Return of the Knife: Four Films by Claude Chabrol (1997-2003, France, Arrow Video, 4 Blu-ray, NR, 422 min.). This is the second Chabrol released by Arrow, after the fifth film “Lies and Deceit,” and the four films here have similar elements, including the murderous plot, even after his Professionally, Chabrol based his films on the crimes and failures of bourgeois provincial life. Isabelle Huppert, who starred in Chabrol’s “Madame Bovary,” plays half of a scam artist in the play “The Swindle” and an assassin in “Nightcap.” The other two films are “The Color of Lies,” about an artist under suspicion of murder, and “The Flower of Evil,” about a family full of lies. and sexual intercourse. Individual reviews are included, although the exceptions are, as usual, very good and include an 80-page book of the new document.
“The Swindle” (1997, 105 min.) see Huppert playing Betty, a scam artist we first see picking up a man at a roulette table, then secretly exploiting him in her hotel room, in front of her boyfriend Victor (Michel Serrault of “La Cage aux Folles”) shows up to relieve the man of his money and help him make a letter. As they say, like a tax, they take a small amount of money, so the one who is seen does not know its absence. Interestingly, the relationship between Betty and Victor is not explained. They can be father and daughter or lovers, but they are definitely a good team.
As the film moves to Switzerland, Betty has a new sign, a lover, that she has been working with for a year. He is taking $5 million in Swiss francs for his secret agents. Played by Francois Cluzet, Maurice is planning to leave with Betty and the money, he says. In a funny scene, when Maurice wears dark glasses, Betty tells him that he looks like Peter Sellers, which I think.
There is a place with a second briefcase and the two may not have been exchanged, since Victor secretly boarded the plane to Guadeloupe. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Mr. K (Jean-Francois Balmer of “Madame Bovary”) and his thugs to Betty and Victor and demand money or missing body parts. Find Mr. K as an alternative in two other examples.
Others include audio commentary by critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan; a new documentary by the expert Catherine Dousteyssler-Khoze (14:36); a new interview with Chabrol’s daughter and assistant director Cecile Mainstre-Chabrol (38:11); and an archival interview with Huppert (25:38). Each film comes with a short introduction by Joel Magny; Visual concept by Chabrol; behind-the-scenes footage; and a gallery. Rating: 3 star movie
“The Color of Lies” (1998, 112 min.). In a small town on the Breton coast, a 10-year-old girl is murdered after her regular art lesson with artist Rene Sterne (an excellent Jacques Gamblin). The police (new Inspector Lesage, played by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, whose voice I find annoying) questions Sterne and soon rumors spread through town that he is the killer, and it is separate. Meanwhile, Sterne’s wife Vivianne (Sandrine Bonnaire of Chabrol’s “La Ceremonie,” with Huppert) begins dating the famous writer/novelist Germain Desmot (Antoine de Caunes), who is a cad and know-it-all. That’s what annoys Rene. Later in the film, a second death ties things up.
Extras include an audio commentary by Forshaw and Hogan and an insightful essay by film critic Scout Tafoya (13:57). Rating: 2 star movie
“Nightcap” aka “Merci Pour le Chocolat” (2000, 100 min.). Here, Huppert plays Mika Muller, who we see is marrying pianist Andre Polonski (Jacques Dutronc of “Van Gogh,” an earlier hit) for the second time. Guillaume (Rodolphe Pauly, who played Victor in “The Color of Lies” lives with them, and also in “The French Dispatch”). Guillaume’s mother Lisbeth was killed while asleep at the wheel in a car accident, possibly due to drug overdose.
The scene then switches to Jeanne Pollet (Anna Mouglalis), an aspiring pianist who learns at lunch that she briefly believes she is Andre’s son due to a hospital mix-up. Thinking that she might be Andre’s daughter, Jeanne shows up at her home, where she is well received by Mika and given a lesson from Andre. Guillaume is no better. While there, Jeanne believes she saw Mika just spilling Guillaume’s night chocolate. Jeanne leads to the idea that the drink has increased and since she found something on her clothes, she tests her boyfriend and he finds some Rohypnol, which is a drug.
Since I didn’t trust Mika from the beginning, I bought into Jeanne’s skepticism, even though Guillaume didn’t believe him when he was told. As in the fourth film, the circumstances of the first murder are reconstructed by the one who got away with the first crime. This is the strongest of the four films.
Others include audio commentary by film critic Justine Smith; a new documentary by film critic Tafoya (11:15); archival interviews with Huppert (7:06) and Dutronc (32:02); and the Mouglalis defensive try (10:33). Rating: 3.5 star movie
“The Flower of Evil” (2003, 104 min.). During the opening, the camera was seen inside the main house, looking through most of the rooms and showing a young girl being pinned to the window and on top of the body. of a dead man. When the film returns to the same scene 85 minutes later, one thinks at first that it is a flash-forward, but it is actually 1945, when the father of the family is killed, where non-Nazi sympathizer.
After the credits, we see Francois (Benoit Magimel), who has spent the last four years in America, being picked up at the airport by his father Gerard (Bernard Le Coq of “Van Gogh”). Francois went to America to avoid work because of his love for his sister/brother Michelle (Melanie Doutey), but they are sure to be together now that he is back. Gerard marries Anne (Nathalie Baye), Michelle’s mother, after two of their spouses from the same family die in a car accident. Gerard is a deceitful woman who deceives Anne, running for the city council and the mayoralty, but it seems that he is in love with the guard / assistant Matthieu (Thomas Chabrol of his father ” The Color of Lies,” “Betty,” “Madame Bovary”).
Gerard is upset that he ran into the office and Michelle thinks he may have written the malicious letter accusing the family of the death and the operation. Anne and Matthieu asked for elections in a council estate, where the poor lived.
Another important family member is Aunt Line (an excellent Suzanne Flon), who is on the sidelines with the young man and doesn’t like Gerard. Aunt Line has a house on the beach.
Others include audio commentary by film critic Farran Smith Nahme; a new visual tribute to Chabrol by Agnes Poirier (14:30); and an interview with Caroline Eliacheff (also “La Ceremonie,” “Nightcap”). Rating: 3 star movie
Rating guide: 5 stars = average; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = good; Dog = skip it
Constantine: House of Mystery (DC/Warner Bros., Blu-ray, R, 75 min.). This release includes four animated shorts based on DC comics. The longest (26:42) is the title video, which benefits from having Constantine’s regular TV voice, namely the great Matt Ryan. It offers many ways – some of them fun – in which his friends-turned-demons kill him. The short is a direct follow-up to “Apokolips War,” with Constantine asking the Flash to help reset time, which hurts the god-like Spectre.
The best part is “Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth” (18:03), lovingly rendered in colors and style by artist Jack Kirby. In a post-apocalyptic world, Kamandi must try, while helping friend and foe to survive together. Like all four, the short does not end the story, but the worst part is “The Losers” (16:03), the World War II of World War II stuck on an island with a vision. time, like the dinosaurs. Best of the bunch is the campy “Blue Beetle” (15:30), even though it has a theme song. Working with the Question, Blue Beetle fights Dr. Spectro and his mind control machine.
Bonus is an action scene (16:02). Rating: Constantine 2.75 stars; Kamandi 3.5 stars; Lose 2 stars; Blue Beetle stars 1.5
Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has been reviewing music since 1972, after graduating from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He has been watching videos/DVDs since 1988.