Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
JULES ET JIM (Artificial Eye). Francois Truffaut’s masterpiece, one of the most famous and most popular films of the 1960’s, very French, very nouvelle vague, is the ultimate ménage a trios, perfectly acted: it is a study of male friendship and obsessive love. Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre), the best of friends, adore the same woman (Jeanne Moreau), the sexually provocative Catherine, whose whirlwind changes of moods are brilliantly matched by the lyrical and fluid camerawork of Raoul Coutard and the sharp editing of Claudine Bouche. 50 years on Truffaut’s comic/sad period piece, set pre- and post-World War 1, to a delightful musical score by Georges Delrue, has lost none of its buoyant energy.
SHOOT THE PIANIST (Artificial Eye). Ne tirez pas sur Le pianiste! Don’t shoot the piano player, he is doing the best he can. Francois Truffaut’s film is a parody of an American film noir and offers a nouvelle vague mixture of zany farce and tragedy, which confused audiences on its release in 1960; but which shouldn’t present problems for audiences today. Charles Aznavour, in a non-singing role, is memorable as the sad-eyed, hang-dogged bistro pianist, a former concert pianist, who gets caught up in the criminal world of his brothers.
RAPTURE (Eureka). Perhaps the pleasure here comes from discovering a major film very few people will have seen or even heard about. Director John Guillermin thought it was his best movie. It came out in 1965; but hardly got any cinema release. The story is set in Brittany and it feels like a European film. A deeply disturbed 15-year-old girl, who cannot cope with reality, befriends a scarecrow and falls in love with an escaped convict. There is a remarkable performance by Patricia Gozzi as the girl. Dean Stockwell is the young convict and Melvyn Douglas is the domineering father.
THE LUNCH BOX (Artificial Eye). A faulty lunch box delivery service in India leads to an unhappily married woman (Nimrat Kaur) corresponding with a lonely widower (Irrfan Khan), a government office worker, who is about to retire. There are three basic settings: her kitchen, his workplace, and bustling Mombai (the most populous city in India). Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the young man he befriends has lots of charm. Ritesh Batra’s film is acted with great sensitivity and offers a fascinating insight into the dabbawallah (the hot food delivery boys) who boast that only one in a million deliveries goes wrong.
WE ARE THE BEST! (Metrodome).Three talentless, obnoxious 13-year-old girls with ugly punk hair want to form a punk band and sing their one and only protest song. The child actors are so natural and so convincing, Lukas Moodysson’s Swedish film is almost certain to bring out the inner Herod in most adults. Blame the parents (parents always get the blame, don’t they?); but then this lot are as irresponsible as the kids.
LOSER TAKES ALL (Network). Newlyweds, who are old enough to know better, are gambling in Monte Carlo in 1956, when they realise breaking the bank does not bring happiness. Graham Greene thought the script was awful. He should know. He wrote it. Glynis Johns and Rosano Brazzi look thoroughly uncomfortable. The film is just not funny. The main loser is the audience. Rien NE va plus! You can say that again. Nothing works!
HIS AND HERS (Network). When it came to playing English bounders, there was nobody to touch the brilliant Terry-Thomas. Who can forget him saying, “You’re an absolute shower!”? So I thought because he and Wilfrid Hyde White were in this marital comedy, it might have some amusing moments. I should have known better. The script is dire and watching Terry-Thomas trying frantically to be funny is not funny at all.