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New DVDs: Jacques Demy, Nikkatsu Noir

model shop

Sony has slipped out Jacques Demy’s rare and beautiful “Model Shop” as part of their latest batch of “Martini Movies” — a concept I’m still not clear on, but any excuse to smuggle a forgotten gem like this onto DVD is a good one in my book. A review, plus a quick glance at Criterion/Eclipse’s new “Nikkatsu Noir” box can be found here in the New York Times.

I’ve been in Venice since Wednesday, as a guest of the 66th Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica, aka the Venice Film Festival. If a gap ever opens up in the schedule, I’ll try to post some notes, but for the moment, I’d say the highlights have been “Accident,” a moody thriller from Johnny To’s Milky Way productions directed by Soi Cheang; “Life During Wartime,” Todd Solondz’s delayed sequel to “Happiness”; and “Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story,” a seamless blend of popular melodrama and genuinely courageous politics from Egypt’s Yousry Nasrallah.

Less impressive: Patrice Chereau’s tedious “Persecution,” Werner Herzog’s campy “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” and Giuseppe Tornatore’s predictably shallow and crudely manipulative “Baaria.” Michael Moore’s faux naif “Capitalism: A Love Story” is mainly notable for the absurd lengths Moore goes to in order to avoid pronouncing the potentially audience-alienating word “socialism” — as in the film’s stated moral, “The opposite of capitalism is democracy.”

104 comments to New DVDs: Jacques Demy, Nikkatsu Noir

  • Am looking forward to seeing MODEL SHOP again (last seen on TV circa 1974). Snuck a look at some clips last night.
    The credit sequence is a long backward track down an LA street. It recalls the credits of BAY OF ANGELS. Also, the farewell scene at the train station midway through THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG.
    Both are long moving camera shots, straight forward or back, at fairly high speeds, through complex architecture. The MODEL SHOP track moves along an ocean street, like the credits track in BAY OF ANGELS. The elaborate oil equipment in MODEL SHOP recalls the vertical sign posts along the train in THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG.

    The look at California vernacular architecture in MODEL SHOP recalls the openings of CLASH BY NIGHT (Lang) and EAST OF EDEN (Kazan). This is an “unofficial”, un-modernist kind of building style.

    The opening interior is in vivid blue and red. Blue-and-red tend to have a vibrating quality together, an ultra-vivid combination.

    Later, the rooms inside the model shop are full of bright walls and elaborate wall paper. They recall the interiors in THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG. Their bright red color also evokes the gas station at the end of THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG.

    The young hero / older woman romance also recalls BAY OF ANGELS.
    A man the hero knows is in a yellowish Western shirt, and matching mustache. Demy seems to like guys with “American” looks: see the basketball players in THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT.

  • Barry Putterman

    I recently bought some Columbia films on sale at Deep Discount and found that THE GARMENT JUNGLE is a Martini Movie. This explains a lot about that film I had not previously understood.

    By the way, for those who only want to view rather than purchase MODEL SHOP, TCM will be running it on October 12 at 4:15 P.M. Eastern time as part of their month long salute to Alexandra Hay.

    Just kidding about that last. Obviously, Alexandra Hay isn’t the Star of the Month. Suzanne Benton is the Star of the Month.

  • Peter Henne

    Dave Kehr,

    Monday morning and there’s no new topic. Any new thread coming our way? Hey, don’t you know some of us are addicted to this forum?

    Seriously, I hope that everything is well with our website conductor.

    To David Hare, I look forward to everything you write, even your next manifesto. Kidding. Thank you for sharing your broad knowledge of film history as I learn much from it.