It’s that time of year when everything goes a little bit box set crazy. If you go on the right website (I suggest www.moviemail-online.co.uk) you can pick up newly released The Complete Coen Collection 1984-2004 (Spirit ••••) for around the £50. With all eleven of the Brothers’ films here from Blood Simple to The Ladykillers plus bonus material for each film that’s a little bit of a bargain. Alfred Hitchcock: The British Years (Network •••••) serves as a reminder of how great the fat man was before he crossed the Atlantic to sit out the war (and consequently made his name). Featuring ten films he made between 1925 and 1939 (excluding Blackmail, the rights for which lay elsewhere) this collection is a lovely bit of archaeology containing imperishable classics The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934 version), The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage, Young and Innocent, The Lady Vanishes and Jamaica Inn.
An advocate of the Hay Diet and open relationships that most Un-English of establishment Englishmen John Mills gets his second box set in so many years. Unlike the last one, however, The John Mills Centenary Collection (ITV DVD ••••) actually features some good films including two of his five collaborations with director David Lean — In Which We Serve and Great Expectations.
Lovers of musical theatre will be pleasured by the release of yet another Rogers and Hammerstein Collection (Fox •••). This unsurprising but mildly comforting selection of six films includes The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and South Pacific, there are no extras.
Standalones of interest this fortnight include three lesser-known films from by the great French New Wave filmmaker Jacques La Belle Noiseuse Rivette — Love on The Ground, The Gang of Four and Wuthering Heights (All Bluebell ••••). William Friedkin’s ridiculous 1980 gay killer thriller Cruising (Warner •••) starring Al Pacino as a deep cover cop in New York’s queer S&M scene finally gets a decent DVD release and finally there’s Fabienne Berthaud’s oddly amateurish but unsettling documentary come fictional psychodrama Frankie (Soda •••). Set in the international modeling scene, the film follows model Frankie (Diane Kruger) into a black emotional hole. Despite its many flaws there’s something interesting there’s something morbid and elliptical at work here that reminds one of the 1970s collaborations between French filmmaker Philippe Garrel and the singer Nico.