4 by Agnes Varda (Criterion)
Among the most important female directors* in film history, Agnes Varda may best be remembered for crashing the boys’ club that was the Nouvelle Vague with Cleo from 5 to 7, her 1962 study in real-time anxiousness — the title character hangs around in Paris, awaiting the results of a cancer biopsy. But she was already on the scene in 1956, when she made La Pointe Courte, a film-school standby and an important precursor to the French New Wave. This boxed set collects both of those high-water marks along with Le Bonheur (1965), the well-regarded Vagabond (1985) and a full load of extras. I haven’t seen it myself, but it’s on my list.
* No, there aren’t many of them. Another good reason to investigate the great ones.
Buy it from Amazon.com: 4 by Agnès Varda (La Pointe Courte, Cléo from 5 to 7, Le bonheur, Vagabond) – Criterion Collection
Monty Python’s Life of Brian (Sony)
Buy it from Amazon.com: Monty Python’s Life Of Brian – The Immaculate Edition or Monty Python’s Life Of Brian – Collector’s Edition [Blu-ray] (Note: Amazon.com says the Blu-ray version is two discs, but apparently it’s just one.)
Barn of the Naked Dead (Legend House)
Why is this thing “of interest”?
- Great title.
- Director? Alan Rudolph.
- I like this Amazon.com review (by Daniel Jolley “darkgenius”):
I went into this film hoping for a touch of horror; after all, Barn of
the Naked Dead would seem to imply that there are going to be dead
people (apparently naked) involved. Well, a handful of people do die,
but we don’t get to see any kind of gory details of the kills, and,
strangely enough, there is no nudity whatsoever to be found here.
Normally, that would not be a problem, but the film title promises us
naked dead people and fails to deliver any skin whatsoever – that’s
just not right. There is a barn in the movie, though – I have to give
them credit for coming through with that promise.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Barn of the Naked Dead
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (New Line)
Sure, a documentary about Donkey Kong champions sounds excruciating, but this one got exceedingly generous reviews. Sez Maitland McDonagh (whom I trust on horror movies so why not on video-game documentaries?): “The
stranger-than-fiction cast of characters is fascinating, and their
high-stakes machinations are nothing short of mind-boggling.“
Buy it from Amazon.com: The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
The Invasion (Warner) Nicole Kidman is great casting for an Invasion
of the Body Snatchers remake as long as you’re writing a script around
the possibility that she’s an unfeeling alien visitor. Like so many
other things about The Invasion, it’s a near-miss — Kidman
plays an emotionally remote, human psychiatrist who blends in too well
with the increasingly unfeeling drones around her, victims of an alien
flu that transforms the DNA of infected people during R.E.M. sleep.
(The iconic pods from the earlier Body Snatchers movies have been
eliminated from the process.) It’s actually hard to tell what German
director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) intended to make of this,
because the studio ended up turning the project over to the Wachowski brothers for extensive reshoots. The result is a strange combo platter that bobbles the low-key tension of the three
earlier films in its rush to get to the action; it feels like it was
edited with a vacuum cleaner. But the action — including a generic car
chase and a scene in which Kidman punches a little kid — feels pasted in. A dollop of political satire doesn’t make up for the general tedium. (Review originally published in the White Plains Times.)