Fast Scans: Top Foreign & Indie Picks, May 15, 2012

Charlotte Rampling: The Look. color. 98+ min. Kino Lorber. 2011. DVD UPC 738329079727. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329091729. $34.95.

Untouched by a surgeon’s scalpel, the heavy-lidded, brooding look of 66-year-old British actress Rampling first got attention with her self-centered secondary character in Georgy Girl (1966) before really raising eyebrows when she played the sadomasochistic lover of her former Nazi guard in The Night Porter (1972). More than 60 roles later, the screen veteran wisely reflects on age, desire, love, death, and other big topics, as well as the filmmaking process, while clips show the atypical beauty at work. Not just for Rampling fans.

David Lean Directs Noel Coward. 4 discs. color & b/w. 407+ min. Criterion Collection. 1942‚ 45. DVD ISBN 9781604655599. $79.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604655544. $99.95.

Before establishing himself as the master of widescreen epics (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago), Lean cut his teeth collaborating with playwright Noël Coward on the rousing World War II drama In Which We Serve, the domestic melodrama This Happy Breed, the capricious comedy Blithe Spirit, and the heartrending romance Brief Encounter, the best of this must-have quartet. Extras (interviews, making-of docs, commentary, etc.) enhance appreciation for this auspicious pairing.

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life. color. 122+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Music Box Films. 2011. DVD UPC 736211214850. $34.95; Blu-ray UPC 736211214959. $43.95.

Sixties-era pop musician Serge Gainsbourg, best known for his suggestive duet (Je t’aime…moi non plus) with amour Jane Birkin, actually comes off as more provocative than heroic in writer-director Joann Sfar’s fancifully unconventional biopic. César Award‚ winning Eric Elmosnino is a dead ringer for the scruffily charming singer-songwriter and notorious ladies’ man dogged by an imaginary alter ego in the form of a conscience-niggling caricature. Hardly known stateside, the French idol should entrance curious viewers.

A Night To Remember. 2 discs. b/w. 123+ min. Criterion Collection. 1958. DVD ISBN 9781604655698. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604655681. $39.95.

On the 100th anniversary of Titanic‘s sinking and coinciding with the 3-D relaunch of James Cameron’s hit film, Roy Ward Baker’s classic British version of the enduring tragedy sailed onto disc in a sumptuously remastered edition. Although there’s no fictional Rose or Jack, the historical cast is pretty much the same. So is this timeless account of courage and cowardice in the face of disaster even as the ship’s band plays on. Despite its lacking modern special effects, this historically accurate Titanic drama proves unforgettable. [See Trailers, LJ 2/1/12.]

Romantics Anonymous. color. 79+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Tribeca Film, dist. by New Video. 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422994467. $26.95.

A painfully shy chocolatier (Isabelle Carré, Private Fears in Public Places) finds her kindred spirit in an inhibited chocolate maker (Beno√Æt Poelvoorde, Coco Before Chanel) who needs fresh talent to keep his sagging business from a meltdown. In his lightly charming romantic comedy, filmmaker Jean-Pierre Améris manages to keep the douce proceedings from getting cloying by injecting affable humor into the mix. Audiences with a taste for the filmic equivalent of a gentle read will likely scarf down this low-cal confection.