August 18, 2010

L'enfance nue

Also this week: Me and Orson Welles, Dexter: Season Four, Suck, Road to Perdition

Highlight of the Week
L’enfance nue (Criterion, eOne) It comes as little surprise that French New Wave pioneer François Truffaut produced the late, great Maurice Pialat’s 1968 feature debut, given the gritty, enigmatic likeness L’enfance nue (Naked Childhood) bears to Truffaut’s 1959 feature debut, The 400 Blows. Both are stripped-down depictions of neglected children who lash out at society by way of mischief and petty crime. L’enfance nue features a volatile adolescent whose actions lead to a bittersweet, open-ended climax that hits as hard as the famed freeze-frame that closes Truffaut’s film. Criterion’s release of this masterpiece looks stunning for a 42-year-old film — but where’s the Blu-ray? Solid extras include an hour-long vintage doc that discusses the French foster-care system with relation to the film, a fabulous 1960 doc by Pialat that looks at Paris’s dreary suburbia, plus interviews and discussions.  
Also Available 

Me and Orson Welles (eOne) Richard Linklater’s latest premiered at TIFF 08 to lukewarm reviews, and was only recently shown in cinemas. Nothing groundbreaking for the increasingly less brazen filmmaker, it does carry one wild card: Christian McKay’s astonishing performance as a 22-year-old, pre–Citizen Kane Orson Welles. McKay (pictured below) looks, talks and moves like the notorious auteur with eerie accuracy. Zefron isn’t half bad either as the boy-ingénue who joins the cast of Welles’s famed production of Julius Caesar. Extras: making-of, Q&A, deleted scenes, more.
Dexter: Season Four (Paramount) One of the best things on the small screen rebounds from its slightly under-par third season to a game-changing fourth. Credit John Lithgow’s Trinity Killer, who emerges as a worthy foe for America’s favourite serial killer. As their relationship evolves, we are taken into disturbing and complex territory — even by Dexter’s bleak standards — culminating in a jaw-dropping finale. Dexter has always been a cut (ahem) above the rest in terms of story and visuals and this high-def presentation is the classiest way to see it. Extras: cast interviews, BD Live episodes of other Showtime shows.
Suck (Alliance) Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Alex Lifeson, Carol Pope, Alice Cooper, Moby, Dave Foley and Malcolm effing McDowell all appear in director Rob Stefaniuk’s Canadian vampire-musical-comedy about a band’s rising status and new thirst for blood. After years of mediocrity, a rock outfit called The Winners finally break their losing streak. The problem is their success is derived from their new-found charisma gained as bloodsucking freaks. Despite the film’s overtly Canadian vibe, Suck doesn’t always suck, but it never quite rocks. Extras: commentary, making-of, interviews, rad music video.
Road to Perdition (Paramount) Adapted from the graphic novel while still retaining its old-Hollywood tone, Sam Mendes’ sophomore feature — sandwiched between his overrated American Beauty and underrated Jarhead — looks and sounds great in Blu-ray. Given that this was legendary cinematographer Conrad L. Hall’s last stint behind the lens, you owe it to yourself to rediscover this moody ’n’ broody spin on the father-son dynamic in your newfangled home theatre. Extras: Mendes commentary, making-of, deleted scenes. Blu-ray extra extras: Mendes intro, retrospective doc on Hall’s life and career, interactive archive.