these two men and their art and creativity; both saw a world beyond a quartet of young men pommelling their instruments and helped foment a musical revolution, pushing as many boundaries as they could in an effort to create something new and exciting. The film is charged with wild images, crazy music and the electricity of a generation. On DVD, Blu-ray from Sony.
“The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” (2015): There’s nothing really new here in an at-times sluggish bio-pic about the iconic actress/sex symbol … but if all you know about Marilyn is what you’ve learned via the media impressions (and movies) she left behind, this is a good introduction to her life — which was fraught with problems from her early childhood through her many bad affairs and marriages. Despite her beauty and talent, Marilyn’s demons consistently got in her way: she was deathly afraid that she had inherited the paranoid schizophrenia of her mother and constantly sought out all sorts of mother and father figures to guide her life. Kelli Garner — herself a sexy stunner — is perfect as Marilyn and Susan Sarandon is great as Marilyn’s mad mom. “The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe” — which originally aired on Lifetime — begins with the young Norma Jeane Mortenson (Garner) as she battles a lonely, loveless existence with an absent and mentally ill mother. She ultimately reinvents herself as the sex symbol of an era. A fragile artist, she’s very different from the larger-than-life image she portrayed. The great secret of Marilyn’s life is that her mother, Gladys (Sarandon), remained a vital — and troubling — part of her world. Her marriages to Joe DiMaggio (Morgan) and Arthur Miller collapse in part due to her own inner demons. Co-stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Emily Watson. Based on the best-selling book by J. Randy Taraborrelli. $19.98 from Lionsgate.
Also due this week is a new 2K digital restoration of “Day for Night” (1973), a loving farce from Francois Truffaut (“Jules and Jim”) about the joys and turbulence of moviemaking. Truffaut himself appears as the harried director of a frivolous melodrama, the shooting of which is plagued by the whims of a neurotic actor (Jean-Pierre Leaud); an aging but still forceful Italian diva (Valentina Cortese); and a British ingenue haunted by personal scandal (Jacqueline Bisset). An irreverent paean to the prosaic craft of cinema as well as a delightful human comedy about the pitfalls of love and sex, “Day for Night” is buoyed by robust performances and a sparkling score by the legendary Georges Delerue. On DVD and Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.