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The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912 (as part of the “100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012”) – The Criterion Collection #900 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 7, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Featuring wonderful restoration and remastering work, “The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912” (as part of the “100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012” – The Criterion Collection #900) is entertaining.  But just the opportunity to watch the Olympic footage from that era in time is magnificent!

Image courtesy of © 1928 Gaumont. The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912 (as part of the “100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012”)

YEAR OF FILM: 2016 (footage shot back in 1912)

DURATION: 170 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Silent, English Intertitles

COMPANY: THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2018


Directed by Adrian Wood

Original Newsreel Prod. Siegmund Popert


Spanning fifty-three movies and forty-one editions of the Olympic Games, 100 Years of Olympic Films: 1912–2012 is the culmination of a monumental, award-winning archival project encompassing dozens of new restorations by the International Olympic Committee. The documentaries collected here cast a cinematic eye on some of the most iconic moments in the history of modern sports, spotlighting athletes who embody the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”: Jesse Owens shattering world records on the track in 1936 Berlin, Jean-Claude Killy dominating the Grenoble slopes in 1968, Joan Benoit breaking away to win the Games’ first women’s marathon in Los Angeles in 1984. In addition to the impressive ten-feature contribution of Bud Greenspan, this stirring collective chronicle of triumph and defeat includes such documentary landmarks as Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia and Kon Ichikawa’s Tokyo Olympiad, along with captivating lesser-known works by major directors like Claude Lelouch, Carlos Saura, and Miloš Forman. It also offers a fascinating glimpse of the development of film itself, and of the technological progress that has brought viewers ever closer to the action. Traversing continents and decades, reflecting the social, cultural, and political changes that have shaped our recent history, this remarkable movie marathon showcases a hundred years of human endeavor.


The Criterion Collection released their largest collection set ever, titled “100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012”.

Featuring 53 newly restored films from 41 editions of the Olympic Games, presented together for the first time, including the landmark 4K restorations of “Olympia”, “Tokyo Olympiad” and Visions of Eight”, among other titles, this is the grandest set released by far.

I’m going to have to review each film separately instead of a whole, as it will take me a long time to watch this set.

But I will kickoff with the “The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912).  I was shocked that so much footage was recorded and is presented in Blu-ray for the very first time.

The Swedish production company A.B. Svensk-Amerikanska Filmkompaniet struck a deal with the Stockholm branch of the well-known French studio, Pathe for teh production and distribution of films about the Olympic games.

Camera operators from both companies, under the supervision of Pathe manager Siegmund Popert, shot numerous brief, newsreel-style films.  And only 2/3 have survived.

The remaining footage was restored by the IOC and in 2016, edited into a film.

The film features the ceremonies and Swedish life prior to World War I, the opening ceremony with the Swedish Royal Family and individual competitions.

Including competitive sports that have not taken place for many decades.

Also, a glimpse of legendary surfer and the first Olympic athlete from Hawaii, Duke Kahanamoku and also George S. Patton, Jr. competing in modern pentathlon fencing before he became a celebrated army general.

And so much more!


VIDEO:

“The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912″ is presented with its latest restoration.  Picture quality is great as there is no significant warping or damage.  While I wouldn’t say it’s 100% pristine but the overall picture quality is magnificent for this film.

There is a good amount of grain, no blurring on the edges.  I was quite pleased with the picture quality and the restoration work that was done.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912” features a score presented, composed and recorded in 2017 by Donald Sosin, includes many national songs and Swedish music of the period.

English Intertitles are included.

EXTRAS:

“100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012” comes with a 216-page hardcover book, featuring notes on the films by cinema historian Peter Cowie, along with a letter from Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, a short history of the project by restoration producer Adrian Wood, and hundreds of photographs from a century of Olympic Games.


Watching “The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912”, what we have is a time-machine showcasing life in 1912 in Stockholm, Sweden.  We get to see how crowds were back then, what competitive sports attracted the most people (and which ones didn’t).

Here are key things that caught my interest:

  • The High-Jump – There was no padding, it seemed like people had to land on their feet, fortunately there was sand in the landing area to help break their fall.
  • The Running Dive – It’s one thing to have people dive into a lake but the height of their jump, especially for the running jump and the chances of slipping and really getting hurt was rather interesting to see.  Also, to see how much diving has progressed since then, as there are so many people creating huge amount of splashes, which you don’t really see to much today.
  • The Tug of War Competition – It’s hard to believe that this was an Olympic sport at one time.  But I read that it was stopped because people could have cheated with weighted shoes.  So, they stopped this sport.
  • Lawn Tennis – We are used to seeing women wearing athletic shorts that would allow them to move freely on the tennis court.  Back then, wore very long dresses and they didn’t really go all out, I suppose when you think Serena Williams, everyone just seemed so quiet and polite.
  • Various Races – Not sure why in the track-and-field, when the gun went off, there was one person who didn’t run with the group.  Either they gave up or weren’t supposed to run.
  • The Audience – Water polo, tennis, wrestling and football (soccer) competitions were popular then as they are now.
  • Swimming Pools had no divider lanes.
  • Marathon runners ran into cameramen, who were more interested in getting the shot than their or the athlete’s well being.
  • Staying hydrated was huge for marathon runners who had to run in the summer heat.  And no matter how hot it was, the audience were often dressed up in suits and women in high fashion.
  • The Hammer Throw – You can see how people could get injured from this sport.   One American got hurt badly it seems.  Must of hit his foot with the object.
  • Hurdlers were not all that good back then.  In fact, you would see a few of them knocking down each hurdle with each jump.
  • Gymnastics competition was definitely not as intense as they are today and many would run to do their performance one after the other.  Later on, we get to see the beams and the Russian team showing dominance.
  • Bike races with no brakes?  Not sure if bicycles from 1912 had brakes but not seeing a handbreak, I could only imagine how things would have gone going downhill.
  • Equestrian – The uniforms worn by competitors looked like soldier uniforms.  And sure enough, showcasing the Swedish team, they were all Lieutenants.
  • Posing for the camera – Even back then, athletes had a great sense of humor, messing around and joking with their teammates in front of the camera.  Even one shoving his buddies who are looking towards the camera.
  • No medals?   They showed winning athletes receiving trophies.

But overall, I was really captivated by watching this silent film as it captured society, fashion styles, how people behaved in front of the camera but most importantly, seeing the various types of competitions back in 1912 but also just seeing another time period and how athletes and the audience were enthralled of watching the Olympics.

If anything, having this 1912 film in the set is quite special.

Featuring wonderful restoration and remastering work, “The Games of the V Olympiad – Stockholm, 1912” (as part of the “100 Years of Olympic Films – 1912-2012” – The Criterion Collection #900) is entertaining.  But just the opportunity to watch the Olympic footage from that era in time is magnificent!

 

The Passion of Joan of Arc -The Criterion Collection #62 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 3, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you have been interested in watching “The Passion of Joan of Arc” for the first time, it’s definitely an experience! May you be new to the Criterion Collection or a Criterion Collection owner who owned the original 1999 DVD, this new 2018 Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection is absolutely magnificent and surpasses the older DVD release in every way!  This is the definitive version to own! Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1928 Gaumont. The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Passion of Joan of Arc -The Criterion Collection #62

YEAR OF FILM: 1928

DURATION: 81 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Silent, French Intertitles with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Warner Bros./THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2018


Directed by Carl Th. Dreyer

Screenplay by Carl Th. Dreyer in collaboration with Joseph Delteil

Cinematography by Rudolf Maté

Edited by Marguerite Beauge, Carl Theodor Dreyer

Historical Consultant: Pierre Champion

Art Direction: Hermann Warm

Set Decoration: Jean Hugo, Hermann Warm

Production Design:   Jean Hugo

Costume Design:  Valentine Hugo


Starring:

Renee Jeanne Falconetti as Jeanne d’Arc

Eugène Silvain as Pierre Cauchon

André Berley as Jean d’Estivet

Maurice Schutz as Nicloas Loyseleur

Antonin Artaud as Jean Massieu

Gilbert Dalleu as Jean Lemaitre

Jean d’Yd as Nicolas de Houppeville

Louis Ravet as Jean Beaupère

 


Spiritual rapture and institutional hypocrisy come to stark, vivid life in one of the most transcendent masterpieces of the silent era. Chronicling the trial of Joan of Arc in the days leading up to her execution, Danish master Carl Theodor Dreyer depicts her torment with startling immediacy, employing an array of techniques including expressionistic lighting, interconnected sets, and painfully intimate close-ups to immerse viewers in her subjective experience. Anchoring Dreyer’s audacious formal experimentation is a legendary performance by Renée Falconetti, whose haunted face channels both the agony and the ecstasy of martyrdom.


In 1928, the film “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” based on the trial of  Joan of Arc was directed by Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer.  The film is considered a landmark in cinema and was released by The Criterion Collection back in 1999.

