Thursday, November 10, 2011

Catherine Breillat Is a Great Director!

...And I'm not just being a preening sycophant here. Catherine Breillat is one of ten directors featured in a 2009 documentary entitled Great Directors, which was just released on DVD here in the US. The other directors are: Bernardo Bertolucci, Liliana Cavani, Stephen Frears, Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, Ken Loach, David Lynch, John Sayles and Agnès Varda.

It's an interesting film... At first, each filmmaker talks for a few minutes about how their careers got started (interspersed with clips)... Breillat gets a bonus appearance in that part, because in addition to telling her own story, she comments on Agnès Varda's story. hehe As this is the Breillat blog, I feel I have to point these bits out. Anyway, then we circle back around, and each filmmaker talks about how their careers advanced, and then a third time to delve more into their artistic struggles. It's actually quite effective.

By the way, I've read criticisms (including literally every single review on Netflix as of this writing) that this film is really a self-indulgent project of its own director, Angela Ismailos, who turns what should be a film about these directors into a film about herself. But I honestly don't see it. We learn nothing about Ismailos other than that she admires these filmmakers, and there's really nothing here that isn't entirely about the 10 directors' careers. I don't know if perhaps a different cut was released theatrically, and that's what people are responding to? Because, while there may be an excessive shot or two, the film presented here on DVD is simply not what they're describing.

By another way, Breillat fans will also want to explore this DVD (in fact a 2-disc set) for the special features, which includes individual bonus interviews with each of the ten directors - Breillat's clocks in at over 15 minutes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sleeping Beauty Is Here

It's a good time for Breillat fans... Strand's DVD of her latest film, The Sleeping Beauty (La belle endormie) has just arrived in the US!

Here's the film description from the back of the box - it's a bit different than the Disney version you may be most familiar with: "Cursed at birth by an evil fairy, Anastasia is destined to prick her finger and die at the age of sixteen. When three fairy sisters discover this, they hatch a plan to alter the curse: rather than die, Anastasia will sleep for 100 years and live in a world of dreams. Through her active dream life, Anastasia will find love, loss, and possibly a waking life. French provocateur Breillat continues her deconstruction of classic fairytales with latest, The Sleeping Beauty."

It's a nice looking transfer with English subtitles. There's not much by way of extras: just the original theatrical trailer, and a few bonus trailers for other Strand releases. I'll leave you all with a screenshot:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

To Mathieu, Now In English!

It managed to slip under my radar for about a year, but last October, France Inter and Why Not Productions released a new DVD edition of To Mathieu (Selon Matthieu) - this time with English language options, and region free!

Check out my previous post on To Mathieu for a description of the film and its prior non-English releases.

As you can see from the picture, it only comes in a 2-disc set, paired with another film by co-writer and director Xavier Beavois, Le Petit Lieutenant. That's the same film Studio Canal paired this with in their 2006 set, but their discs didn't have English subs. Both discs are widescreen 1:85 and are essentially featureless, apart from the films themselves. But just having the film finally available in English is already a big score for Breillat fans! ...And yes, Le Petit Lieutenant has subs as well.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Breillat On Blu-Ray

Okay, we've been looking at the work of Catherine Breillat that's available on standard definition DVDs, but what if you're ready to step it up a notch? Breillat is sadly under-represented on Blu-Ray - even her latest releases from Pathfinder and Strand are coming out on SD only - but she's not completely out of the picture.

The Criterion Collection has followed up their definitive release of Fat Girl (A ma soeur) with a new, superior edition on Blu-Ray. Fat Girl's transfer was already pretty state-of-the-art on their regular DVD, so there's no major changes to the image quality, apart, of course, from the increased resolution of this new Blu-Ray disc. But that does still make it, then, easily the best looking Fat Girl available anywhere.

The extras are all carried over from Criterion's standard disc. Nothing added, nothing lost.

And that's pretty much it for any of the films she's written or directed. But, one of the films she (and her sister) has a small role in, Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris, has also made the leap to Blu-Ray. Like the SD disc before it, it has no extras besides the trailer, but it is a substantial upgrade in resolution/image quality.

