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His Day of Glory, Partner

This Tuesday, No Shame Films offers a double blast of revolutionary Italian cinema circa 1968: Bernardo Bertolucci’s Partner and film critic Edoardo Bruno’s His Day of Glory, both making their DVD debuts, the latter almost unseen for over two decades — even in Italy. Bertolucci’s third feature finds the director under the thrall of Godard, taking up the French New Wave’s political assault on moribund convention while struggling to find his own voice as an artist in the space it opened up. The film plays as a loose adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s The Double, in which Giacobbe (Pierre Clémenti), a young, uptight theater professor, is pressed by his tuned-in doppelgänger to undertake a series of ever-more-rebellious sexual, aesthetic and political acts. Riffing on the film’s explicit schizophrenia, Bertolucci moves Partner forward in dazzling fits and starts, deconstructing the mechanics of cinema one minute (Clémenti frequently crosses shots to expose the split-screen trickery behind his twin’s appearance), luxuriating in long, sweeping Hollywood-style crane shots the next. There’s a hint of Andy Hardy/“Let’s put on a show” enthusiasm in the air — only Giacobbe expects that his climactic street performance will trigger the final curtain for the entire bourgeoisie. One imagines that Bertolucci had similar aspirations for Partner at the time: Even in its more didactic moments, the film pops with a galvanized sense of purpose built on dreams of a revolutionary cinema — dreams now faded into memories of what might have been. Much the same can be said of His Day of Glory, a black-and-white, Brechtian thriller about an intellectual’s transformation into a street-fighting man.

Other recommended new releases: Batman Begins (DVD); Lifeboat (DVD); Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1984–1941 (DVD); Unseen Cinema: Picturing a Metropolis (DVD). DVD: The Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season; Atomic Betty, Volume 1: Betty, Set, Go!; Atomic Betty, Volume 2: Betty to the Rescue!; Avalanche: Nature Unleashed; The Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989–1997; Batman vs. Dracula; The Big Lebowski: Achiever’s Edition; The Big Lebowski: Collector’s Edition; Black and White; Bolivia; Bruce Lee Collection: The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Game of Death, Game of Death II; Chained Heat 2; Elektra: Director’s Cut; Excessive Force II: Force on Force; Felony; Five Children and It/The Return of It; The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful/Bikini Academy; Harlem Globetrotters: The Team That Changed the World; The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series; Love in Thoughts; The Mark of Zorro; The Peter Jennings Collection; The Rat Pack: Live From Las Vegas; Saved by the Bell: The New Class: Season Five; Strange as Angels; Strawberry Shortcake Dress Up Days; Tarzan: Special Edition; The Twilight Zone: The Definitive Edition: Season 4.

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