Retail dvd & video (metro tartan, widescreen)

Le Souffle

Angst on the farm in the debut from young French auteur Damien Odoul, a simultaneously harsh and dreamlike account of the coming of age of Pierre-Louis Bonnetblanc, a confused, alienated teen trapped on his uncle's dilapidated spread, where older farmhands introduce him to liquor and mannish ways, with ruinous results. Shot in pristine monochrome, it's a memorable experience, aiming, albeit a little self-consciously, toward a surreal poetry.

A Revengers Tragedy

Alex Cox's gory update of Thomas Middleton's 1607 play about anarcho-nutter royal assassins. The ghost of Derek Jarman clearly lurks behind Cox's ambitious vision of Liverpool as a post-punk, retro-futurist city state. Christopher Eccleston spits nails as the hard-bastard anti-hero, but not even Eddie Izzard, Derek Jacobi and Sophie Dahl can lift the drama above flawed curio level.

Respiro

Another reworking of the Betty Blue mythology, with the always watchable Valeria Golino as the Sicilian free spirit who is deemed nuts by her husband and run out of town for such sins as spontaneity and unconventionality. Sun-baked scenery and a lurch into magical realism at the end makes it more than the sum of its parts.

A Snake Of June

Mesmerising Japanese study of voyeurism and eroticism. Shot in black and white but colourfully performed by Asuka Kurosawa as a repressed wife who's blackmailed by a stranger into—wait for it—masturbating in public places. In lesser hands it'd be tat, but there's a Cronenberg-like claustrophobia to the seediness. Porn, then, but arty porn.

The Happiness Of The Katakuris

Truly wonderful Japanese black comedy about a nice family who open a quiet B&B in the mountains, only to watch all their guests accidentally perish in increasingly macabre ways. Utterly barking stuff, this has something for everyone—surreal musical numbers with dancing zombies, claymation sequences and an exploding volcano! With movies like this around, who needs drugs?
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