Today's DVDs: Léon Morin, Priest and Source Code
Léon Morin, Priest stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Emmanuelle Riva, Jean-Pierre Melville directs.
The set up: A priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo) in a small, Nazi-occupied village is drawn to an outspoken widow (Emmanuelle Riva). They struggle with their feelings for each other while also struggling with the war that swirls around them.
Here's our take: Released in 1961, Léon Morin, Priest is considered a French classic. Belmondo as Morin the priest and Riva as Barny the widow are oddly, and yet perfectly, matched. The attraction between them is understandable: Morin is forbidden, which makes Barny want him all the more. Barny is alive and passionate - about everything, anything - when everyone around her is purposefully numb.
Melville's depiction of life in occupied France is one step removed; he shows German soldiers rounding up villagers in the reflection of a store window, a charged discussion between two women is shown through a gauzy curtain. Melville focuses on the details of ordinary moments in what are extraordinary circumstances. A group of women take their children to church to be baptized, a seemingly ordinary event, except for the fact that the women are baptizing their children, not because of religious faith, but to protect them from the Nazis.
DVD/Blu-ray extras: The footage has had high-definition restoration and the soundtrack has improved quality. Extras include an archival interview with Jean-Paul Bemondo and Jean-Pierre Melvile and the original trailer.
Also worth your notice: Source Code stars Jake Gyllenhall as a soldier who's on a mission. New technology enables him to pop in and out of other people's bodies in the last few moments just before the other person's death. This time, he's popping onto a train with a bomber aboard over and over, gathering clues each time trying to put together enough information to stop the attack (think Groundhog Day, but with lots more action and more deadly possible results).
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