New DVDs: Film and TV from France

Jeanne Moreau as Catherine in François Truffaut's 1962 romantic drama "Jules and Jim," available for the first time on Blu-ray in a Blu-ray/DVD combo set.
Jeanne Moreau as Catherine in François Truffaut's 1962 romantic drama "Jules and Jim," available for the first time on Blu-ray in a Blu-ray/DVD combo set.
Posted: February 01, 2014

François Truffaut came of age during an extraordinary cultural boom in postwar France. He began his career as a film critic for the journal Cahiers du cinéma before releasing his remarkable debut feature, The 400 Blows, in 1959.

He's considered one of the defining figures of the New Wave, but Truffaut's best work transcends labels, including his 1962 masterpiece Jules and Jim, which is finally available on Blu-ray in a restored edition.

Considered one of the finest films ever made, Jules and Jim is the story of two bohemian friends, Austrian writer Jules (Oskar Werner) and the extroverted Parisian Jim (Henri Serre), who fall in love with the same woman, Catherine (played by the exquisite Jeanne Moreau). Truffaut follows the trio's lives and the changing nature of their relationships over a handful of decades surrounding the cataclysm wrought in Europe by World War I.

The film is due Tuesday in a dual-format set from the Criterion Edition. ( www.criterion.com; $39.95 DVD/Blu-ray combo; not rated)

More French imports

Rififi. When Hollywood director Jules Dassin was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, he turned to France, where he was idolized for his film noir hits Brute Force and The Naked City. Dassin pretty much invented the heist-film subgenre with this amazing 1955 thriller about four cons who team up to take down a Parisian jewelry store. ( www.criterion.com; $39.95 DVD/Blu-ray combo; not rated)

Two by Robbe-Grillet. Alain Robbe-Grillet is best known to cinephiles as the writer of Alain Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad. But the novelist also directed a handful of his own screenplays during the '60s and '70s, including Trans-Europ-Express (1966) and Successive Slidings of Pleasure (1974), due on disc on Feb. 11. It's hard to describe these films. A cross between erotica and crime thriller, they use visual experimentation to explore darker recesses of human desire. ( www.kinolorber.com/redemption; each: $29.95 DVD; $34.95 Blu-ray; not rated)

Les Petits Meurtres D'Agatha Christie Set 1. Agatha Christie's international reputation is evident in this French TV dramedy that premiered in 2008. Adapted, sometimes very loosely, from Christie's novels, each 90-minute TV movie takes a droll, even out-right comic look at the men and women who commit murders and the sometimes bumbling detectives who catch them. Gorgeous and with high production values, about half the films are set in the 1930s, the rest in the '50s. Due Feb. 25 from Acorn Media, this four-disc DVD set features seven stories. ( www.acornmedia.com; $59.99; not rated)

Dolmen. The stunning French TV star Ingrid Chauvin stars in this mind-blowing, bizarre David Lynch-ian TV murder mystery set in a small island off the coast of Brittany. She plays Marie, a cop who is born on the mysterious island and returns to marry her sweetheart. Things turn strange when a series of islanders are killed in ways most gruesome. Each corpse carries a cryptic message about Marie. Is the cop cursed? Why do the islanders hate her so much? And why are the island's stone monuments bleeding? The twisted mystery deepens in six 90-minute installments. ( www.mhznetworks.org; $39.95; not rated)

Sister. Gillian Anderson, Lea Seydoux, and Kacey Mottet Klein star in French-Swiss filmmaker Ursula Meier's thriller about a 12-year-old boy who supports his older sister by ripping off guests at an exclusive ski resort. ( www.kinolorber.com; $29.95; not rated)

The Prey. Albert Dupontel stars in this taut, tense thriller from horror auteur Eric Valette ( Maléfique, One Missed Call) as a convicted bank robber who breaks out of prison after finding out that his former cell mate, who had promised to take care of his family, actually is a suspected child rapist and serial killer. ( http://cohenmedia.net/; $24.98 DVD; $34.98 Blu-ray; rated R)

Nuit #1. We travel to Quebec for our last French-language film. Due Tuesday, Anne Émond's erotic drama is about a one-night stand between two twentysomethings who meet at a rave. While it contains explicit sex scenes, Émond's film really takes off when the duo decide to disclose their darkest secrets to each other. ( www.kinolorber.com; $29.95; not rated)


tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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