But its one thing to watch the powerful silent film starring Renée Jeanne Falconetti as it details the actual trial of Jeanne d’Arc (based on the actual court documents) and to hear the amazing music by Richard Einhorn’s “Voices of Light” accompanying the film.  But what is equally amazing is the story behind-the-making of the film because there have been many different versions of Dreyer’s original film.

Right at the beginning of working on the film, the French nationalist campaigned against the film because it was directed by a non-French director, a non Catholic director and they simply felt he was not the right person to direct a film about the country’s icon hero Joan of Arc.  So, the archbishop of Paris ordered changes to be made for the film without Dreyer’s input.

Then on Dec. 1928, the original negative of the film was destroyed during the fire at UFA studio in Berlin.  All Dreyer had now was worn out copies that were distributed earlier at screenings.  Heartbroken by what happened, Dreyer was able to create a new version of the film utilizing alternative takes and almost matched the original.  But another fire took place at the labs of G.M. de Boulogne-Billancourt in 1929 and the second negative was lost.

But then a lost version of the film at 61 minutes without the intertitles was found in 1933 and featured a vocal narrative. In 1951, film historian Lo Duca found an intact negative in the vaults of Gaumont Studios that was based on Dreyer’s second negative and Lo Duca made major changes and included subtitles and a vocal narrative.  This was released and infuriated Dreyer even more (who hoped that Lo Duca would release the original negative of the film instead of his “modernized” version).  Then the Danish Film Institute went on to work on another film based on existing prints and utilizing another source print found in London which contained extra shots but also missing nearly 200 shots.

Needless to say, within the next 60+ years, people who have seen the film have seen different versions.  The original 1928 film was burned in the fire and the true version would never be seen by moviegoers…until 1981 when a workman in Oslo, Norway who was cleaning out a closet at a mental institution found film canisters.  The canisters were given to the Norwegian film Institute and it was discovered that the canisters were the original print of the film from 1928.

Immediately the film was restored and remastered.  In 1999, the Criterion Collection DVD would feature the first definitive edition of  “The Passion of Joan of Arc”.

Fastforward to 2018, and not only do we get this wonderful film with a 2K digital restoration of the film by Gaumont, but now we get the film presented in 24 and 20 frames per second.  And also, this version we get three scores and more special features, making this the current, definitive version of “The Passion of Joan of Arc” to own!

For those not familiar with Joan of Arc, she is a national heroine of France and post-posthumously named a Catholic saint.  As an illiterate peasant girl from France, she started hearing voices in her head and that it was from God.  Jeanne d’Arc at 17-years-old was responsible for leading the French Army (disguised as a man but later revealed as a woman) and winning victories during the Hundred Years’ War against the English.  She was feared by the Burgundians and the English and was eventually captured and put on trial.

The silent film “The Passion of Joan of Arc” takes place during the trial based on actual transcripts of Jeanne d’Arc being put on trial for heresy.  She was interrogated and each answer she gave, she would surprise the court and the court would try to scare her in order to get her to be sentenced in someway or manner.  We see the entire trial and also her execution and the aftermath of her execution.

Although a silent film, it’s the acting of Renée Jeanne Falconetti that captures the attention of the viewer.  No sound or words are needed to understand the fear in her eyes, her belief in God…the court is also well captured as their expressions tell you their frustration but also their cold, calculating ways of trying to get Jeanne d’Arc to answer their questions.

Accompanied by the Voices of Light soundtrack, we are greeted with one of the earliest and more powerful silent films that has been regarded as one of the top films of all time and on various polls of the top films of all time, “The Passion of the Joan of Arc” is easily in the top 10.


VIDEO:

“The Passion of Joan of Arc” is featured in black and white (1:33:1 aspect ratio). Considering what had taken place with the film for over 70 years, this footage found in 1981 and restored for the The Criterion Collection DVD is fantastic. Not perfect but compared to the VHS blurry copies that people have had for many years, the quality on this DVD is awesome for a film that is over 80-years-old. You do see a bit of scratches and dust but with all the work that went in to correct many frames from warping and acid and massive dust, the picture quality is very good. According to Criterion, the digital transfer was created at 24 frames a second from a 35mm fine-grain master positive made from the restored negative. The transfer was restored utilizing the MTI Digital Restoration System.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital restoration by Gaumont and the Centre national du cinema et de l’image animee was created in 2K resolution from a duplicate negative made from an original positive print held by the Danish Film Institute, which also provided the original Danish intertitles presented in the 20-frame-per-second version”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, when “The Passions of Joan of Arc”  was released by the Criterion Collection in 1999, I commented on how the silent film included Richard Einhorn’s “Voices of Light” is fantastic.

I absolutely loved the soundtrack, but with the Blu-ray release, the Criterion Collection now offers three scores: Richard Einhorn’s “Voices of Light”, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory and Portishead’s Adrian Utley and another by composer/pianist Mie Yanashita.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The recording of Richard Einhorn’s ‘Voices of Light’ presented here, from 1995, features performances by Anonymous 4, soprano soloist Susan Narucki, the Radio Netherlands Philharmonic and Choir, and other musicians, conducted by Steven Mercurio, Grace Row produced the recording”.

“Adrian Utley and Will Gregory’s score, produced with the support of Colston Hall and Watershed in Bristol, england, and Hauser & Wirth Somerset, is a combination of live recordings from two 2016 performances, one at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and the other at Wells Cathedral in Somerset.  The twenty-piece ensemble conducted by Charles Hazlewood features an eight-piece choire, a brass quintet, and five electric guitars, as well as synths, percussion and three medieval harps.  Special guest Jonsi Birgisson is featured as a vocal soloist”.

“The Mie Yanashita score was recorded at the Lutheran Ichigaya Hall in Tokyo on July 11 and 12, 2005, by producer Fumiaki Kimura and recording engineers Masaru Usui and Miho Arima”.

French Intertitles with English Subtitles

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Passions of Joan of Arc” comes with the following special features:

  • About the Frame Rates – (11:48) Danish film scholar Casper explores the debate over the proper frame rate for “The Passion of Joan of Arc”.  This release presents the film at two different speeds: 24 fps and 20 fps.
  • About Voices of Light – (11:09) Featuring a new interview with Richard Einhorn, who composed the oratario “Voices of Light”.
  • Adrian Utley and Will Gregory – (15:24) Adrian Utley and Will Gregory discuss creating their score for “The Passions of Joan of Arc”.
  • Audio Commentary (for 24FPS version) by Casper Tybjerg – Audio essay by Dreyer scholar Casper Tybjerg record on Aug. 1999.  A very indepth commentary by Caper Tybjerg who evaluates the shots on the film.
  • Audio interview excerpts with Helene Falconetti – Richard Einhorn’s audio interview from 1995 with Helene Falconetti, daughter of Renne Falconetti.
  • Version History – (10:29) A featurette discussing the variety of versions of “The Passion of Joan of Arc” that were released in theaters.
  • Production Design Archive – (3:51) Featuring photos taken on the set of “The Passion of Joan of Arc”.

EXTRAS:

The Passion of Joan of Arc -The Criterion Collection #62″ comes with a 42-page booklet featuring the essays: “The Face of Truth” by Mark Le Fanu, “Realized Mysticism in the Passion of Joan of Arc” by Carl Theodor Dreyer and “Voices of Light Libretto”.


Powerful, emotional and important. Carl Th. Dreyer’s “The Passion of Joan of Arc” was a film that had to go through so many challenges. If it’s one thing to have so many versions, so many cuts and so much controversy, the film also had to contend with the move away from silent films to film with sound.

Regardless of the controversy, the fact is that Dreyer’s original print after 60 years has been found, restored and we are being given the opportunity to see this film the way it was mean to be seen.

I feel that in this day and age, many viewers are familiar with Joan of Arc through films such as Luc Besson’s “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc” or Christian Duguay’s mini-series “Joan of Arc” or even whatever they learned through the PSP video game “Jeanne d’Arc”. But the story of Jeanne d’Arc is not as easy one to tell in 90-120 minutes. Also, instead of focusing on the protagonist fighting in various wars or in battle, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is nothing like any of these newer incarnations of the story of Joan of Arc.

What we have with “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is a true Dreyer masterpiece not realized until after 1981. A powerful performance over 80-years ago by an actress captured on film. The visual composition is amazing, the set design (which was very expensive despite not being utilized in the film all that much) and that final moments are just incredible to see. This was made in 1928 and here we are 90-years later and this film just holds up remarkably well.

As for the Criterion Collection 2018 Blu-ray release, if you thought the original DVD release in 1999 was fantastic, what we have is a complete overhaul.  Now we get a 2K restoration, the film presented in 24 and 20 frames-per-second, three very different scores, new special features (the old DVD has numerous text-based features) and even the essays on the original booklet have been replaced.

