From Dave Kehr's column in today's New York Times: two films released by Eclipse (the no-frills, cheaper spinoff of the Criterion Collection), which sound very intriguing: forgotten French director Raymond Bernard's early 30's films Wooden Crosses and Les Miserables ("very likely the best adaptation of Hugo's novel"). Kehr describes Bernard as "a wonderfully impure filmmaker who mixed and matched styles, broke through fourth walls and enjoyed a grand, stentorian performance as much as a crafty little character turn." Then, from the sublime to the ridiculous, perhaps? Kehr also reviews five DVDs from Fox Home Video starring Joan Collins. Glenn Erickson also reviews the set for his "DVD Savant" column.
Also new this week:
Avenue Montaigne. Daniele Thompson's charming, and rather harmless, film is the sort of light comedy the French specialize in, with a frisson of class commentary, as its central character Jessica (Cecile de France), a waitress working in the titular theater district, becomes involves with the elite types who populate the area. A highlight of the film is director Sydney Pollack playing himself (sort of), auditioning actors for a film about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. This film had the alternate English title Orchestra Seats, the title I saw it under at last year's French cinema series at the Walter Reade. Very light, but enjoyable.
Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Kenta (son of Kinji) Fukasaku adapts the popular anime. Screened at this year's New York Asian Film Festival.
Dynamite Warrior. This deliriously unhinged Thai film also screened at the New York Asian Film Festival.
Ace in the Hole. Alternatively titled The Big Carnival, this classic Billy Wilder film is perhaps his bitterest, and most caustic commentary on media exploitation, featuring one of Kirk Douglas' most riveting performances. Criterion has finally made this film available on video.
Kon Ichikawa's 47 Ronin. This 1994 version of the oft-told tale was produced by Toho for its 100th anniversary. Available from Animeigo.
Factory Girl. George Hickenlooper's Edie Sedgwick biopic was a critical and commercial disaster upon its brief release earlier this year. This director's-cut DVD attempts to undo at least some of the damage.