DVD - Round-up


No mucking about this issue; the home entertainment selection is just too good. After slim pickings last time the box set market is booming. The Coen Brothers Box Set (Fox, 4 Stars) contains three of their best films - Raising Arizona (1987), Miller’s Crossing (1990) and Fargo (1996). As fantastic as these three films are it’s difficult to see the point of this box set, considering that anyone in the world with half an ounce of taste already owns them on some format. Plus there are no extras; the phrase money for old rope comes to mind. The transfers are, however, very crisp and clean, but really who cares?

You’d be better off with the Francois Truffaut Boxset (Fox, 5 Stars), which contains a selection of the great French auteur’s work that have not seen the light of day in the UK (outside the National Film Theatre anyway) since a BBC2 retrospective following his death in 1984. These five films from Truffaut’s mid period include his most accessible - The Man Who Loved Women (1977) and his most crafted work, The Story Of Adele H (1975), and at least one real masterwork in the shape of The Wild Child (1970), plus two outstanding, very rarely screened character pieces - Mississippi Mermaid (1969) about a wealthy tobacco factory owner’s slow build relationship with his mail-order bride and The Bride Wore Black (1968), in which Jeanne Moreau plays a suicidal widow in search of retribution.

As the theme tune to 1980s clip show bearing his name used to go: ‘Hurrah for Harold Lloyd! /A pair of glasses and a smile!’ Harold Lloyd: The Definitive Collection (Optimum, 5 Stars) contains all 13 of this great silent slapstick comedian’s shorts and five of his talkies. Lloyd’s genius for timing and agility is on show here in re-mastered classics Safety Last! (1923), The Freshman (1925) and Movie Crazy (1932) along with some lesser known gems. Very good extras include a load of featurettes looking at Lloyd’s oeuvre and his place in the Hollywood of the 20s and 30s. And if all that is not enough for you there’s always the Robert Altman Box Set (Fox, 4 Stars), a pentet of good and quite average films by the late, great filmmaker. Highlights include The Long Goodbye (1973), Thieves Like Us (1974) and of course MASH (1970).

There’s just space left to urge you to go out and rent, buy or steal John Cassavetes’ very adult, challenging, long unavailable, theatre-based 1977 melodrama Opening Night (Optimum, 4 Stars) and Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1969 follow-up to the Battle of Algiers - Burn! (Fox, 4 Stars), the first film to tangentially tell the story of William Walker (played beautifully by Marlon Brando), the English mercenary who led a colonial slave revolt in the mid 19th century. Brando himself believed the film contained some of his very best work.

Next issue, death may just be the answer for us all.

(Paul Dale)

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