Writer-director Marco Bellocchio’s debut feature, Fists in the Pocket, shocked Italian filmgoers in 1965 and heralded the arrival of a sharp, incisive voice for a new generation. Forty years later, Fists still unnerves with its relentless precision. The postwar bourgeois Italian family bears the brunt of Bellocchio’s damning critique, but his insights into domestic decadence and decay could hold for any place and time. Scratching the surface of everyday middle-class dysfunction, he finds a seething nest of murderous, fascistic impulses clawing for release. In a claustrophobic mountain villa, four siblings and their blind mother stew in a broth of jealousy and resentment. The eldest son, Augusto (Marino Masé), an aspiring Italian yuppie, grudgingly provides for the clan while hoping for a way out from under his patriarchal burden. To Augusto’s rescue comes his younger brother Alessandro (Lou Castel), who, unbeknownst to Augusto, takes it upon himself to murder, one by one, the family’s less-productive members. At the film’s unstable center, Castel delivers a devilish performance, playing Alessandro as if he were simply the humble gardener pruning away to ensure a better bloom. As the tension ratchets up, the photographs of distant relatives that crowd the villa walls bear mute witness while Bellocchio’s camera maintains its own coolly sinister detachment. Ennio Morricone serves up its counterpoint with a discordant choral score that blurs the line between social critique and unhinged horror. Released by Criterion, Fists comes with the full treatment, including extended liner notes, retrospective interviews with Bellocchio and members of the cast, as well as a video afterword by Bernardo Bertolucci.

—Paul Malcolm

Other recommended new releases: Elevator to the Gallows (DVD); Grey Gardens: Two-Disc Edition (DVD); The Passenger (DVD); Videograms of a Revolution (DVD). Also released this week: VHS-DVD: Match Point; Shopgirl; Tristan & Isolde. DVD: Aeon Flux: Special Collector’s Edition; Bachelor Party Vegas; Bernard Allison: Energized: Live in Europe; Casanova; Casualties of War: Extended Edition; Crumb: Special Edition; The Deadbeat Club; The Emilio Miraglia Killer Queen Box Set: The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, The Red Queen Kills Seven Times; Everything You Want; Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children; Guys & Dolls: Deluxe Edition; Harlan County, U.S.A.; It’s Always Fair Weather; Jeff Cesario; The Kims of Comedy; Metal Skin; Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer Double Feature: Murder Me, Murder You & More Than Murder; Nero Wolfe DVD Megaset; The New York Mets: 1986 World Series Collector’s Edition; Odyssey 5: The Complete Series; Patlabor the Movie; The Patriot: Extended Cut; Penn & Teller: Off the Deep End; The Replacement Killers: Extended Cut; Rosemary Clooney; Shadows in the Sun; The St. Louis Cardinals: The Greatest Games of Busch Stadium 1966–2005 DVD Set; Summer Stock; Three Little Words; Till the Clouds Roll By; 12 Days of Terror!; 24 Hours on Craigslist; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; The Waltons: The Complete Third Season; Windtalkers: Extended Cut; Ziegfeld Follies.

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