On hearing of Marilyn Monroe’s death, the filmmaker and actor John Huston said: ‘It’s a terrible pity that so much beauty has been lost to us.’ Forty-five years on, the first of two definitive DVD collections dedicated to her are coming out. Marilyn Monroe: The Collection Vol 1 (Fox ••••) features some of Monroe’s most iconic performances including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagara and Bus Stop along with some of her lesser-known work. The second volume released in November features among others How To Marry A Millionaire, There’s No Business Like Showbusiness and The Seven Year Itch (pictured) but surprisingly not Some Like It Hot, which is something of a shame.
Cinematographers are a rare breed, their talents can make or break a film and yet they rarely get the credit on the finished deal. Ron Fricke is one cinematographer whose work has always been more about quality than quantity. Best known for his work on Baraka (1992), a madly inventive eco documentary set to a dizzying score of music from many of the world’s more remote cultures. Like much of his work before or since then, Fricke’s 1985 debut film Chronos, a time-lapse symphony about time and architecture originally shot on the Imax 1570 format, remains largely unseen. Baraka/Chronos: Two Films by Ron Fricke (Second Sight ••••) goes some way to correcting this.
The standalones this fortnight come from the leftfield, including Santos vs the She Devil (Yume •••), the third of the popular Mexican horror/wrestling exploitation flicks from the 1970s to find a home on DVD. This one finds the iconic masked man doing battle with the Queen of the werewolves with often inscrutable results. In the lead up to the release of avant garde filmmaker Matthew The Cremaster Cycle Barney’s newest film Drawing Restraint 9 comes the superior ‘making of’ film No Restraint (Soda ••••), which follows this fascinating artist to Japan on his quest to find a whaling vessel and a whole load of petroleum jelly to create his newest project.
Finally, there’s the long-overdue release of pop promo filmmaker Jamie Thraves’ debut film The Low Down (4DVD ••••) from 2000. This subtle character-study of a life lived on the margins of London’s media world stars Queer as Folks Aidan Gillen as a troubled and impoverished props designer and brings to mind the early work of both François Truffaut and John Cassavetes. Why it never saw the inside of a cinema is anyone’s guess.