Sunday, November 2, 2014

Abuse Of Weakness on DVD!

Okay, I've done a couple posts leading up to it, but now I finally have the official Strand DVD release of Breillat's latest film, Abuse of Weakness, in hand. The transfer naturally looks great, since you'd almost have to go out of your way to screw up a brand new release. I've provided a screen cap, above (right click and "view image" to see it full size), for you to judge anyway. The IMDB lists this as 2.35:1, while this is visibly about 1.85:1; but I think that's just the IMDB being inaccurate. I could certainly see shots like the one above especially benefiting from an HD blu-ray presentation, but for a DVD release, you really can't hope for any better than this.

The extras are as detailed in my last post, but now that I've actually had the chance to watch them all, I can get a little more specific. The short film is indeed her Venice Reloaded short, which looks great here, and you've got the trailer for this film as well as Sleeping Beauty, Bluebeard and four other Strand releases.

Finally, the most compelling extra, the new interview with Breillat. This was apparently recorded at the Melbourne International Film festival and is a good 18 minutes long. It's a very good interview, covering the essential point of how this film mirrors her own real life incident, as well as how this film fits in with the rest of her body of work, working with Isabelle Huppert and Kool Shen, differences between her book and the film, and it even addresses her unmade film Bad Love, which I posted about back in 2008. She is a bit hard to understand here, to the point where I was wishing for subtitle options despite the fact that she's speaking English; but if you're patient and willing to concentrate enough to make it out, it's absolutely worthwhile.

And the film itself is quite compelling... even compared to her other films, I'd say it's not her best, but pleasingly near the top. A large portion of this has to be credited to a command performance by Isabelle Huppert. She and Breillat feel like ideal collaborators, and I'd love to see her continue to become the Mastroianni to Catherine's Fellini, or the Keener to Catherine's Holofcener. And if you had any misgivings about the male lead being given to a rapper, I have to say Kool Shen was actually quite convincing and natural as Huppert's foil.

So, I'm pleased to report this is a pretty ideal DVD release. And that's good, because there's still no signs of one in France, the UK or other markets, so they'll have to import our US disc, too. The release date is Nov. 11 - strongly recommended.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Abuse of Weakness Special Features

Checking up on Amazon's listing for the upcoming Abuse of Weakness DVD from Strand this morning and I see there's an update - special features have been announced!  First and foremost is an interview with Catherine Breillat. This seems like the kind of film that could benefit the most from a little back story, as it's based on some shocking real life events; so that's great to see.  Next up is "The Future of Cinema... (A Short Film by Catherine Breillat)." I presume this was her short film for Venice 70 Future Reloaded, which will be nice to have properly in our collections. Then there's the theatrical trailer, and trailers for other Breillat films (presumably the other ones Strand sells on DVD) and Strand releases.

So there ya go. Not a huge, super-mega-special edition, but definitely something more than just another bare-bones release. Of course, it remains to be seen how substantial the interview is, but I'm optimistic the features will be a solid enhancement. Can't wait for November 11!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Abuse of Weakness Is Finally Landing

It seems like Abuse of Weakness (Abus de faiblesse)'s time in film festival purgatory is finally ending, at least here in the USA. It was taking so long I started to doze off, but thanks to Frank in the comments section for waking me up to this. Strand Releasing, the company that distributed Breillat's last two films here in the States, has picked up her latest. Their official page for the film is here. They'll be giving it their usual, limited art-house theatrical run this coming Friday (Aug 15), and then releasing it on DVD with a release date - at least according to this site; I can't find more official confirmation, but it sounds right - of November 10th. The official trailer is up here.

Keep your fingers crossed for a blu-ray edition, too. Strand does occasionally release them, but out of their nearly three hundred DVD titles, only six of them have gotten blu-ray counterparts, so the odds aren't in our favor. But hopefully this strikes them as one of their more high-profile releases.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Elusive Bilitis

Well, the good news is the upcoming German Bilitis blu-ray from Alive, due out in October, is definitely a full restoration of the film. Just look at these screenshots and compare them to the screenshots I've posted of the past DVD editions.

Wow. And we now know they're not just including the German dub, but also the original French audio. The 'Making Of' featurette seems to have been nixed, but in the presence of a beautiful restoration job of a film that so badly needed it, who cares?

The bad news, unfortunately, is that there are no English language options, leaving us out in the cold just like that La Pelle blu.  This is hard news because I contacted Alive directly, and they responded, "Thank you for your interest in BILITIS. unfortunately we can not publish the English sound or English subtitles on our DVD or Blu-ray."

The silver lining is that now that the restoration has been done, there's a good chance DVD companies in other regions will license it and distribute it with English language options. The fact that Alive said they couldn't include the English option suggests there may already be a deal in place with another company (possibly Pathfinder?) that split the costs of the restoration for exclusive distribution rights. Fingers crossed anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Blu Bilitis

Fingers crossed, folks; the search for a definitive Bilitis may finally be over. On the second of October, German DVD company Alive are scheduled to release Bilitis on blu-ray. It would take a lot of nerve to issue the lousy sourced-from-VHS transfers we've been living with up 'till now onto blu-ray, and Alive is a pretty credible company, so it feels safe to assume this is going to be a proper restoration taken from a 35mm print, if not an original camera negative... though of course there's no knowing that for sure at this stage.

There's no artwork yet (hey, October is a long way away still), but their official website promises us 1080p and, intriguingly, a "Making Of" feature. All of this is very promising news, but I can't help but notice that the only language option they list is "Deutsch DTS-HD 2.0" audio.  Now, it's certainly possible that, since the release is still so far off, additional specs are pending for this release. But while fans may be divided on whether the French or English is the preferable audio track, I think we can all agree just having the German dub would be really disappointing. Furthermore, since there's no mention of any subtitles, we non-German speakers may be well left out in the cold completely with this release.

Still, there's a lot to hope for here. It would seem easy enough for this company to throw on the other audio and subtitle tracks, even if they don't bother to remaster them into nice, lossless tracks, to bring in our international collector dollars. And, even if they don't... once a high quality master has been struck, there's a good chance another company in a different region will license it to release the film on blu to their market. Hopefully an English-speaking one.

So there's nothing for it but to wait and see at the moment. In the meantime, pre-orders are already up at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Australia's Difficulty With Romance

Breillat's Romance had a bit of a sticky time getting released in Australia ...although they still got it on DVD a good year before we did in the US. But for its intended theatrical run in January 2000, it was banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This ban was appealed and eventually overturned after almost a full year, in December. But the legacy of that banning has been preserved on DVD.

Pictured in the upper left is the Australian DVD, released in 2001 by Madman. For those interested, it's a fine DVD release of the film... uncut, in its original 1.66:1 ratio, and includes the original theatrical trailer, as well as bonus trailers for Breillat's Fat Girl, as well as Betty Blue, Paris, Texas  and Show Me Love. It features the original French audio with forced English subtitles. It's all region, but US fans should note that, like most Australian DVDs, it's PAL.

But it has one more bonus feature unique to this particular disc: The Australian Censorship Controversy. This is a text-only feature, but it's 27 pages long and details the decision of the censors, their subsequent correspondence and contains their full report. As a text-only feature, it may not make the disc worth going to the trouble of importing; but does make for a fun little bonus for the film's Australian fans, who probably still remember the initial banning incident fairly well.