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Touki Bouki

African cinema was just finding its post-colonial legs when Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety burst on the scene in 1973 with his feature debut, Touki Bouki. Mambety, who died in 1998, made only a handful of films in the ensuing decades, including the masterful Hyenas (1992). But the impact and influence of his career have been far-reaching in world cinema. More than 30 years after its initial release, Touki crackles with the energy and vitality of a new idiom being born. Mambety effortlessly pulls together African symbolism, Godardian jump cuts, post-synched sound and the lilting voice of Josephine Baker into a scrappy, rebellious exploration of place and identity, centered on the exploits of a would-be Bonnie and Clyde. Broke and restless in a country and culture undergoing rapid changes, Mory and Anta dream of escaping to Paris. Off the coast of Dakar, where concrete towers rise high above lean-to shanties and dust still blows down bustling city sidewalks, the wide blue sea sparkles like freedom. For the moment, however, freedom is Mory’s motorbike. With a pair of cattle horns mounted on its handlebars, it carries the couple from petty hustle to small-time heist as they struggle, often comically, to raise the cash for their passage. A hybrid of old and new, the bike buzzes through the film, alerting us (and ultimately Mory) to how liberating — if unstable — a makeshift identity can be. Also included on this Kino DVD release is Mambety’s first short film, Contras’ City (1969), a sardonic documentary montage of the clashing and confluent architecture, fashions and customs of colonial Dakar. Other recommended new releases: Masculin, Féminin (DVD). Also released this week: VHS/DVD: The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl; The Longest Yard. DVD: An Angel at My Table; The Batman: The Man Who Would Be Bat — Season 1 Vol. 2; Blood for Dracula; The Cardinal; The Carter Family: Will the Circle Be Unbroken; Cowards Bend the Knee; Dead Women in Lingerie; Divan; Flesh for Frankenstein; From the Earth to the Moon: The Signature Edition; Grimm; Hogan’s Heroes: The Second Season; It’s All Gone Pete Tong; James Dean: Forever Young; James Dean: Sense Memories; The Knowledge of Healing; Justice League Unlimited: Joining Forces — Season 1 Vol. 2; LeapFrog: Learn To Read at the Storybook Factory; Lies My Mother Told Me/Widow on the Hill; Monumental: David Brower’s Fight for Wild America; Naked; No Direction Home: Bob Dylan; The Outsiders: The Complete Novel; Over the Edge; Point of Order/In the Year of the Pig; The Ren & Stimpy Show: Seasons Five & Some More of Four; Round Trip; See Arnold Run; Siblings; Silent Waters; The Sixties: The Years That Shaped a Generation; The Suitors; SpongeBob SquarePants: Absorbing Favorites; Taboo: The Complete Second Season; Teen Titans: Fear Itself — Season 2 Vol. 1; Voyages; Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures; Witches of the Caribbean; XTRO.