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.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Abuse of Weakness Special Features

Checking up on Amazon's listing for the upcoming Abuse of Weakness DVD from Strand this morning and I see there's an update - special features have been announced!  First and foremost is an interview with Catherine Breillat. This seems like the kind of film that could benefit the most from a little back story, as it's based on some shocking real life events; so that's great to see.  Next up is "The Future of Cinema... (A Short Film by Catherine Breillat)." I presume this was her short film for Venice 70 Future Reloaded, which will be nice to have properly in our collections. Then there's the theatrical trailer, and trailers for other Breillat films (presumably the other ones Strand sells on DVD) and Strand releases.

So there ya go. Not a huge, super-mega-special edition, but definitely something more than just another bare-bones release. Of course, it remains to be seen how substantial the interview is, but I'm optimistic the features will be a solid enhancement. Can't wait for November 11!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Abuse of Weakness Is Finally Landing

It seems like Abuse of Weakness (Abus de faiblesse)'s time in film festival purgatory is finally ending, at least here in the USA. It was taking so long I started to doze off, but thanks to Frank in the comments section for waking me up to this. Strand Releasing, the company that distributed Breillat's last two films here in the States, has picked up her latest. Their official page for the film is here. They'll be giving it their usual, limited art-house theatrical run this coming Friday (Aug 15), and then releasing it on DVD with a release date - at least according to this site; I can't find more official confirmation, but it sounds right - of November 10th. The official trailer is up here.

Keep your fingers crossed for a blu-ray edition, too. Strand does occasionally release them, but out of their nearly three hundred DVD titles, only six of them have gotten blu-ray counterparts, so the odds aren't in our favor. But hopefully this strikes them as one of their more high-profile releases.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Elusive Bilitis

Well, the good news is the upcoming German Bilitis blu-ray from Alive, due out in October, is definitely a full restoration of the film. Just look at these screenshots and compare them to the screenshots I've posted of the past DVD editions.




Wow. And we now know they're not just including the German dub, but also the original French audio. The 'Making Of' featurette seems to have been nixed, but in the presence of a beautiful restoration job of a film that so badly needed it, who cares?

The bad news, unfortunately, is that there are no English language options, leaving us out in the cold just like that La Pelle blu.  This is hard news because I contacted Alive directly, and they responded, "Thank you for your interest in BILITIS. unfortunately we can not publish the English sound or English subtitles on our DVD or Blu-ray."

The silver lining is that now that the restoration has been done, there's a good chance DVD companies in other regions will license it and distribute it with English language options. The fact that Alive said they couldn't include the English option suggests there may already be a deal in place with another company (possibly Pathfinder?) that split the costs of the restoration for exclusive distribution rights. Fingers crossed anyway.