Update: We've got more Breillat on blu! Most notably, Second Sight has released an attractive special edition of Romance on blu in the UK, as covered here.
The Skin, which she co-wrote, has been released on blu by Cohen Media, as I've covered here.
Police, too, has made it to blu, as covered here.
And finally, Criterion restored And the Ship Sails On, a Fellini film she only very tangentially worked on, as I've covered here.
Oh, and there's the ever on-going saga of Bilitis releases, which now includes some blu-rays.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Angel Lands

It's arrived! Dirty Like an Angel (Sale comme un ange) is now out on DVD from Pathfinder Pictures, meaning all of the films Catherine Breillat are now available on English language DVD. Of course, that still leaves plenty that she just wrote or co-wrote (one of which, Bilitis, will hopefully also be on its way from Pathfinder), and the 36 Fillette picture on the US DVD is just awful and in serious need of a respectable reissue. But now all of her major works are available on DVD and in English; and that's pretty awesome. Dirty Like an Angel is presented here in a nice, 16x9 widescreen presentation with optional subs - it looks great (click above to see the screenshot at full size). Pathfinder has also topped themselves by including an all new interview with Catherine Breillat, as well as the trailer (plus trailers for other Pathfinder discs, including Night After Night). Considering how rare extras are on Breillat's films (at least outside of France, where they're untranslated), this chance to hear the filmmaker discuss her work is a very welcome addition - especially since Breillat's films are often the sort where many people may feel a little explanation of intent would be a big help.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feminisme... Porno... Punk... Mutantes

Mutantes is a French documentary film on pro-sex feminism by Virginie Despentes, filmed in the US, Spain and France. Sounds like just the kind of film they should've asked Catherine Breillat to participate in, right? Well, they did and she accepted, 'cause she's in this movie, which is no available on DVD! The film is comprised of about twenty interviews, including Breillat, and lots of footage of live performances and films. I should warn you guys, I guess, that this is the equivalent of an NC-17 rating with hardcore footage... but if you're a Breillat fan, I'm assuming you're not too uptight about such things. ;)

How is the DVD as far as English language options? Excellent! Not only is the film subtitled into English (or French, or Spanish), but so are the extras, the packaging, the menus, and even the booklet - everything is written out twice... once in French and again in English. The disc is region free, NTSC, and it's just clear a lot of care went into this DVD presentation.

Better still for Breillat fans, the extras include an additional ten-minute interview with Breillat. You may have to poke around the internet a bit to find a copy; but I'll make it easy for ya: has it.

Update 10/5/11 - I figured I'd post a bit more about the film, since I think this post might bring up as many questions as it answers. Breillat's participation in the film is relatively brief... Certainly less than five minutes worth of screen time (if you're coming to this strictly as a Breillat fan, the bonus interview in the extras is more rewarding than the film itself), and she doesn't really discuss her work so much as touch on issues of "post-porn" and feminism in general. Most of the film is dedicated to showcasing the artists' work (and, if you're interested, the extras also include several of the live performances in full), and Breillat is just included for some brief commentary on the general overview set-up, not her own art. It's a bit of a shame they didn't have her discuss a couple of her racier films, like Anatomy of Hell or Romance X, since they seem to fit the thesis of the film better than some of the work they presented instead, but oh well. It starts out as a cohesive documentary on the cross and joint purposes of pornography and feminism; but after the first fifteen minutes or so, it drops that focus. If you liked those Real Sex episodes that HBO used to air, this film is very much like one of those, breezily drifting from one sex show to the next.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dirty Like an Angel Coming To US DVD!

Thanks to Joseph, who commented on my last Night After Night/Nocturnal Uproar post, I contacted Pathfinder and can confirm what he reported: they DO plan to release Dirty Like an Angel (Sale comme un ange) on US DVD! They plan to release the DVD this fall, and if their recent disc is anything to go by, I think we can count on a nice, widescreen image with optional English subs. This will mean, while the quality may vary (36 Fillette, I'm looking at you), we will then have every film Breillat has ever directed on US, English language DVD.

