The Blue Angel. b/w. 107 min. In German w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 1930. Blu-ray UPC 738329107925. $29.95.
A rather absentminded but upstanding professor (Emil Jannings, The Last Laugh) seriously falls for a sultry nightclub performer (Marlene Dietrich), leading to a downfall that leaves him playing the clown in more ways than one. Josef von Sternberg’s classic early sound-era tragedy benefits from a restoration effort that improves on Kino’s 2001 two-disc DVD release but fails to include its alternate English-language version and extras (interview, screen test, commentary, etc.). A valuable core collection foreign-film title.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. 2 discs. color. 163 min. Criterion Collection. 1943. DVD ISBN 9781604657036. $29.95; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9781604657029. $39.95.
An honorable British officer (Roger Livesey) who served in the Boer War and in World War I and then as a retired general in charge of the home front campaign in World War II adheres to a code of fair play exemplified by his friendship with a German officer (Anton Walbrook) who ends up marrying his gal (Deborah Kerr). Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s lavish fictional biopic has been stunningly restored, and while the lauded picture should be embraced by classic-movie buffs, Powell’s The Red Shoes dances circles around it.
The Other Son. color. 105 min. In French, Hebrew, & English w/English subtitles. Cohen Media Group. 2011. DVD UPC 741952741091. $24.98; Blu-ray UPC 741952742098. $29.98.
Teenaged Israeli and Palestinian boys switched at birth, along with their parents and siblings, experience the gamut of emotions—denial, anger, acceptance—in dealing with such an affront to their identities. Complex enough without its political implications, director Lorraine Lévy’s film scrupulously examines personal, religious, and cultural conflicts with commendable conviction but little in the way of surprises. Predictable but still credible, Son offers a lesson on prejudice for open audiences.
That Obscure Object of Desire. color. 103 min. In French w/English subtitles. Lionsgate. 1977. Blu-ray UPC 012236123187. $29.99.
Tristana. color. 98 min. In Spanish w/English subtitles. Cohen Media Group. 1970. DVD UPC 741952740896. $19.98; Blu-ray UPC 741952741893. $24.98.
Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900–83), a subversive surrealist best known for Belle de Jour (LJ 3/15/12), gives fresh meaning to the phrase “love is blind” in Desire. An older, well-to-do widower (Fernando Rey) becomes obsessed with his maid—an attractive woman whose alternately hot-and-cold demeanor is realized by having different actresses (Angela Molina and Carole Bouquet) portray her from scene to scene or even within the same scene. In this swan song, the mischievous director delves into sexual politics and the absurd nature of attraction. Tristana is the first pairing of Buñuel with his Belle star, Catherine Deneuve. Here, she is an orphan taken in by a womanizing aristocrat (Rey, again) who finally takes her as his lover. Seamlessly segueing into dream sequences that reveal Tristana’s feelings toward her guardian, the film follows the doomed course of a relationship built on manipulation. A 30-minute interview with Buñuel scholar Peter Evans sheds welcome light on the director’s work. For serious film buffs.