March 16-22, 2006
Movies : Screen PicksScreen Picks
Princess Marie (Sun., March 19, 1 and 6 p.m.; Mon., March 20, 6:30 p.m., $10, Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St., 215-446-3033) It's hard to think of another actress in her sixties who has anything like Catherine Deneuve's career. Credit the French tradition of letting grand dames hold the stage, but also Deneuve's continued willingness to take small roles in intriguing films (like Kings and Queen or A Talking Picture) and larger risks on her own. Case in point: this three-hour biography of Marie Bonaparte, grand-niece of Napoleon. Suffering from frigidity, she flees a gruesome clitoral realignment (vividly illustrated for our mutual horror) and winds up in Vienna, where an aging Sigmund Freud (Heinz Bennent) agrees to admit her into analysis. As Marie grows closer to her own repressed trauma, flashbacks begin to crack the movie's surface, and Deneuve cracks, too. Benoit Jacquot's movie covers a ton of ground and more than four decades, spanning WWII and climaxing with Marie's transformation from patient to analyst. At its heart, always, is Deneuve, showing vulnerability to go with her customary steel.
My Neighbor Totoro ($29.99 DVD) Hayao Miyazaki's best-known feature is among the last to get the deluxe treatment, but it's worth the wait to forever banish its pan-and-scan predecessor from the racks. Even in Miyazaki's fantastic universe, Totoro's story is uniquely strange. It's not just the two little girls who move to the country to be near their ailing mother and meet a giant furry troll who looks like a neckless rabbit; it's that, title notwithstanding, the movie is less concerned with their magical neighbor than with the girls themselves. What's especially odd is how little time Miyazaki lavishes on his titular fuzzball; the vast majority of the movie's running time is focused on the girls. That's not to say it's short on magicsentient dust bunnies and cat buses aboundbut that Miyazaki finds as much enchantment in ordinary activities, like the sisters chasing each other around the house, as in flights of fantasy. In part, that must be because the story has roots in Miyazaki's own life. Miyazaki's mother was hospitalized when he was a child, which might account both for the movie's drive toward escape (visualized as a trip over treetops on a spinning top) and its palpably real textures. Disney's disc contains both Japanese and English audio tracks, the latter with Dakota and Elle Fanning voicing the sisters.
10th District Court ($29.98 DVD) Raymond Depardon's documentary plunks a camera down in a French courtroom and keeps rolling as cases grave and trivial come before an often exasperated but never flustered judge. A self-styled bohemian caught driving drunk deepens the hole with her inability to give a straight answer, while a jilted lover reveals himself as a possible abuser. Depardon's fragmentary approach deprives us of courtroom-drama satisfaction; we don't get so much as a single verdict. The strategy of excerpting defendants at their most discursive effectively puts us in the judge's place, blood pressure rising as we wait for them to get to the point, and marvel that justice is ever done. The DVD adds an inconsequential deleted sequence and a respectfully combative post-screening Q&A with Depardon and his main subject, who argues in favor of the French system of judicial inquisition and against the "silent referee" of the U.S. judiciary.