Arts & Events
The Last Metro
The Last Metro (Le dernier métro) (1980), directed by Francois Truffaut, who died in 1984, stars movie greats Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu in their young prime. Set in Paris in Vichy France in 1942, the film centers on a theater company struggling to keep alive and vital despite censorship and harassment by fascist reporters. There are also the subplots of hiding Jews and a love triangle. This new, restored, high-definition film, in DVD and Blu-Ray editions, in color and at 131 minutes, holds up well after three decades, thanks to excellent acting, a solid script, and sophisticated direction, what we’ve come to expect from any Truffaut film.
Criterion’s two-disc edition includes excerpted television interviews with Deneuve and Depardieu, a 1958 short film co-directed by Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, and an essay by film critic Armond White.
—E. C. Jeline
In the Realm of the Senses
In the Realm of the Senses (L’Empire des sens) (1976), a Franco-Japanese production by Nagisa Oshima, the director whose films were recently featured at the Pacific Film Archive, focuses on a true story about an incident that occurred in Japan in 1936, an incident that garnered great controversy at the time. Today, the film is admired as the story of the complexity of an obsessive sexual relationship, depicting how eroticism in Japanese culture is often morbid or death-obsessed. Not available in home video until 1990, this version is uncut and runs for 102 minutes and stars the excellent acting of Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, in very realistic and unsimulated sexual situations. This is not a film that could have been shown at the PFA festival of Oshima films.
Criterion’s edition includes commentary by film critic Tony Rayns, interviews with Oshima and actors Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda, and an essay by film scholar Donald Ritchie.
—E. C. Jeline
Friends of Eddie Coyle
Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) is a crime drama that picture the 1970s thug life in full swing, with muscle cars, bank heists, backroom dealings, and a ticking high-hat groove for a score. Bleary-eyed Robert Mitchum wears the role like a battered old sportcoat—familiar, comfortable, almost imperceptible.
It’s a film heavy with the threat of violence, and though the threat never comes to fruition, it is a palpable presence as each thug and each cop, each link in the chain of crime and crime detection, works to undermine another link. Where the chain of activity stops and who is stuck at the end of it is like a game of deadly musical chairs, or a shell game in which each man applies his skills to the limit but ultimately is left merely hoping that he’ll come away lucky in the end.
Crime is portrayed as such a deadly, difficult game that one has to wonder why a steady job wouldn’t be easier and possibly more lucrative. But that’s the essence of the drama—these men thrive on the game, on the danger, on the imminence of death. It’s not the spoils, it’s the thrill of the lifestyle, the heightened drama of the everyday.
The disc features a commentary with director Peter Yates, an essay by film critic Kent Jones and a 1973 Rolling Stone interview with Mitchum.