Fast Scans: Top Foreign and Indie Picks, September 15, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea. color. 98+ min. Music Box. 2011. DVD UPC 736211215154. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 736211215352. $38.94. Rated: R.

Adapted from one of British playwright Terence Rattigan’s oft-translated quartet of key dramas, including The Winslow Boy, Separate Tables, and The Browning Version, this touching film from fellow countryman Terence Davies (The House of Mirth) nicely captures postwar England. Rachel Weisz shines as the unhappy wife of an older man who falls for a virile former fighter pilot more interested in drinking with his mates than providing for her security. For serious viewers drawn to doomed romance.

Le Havre. color. 93+ min. In French w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. 2011. DVD ISBN 9781604656060. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656053. $39.95.

In the titular Normandy port city, a shoe shine man (André Wilms) strikes up an improbable friendship with an adolescent boy sought by police as part of a smuggled band of African immigrants, making it his purpose to reunite the young émigré with his mother. In his typical poker-faced comedic style, Aki Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) offers a modern-day fable suffused with hope and salvation that eschews the pitfalls of easy sentimentality. This deftly upbeat film is recommended for any viewer open to reading subtitles.
[See Trailers, LJ 6/1/12.]

Oranges & Sunshine. color. 105+ min. New Video. 2011. DVD ISBN 9781422919064. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781422919071. $34.95.

Based on an incredible true story, Jim Loach’s muckraking drama recounts the tireless effort of Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson) to reunite with surviving family members thousands of displaced children deported from the UK to Australia over a two-decade-plus period. Picking oranges off trees in a sunny paradise was the lie told to kids who were often forced into hard labor by their supposedly charitable keepers. A powerful look at a shameful system that sensibly keeps its focus personal.

They Made Me a Fugitive. b/w. 100 min. Kino Lorber. 1947. Blu-ray UPC 738329100827. $29.95.

It’s a rough world out there after the war for RAF veteran Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard), who falls in with a ragged gang of English smugglers helmed by the effete Narcy (Griffith Jones), a nasty bloke who beats up women and frames Clem for a copper’s murder to keep him from going straight. Alberto Cavalcanti’s cheeky crime drama delivers a delectable villain and a roguish antihero destined for a climactic showdown. Worn looking in spots despite restoration, Fugitive will thrill film noir fans.

The 39 Steps. b/w. 86 min. Criterion Collection. 1935. DVD ISBN 9781604656046. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656039. $39.95.

A crucial work in the early British-film career of Alfred Hitchcock, Steps creaks a bit with age mainly owing to its static camerawork, but the Master of Suspense establishes his eventual trademarks: the “wrong man” theme; an impish, often dark humor; and the “MacGuffin,” an otherwise meaningless plot device contrived to advance the story line.
In this case, an innocent man (Robert Donat) accused of murder must expose a Scotland-based spy ring to clear his name. A bevy of extras help make this textbook thriller a must-see. [See Trailers, LJ 5/1/12.]