Retail dvd (optimum releasing, widescreen)

Historias Minimas

Low-key Argentinian road movie of sorts from director Carlos Sorin. A lost dog provides the impetus for an old man to amble off on a slow journey: he's not really looking for doggie, he's hunting meaning and a decent way to die. New friends shuffle about and there's much sentiment which would be panned if this was a Hollywood flick.

The Man Without A Past

Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's maverick reputation is built on a series of inspired, lugubrious comic gems, but this latest film—about a coma victim who wakes up with no memory of his past life—suggests he's in need of a new direction. The film looks terrific, but the gags are mannered and the story twee. Not so much deadpan as dead dull, it's a film about an amnesiac that's appropriately forgettable.

A Touch Of Zen

Originally re-edited and released in two parts, King Hu's lengthy 1969 spiritual kung-fu masterpiece here appears as the director intended. The first half is slow, as an underachieving artist meets a beautiful damsel in a haunted fort. Then the fighting begins. Less concerned with special effects than the communication of "zen" through the feeling of the film, it's a truly beautiful piece. DVD EXTRAS: Filmographies, director's notes.Rating Star


Mike Figgis' one-take, four-camera, split-screen Hollywood satire is avant-garde without being pretentious, innovative without being wearisome. Here, like a Dogme remix of The Player, Figgis and his nimble cast ridicule the aching venality of the movie industry over one long and ultimately homicidal November afternoon.

Boudu Saved From Drowning

Jean Renoir's 1932 blueprint for Paul Mazursky's heavy-handed 1986 remake Down And Out In Beverly Hills stars Michel Simon as a Parisian tramp rescued from suicidal despair by kindly bookseller Charles Granval. Simon's ungrateful Boudu takes over Granval's house, wife and life, exposing his bourgeois complacency. Enduring, Chaplin-esque social satire. DVD EXTRAS: Introduction by Renoir, essay on the film, trailer for the Mazursky remake. Rating Star

Europa Europa

When, in '91, this wasn't nominated for a best foreign film Oscar, nearly every living German director signed a protest letter. Agnieszka Holland hasn't since matched the story of a Polish Jew who pretends to be a Nazi in order to survive. Suspenseful and sensitive, it avoids traps which even Polanski's The Pianist falls into.

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