THE GLEANERS AND I
Zeitgeist Video, $29.99
The signature object of Agn賠Varda's glorious year-2000 rumination on scavenging was a heart-shaped potato that the filmmaker salvaged from among dozens of rejects and took triumphantly home to her Paris apartment.
Still heart-shaped but now wizened and sprouting, the little potato becomes a literal and symbolic bridge between Varda's multi-award-winning documentary and its sequel, The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later, also contained on this DVD (out July 23). In these 60 new minutes, Varda revisits some of her street eccentrics and aristocrats, then tracks down a pair of charming originals from the hundreds who sent her Gleaners-inspired drawings and letters. To artists Philippe and Delphine (whose Olive Oyl topknot is held by a pencil), "The film put us back in touch with ourselves—and life."
Most of Varda's homeless gleaners have survived, though some have spiraled surprisingly. After living with 鬡n during a decade of salvaging, the rubber-booted prince of his city has endured neighbor trouble, police trouble, then time in a psychiatric hospital. Unflappable Varda seems shocked: "But you were nice." "Nice isn't enough," he says philosophically. "They want you to be normal, too."
In Two Years Later, the vintner-psychiatrist realizes that he, too, gleans: "We pay attention to what is dropped!" Finally, even Varda recognizes she has recycled matching shots from Jacquot de Nantes, her deeply affecting 1991 portrait of her husband Jacques Demy's life and decline, and ones from Gleaners of her own age-spotted hands and graying hair under its signature red-brown henna. "Everyone saw that," her daughter says. "Everyone but me," Varda replies. "We don't work in continuity."
Moving from quality to crap, the midsummer video doldrums disgorge Denzel's "Universal health care now!" melodrama John Q (July 18), Britney Spears in Crossroads (July 23), the dismal chopsocky parody Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (July 23), and Guy Pearce in the needless latest remake of The Time Machine (July 23). Better for parents (i.e., children) is the direct-to-video animated sequel Tarzan & Jane (July 23). The 1976 Robin Hood-themed romance Robin and Marian is new to disc July 16, with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in one of her rare late-career performances.