Doesn't Sleep (2015/Film
(1938/Olive Blu-ray)/A Man
Called Ove (2015/Music
Box DVD)/Mia Madre
(2015/Music Box DVD)/Neither
Heaven Nor Earth
(2015/Film Movement DVD)/Pierrot
Le Fou (1965/Umbrella PAL
Import DVD)/Private Vices,
(1976/Mondo Macabro Blu-ray)
C/B-/C+/C+/C/C+/B Sound: C+/Vices: B- Extras:
D/D/C/C+/C+/D/C+ Films: C+/B/C+/B-/C+/B/C+
Import DVD is now only available from our friends at Umbrella
Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray players that can
handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below.
a new group of foreign films, including three past films of note, for
you to know about....
Aguero's Eva Doesn't Sleep
(2015) is an ambitious work that combines archive footage of Eva
Peron's rise, sudden death and enduring legacy with a portrait of
Argentine politics that is almost darkly amusing. The approach is
repetitive and eventually does not hold up to even 86 minutes of this
film, but is interesting and effective enough to give it a look.
film start out with dark images and a man (Gael Garcia Bernal)
complaining angrily, hatefully of some evil woman who has ruined his
life and adult political intents. He turns out to be a solider and
it is Eva Peron he complains about. Even dead, she is still
a thorn in his side and that of his Right-wing/militarist work/life
and that sets the tone for how her legacy created a permanent
left-of-center discourse in the country (the musical Evita
does not even skip this) that always keeps coming
back to haunt it, foil the other side's political domination and has
become a permanent discourse there, even if some could argue that she
was not as far Left as many believe.
does not matter. It is the memory, life and what could have been if
she did not die so early that not only makes her a martyr for those
with limited wealth and power, but (not unlike the Kennedy legacy in
the U.S.), a permanent (early?) peak of this left-ness. I just wish
there was variation at the first and/or second thirds of the film
because I bet there is more to show and say. Otherwise, I like its
are sadly no extras.
Gance's J'Accuse (1938) is the great French director's dark
examination of the First World War, its consequences and even who is
to blame for such mass murder. Released as 'the war to end all wars'
was turning out to be a fraud as WWII was around the corner, Gance
rightly was trying to prevent the next international disaster and
even if the film did not stop WWII or war in general, it has very
powerful, graphic, haunting and influential things to say about the
war that are as relevant today as they were nearly 80 years ago.
one of the most important war film ever made, it is one of the few
WWI film that still stand out (like Kubrick's Paths Of Glory,
Renoir's Grande illusion or Milestone's All Quiet On The
Western Front) that deal with the conflict so well. We see the
people who fought, suffered, were betrayed, who lived, died, barely
lived and much more as Gance is determined to focus on the human
factor involved. That makes it the best kind of anti-war film, but
the mortality has not been dimmed by age a bit.
is a remake of Gance's own 1919 silent film and it has a freshness
that is remarkable. Because WWI is on the brink of being too
forgotten like the Korean War, et al, this Blu-ray release is an
important one. One of the best releases on this list, it makes me
want to see the 1919 version.
are sadly no extras, though I should make an odd note that WWI will
get a new round of curiosity soon as the upcoming Wonder
Woman film is set during
WWI instead of WWII, when the character debuted. Hope that is some
kind of gateway for viewers to want to see the great WWI films like
Holm's A Man Called Ove
(2015) is a well-acted, well cast Swedish dark comedy (based on the
hit Fredrik Backman book) about an older man (Rolf Lassgard in the
title role of Ove) who has little to live for and is sick of the
'happy' community he lives in, especially when agism has his company
drop him. That is only the beginning of the injustices against him,
we learn many more in several flashback sequences, though I did not
buy some as they were eventually too predictable and some seems
legally implausible. That would give away too much, so that's for
another time and place.
about to kill himself in his home by hanging when he keeps getting
interrupted by things like happy new neighbors moving in, but he is
far from happy and being the local fix-it guy, keeps getting asked
for all kinds of other help when he ironically cannot help himself.
The results of this still-likable 116-minutes romp is very uneven,
which ironically made it more commercially viable in a watered-down
market, but I was also disappointed it did not hold together better.
include a Director/Cast Q&A after a screening of the film at
Scandinavia House NYC, Make-up Gallery, Make-Up Time Lapse, Original
Theatrical Trailer and The Ove In All Of Us making of
Moretti's Mia Madre
(2015) is the best of the new releases with Margherita Buy as a film
director having personal strife with her beloved mother sick in bed
while she is trying to complete a political drama (its labor versus a
corporation as the film opens with a massive protest fight that turns
out to be her film) that also recruits a name U.S. actor (John
Turturro in a hilarious turn that helps make the film better) who is
in decline, stuck on himself and cannot get into character no matter
what. He brags about working for Kubrick, but never names the film
and she has to put up with this.
also enjoyed the side plot of her simply trying to make the film and
the dramatic moments do work, even though the comedy can be very
funny. Moretti (who also plays a role in the film) is able to juggle
all very well. Despite some flaws, I was glad I saw it.
include an On Set Set featurette, Deleted Scenes, Behind The Scenes
with John Turturro as Barry Huggins and ''The Torture Of An Actor''
Cogitore's Neither Heaven
Nor Earth (2015) is the
other French war drama on the list, this time with French Soldier
dealing with current battles and terrorism in the Middle East.
