Hitchcock on Holiday
To Catch a Thief: Special Collector's Edition (Paramount)
Starring Cary Grant as a cat burglar and Grace Kelly as a hot-to-trot heiress, this is easily one of Alfred Hitchcock's slightest films, especially coming on the heels of Rear Window; indeed, its idyllic setting on the French Riviera suggests it was a vacation getaway for the director and his cast, who never looked more at home than in this sun-drenched setting. You keep expecting Grant to stop the action to request a drink, even hoping Hitchcock will bring it to him. That said, it remains a delightful part of his canon; for all its tanned and toned bonhomie, it's still a decent thriller with a spark of a start (the familiar shriek) and a swell finale. And this DVD is a right pleasure, from the making-ofs to Peter Bogdanovich's commentary, in which he plays historian and chum. Only thing he forgets is the martinis. --Robert Wilonsky
Comedy of Power (Koch Lorber)
Culturally ignorant Americans, like the one writing this review, tend to assume there's a pretty lax moral code in France, where everything's all laissez-faire and ménage à trois. Sure enough, that belief is shored up by this latest film from famed director Claude Chabrol. A fictional business scandal (call it the French Enron) unfolds with all the moral outrage of a 30 Rock episode, and a hero emerges in the form of the wonderful Isabelle Huppert. As a tenacious investigator, she goes after the corporate fat cats like a rather sexy bulldog. The darkness common to Chabrol's work isn't quite as prevalent here; for a real trip, check out the 1978 Chabrol-Huppert collaboration Violette (also on DVD this week), in which Huppert plays a young murderess. --Jordan Harper
Linda Linda Linda (Viz Pictures)
Here's a movie as cute as four Japanese schoolgirls forming a pop-punk band for the big talent show--which just happens to be the plot. Named after the wonderfully catchy cover song they spend the film learning, Linda Linda Linda refuses to render the girls as sex-crazed cartoon characters. In other words, it avoids the pitfalls typical of teen movies, and the results are immensely satisfying. The biggest drama comes from whether or not a Korean exchange student can learn to sing the song in time, but the score--by James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins--is strangely sad, as though it alone is aware of how fleeting our carefree adolescence truly is. Other than that, it's all teen crushes, giggling, bonding, and getting to the gig on time. And it turns out that's enough. --J.H.
Big: Extended Edition (Fox)
If, when you saw Big for the first or 14th time, you said to yourself, "Yeah, but it would have been so much better with more Elizabeth Perkins and John Heard," you are in luck. This extended cut--which is being released along with a longer version of Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do!--is a surprisingly and subtly darker take on the fluffy fave; it's as interested in the whiny execs populating the toy company as it is with all-grown-up Josh Baskin (Hanks), who, in the theatrical version, merely grinned and golly-gee'd them all into submission. Now, with an extra 20 minutes of subtle moments adding up to something surprisingly different, we see Perkins' and Heard's characters less as archetypal assholes and more as adults only playing the grown-ups' game in power suits that don't quite fit. Is this better than the original? Maybe. Maybe. --R.W.
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