This week, we begin in Brittany:
The Color of Lies
3 1/2 stars
Not rated, 103 minutes.
Available Tuesday on DVD and Blu-ray. Available now in various digital download formats.
Cohen Media Group, through the Cohen Film Collection, gives a Blu-ray debut to this 1999 murder mystery from French New Wave pioneer Claude Chabrol. But the writer-director follows his usual pattern by making the drama more about the surroundings than the event itself. Plus, again as usual, everything turns out about as expected — which means several surprises await.
In a small village on the Brittany coast, the body of a 10-year old local girl is found murdered and possibly raped. The crime takes additional meaning, serving to reveal some of the more unsavory sides of the community. Suspicion falls first and most heavily on Rene (Jacques Gamblin), a local painter, the girl’s art teacher and the last to see her alive. Sandrine Bonnaire plays his wife, Vivianne, a free spirit with her own secrets she keeps from her husband as well as the determined detective on the case (Valeria Bruni Tedeschi).
Chabrol excels in painting these seemingly normal pictures of everyday life in which danger closely lurks. Here, he slowly and methodically builds his suspense. As usual.
DVD extras: commentary from film critics Andy Klein and Wade Major and the 2014 re-release trailer.
Weekend of a Champion (3 stars) In 1971, world champion Formula One race car driver Jackie Stewart gave director Roman Polanski free access to himself and to his racing team for three days during the Monaco Grand Prix. The results can be seen in this reissue of the eventual film and its modern extension.
The original, directed by Frank Simon and produced by Polanski, was re-edited in 2012 by Polanski. He also added a new epilogue with Stewart and himself in Monaco discussing the making of the film, Stewart’s career and the 1971 race itself.
Not rated, 90 minutes.
Independence Daysaster (2 1/2 stars) This goofy science-fiction flick follows a familiar recipe found in most Syfy channel films: Earth is under attack and can only be saved through the heroics of an authoritarian male teaming up with a brainy yet attractive female.
And, also following the Syfy formula, a computer-savvy teenager finds the solution to help save the planet.
Ryan Merriman plays small-town fireman Pete Garcette, who happens to be the brother of U.S. President Sam Garcette (Tom Everett Scott). On the Fourth of July, a mysterious outer-space enemy attacks with aircraft that look like some weird combination of routers and drills that fly around in the form of ball bearings. They destroy Washington, D.C., while the president is airborne in his helicopter.
Eventually, the brothers Garcette team up with scientist Celia Lehman (Emily Holmes), the conveniently nearby teen, Eliza (Andrea Brooks), and several of her friends, including the president’s son. Several subplots play out from Sydney Roper and Rudy Thauberger’s script, directed by W.D. Hogan, including a sneaky vice president ready to take charge.
As expected, the special effects range from cheesy to decently deceptive. But it’s somehow ironically fitting that a film set in the U.S. on the Fourth of July was filmed in British Columbia, Canada.
Rated PG-13, 90 minutes.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: Cheap Thrills, Endless Love, Gambit and Run & Jump.
BOO ALLEN is an award-winning film critic who has worked for the Denton Record-Chronicle for more than 20 years. He lives in Dallas.