French Drama ‘Hold Me Tight’ Coming to Digital Retailers, DVD and Blu-ray Disc Nov. 22

The French woman-in-crisis drama Hold Me Tight, from director Mathieu Amalric, will be released to home audiences in November by Kino Lorber.

The 2021 film will be available to buy or rent digitally on Kino Now on Nov. 8 and will be released on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and all major digital platforms two weeks later, on Nov. 22.

The DVD will carry a suggested retail price of $19.95, with the Blu-ray Disc retailing for $29.95.

The film is in French and German, with English subtitles.

In Hold Me Tight, Vicky Krieps stars as Clarisse, a woman on the run from her family for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. Widely renowned as one of France’s great contemporary actors but less well-known in North America for his equally impressive work behind the camera, Amalric’s sixth feature as director is considered his most ambitious to date. The film alternates between Clarisse’s adventures on the road and scenes of her abandoned husband Marc (Arieh Worthalter) as he struggles to take care of their children at home. 

Bonus features include an audio commentary by director Amalric (in French, with English subtitles); an interview with Krieps and Amalric; photo galleries; and a Q&A with Krieps and Amalric at the Angelika Film Center.

Kino Lorber to Release French Classics ‘Felix and Lola,’ ‘Love Street’ Nov. 1

Kino Lorber Nov. 1 will release a double feature of romantic classics by French director Patrice Leconte, Felix and Lola and Love Street, on Blu-ray Disc.

Released under the Cohen Film Collection banner, the disc carries a suggested retail price (SRP) of $29.95. 

The two films will also be available digitally Nov. 1 on the Kino Now website.

Both come in French with English subtitles.

In Felix and Lola (2001), bumper car operator Felix (Philippe Torreton) falls in love with Lola (Charlotte Gainsbourg) one night as she rides the cars round and round, alone. He’s touched by the sadness in her eyes. When she vanishes, he discovers that she’s tied to a mysterious past — a past that he will have to confront.

Love Street (2002) is set in 1945 Paris, where the Oriental Palace brothel is about to be closed down. Marion (Laetitia Casta) is one of the Palace’s prostitutes, but she dreams of a singing career. Petit Louis (Patrick Timsit) was raised in brothels and is the Palace’s handyman. He is madly in love with Marion, but knows she will never be his, so he tries to make her dreams of another life come true.

Both films come with audio commentary tracks by Wade Major, producer and host of the DigiGods podcast and film critic for CineGods.com and KPCC FilmWeek.

Cohen Film Collection Sets Aug. 31 Blu-ray Disc, DVD Release Dates for Two French Alain Delon Films

Cohen Film Collection has announced an Aug. 31 Blu-ray Disc and DVD release of “Three Men to Kill,” a double feature of two classic French crime dramas starring Alain Delon, the French actor and screen sex symbol of the 1960s and ’70s.

The collection will consist of  the movies The Gang (1977) and Three Men to Kill (1980), and will retail at $19.95 (DVD) and $29.95 (Blu-ray). 

The Gang: In 1945, as World War Two comes to a close, five small-time crooks unite to form a gang led by the charismatic Delon. After several bold robberies they become notorious as “the front-wheel drive gang.” The police attempt to stop their crime spree with little success, but the gang’s luck won’t last forever.

Three Men to Kill (1980): In this gritty, violent and suspenseful thriller, Delon plays Gerfaut, who comes to the aid of a man laying wounded in the road, not knowing the man has taken two bullets to the belly. Soon he becomes the target of the killers, who see him as a dangerous witness. But Gerfaut has been around the block a couple of times and he won’t be so easily eliminated. 

Both films were directed by Jacques Deray and have been fully restored. They are in French, with English subtitles.

Netflix Opens New Paris Office

Netflix has opened a new Paris office in the 9th arrondissement.

“This new office reflects Netflix’s long-term commitment to France’s creative community, including over 20 French productions in 2020,” according to a company press release.

The French HQ is Netflix’s fourth office in Europe. Netflix France currently employs 40 people, across films and series, partnerships and marketing.

