Thursday, December 02, 2010

Produced and Abandoned Part 8

Ten more titles deserving a proper region 1 DVD release:

1. A New Leaf (1971)- Elaine May is such an under appreciated talent, and it's promising that her name has been part of the recent rhetoric after her 1987 film "Ishtar" received a long overdue DVD copy. Her debut film, starring Walter Mattheau as a bankrupt curmudgeon who has to marry for money, is one of the best comedies of the past 30 years, full of zany wit and spot on performances. This does air on the Flix channel occasionally, so catch it there if you can. And while we're at it, where's "The Heartbreak Kid" as well? I plan on writing about may in greater detail later.
2. Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974)- Jacques Rivette's mid seventies masterpiece is very hard to see, popping up at the usual MOMA retrospectives of Rivette... and that's about it. VHS copies and region 2 copies go for big money online. I've seen pieces of Rivette's work, and while they can be a bit long in the tooth, they're also relentlessly fascinating slices of human interaction.
3. The Drifting Classroom (1987)- From the director who brought us "House", Nobuhiko Obayashi's described "fantasy" film sounds just as outrageous. After an earthquake, a school is transported to another dimension. While "House" was a bit of a letdown for me, Obayashi's cinema of fairy tale-like charm is ingratiating.
4. That Sinking Feeling (1980)- Bill Forsyth's directorial debut is a charming, warm, immensely funny layabout tale following 4 Glasgow youths who think up a get-rich-quick scheme. Forsyth is hugely under-represented on home video. Even his mainstream efforts, such as "Breaking In" with Burt Reynolds, are wonderful little treasures full of heart and connection.
5. Last Embrace (1979)- Jonathan Demme's ode to Hitchcock is just as lurid and obsessive about its imitation of the master as most of DePalma's work. Roy Scheider gives a great, wounded performance as an ex-CIA agent, delusional after the murder of his wife, and being hounded by ancient Jewish death threats. Miklos Rozsa's score, Demme's subtle shifts in point of view and a grand finale on the edge of a waterfall all add up to a worthy Hitchcock rip-off.
6. Angel (1982)- After watching "Ondine" recently, it coccured to me that director Neil Jordan is a filmmaker who creates films that could easily spiral out of control.... but don't. Remember "In Dreams"... Robert Downey Jr as a killer on some sort of apple farm? Weird, but somehow it all hung together. "Ondine" does the same, reaching some pretty amazing heights of fantasy and fiction, love and understanding between father and daughter and fairy tale. "Angel" is his debut film and I can't remember seeing or hearing much about it. Maybe its time.
7. The Thief of Paris (1965)- Early Louis Malle starring Jean Paul Belmondo who burglers the houses of wealthy Parisians. There are Italian DVD imports out there and I've read that TCM has shown a print in the last few years. I recently got my hands on Malle's "Black Moon" and would love to see this one as well.
8. Ivans XTC (2000)- Anyone remember this film? Roger Ebert favorably reviewed it and it's regarded as the first fully produced film in HD. Starring Danny Huston, the film is described as an update of Tolstoy in modern day Hollywood.
9. The Silent One (1973)- I love Lino Ventura as an actor. In the 70's he produced a number of films with French director Claude Pinoteau, the best of them being "Jig Saw" with Angie Dickinson. This film, released in 1973, stars Ventura as a French scientist caught up in international intrigue, again directed by Pinoteau.
10. Alex In Wonderland (1970)- Paul Mazursky's comedy starring Donald Sutherland as a director is one of the few Mazursky 70's films not on DVD. It will get a showing on TCM later this month, though, so its not all bad bews.

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