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DVDs. "Kapò," "Earth," More

The Auteurs Daily


"Gillo Pontecorvo's Kapò, a concentration-camp drama from 1959, is neither a great nor a terrible movie, but it has a special place in the history of Holocaust films (and of film criticism)." Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times: "It is a flash point in a long-running debate — one that surrounds films as different as Schindler's List and Inglourious Basterds — about the responsibilities and the limitations of cinema when it comes to depicting a historical atrocity." And, as he explains, Jacques Rivette and Serge Daney have been crucial voices in that debate.

The film is "more famous, in fact, for Daney's evocation of Rivette than for any actual viewings," notes Michael Atkinson in his review for "Pontecorvo's recreation of the labor camp landscape is appalling in its scope and detail. There's a veracity when Europeans in the middle century make movies about the war that American filmmakers can never touch... Kapò is necessary and cruel, and deserves a high shelf in the troubled history of the Holocaust film, which has lately become so poisoned by complacency and glamour."

More from Gary Tooze and, for Criterion's Current, Michael Koresky. Kapò is one of six titles in Volume Five of Janus Films/Criterion's Essential Art House series; Ryan Gallagher of the Criterion Cast has an overview of the other five titles released today. Simon Abrams reviews one of them for Slant: "A great gateway for fans of Milos Forman's later films, Loves of a Blonde is subtle, silly, and even poignant in its own way."

"Mr Bongo Films in the UK is releasing a DVD of Alexander Dovzhenko's Earth (1930) 'fully restored and in its full-length version' next month, and it's a beauty to behold," writes Doug Cummings, who compares this new release with Kino's.

Dave Kehr on René Clair's The Italian Straw Hat, out from Flicker Alley: "Made in 1927, as the silent era was drawing to a close, the film is a highly kinetic farce that contains some residual surrealist elements, including a fantasy sequence with sinister men in silk hats, a bed that scoots around by itself, and a general delight in that favorite surrealist trope, furniture being flung out of windows. But this is an audience-friendly film, not meant to scandalize and provoke but to comfort and amuse while evoking a warm nostalgia for a recent past." Also reviewed: Henri Cartier-Bresson, a two-disc set from Arthouse Films; related, of course, would be the exhibition at MoMA, Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century, on view through June 28; and for a related read, turn to Christopher Turner in the Telegraph.

John McElwee is "a chump for silly melodramas... when they're front-loaded with the likes of Gary Cooper, Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Laughton, and Cary Grant. Now there's a cast for the precode ages." The Devil and the Deep (1932) is out from Universal.

"If we shave off just one of its four titles, the recently released Bad Girls of Film Noir, Vol 2 could just as easily be titled The Cleo Moore Signature Collection," writes Josef Braun. "The two-disc set serves as an introduction to a minor but nonetheless interesting career, one that speaks volumes about the role of women in postwar America." More from Glenn Erickson.

At DVD Outsider, Timothy E Raw on À nos amours (1983): "Masters of Cinema's presentation has made me an overnight Pialat convert."

DVD roundups. Sean Axmaker, Brad Brevet, DVD Talk and Noel Murray (LAT).

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