Weeds: Season Two (BD, Lions Gate, Region ABC, USA)
Weeds: Season Three (BD, Lions Gate, Region ABC, USA)
Paris, je t'aime (BD, First Look, Region A, USA)
The above three were part of Amazon's recent "three Blu-ray Discs for the price of two" deal.
L'important c'est d'aimer: Special Edition (DVD, Mondo Vision, Region 0, USA) [sample copy]
Hooray for Mondo Vision!
Look at the sample copies that just popped through the letterbox:
To the left is the standard (single-disc) special edition; to the right is the premium edition, which includes a soundtrack CD and several other collectible goodies. Both are due out on June 16th and are available to pre-order from Amazon:
Here's the inside of the single-disc edition...
...and the premium edition.
Coming soon to a DVD player near you
Yeah, I know, it's been a while coming, but a release date has finally been announced for Mondo Vision's second DVD title, Andrzej Zulawksi's L'important c'est d'aimer. Both the Special Edition Digipak and Premium Signature Edition box set (limited to 2,000 copies) are due out on June 16th and are available now to pre-order from Amazon.
Also in the pipeline are L'amour braque and, as per pro-bassoonist at the DVD Talk forum, even more Zulawski treats:
- Trzecia Czesc Nocy (The Third Part Of The Night), 1971
- Diabel (The Devil), 1972
- Na Srebrnym Globie (The Silver Globe), 1977/1987
- Possession, 1981
- La Note Bleue (The Blue Note), 1992
- Szamanka (Shaman Woman), 1996
No release dates have been confirmed for any of these yet, but I'd imagine many people will be very pleased to hear that Possession is finally being re-released, Anchor Bay's considerably less than stellar-looking edition having been out of print for some time.
A classic that never was
So my copy of the upcoming Blu-ray release of The Silence of the Lambs was dispatched from MovieTyme today. At the moment, my brother is in the final stages of his work on the upcoming Mondo Vision DVD of Andrzej Zulawksi's L'important c'est d'aimer, so I'm currently used to seeing (and hearing) Klaus Kinski ranting (in either French, German or English) on a more or less daily basis. During one of his fine tirades, we ended up speculating as to what The Silence of the Lambs would have been like had Kinski played the role of Hannibal Lecter. "Very different" is, I suspect, the answer. From there, I naturally began to wonder what the film would have been like had it been directed by one of Kinski's most frequent collaborators, and populated by his regular cast. Here's what I came up with:
The Silence of the Lambs
A film by Jess Franco
Written and produced by Harry Alan Towers
Soledad Miranda as Clarice Starling
Klaus Kinski as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Herbert Lom as Jack Crawford
Christopher Lee as Dr. Frederick Chilton
Paul Muller as Jame Gumb
Lina Romay as Ardelia Mapp
Romina Power as Catherine Martin
Maria Rohm as Senator Ruth Martin
I'm still struggling to cast the all-important role of Barney. Can any Franco experts out there suggest a suitable actor?
Just a little something to whet your appetites...
Mondo Vision's official web site has finally been fully launched, now with complete information on the currently announced releases as well as the company itself. An extract from their philosophy:
We hope to be around for the years to come, and to give viewers the chance to experience some unique films from around the world, which would otherwise remain buried: a feast of insights into cinema at its most obscure, excessive, and marginalized, aimed at adventurous cinephiles eager to uncover lost and forgotten gems of subversive cinema. For us and our audience, these unique films and their respective directors represent filmmaking at its most challenging and brilliant. We hope you'll join us!
At the same time, Mondo Vision has given the authoring house the go-ahead to post screen captures from Mondo Vision's upcoming second DVD release, Andrzej Zulawksi's 1975 film L'important c'est d'aimer (The Important Thing is to Love), which stars Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi, Jacques Dutronc and Klaus Kinski. As with the already available La femme publique, this will be the first ever release of the film to fully cater to English speakers. Currently, those not fluent in French have to make do with a frankly horrible-looking mess from German label New Entertainment World, released under the title of Nachtblende. I've actually read reviews which praise this catastrophe, so I can only imagine what the feedback will be like once Mondo Vision's edition hits the shelves.
Some screengrabs from the Mondo Vision version:
And here's the Nachtblende disc that it's up against:
Note: we have reason to believe that both transfers were minted from exactly the same source. Make of that what you will.
DVD image comparison: La Femme Publique
It's been some time since I last did a DVD image comparison, but I'm hoping to get the practice up and running again, particularly where standard definition to high definition comparisons are concerned. Tonight's little doozy is La Femme Publique, pitting Mondo Vision's recently released Limited Premium Edition against three earlier versions. Who will triumph? (Hint: it's not the one that's a PAL to NTSC video standards conversion.)
