DVD - Round-up
‘When April winds/Grew soft, the maple burst into a flush’ - (that’s American poet William Cullen Bryant in case you wondered) - our thoughts turn to female space warriors. Well, just one really, the one they call Ripley. The proto feminist hammerhead beast-slayer makes a slight return with two nicely packaged cheapo editions of both Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens (both Fox, 4 Stars). There’s not much in the way of extras on these discs but the transfers are good and, really, when a film becomes this much a part of the cultural landscape, who cares?
It’s a good fortnight for box sets. There’s the Fritz Lang Box Set (Eureka, 5 Stars), which features five absolute gold cast classics from the great German silent filmmaker including both Dr Mabuse films, M, and of course, the mind-blowing Metropolis. There’s also the John Sayles Collection (Optimum, 4 Stars), featuring three of this remarkable American filmmaker’s lesser-known works - The Return Of The Secaucus Seven, The Brother From Another Planet (pictured) and the witheringly forthright lesbian campus drama Lianna. Sayles has been much copied by the mainstream but rarely equalled. Most interesting of all is a Leos Carax Collection (Artificial Eye, 4 Stars). Carax became something of a cause célebre when his visceral first two films Boy Meets Girl and The Night is Young (Mauvais Sang) were released in the mid-1980s. His subsequent films have been vital, disturbing tracts on the abuses and behaviour of France’s underclass and have been mostly greeted with derision by middle class film critics. Now is the time for re-evaluation of Carax’s work, especially his superb 1999 film Pola X, included here.
As we head towards May a low budget release of Elia Kazan’s mighty On the Waterfront (Columbia Classics, 4 Stars) hits the shelves, as does a reissue of visionary anarcho-realist Belgian filmmaker Lucas Belvaux’s sublime Trilogy 1, 2, 3 (Tartan, 5 Stars). Documentary fans should welcome the long overdue DVD releases of the Maysles Brothers Grey Gardens and Salesman (both Eureka, 4 Stars). Finally, Stuart Samuels’ fascinating documentary Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (Metrodome, 3 Stars) never received a theatrical release in Scotland so now’s your chance to catch it on DVD.
Next issue I’ll be giving you a lesson in Italian history and we’ll be taking a stroll in Beckett-land with a couple of skagheads. Until then, pass the foil.