La Haine Is the Pick of the Week

My wife teaches French at university while I stay at home and raise our one-year-old daughter. It is an unconventional set-up I suppose, but for the most part I rather like it. This semester has been tough though. She is teaching seven different classes where she normally teaches about four or five. The extra work load means that she stays longer at work and when she comes home she normally has tests to write or papers to grade. All of which puts extra work on me, managing the house and taking care of the kid. This week is finals week, which will be extra crazy, but afterwards we’ll have a long summer of nothing to do but watch movies and go to concerts.

The wife and I have pretty different tastes in films. I have an undying love for violent horror flicks full of gore and rampant nudity, while she gravitates towards Jane Austen adaptations. Sometimes this sees us arguing over what we should watch together, but there is enough overlap that we can usually find something to agree upon. This week doesn’t have much to offer all around, and nothing that we’d both agree upon, but it does have something for each of us. As I like to appear smarter than I actually am, and more cultured than I have any right to be, my pick is going to be hers, but I’ll talk about mine too.

La Haine is a French film about racial and cultural volatility in France. Set in the slums of Paris it explores the life of three immigrants who are marginalized and downbeaten until each of their situations comes to a boil. It got high praise from critics and Criterion has restored it in high definition. I’m calling this one my wife’s pick, but really it sounds quite interesting to me as well, though it is one of those films that I know I’ll have to be in the mood for and that mood doesn’t often come. Depressed isn’t really a mood I go looking for.

Extras include an English-language audio commentary by Kassovitz, an introduction by actor Jodie Foste, an 80 minute documentary that brings the cast and crew back together, a featurette on the setting with several sociologists, deleted and extended scenes, trailers, a photo gallery, and a booklet.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Elvira’s Movie Macabre: Wild Women: This is just for me. As mentioned I have a great affection for bad horror movies and Elvira’s long legs and exuberant cleavage bring great memories of my teenage years (come to think of it those legs just might be the reason I have a fondness for bad horror movies.) This set includes for b-movies where the women are wild. Or something.

Ganja and Hess (Kino Classics): Intended to be just another blaxploitation horror film, it turned out to be a complex, artistic, and misunderstood vampire odyssey. It quickly bombed on release and was cut up and released under at least seven other names. A complete cut was found in the New York Museum of Modern Art and Kino is now releasing it on DVD.

Mat Brewster

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