Digital Week – August 4


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This week’s roundup includes the latest fizzled provocation by goofy Frenchman Quentin Dupieux, “Mandibles,” in theaters and streaming. And available on Blu-ray are season two of the alternate-history series, “Pennyworth,” from Warner Archive; the 1969 pairing of legendary international stars Alain Delon and Romy Schneider, “La Piscine,” from Criterion; and Angelina Jolie in the forest-fire thriller, “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” from Warner Brothers.

In-Theater/Streaming Release of the Week

Mandibles (Magnet)

MandiblesThe latest from oddball French director Quentin Dupieux is quite bizarre, even by his outlandish standards: a pair of idiots discover a large fly in the trunk of their car and proceed, through a series of increasingly weird situations with a bunch of characters slightly less dumb than themselves, to try and train the insect for…something. Ultimately as slight and forgettable as the rest of his output, “Mandibles” at least isn’t as willfully obnoxious: but any movie that allows such an acting treasure as Adele Exarchopoulos to simply scream her dialogue (the explanation is that her character was in a serious ski accident) isn’t to be taken seriously…or comically.

Blu-ray Releases of the Week

I Wouldn’t Be in Your Shoes!/Step by Step (Warner Archive)

Two obscure but compelling vintage B&W features begin with the fine film-noir “…Shoes!” (1948), which tracks a wife’s attempts to prove the innocence of her accused-killer husband who coincidentally tossed his shoe at an annoying cat as a murder was being committed. In the equally watchable “Step by Step” (1946), a thrown-together couple find themselves embroiled in a Nazi spy plot whose implausibility is in tune with its era. Both films have splendid hi-def transfers and include extras comprising mystery short films and classic cartoons.

Pennyworth—Complete 2nd Season (Warner Archive)

Pennyworth—Complete 2nd Season (Warner Archive)With England deep into a devastating civil war, Alfred Pennyworth continues his machinations to keep himself and his mother safe and to hatch plans to flee his homeland for safer ground—in the United States. The 10 episodes of the entertaining second season dive deeper into what has become a terrifying but exciting situation for Pennyworth and his cohorts and, despite lapses in logic and coherence, the sheer physicality of the production keeps one glued to the screen even when the dramatics might flag. The series looks particularly enticing in hi-def.

La Piscine (Criterion)

La Piscine (Criterion)Back in 1969, Alain Delon and Romy Schneider were international film royalty and had just ended their own personal relationship; but in Jacques Deray’s flimsy psychological drama, the pair plays a couple whose relationship goes under the microscope after a friend arrives at their summer house in the South of France with his nubile 18-year-old daughter—and soon there’s a dead body floating in the swimming pool. While Delon, Schenider, Maurice Ronet and a young Jane Birkin are certainly photogenic, especially when lounging near the pool in their effortlessly chic designer bathing suits, Deray doesn’t give them much to work with, as the plot mechanics work themselves out rather, well, mechanically. Criterion’s new releases features a decent if unexceptional hi-def transfer; extras are the English-language version of the film (all four leads were fluent in English), retrospective documentary “Fifty Years Later,” alternate ending, archival interviews with the cast and Deray, and new interview with scholar Nick Rees-Roberts.

Those Who Wish Me Dead (Warner Brothers)

Those Who Wish Me Dead (Warner Brothers)Similar to his series “Yellowstone” with Kevin Costner, writer-director Taylor Sheridan’s intense drama about a smokejumper who blames herself for the deaths of three kids in a previous fire gets to prove her meddle again when she must shield a young boy from a deadly fire and even deadlier killers who have already gotten rid of his father. Short of nuance but long on thrills, the movie benefits from superbly hair-raising stunt work amid the flames as well as a clench-jawed Angelina Jolie as our flawed heroine. There’s a terrific hi-def transfer; lone extra is a making-of featurette.

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