From Mongolia or Outer Space?

Idiosyncratic sci-fi films Sans Soleil and La Jetée hit DVD. Plus, good directors gone bad and bad directors gone worse.

More idiosyncratic sci-fi lands this week courtesy of the “Cult Camp Classic Collection” from Warner Home Video, a celebration of good directors gone bad, bad directors gone worse, and girls gone every kind of wild. Volume 1 contemplates the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, genuflects before Queen of Outerspace, and gawks at The Giant Behemoth. Volume 2 gets down with women in prison (The Big Cube, Caged, Trog). Volume 3 honors terrorized travelers, notably those trapped in Zero Hour! (the fruitfully preposterous inspiration for Airplane!). Amongst the abundant sword-and-sandal delights of Volume 4 is the spectacle of Lana Turner hamming is up as a pagan priestess in The Prodigal. Those of an auteurist bent should seek out Sergio Leone’s early epic The Colossus of Rhodes and Howard Hawks’s Land of the Pharaohs, an ersatz-Egypt classic as silly as it is spectacular.


1. La Jetée/Sans Soleil. Dir. Chris Marker, 1962/1982. The Criterion Collection Marker’s most famous film is paired with his finest and supplemented by an insightful interview with Jean-Pierre Gorin, a fascinating feature by Luc Lagier on the influence of Vertigo on Marker, notes by the filmmaker, and more.

2. Le Silence de la Mer. Dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949. Region 2. Eureka - Masters of Cinema. Unavailable domestically, Melville’s debut, a minimalist resistance drama, arrives on DVD via an excellent UK label.

3. Climates. Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006. Zeitgeist Films. “A terrific movie in the Antonioni tradition” wrote J. Hoberman of this nuanced breakup drama, a paragon of high-def video elegance.

4. “Cult Camp Classics.” Warner Home Video. Where to begin? Try Howard Hawks’s ersatz-Egypt spectacular Land of the Pharaohs.

5. Miami Vice: Season Five (5-disc set). Universal Studios. Its peak was over, and executive producer Michael Mann had moved on, but you can never have too much Vice, can you?

Commentary Track runs biweekly.

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