Armchair Cinephile

Jean Renoir: Collector’s Edition (Lions Gate): LG’s recent licensing deal with Studio Canal has been a boon for classic-film fans — first their Hitchcock set, and now this collection of seven little-seen Renoir titles, stuffed onto three discs and priced, amazingly, at under 30 bucks.

Phantom Museums and The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Zeitgeist): Just after releasing Jan Svankmajer’s Lunacy, Zeitgeist proves their devotion to cutting-edge animation by pairing the new Quay Brothers feature with Museums, a long-desired collection that places their “hits” alongside impossible-to-see shorts and a wealth of bonus material including (gasp!) audio commentary by the enigmatic twins.

The Queen (Buena Vista): The collective critical consciousness went batty over this one, praising it enough to raise expectations too high. But it’s a compelling little film nevertheless, with top-notch acting transcending the tight, TV-movie narrative focus.

TOUGH GUYS WE LOVE: James Cagney: The Signature Collection (Warner Bros.); Forgotten Noir Series Two (VCI): Six films, starring George Raft, Raymond Burr, et al); Smokin’ Aces (Universal): Disappointingly overstuffed as a film, but gotta love Jeremy Piven as a coked-out Mob turncoat; Brute Force (Criterion): The mighty Burt Lancaster languishes behind bars in Jules Dassin’s first crime film.

FOX WAR CLASSICS: Digging into their seemingly endless vault, Fox turns up six new-to-DVD titles for Memorial Day. Highlights for auteur-philes include Sam Fuller’s Fixed Bayonets! and Robert Mitchum in Man in the Middle. Farley Granger fans can catch The Purple Heart before driving to Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse May 7, where he’ll Q&A after a special Strangers on a Train screening. 

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