DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD
There’s two knock-out releases from The Criterion Collection, headed up by one of the greatest films of the modern cinema: “The American Friend” (1977). Wim Wenders pays loving homage to rough-and-tumble Hollywood film noir with “The American Friend,” a loose adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel “Ripley’s Game.” Dennis Hopper oozes quirky menace as an amoral American art dealer who entangles a terminally ill German everyman, played by Bruno Ganz, in a seedy criminal underworld as revenge for a personal slight — but when the two become embroiled in an ever-deepening murder plot, they form an unlikely bond. Filmed on location in Hamburg and Paris, with some scenes shot in grimy, late-seventies New York City, Wenders’s international breakout is a stripped-down crime story that mixes West German and American film flavors, and it features cameos by filmmakers Jean Eustache, Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray. New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Wim Wenders, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include an audio commentary from 2002 featuring Wenders and actor Dennis Hopper; a new interview with Wenders; a new interview with actor Bruno Ganz; deleted scenes with audio commentary by Wenders; a trailer; and an essay by author Francine Prose … “Bitter Rice” (1949): During planting season in Northern Italy’s Po Valley, an earthy rice-field worker (Silvana Mangano) falls in with a small-time criminal (Vittorio Gassman) who is planning a daring heist of the crop, as well as his femme-fatale-ish girlfriend, played by the Hollywood star Doris Dowling. Both a socially conscious look at the hardships endured by underpaid field workers and a melodrama tinged with sex and violence, this early smash for producer extraordinaire Dino De Laurentiis and director Giuseppe De Santis is neorealism with a heaping dose of pulp. New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray.