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Headsup: From Across the Pond


Out soon are two releases from European artists:


Jacques Rivette CollectionFirst we have a collection of some of the lesser-known films of Jacques Rivette, a French film director and critic famed for his work during the New Wave movement in French cinema in the 1950s and 60s.  Rivette began his career as a filmmaker at age twenty and over the course of his career made twenty-nine films (including notable titles L’amour fou (1969), Out 1 (1971), Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), and La Belle Noiseuse (1991) ).  Now available from Arrow Academy is The Jacques Rivette Collection, a trio of films from the latter part of his career.  In 1975, Rivette and Stéphane Tchal Gadjieff (producer from Out 1) again joined forces with the goal of creating a love story, an adventure, a fantasy thriller, and a musical as a quartet of interconnected films dubbed Scènes de la vie parallèle, with each revolving around two central female characters.  Unfortunately, after the back-to-back filming of Noroît (an adventure story of two pirates) and Duelle (a fantasy about the Queen of the Night and the Queen of the Sun) in the spring of 1975, Rivette suffered a breakdown a few days into production for Marie et Julien (which would have been the love story in the series); the director later said that he “broke down physically” and “had overestimated [his] own strength”.  After a year of recovery, the idea of the film quartet was abandoned and Rivette turned to Merry-Go-Round (a surreal detective film), which ran into multiple production problems and though shot in 1978 was not completed until 1981.

The Jacques Rivette Collection is housed in a limited edition boxset which contains Blu-ray and DVD copies of Noroît, Duelle, and Merry-Go-Round in brand-new 2K restorations with (optional) newly-translated English subtitles.  There are also a few extras, including Scenes from a Parallel Life: Jacques Rivette Remembers (an archived interview with Rivette discussing all three films), Remembering Duelle (where actresses Bulle Ogier and Hermine Karagheuz share memories from working on Duelle), and an interview with film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum (who reported from the film sets of both Noroît and Duelle).  The set also features an exclusive book with writing on the films by Mary M. Wiles, Brad Stevens and Nick Pinkerton along with a reprint of four on-set reports from Duelle and Noroît.  An additional packaging bonus is the reversible sleeves with newly-commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick.  Even though these three films are not Rivette’s most well known, they are each available for free viewing on Amazon Prime (those without a membership can rent or buy for $3.99 / $10.99 respectively), so you could actually own all three films for around $33.  You do, of course, have the bonus content and the packaging extras if you get the limited edition boxset, but considering it currently goes for $51.38 on Amazon, it’s worth considering if those features are worth spending an additional $19 or not.


King Charles III DVDNext we have King Charles III, a Masterpiece/BBC screen adaptation of the critically acclaimed 2014 play written by Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster, Doctor Who) and directed by Rupert Goold (The Hollow Crown) which tells the hypothetical story of what happens when Britain’s current Prince of Wales becomes King of England following his mother’s record-setting reign as the longest serving monarch in the country’s history.  As if envisioning the passing of a living (and much beloved) monarch weren’t enough of a challenge, Bartlett also chose to write the play in blank verse, which sounds to many on the surface to simply be pleasantly mellifluous language but is actually unrhymed iambic pentameter (the same linguistic meter pattern used in Shakespearean plays).  Starring the recently-departed Tim Pigott-Smith (The Jewel in the Crown, Downton Abbey) in the title role, the production also features Oliver Chris (Breathless) as Prince William, Charlotte Riley (In the Heart of the Sea, Peaky Blinders) as Kate Middleton, Richard Goulding (Ripper Street) as Prince Harry, Tamara Lawrance (Undercover) as Harry’s love interest Jess Edwards, Margot Leicester (MI-5) as Camilla Parker Bowles, and Adam James (Grantchester, Doctor Foster) as the British prime minister, Tristan Evans.

The original play (also directed by Rupert Goold and involving several of the same cast members as the screen version) opened at the Almeida Theatre in London in April 2014.  Even with a run time of close to three hours, the show was a hit, not only enjoying the prestige of a two-month extension of its originally scheduled West End run but also winning Best New Play accolades from both the Laurence Olivier Awards and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards.  The play then began a UK tour and in late 2015 moved to Broadway for a limited engagement with the London cast, earning Drama Desk and Tony nominations for best play, best leading actor, best featured actor, best direction, and best costumes.  A new production of the play began in February of this year at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC, directed by David Muse and starring Robert Joy as King Charles.

The screen version (which, by the way, is a comparatively brief 90 minutes) will be out on DVD on June 27 and is available for pre-order via PBS for $24.99.  I think it’s a fairly safe bet that Amazon will have lower pricing when they put it up, though, so unless you’re in a big hurry, maybe wait and do a bit of price comparison.  Perhaps even more important price-wise is the fact that Amazon does already have an available streaming option for those who wish to rent ($3.99) or buy ($9.99) digitally, so you may want to look at one of those more immediate (and more economic) options.