Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Breillat cowrote the story with Cédric Anger and director Xavier Beauvois, in which Benoît Magimel plays Matthieu, a factory worker who works with his father in Normandy, until his father is fired for smoking on the job. While Matthieu fights to get his job back for him, his father dies in a car crash. But Matthieu thinks it was a suicide and decides to exact revenge on his boss by having an affair with his wife (Nathalie Baye).
Selon Matthieu is available on DVD, but not with English subtitles. There's a nice, French DVD (R2, PAL) with an anamorphic, widescreen print. This is also available in France as a 2-disc set with another of Beauvois' films, Le Petit lieutenant - the Selon Matthieu disc is the same as the one that's sold seperately. There's a healthy number of extras included in the set, but they're all for the Le Petit lieutenant, not Selon Matthieu.
Oh, and there's an anamorphic, widescreen Spanish DVD, as well. It's Region 2 and PAL encoded, with optional Spanish subtitles and a Spanish dub. But, yeah. Nothing for us English speakers.
In 1984, she wrote L'Araignée de satin (The Satin Spider) with director Jacques Baratier. Set in the 1920's, Catherine Jourdan plays a ballet instructor who returns to teach at the all-girl boarding school where she grew up, only to discover the girl she'd been sexually intimate with as a teen (Ingrid Caven) is now teaching there, too. There's no DVD of this film, but it was released as an untranslated, PAL VHS in France and even an English subtitled PAL VHS in the UK.
In 1993, Breillat and Pascal Bonitzer wrote Couples et amants (roughly translated: Couples and Lovers) with director John Lvoff. Allmovie gives us this slightly awkward synopsis, "Seemingly, Paul (Jacques Bonaffee) and Isabelle (Marie Brunel) have a wonderful, harmonious marriage. Yet Isabelle is not averse to having a little side action with another man in the afternoon, and Paul is really getting into his romance with one of his ophthalmic patients, a young woman who pursues him more than he pursued her. Even those little affairs might not indicate that there is much wrong with the marriage, but when Paul find's out about Isabelle's little affair, he behaves like a thug rather than the sensitive, easygoing man he has appeared to be. By contrast, the constant bickering of a couple they both know seems to indicate real intimacy between them, despite the fact that they are on the verge of divorce." There is no DVD, but this was released on video in Canada (untranslated, NTSC).
She co-wrote the screenplay for Aventure de Catherine C., about a French actress who moves to Austria, with Jean-Pierre Kremer and director Pierre Beuchot in 1990. It's based on the two Adventure Catherine Crachat novels of Pierre Jean Jouve (which have since been published as one): 1928's Hécate and Vagadu, written in 1931. It was never released on DVD, but did come out as an untranslated, PAL VHS tape in France.
Finally (for this post, there's still a bit more to come), Breillat co-wrote Milan noir (Black Milan) with three other writers, including director Ronald Chammah in 1987. It's a thriller starring Isabelle Huppert who plays, as Allmovies.com tells us, "Sarah, a woman who has settled into a more or less normal life in Milan after her lover, a much-wanted terrorist, left the scene. Her life becomes complicated indeed when she becomes aware that he is about to return. The difficulty is that not only is she aware of this, but the police and various underworld groups are also. How is she to protect her own life under the circumstances, much less keep her lover from falling prey to the various traps that are being set for him?"
Do any of these sound interesting? Well, then go get a job at a DVD studio and get them to put them out, please. Because Breillat's films are seriously under-represented on DVD. :(
Le Secret d'Elissa Rhaïs (again, no English title, but it translates to The Secret of Elissa Rhais) is an adaptation of Paul Tabet's book by Breillat and four other writers, including director Jacques Otmezguine. It's a true story about a celebrated Algerian author, Elissa Rhais, who became quite famous in France during the 20's and 30's... until it was discovered that she was actually an illiterate whose semi-autobiographical works were ghost written by Raoul Tabet (Paul's father).
