Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Definitive Dracula and Son

It was taking forever, but I knew it was only a matter only of time until a proper edition of Dracula and Son came out.  Some of those French TV movies I'm not holding my breath for, but a cult Christopher Lee vampire flick?  Oh yeah, it was inevitable.  And I'm glad it's Severin who's turned out to be the ones releasing it, because they've put together an impressive special edition, with both the original and abridged cuts of the film, both the original and altered language options in audio and subtitles, and a host of special features, including two audio commentaries, new and vintage interviews with the cast and crew, the trailer and even a soundtrack CD.

Now admittedly, this title is a low draw for Breillat fans.  She just appears in this film; she didn't have a hand in the writing, directing or anything.  Her sister Marie-Helene has the far larger role.  But if you're a collector, you collect, right?  This has been announced for release on May 31, as part of Severin's 5-film boxed set, The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee, Collection 2, and can be pre-ordered direct from the company as of today.

Friday, February 25, 2022

It Really Happened: A Proper US Bilitis Blu!

You know, it's been so long since I expressed confidence in the likelihood of a legitimate English-friendly Bilitis blu, I was starting to think I dreamt it.  But it's here, sitting on my desk as I type this!  A US special edition blu-ray release from Fun City Editions, just released this week.  And it's got pretty much everything a fan could've asked for.  It's the killer 4k scan of the original 35mm original camera negative featuring the original French mono track with removable English subtitles, and the alternative English dub.  It also includes some strong special features, including a great interview with the camera operator (from the 2021 French blu, but subtitled into English for the first time here), an all new expert audio commentary, a full color 12-page booklet, reversible artwork and a slipcover (the last of which is limited to the first 2,500 copies).  And just look how it blows away the DVD we've been living with:

2012 US Pathfinder DVD top; 2022 US Fun City BD bottom.

It's about time we finally got our hands on this restoration.  Still, you'll want to hold onto your Pathfinder DVDs if you've got 'em.  Catherine Breillat's interview is exclusive to that disc.  It's a shame they couldn't've licensed it from them, but oh well.

And UK fans, if you don't want to import, just hang in there.  Screenbound is a releasing their own blu-ray edition on your side of the ocean on March 28.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Romance Blu-ray Hitting the US

Bummed Romance was only released on the blu in the UK?  It is, after all, region B locked.  Well, cheer up, Charlie - Strand is releasing Romance in the US next month!

No real specs have been released yet, so we don't know if there will be any special features or anything yet.  My guess would be this will use the same transfer as the UK release and generally be pretty similar... no complaints if that's the case; it was a pretty great release.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  The release date is less than a month and a half way (Nov 30th), so we should learn more soon.

Update: Yep, it's still 1.66:1, and it keeps the lossless 5.1 remix (though not the stereo mix).  No extras on this one apart from the trailer and trailers for the other Breillat films available from Strand.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Brief Crossing (2001)

I wanted to come back and revisit the DVD releases of this film, which I'd given rather hasty, minimal coverage of in my original post. I've found, really digging into a proper comparison between the two available releases, that the distinction was greater than I thought.

Brief Crossing (Brève traversée in its homeland), about a chance encounter between an English woman in her mid 30's (Sarah Pratt) and a 16 year-old French boy (Gilles Guillan) during an overnight ferry ride, is a more subdued film, at least by Breillat standards. It still has an extensive, 10 minute long sex scene in the second act. But by and large, it's just intently focused on the flirtations and almost Socratic dialogue between the two leads who enter and leave each other's lives in a single night.

This film is available on two DVDs: the 2004 US edition from Wellspring (which has since been absorbed into the Weinsteins' Genius Products company) and the subsequent 2006 UK one from Second Sight Films.

US DVD on top; UK DVD below.
Both are widescreen transfers, but only the R2 PAL DVD is anamorphic. I've left the negative space around both screenshots so you can see how it will display on your set. What's more, the US disc is interlaced, presumably due to a poor PAL conversion, since both discs have nearly identical run times. Oh, and it's vertically stretched a bit, making the characters tall and skinny, while still cropping a substantial amount of picture off around the edges. Actually, the UK disc might be stretched a bit in the other direction at the same time, making everything too wide. You start getting into a weird uncanny valley comparing the two transfers: exactly how wide are these actors' natural faces? So maybe it's a trade-off in that respect. But the US disc is also a bit softer. So while a blu-ray would be ideal, to get this image into HD and really refine the aspect ratio and everything to perfection, I don't see that on the horizon anytime soon. So for now, and quite possibly always, the Second Sight disc is by far the preferable transfer.
However, Wellspring went the extra mile and recorded a new interview with the director for their edition. It's just over twenty minutes and nice to have since this film is one that rarely gets discussed. The US disc also has an exclusive 5.1 mix (both discs have the standard Dolby stereo track and removable English subtitles), which might be a draw for audiophiles. So you'll want to get the UK disc; but if you're a dedicated enough fan, it could be worth getting both.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Breillat's First Movie In Eight Years: Inavouable

I'm excited to have something new to report on this site, something big: a whole new movie.  Titled Inavouable, this will be Catherine Breillat's first new feature length film since Abuse of Weakness in 2013.  Producer Saïd Ben Saïd (Bacurau, Maps To the Stars) first announced it by posting the title page of the screenplay on Twitter March 29 with the simple descriptor "[b]ientôt" (soon), and has since been posting updates since.

The film is set to star Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Olivier Rabourdi.  It's actually a remake of the recent NC-17 Danish film Queen Of Hearts about a lawyer who has an affair with her teenage stepson.  The taboo sexual drama certainly feels like it's in Breillat's wheelhouse, but hopefully she's chosen this project because she feels she has something unique to express and wasn't just brought on to replicate the same film in another language because she sounded like an obvious choice.  But we'll see; I have faith.  It's certainly a good sign that she's both the writer and director.