Film DVD Reviews

BOX SET THE ESSENTIAL CLAUDE CHABROL (15) 299min (Artificial Eye) ●●●●●

Few filmmakers deserve an essential collection more than Chabrol, but this is not that. His broad and long career trails from fine early films (Le Beau Serge, Les Cousins) through to the late 1960s peak period (Le Boucher) that won him the moniker of the ‘French Hitchcock’. And then there was the grand late works. With a CV like that, should an essential collection have the less significant Inspector Lavardin (1986) in it? In case you’ve forgotten, this mid-1980s sequel to Cop au Vin is the one where the titular inspector determines to solve a murder in a provincial French town. 1992’s Betty is more justifiable, an adaptation of a George Simenon novel, with Marie Trintignant the eponymous character: a drunk taken in by the widowed, pretty much drink-sodden, Stéphane Audran. Chabrol is rarely a filmmaker to let a good deed go unpunished, and the film focuses on the tension between the two women.

But it is Merci pour la Chocolat (2000) that is vital to Chabrol’s oeuvre. Much of his best work has been with either Audran or Isabelle Huppert, and Huppert plays here the woman with impulses so obscure that even a former husband (Jacques Dutronc), whom she remarries, can’t understand them. The even less essential Volume Two is also out this month and includes The Story of Women (1988) and The Colour of Lies (1999). There are decent extras on both sets. (Tony McKibbin)

DRAMA THE BEST INTENTIONS (12) 181min (Park Circus) ●●●●●

The Best Intentions has pedigree galore. Based on a memoir of his parent’s unhappy marriage, it’s scripted by Ingmar Bergman and directed by feted Danish filmmaker Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, The House of the Spirits). Unfortunately this version, edited down from the little seen six-hour mini series, is unequal to the talents of its cast and crew. The film has few Bergman-esque touches and little sense of the sound design, oppressive close-ups and connotative lighting so often utilised by the great Swede. Instead, August tells the story of a spoiled young woman (Pernilla August) and impoverished theology student (Samuel Fröler) trying to make a life against the backdrop of social upheaval. Ably handled, but with none of the mystery and claustrophobia so central to Bergman’s oeuvre, this may have won August his second Palme d’Or in five years (the first was for Pelle), but it feels almost devoid of internal vigour. Minimal extras. (Tony McKibbin)

WAR/ACTION MASSACRE IN ROME (15) 107min (Argent) ●●●●●

Richard Burton stars as Lt Col Kappler, the SS

58 THE LIST 27 May–10 June 2010

officer tasked with executing 330 Italians as a reprisal for the deaths of 33 German troops in Rome towards the end of WWII. Kappler is conflicted, and explores every possible alternative, mirroring the efforts of Italian priest Pietro Antonelli (Marcello Mastroianni), who requests that Pope Pius XII intervene and is refused.

Burton is fantastic, with steely eyes to match his SS uniform, and Mastroianni does a nice line in earnest desperation (some of the supporting cast let the side down with hammy performances, and the proliferation of cut-glass English accents makes it hard to discern Germans from Italians). Director George P Cosmatos is more famous for early Stallone pics, which is reflected in the tense and well-staged ambush scene. Extras: theatrical trailer, plus a bizarre collection of grindhouse and erotica trailers from Argent. (Niki Boyle)

TV SERIES FLICKERS (12) 300min (Network) ●●●●●

PLAYLIST David Shrigley’s animation for Pringle

It’s time to get animated, with June promising the UK premiere of the latest venture from Sylvain ‘Belleville Rendez-vous’ Chomet in the form of The Illusionist: the opening gala film at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. As well as being set in Edinburgh, much of the production was completed in Scotland via Chomet’s Edinburgh-based Django Films and Dundee’s Digital Ink, proving that today’s animation need no longer be based in Burbank or Japan. So this Playlist offers a glimpse into the rising cream of the current

Scottish animation crop. Edinburgh-based company Binary Fable have picked up multiple BAFTA nominations for their cinematic and highly enjoyable The Lost Book project, in which public submissions were used to form the plot of a si- episode story following the crime-solving activities of investigative journalist Aileen and her pet pooch Watson ( On a more scatological level, you can have your worst water-closet

nightmares realised through Ania Leszczynska’s Monster in the Toilet, which draws on the supernatural qualities of that most terrifying of locations, the third floor toilets of the Edinburgh College of Art ( Alternatively, spruce yourself up and check out David Shrigley’s trenchant promotional animation for Pringle knitwear ( And no round-up would be complete without beating a path to the website of Red Kite Animation, where there’s a selection of their work (, complete with the full versions of acclaimed shorts The Green Man of Knowledge and The Witches. Connoisseurs of digital media will already be familiar with the speed with which today’s animation sensations translate to the mainstream including French artist Patrick Jean’s delightful Pixels (, which has already been picked up by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison productions and is likely to take its nostalgia for 80s video games to a big screen near you very soon. Who is to say that the same won’t happen to the Scottish Ninjas, who have parlayed their own short into a whole YouTube channel at ( ‘They’re proud, they’re strong, and they’re Scottish!’ say the opening titles, summing up the current state of our country’s growing animation industry. (Eddie Harrison)

Made for British television in 1980 and starring the then bankable pairing of Bob Hoskins (between Pennies from Heaven and The Long Good Friday) and Frances De La Tour (fresh from the set of hit comedy Rising Damp) this six-part series is something of a charmer. An oddball romantic

comedy, set in the early days of cinema, Flickers follows the japer-ish adventures De La Tour’s Maud as she looks for a father for her unborn child. Meanwhile Hoskins’ Arnie is on the money-raising lam in the rough and tumble world

of the silent cinema business. Together they make quite a team. Directed with old- fashioned sturdiness by workaholic gun for hire Cyril Coke (Upstairs, Downstairs, The Onedin Line) and written by future Last of the Summer Wine scribe Roy Clarke, Flickers is an innocent pleasure. Two discs, minimal extras. (Paul Dale)

HORROR/THRILLER LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN (18) 103min (Optimum) ●●●●●

After years of neglect and abuse, Italian horror puck Lucio Fulci’s controversial 1971 Freudian horror returns

fully restored on a lovely new print and transfer. Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (which was butchered and released in the US as Schizoid) is a curious amalgam of country house thriller, psychedelic social commentary and hardcore giallo. It follows the increasingly hysteric turns of

misfortune of politician’s daughter Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) when fantasies of sex and orgies with the next-door neighbour give way to her becoming the lead suspect in a murder. It’s all madly unhinged

and (for fans of Fulci) a real pleasure of trash and flash. The retro- erotica quotient is commendable and the one truly shocking set piece is not for animal lovers, in fact it ended Fulci and his team up in court but that’s another story. Stanley Baker excels as a perplexed detective. This is well worth seeking out. Surprisingly few extras. (Paul Dale)