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.