Fast Scans | January 2013

The Burning Man. color. 109+ min. IFC Films, dist. by MPI Media Group. 2011. DVD ISBN 9780788616143. $24.98.

Disorienting at first owing to its nonlinear, fragmented chronology, Jonathan Teplitzky’s intense drama concerns a seemingly boorish chef who turns out to be dealing badly with the death of his beloved wife from cancer. Matthew Goode gives a juicy performance as a grieving guy who is sleeping around and screwing up at work, yet trying to raise his young son while consumed with anger, hate, and other self-destructive emotions. The movie’s splintered style aims to reflect its main character’s state of mind. For lenient viewers.

Children of Paradise. 2 discs. 190+ min. 1945. DVD ISBN 9781604656282; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656275. [See Trailers, LJ 8/12.]
Les Visiteurs du Soir. 121+ min. 1942. DVD ISBN 9781604656343; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656336.
ea. vol: b/w. In French w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.95.

Considered France’s Gone with the Wind, Children is easily Marcel Carné’s (1906–96) most admired work, a sweeping romantic two-part opus set amid the 19th-century Paris theater scene about four disparate men in love with a striking but aloof courtesan. Thanks to a painstaking restoration, the picture quality is stunning. A lesser Carné work but still worth a look, Visiteurs offers a medieval fable about Satan’s emissaries tasked with thwarting a romance. The former is a must-see for all serious film lovers.

Dark Horse. color. 88 min. Virgil Films. 2011. DVD UPC 829567083222. $24.99; Blu-ray UPC 829567083420. $34.99.

Black humorist Todd Solondz is an acquired taste, and while this latest deadpan take on suburban angst isn’t quite up to his prior outing, Life During Wartime, he does offer here more sympathy toward his emotionally clumsy characters. Chubby, 35-year-old slouch Abe (Jordan Gelber) still lives with his parents (Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow) and “works” for his dad when he proposes to glum Miranda (Selma Blair), who fatally infects him with hepatitis. Funny for viewers disposed to postmodernism.

Die Nibelungen. 2 discs. 280+ min. 1924. DVD UPC 738329108526. $34.95; Blu-ray UPC 738329108625. $39.95.
Fritz Lang: The Early Works. 3 discs. 239 min. 1919–21. DVD UPC 738329109226. $39.95.
ea. vol: color tinted. Kino Lorber.

Austrian-born Fritz Lang (1890–1976), best known for Metropolis and M before emigrating to Hollywood, started developing his Expressionist style with Harakiri, a version of the Madame Butterfly story; The Wandering Shadow, about a woman exiled following a scandal; and Four Around the Woman, a tale of blackmail and intrigue. Of interest for their hint of genius to come, these early works are for Lang completists. Nibelungen, an epic fantasy with magical creatures and heroic characters, warrants a wider look.

The Forgiveness of Blood. color. 109+ min. In Albanian w/English subtitles. Criterion Collection. 2011. DVD ISBN 9781604656428. $29.95; Blu-ray ISBN 9781604656411. $39.95.

The sin of the father is visited upon his son in this compelling drama from Joshua Marston, director of the Oscar-nominated Maria Full of Grace. An Albanian teenager is forced to stay at home for his own safety when his dad kills a neighbor in an altercation over a long-standing property dispute. The blood feud finally takes its toll, though, and the threat of retaliation becomes preferable to self-imposed exile. A cycle of violence perpetuated by archaic traditions has seldom been more forcefully executed. For a broad audience. [See Trailers, LJ 9/1/12.]