Dheepan, Zombies, Hitchcock, Oscar Winner Pelle, French Musicals | Fast Scans: Top Foreign & Indie Picks

Dheepan. 114+ min. In French & Tamil w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. 2015. DVD ISBN 9781681433011. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781681433004. $39.95.

A soldier on the losing side of civil strife in Sri Lanka, Dheepan (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) joins with two other emigrants—a woman and an unrelated child—in posing as a family to ease their immigration into France. Language and cultural barriers, as well as living in a Paris housing complex rife with violent drug dealers, lead to a difficult adjustment even as the faux family make a go of acting like a real one. Jacques Audiard’s (A Prophet) realistic drama steadily builds toward a Taxi Driver–like denouement in which roiling tensions explode in this Palme d’Or ­winner. [See Trailers, LJ 4/1/17]

The Girl with All the Gifts. 111+ min. Lionsgate. 2016. DVD UPC 031398262435. $19.98; Blu-ray UPC 031398262480. $24.99. Rated: R.

The object of concern by a sympathetic teacher (Gemma Arteron) and subject to experimentation by a blunt biologist (Glenn Close), 12-year-old Melanie (Sennia Nanua) is part of a control group of young “hungries”—zombies with some level of self-control, unlike the hordes of walking dead who inhabit a postapocalyptic, dystopian world. Smartly adapted by Mike Carey from his best-selling novel, Colm McCarthy’s meagerly distributed theatrical feature deserves a wider audience for its inspirational, humanist take on a genre often content with cheap ­sensationalism.

The Paradine Case. b/w. 114+ min. Kino Lorber. 1947. DVD UPC 738329215217. $19.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329215224. $29.95.

Defending an accused murderer (Alida Valli) for poisoning her older and blind husband, a happily married barrister (Gregory Peck) falls for his client, whom he angers by trying to pin the blame on her lover (Louis Jordan). Compromised by interference from producer David O. Selznick, Alfred Hitchcock’s rare “failure” proves to be more intriguing than some directors’ successes. Rewritten, miscast, reshot, and reedited, this less-than-­perfectly restored version earns appreciation from extras, including commentary, making it a must for Hitchcock completists.

Pelle the Conqueror. 150+ min. In Danish & Swedish w/English subtitles. Film Movement. 1987. DVD UPC 859686006147. $29.99; Blu-ray UPC 859686006154. $39.99. Rated: PG-13.

An aging widower (Max von ­Sydow) and his young son, Pelle (Pelle ­Hvenegaard), flee their impoverished circumstances in 19th-century Sweden for a better life in Denmark only to end up as indentured servants to a cruel dairy farmer. Witnessing the painful toll humiliation takes on his proud but diminished father, Pelle finally comes to realize the need for his own independence. Von Sydow is towering as a beaten-down man trying to keep up a brave front in Bille August’s (The Best Intentions) achingly poignant Oscar winner, now beautifully restored.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. 92+ min. 1964. DVD ISBN 9781681432939; Blu-ray ISBN 9781681432922. [See Trailers, LJ 3/1/17]

The Young Girls of Rochefort. 2 discs. 126+ min. 1967. DVD ISBN 9781681432953; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9781681432946.

ea. vol: In French w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95.

Atypical French New Wave filmmaker Jacques Demy (1931–90) preferred to embrace Hollywood conventions rather than subvert them, which he brilliantly does in these two musicals cited by Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle as inspiring his La La Land. Catherine ­Deneuve stars in both—first as the shopgirl madly in love with a mechanic who goes off to war in the colorful, operetta-like Cherbourg, then as a ballet teacher looking for true love in a seaside town in the dance-filled Rochefort. Michel Legrand’s music for each is memorably grand.

This article was published in Library Journal's July 1, 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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