Say what you want, but Am鬩e is charming. A little overwrought, sure. Maybe a smidgen self-conscious, OK. But hey, it's charming—at least the first time around.
After taking a second look, you might notice the strain. Previously the co-director of Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children, Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a genius when it comes to visuals. He's also an obsessive-compulsive, look-at-the-pretty- pictures, follow-the-storyboard kind of guy, yet what he gains in beauty he often loses in spontaneity and depth. In other words, his films tend to be gorgeous but hollow. That explains why Am鬩e, for all its frantic whimsy, is a pretty hollow effort—but it doesn't explain why the movie is so friggin' difficult to dislike.
Unfortunately, the DVD (due July 16) is a disappointment. It's a two-disc jobber stuffed with extras, only a few of which offer any insight. (One feature, titled "Fantasies of Audrey Tautou," is just a brief montage of outtakes.) Yet Jeunet's fans will find a lot of diversions: a standard-issue director's commentary; an "intimate chat" with Jeunet; plus two Q&A sessions with him (which are just as redundant as they sound). Meanwhile, the best feature is "The Look of Am鬩e," in which cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel explains how he gave the film its supersaturated, candy-colored glaze. And that, if nothing else, is why Am鬩e demands a look on DVD: This is a movie that should never be subjected to the VHS pan-and-scan treatment. It's far too beautiful—and charming—for that.
Also out July 16, nobody ever called the real-life criminal/playwright profiled in Pi� charming, but plenty have raved about the biopic's central performance by Benjamin Bratt. Hitching a ride to Austin Powers' retro spy star is the sex- suffused 1967 In Like Flint, with James Coburn as the swinging secret agent of his free-lovin' era. Since his Storytelling so bitterly divided critics and viewers, its DVD might've afforded Todd Solondz the chance to burnish the film's reputation with commentary or context, but the single-disc, no-frills release provides no such forum. Finally, for the title alone, you've got to dig Playboy's The Women of Enron.