There are Criterion Collection releases that are released and aside from the restoration and new lossless audio soundtrack, sometimes the special features remain the same.  But lately, the Criterion Collection are now including much more.  And fortunately, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is like a complete overhaul and surpasses what was considered at one time, the definitive version.  That title now belongs to this Blu-ray release, which is magnificent!

If you have been interested in watching “The Passion of Joan of Arc” for the first time, it’s definitely an experience!  May you be new to the Criterion Collection or a Criterion Collection owner who owned the original 1999 DVD,  this new 2018 Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection is absolutely magnificent and surpasses the older DVD release in every way!

This is the definitive version to own!  Highly recommended!

 

Blow-Up – The Criterion Collection #865 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 3, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

“Blow-Up” brings out another side of Antonioni that one never saw coming and for a film which many will say is another masterpiece in his film oeuvre, which in my mind is deserving.  “Blow-Up” is a film that is given a wonderful treatment by the Criterion Collection and is a Blu-ray release which I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of © 1966 Turner Entertainment Co. The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Blow-Up – The Criterion Collection #865

YEAR OF FILM: 1966

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:85:1 aspect ratio, Color, Monaural, English with English SDH Subtitles

COMPANY: Warner Bros./THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2017


Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Based on the Short Story “Las Babas del diablo” by Julio Cortazar

Screenplay by Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra

Produced by Eisaku Matssura, Kaneto Shindo

Music by Hikaru Hayashi

Cinematography by Kiyomi Kuroda

Edited by Toshio Enoki


Starring:

Vanessa Redgrave as Jane

Sara Miles as Patricia

David Hemmings as Thomas

John Castle as Bill

Jane Birkin as The Blonde

Gillian Hills as The Brunette

Peter Bowles as Ron

Veruschka von Lehndorff as Verushka


In 1966, Michelangelo Antonioni transplanted his existentialist ennui to the streets of swinging London for this international sensation, the Italian filmmaker’s first English-language feature. A countercultural masterpiece about the act of seeing and the art of image making, Blow-Up takes the form of a psychological mystery, starring David Hemmings as a fashion photographer who unknowingly captures a death on film after following two lovers in a park. Antonioni’s meticulous aesthetic control and intoxicating color palette breathe life into every frame, and the jazzy sounds of Herbie Hancock, a beautifully evasive performance by Vanessa Redgrave, and a cameo by the Yardbirds make the film a transporting time capsule from a bygone era. Blow-Up is a seductive immersion into creative passion, and a brilliant film by one of cinema’s greatest artists.


Michelangelo Antonioni is a filmmaker that had earned the title “Master of Alienation”.

His most well-known films have been called the “Alienation Trilogy” consisting of “L’Avventura” (1960), “La Notte” (1961) and “L’Eclisse” (1962).

But in 1966, the filmmaker would be contacted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for three films and the first film was a direct a mystery thriller titled “Blow-Up”, his first film entirely in English that challenged the Production Code as the film was considered to have “explicit sexual content”.  And it would help to lead film studios to abandon the Production Code in 1968 and adhere to the MPAA film rating system.

Considered as one the world’s greatest films, “Blow-Up” is a long awaited title which cinema fans has hoped for release by The Criterion Collection.

The film would star David Hemmings (“Gladiator”, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Barbarella”), Vanessa Redgrave (“Atonement”, “Coriolanus”, “Letters to Juliet”), Gillian Hills (“A Clockwork Orange”, “Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct”), Jane Birkin (“Evil Under the Sun”, “La Belle Noiseuse”), Sarah Miles (“Ryan’s Daughter”, “Hope & Glory”), Veruschka von Lehndorff (“Casino royale”, “Veruschka – Poetry of a Woman”) and Peter Bowles (“The Bank Job”, “The Irish R.M.”).

Inspired by the 1959 short story “Las babas del diablo” by Julio Cortazar, the film would win the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or in 1967, the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for “Best Foreign Film” in 1968 and many more.

“Blow-Up” revolves around fashion photographer, Thomas (portrayed by David Hemmings).

We see the photographer and his mannerisms when taking photos of popular supermodel Veruschka, how temperamental he gets when he shoots a group of women and things don’t go his way and when he gets bored, he leaves the models and staff, not even completing the job.

Two young aspiring models (portrayed by Gillian Hills and Jane Birkin) try to plead with him to take their photos, but Thomas is not so interested.  He drives off to the antique shop and then to Maryon Park to take some photos for a book he is working on.

Thomas starts to take photos of a couple who look like they are in love and as he snaps many photos, the woman (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave) goes to him and demands the film and admonishes him for taking photos.  She tries to take his camera to no avail and then she runs off.

Thomas then meets with his agent Ron (portrayed by Peter Bowles) for lunch and notices a man looking in his car.  As he goes off to see what is going on, he decides to head back to the photo studio (and his home) and arriving is the woman, Jane that tried to take his camera at the park hours earlier.

She desperately asks for the film and he tells her to wait.  As the two have a conversation, she tries to show him that she will do anything for that film.  She even takes her top off and starts flirting with him.

Thomas ends up giving her a different roll of film and when he asks how he can reach her, she gives him a fake phone number and leaves.

Wondering why she was so adamant to get the film, Thomas decides to process the film.  And as he looks at the photos, blowing-up the various areas, he sees her looking at another location.  As Thomas increases the resolution to the area, he sees a man in the bushes with a gun.

He goes to another frame and when he blows-up the image, he sees the man that Jane was with, now dead.

Did Thomas capture a murder while taking pictures?


VIDEO:

“Blow-Up – The Criterion Collection #865” is presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness. There is good amount of grain and for the most part, while a 1966 film, some areas of the film look like you are watching the present.  The film looks that good in HD!

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Director film scanner from the 35 mm original camera negative and a 35 mm interpositive.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices and warps were manually removed using MTI Film’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix wa used for small dirt, grain, noise management, jitter and flicker”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Blow-Up” is presented in English LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered from the original magnetic 2-inch 24-track DME/MFX track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD and iZotope RX”.

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Blow-Up – The Criterion Collection #865” comes with the following special features:

  • Michelangelo Antonioni – (5:30) A brief excerpt from “Michelangelo Antonioni: The Eye That Changed Cinema” (2001)
  • Blow Up of “Blow Up” – (53:54) A 2016 documentary directed by Valentina Agostinis for the 50th anniversary of “Blow-Up”.
  • David Hemmings – (7:41) Excerpt of interviews on the set of “Only When I Larf” (1968, Duration: 5:24) directed by Basil Dearden.  The second was a conversation between the actor and host Brian Linehan that took place on the program “City Lights” on April 26, 1977 (Duration: 20:19).
  • Vanessa Redgrave – (44:45) A 2016 conversation between historian Philippe Garner and Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Jane Birkin – (8:54) A 1989 interview with Jane Birkin (who played the blonde) and her memories of working with Antonioni.
  • Antonioni’s Hypnotic Vision – A two piece featurette on “Modernism” (Duration: 16:07) and “Photography” (29:49) with David Alan Mellor, curator and art historian at the University of Sussex, historian Philippe Garner and Walter moser (head of the photographic collection at the Albertina museum in Vienna).
  • Teaser – (1:01) A teaser for “Blow-Up”.
  • Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “Blow-Up”.

EXTRAS:

“Blow-Up – The Criterion Collection #865” comes with a 66-page booklet featuring the essays: “In the Details” by David Forgacs, “On the Set” by Stig Bjorkman, “Questionnaires” – A Q&A which Antonioni asked numerous London-based photographers and painters, “Blow-Up” by Julio Cortazor,


For those who have read my reviews for Michelangelo Antonioni’s films, I am a big fan of his cinematic work.

But the film “Blow-Up” is no doubt different from his “alienation” films, it’s less about alienation and existential melancholy, less about relationships between two individuals and more about a photographer and his relationship to the world and seeing something not routine happen to him for the first time.  Forcing him to look at life with a different perspective and learn from it.

Part of the entertainment factor of “Blow-Up” is it captures the “Swinging Sixties” of London.  A time when London was flourishing in art, music and fashion and the film manages to incorporate that flair, Thomas as a fashion photographer, model Veruschka posing for the camera and their interaction is almost sexual.

For Thomas, when things go right when he’s taking picture, he loves it.  When things don’t go right, he gets bored and leaves.

We also have musician Herbie Hancock involved in the film as you hear his wonderful music throughout the film.

And if you desire some that Antonioni alienation, one of the memorable scenes involves The Yardbirds performing “Stroll On” to a quiet audience who just stands there.  We see Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck along with Chris Dreja playing on stage and seeing Jeff Beck smash his guitar and Thomas catching it, then we see the audience who was quiet, start to react.

Not many know that in that concert scene, fashion editor Janet Street-Porter is in the audience along with pre-“Monty Python” actor, Michael Palin.

The film also has its moments of spontaneity, as two young women, a blonde and brunette, would do anything to have Thomas take his picture and we see the three having fun in the studio.   And some fascinating hijinks take place.

Antonioni had said about this part of the film, “although this scene is neither erotic, nor vulgar.  It is fresh, light, and, I dare hope, funny”.  I no doubt found these scenes to be fun and unexpected.

But before all that, it’s the meeting between Jane (portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave), a woman which Thomas has shot in the park earlier, not knowing what would be in the photographs, flirting with one another and out of nowhere, Jane drops her top and keeps it off.  Juxtaposed with scenes between the two earlier, who would expect such a thing to happen.

These scenes are unlike Antonioni’s previous films that it’s quite surprising to see in an Antonioni film, yet because it was unexpected, it made the film much more entertaining.

Antonio explained in his book, “The Architecture of Vision” that “Exhibitionistic and voyeuristic trends are particularly underlined.  The young woman in the park undresses and offers her body to the photographer in exchange for negatives she wants to retrieve.  Thomas witnesses a sexual encounter between Patrizia and her husband, and his presence as a spectator seems to increase the young woman’s excitement”.

And by no means are these scenes, especially a scene involving Thomas with a group of mimes, to be out of left field.  Antonio said that when he created “Blow-Up”, Antonioni said, “When I began to think about this film, I often stayed awake at night, thinking, and taking notes.  Soon this story, with its thousands of possibilities, fascinated me, and I attempted to understand where its thousands of implications would take me”.

It’s that intellectual mind of Antonioni that draws me to his films, like a painting that can elicit different moods.

“Blow-Up” brings out another side of Antonioni that one never saw coming and for a film which many will say is another masterpiece in his film oeuvre, which in my mind is deserving.  “Blow-Up” is a film that is given a wonderful treatment by the Criterion Collection and is a Blu-ray release which I highly recommend!

 

Le Mariage De Chiffon (as past of the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France) (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

August 2, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

For those wanting to see a lighthearted, fun and entertaining film during the time when Nazi Germay occupied France, one will surely be entertained by Claude Autant-Lara’s 1942 film “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which is included in the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France”.  But for those who find this film to be too fun and sweet considering the turmoil and tragedies happening in France at the time, may best want to look elsewhere.

Image courtesy of © 1942 Gaumont. © 2018 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Mariage De Chiffon (as past of the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France)

YEAR OF FILM: 1942

DURATION: 103 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black and White, 1:37:1 Aspect Ratio, Monaural, French with English subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Films/Gaumont/The Criterion Collection

RELEASED: January 23, 2018


Based on the Novel by Gyp

Directed by Claude Autant-Lara

Adaptation by Jean Aurenche, Maurice Blondeau

Dialogue by Maurice Blondeau

Produced by Pierre Guerlais

Music by Roger Desormiere

Cinematography by Philippe Agostini, Jean Isnard

Edited by Raymond Lamy

Production Design by Jacques Krauss

Costume Design by Claude Autant-Lara


Starring:

Odette Joyeu as Corysande dite Chiffon

Andre Luguet as Le duc d’Aubieres

Jacques Dumesnil as Max de Bray

Pierre Larque as Jean

Suzanne Dantes as La Comtesse de Bray

Louis Seigner as Philippe de Bray

Georges Vitray as Van Doren

Robert Le Vigan as Maitre Blondin


This delightful comedy brought Claude Autant-Lara his first popular success as a director. Chiffon (Odette Joyeux) is being pushed by her mother to wed a dashing military officer (André Luguet) but finds herself drawn to her stepfather’s penniless brother (Jacques Dumesnil). For LE MARIAGE DE CHIFFON, Autant-Lara convened the creative team including screenwriter Jean Aurenche, cinematographer Philippe Agostini, and the incomparable Joyeux that would reunite for each of his subsequent three features, initiating a remarkable run of sharp love stories.


Quite often we will see in entertainment, people who had created or produced quality work throughout their productive years and then as they grown older, they become a different person altogether.

May it be through acts of stupidity, change of ideology, decline of mental health, whatever it may be, sometimes it can diminish any appreciation one can have towards works in their oeuvre.

French filmmaker Claude Autant-Lara is one of those men.

A man who produced romantic comedies during the Nazi occupation of France. Films that were entertaining, collaboration as an art director and costume designer for Jean Renoir,  especially in “Nana” which he also starred in.

But unfortunately, towards the end of Autant-Lara’s life, when he was elected to the European Parliament, he became a man known for hatred in 1989.  Expressing concerns about American cultural threat and  even going so far in an interview calling the Nazi gas chambers as “string of lies”.

The scandal would lead to his resignation and memories of Claude Autant-Lara unfortunately is a man who incited racial hatred.

What changed Claude Autant-Lara?  It’s hard to say, considering during the 1940’s, through the occupation of France, he created entertaining love stories.  What can make a man who created cinema of love become a man who made remarks of hatred?  With that being said, it should be no surprise as we have seen a lot of things in America, with entertainers that unfortunately have followed a similar path.

And this is the focus in the “Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France” which includes four films:  “Le Mariage De Chiffon”, “Lettres D Amour”, “Douce” and “Sylvie et Le Fantome”.

In my reviews for this Criterion Collection DVD set release (Note: Eclipse Series are DVD release only, no special remastering/restoring, no special features included), I will focus on cinema.

The first film featured in the DVD set is “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which begins with Lt. Commander Aubieres (portrayed by Andre Luguet) who is stationed back in a place where he worked long ago.

While leaving the station, he sees a young woman hopping around in the rainy night with one shoe.  She is looking for her other shoe but with no light, she can barely see a thing.  Aubieres offers to help and eventually finds her shoe, but instead of returning it to her, it gives the older military soldier a chance to carry the young woman towards her home.  While thankful, the young woman rushes off without giving her name, in fear that she may upset her mother.

As for Aubieres, he still has the young woman’s missing shoe.

We learn that the young woman’s name is Corysande, but called by her nickname “Chiffon”.

Chiffon lives with her mother, a fellow widower, La cometesse de Bray (portrayed by Suzanne Dantes) who is more interested in looking good to society and showcasing her wealth.  Her mother is always upset for Chiffon for not listening to her but also, feels her decisions of not being a proper lady will affect her chance of attracting a man.

Chiffon also lives with her stepfather, Philippe de Bray (portrayed by Louis Seigner), a meek man who does whatever his wife says, and cares about playin g pool and the curve of his moustache.  But he does care for Chiffon and tries to help her when he can.

Also, living in the home is Philippe’s brother Max de Bray (portrayed by Jacques Dumesnil), a man who has literally spent his money trying to build a flying aircraft (airplane) but is now penniless.  But while he looks wealthy and has an affair with a wealthy woman, he hopes to make his dreams of making a flying aircraft come true.

What complicates matters is Chiffon is in love with her “uncle”.  While not her true uncle, but an uncle by marriage, she wants him to look at her as a young woman not girl.

Meanwhile, Max is looking forward to meeting an old friend in the military, who happen to be the Lt. Commander Aubieres (who also happens to be smitten with Chiffon).

When the government comes to take away Max de Brays inventions and belongings, since he is delinquent in past bills, Chiffon learns that she can save him if she gets married and uses the dowry.  But will she have to marry the Lt. Commander in order to help the man she really loves?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Le Mariage De Chiffon” is presented in black and white (1:37:1 Aspect Ratio). Considering the film is over 85-years-old, picture quality is actually very good on DVD.  No major film damage but there are some parts where you can see slight blurring but nothing too detrimental.

Grain is present and for the most part, most people should be pleased with the overall picture quality for a DVD release.

The film is presented in French monaural with English subtitles. Dialogue and music is clear

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Eclipse Series releases do not come with special features but included is a three-page essay about the film and Claude Autant-Lara by Nicholas Elliott, a writer and translator, and the New York correspondent for “Cahiers du cinema” and a contributing editor for film for “BOMB” magazine.


The first film featured in Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France is “Les Mariage de Chiffon), an entertaining romantic drama, one may call it a romantic comedy, thanks to its carefree character Chiffon, played by French actress Odette Joyeux.

While she studied dance at the Paris Opera Ballet before becoming an actress, she was able to take on the role of a bubbly young woman, in love with a man who is like her uncle, while an older Lt. Commander is smitten by her.

Her character was a tad bit independent, no doubt innocent thus leading to a tad bit of naivety, Odette Joyeux was 28 when this movie was released, but she no doubt did a wonderful job of playing this young girl wanting to know and explore the world, with men and wanting to be loved and to love.

But while she has had notable films in her career, Odette Joeux will probably be remembered as an author of some plays and essays on dance.  Writing two novels which were aimed to inspire dance and was made Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion D’honneur in 1989 and promoted to Officer in 1998.  She was also made an officer of the Ordre national du Merite in 1994.

So, she was no doubt a shining star and “Le Mariage De Chiffon” is a film that shows an early versatility to her acting career.

“Le Mariage de Chiffon” is also entertaining because of how the supporting characters are around Chiffon.

Her mother La cometesse de Bray is wealthy yet overly-concerned about her daughter, her stepfather Phillippe is a meek man who tries to stay away from his wife and is often playing pool or taking care of his mustache with the help of the butler.

The men in Chiffon’s life are intriguing, Max de Bray played by Jacques Dumesnil, is a builder/inventor and a risk it all type-of man, who believes in the future of aviation and hoping to get a plane off the ground.  Max is also a man having an affair, looks as if he has money but in truth, he’s a man that has spent nearly every penny into his aviation venture.

While the older, much refined and suave Lt. Commander Aubires portrayed by Andre Luguet, who would have a long career between 1910-1970.  Luguet played the character wonderfully, compassionately and despite being much older than actress Odette Joyeux, his screentime was well utilized by filmmaker, Claude Autant-Lara.

As for the film, it was a happy film in which people who hope and dream, and show that it’s possible that dreams can come true.  Probably a much needed film for its time, especially during the Nazi occupation of France (1940-1944), for those that wanted something uplifting.  While others may have looked at this film with disgust, especially the young who fought against Nazi Germany and the many who were of France, that collaborated with the the Nazi Germans and Vichy regime.

I’m not an erudite when it comes to the occupation of France, but I am aware that during and after the occupation was turbulent times in France (I recommend Ronald C. Rosbottom’s “When Paris Went Dark: The city of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944).  Not only were French Forces collaborating with Nazi Germany to capture and apprehend members of the Resistance, who were comprised of mainly young men and women.

The Germans had rules, especially when it came to cinema, the French did not challenge it.  When Nazi Germany were unable to keep tracks on the Resistance or Jews in France, French officials didn’t challenge it, they helped the Germans. Nazi Germany cast a darkness of fear in France, many including the Vichy were too afraid to fight, except young men and women who sacrificed their lives.

One who want cinema that strikes you through the heart with reality of what took place during the occupation of France, may want to also check out Marcel Carne’s 1945 film “Children of Paradise” (Enfants du Paradis), Rene Clement’s 1952 film “Forbidden Games” (Jeux Interdits), Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 film “Army of Shadows” (L’Armee Des Ombres) or Francois Truffaut’s 1980 film “The Last Metro” (Le Dernier Metro).

But for those wanting to see a lighthearted, fun and entertaining film during the time when Nazi Germay occupied France, one will surely be entertained by Claude Autant-Lara’s 1942 film “Le Mariage De Chiffon” which is included in the Eclipse Series 45: Claude Autant-Lara – Four Romantic Escapes from Occupied France”.  But for those who find this film to be too fun and sweet considering the turmoil and tragedies happening in France at the time, may best want to look elsewhere.

 

Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872 (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World” is a unique film based on an enjoyable comic book by Daniel Clowes.  I do recommend reading the “Ghost World” graphic novel to know the story between Enid and Rebecca and then I would watch the film and know how the two are quite different.  But the film is entertaining and features solid performances by Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi and it’s a film worth watching!  Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1959 Argos Films. 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872

YEAR OF FILM:  2001

DURATION: 111 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1:85:1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: UA/MGM/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017


Based on the Comic Books by Daniel Clowes

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

Written by Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff

Produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russel Smith

Executive Produced: Pippa Cross, Janette Day

Line Producer: Barbara A. Hall

Music by David Kitay

Cinematography by Affonso Beato

Edited by Carol Kravetz Aykanian, Michael R. Miller

Casting by Cassandra Kulukundis

Production Design by Edward T. McAvoy

Art Direction by Alan E. Muraoka

Set Decoration by Lisa Fischer

Costume Design by Mary Zophres


Starring:

Thora Birch as Enid

Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca

Steve Buscemi as Seymour

Brad Renfro as Josh

Illeana Douglas as Roberta Allsworth

Bob Balaban as Enid’s Dad

Stacey Travis as Dana


Terry Zwigoff’s first fiction film, adapted from a cult-classic comic by Daniel Clowes, is an idiosyncratic portrait of adolescent alienation that’s at once bleakly comic and wholly endearing. Set during the malaise-filled months following high-school graduation, Ghost World follows the proud misfit Enid (Thora Birch), who confronts an uncertain future amid the cultural wasteland of consumerist suburbia. As her cynicism becomes too much to bear even for her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), Enid finds herself drawn to an unlikely kindred spirit: a sad-sack record collector many years her senior (Steve Buscemi). With its parade of oddball characters, quotable, Oscar-nominated script, and eclectic soundtrack of vintage obscurities, Ghost World is one of the twenty-first century’s most fiercely beloved comedies.


When it comes to alternative comics success, Daniel Clowes has seen his stories such as “Ghost World” (2001) adapted into a film, and “Art School Confidential” (2006).

These stories were among the many stories that were featured in his solo anthology comic book series “Eightball” which was published by Fantagraphic Books.

In each issue, you would have around a half dozen stories in black and white or color.  “Eightball” would run from October 1989 through June 2004 with a total of 23 issues released and it was no doubt the craziest, crudest yet humorous comic books you would find at the comic book store (if you were lucky to find an issue).

But “Ghost World” was a fascinating story that was featured in issues #11-#18  and was a commercial and critical success and became a cult classic.

The story followed the lives of best friends Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer.  These two girls are witty, intellectual, cynical and trying to figure out what to do with their lives.

While the original story featured on the friendship between Enid and Rebecca, the film adaptation incorporated the friendship but focused a little more on Enid Coleslaw and Seymour.

The film adaptation is directed by Terry Zwigoff (“Crumb”, “Bad Santa”, “Art School Confidential”, “Louie Bluie”) and co-written by both Zwigoff and original story creator, Daniel Clowes.

The film stars Thora Birch (“Patriot Games”, “Hocus Pocus”, “Affairs of State”), Scarlett Johansson (“The Avengers” films, “Captain America” films, “Lost in Translation”, “Her”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”), Brad Renfro (“Sleepers”, “The cure”, “The Client”), Illeana Douglas (“Grace of My Heart”, “Happy, Texas”, “To Die For”), Bob Balaban (“Gosford Park”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Capote”) and Stacey Travis (“Intolerable Cruelty”, “Mystery Men”, “Easy A”).

And the film would receive the Criterion Collection treatment and is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Best friends Enid (portrayed by Thora Birch) and Rebecca (portrayed by Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated from high school.  While Rebecca is planning for her future and is expecting Enid to move out of her house to live in a place with her, Enid still has to pass a remedial art class to get her diploma.

One day, the girls see  a personal ad in which a man named Seymour is trying to get in contact with a woman who recently contacted him.

Enid makes a prank call pretending to be the woman and for him to meet her at a diner, and while the two and their friend Josh (portrayed by Brad Renfro) wait, entering the diner is Seymour (portrayed by Steve Buscemi).

As he waits for the woman, they see him as a dork and make fun of him, but immediately Enid starts to feel sympathy for him and follows him to his home.

When the two arrive, they see that Seymour is selling vintage albums and Enid purchases an old blues album from him.

Not long after, they become friends and she wants to help him find a date, but in the process, as she spends more time with Seymour, her friend Rebecca starts to feel left out.

Will their friendship suffer because of the time Enid is spending with Seymour?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” is presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio, English Dolby Digital 5.1 with English SDH subtitles.

It’s important to note that if one wants the best picture and audio quality, they will want to purchase this film on Blu-ray. But the DVD features very good picture quality as I didn’t notice any damages to the film, nor did I see specs or anything terrible.  If anything, the picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD. And an improvement over the older DVD release.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on a Northlight 2 film scanner from a 35 mm interpositive.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI Film’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for jitter, flicker and small dirt.  The 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered from the 35 mm magnetic track.  Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro tools HD and iZotope RX.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary from 2017 featuring co-writer/director Terry Zwigoff, comic creator and film cowriter Daniel Clowes and producer Lianne Halfon.
  • Art as Dialogue – (41:34) Featuring documentary interviews with actors Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Illeana Douglas.
  • Deleted Scenes – (9:31) Deleted scenes from “Ghost World”.
  • Jan Pehechaan Ho” – (5:41) The opening scene is an excerpt from the 1965 Bollywood film “Gumnaam” (The Unknown) featuring a performance of the song “Jaan Pehechaan Ho”.
  • Trailer – Theatrical trailer for “Ghost World”.

