Home Movies/Out on Digital: April 20, 2017
Nostalgia for pre-Beatles youth culture was a consistent theme through 1970s pop culture. In movie terms, what resulted was a batch of one-note forgettables and a pair of superb films that bookended the decade, George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973) and Philip Kaufman’s The Wanderers (1979).
Based on Richard Price’s novel, The Wanderers begins as a romp across the Bronx, 1963, focused on the titular youth gang whose only business—unlike gangs of today—was mutual support in the face of an aggressive world. Male camaraderie and ethnic hostility in the blackboard jungle of high school are explored with great humor and memorable scenes. The soundtrack is a well-stocked jukebox from the era. While the POV is adolescent male, The Wanderers is aware of the larger changing world outside the white ethnic ghetto and ends on an elegiac note, represented by the specter of Bob Dylan singing in a Greenwich Village club.
“Veep: The Complete Fifth Season”
It was almost prophetic: As season five opens, Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) wins the popular vote against her idiot opponent for the White House—but on television instead of in reality, the Electoral College is tied. Meyer reads sterling lines from the teleprompter about “the majesty of our democratic system,” but when the mics are off, it’s a torrent of hilarious trash talk. Rushing along with screwball comedy speed, “Veep” remains a sharp political satire.
An ant sucks water from a glistening droplet of morning dew—a gelatinous globe when seen close-up in Microcosmos (1996). Roger Ebert called it “an amazing film,” its striking imagery and production outshining most documentaries from a cinematic perspective. Microcosmos opens up a world below our usual field of vision, inhabited by insects almost extra-terrestrial in their weird beauty. The Blu-ray release includes a making-of documentary and interviews with directors Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou.