A selection of new blu-ray and DVD releases. This time around: There’s thrills a plenty in classic French thriller Les Diaboliques, the Dork Knight rises in The Lego Batman Movie, Isabelle Huppert stars in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, Marlon Brando gets behind the camera for One-Eyed Jacks and Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch carry-out The Autopsy Of Jane Doe.
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques has become a seminal film in the thriller genre, one that has been homaged and copied for decades – and even remade in 1996 with Sharon Stone. The original 1955 film sees Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot as a wife and mistress who plot to murder their abusive lover (Paul Meurisse). Their plot is a success – but then the body goes missing…
Based on Pierre Boileau’s novel, Les Diaboliques was one of the first thrillers to feature a twist ending and the French-language film had a tremendous impact on Hitchcock who used the film as an inspiration for Psycho, while the master of suspense would also adapt a Boileau novel for Vertigo.
Les Diaboliques is a great film, with plenty of nuance and a lot of intriguing plot points. It might not be as good second time around – but the first time is well-worth it!
This Arrow release comes with an audio commentary by Susan Hayward and an interview with film scholar Ginette Vincendeau. Informative stuff.
Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is a wonderfully oblique thriller. Isabelle Huppert stars as a successful business woman who is violently attacked in her home. She doesn’t report it to the police and attempts to discover the identity of the attacker. Meanwhile, her personal life becomes increasingly complicated as her wayward son becomes a father, her ex—husband gets a younger girlfriend and her affair with a friend’s husband comes to an end.
Verhoeven blends drama and thriller elements and he doesn’t take any easy options in this French language film. He’d never had gotten away with this in Hollywood and the film presents many curious scenarios for how the film ultimately plays out. The heavy-lifting is done by Huppert, who gives a powerful and committed performance in the lead role.
The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Movie came out of nowhere, impressing everyone (Movies In Focus included) and cleaning-up at the box office. The stand-out character in that film was Batman and he gets his own spin-off flick with The Lego Batman Movie. It’s a fun flick, even if the joke is a little stretched at 104 minutes.
However, you can’t deny the energy in this animated film and there’s plenty of fun nods to the Dark Knight’s legacy with reference to previous Bat-flicks and comic books. It’s an enjoyable film, but The Lego Batman Movie lacks the freshness of its predecessor.
The Lego Batman Movie comes packed with features. Deleted scenes, short films, marketing material and a packed direcetor-led commentary.
One Eyed Jacks
Marlon Brando stars-in and directs this curious western from 1961. It’s an uneven piece for sure, but you can’t deny Brando’s screen presence in this tale of revenge. The plot sees Brando’s rugged Rio seeking payback on his former bank-robbing partner (Karl Malden) who left him for dead five years earlier.
A touch long and convoluted, One-Eyed Jacks bucks western conventions and plays out a little differently than you would expect. It’s not a classic, but it’s worth watching to see one of the all-time great actors handle the reins as director.
The remastered Criterion release of One-Eyed Jacks comes loaded with additional extras. The one that will get the most publicity is a 3-minute introduction to the film by Martin Scorsese. However, you also get a phenomenal documentary on Marlon Brando with extended interviews by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Arthur Penn. Great stuff.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a wonderfully atmospheric horror film that sees father and son morticians (Brian Cox and Emile Hisrch) carrying out an autopsy on the corpse of an unknown young woman (Olwen Kelly). The corpse seems mysteriously pristine and things start to go bump in the night as the duo’s autopsy progresses.
Director André Øvreda (Troll Hunter) shows a mastery of tone, creating tension with flare over the course of a tight 86 minutes. The film might be set in one location, but it’s visually arresting, while Cox and Hirsch really sell their predicament. Special mention must also go to Olwen Kelly, who delivers a great performance by dong very little.