One of the great unsung masterpieces of the French cinema

Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs

BLANCHE (Arrow). Walerian Borowczyk’s brilliant 1971 art house movie deserves to be much better known. The ballad-like story, based on a medieval chivalric code of honour, is set in the 13th century. A baron keeps his young wife caged up in his castle. His son, the king and the king’s page lust after her. Ligia Branice is Blanche, totally innocent and yet unwittingly the cause of events which spiral tragically out of control.  The great Michel Simon is superb as the old baron. Borowczyk takes his inspiration from the paintings of the period; beautifully photographed, each frame is a pretty picture, full of medieval detail

THE ANGRIEST MAN IN BROOKLYN (Lionsgate). Robin Williams, who died in August at 63, plays a man, who is told by a doctor (Mila Kunis), who is fed up with his rudeness, that he has only 90 minutes to live. What he does and she does in the next 90 minutes is knee-deep in squirm-making sentimentality and just plain silly. It would be much better for fans at this moment in time just to have memories of Robin Williams in such films as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets’ Society, Mrs Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting.

ROYAL CAVALCADE (Network) celebrates King George V’s Jubilee with a very patriotic and very superficial documentary about events between 1910 and 1935 which uses genuine newsreels, archive material and awkward reconstructions with actors. John Mills is probably the best known actor. Lady Astor recreates her first appearance in the House of Commons. There are brief glimpses of Pavlova and Marie Lloyd on stage and it is fascinating to see the huge crowds which gathered outside Buckingham Palace during the king’s illness, waiting for the daily bulletins.

THE LAST CHANCE (Network) is a 1937 quota quickie adaptation of a 1930’s play and looks like it. A man (Frank Leighton) is wrongly accused of murder and lands up in prison for life.  Since it is very obvious who the murderer is, the only question is when and how he will be caught? A Judge behaves in a shockingly unprofessional way when he finds out who did do it. Billy Milton in a tiny supporting role has such charm you wish the role were bigger.

CONCUSSION (Channel 4). A middle-aged lesbian wife and mother (Robin Weigert) suffers from concussion and decides to become a highly expensive escort. Is this really a good career move?  I think I can safely say that this is a woman’s picture. But will women want to see it?  Stacie Passon writes and directs.  You wait for something exciting to happen; but the film doesn’t go anywhere. It’s just coffee, chat and sex.   An awful lot of people are going to be awfully bored.

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