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.