SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER, Georges Franju, director/Arrow Blu-ray Here, encapsulated in one cherishable issue, is the absolute justification for the Blu-ray medium: dusting off and restoring films which have been immensely hard to see and which have built up a great anticipation among viewers. This is Franju’s first film after the poetic horror classic Eyes Without a Face, featuring (albeit briefly) the charismatic character actor from that film, Pierre Brasseur. While the film is as visually striking as we would expect from this director, there might be some initial disappointment that the whole thing turns out to be a rather slight Agatha Christiesque murder mystery rather than something as powerful and striking as its predecessor. But it is a particular pleasure to be able to finally encounter the film, and it is given the best possible presentation here, as one would expect from Arrow Films.
THE LEGACY SEASONS 1-3 BOX SET, Various directors/NORDIC NOIR & BEYOND DVD & Blu-ray Box While some Scandinavian crime dramas accrued an instant audience in the UK, others seem destined for a slightly more specialised following. The Legacy, of course, is not really a crime drama, but when I’ve spoken to writers, directors and actors associating the show, I found that nobody was reluctant to be slotted into that category, particularly if it increased the reach of the show. At the core of this modern-day Dickensian drama is its impeccable acting, and that remains the case with Season Three, assembled here with the earlier series in a collectable box. The Legacy first aired on Sky Arts. Signe (Marie Bach Hansen) has big visions and plans to expand her farm with a neighbouring farmer. Emil (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) has moved into Grønnegaard where he among other things takes care of Thomas’ and Isa’s daughter Melody (Smilla My Dahl Hougaard). Gro (Trine Dyrholm) challenges the Art Centre’s conventional thinking and discovers new sides of herself. Frederik (Carsten Bjørnlund) is a success abroad and is hardly ever home, until he has to dive into a complicated investigation filled with emotions. The Legacy is produced by DR Fiktion – the production house that also created The Killing and Borgen. The critically acclaimed drama was developed by Palm D’Or winner Pernilla August, who also directed Episode 9, and created by author Maya Ilsøe.
TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI,etc. Jacques Becker, director/ Studiocanal Some years ago, any recitation of the names of key modern French film directors would not necessarily have included that of Jacques Becker — but how things have changed! His former reputation is now restored beyond doubt, and this opportunity to see some of his key films is welcome indeed. Following on from the Becker season at the BFI. Studiocanal celebrates one of the great unsung heroes of French cinema with the release of four classic Becker titles: Casque d’or, Touchez pas au Grisbi, the UK premiere of Edward and Caroline, and his final masterpiece Le Trou, in a pristine new 4k restoration. Each title features brand new extras. Becker made only thirteen feature films in a relatively short period of time but his body of work contains some of the acknowledged masterpieces of French cinema in the post-war period. Born in Paris in 1906, he began his career as principal assistant to the great Jean Renoir during the 1930s. After surviving a year in a German POW camp in 1942, he started to direct his own films during the Occupation. His mentor’s fondness for realism and an unwavering sense of human decency greatly imbued his work. His films were eclectic and he tackled a variety of different genres putting his own unique spin on comedy, film noir and social drama. A creator of unmatchable, intense atmospheres, Becker practiced impressionism and realism equally, paying as much attention to the historical periods of his tales as he did to the psychology of his characters. Sadly, full appreciation of his work came after his death, and it was his technical and artistic mastery that soon earned him the ‘auteur’ accolade and particularly garnered the admiration of the Nouvelle Vague and its exponents such as Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer.