The Tales of Hoffmann Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

If you say no to The Searchers, you don't like John Wayne; if you say no to The Third Man, you just don't like zither music. But man, if you can't get with Tales of Hoffmann, you have a serious problem with fun itself and should seek immediate help. By "fun" I mean Powell and Pressburger's bat-shit adaptation of Jacques Offenbach's already crazy opera, in which the poet Hoffmann (tenor Robert Rounseville) relates three fantastical stories of romantic obsession: a mechanical doll, a jewel-loving temptress and a consumptive pianist all come in for bizarre ballet-and-musical mayhem involving lavish sets, retina-searing colours and crazed choreography. The tenor of the piece is very dark and self-destructive, but the filmmakers make that seem like the swellest idea on the planet; only Powell and Pressburger could make you feel that getting torn apart for the sake of pleasure was a perfectly rational course to take. And if you're not torn apart by the film's technical and design brilliance, or its absurdly skilled dance talent, or by the intense sexiness of the whole enterprise, you are, I repeat, an enemy of fun and should be warned against moving into my neighbourhood. Extras include a commentary by fan Martin Scorsese and film-music historian Bruce Eder that's more notable for the latter's contributions, a video interview with fan George A. Romero in which he discusses the film's finer points, Powell's short ballet film of The Sorcerer's Apprentice that's unfortunately marred by voiceover, picture galleries of publicity photos and Hein Heckroth's glorious sketches and paintings, and good liner notes by film scholar Ian Christie. (Criterion/Paradox)