Fast Scans | December 2012

Americano. color. 106+ min. MPI Home Entertainment. 2012. DVD ISBN 9780788614781. $24.98; Blu-ray ISBN 9780788615559. $29.98. SDH subtitles.

Returning to Los Angeles, Martin (Mathieu Demy, also the director) has to bury the mother his father took him from decades ago and come to terms with the lingering effects of that separation on his relationships with women, like his wobbly current one with Claire (Chiara Mastroianni). Finding a former childhood friend (Salma Hayek) proves pivotal in Martin’s journey of self-discovery. Directed by the son of famous filmmakers Jacques Demy and Agnes Varda, this rueful work is rife with family connections film buffs will pick up on.

A Cat in Paris. 62+ min. English or French w/English subtitles. DVD UPC 767685277041; DVD/Blu-ray UPC 767685277058.

Chico & Rita.
94+ min. Spanish
w/English subtitles. DVD UPC 767685274675; DVD/Blu-ray/CD UPC 767685278796.
ea. vol: color. Cinedigm, dist. by New Video. 2012. DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95.

A cat burglar is joined by a feline accomplice—the prized pet of a mute girl whose father was killed by a crime boss—in Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s expressionistic film noir. Chico is a piano player, Rita is a sultry singer in Fernando Trueba’s epic love story and ode to Cuban jazz, which sensually evokes its late 1940s Havana environs. Fellow 2012 animated-feature Academy Award nominees, these films sport uniquely attractive hand-drawn styles with computer assist. With its nude love scenes, Chico is not for kids. Animation fans, rejoice!

Mary Pickford Rags & Riches Collection. b/w & color-tinted. 274+ min. Milestone Film & Video. 1910–26. DVD ISBN 9781933920375. $34.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781933920382. $39.95.

Known as “America’s Sweetheart,” silent-era film star Pickford (1892–1979) is nicely represented in this freshly mastered collection. Library of Congress National Film Registry selection The Poor Little Rich Girl (dir., Maurice Tourneur) features the curly-haired actress as a ­neglected child whose parents realize their mistakes after a near tragedy. The Hoodlum (dir., Sidney A. Franklin) concerns a spoiled child whose boredom spurs her to slumming. Sparrows (dir., William Beaudine) shows a darker side of the often comedic Pickford as a plucky older girl leading fellow “baby farm” captives to escape their harsh taskmasters. The short filmRamona, expert commentaries, and supplements to lure young viewers to silents complete the first-rate package. [See Trailers, LJ 8/12.]

Stanley Kubrick’s Fear and Desire. b/w. 61+ min. Kino Lorber. 1953. DVD UPC 738329095925. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329096021. $34.95.

Disowned by director Stanley Kubrick, his debut is technically crude and barely hints at his later genius. A squad of soldiers downed behind enemy lines return to their unit, victimizing a peasant girl and killing an enemy officer along the way. Despite the distraction of studio-recorded dialog and bumpy editing, this existential treatise on the nature of war provides rare moments of insight in its grandiose aspirations. Part of the National Film Registry, this heretofore unavailable work is a most-wanted curio.

This Is Cinerama. color & b/w.
127+ min. Flicker Alley. 1952. Blu-ray/
DVD ISBN 9781893967748. $39.95.

Eighteen years before IMAX, immersive cinema debuted on huge, deeply curved screens using a three-camera/projector system with an enveloping 146° field of vision. Painstakingly refurbished from dilapidated film elements, this first of seven films shot in Cinerama offers a talky introduction to the process, followed by a lengthy travelog. Presented in “smilebox” format to replicate the initial screening, this dazzling celluloid history is a must for popular collections.