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New on Disc: 'Potiche,' 'Skidoo' and more …

18 Jul, 2011 By: Mike Clark


Street 7/19
Music Box, Comedy, B.O. $1.6 million, $29.95 DVD, $38.94 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for some sexuality.
In French with English subtitles.
Stars Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Fabrice Luchini.
Befitting a comedy that’s well out of its time in terms of no longer revelatory content, Francois Ozon’s pigment-happy filming of a Pierre Barillet/Jean-Pierre Grady feminist play is set in 1977, when there were still a handful of wheezy stand-up comics left poking fun at women’s liberation. As a somewhat portly homemaking grandmother, Catherine Deneuve is pressed into taking over her reactionary husband’s umbrella factory when he suffers a seizure battling protestors during a labor skirmish. The atypically fun-loving Deneuve enjoys a little disco time in the company of her provincial town’s communist mayor (Gerard Depardieu) — one of several lovers she had during her childbearing years after discovering her husband’s serial philandering. It’s smoothly performed with color schemes that are easy on the eye.
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Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

Street 7/19
First Run, Documentary, B.O. $0.3 million, $27.95 DVD, NR.
The shadow of Bob Dylan hangs over this portrait some, just as it hung over Phil Ochs’ career (a lot). As a Midwesterner who, given his future legacy, improbably loved John Wayne and Gary Cooper, Ochs was a true believer in the social turmoil of the ‘60s just as Dylan artfully danced around it. The documentary doesn’t make this point, but Dylan’s unabated ability to reinvent himself likely saved him from an eventual monotony factor that might have afflicted Ochs career-wise if alcohol and personal demons hadn’t. Though the documentary short-shrifts Ochs’ formative years, it offers a full portrait of the New York folk scene of the early 1960s — interviewing such key we-were-there figures as Ochs’ widow and daughter, journalists Lucian Truscott IV and Christopher Hitchens, activist Tom Hayden, plus singers Joan Baez, Judy Henske and Dave Van Ronk (who is said to be the model for the Coen Brothers’ in-the-works movie about that same Village coffee-house era).
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Street 7/19
Olive, Comedy, $24.95 DVD, ‘R’ for some nudity and drug content.
Stars Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Groucho Marx, John Phillip Law.
Director Otto Preminger’s Jackie Gleason LSD movie is one of those legendary mega-bombs that not many people have actually seen — or at least seen in a version that can compete with Olive Films' correct 2.35-to-1 framing, which is packed with pretty colors itself. The picture isn’t as much fun as you’d hope, though it inspires a certain level of awe just the same. Skidoo is still the kind of “you won’t believe this” mindbender that reaps long-term benefits and enriches the form as a whole when viewed as a window into an era.
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A Damsel in Distress

Available via WBshop.com’s Warner Archive
Warner, Musical, $19.95 DVD, NR.
Stars Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen, Joan Fontaine.
A spotty curio with big league compensations, A Damsel in Distress merits at least mild affection — not too arguably superior to the lesser Astaire-Rogers movies. Oddly, the two musical all-timers for which the movie is best known come late in the picture, which helps accelerate the pace in the second half. “A Foggy Day” is an unfussy Astaire solo (classy and effective), but “Nice Work If You Can Get It” is all but thrown away by a chorus in a party sequence.
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About the Author: Mike Clark

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