Thursday, July 11, 2024

A Quick Update On Last Summer/ Inavouable

So, it's been a couple years since I posted about Breillat's then upcoming film, Inavouable.  Well, it's finished now, with a new title: L'Été dernier or Last Summer for us English speakers.  It's already been released on blu, but sadly (despite some reports to the contrary), it's not English-friendly at all.  Meanwhile, Last Summer's currently, as of this writing, playing a limited run in theaters here in the US.  To give you an idea, I'm in New Jersey, and the nearest screenings are in New York, an entire state away.  And I imagine it's even worse in other parts of the country.  But hopefully that means home video releases are to follow, and we'll finally get a chance to see it.  And if an English-friendly DVD/ BD/ UHD gets released, of course I'll be sure to cover it here ASAP.  Janus Films is listed as a distributor in sites like the IMDB, so hopefully that means a Criterion special edition is in its future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The First Breillat Film To Come Out in 4k: Bilitis

Are you getting sick of Bilitis releases yet?  This one is big news, though, because it's the first edition on the highest 4k Ultra HD format.  The first Bilitis and the first of any of Breillat's films.  This is coming out through Germany's Capelight Pictures label, but all UHD's are region free, so it's playable anywhere in the world.  And yes, it's English friendly, including both the English dub, and better still, the original French audio with English subtitles.  For that matter, it also has a German dub and optional German subtitles.

It's a 3-disc set, including the UHD with HDR, a BD copy and the CD soundtrack.  It's a mediabook with 24 pages (presumably written in German, though), and includes the original theatrical trailer and the same interview with the cinematographer that was on the US blu.  And it's already out as of this writing.

Hopefully we see many more of Breillat's films hit 4k, especially some of the ones she directed!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Bluebeard, Better In the UK

Of course, it would be wonderful to get Bluebeard on blu-ray one day, but I can't say I'm too optimistic.  We're barely getting any of her theatrical work in HD, let alone her television films.  But in the meantime, whether it happens it or not, it's worth noting that there is a bit of an upgrade available just by importing from the UK.  Yes, two years after Strand released this on DVD in the US, New Wave Films released it in the UK, and it's surprisingly better in almost every way, considering it was a new release of a contemporary film using the same modern master.

For starters, the US DVD is interlaced, which means intermittent frames have a visible, and ugly, combing effect running through them.  Even if your player autocorrects interlacing, and practically all of them do, that's only a partial fix that makes the image stutter in motion and replaces combed frames with ghosted frames, where images have a messy double-image.  The aspect ratio is also very slightly shifted from 1.79:1 on the US to what appears to be the more correct 1.81:1 on the UK.  The framing is identical, but it fixes a very slight vertical pinch.  I suspect a BD could give us an even more accurate AR.  But between the two of them, New Wave's geometry is a pinch (get it? Eh, eh?) better.
2010 US Strand DVD top; 2012 UK New Wave DVD bottom.
The stereo audio tracks sound the same on both discs.  But the subtitles are burnt in on the US DVD, meaning they are unremovable if you want to see the image without the subs on screen.  The UK disc makes them optional, so you can turn them on and off.  So rack up another slight advantage to New Wave there.
But most compelling of all?  New Wave's DVD has an exclusive on-camera interview with Breillat herself!  Strand has the trailer and a couple bonus trailers for other Strand releases, but otherwise it has no special features.  Well, New Wave also has the trailer.  And while one interview doesn't exactly amount to a packed special edition, it's a substantial half-hour piece that gives us some solid insight into her work.  And honestly, interviews with Breillat are far too rare on these discs, so finding one here is a real treat.

So yes, I'd say it's worth importing.  And even if you already have the US DVD, it might be worth double-dipping just for the interview (and modest visual improvements).

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.

Update 6/28/23: a stand-alone (i.e. you don't have to buy the whole Christopher Lee box set) edition has been announced for a September 26th release.

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.