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DVDs: 5 Hip New DVDs From That Hip Decade

3 minute read
Richard Corliss

The 60s are recalled as a time of protest, anger, frenetic activity. But movies, always a bit behind the times, were focused back then on inner rebellion, the slouch of regret. It was when anguish got up from the analyst’s couch and sidled onto the big screen. You can savor these DVDs for the vicarious angst or for the pleasure of seeing some movie lions in their prime. (Exhibit A: Alain Delon. Rawrr.)


Although set in the ’20s, this is the ’60s film par excellence. Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jim (Henri Serre) both love the free-spirited Catherine (Jeanne Moreau), who bunks with each of them. Unofficially remade dozens of times (most recently by Bernardo Bertolucci as The Dreamers), François Truffaut’s 1962 valentine to not-so-free love explored the geometry of the romantic triangle with a scientist’s precision and a poet’s wisdom. The confusions of love never seemed so radiant.


The title promises something wicked. But ’60s sexploitation auteur Joseph W. Sarno (Moonlighting Wives, Sin in the Suburbs) was more interested in the grim wages of sin than in its appealing depiction; this New York writer-director was the Zola of the back streets. His first feature, which he directed in 1963 under the name Anthony Farrar, is a beguiling mix of no-nudity eroticism and supernatural baloney; an aging stripper (June Colbourne) uses an amulet to work her power on men. It doesn’t matter that the actors are not especially attractive, because the movie is about people who, like most of us, only think they’re sexy.


Somehow this acerbic comedy-drama, about a young man’s anomic dalliance with his girlfriend’s mom, got mistaken for 1967’s feel-good romance (and its sardonic theme song for a love song). It’s better seen as New York City’s joke on the California dream, by stage veterans Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft and director Mike Nichols. The film caps its triumphal happy ending by having its lovers stare into the future and the suburban, plastic life yawning at them. THE WILD RIDE He was just 23 in 1960, but Jack Nicholson had already perfected the Jack Nicholson attitude: the bedroom eyes, the insult of a pearly smile, the preter-natural cocksureness. “I don’t break the law,” he sneers at a cop. “I make my own.” Director Harvey Berman’s earnest melodrama, about a teen rebel due for his comeuppance, is fun for its glimpse of Baby Jack’s crystalline ego. When he’s dumped by a married woman, he tells her, “Honey, you’re a bad loser.”


Michelangelo Antonioni was the high priest of low-energy cinema, of beautiful people who had the time and money to back out of commitment–who could afford to be miserable. This 1962 antidrama is a prime example of what critic Andrew Sarris labeled “Antoniennui.” Monica Vitti, ravishingly blank, and gorgeous Alain Delon try, but not too hard, to lock destinies, framed in beautiful shots that have their own dry passion. L’Eclisse is a monster movie in which the evil creature is stirring, almost sleeping, within us. –By Richard Corliss

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