DVDs: The films of Henri Langlois

Phantom of the Cinémathèque Kino
Movie •••½ Picture/Sound •••½ Extras ••
Who Gets to Call It Art? 20th Century FoxPalm Pictures
Movie ••• Picture/Sound ••½ Extras •••
Under its creator, Henri Langlois, the French Cinémathèque became not merely a savior of films and film history but a cultural focal point that, by the 1960s, was changing the way movies were being made throughout the world. Jacques Richard's loving documentary freely mixes new interviews with period footage, including plenty with his larger-than-life hero. Dirt and damage in the older material only add to the movie's charm, though I wish there had been better sources for the earliest clips. The dialogue is admirably clear. Modest extras include touching earlier Richard shorts on Langlois.

Who Gets to Call It Art? attempts to illuminate the New York art scene of the 1950s and '60s from the vantage point of Henry Geldzahler, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's first curator of contemporary painting. It doesn't always work - Geldzahler isn't a compelling central figure - but it does provide a lively portrait of the period. The DVD includes some extra footage as well as some neat omitted interviews with major artists who have great stories to tell. (There's also a dated Claes Oldenburg art movie.) It's too bad that the image isn't anamorphic and that the sound on some interviews is distorted. Both: [NR] English, Dolby Digital 2-channel mono; dual layer. Langlois: full frame (1.33:1). Art: letterboxed (1.78:1).

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