June 15, 2021


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“Pillow Confidences”, “The Nightingale”… What to see (or review) on DVD and VOD this week?

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♥♥♥ Rock Hudson and Doris Day

“Pillow Confidences”, by Michael Gordon (1959), “One Pajamas for Two”, by Delbert Mann (1961), “Don’t Send Me Flowers”, by Norman Jewison (1964). In a Blu-ray box set at Elephant Films.

The pinnacle of Technicolor cinema – cotton candy, with plenty of good feelings, loose misunderstandings, chaste kisses, luxurious sets and bleached eroticism. In the genre, these three films, which were very successful, are as revolutionary as a quilt. But, over time, they gained an undeniable charm, due to the strange and successful assembly of two actors who were not made for each other.

In 1959, the career of Rock Hudson is at half mast: Roy Harold Scherer (real name), handsome trucker, was referred to the drama (“Giant”, “Farewell to arms”), but he is crazy blandness. We recommend comedy to him, he is scared but accepts. For her part, Doris Day (Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff), daughter of a musician of German origin, surfs on the success of her song “Que sera, sera” and seeks to move from the state of girl next door to that of a sexy star (not easy, it is totally sanitized).

Her husband, Martin Melcher, unearthed “Confidences sur l’oreiller”, a scenario that had dragged on since 1942 at RKO, and bought it in 1958. He hired Michael Gordon, a blacklisted left-wing director, and put the package: made to measure dresses, jewelry authentic, repertoire actors (including Dalio and Thelma Ritter), soft sensuality. Rock Hudson plays the role of an unrepentant flirty, and Doris Day, that of a decorator who wants, but doesn’t, but wants. The seducer’s apartment, where everything is automatic, will make many spectators dream. Big success, an Oscar of the scenario, two other films will follow, on the same model: “A pajamas for two”, by Delbert Mann, and “Do not send me flowers”, by Norman Jewison. We flirt, we sleep (but we get married), everything remains very moral.

It was not until the 1980s that the homosexuality of Rock Hudson was revealed and the bankruptcy of Doris Day, defrauded by his lawyer, was known. The two actors will remain very friends. They will meet again in July 1985: “He was unrecognizable. I took him in my arms and I said to him: “I’m so happy to see you again. ”Three months later, ill with AIDS, Rock Hudson disappears. Doris Day, she died in 2019, at the age of 97, almost forgotten. Three films, three testimonies of a period of recklessness and smiles.

Francois Forestier

♥♥ The Nightingale

Australian drama, by Jennifer Kent, with Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr (2:16). Available on VOD and DVD / Blu-ray at Condor.

After the creepy “Mister Babadook”, in 2014, Jennifer Kent signs an intimate and historical drama. In Australia at the beginning of the XIXe century, a young Irish woman (Aisling Franciosi) pursues the murderers of her son and her husband. Unlike Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Kent has no fascination with female revenge. With her, there is no glamorous glorification of the law of retaliation. The thirst for blood debases. Admittedly, the scenario does not escape certain heaviness in the characterization of the villains, but the division, by isolating the protagonists, exacerbates the impassable borders (colonists / natives, blacks / whites, men / women, living / dead) which govern this nihilistic tragedy.

Xavier Leherpeur

♥ The Great Crossing

American dramatic comedy, by Steven Soderbergh, with Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest (1h53). Available in SVOD on MyCanal.

Meryl Streep and Steven Soderbergh are on a boat, and the spectator falls into the water, overcome with boredom. The actress plays a New York Pulitzer Prize writer who invites her nephew and two childhood friends on the liner taking her to England for a tribute. Why this reunion? What about the resentment that separated the three women thirty years ago? And what to expect from the star’s next book, whose agent is on the trip? Clips, filmed by a Soderbergh on automatic pilot, with golden lights and atmospheres jazz lounge. A promotional TV movie for the “Queen Mary 2” cruises.

Nicolas schaller

♥♥ The Shallows

French drama, by Jean Renoir, with Jean Gabin, Louis Jouvet, Suzy Prim (1936, 1h35). Available on Blu-ray at Gaumont.

Jean Gabin and Louis Jouvet in “the Bas-fonds”. (GAUMONT)

Not a great Renoir, but a crucial Renoir who inaugurates his fruitful collaboration with Jean Gabin and opens the way to “the Great Illusion”. Produced by the Soviet company Albatros, this free adaptation of Gorky’s play celebrates the friendship between a ruined aristocrat (Louis Jouvet) and a pégriot (Gabin) who tried to rob him. It is the Russian soul transposed on the banks of the Marne. If the painting of the night asylum where the two men meet has aged (theatrical writing, uneven distribution), the unique Jouvet-Gabin duo sparkles, the latter embodying proletarian dignity with incredible naturalness and modernity.


♥♥♥ The Ballad of Narayama

Japanese drama, by Shôhei Imamura, with Ken Ogata, Sumiko Sakamoto, Takejo Aki (1983, 2h11). Available on Blu-Ray at La Rabbia.

Palme d’or 1983, this film, inspired by a short story by Shichirô Fukazawa (author threatened with death for his critical vision of imperial Japan), is an elegy of the simple life of an old woman in a village in 1860, who preparing for his imminent death. Poignant painting, reflection on the passing of time, poetry of landscapes and feelings, the film has a meditative softness, a touch of silk. Imamura rose to fame at the age of 57, and therefore gave free rein to his provocative style. “Narayama”, a pastoral ode, is an exception in his work, a very beautiful anomaly.


♥♥♥ Afternoon

German drama, by Angela Schanelec, with Jirka Zett, Miriam Horwitz, Angela Schanelec (2007, 1h33). Available in DVD box at Shellac.

This box set bringing together four films made between 1991 and 2007 allows us to look back on the career and the particular style of this demanding filmmaker. Favoring the present time, the suspended moment and the scenes interrupting abruptly on unanswered questions, she builds her characters around their mystery and their own off-screen. As in the very beautiful “Afternoon” (2007), where a family meets for a few days in a country house near Berlin. Opportunity for Angela Schanelec to X-ray the sentimental disintegration of a once protective world.



♥♥♥ It was Kubrick

By Michael Herr, translated from English (United States) by Erwann Lameignère, Séguier, 112 pages, 14.90 euros.

The cubist portrait of Stanley Kubrick, brilliant director, surrounded by a legend, difficult and brilliant. In twenty years of a friendship with variable radius, Michael Herr, journalist charred by Vietnam and author of “Putain de mort”, recaps his incandescent discussions with the filmmaker of “Paths of Glory” and “Full Metal Jacket”. Obsessive, tight-fisted, witty, cat lover and chess player, Kubrick juggled impossible projects and crazy dreams (he wanted to be a conductor). Herr grasps it in all its complexity.


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