Lastly, in 1990, Breillat adapted Raymond Radiguet's novel Le diable au corps (Devil In the Flesh) with director Gérard Vergez. This had been made into films twice before: once in France by Claude Autant-Lara in 1947, and more recently (1986) in Italy by Marco Bellocchio who - as you may remember from my last post - Breillat worked with on Gli Occhi, la bocca. It's about a high school student who falls in love with an older woman after her husband is sent away to the frontlines of World War 1.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Bilitis is available on a lot of cheap DVDs... they mainly all seem to be VHS rips. Jef Films put it out in both the US and the UK. They're fullscreen, low quality and missing at least one scene. Jef has also put out a boxed set of three of Hamilton's films, including their Bilitis disc, as well as fullscreen copies of Laura, Shadows of Summer and A Summer In Saint Tropez.
There's also a Chinese disc from Castaway with English language options that's pretty widely available, which is essentially the same as the Jef discs.
I realize a message board post is pretty flimsy evidence, but a lot of surfing seems to confirm (from what very little information is available online - not a lot of people seem interested in detailing the finer points of budget DVDs) that this PAL disc is the best (albeit still pretty crappy), and seems to be the only version that's uncut as well. At any rate, it ain't much, but it's the best there is for now. Hamilton has a following, though... so hope eventually someone will capitalize on that and put out a beautiful, restored DVD.
Police is available as a marvelous, 2-disc special edition in France from G.C.T.H.V. (that's Gaumont Columbia Tristar Home Video to you). Disc one features a beautiful anamorphic print of the film (in its original 1.66:1), "presented" (which means, I suppose, a video introduction) by Catherine Breillat. Then, on disc two, there's an interview with Breillat, a 35 minute documentary, deleted scenes, a featurette and some other stuff. What it does not feature, however, are English subtitles.
This is also available in the first volume (there's a volume 2 with other films) of a Maurice Pialat boxed set - it's 9 discs all told, including both discs of Police, which are the same as the ones sold separately.
There is no US DVD (or UK, or from anywhere else) so we English speakers are left to make do with the old, fullscreen VHS that was released by New Yorker video back in the 90's.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Finally (for this post... there are many others which will be covered in future posts), we come to the 1989 film, Zanzibar, which she co-wrote with Robert Boner and director Christine Pascal. Allmovies.com writes it up as an "'inside look' at French filmmaking, Marechal (Francis Girod) - who is a has-been director - a producer, Vito Catene (Andre Marcon) and Camile Dor (Fabienne Babe), a big-name actress, have agreed to make a film about drugs, but don't have a story, financing, or any of the other elements needed to make it. This doesn't stop them; they cobble together the financing and begin shooting anyway. The producer is very fond of the leading actress, and when she gets hooked on drugs for real in the course of shooting what he feels to be a farcical imitation of a film, he gives up his shares in the film and heads off for the back of beyond (Zanzibar) to lick his wounds. To add insult to injury, the film winds up being a critical and commercial success." As with a lot of Breillat's films, it's only ever been released as an untranslated, French PAL VHS.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Biostars.com describes the film as, "[a] crude film, of an intense, moon-like beauty, a sexual film with a series of cutting-edge scenes on carnal relationships, a tale of love and desire in their raw state, the story of the implacable and destructive passion of a young woman, Solange, played by Dominique Laffin, to whom Catherine Breillat gave her best role ever. The film was banned to anyone under 18 and its failure in theatres distanced the filmmaker from film sets."