EXTRAS:

“Ghost World – The Criterion Collection #872” comes with a 38-page booklet with the essay “Seance in Wowsville” by Howard Hampton, “About the Music” by Terry Zwigoff and a 12-page booklet featuring a “Ghost World” story from “Eightball” issue #13.


As a big fan of the original “Eight Ball” comic book, I grew up reading “Ghost World” during my early college years.

So, when the film was released in theaters, I have to admit that I was stoked about watching a film about two social outcasts who look down on society.  And while parts of the film resembles the original comic book series, I was surprised how different the film was from the comic book series.

Where the comic book focused on Enid and Rebecca and their deteriorating friendship, the friendship between the two young ladies is less prominent in the film.

In fact, the film becomes more of a film of self-discovery for the character of Enid and she spends time with Seymour.  Both are social outcasts, both are lonely and through circumstances, they tend to find their friendship with each other comforting.   Enid gets closer to him by telling he will try to get him a woman, and when she succeeds in doing just that, when he starts to spend more time with the other woman, she starts to feel left out.

She then turns to her friend Rebecca, who she hasn’t talked all that much and needless to say, their friendship has changed.

In the comic book series, there are other character who show up but are not as prominent in the film version.  In the comics, both are attracted to Josh, but instead of messing around with him behind each other’s backs, Josh is more of a person that Enid tries to get jealous by flaunting that she hangs out with an older man.

While I was hoping for a true film adaptation of the comic book series, the film on its own, while incorporating Enid and Rebecca’s character to the film, with a different storyline, makes “Ghost World” still entertaining.

Thora Birch does a marvelous job playing the character of Enid, and Johannson as Rebecca.  But I felt Enid was more on point throughout the film, Rebecca doesn’t have the self doubt, nor does she complain how the guys don’t stare at her, and if anything, she is more of the best friend who wants to grow up.  Enid is like the person who wants things to be just as they are and obviously confused when she has no one there for her.

Steve Buscemi is also fantastic as the social outcast, Seymour.  A man who likes the classics, but obviously, he wants to be with a woman.  His life changes when he meets Enid and whether its for the best or for the worse, if you have watched the film, watch how things eventually play out.

As for this DVD, you get a newer interview with Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Illeana Douglas, deleted scenes and a short feature on the excerpt dance video from the Bollywood film “Gumnaam” (1965).

As for picture and audio quality on DVD, it’s good, but of course you want to get the Blu-ray version if PQ and AQ are important to you.

Overall, Terry Zwigoff’s “Ghost World” is a unique film based on an enjoyable comic book by Daniel Clowes.  I do recommend reading the “Ghost World” graphic novel to know the story between Enid and Rebecca and then I would watch the film and know how the two are quite different.  But the film is entertaining and features solid performances by Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi and it’s a film worth watching!

Recommended!

 

La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

lacienne-a

I absolutely enjoyed “La chienne” for its wit, Renoir’s writing and direction, the performance of Simon and Mareze. Without a doubt, “La chienne” is a film that gives us a fantastic glimpse of the auteur that Jean Renoir would one day become. Recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1931 Establissements Braunberger-Richebe/1974 Les Films du Jeudi. 2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818

YEAR OF FILM: 1931

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:19:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, French Monaural with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Film/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2016


Based on the Novel by Georges de La Fouchardiere

Directed by Jean Renoir

Adaptation by Jean Renoir

Produced by Pierre Braunberger, Roger Richebe

Cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl

Edited by Denise Batcheff, Pal Fejos

Art Direction by Marcel Courmes

Set Decoration by Gabriel Scognamillo


Starring:

Michel Simon as Maurice Legrand

Janie Marese as Lucienne Pelletier

Georges Flamant as Dede

Roger Gaillard as L’adjudant

Romain Bouquet as Henriot

Pierre Desty as Gustave

Mlle Doryans as Yvonne

Alexandre Rignault as LAngelard

Lucien Mancini as Wallstein

Henri Guisol as Amedee

Max Dalban as Bernard


Jean Renoir’s ruthless love triangle tale, his second sound film, is a true precursor to his brilliantly bitter The Rules of the Game, displaying all of the filmmaker’s visual genius and fully imbued with his profound humanity. Michel Simon cuts a tragic figure as an unhappily married cashier and amateur painter who becomes so smitten with a prostitute that he refuses to see the obvious: that she and her pimp boyfriend are taking advantage of him. Renoir’s elegant compositions and camera movements carry this twisting narrative—a stinging commentary on class and sexual divisions—to an unforgettably ironic conclusion.p.


lacienne-c

Considered an auteur, there is no denying that within the oeuvre of Jean Renoir is several cinematic masterpieces.

From his films “The Lower Depths” (1936), “La Grande Illusion” (1937), “La Bete Humaine” (1938) and “The Rules of the Game” (1939), a decade before, Renoir was known for his silent films.

But with many careers ending from the transition from silent film to the talkies, with the success of Renoir’s “purge bebe” (1931), he would experiment with sound and trying to create a film quickly within a budget.

And so, Renoir would work on his next film, which included music being recorded in the studio during the acting, and once again, taking on a challenge with a longer film with sound.

And the result was “La chienne” (which translates to “The Bitch”), a film that Renoir had dreamed of making because it would feature one of his favorite actors, Michel Simon and it was also a film that utilized darkness via nighttime photography which would later become an influence in cinema.

“La chienne” also was a goal for Renoir to create a film that was adapted from a novel and a play.  An adaptation of Georges de La fouchardiere’s novel, unfortunately “La chienne” wasn’t a box office draw, the film is seen as Jean Renoir’s starting point for cinema with sound and be appreciated by film critics many decades later.  And a darker US adaptation would be made in 1945, directed by Fritz Lang, known as “Scarlet Street“.

“Le chienne” is a film starring Michel Simon (“L’Atalante”, “Port of Shadows”, The Passion of Joan of Arc”, “Boudu Saved From Drowning”), Janie Mareze (“Mam’zelle Nitouche”, “Le collier”, Amours viennoises”) and Georges Flamant (“The 400 Blows”, “Blind Venus”, “Midnight Tradition”).

“La chienne” would also be the final film of actress Janie Mareze, who was killed in a car accident (driven by actor Georges Flamant) shortly after the completion of the film.

Considered as a Renoir film that is not well known, “La chienne” will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

“La chienne” begins with a party featuring a cashier named Maurice (portrayed by Michel Simon) and his co-workers.  His co-workers tease Maurice because he doesn’t like to have fun, he always heads home and is often greeted with hostility by his uncaring wife Adele (portrayed by Magdeleine Berubet).

In his spare time, Maurice loves painting and his wife dislikes his paintings that litter the house.

After the party, as Maurice is going home, a couple Andre “Dede” Govain (portrayed by Georges Flamant) and his prostitute girlfriend, Lucienne “Lulu” Pelletier (portrayed by Janie Marese) are arguing as Dede needs money to pay off his gambling debts.  When Lulu tells him that she has no money, he beats her.

But immediately, Maurice comes to her rescue and brings Lulu home.

Fastforward weeks later and we learn that Maurice has purchase an apartment for Lulu with new furniture and gives her spending money.  We learn that Lulu is using Maurice, but she looks at this arrangement of being with Maurice necessary to save money but also to give Dede the money he needs, in order to strengthen their relationship.

As Maurice’s wife pushes him to rid of his paintings, he gives it to Lulu and puts it on the walls of her place.  Needing money to pay off his debts, Dede sees the paintings and creates a story that Lulu is the true painter and needless to say, collectors start to purchase the paintings.

But as Dede tries to get Lulu to squeeze more money out of Maurice, Maurice who is unable to keep up with Lulu’s new lifestyle, begins to steal money from his company.


VIDEO:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” is presented in 1:19:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness. Black levels are nice and deep, white and gray levels are well-contrast.  It’s important to note that because of the aspect ratio, the screen size is smaller.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution from a 35 mm safety fine-grain made from the original 35 mm nitrate neagtive.  The film was restored in 2K resolution at Digimage Classics by Les Films du Jeudi and of the Franco-American Cultural Fund DGA – MPA – SACEM – WGAW.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” in French LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered from the 35 mm optical soundtrack negative and restored by L.E. Diapason.”

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” comes with the following special features:

  • Jean Renoir Introduction – (2:43) An introduction to “La chienne” by director Jean Renoir from 1961.
  • On Purge Bebe – (52:01) Jean Renoir’s first sound film from 1931 starring Michel Simon.  This version is the newly restored version.
  • Christopher Faulkner – (25:24) Jean Renoir scholar Christopher Faulkner discusses the filmmakers transition from silenfilm to talkies and the importance of “La chienne”.
  • Jean Renoir le patron: “Michel Simon” – (1:35:13) A 1967 French television program featuring a conversation between Renoir and Simon, directed by Jacques Rivette.

