The Need for More Than Greed: A Trio of Stroheim Sagas

No-fuckin'-around cinephiles sing the format electric: Kino goes to the wall with this package, presenting perfectly restored editions of Erich von Stroheim's extra-Greed classics, each a concise penny-novel saga enriched by the man's revolutionary insistence on real materials, active life, and genuine locations. In a field defined by Griffith, von Stroheim's resistance to theatrical shortcuts was unprecedented, and his melodramatic equation of manmade landscape and emotional turmoil paved the way for von Sternberg, Sirk, Powell, and Fassbinder. The original scores, radio broadcasts, historical documents, and scholarly audio tracks are just the beginning—the first two films also include entire second features: Blind Husbands (1918) abuts the lurid ventriloquist musical starring von Stroheim, The Great Gabbo (1929), and Foolish Wives (1922) has the 1979 EVS bio-doc The Man You Loved to Hate. Best of all, famed debacle Queen Kelly (1929) comes with over three hours of supps, dominated by outtakes(!), two endings (the restored and the one demanded by star Gloria Swanson), and excerpts from von Stroheim's unfinished Merry-Go-Round. —Michael Atkinson


A FILM TRILOGY BY INGMAR BERGMAN
(Criterion DVD)

Sound and the silent star: Queen Kelly
photo: Kino International
Sound and the silent star: Queen Kelly

This 1961-63 troika of seething, shadowy masterpieces—Ingmar Bergman's mid-career statement on faith, faithlessness, and existential disquiet—continues to chill and fascinate long after his earlier films grow quaint and his later ones begin to seem self-derivative. In particular, Through a Glass Darkly, a study of a family dissolving under the pressure of schizophrenia, contains some of Bergman's most breathtaking passages and one of his best performances—Harriet Andersson as the young wife/daughter/sister trying to hold on to the world as it spins out of her grasp. From there, the question of "the silence of God" is tackled head-on in Winter Light by Gunnar Björnstrand's doubt-tormented priest; by the time of The Silence's apocalyptic abstractions, God has become an afterthought to idle destruction. This startlingly designed Criterion box comes with original trailers and video lectures by Bergman high-hat Peter Cowie. M.A.


FANDO & LIS
(Fantoma DVD)

An adorable, preposterous mutant film from the heyday of international do-your-own-thing moviemania, Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1967 debut supposedly caused a riot at the Acapulco Film Festival and got the Chilean-born director run out of town as a heretic just one month after the Tlatelolco Massacre of protesting students. Only in Mexico: Equal parts 8 1/2 dream sequence, Easy Ridermodishness, and Otto Muehl katharsis, the Arrabal-based movie follows two lovers through mountainous terrain searching for a mythical city, and it's just as loopily surrealist as L'Age d'Or. From the first meeting of Lis—a crippled gamine riding a wagon-cart equipped with an antique phonograph—with a tuxedoed man playing a burning piano in the ruins, it's an anarchic blast from the past. Supplemented by a French documentary feature, La Constellation Jodorowsky.M.A.


MR. SHOW: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
(HBO DVD)
RUN RONNIE RUN!
(New Line DVD/VHS)

Another four and a half hours of riotous sketch-comedy derangement. In season three, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross liberate Santa, invent ice cream, attempt to flood their hate-mail bag, and reattach a formerly conjoined twin in a riff that the Farrellys' upcoming Stuck on Youwill be hard-pressed to top. But the real event for Bob & David fans is the straight-to-video release, after a year and a half in New Line's vault, of the Pootie Tang-y spin-off feature, Run Ronnie Run! Plucked from his local Tas-tee Liquor by Hollywood fop Terry Twillstein (Odenkirk), ne'er-do-well Ronnie (Cross) becomes a career felon and reality-TV icon. Plenty of musical highlights, including a Broadway showstopper with naked Mandy Patinkin belting out Ronnie's plaintive torch song ("Can't a man not control his bitch with violence? Y'all are brutalizing me") and a love theme by lubricious duo Three Times One Minus One, complete with beautifully literal-minded music video. DENNIS LIM


SOLARIS
(20th Century Fox DVD)

Utterly unintimidated by the indelible Tarkovsky interpretation, Steven Soderbergh actually ups the philosophical-existential ante in this Stanislaw Lem adaptation, fashioning a lyrical, prismatic Roeg-ish reverie à la The Limey. The director's audio commentary, a duet with producer James Cameron, is more entertaining than most, touching on Soderbergh's habit of inverting scenes in the editing room, the original song cues (which included Velvet Underground and Beck), and what Cameron had in mind for his planned version. Shame the package doesn't include the first cut, which Cameron describes as a cross between the last two films the reclusive Lem claims to have seen: 2001and Last Tango in Paris. D.L.

 
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