DVD - Round-up
Summer is upon us. If freak storms, hay fever, ozone paranoia and the acrid waft of a million barbeques has driven you indoors, then you may want to hang out with two of the coolest men to ever stride this dying planet - Jean Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon. Having recently been brought out by French media giants Canal Plus, the distribution company Optimum Releasing now has one of the finest archives in the western hemisphere and these two collections delight and amaze with their mixture of the familiar and ‘hard to come by’. The Alain Delon Collection (4 Stars) is pure class and features Plein Soleil (1960), L’Eclisse (1962), Un Flic (1972), Traitement de Choc (1973) and Flic Story (1975). The Belmondo Collection (3 Stars) is more uneven in terms of the quality of the individual films, but it does contain the Godard classics À Bout de Souffle (1960) and Pierrot le Fou (1965) and the insanely popular thriller Le Professionnel from 1981.
Staying in France and with box sets, if only so we can kneel down before the plastic and resin shrine that is the HG Clouzet Collection (Optimum, 5 Stars). Clouzet, a true master of cinema (often tagged the ‘Gallic Hitchcock’) was one of the greatest. This collection features three of Clouzet’s most dyspeptic and sour works - his wartime poison-pen drama Le Corbeau (1943), reviled by the right-wing, left-wing and church alike, his classic film noir Quai des Orfevres (1947) and of course The Wages of Fear (1952). It is not difficult to see why Clouzet became a pin up hero for British Free Cinema radicals (Lindsay Anderson, Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson and others) of the 1960s.
Back in the real world there’s a new collection of John Pilger Documentaries (Network, 4 Stars), none of which have been available on DVD before. The twelve demanding and occasionally depressing films include Death Of A Nation - The Timor Connection and Year Zero - The Silent Death Of Cambodia.
There’s a couple of long overdue solo reissues out as well - Monte Hellmen’s superb 1971 drag racing drama Two Lane Blacktop (Universal, 5 Stars) finally gets to burn its hippy heart on the digital freeway. Saucier delight can be found in Serge Gainsbourg’s 1976 debut Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus (Optimum, 4 Stars, pictured) about the various sexual adventures of Johnny (Jane Birkin), a truck stop waitress. It is lascivious and shocking in equal measure and features Warhol acolyte Joe Dallesandro and Gérard Depardieu. Next time it’s all about ‘the family’. Come together, right now.