"Le rire, c'est le soleil, il chasse l'hiver du visage humain." - Victor Hugo


1 from Second Run

Happy End (Czechoslovakia, 1967)

Three decades before Christopher Nolan's Memento and Gaspar Noé's Irréversible, the idea of a movie whose tale unfolds in reverse – starting with its conclusion and working back to when the story began – was brought to the screen by 1960s' Czech director of comedies Oldřich Lipský. Perhaps best known for his 1964 send-up of early Hollywood westerns, Limonádový Joe, in Happy End Lipský set the story at the turn of the 20th century and cast the great Vladimír Menšík as a butcher who murders his adulterous wife, played by Jaroslava Obermaierová (Witchhammer). Sentenced to death, the killer dies at the guillotine, which by the perverse logic of the film is where the action begins. A highly entertaining curio, shot in sepia and clocking in at a crisp 73 minutes, Happy End has been restored in 4K for its world premiere on Blu-ray courtesy of British boutique label Second Run. The half-hour of extras on the region-free disc include a new video essay by Australian critic Cerise Howard and an audio commentary by Projection Booth podcasters Mike White, Kat Ellinger and Ben Buckingham. The 20-page booklet has an informative essay by English writer Jonathan Owen.


1 from Second Run

The Village Detective: A Song Cycle (U.S., 2021)

In 2016 a fishing boat off the coast of Iceland brought up an unusual haul: four round metal cans containing the decaying reels of Derevensky detektiv ('The Village Detective'), a Soviet-era crime drama starring the prolific Russian actor Mikhail Zharov. News of the discovery caught the eye of New York filmmaker Bill Morrison (Dawson City: Frozen Time), who used the footage as a jumping-off point to find out more about Zharov (1899-1981) and explore the long period in which he was active on stage and screen. Using clips from the many movies Zharov starred in and for which he was thrice awarded the Stalin Prize, and employing a haunting new score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, Morrison fashioned a two-hour art film that is at once an archival document and a fascinating portrait of a hero of Communist cinema. Now transferred in 4K with the approval of the director, The Village Detective: A Song Cycle comes to Blu-ray via U.K. distributor Second Run. Extras on the region-free disc include a trailer, a new interview with Morrison, and four of his short films: Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 (2014, 41 minutes), The Unchanging Sea (2018, 30 mins.), Sunken Films (2020, 11 mins.) and Let Me Come In (2021, 11 mins.). The booklet has new writing by film historian Peter Walsh.