“It is a real honor to be in France, with its rich culture and history of storytelling,” said Reed Hastings, founding chairman and CEO of Netflix, in a statement. “This office is a sign of our long-term commitment to the country and will enable us to work even more closely with the French creative community on great shows and films that are made in France and watched all around the world.”

Netflix has, since launching in France in 2014, developed 24 French titles, including six films, nine series, five stand-up shows, three documentaries and one unscripted series, according to the release.

“2019 was a year of great success for original stories in France,” according to the release, citing the horror and YA sci-fi series “Marianne” and “Mortel,” comedies “Plan Coeur” and “Family Business,” the film Banlieusards, and the documentary series Grégory.

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French content executives unveiled several original shows to be produced by Netflix over the coming years as well as a range of series and films made by production partners for Netflix. They include:

  • BigBug, the new film by César Award Winner Jean-Pierre Jeunet that is a comedy set in the future with a cast including César Award Winner Elsa Zylberstein, César Award Nominee Isabelle Nanty, and Manu Payet;
  • A six-part series being developed by screenwriter Fanny Herrero following the lives of four young comedians trying to make it in the Paris stand-up scene.
  • The renewal (Season 2) of the original YA Sci-fi series “Mortel.”
  • Sentinelle, an action film starring Olga Kurylenko, directed by Julien Leclercq (Braqueurs and La Terre et le Sang).

This adds to a range of original shows already announced for 2020:

  • “Arsène Lupin,”starring Omar Sy, and created by George Kay in collaboration with François Uzan.
  • “La Révolution,” a historical thriller series created by Aurélien Molas.
  • “The Eddy,”Damien Chazelle’s series created by Jack Thorne, that reunites Leïla Bekhti and Tahar Rahim.
  • “Vampires,” starring Oulaya Amamra and Suzanne Clément, and created by Benjamin Dupas and Isaure Pisani-Ferry.
  • Two documentaries, one about Nicolas Anelka, developed by Franck Nataf, and the other featuring Maître Gims, directed by Florent Bodin.

“We are incredibly proud of the productions we’re currently filming, the ones we are developing and the ones we’ve unveiled today. The establishment of a new French creative hub brings new opportunities for us to work with the best and most exciting creative talent in France and to bring diverse genres and content to everyone who loves French storytelling,” added Damien Couvreur, Netflix’s director of series in France, in a statement.

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Netflix also announced a series of partnerships with major French creative institutions. Those partnerships include:

  • Strengthening Netflix’s existing partnership with La Fémis by supporting their Residency program, an 11-month full-time training course that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into film and TV.
  • 1000 visages, an association founded in 2006 by Houda Benyamina, which provides a number of training programs in the visual arts and promotes access to jobs within the creative industries. Netflix will become the main partner in the program dedicated to series’ screenwriting, to be launched in January 2020. Houda Benyamina is also the director of two episodes of “The Eddy.”
  • Since 2019, Netflix has partnered with GOBELINS L’École de l’Image, giving one graduate every year the opportunity to work alongside Netflix’s animation experts in Japan. In addition, Netflix will now contribute to Gobelins’ training program by funding four-year scholarships for five students as part of their Master of Arts in Character Animation and Animated Filmmaking.

The Return of Martin Guerre

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Cohen;
Drama;
$22.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Gerard Depardieu, Nathalie Baye.

You don’t need stolen credit card numbers or bank information to engage in identity theft, a reality that extends backwards in screen history well beyond “Mad Men” icon Don Draper to possibly even French tillers of land. And it’s this “possibly” part in 1982’s The Return of Martin Guerre that provides the drama, as it looks at the effect its title’s mysterious not-exactly-stranger has on a 16th-century village. A onetime arthouse hit that Hollywood later modified and more or less remade, it boasts two international stars, one or two familiar faces from French cinema and a lot of cackling chickens who’d probably be crossing the road if there were any roads here beyond modest horse paths.

