DVDs and streaming for Nov. 17 by Boo Allen
This week, we begin with Seymour:
Seymour: An Introduction (***)
Ethan Hawke directed this engaging documentary centered on his fascinating and affable friend Seymour Bernstein. Although not a well known name, native New Yorker Bernstein began playing the piano as a child and eventually became a promising concert pianist. But he gave it up to become teacher and mentor to many who still pay tribute to him, including Junko Ichikawa and Marcus Ostermiller. Hawke interviews Bernstein at length and also interviews many touched by him.
Rated PG, 81 minutes.
Extras: a featurette of Bernstein in concert.
Two Men in Town (***)
Three of arguably the most popular French film stars ever appear in this 4k-remastered 1973 feature from writer-director José Giovanni. Sixty-nine year old war hero and national icon Jean Gabin plays Germaine, a soft-hearted social worker who pleads his case, after ten years, for the parole of Gino (Alain Delon, who also produced). Upon Gino’s release, he and his mentor both re-locate to Montpellier where Gino lands a job, tries to go straight, and even finds a girlfriend, Lucie (enigmatic American Mimsy Farmer). But members of Gino’s old gang show up, including a young punk played by Gerard Depardieu. Michel Bouquet, a staple of many Claude Chabrol films, plays Inspector Goitreau. This Javert-like character hounds Gino, believing he will resort to his old ways. The plot follows a familiar outline but with an unexpected third act twist that gives Giovanni a platform to expound philosophically on the basic goodness of humanity.
Not rated, 99 minutes.
Extras: commentary and trailer.
Hotel Paradiso (**1/2)
Alec Guinness stars in this lightweight soufflé from Warner Archive based on one of the door-slamming farces co-written by renowned French playwright Jacques Feydeau along with Maurice Desvallieres. British director Peter Glenville (Becket) co-wrote the script with noted and prolific screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriére. Guinness mugs it up as Monsieur Boniface, a married man in 1900 Paris. He goes through elaborate lengths to have an affair with his married neighbor Madam Cotte (Gina Lollabrigida). Unfortunately for them, they pick the Hotel Paradiso, a shabby and disreputable place for assignations. Others also arrive almost simultaneously, including Madam Cotte’s husband (Robert Morley), a government inspector looking for ghosts, a man and his four daughters, Boniface’s maid Victoire (Ann Beach) and her paramour Maxime (Derek Fowlds). Everyone seems to be avoiding everyone else, running in and out of the rooms and even onto the roof. It is all consistent silliness not overly improved by the willing cast, which includes character actors Leonard Rossiter, Akim Tamiroff, Peggy Mount. Director Glenville frames his film by appearing as playwright Feydeau.
Not rated, 98 minutes.
Matt Shepherd is a Friend of Mine (**1/2)
Michele Josue wrote and directed this compelling documentary about the title subject, the young University of Wyoming student tortured and left for dead while tied to a fence only because he was gay. The shocking 1998 event helped ignite the movement for greater acceptance for the gay and lesbian community. Josue uses the tragedy to flesh out a fuller portrait of her one-time friend Shepard, using extant video footage, home photos, and interviews.
Not rated, 89 minutes.
Swim Little Fish Swim (**)
This overly whimsical romantic-comedy was reportedly a big hit at several film festivals. Naturally. The low budget features cloys for love in its story about an interrupted domestic arrangement between nurse Mary (Brooke Bloom) and her flighty husband Leeward (Dustin Defa). The husband considers himself an artist and musician above it all. At one point, he even refuses work for a commercial. But he will let his wife work to pay the bills to support the family including their three year old daughter. Nineteen year-old French girl Lilas (Lola Bessis) steps into the mix, staying in Leeward and Mary’s New York apartment while trying to avoid the attentions of her famous artist mother in town for an exhibition. The banal music, simplistic effects, and an inane script never add up to much.
Not rated, 95 minutes.
Also on DVD and streaming: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Manhattan Romance, Trash, We Are Your Friends.