This week hitting the small screen, Catherine Deneuve pairs up with Gerard Depardieu, Eva Green “Cracks,” a new French classic gets remastered in high-def and much more.
DVD/Blu-rays This Week
What to Buy
Why It’s a Must Own: Anything new by the prolific French auteur Francois Ozon is always worth checking out and his latest marks his best and most accessible effort since his 2002 star-studded musical comedy, “8 Women.” “Potiche” reunites him with that film’s ensemble member, the venerable Catherine Deneuve. In this ’70s-set feminist farce, Deneuve plays Suzanne, a domesticated ‘trophy housewife’ (‘potiche’ in French) who breaks free from her husband’s grip when she takes over his umbrella factory after the workers go on strike and take him hostage. Deneuve, who seems to be having a ball in the role, is a joy to watch and her scenes with her co-star Gerard Depardieu (who plays an old flame), recall old school movie magic that’s all too lacking in the current cinematic landscape. Magnifique!
Extras: A feature length making of documentary featuring footage with cast and crew; six-minutes of costume tests; a two-minute teaser trailer that spoofs the ’70s style of movie trailers; and trailers for other Music Box Films titles.
What to Rent
Why Rent: As the daughter of British directing veteran Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “Blade Runner”), sister to Jake Scott (director of “Welcome to the Rileys”) and niece to blockbuster auteur Tony Scott (“Unstoppable”), rookie filmmaker Jordan Scott had a lot to prove in her debut, the boarding school drama “Cracks.” She more than holds her own. Her first feature film stars a smoldering Eva Green as Miss G, a teacher at a private British boarding school with a mysterious past. When a new girl arrives a the school, threatening to steal away Miss G’s spotlight, the teacher’s disturbing tendencies are brought to light. Worth checking out for Green’s commanding turn and Scott’s ability at eliciting strong performances from her very young cast (including up-and-comer Juno Temple).
Why Rent: Because this Academy-Award nominated French classic has never looked better than it does on Blu-ray. Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s vision of Paris through the eyes of Amélie Poulain (a beguiling Audrey Tatou) has long been in need of the high-def treatment and it finally gets it in this souped up release. This baby has lost none of its whimsical charm.
Extras: A featurette that shows how Jeunet concocted the striking look of the film; a Q&A with Jeunet and the cast; auditions; storyboard to screen comparisons; intimate little vignettes that go into the making of “Amélie;” and much more.
“Beauty and the Beast: The Criterion Collection” (Blu-ray)
Why Rent? Jean Cocteau’s swoon-inducing black-and-white adaptation of the fairytale classic sparkles with new life on Blu-ray thanks to the folks over at the Criterion Collection. Worth upgrading to this release even if you have the Criterion DVD that hit shelves in 2003.
Extras: High-definition digital transfer from restored film elements (with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition); Philip Glass’s opera “La Belle et la Bête,” as an alternate soundtrack (presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition); two commentaries: one by film historian Arthur Knight and one by writer and cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling; “Screening at the Majestic,” a 1995 documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew; interview with cinematographer Henri Alekan; rare behind-the-scenes photos and publicity stills; film restoration demonstration; original trailer, directed and narrated by Jean Cocteau, and the 1995 restoration trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien (Blu-ray edition only), a 1947 piece on the film by Cocteau, excerpts from Francis Steegmuller’s 1970 Cocteau: A Biography, a reprint of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s original fable (DVD edition only), and an introduction to Glass’s opera by the composer.
“Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune”
Why Rent? This timely documentary takes a look at the life of American protest singer-songwriter Phil Ochs and in the process offers up an illuminating portrait of the political climate in the 1960s. The pointedly political film features performance footage of Ochs and interviews with Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Sean Penn, Peter Yarrow, Christopher Hitchens and others.
Extras: Extended Ochs performances; bonus interviews; photo gallery; an interview with Bowser; and more.
VOD Pick of the Week
Why Watch? Check out this star-studded indie crime caper a full month before it hits theaters. Patrick Dempsey, Ashely Judd, Tim Blake Nelson and Mekhi Phifer are among some of the big names Rob Minkoff (“The Lion King”) lined up for his latest live-action flick that concerns two different groups of robbers who attempt to hold up one bank at the same time. In the midst of all this, a neurotic customer (Dempsey) and a bank employee (Judd) strike up a romance.
Where to Find It: IFC Films On Demand