EXTRAS:

“La chienne – The Criterion Collection #818” comes with a poster foldout which comes with the essay “He, She, And the Other Guy” by Ginette Vincendeau.


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Every filmmaker has their beginning, but for Jean Renoir, despite having a successful silent film career, the early 1930’s, was a new beginning for filmmakers as it would lead many to experiment with spoken voices.

While the era of the talkies was not kind to many filmmakers and talent, for Renoir, having success with his first experimental sound film “purge bebe”, his film “La chienne” would be an important film.  Some for good reasons but also for things that are not all that good.

For one, his dream was to work with actor Michel Simon, to create a film that was an adaptation of a novel and play and hope for a film that would jumpstart his career.

Unfortunately, “La chienne” would be devastating for Renoir, as his partnership of having a film starring his wife Catherine Hessling would end.  Thus causing problems within his marriage.

The film was not a box office success, as he would gain the reputation of creating good films, but films that don’t do well in the box office.  While Renoir was later told by a friend that a filmmaker must have failures, and those who have failures receive sympathy from audiences.

“La chienne” would also bring even more heartbreak as lead actress Janie Mareze would be killed in an accident with co-star and boyfriend, Georges Flamant, shortly after the making of the film.

If anything, the film made him humble but also made him serious of creating films with better scripts.  And eventually, several years later, Jean Renoir would create his well-known masterpiece from the mid-to-late ’30s.  And eventually creating films in the United States a decade later.

So, many people could see “La chienne” being important in cinema as a brand new start for Jean Renoir as a filmmaker.

As for the film, while I have been spoiled by Fritz Lang’s 1945 darker remake “Scarlet Street”, Lang’s film is definitely film noir, while “La chienne” can be appreciated for Renoir’s artistic vision, Michel Simon and Janie Mareze’s performance.

As Lang’s “Scarlet Street” felt American, tragic and truly film noir, “La chienne” had the feeling of being French from its romanticism, comedy and irony, especially the Renoir’s use of dialogue to its technical use of shooting in darkness, shooting behind windows, its montage.  But most of all, an ending that fits perfectly with French cinema and feels right.

I enjoyed this Renoir film a lot because it’s a complete film in so many levels.

Overall, I absolutely enjoyed “La chienne” for its wit, Renoir’s writing and direction, the performance of Simon and Mareze.   Without a doubt, “La chienne” is a film that gives us a fantastic glimpse of the auteur that Jean Renoir would one day become.

Recommended!

 

Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“Le Amiche” may be looked at as a different Michelangelo Antonioni film in the fact that it’s less alienating and not about the psychology of people but more of the focus on relationships and detachment. But what can appreciate “Le Amiche” is for its daring approach of being different from the norm of films which were focused on Italian Neorealism during that time. A precursor to Antonioni masterpieces that would come years later, “Le Amiche” is an early Antonioni film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © Titanus 1955. 2016 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817

YEAR OF FILM: 1955

DURATION: 104 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Italian Monaural with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Film/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: June 7, 2016


Based on the Novel by Cesare Pavese

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni

Screenplay by Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Michelangelo Antonioni

Collaboration by Alba De Cespedes

Story by Dorothy B. Hughes

Produced by Robert Lord

Associate Producer: Henry S. Kesler

Music by George Antheil

Cinematography by Burnett Guffrey

Edited by Viola Lawrence

Art Direction by Robert Peterson

Set Decoration by William Kiernan

Costume Design by Jean Louis


Starring:

Eleanora Rossa Drago as Clelia

Gabriele Ferzetti as Lorenzo

Franco Fabrizi as Cesare Pedoni, The Architect

Valentina Cortese as Nene

Yvonne Furneaux as Momina De Stefani

Madeleine Fischer as Rosetta Savoni

Anna Maria Pancani as Mariella

Luciano Volpato as Tony

Ettore Manni as Carlo


This major early achievement by Michelangelo Antonioni bears the first signs of the cinema-changing style for which he would soon be world-famous. Le amiche (The Girlfriends) is a brilliantly observed, fragmentary depiction of modern bourgeois life, conveyed from the perspective of five Turinese women. As four of the friends try to make sense of the suicide attempt of the fifth, they find themselves examining their own troubled romantic lives. With suggestions of the theme of modern alienation and the fastidious visual abstraction that would define his later masterpieces such as L’avventura, L’eclisse, and Red Desert, Antonioni’s film is a devastating take on doomed love and fraught friendship.


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Before Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni would be known as the “Master of Alienation” and would direct well-known films “Blow Up” (1966), “Red Desert” (1964), “L’Eclisse”(1962), “La Notte” (1961) and “L’Avventura” (1960), he directed his fourth feature film, “Le Amiche” (1955).

An adaptation of Cesare Pavese’s 1949 novel “Tra donne sole”, his film would star Eleanora Rossi Drago (“Violent Summer”, “David & Goliath”, “Dorian Gray”), Gabrielle Ferzetti (“L’Avventura, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), Fabrico Fabrizi (“I Vitelloni”, “Ginger and Fred”, “Death in Venice”), Valentina Cortese (“Day for Night”, “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”, “The Barefoot Contessa”), Yvonne Furneaux (“La Dolce Vitta”, “Repulsion”, “The Mummy”), Madeleine Fischer (“The Day the Sky Exploded”, “Class of Iron”) and Anna Maria Pancani (“The Bachelor”, “Piccola Posta”, “Operazione Notte”).

And now this early Michelangelo Antonioni film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

The film revolves around Clelia (portrayed by Eleonora Rossi Drago), a successful woman who is planning to open a branch of a Rome fashion salon in her native city of Turin.

While she is overseeing the grand opening, when she goes to her hotel, her maid tells her that a young woman in the next room is dead.  Clelia goes to check on the young woman, Rosetta Savoni (portrayed by Madeleine Fischer) and sees that she tried to overdose on sleeping pills and tried to commit suicide.

While Clelia is being interviewed by police, Rosetta’s friend Momina De Stefani (portrayed by Yvonne Furneaux) comes to visit and finds out that her friend tried to kill herself.

Clelia and Momina become friends and she is introduced to her wealthy friends including an artist named Nene (portrayed by Valentina Cortese) who lives with her less successful fiance, a painter named Lorenzo (portrayed by Gabriele Ferzetti) who envies his girlfriend’s success.  But because his jealousy is pushing him away from his wife, he ends up becoming closer to the emotionally unstable Rosetta.

And their other wealthy friend, Mariella (portrayed by Anna Maria Pancani) is flirtatious and just loves the attention of men.

Meanwhile, Clelia starts to fall for Carlo (portrayed by Ettore Manni), assistant of the salon’s architect, Cesare Pedoni (portrayed by Franco Fabrizi).  But because Carlo is a member of the working class and Clelia is financially successful, both are from two walks of life.

But with the class of ego’s, unfortunate advice by one of the women would eventually lead to tragedy.


VIDEO:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” is presented in 1:33:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness.  Black levels are nice and deep, white and gray levels are well-contrast.

According to the Criterion Collection, “Supervised by film historian Carlo Di Carlo in 2008, this 2K restoration was undertaken by L’Immagine Ritrovata, with funding provided by the Gucci and The Film Foundation, from the 35 mm original camera negative.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” in Italian LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at L’Immagine Ritrovata from a 35 mm optical soundtrack positive printed from the original soundtrack negative.”

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” comes with the following special features:

  • David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus – (27:01) Featuring scholars David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus discussing “Le Amiche” and its themes, visual style and adaptation.
  • Eugenia Paulicelli – (22:25) Film scholar Eugenia Paulicelli talking about the significance of fashion in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni.

EXTRAS:

“Le Amiche – The Criterion Collection #817” comes with a six-page foldout which comes with the essay “Friends – Italian Style” by Tony Pipolo.


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A film about friendships, relationships but also a modern and fashionable look of successful independent women.

Unlike other Antonioni films that delves into the psychology of a relationship and the alienation of its character, this film is about independent women making choices, independent and wealthy women and their relationships that appear strong based on their free spirit and lifestyle.

But the more one delves into each of the women’s thoughts throughout the film, you realize they are much different and for some, not as strong-willed as it may seem.

The film follows the character of Clelia, who left Turin to make a life for herself. And she has become successful and now returns back to the city of Turin to open up a Rome fashion salon but to find out how much she has changed from the city she grew up in.

Where psychology is important in an Antonioni film of trying to understand a character’s alienation, “Le Amiche” is different in the fact that it delves into a bourgeois facade of life being much better for those who are wealthy and are able to sport popular fashion brands.

And one should remember that this is all quite fascinating because Italian cinema was focused on humanity and post-war suffering of the Italian people.  Italian neorealism showcased many people, many families who had not much to survive.

While “Le Amiche” is much different as it showcased women who were independent, wealthy and successful.  But at the same time, their perceptions towards life is less about family and moreso about finding a man, having fun and being stylish.

