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.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Blu Bilitis

Fingers crossed, folks; the search for a definitive Bilitis may finally be over. On the second of October, German DVD company Alive are scheduled to release Bilitis on blu-ray. It would take a lot of nerve to issue the lousy sourced-from-VHS transfers we've been living with up 'till now onto blu-ray, and Alive is a pretty credible company, so it feels safe to assume this is going to be a proper restoration taken from a 35mm print, if not an original camera negative... though of course there's no knowing that for sure at this stage.

There's no artwork yet (hey, October is a long way away still), but their official website promises us 1080p and, intriguingly, a "Making Of" feature. All of this is very promising news, but I can't help but notice that the only language option they list is "Deutsch DTS-HD 2.0" audio.  Now, it's certainly possible that, since the release is still so far off, additional specs are pending for this release. But while fans may be divided on whether the French or English is the preferable audio track, I think we can all agree just having the German dub would be really disappointing. Furthermore, since there's no mention of any subtitles, we non-German speakers may be well left out in the cold completely with this release.

Still, there's a lot to hope for here. It would seem easy enough for this company to throw on the other audio and subtitle tracks, even if they don't bother to remaster them into nice, lossless tracks, to bring in our international collector dollars. And, even if they don't... once a high quality master has been struck, there's a good chance another company in a different region will license it to release the film on blu to their market. Hopefully an English-speaking one.

So there's nothing for it but to wait and see at the moment. In the meantime, pre-orders are already up at Amazon.de.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Australia's Difficulty With Romance

Breillat's Romance had a bit of a sticky time getting released in Australia ...although they still got it on DVD a good year before we did in the US. But for its intended theatrical run in January 2000, it was banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This ban was appealed and eventually overturned after almost a full year, in December. But the legacy of that banning has been preserved on DVD.

Pictured in the upper left is the Australian DVD, released in 2001 by Madman. For those interested, it's a fine DVD release of the film... uncut, in its original 1.66:1 ratio, and includes the original theatrical trailer, as well as bonus trailers for Breillat's Fat Girl, as well as Betty Blue, Paris, Texas  and Show Me Love. It features the original French audio with forced English subtitles. It's all region, but US fans should note that, like most Australian DVDs, it's PAL.

But it has one more bonus feature unique to this particular disc: The Australian Censorship Controversy. This is a text-only feature, but it's 27 pages long and details the decision of the censors, their subsequent correspondence and contains their full report. As a text-only feature, it may not make the disc worth going to the trouble of importing; but does make for a fun little bonus for the film's Australian fans, who probably still remember the initial banning incident fairly well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Venice 70: Future Reloaded

This year the Venice International Film Festival commissioned 70 filmmakers who've had success at the fest to create original short films, between one and three minutes long. There are some compelling names on that list, including Todd Solondz, Bernardo Bertolucci, Atom Egoyan, Isabel Coixet, Claire Denis and yes, Catherine Breillat. The festival describes the series of films, collectively titled Future Reloaded, as, "both a collective tribute to the Festival (the world’s first film festival to celebrate its 70th edition) and a reflection on the future of cinema." The films have already been completed and at least most of them seem to be available onlime.

The credits for Breillat's entry (which doesn't seem to have its own, individual title) aren't too helpful, only saying, roughly translated: "Catherine Breillat, her actors and crew," which I take to mean she's working with her usual people. At any rate, that's definitely Breillat herself in the primary speaking role, talking about film's dependance on money in this semi-documentary, semi-fictional film. It's just barely over ninety seconds long, so rather than explaining it further, I'll let it speak for itself:


Interestingly, the IMDB has an entry for a two hour documentary called Venice 70: Future Reloaded, which lists all 70 of the filmmakers as co-directors. I don't know if this is an upcoming documentary about the short films, or very possibly just a lazy way to list all 70 short films as one easy entry to the database. I'm hoping it means that the festival intends to package all 70 films as a single DVD, so I'll be able to remove it from the "DVDs Still M.I.A." list as quickly as I added it; but we'll see. At any rate, we've got an unexpected new short film by Breillat on our hands - enjoy!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Abus de faiblesse

No, there's no DVD news yet, but Catherine Breillat's latest film, Abus de faiblesse (Abuse of Weakness) has been completed, and will be debuting theatrically in France later this summer. It's an adaptation of her own book (pictured) and stars the great Isabella Hupert and... Kool Shen? Apparently, he's a French rapper. Well, Breillat has shown proven her abilities to get compelling performances out of non-actors, porn stars, etc before, so I'm sure she knows what she's doing. The book is an autobiographical account of Breillat's relationship with a con man who apparently swindled her out of her life's savings after her stroke. Sounds quite compelling to me. Hopefully we'll see start to see limited international theatrical runs soon, which will herald the release of an English-language DVD.