Plein Soleil was the first adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley, and Alain Delon’s star-making turn as the beautiful and charming villain Tom Ripley is arguably the best of the four on screen portrayals of the amoral social climber.
Ripley is sent to Italy to persuade the playboy son of an American millionaire to return home to San Francisco, but when it becomes apparent that Phillipe has no intention of going home so that Ripley can collect his fee, Ripley decides that actually becoming Phillipe, and gaining control of his considerable assets, is a much better prospect. Gradually ingratiating himself with the playboy and his fiancé Marge (although she is annoyed with their boyish camaraderie and is dubious about Ripley), Ripley painstakingly constructs his imitation of Phillipe while quietly engineering the opportunity to make him disappear, the final step in his assumption of his identity.
Delon’s Ripley takes everything in with a seeming impassiveness that belies the fact that he is a viper preparing to strike, so cheerfully imperturbable that not even the aroused suspicions of his victims or their friend sway him from his course.
The cold-bloodedness of Delon’s Ripley is balanced by the warmth of the Mediterranean locations. This beautiful 4k restoration of the film debuted at Cannes in May and looks splendid, bringing the colours back to vibrant life.
The best of the three extras are a new hour long documentary, ’Rene Clement at the Heart of the New Wave’, which includes interviews with many members of the film’s creative team. The doc contextualises Plein Soleil within Clement’s body of work and the nouvelle vague, and gives great insight into his working methods and his relationships with his collaborators, most notably Alain Delon. The second featurette is an interview with Delon in which he discusses his great respect and affection for Clement in detail.
The last extra is an entirely redundant split screen comparison of the film pre and post restoration.
The narrative debut of Greg Olliver (the director behind the 2010 music documentary Lemmy), Devoured is an ok little horror with a strong central performance from Spanish actress Marta Milans. It’s a shame that the audience has to endure a tiring number of shocks and jumps before the interesting payoff.
Milans is Lourdes, an immigrant alone in New York and working as a lowly kitchen porter in a restaurant seemingly filled exclusively with a variety of lowlife staff members and customers. She is forever being harassed and propositioned and is almost at the point of mental collapse. She holds it together, however, in an attempt to help pay towards the costs of a sick son, being cared for elsewhere by her mother. But it’s not just the inhabitants of the restaurant who are continually tormenting her.
Olliver handles the chills pretty well, even if most have been seen before, and the grim, washed-out look of Lourdes’ environment if pleasingly repugnant. If just takes a long time to reach the twist ending, and the film may have ultimately worked better as a 40 minute piece as opposed to a feature. Still, it’s a decent effort which shows real promise in the director.
Iron Man 3
The dream team of Robert Downey Jr. and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang writer/director Shane Black transforms the third installment of the hit Iron Man series into something more than just cold metal and CGI. The films have always gone for a comedic, light approach, with snarky Tony Stark at the helm, but Black and Drew Pearce’s script energises the drama and the wit further than either of the Favreau films managed, and make Stark work perfectly back in solo mode after last year’s group outing scripted by master writer Joss Whedon. With the effects of going through a wormhole weighing heavily on him, Stark is having personal crises all over the place, and the rise of terrorist The Mandarin making threats against America isn’t helping anyone. Tony must find the man under the suit before he can return to kicking arse as Iron Man, but is he ready to confront the demons that lay inside of him?
Hysterical, smart and with great action, Iron Man Three is a perfect end of the first solo trilogy, edging the Marvel universe story along but never letting that drive the internal dilemmas of Tony Stark and the people around him. A cracking soundtrack, memorable dialogue, wonderful characters and a few really enjoyable twists along the way, Iron Man 3 is the year’s best summer blockbuster, and a must own for Marvel fans.
The main attraction for the extras is, of course, 15 minute film Agent Carter, which takes us back to Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) after Captain America froze in ice. The short isn’t anything to write home about, a few nice cameos and Atwell is an engaging presence, but the story lacks and the pace dwindles before the end.
The other big thing on the disk is a commentary from Drew Pearce and Shane Black, which starts as it means to go on, conversationally. It may be about 5 minutes in when the two decide to look at the screen and acknowledge the film as an entity, but they are both entertaining presences and funny together, which just makes it pleasant listening for fans.
A disappointingly laugh-free gag reel, a few extended improv scenes with Sir Ben Kingsley and Happy Endings’ Adam Pally, plus some rightly deleted scenes, and a couple of decent making-of’s finish the package off fine. Also included is a small look at Thor: The Dark World
Inspired by real events at the height of the cold war, this flawed submarine drama is hamstrung by portraying a Soviet sub, with Russian writing on displays and uniforms, but US-accented actors using American idiom. The narrative is murky, the shifting allegiances on board lack genuine coherence, and a lack of decent character development makes it difficult to tell who is who (or care what happens to them).
Ed Harris brings conviction to his role, but the screenplay clearly needed more work. The story of a Soviet submarine possibly going rogue in order to trigger a nuclear war between the USA and China, to leave the USSR as the only superpower standing is an intriguing one, but it is told with none of the deftness or propulsive conviction of films like Das Boot, Crimson Tide or even The Hunt For Red October. Not great.
Making Of – Everyone seems to have had a great time and the decision to shoot entirely on board a real decommissioned sub is commendable. The director’s recounting of technical decisions and shooting challenges is more interesting than much of the film. “The Real Phantom” – Featurette that gives us some background on the events that inspired the film. An expert in naval history brings some conviction to the historical backdrop. A very brief featurette on the score, along with a music video and the trailer round out a modest but satisfactory package.