Friday, July 26, 2019

Romance Finally In HD!

Okay, so they didn't quite make their April 19th release date, but that's okay.  Second Sight's blu-ray of Romance has finally arrived!  This should be especially big news for anyone who still has the US DVD, which wasn't even anamorphic.  I've already covered a good deal about this release when it was announced, though now that it's landed I can now confirm all of that info was correct: it is indeed uncut and the three promised interviews are on there...  Even on the packaging, they still don't tell us any information about this new scan: is it 2k, 4k or what?  If they'd sprung for 4k, though, I'm sure they would've told us, so I think it's safe to assume it's not.  But now that we have it in-hand, we can take a close up look, and even make a DVDExotica-style screenshot comparison to the old DVD, so let's do that!
US 2000 Lions Gate DVD on top; UK 2019 Second Sight BD bottom.
So I left the negative space around the first set of shots so you can get a clearer idea of the framing, and just how annoying non-anamorphic DVDs are in the age of modern, widescreen monitors.  It just floats there in a sea of negative space.  Anyway, the aspect ratio is almost the same, with the blu-ray slightly correcting the DVD's 1.61:1 to a properly pillar-boxed 1.66:1.  This essentially means the blu-ray has a little extra information along the left-hand side, and a sliver along the top.  The DVD's also slightly vertically squished.  Colors and levels are pretty much the same, although the BD is a bit on the light, or even pale, side.  Detail and resolution, however, are a massive leap forward in PQ.  You can see the film grain, making it look like a proper movie, unlike the DVD, which smears and compresses everything fine away.  The picture is decidedly sharper now, with no unwanted tinkering (i.e. edge enhancement, artificial sharpening or digital noise reduction), presented in 1080p with a high bitrate on a dual-layered disc.

The BD does pare away some language options, but it keeps the only important stuff, so I'm fine with it.  The DVD had both the original French audio and a slightly cringey English dub, both in Dolby stereo, as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.  Second Sight ditches the dub, giving us just the French audio with optional English subtitles.  And Second Sight does add something to the audio mix, giving us the choice of the original stereo mix or a 5.1 remix, both in lossless DTS-HD.
And, of course, they've finally made it a bit of a special edition.  Each of the interviews is roughly 20 minutes, and are a must-watch for any fan of the film.  A minor disappointment is a lack of the trailer, which even the old Trimark DVD had (remember "www...taste... romance... com?").  So okay, that and it's a shame to lose the English dub, even if it's just to amuse yourself by snickering at.  But it all adds up to a teensy tiny step backwards and a massive leap forwards.  Great news for us Breillat fans, so let's hope they tackle another one of her films soon!

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.