But Clelia, one of the wealthy, successful women, who is just in the city of Turin to visit, starts to see the bad with these women that she has befriended.  Clelia is independent, successful through hard work, other women she has befriended try to find themselves a wealthy man to take care of them.  She is not that type of person.

The film also tries to show viewers why, among these friends, the character of Rosetta is suicidal and unstable but why her friends are so uncaring of one of their own.

But things are not all good with only the women, a few of the men have succumbed to their own bouts of insecurity.  Lorenzo is a talented painter, but nowhere as successful as his girlfriend Nene.  And with Nene’s career blossoming, his jealousy starts to consume him.  Pushing him towards the arms of the unstable, Rosetta.

Meanwhile, Clelia starts to fall for Carlo, the assistant to the architect.  But Carlo knows that his place in society, is much different than Clelia.  And as both do have feelings for each other, both know that they are from two different worlds.

The camerawork and also Antonioni’s choreography of where people should be on film was also great to see, especially being an earlier Antonioni film.

As for the Blu-ray, “Le Amiche” looks fantastic in HD, with the clarity of the overall picture to be wonderfully contrast and sharp.  While lossless audio is free of any hiss or crackle.  You also get two special features, one that goes into the film and its difference to the novel, while the other featurette focuses on the fashion featured in Antonioni films.

Overall, “Le Amiche” may be looked at as a different Michelangelo Antonioni film in the fact that it’s less alienating and not about the psychology of people but more of the focus on relationships and detachment.  But what can appreciate “Le Amiche” is for its daring approach of being different from the norm of films which were focused on Italian Neorealism during that time.

A precursor to Antonioni masterpieces that would come years later, “Le Amiche” is an early Antonioni film worth watching!

 

The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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“The Naked Island” is visually mesmerizing and entertaining considering there is no dialogue in the film. While filmmaker Kaneto Shindo has a long oeuvre of fantastic films which he directed and wrote, “The Naked Island” stands out for its visual style and storytelling. Highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 1960 Kindai Eiga Kyokai.  The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811

YEAR OF FILM: 1960

DURATION: 96 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Monaural in Japanese with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Janus Films/Toho/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2016


Directed by Kaneto Shindo

Written by Kaneto Shindo

Produced by Eisaku Matssura, Kaneto Shindo

Music by Hikaru Hayashi

Cinematography by Kiyomi Kuroda

Edited by Toshio Enoki


Starring:

Nobuko Otawa as Toyo (mother)

Taiji Tonoyama as Senta (father)

Shinji Tanaka as Taro (eldest son)

Masanori Horimoto as Jiro (youngest son)


Director Kaneto Shindo’s documentary-like, dialogue-free portrayal of daily struggle is a work of stunning visual beauty and invention. The international breakthrough for one of Japan’s most innovative filmmakers—who went on to make other unique masterworks such as Onibaba and KuronekoThe Naked Island follows a family whose home is on a tiny, remote island in the Japanese archipelago. They must row a great distance to another shore, collect water from a well in buckets, and row back to their island—a nearly backbreaking task essential for the survival of these people and their land. Featuring a phenomenal modernist score by Hikaru Hayashi, this is a truly hypnotic experience, with a rhythm unlike that of any other film.


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In Japanese cinema, filmmaker/writer Kaneto Shindo has had many noteworth films in his oeuvre.  In fact, at the end of his career, Shindo had directed 48 films and wrote 238 scripts.

Known for directing films such as “Onibaba”, “Story of a Beloved Wife”, “Kuroneko”, “A Last Note” to name a few.

And as filmmakers have their muse in their careers, Jean-Luc Godard with Anna Karina, Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, John Ford and John Wayne, Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, to name a few.

For Kaneto Shindo, he had Nobuko Otawa, his mistress and later his wife.  An actress with a long career and one of her most notable films with Shindo was the black-and-white 1960 film, “Hadaka no shima” (The Naked Island).

A film that would star Otawa, Taiji Tonoyama, Shinji Tanaka and Masanori Horimoto.

A film with no spoken dialogue and featuring a modernist score by Hikaru Hayashi, “The Naked Island” is a unique film which would win the Grand Prix at the 2nd Moscow International Film Festival.

And now, “The Naked Island” will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of The Criterion Collection.

“The Naked Island” follows a family of four that live in a tiny island in the Seto Inland Sea.  They are the only occupants of the island and they survive by farming.

But it’s a harsh life as the husband and wife must continually row a boat from their island to a neighboring island to get water to water their plants and also provide water for themselves to drink and bathe in.

A harsh life in order to survive, we watch the small family to see how they function as a unit in the course of a year.


VIDEO:

“The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811” is presented in 1:35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality is fantastic, the film features great clarity, wonderful detail and sharpness.  Black levels are nice and deep and the white and grays are well contrast.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new high-definition film transfer was created on a Spirit 4K DataCine from a new 35 mm print struck from the original camera negative.  Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and splices were manually removed using MTI Film’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker and jitter”.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio, “The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811” in Japanese LPCM 1.0 Monaural audio. The lossless soundtrack is crystal clear with no signs of major hissing, crackle or audio pops.

It’s important to note that the film is primarily musically driven and features atmospheric noises, the family laughing but there is no spoken dialogue.  The emphasis is primarily on the musical score by Hikaru Hayashi.

According to the Criterion Collection, “the original monaural soundtrack was remastered from a 35 mm optical soundtrack positive.  Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX 4.”

Subtitles are in English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring the audio commentary by director/writer Kaneto Shindo and composer Hikaru Hayashi.
  • Kaneto Shindo – (7:31) Recorded in 2011 featuring Kaneto Shindo as a greeting for “The Urge for Survival”, a retrospective of his work at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
  • Benicio Del Toro – (7:41) A 2016 interview with actor Benicio Del Toro, a longtime advocate for Kaneto Shindo’s work.
  • Akira Mizuta Lippit – (17:11) A 2016 interview with film scholar Akira Mizuta Lippit.
  • Trailer – The original theatrical trailer for “The Naked Island”.

EXTRAS:

“The Naked Island – The Criterion Collection #811” comes with a five-page foldout which comes with the essay “The Silence of the Sea” by Haden Guest (film historian and curator and director of the Harvard Film Archive).


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Having watched many of Kaneto Shindo’s films, “The Naked Island” stands out for its beauty, its tragic storyline but also the harsh reality for rural farmers.

In the case of “The Naked Island”, the film focuses on a family that live in an island as its only occupants.

The island has been cultivated for farming and the parents often have to go to the nearby island to get water (via rowboat) to plant their crops but also provide water for themselves.  And also to bring their child to school.

The images of a man and wife having to hold heavy buckets on a stick and balanced on their shoulders, making sure they don’t spill a drop is painful, tiring but its a life that these two are able to survive and provide for their family.

Because they do not live in town and are in their own island.  They are isolated from society.

They do not have television, nor are they seen wearing any extravagant clothes.  We watch as the family bathes in an outside bucket, a father making shoes for himself and the children and a life focused on maintaining crops for food and also to sell to people in town.

Kaneto Shindo is able to make the film entertaining as it has a documentary-style of filmmaking.  Watching these two parents planting and watering their crops, enjoying dinner time with each other, bathing outside and functioning as a normal family, but the fact that they live in an island away from the locals and many other people.

As a viewer, a lot of us can’t fathom the harsh lifestyle that this couple must endure daily, but this is their lifestyle living on the land, living within their means and whatever tools they have on-hand.

What’s interesting is when the children catch a fish and the family goes to the city with their kids to sell the fish to a fishmonger to eat it.  And for the two children, seeing shops and also television is rather not interesting for them as the concept of television seems to unphase them.

Of course, as the family are followed for the course of the year and being a Kaneto Shindo film, you can’t expect everything to be all happy-go-lucky.  And tragedy presents itself and provides one of the most memorable visuals and scenes of the film.

I was moved by “The Naked Island” as the film presents stunning visuals and a budget for a film that relied on Kaneto Shindo to fund as the film company was near bankruptcy.

The film features a modern score by Hikaru Hayashi and for the most part, a film without dialogue and its visual presentation of telling a story is rather unique and mesmerizing.  “The Naked Island” is no doubt a cinematic experience.

The Blu-ray release features fantastic picture quality as black levels are nice and deep, white and grays are well contrast and the monaural soundtrack is crisp and clear with no pops or crackles.

Included is a 2000 audio commentary and also special features recorded in 2016, plus a 2011 retrospective video introduction by Kaneto Shindo.

Overall, “The Naked Island” is visually mesmerizing and entertaining considering there is no dialogue in the film.  While filmmaker Kaneto Shindo has a long oeuvre of fantastic films which he directed and wrote, “The Naked Island” stands out for its visual style and storytelling.

Highly recommended!

 

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