Despite all this activity, I’m most struck here by the most pleasing 4K treatment we get in the latest Blu-ray release from Cohen Media Group, a distributor that so often seems to make foreign-language films look even better than I remember from their original theatrical engagements. Of course, there was a little to work with here. Anne-Marie Marchand’s costume design for a film without a whole lot of cafe society got an Oscar nomination, losing to Fanny and Alexander (well, you can’t fight that one), while the production design (Alain Negre) took one of MG’s three Cesar Awards.

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A major spear-header of the production was director Daniel Vigne, who also co-authored the screenplay (with Bunuel favorite Jean-Claude Carriere) from a real-life story that has inspired varied stage/screen riffs in different settings over the years even beyond Hollywood’s take. This comes directly from the Blu-ray’s bonus interview of the picture’s female lead Nathalie Baye, an actress one always sensed even way back when would age gracefully (and indeed she has). Her character is in a grin-and-bear-it marriage with Martin — though, actually, there isn’t too much grinning in this picture other than during celebrations one of which takes place when Martin, uh, returns.

Told in flashback, the story’s anchor is the final debriefing between Baye’s character (Bertrande) and a judge of note (Roger Planchon, one of those familiar French-actor faces I mentioned) over what we’ve just seen transpire. Husband Martin is inadequate in multiple ways, and one day he up and disappears for years. When he returns after fighting for years in some vague war, he looks a little different from what folks had remembered. But no one seems to notice much, even his wife — though because Gerard Depardieu is playing him, it’s safe to say that he probably would look different from just about any other human specimen you could name. Helping to mitigate any doubts is the minute personal information he carries around — details about his marriage ceremony, scars and moles, those kinds of things.

The old Martin was not without controversy — he abandoned his wife, for one thing — but comes from a kind of “connected” clan and had no shortage of friends or friendly acquaintances. There was always a little tension between him and his well-heeled uncle, but things are now going smoothly, and especially with wife Bertrande. Until, that is, Martin/Depardieu raises the issue over money he thinks he’s owed by his elder relative, which has a way of destroying family harmony. Also around this time comes an accusation by a couple stray vagabonds that Depardieu’s new-and-improved Martin isn’t Martin at all but an imposter they recognize from their wanderings. These aren’t guys with whom you’d trust your last onion, but they plant just enough doubt that at least some of the populace begins to note certain inconsistencies with their memories. (Up till then, the village has been pretty big on groupthink.)

This leads to a trial to that consumes a lot of the movie — one with enough back-and-forth and ambushing surprises emerging to send William Talman’s “Perry Mason” character (Hamilton Burger, which always cracked me up from a nickname POV) to the men’s room on a continual loop. Even so, this is less interesting than the human dynamics here. They give the movie a little extra kick and enabled it to catch on to a degree in the U.S. at a time when a solid French movie could still get booked into single-screen theater in a gray-matter city and wangle a multi-month run.

The 1993 remake, shoehorned into a Civil War setting, was Sommersby. Roger Ebert had a point in his published pan when he said the update made its central conceit (that so many acquaintances could find themselves uncertain one way or another) tougher to swallow than it is in a predecessor set in medieval times. Still, the chemistry was so good between Richard Gere and Jodie Foster that the result still ranks among the most tolerable of the European retreads. Think of the stillborn attempts of Hollywood to have its way with France’s Diabolique and Germany’s Wings of Desire (which was called City of Angels, if you’ve forgotten — and if you haven’t, why not?).

Martin Guerre isn’t among my true favorite foreign-language releases of the period — Danton, which would soon follow with Depardieu, is — but it’s deftly planed-and-sanded and, as mentioned, looks most handsome on the home screen. I had forgotten that Depardieu took the ’83 best actor citation from the National Society of Film Critics, though it was an award shared with his performance in that same Andrzej Wajda epic about George Jacques Danton’s French equivalent of “mano a mano” with Maximilien Robespierre. That one hasn’t gotten an American Blu-ray release but is available in a couple all-region imports.

Mike’s Picks: ‘When We Were Kings’ and ‘The Return of Martin Guerre’