Jeremie Renier play the Army Captain stuck between Afghanistan,
Pakistan and whether the people they are trying to help include some
trying to kill them. Instead of shades of The
Battle Of Algiers or even
it plays more like a French version of this kind of film we have seen
too often out of Hollywood and the U.S., though it is never totally
'war porn' or a war film pretending to be a drama when it is trying
to brainwash its audience that war is natural and we should accept it
all the time.
should also be said that this adds little visually or narratively to
these stories as genre or history, so despite some interesting
moments, the film did not stay with me and seemed a bit repetitive.
include a Director's feature length audio commentary track and bonus
short film Among Us.
Godard's Pierrot Le Fou
(1965) is the great French New Wave director's amusing, work during
his peak run about the married title character (Jean-Paul Belmondo)
getting sick of his life, bored with its domesticity, feeling stuck,
yet being interested in the family babysitter Marianne (Anna Karina),
so they land up killing someone and going on the run. This is done
tongue-in-cheek with many visual and linguistic subversions as Godard
jumps into his world view, is again explicitly about his politics, is
devilishly humorous about it all and the bring colors meant to
express joy are another kind of trap (capitalist and as petty
bourgeoise as domesticity; note the interplay of red and blue
throughout) in a film with plenty of classic Godard moments.
curiosity with this new Umbrella Import DVD of the film was more
concerned with the transfer than the film itself, though it is
remarkably the first time we ever covered it. There have been
several old versions that are obsolete on DVD, et al, a recent Studio
Canal edition on Blu-ray and DVD that offered a flat, greenish
transfer few liked and the Criterion Collection transfer the great
Director of Photography Raoul Coutard supervised for the company that
is now long out of print. So which print is here?
it is the Criterion/Coutard print with some variances we'll get into
below in the technical section, but if you just want the film in a
basic edition minus all the great Criterion extras, but with the
transfer and proper colors Coutard wanted, now you can get it cheaper
than the Criterion versions are going for. As of this posting, that
was $70 - 90 a copy!
are sadly no extras.
we have Miklos Jancso's Private
Vices, Public Virtues
(1976), a very sexually explicit version of the ''Mayerling
Incident'' where the rich and powerful are playing along with free
sex, wacky situations, parties and more that quickly go from fun to
outrageous and the sex is all over the place as far as sexuality
goes. Right wing militarism is not far away in ending the party
soon. The result is a mix of memorable, odd and
not-as-effective-as-they-think scenes that caused outrage when the
film was released.
who were not offended by the sexuality were offended by the lack of
substance or lack of a serious new point at the end of the film,
especially because Jancso (as so well explained in the extras) was
considered such a big, major international filmmaker at the time.
This went over so badly and split up audiences all over that it hurt
his reputation beyond the film itself. The actors are not bad
either, nor is the production design, costumes or period feel.
other issue is that Jancso is entering territory that is more the
realm of Pasolini, Bunuel, De Sica, Bertolucci and even Fellini, so
by not adding anything new to those Auteur's world visions in the
same territory, the wrath he felt was quick. Fortunately, Mondo
Macabro has now issued the uncut version of the film on Blu-ray and
you can judge for yourself. Just expect some bizarre moments and
situations you won't find in most films.
include three separate on-camera interviews with Writer Giovanna
Gagliardo, Actress Pamela Villoresi & Film Historian Michael
Brooke, plus an Original Theatrical Trailer.
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on J'Accuse
can show the age of the materials used of course, but this is
far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and
though I wonder if wetgating the copy could have banished more
scratches, this plays very well and I have never seen it look so
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Vices
can show the age of the materials used as well, but not as much with
great color that is true and naturalistic, in keeping with the way
the film should look. That makes it the visual champ on the list,
despite the use of soft light and fusion at times.
the DVD department, the anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Eva
and anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Earth can show
some style, but are a little softer than the rest of the releases
here, so they tie for last place in playback performance. They were
just watchable, but expect both to be slightly off. The
anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Ove is just clear
enough not to tie for last place with them, yet some shots are not as
good as others.
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Mia is the best of
the new theatrical releases here with good color, depth and detail
for the format, enough that I would like to see this one on Blu-ray.
leaves the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on Fou is
from the original Techniscope (though it was an EastmanColor and not
Technicolor release) 35mm negative (and optical mono soundmaster)
that Coutard supervised. As
compared to the Criterion DVD, this has some aliasing errors, shadow
detail issues, less fine detail and less depth, but better color,
which makes since as PAL tends to have better color range than NTSC
DVDs. However, until it is reissued on a new Blu-ray, skipping
Studio Canal's odd Blu-ray version, the Criterion Blu-ray is the best
edition. This new DVD will do until then for those who want it cheap
and/or in print.
for sound, all the DVDs have equally good lossy Dolby Digital 5.1
sound mixes, but Fou
has a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono mix that benefits from the
restoration and can compete with the newer mixes, oddly. The DTS-HD
MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix on J'Accuse
is the oldest soundtrack here and though efforts were made to clean
it up, it cannot hide its age and sonic limits, or pass up the sonic
qualities of the DVDs.
the sonic winner here is actually the Italian PCM 2.0 Mono on Vices,
which simply sounds cleaner, better, warmer and more consistent than
the rest. The English option does not sound as good, but its here
for those who cannot handle subtitles. None of the releases are
sonic wonders, but perform about as well as can be expected.
Umbrella import DVD, go to this link for it and other hard to find