DVDs. Chantal Akerman, "Che," Altman and More

The Auteurs Daily

Les Rendez-vous d'Anna

"When the Criterion Collection released Chantal Akerman's 1975 masterwork, Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles, on DVD last August, it made one of the most influential films of the last 40 years available to the untold legions who'd never seen it." Melissa Anderson, introducing her interview with Akerman for Moving Image Source: "Now, thanks to Chantal Akerman in the Seventies, the new three-disc set from Criterion division Eclipse, viewers can finally see the other vital, rarely screened films that the director made during that groundbreaking decade of her career."

"Chantal Akerman's great subject is dislocation: the difficulty of fitting in, of feeling at home, of being." Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times: "It's a theme this remarkable filmmaker - born in Belgium but a professional nomad much of her life - explored with focus and ferocity in the first decade of her career."

For film-by-film analysis of the collection, turn to Michael Koresky in Criterion's Current and Andrew Schenker in the newly redesigned Slant. More from Steve Erickson (Gay City News), Jamie S Rich (DVD Talk), Scott Tobias (AV Club) and Gary W Tooze (DVD Beaver). And listen to Aaron Hillis's interview with Akerman at GreenCine Daily. Earlier: A roundup on Jeanne Dielman from January 2009.

Amy Taubin in Current on Criterion's other big release this week: "As protean as he is prolific, [Steven] Soderbergh has applied his astonishing directorial intelligence and energy to almost every genre of filmmaking, reenvisioning them from a contemporary perspective and through the use of cutting-edge moving-image technologies. With Che, he adds the war movie to his filmography, and an epic one at that: in length, scale, and narrative breadth, it's simply a bigger film than any other Soderbergh has put his hand to.... Given that audiences expect to be spoon-fed their narratives and have their action sequences punched up like video games, Che is militantly uncommercial filmmaking. It's also a masterpiece that speaks as much to our contemporary social and political malaise as it does to the revolutionary ardor and failed hopes of the 1960s."

More from Sean Axmaker, Jason Bailey (DVD Talk), Fernando F Croce and Ed Gonzalez (Slant). At the AV Club, Noel Murray wonders if Soderbergh is succumbing to the dour lure of "fogeydom"; and Current runs a clip from an interview with Soderbergh. Earlier: A roundup on Che from January 2009.

For PopDose, Bob Cashill reviews Robert Altman's Streamers (1983), adapted, albeit only slightly, from David Rabe's Vietnam-era drama: "With its lengthy, profane monologues, Streamers, like Rabe's Tinseltown-set Hurlyburly, is a favorite of acting students. For audiences, the show and the movie (which Rabe adapted) wouldn't work without a strong sense of unity, which the cast provides. Altman freed the actors to find their roles and, as [Matthew] Modine says, 'conducted' them. There are no weak links in this symphony.... The Venice Film Festival couldn't decide among them, and in an unprecedented move voted the entire cast an ensemble acting award."

"The 16 shorts on [Red Cartoons: Animated Films From East Germany] come primarily from the 70s and 80s, and average three minutes or less," writes Noel Murray at the AV Club. "Some resemble whimsical comic-book one-pagers; others are more like editorials. And watched in chronological order, they tell - with wit and artistry - the story of the mounting frustration in the GDR in the years before the Berlin Wall fell."

Michael Atkinson at IFC on the latest from Craig Baldwin: "Texturally, if I prefer Baldwin's metaphoric use of age-old images to his new, deliberately ill-dubbed scenes, it's because found footage naturally comes bearing the fruit of political outrage and conflicted meanings. But it's a quibble, when Mock Up on Mu is actually less a movie than a farcical jet stream of all-American utopianism that makes about as much sense as the past itself."

"Universal has taken a cue from Warner and their Archive Collection by partnering with Amazon.com to release DVD-R's of catalogue titles," notes Joe Bowman, who's got the first round of 25 films slated for availability. Kimberly Lindbergs, though, explains why she's not celebrating. Update: John McElwee on one of the titles, The Perfect Furlough with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

And finally for now, a big fat DVD roundup: Allen Gardner in the Hollywood Interview.

Image: Chantal Akerman's Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978).

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