Breillat herself has said of the film, "[t]his is a film about desire and seduction. The heroine keeps going to the limits of her desires. She repeatedly seeks new experiences, because desire soon fades." But I wouldn't know about all of that, because it's never been distributed on DVD in any region - it's only been released on VHS as an untranslated, French PAL VHS. >:[ Somebody really needs to get on this, pronto!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
She and her sister both appear in Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 classic, The Last Tango In Paris. MGM has put this film out uncut in a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer in almost every market. The discs are all essentially the same, though different regions are apparently framed slightly differently: the UK disc is framed at the standard UK ratio of 1.78:1, as opposed to the US which is in 1.66:1, while the French, German, Australian (and probably others I haven't bothered to research) are all in the more generic 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The French DVD from Fox Pathé Europa is not only uncut and 2.35:1, it features a slew of extras including interviews, the making-of featurette missing from the US disc, a short film by Berri titled Le Poulet (his first film, which won the Oscar for best short subject in 1966) and a commentary... but of course there are no English language options. This DVD is also available as part of a 17(!) DVD boxed set of Claude Berri's films - definitely one for us prisoners of the English language to drool over in envy.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
This was released in the US by Criterion in 1999. It's a pretty solid, widescreen transfer, albeit non-anamorphic and with no extras (except for a nice, little 6-page booklet).
The film was rereleased, this time for the British market, in 2006 by Infinity. In some ways their transfer is better - brighter and more vibrant; but it's misframed at 1.66:1 (as opposed to 1.85:1, thus cropping the sides of the image) and also non-anamorphic. They do, however, include a second disc with a hefty collection of extras: an hour-long documentary called Fellini: a Self Portrait (released in the US as an extra on Criterion's La Strada DVD) and two half-hour episodes of a television series on Fellini. Infinity also included 2-disc set as part of a larger boxed set, simply titled Fellini, with two of his other films, Ginger and Fred and Orchestra Rehearsal, and the rest of that Fellini TV series.
So, in the end, it's up to you. Both choices are non-anamorphic... I'd have to go with the Criterion because it's framed correctly. But the UK disc comes in at a close second, and does have a nice collection of bonus material (although none of it's really specific to this film or relates much to Breillat). You might just go with whichever is easier for you: the PAL European disc or the NTSC Criterion here in the states.
As much as double-dips generally annoy me, an updated disc from Criterion might be nice - a prettier, anamorphic transfer and some new extras (including a Breillat interview, of course!) would be pretty sweet.
The box, released in late 2007 by from Editions Montparnasse is simply titled Catherine Breillat (or Catherine Breillat X, depending whether you think that X from the Romance poster is part of the title or just graphic design). It's four movies on four discs: 36 Fillette, Romance, Fat Girl and Sex Is Comedy... all are top-notch transfers. In fact, as I mentioned in my post for that film, the 36 Fillette transfer is light-years behind the god-awful transfer from Fox Lorber we English speakers have been saddled with (see that post for screenshot comparisons). So you already want this for the vastly superior 36 Fillette transfer.
But then you also want this because three of the four films come with additional making-of featurettes that aren't available anywhere else. Only Sex Is Comedy is missing one. Of course, like the films themselves, none of these extras come with English language options, so we're left out of the fun. :(
Monday, April 21, 2008
Eventually, Tartan picked it up and put it out in both the US (NTSC R1) and UK (PAL R2) markets. It was a top quality release: an excellent, anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it's uncut (unlike Tartan's release of Fat Girl). They also included a terrific 65 minute(!) interview with Breillat on the film (included on both editions).
For a while this DVD was included in a boxed set with five other, non-Breillat-related films (Lies, In the Realm of the Senses, Erotique, Pola X, and L' Ennui) called the International Erotic Collection, but it's now long out of print. The disc in the collection was no different than the one sold separately, anyway.
There is a more recent Italian market R0 DVD (released in April '07 under the title L' Adolescente) out from Minerva Video which supposedly features a better quality, anamorphic transfer and the theatrical trailer, but it has Italian subtitles only.
So, like I said. Fox Lorber: no-brainer.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Both are widescreen transfers, but only the R2 PAL DVD is anamorphic. So that's the preferable transfer. However, Wellspring went the extra mile and recorded a new interview with the director for their edition. So you'll want to get the UK disc; but if you're a big enough fan, it might be worth getting both.