Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Romance (X) Restored for Blu-ray!

It's been a while since we've had any good news on the Breillat home video front, but here's some now!  1999's Romance, or Romance X as it's known in many markets, is getting restored in HD for an all new, special edition blu-ray!  Due to hit stores just next month, April 19, it's being put out by Second Sight in the UK, and its Amazon listing boasts a "[b]rand new scan and restoration."  Up 'till now, all existing DVD editions have been pretty barebones.  The French DVD had an interview with Breillat, but it wasn't English friendly, so it wasn't much more help.  Second Sight, however, promises all new interviews with Catherine Breillat, star Caroline Ducey and producer Jean-Francoise Lepetit, finally giving this film the level of special edition it deserves!

Now, you may remember that the original UK DVD had a brief bit of its extremely graphic sexuality cut.  That DVD was put out by a company called Bluelight.  But in 2014, Second Sight reissued Romance on DVD (bumping their non-anamorphic transfer up to anamorphic in the process), and they got that cut waived by the BBFC.  So it's highly unlikely that this new 2019 edition should have any concerns on that front.

So this is exciting!  Hopefully this is just the beginning, as a lot of Breillat's work is in desperate need of rescue from their very dated DVD transfers, to say nothing of those films still M.I.A....  But for right now, we can be pretty happy with this.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Police on Blu-ray!

Whoops!  This one slipped under my radar.  I've done a couple posts on Police already, a 1985 film starring Gérard Depardieu that Breillat wrote but didn't direct.  Originally, there was a great French DVD, but it wasn't English friendly.  Then, in 2008, Artificial Eye put out an excellent, English friendly special edition DVD in the UK.  But what I missed was in 2017, Olive released it on blu-ray here in the US, and in Canada.  And not only that, it's been getting alternate blu-ray editions around the world, some of which are arguably even better.

Olive's blu is a pretty impressive looking 1.66:1 transfer, an upgraded DTS-HD soundtrack, but unfortunately it's barebones.  And here's where it gets frustrating.  Gaumont had already released it on blu in France back in 2013.  That one features the same transfer as Olive's blu, but not only does it import all of the special features from the previously French and UK DVDs, it also features new on-camera interviews with Pascale Rocard and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli.  Sounds like the way to go, right?  Sure, if you speak French, but otherwise, not so much.  The film itself features English subtitles, but none of the special features do.

So, for us English speakers, the ideal experience would be to get both the Olive blu-ray and Artificial Eye DVD, which would give you the best edition of the film and most of the special features.  There's a Japanese blu, but it's essentially the same as the Olive, English subs on the feature, but no special features.  It sure would be nice if they would issue an English-friendly blu with everything, but here at breillat.blogspot.com, I think we're used to these kind of disappointing compromises.  But hey, at least we got the film in HD now, that's a step forward.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Bilitis English language Blu

It was pretty disappointing when that German Bilitis blu-ray turned out to have no English language options. Well now there's another blu, this time from Spain, and it does have the English audio, as well as the French, German and Spanish tracks. Unfortunately, it has several subtitle options, but not including English, so you can't select the French audio with English subs. But still, this blu-ray has the English audio, which puts it leaps and bounds ahead of the German disc.

It's from a company called Llamentol - here's their official webpage. They've also released a DVD edition for fans who haven't gone blu. Unfortunately, Llamentol is known to release their discs on BD-Rs, which isn't ideal. But clearly the fates will not allow us an uncompromised Bilitis release; so if you're bound to the English language, this seems to be the new best bet.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Scratch One Off the M.I.A. List!

Woo-hoo!  I just got to remove a title off our DVDs Still M.I.A. column on the right, there!  La Pelle, Or simply The Skin as it's been directly translated to in the US, is coming to blu-ray this month. Giving us one more Catherine Breillat film finally available in English... and on a fancy shcmancy special edition blu-ray to boot!

I wrote about this film before, as part of a series of posts covering scripts Breillat had written or co-written. In this case, she co-wrote it with two other screenwriters, based on the memoirs of Curzio Malaparte. The film stars Marcello Mastroianni and Burt Lancaster, and has a had a couple untranslated DVDs in other countries. Then, in 2011, it was released on blu-ray in France... frustratingly, with no English language options!

Well, that's finally been corrected in the US by Cohen Media Group. Not only have they ported over the HD transfer onto blu-ray, but they've added a whole heap of English-friendly special features, including an audio commentary and four new featurettes. This will be out In just a week's time, January 13, and has received a very encouraging review from DVDBeaver - those screenshots look great. Wow. I didn't see this one coming.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Abuse Of Weakness on DVD!

Okay, I've done a couple posts leading up to it, but now I finally have the official Strand DVD release of Breillat's latest film, Abuse of Weakness, in hand. The transfer naturally looks great, since you'd almost have to go out of your way to screw up a brand new release. I've provided a screen cap, above (right click and "view image" to see it full size), for you to judge anyway. The IMDB lists this as 2.35:1, while this is visibly about 1.85:1; but I think that's just the IMDB being inaccurate. I could certainly see shots like the one above especially benefiting from an HD blu-ray presentation, but for a DVD release, you really can't hope for any better than this.

The extras are as detailed in my last post, but now that I've actually had the chance to watch them all, I can get a little more specific. The short film is indeed her Venice Reloaded short, which looks great here, and you've got the trailer for this film as well as Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard and four other Strand releases.

Finally, the most compelling extra, the new interview with Breillat. This was apparently recorded at the Melbourne International Film festival and is a good 18 minutes long. It's a very good interview, covering the essential point of how this film mirrors her own real life incident, as well as how this film fits in with the rest of her body of work, working with Isabelle Huppert and Kool Shen, differences between her book and the film, and it even addresses her unmade film Bad Love, which I posted about back in 2008. She is a bit hard to understand here, to the point where I was wishing for subtitle options despite the fact that she's speaking English; but if you're patient and willing to concentrate enough to make it out, it's absolutely worthwhile.

And the film itself is quite compelling... even compared to her other films, I'd say it's not her best, but pleasingly near the top. A large portion of this has to be credited to a command performance by Isabelle Huppert. She and Breillat feel like ideal collaborators, and I'd love to see her continue to become the Mastroianni to Catherine's Fellini, or the Keener to Catherine's Holofcener. And if you had any misgivings about the male lead being given to a rapper, I have to say Kool Shen was actually quite convincing and natural as Huppert's foil.

So, I'm pleased to report this is a pretty ideal DVD release. And that's good, because there's still no signs of one in France, the UK or other markets, so they'll have to import our US disc, too. The release date is Nov. 11 - strongly recommended.