Read and weep!
La Femme Publique LE looks great!
Here's a special peek at the contents of the Limited Edition of Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique, recently given its first ever English-friendly DVD release. You can click the image above for a closer look at the package, which includes the DVD, a soundtrack CD, a sizeable booklet, an individually numbered certificate of authenticity, and ten black and white reproductions of Japanese publicity stills.
La Femme Publique - c'est fantastique! (Part deux)
More reviews of Mondo Vision's La Femme Publique are beginning to trickle in. Today's comes from Svet Atanasov at DVD Talk, who was extremely impressed:
It is almost too good to be true - Mondo Vision have assembled a package that will warm up the hearts of many film aficionados who have been hoping to see Andrzej Zulawski's La femme publique treated with the proper dose of respect. Well, the wait is over. I would like to go on record here stating that even Criterion could have not produced such a terrific package. This is a gift for all of us and I hope that Mondo Vision will be around for many years to come so we could benefit from their admirable desire to please. Good luck Mondo Vision and thank you for this most beautiful release!! DVDTALK Collector Series.
The review gives the transfer, audio and extras a 10/10 rating each.
La Femme Publique - c'est fantastique!
The first review of Mondo Vision's upcoming DVD release of La Femme Publique is now online. Over at Bagatellen, Alan Jones appears to be very impressed with the fledgeling company's efforts:
Here's a film that has been highly regarded among buffs since its 1984 release, one with blatant abstractions that are readily defended as inventive. Having finally seen it, I couldn't agree more, and perhaps the experience is sweetened from such a long wait. Now enjoying its debut among English-speakers, La Femme Publique is again available and is, you will agree with me, among the best transfers this side of BluRay since the advent of the DVD.
Hopefully you won't have to wait too long for your own copies.
DVDs I bought or received in the month of September
- Blow (R0 USA, Blu-ray)
- La Femme Publique (R0 USA, DVD) [sample copy]
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (R0 UK, Blu-ray)
- The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration (R0 USA, Blu-ray)
- Kill Bill Volume 1 (R0 USA, Blu-ray)
- Kill Bill Volume 2 (R0 USA, Blu-ray)
- Mean Girls (R2 UK, DVD) [gift]
- Mother of Tears (RB France, Blu-ray)
- Tekkonkinkreet (R0 UK, Blu-ray)
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (RA USA, Blu-ray)
Apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days. I've been really busy with PhD work. Hopefully things will quieten down a bit by the middle of next week.
An ode to B-movies that looks oddly glossy
Last week, I ordered the recent US Blu-ray releases of both volumes of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. I'm sure I said at some point that I wouldn't buy Volume 1 in high definition unless it was the longer, gorier Japanese cut (which most people know as the version which includes the House of Blue Leaves fight scene in full colour, but which in fact also features increased bloodshed and some additional tweaks here and there), but that doesn't appear to be anywhere on the horizon at the moment. Anyway, the image quality of my Japanese DVD of Volume 1 is so god-awful I decided "to hell with it" and ordered the cut American BD.
Due to a delay in dispatching, Volume 1 hasn't arrived yet, but Volume 2 turned up yesterday while I was at work, and I took a look at it last night. The bottom line is that this is a good transfer and one that I suspect is an accurate representation of the master. I say this because I seem to recall that, at the time of the films' release, Tarantino stated that he wasn't entirely happy with the look of the DIs (digital intermediates) prepared for them, feeling that they were too clean and failed to successfully recreate the gritty texture of the films he was aping. (I'm afraid I haven't been able to dig up a source for this - sorry.) I have a feeling that the cleanness he complained about was in fact the level of temporal noise reduction that has been applied to the material. It's not the horrible waxy kind you see in the likes of the Dark City BD, and as such doesn't really show up to a great extent in the captures posted below, but it is noticeable when in motion, giving the image a slightly synthetic look, with textures and facial details tending to drag a bit. The closest equivalent I can think of is Flightplan, also from Buena Vista and also with the NR applied at the DI stage (a fact confirmed independently on IMDB and by my brother, who noticed the artefacts when he saw the film at the cinema).
What's particularly interesting is that, on certain occasions, particularly the extended Pai Mei section, the NR is either turned off completely or at least lowered to an acceptable level, which I take as further evidence pointing to this having been done at the DI stage rather than some inept technician simply flicking a switch when the Blu-ray transfer was being encoded. (At the risk of sounding like a jerk, most people in the encoding business don't seem to want to invest the effort required to approach things on a scene-by-scene basis, unless their name happens to be David Mackenzie and they work on DVDs of Andrzej Zulawski films.) The result is that the Pai Mei sequence is the best-looking part of the film, despite the fact that I get the feeling Tarantino shot it with an eye to it looking like the roughest, lowest budget segment.
