Top Film Picks on DVD/Blu-ray: Suspenseful Set 'Twisting the Knife'; 'France'; and More

LJ's film columnist picks the month's top indie and foreign films, now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

France. 133 min. In French, German & English w/English subtitles. Kino Lorber. 2021. DVD UPC 738329257552. $19.99; Blu-ray UPC 738329257569. $29.99. DRAMA

After carelessly injuring a delivery driver, self-absorbed TV journalist France de Meurs (Léa Seydoux) finds her life begin to unravel. In a blunt putdown of star-driven newsgathering reliant on careful staging, writer-director Bruno Dumount hits an easy target while taking advantage of his talented leading lady to create a vulnerable professional woman wrestling with work and personal life. Although not always sympathetic, France emerges as an interestingly conflicted character. VERDICT No Time to Die co-star Seydoux may get Bond fans to read subtitles.

Josep. 74 min. In French & Spanish w/ English subtitles. Icarus, dist. by Distrib Films. 2020. DVD UPC 85456500379. $26.98. DRAMA

Artist Josep Bartolí fled his native Spain for France in 1939 after Franco’s rise to power, ending up in an appalling refugee concentration camp where he developed an unlikely friendship with a guard who provided him with pencil and paper. In his feature-film debut, prize-winning editorial cartoonist Aurel (né Aurélien Froment) applies his simple but expressive sketch-style technique to a moving biopic which won the César Award for Best Animated Film. VERDICT Given its tough subject matter, this unrated but essentially “hard” PG-13 film is apt for mature audiences.

Miracle in Milan. 94 min. In Italian w/ English subtitles. Criterion Collection. 1951. DVD UPC 715515270816. $29.95; Blu-ray UPC 715515270717. $39.95 DRAMA

A community of vagabonds squatting on the outskirts Milan is threatened by land developers when oil is found beneath their shantytown. Touched by an angel, the preternaturally upbeat Totò (Francesco Golisano) arrives on the scene with some magic up his sleeve to help out the downtrodden. Following his masterful Bicycle Thieves (1948) with this humorous blend of neo-realism and fantasy, Vittorio De Sica thwarts expectations raised by his grittier efforts, including Shoeshine (1946). VERDICT Collections with vintage foreign films should include this near classic.

Red Rocket. 120 min. Lionsgate. 2021. DVD UPC 031398333289. $19.95; Blu-ray UPC 031398333296. $21.99. Rated: R. DRAMA

A petered-out adult film star, fortysomething Mikey (Simon Rex) returns from L.A. to his Texas hometown where he is reluctantly taken in by his estranged wife and mother-in-law. Unable to land a 9–5 job, the fast-talking hustler sells dope to finance a comeback with a red-headed donut-shop clerk named Strawberry who may be his next screen partner. Writer-director Sean Baker (The Florida Project; Tangerine) creates a raucously funny dramedy out of dodgy material. VERDICT Film Independent Spirit Award winner Rex ought to win over skeptical viewers.

Twisting the Knife: Four Films by Claude Chabrol. 4 discs. In French w/English subtitles. Arrow. 1997-2003. Blu-ray UPC 760137101130. $99.95. DRAMA

This follow-up collection to Lies and Deceit (LJ 4/22) starts off with The Swindle (1997), which pairs a dapper old gent (Michel Serrault) with a young femme fatale (Isabelle Huppert) for an odd couple of small-time con artists who get in over their heads. A girl’s murder throws suspicion on a village painter (Jacques Gamblin) in The Color of Lies (1999), testing the resilience of his wife (Sandrine Bonnaire). In Nightcap (2000), family secrets imperil a woman (Isabelle Huppert) who remarries her first husband (Jacques Dutronc). Finally, in The Flower of Evil (2003) family skeletons also emerge as the theme with a married couple (Nathalie Baye, Bernard Le Coq) whose former spouses died in an auto crash. VERDICT For foreign film buffs interested in suspenseful genre films exploring the enigmas of human nature.

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