The Double Life Of Véronique
(Criterion/Paradox, 1991) D: Krzysztof Kieslowski, w/ Irène Jacob. Rating: NNNNN
Long overdue on dvd, the double Life Of Véronique arrives in a loaded two-disc Criterion with a gorgeous transfer and excellent extras.
Véronique, the story of a French and a Polish woman (both played by Irène Jacob) who are spiritually linked but never meet, was Krzysztof Kieslowski's first film after the collapse of Communism and his first international co-production. It also marks his transformation from the socialist realist of The Scar and Camera Buff into the mystic hinted at in The Decalogue and fully realized in the Three Colours trilogy, especially Red and Blue. A strange and beautiful film, The Double Life Of Veronique is a little different each time you watch it as you pick up new details and your perspective on it shifts. There are some good extras on the DVD, particularly Annette Insdorf's commentary (she also did the Miramax Three Colours commentaries), which are less judgments than a series of questions the film raises as she's watching.
Also interesting is the interview with Kieslowski's long-time composer Zbigniew Preisner, who wrote Véronique's score before the film was shot, resulting in a drama wedded in unusual ways to the music.
Extras : Insdorf's scholarly commentary; three early documentary shorts by Kieslowski; interviews with Jacob, cinematographer Slawomir Idziak and composer Preiser; documentaries 1966/1988: Kieslowski, Polish Filmmaker and Kieslowski - Dialogue. Booklet essays by Jonathan Romney, Slavoj Zizek and Peter Cowie. French and Polish soundtrack. English subtitles.
Seinfeld: Season 7
(1995-96) created by Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, w/ Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Rating: NNNN
Season seven is the last great Seinfeld season. The writers and directors had become so attuned to the show's multiple story lines and quick cuts that watching the best episodes is like watching one of those guys who spins plates - you keep waiting for one of the plates to hit the floor, but they never do.
The series might have ended here, on the tonally bizarre moment when the four principals realize that George's fiancée has died and none of them has an emotional response to it. Seven was also series creator Larry David's last season on the show and, perhaps not surprisingly given that George is based on David, the most George-centric season.
This is a good DVD package, though the extras are getting a bit tired (no one has much to say on the commentaries at this point), but there's a brilliantly constructed 21-minute blooper reel.
The Larry David appearance reel - he voiced George Steinbrenner among others - is fun.
Extras : Commentaries on select episodes, text trivia tracks, deleted scenes, The Elaine Benes Story, added stand-up material, Larry David appearance reel, blooper reel. English and French soundtracks. English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.
Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film
(PBS/Paramount, 2006) D: Ric Burns. Rating: NNN
Ric Burns states in his four-hour biographical portrait of Andy Warhol (part of the American Masters series) that the first half of the 20th century belongs to Picasso and the second half belongs to Warhol. Burns does his best to prove this daring claim. Unusual access to the Warhol archives yielded a lot of rare footage from the Factory days and earlier that's quite interesting. A boyish Warhol with a secretive smile is a startling contrast to the iconic deadpan of his later years.
At the same time, while there's some comment on the fact that Warhol was, to put it impolitely, a manipulative prick, there's very little material from those who split acrimoniously with Warhol. Film director Paul Morrissey is present only to talk about the day Warhol was shot, and where is Lou Reed? (To get Reed's take on Warhol, you need the song cycle Songs For Drella.)
I do wish that Burns wouldn't shoot art work the way his big brother Ken shoots photographs. Stop moving the camera, dammit!
Extras : None.
You, Me And Dupree
(Universal, 2006) D: Anthony and Joe Russo, w/ Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon. Rating: NNN
Like the Break-up, You, Me and Dupree got beaten up critically as a failed romantic comedy because it shifts in tone and suddenly goes in an unexpected direction.
It turns from a comedy in which a "wacky" single friend Dupree (Owen Wilson) moves in with his newly married buddy Carl (Matt Dillon) into a study of impotent toxic jealousy when Carl believes that Dupree is moving in on his bride (Kate Hudson). That is, it moves from a study of comic disruption to a tale of perceived violation of trust. Dillon is very, very good as a man unable to confront his own displaced id. Wilson is Wilson, and Hudson is lovely.
Not a great film, but better than it should be, and there are a couple of goodies on the DVD, particularly the alternate ending and the spoof trailer.
Extras : Director, screenwriter/producer commentaries, deleted scene, alternate ending, blooper reel, very clever spoof trailer. English, Spanish and French soundtracks and subtitles.
Coming Tuesday, November 28
Clerks II (Alliance Atlantis, 2006) Kevin Smith returns to his home base after the commercial failure of Jersey Girl. Mmmm... Rosario Dawson.
Pandora's Box (Criterion/Paradox, 1929) G.W. Pabst's German silent classic, with Louise Brooks as the femme fatale, featuring one of the most influential hairstyles in film history. Two-disc Criterion, with four scores!
Superman Returns (Warner, 2006) Bryan Singer takes on the Man of Steel, with Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. Sort of working out of the world of Superman II. And the Christopher Reeves Supermans get a re-release, including the Richard Donner cut of Superman II.
Satantango (Facets/Morningstar, 1994) Béla Tarr's seven-hour black-and-white study of unpreposessing Hungarians walking away from the camera. In the rain. In the dark. Gus Van Sant loves this film.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb