Fists in the Pocket is the Pick of the Week

A darkly funny 1965 slap in the face to family values headlines a week of releases.
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Director Marco Bellocchio's 1965 savage masterpiece, Fists in the Pocket, remains argubly the most definitive portrait of brutal family dysfunction in the history of cinema. It was like a swan dive into a pit of needles and razor wire, as it dealt with subject matter that most of us could actually relate to. Many people (myself included) wish that they could escape the families they were born into. Unfortunately, the impulse of doing away with the folks can sometimes lead to murder and mayhem. This theme occurs as Alessandro (a brilliant Lou Castel), a young epileptic man who tries to save his older brother Augusto (the only "sane" member) from suffering the same fate, by killing the rest of the family so that he can be free to marry his beautiful fiancee. As some type of divine intervention, Alessandro suffers a seizure and his only sister Giulia, refuses to save him.

I had only seen it once a few years ago on Turner Classic Movies, but that was enough to be completely transfixed on its black-and-white menace. I haven't forgotten it since. For the first time on Blu-ray from Criterion, I and others will be able to experience its rather perverse relevance for many years to come. Most of the few supplements are vintage (coming from the original DVD), such as the trailer and interviews from 2005 with Bellocchio, cast members Castel and Paola Pitagora, editor Silvano Agosti, critic Tullio Kezich, and filmmaker Bernado Bertolucci. However, only on the new Blu-ray is a new interview with scholar Stefano Albertini. In my opinion, this should be a very worthy addition to anyone's film collection!

Other releases:

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Kino): Louis Mazzini (a sublime Dennis Price) tries to murder all eight members of his family (all played by the great Sir Alec Guinness) standing between him and the family fortune, with darkly funny results.

The Lavender Hill Mob (Kino): Guinness plays a meek clerk who joins an eccentric neighbor (Stanley Holloway) to smuggle gold bars out of the country, which hilariously doesn't go as planned.

The Man in the White Suit (Kino): Guinness plays a friendly chemist who invents a long-lasting fabric to help humanity, but as usual the greedy bad guys want it all to themselves.

Booksmart (Fox): Two academic teens and best friends, on the eve of their high school graduation, realize that they should have had more fun and less study. They set out and try to cram all four years into one game-changing night.

Dogtooth (Kino): Three siblings (two sisters and their brother) are imprisioned in their own home by their duplicitous parents, who believe that the outside world will corrupt them. The oldest sister tries to rebel against it, which leads to bizarre consequences.

Alps (Kino): A group of people start a business where they pretend to be the deceased family members of the clients they are helping through the grieving process.

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