New On DVD: Cocteau’s Beauty and The Beast, Life During Wartime, Potiche

A clip from Todd Solodz’s Life During Wartime. (language NSFW)
You’re not interested in Soul Surfer or Rio, both of which are out this week on DVD. Trust me, you’re not.

Okay, you might be into Soul Surfer: Carrie Underwood proves that, as an actress, she’s a very good singer. (It’s worth looking at just to see her pretend to provide inept medical attention to tsunami victims.) And, at 57, Dennis Quaid is still a stone-cold fox.

Okay, so to the good stuff.


Beauty and The Beast (La Belle et la Bête)
Not a box set of that 80s TV show—and not the Disney movie musical either. This here’s the Criterion Collection edition of Jean Cocteau‘s 1946 masterpiece. If you haven’t seen it then you don’t really know the tale.


Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz goes extremely dark and disturbingly funny—again—with this sequel-of-sorts to 1998’s Happiness. Characters from that film and Welcome to The Dollhouse pop up again (though played by different actors), with their stories loosely connected and their suffering fates guaranteed. In one of the most skin-prickling, feel-weird-about-laughing moments, the young son of Happiness‘s pedophile father confronts mom Allison Janney with the truth and the word “faggot.”


The latest brightly-colored Francois Ozon film fantasia stars Catherine Deneuve as a trophy wife (“potiche” translates to “decorative vase” in French) who takes over her unpleasant husband’s umbrella factory and rekindles a youthful romance with Gerard Depardieu. Points to anyone who gets Ozon’s umbrella-centric casting decisions without having to click here.

Come to think of it, Soul Surfer‘s also got a hilarious digital shark, cathartic Barbie doll arm-removal and some weird Dennis Quaid Bible-reading. So it’s sort of just like a Cocteau film. Add it to your list.


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  • Dick

    Is Denueve bookending her career? From Umbrella’s Of Cherbourg, to running an umbrella company.

  • Cinesnatch

    I’d recommend skipping Life During Wartime. If you had trouble getting through Happiness, Wartime will be sheer torture.

  • Codswallop

    If you’ve never seen “Beauty & The Beast” it’s wonderful film, well worth a look. Using only the most basic of camera tricks (reverse, slow motion, etc.) Cocteau created a haunting, lyrical film that no amount of CGI has matched or is ever likely to. The only false note in the whole thing is that when Jean Marais (Cocteau’s lover) transforms into the prince his outfit is rather silly looking and foppish. Other than that it’s perfect.

  • Pierre

    A “potiche” in french is some kind of decorative vase but it is not the most common use today (I’m a frenchman living in Paris).

    It also refers (its most common use those days and probably the meaning intended by the director, I didn’t see that film). It also refers to a person with a representing role but powerless. That person’s presence is not particularly appreciated.

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