So, overall what we have is a reasonably pleasing-looking disc that has a slightly synthetic feel to it but is, ultimately, a massive upgrade on the rather mediocre-looking standard definition release. For the most part, all 1080 lines of resolution are being put to use and many scenes feature a per-pixel level of detail. It's too bad about the NR, but, if my suspicions are correct, then nothing much can be done about that short of going back to the original camera elements and redoing all the post production work.
Kill Bill Volume 2
(Buena Vista, USA, AVC, 35.8 GB)
I got home from work yesterday to find this waiting for me.
Now, before anyone gets a head of themselves, I need to point out that La Femme Publique is not actually shipping just yet. This is an advance copy that was sent to me by the good people at Mondo Vision, and a very nice surprise it was too. (Entering shameless self-promotion mode for a moment, it was also very cool to see my name in the "special thanks" section on the DVD credits screen.)
It's a very nice package overall, with a 24-page booklet including translations of materials from the French press kit and a new essay by Daniel Bird, as well as a handy little sheet that tells you how to set up your display properly (why more DVD releases don't include this basic information is a mystery to me). And, of course, that's in addition to the excellent transfer, exclusive interview and commentary with Andrzej Zulawski (his story about how he persuaded the 20th Century Fox executives to agree to the casting of Valérie Kaprisky is priceless), and, last but not least, the film's first ever English subtitle translation.
Permit me for one moment to sound like a shill, but, if you want a copy of the film and haven't ordered it yet, get yourself to Amazon.com and pre-order either the special edition or premium edition now.
Mondo Vision's La Femme Publique on Amazon.com
I hereby order ye to get thee to ye olde pre-ordering shoppe immediately!
Premium Edition (limited to 2,000 numbered copies)
The expected release date is September 30th, 2008.
Note: A few people seem to be under the impression that this is a UK release. Just to clarify, it's not: it's a US release.
Look what arrived this afternoon
Straight from our friends in the People's Republic of China, we have the first check discs for the upcoming release of Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique. This will be the first commercially released DVD for which my brother did the video transfer (as well as other assorted tasks), and we hope to be able to give you a release date soon.
Some screenshots to whet your appetite:
More information about the project is available here, or visit Mondo-Vision.com for a sneak peek at what else is in the pipeline.
The day approaches...
It's time for me to go into shameless promotional mode, but for good reason. After months of secrecy, I'm finally able to tell you something about the DVD project Lyris is working on. This is the first public announcement of this release anywhere, so consider yourselves lucky indeed.
Later this year, new DVD label Mondo Vision will be releasing its debut title, the first ever English-friendly release of Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique ("The Public Woman"), initially released in 1984 and starring Valérie Kaprisky, Francis Huster and Lambert Wilson. The name of Zulawski may be familiar to some of the Dario Argento fans visiting the site, since Argento has identified his 1981 film Possession as one of his favourites and a key influence on Tenebre.
This upcoming US DVD release is special for a couple of reasons. First of all, the film has never been released on any format in an English-speaking territory. As such, Mondo Vision's DVD will feature the first ever English subtitle translation of the film. Secondly, I've had the opportunity to see the transfer for this film at various stages of its encoding, and I can honestly state that the final encode, completed a few days ago, is one of the best I have ever seen in standard definition. To say that this blows away what most of the other independent and also major studios are routinely putting out would be a gross understatement. Don't take my word for it, though: feast your eyes on the images below (click the smaller thumbnails to view them at their full size).
Not filtered, not edge enhanced, not noise reduced, not tampered with in any way.
Specifications for this release include:
- Digitally restored transfer mastered in high definition progressive video (1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, dual layer)
- French Dolby Digital 2.0 dual mono audio
- First ever English-language subtitle translation (optional)
- Feature length audio commentary with Andrzej Zulawksi and Daniel Bird (recorded specially for this release)
- Exclusive new interview with Andrzej Zulawski (recorded specially for this release)
- 1984 theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- DVD-ROM content (original screenplay and high resolution images)
In addition to the standard single-disc release, a limited edition will also be released featuring a bonus CD containing the film's original score, as well as a special commemorative booklet.
Two more Zulawski titles, L'important c'est d'aimer (1975, starring Romy Schneider, Fabio Testi and Klaus Kinski) and L'amour braque (1985, starring Sophie Marceau and Francis Huster), will also be released this year.
Category Post Index