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New on Disc: 'Au Revoir Les Enfants' Blu-ray and more

14 Mar, 2011 By: Mike Clark

Au Revoir Les Enfants

Street 3/15
Criterion, Drama, $39.95 Blu-ray, NR.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejto, Francine Racette.
Especially wounded by a brutal review of one of his films in the 1980s, director Louis Malle returned to homeland France and undertook a long-gestating semi-autobiographical project. The result was Au Revoir Les Enfants, one of the writer/director’s greatest achievements and a worthy companion piece to what Malle regarded as his greatest work: 1974’s Lacombe, Lucien. Au Revoir is specifically based on a life-altering event the filmmaker witnessed in his youth, when his prestigious Catholic boarding school hid in plain sight a handful of Jewish youngsters. You can walk into this movie not knowing anything about the particulars and almost immediately sense that it’s authentic. Every scene is invested with details that don’t in any sense feel contrived. Au Revoir on Blu-ray nails the muted-color look and soundtrack (Malle was a stickler for sound) of the theatrical presentation.
Extras: Video interviews with biographer Pierre Billard and Malle’s widow, Candice Bergen; “Joseph: A Character Study,” a profile of the central character; Charlie Chaplin’s 1917 film The Immigrant, which is featured in Au Revoir; audio excerpts from a 1988 AFI interview with Malle; and a booklet with essays by film critic Philip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy.
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Two in the Wave

Kino Lorber, Documentary, B.O. $0.03 million, $29.95 DVD, NR.
With Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut as its stars, their dual collaborator Jean-Pierre Leaud as a featured player, historical tide changing (cinematic and political) plus film clips galore, there’s no way this biographical documentary about the French New Wave can fail to be interesting, unless you’re adverse to “inside baseball” in any context. Their story unspools here in an unusual but not necessarily inappropriate fashion — via a series of old scrapbooks we watch being leafed through by Isild Le Besco, a contemporary French actress whose films haven’t gotten wide distribution here.
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Off Limits

Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Marilyn Maxwell, Eddie Mayehoff.
What Vietnam didn’t do to kill the service comedy, cessation of the draft did. Which means that even if Bob Hope weren’t a looking-it 49 here and playing an M.P., there’d still be a kind of out-of-this-universe feel to one of the last really characteristic movies he made at Paramount. Hope, who boxed early in his pre-stardom Cleveland days, plays a fight trainer here — one about to hit the big-time with a champ who is suddenly drafted. To keep the story moving, the script contrives to have Hope enlist as well — only to have his meal ticket (Stanley Clements) rejected for service. So Hope is stuck, as is fellow inductee Mickey Rooney, who by coincidence yearns to be a fighter.
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Sunday in New York

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Comedy, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Rod Taylor, Jane Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Robert Culp.
Sporting too much makeup in her sixth feature but otherwise a stunner for the ages, Jane Fonda gave her most appealing screen performance since her 1960 Tall Story debut as the Albany kid sis who pays a surprise visit to brother Cliff Robertson, a TWA pilot who’s trying to shack up with his flashy girlfriend (Jo Morrow) between emergency flight assignments that seem to materialize about every five minutes or so. This adaptation of playwright Norman Krasna’s once mildly risqué sex farce is very much a product of its time.
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