And if that's not enough exciting news, Pathfinder also informs me that they're working on a Bilitis disc (which Breillat didn't direct but co-wrote... see my post on that film). They're currently looking for a proper quality source to master their transfer, so if anybody has any lines on proper film elements, drop by their site and let them know. =)
Update 7/20/11: Added the cover art. The link to pre-order it is now up on Amazon. Looks like another anamorphic (not that anybody does non-anamorphic anymore, do they?) widescreen, which is nice. Here's the description they give: "Georges Deblache (Claude Brasseur) is a police inspector who is past middle age and who is so despondent about his life that he refuses to have a medical check-up, even though he suspects he has cancer. His partner is Didier Theron (Nils Tavernier), who has recently married a woman whom he has worshipful feelings for -- feelings which don't stop him from routinely bedding the many women of color he encounters while doing his job. Georges takes a keen interest in his partner's unrealistically appreciated wife and pushes his way into her not entirely unwilling arms."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Night After Night Is Here!

My copy has just arrived today... Nocturnal Uproar/ Tapage nocturne - here titled Night After Night - is finally available on DVD! That's a screenshot above (click to enlarge it to full size)... As you can see, it's a proper widescreen transfer and it has optional English subtitles. I have to say, I never thought I'd see this one hit DVD, much less in Region 1, so I'm through the roof!

The official box description reads, "Solange is the female version of a womanizing film director who is confident about her conquests and her ability to figure out men. Along comes Bruno, a man she can’t stand. Solange's faith is put to a test. In spite of her better judgment, she is undeniably attracted to Bruno and sleeps with him over and over again. From the director of 'Fat Girl,' 'Romance' and 'The Last Mistress' comes yet another confrontational tale of sexual conquest."

Now, maybe we can talk Pathfinder Pictures into releasing Dirty Like an Angel/ Sale comme un ange, and our collections will be complete! =)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meanwhile, She's Got a New Movie Out...!

Catherine Breillat has recently completed a new film: La belle endormie, an adaptation of Charles Perrault's The Sleeping Beauty (in line with her recent adaptation of Bluebeard), which is currently touring the festival circuit worldwide. Written and directed by Breillat, it's produced by Jean-Francois Lepetit and Sylvette Frydman and stars Carla Besnainou, Julia Artamonov, Kerian Mayan and David Chausse.

The official description reads, "As with most 'fairytales', 'The Sleeping Beauty' begins with 'Once Upon A Time' but anyone familiar with a Catherine Breillat film knows that a “happy ever after” is no guarantee. In a castle in a far away land in a far away time, a baby girl is born. The child’s name is Anastasia. The fairy Carabosse places a curse upon the child- saying at sixteen the girl will prick her hand and die. Three younger and somewhat scatterbrained fairies alters the curse so that instead of dying, Anastasia will sleep for 100 years. For a century Anastasia will live in the world of dreams." The trailer's already up on Youtube, here.

Strand Releasing are set to distribute this film theatrically in July, and there's every reason to hope they'll then offer a DVD, as they did with Bluebeard.

Update 3/30/11: I've contacted Strand and they've confirmed that they'll be handling a US DVD release, "Look for THE SLEEPING BEAUTY on DVD late fall/early winter 2011." =)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Nocturnal Uproar Coming To US DVD!

There is now an Amazon listing for a film called Night After Night on Amazon... Well, looking at the details (directed by Catherine Breillat, starring Dominique Laffin, etc) this can only be one movie... Nocturnal Uproar! This film's never had a proper US release before, which I gather explains the new title ("nocturnal uproar" isn't exactly a natural, English phrase); but it's got to be this film... and just when I'd given up hope!

It's coming from Pathfinder Home Entertainment (though, so far, they haven't added any Night info to their website). There aren't many details, except they promise anamorphic widescreen, and list a running time of 92 minutes. The release date is set for May 24, so mark your calenders!

Now we just need Dirty Like an Angel...

Update 4/19: adding the DVD cover: