Another month, another slab of worthwhile home video titles gunning for your hard-earned American dollars. This month's slate is an eclectic bunch, featuring cult classics, revenge thrillers, forgotten French films at one point lauded for their complexity and artistry, oh, and Michael Douglas. Read on for the best best in home video for the release of September! (And yes, we know we're a bit late, but between TIFF, Telluride and Venice...you get the idea....)
"The Devil, Probably" (Robert Bresson, 1977)
Why You Should Care: One of the last movies from influential French filmmaker Robert Bresson ("Diary of a Country Priest," "Pickpocket"), this story of four young adults growing up in modern day Paris, witnessing the destruction of the city both real and imagined (the movie is intercut with news footage of natural disasters and atomic bomb tests), is as influential as it is under-seen. It was well regarded in Europe and won the Silver Bear – Special Jury Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a jury member that year, called the movie "the most shattering film I've seen this Berlin Festival. I think it's a major film … in the future (and this world will probably last for another few thousand years) this film will be more important than all the rubbish which is now considered important but which never really goes deep enough." You can still feel the film's influence in French cinema today, particularly in "La Haine," Matthew Kassovitz's breakthrough feature, and any French movie that tries to capture modern French living with any degree of earthy integrity (so, not "The Intouchables"). Still, despite Fassbinder's assertions and the movie's considerable legacy, the film has been largely unavailable in America, relegated largely to retrospectives of the filmmaker, and indeed this release marks its first time on domestic home video. So this is a big deal and every cineaste worth his or her salt should be celebrating wildly. Only Bresson could make apocalyptic gloom look so gorgeous.
What's On It: Like the characters in the movie, this one is pretty empty.
Release Date: September 18th via Olive Films
"The Game" (David Fincher, 1997) and "Eating Raoul" (Paul Bartel, 1982)
Why You Should Care: Because when Criterion throws their hat into the unfairly marginalized realm of the cult movie, they certainly know what to pick. And David Fincher's twisty-turn don't-give-a-fuck follow-up to "Seven," "The Game," and outré director Paul Bartel's quirky satire "Eating Raoul" are both more than deserving of the deluxe Criterion treatment. "The Game," in 1997 largely seen as an underwhelming follow-up to his more influential "Seven" but now viewed as an essential building block in the Fincher oeuvre, follows a reptilian business magnate (Michael Douglas, with extra slime) as he's put through the ringer by The Game, a kind of interactive, nefarious role-playing exercise. At the time, Fincher described the movie as outrageously impish (but perceptive). "Movies usually make a pact with the audience that says: we're going to play it straight. What we show you is going to add up," Fincher told U.K. paper The Independent at the time. "But we don't do that. In that respect, it's about movies and how movies dole out information." Roger Corman protégé Paul Bartel's "Eating Raoul" is part social satire, part horror-comedy, and all around weird. The story of a boring couple (played by Bartel and Mary Woronov) who dream of running a restaurant but are constantly put down by life and put out by the swingers that live in their apartment building. They eventually begin murdering the perverts and, with the help of a cat burglar named Raoul (Robert Beltran), sell their bodies to a dog food company. The movie is funny and a little bit scary and makes us miss Bartel's singular genius even more.
What's On It: For "The Game," we have a new restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Harris Savides, with a 5.1 surround soundtrack presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray edition; a new alternate 5.1 surround mix optimized for home theater viewing, supervised by sound designer Ren Klyce and presented in DTS-HD Master Audio; left over from the original Criterion laserdisc (!) an audio commentary by director David Fincher, Savides, actor Michael Douglas, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, digital animation supervisor Richard “Dr.” Baily, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug; an hour’s worth of exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and film-to-storyboard comparisons for four of the film’s major set pieces, with commentary; an alternate ending; the trailer and teaser, with optional commentary; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt.
On "Eating Raoul," we get a new, restored digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Gary Thieltges, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition; audio commentary featuring screenwriter Richard Blackburn, production designer Robert Schulenberg, and editor Alan Toomayan; "The Secret Cinema" (1966) and "Naughty Nurse" (1969), two short films by director Paul Bartel; "Cooking Up Raoul," a new documentary about the making of the film, featuring interviews with stars Mary Woronov, Robert Beltran, and Edie McClurg; gag reel of outtakes from the film; archival interview with Bartel and Woronov; a trailer; plus a booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Ehrenstein. Sadly there's no supplemental material included on the "Eating Raoul" disc that pertains to "Bland Ambition," the proposed sequel that was two weeks away from filming when the funding got yanked.
Release date: Both on September 25th via Criterion