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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Crime > Teens > Murder > Courtroom > French > Belgian > Thriller > Gangsters > Kidnapping > British > My > Girl With A Bracelet (2019/Icarus DVD)/The Hit (1984*)/The Last Wave (1977/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Pierrot Le Fou (1965/second edition/*both Criterion Blu-ray)/The Wolf House (2018/KimSti

Girl With A Bracelet (2019/Icarus DVD)/The Hit (1984*)/The Last Wave (1977/Umbrella Region Free Import Blu-ray)/Pierrot Le Fou (1965/second edition/*both Criterion Blu-ray)/The Wolf House (2018/KimStim DVD)

Picture: C+/B/B/B-/C+ Sound: C+/B-/B-/B-/C Extras: D/B-/B-/B/B - Films: C+/C+/C+/B/B

PLEASE NOTE: The Last Wave Import Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can play on all Blu-ray players and can be ordered from the link below.

Next up are a fine series of dramas and important art films, some of which are back in impressive upgrades and one of which is a mixed bag....

Stephane Demoustier's The Girl With A Bracelet (2019) is an ambitious film that has mixed results about a young lady of the title (Melissa Guers) landing up in court, accused of murdering her best friend, but even her loyal parents are suddenly adrift as the proceedings become more about putting children and freedom on trial than getting to how the friend actually died. This includes some flashbacks and other moments of investigation that takes its various twists nad turns, but it trying to make a larger point.

The best way to say this is that it becomes too repetitive, never makes any big statement (it did not necessarily need to to that, but still...) and what it does is sadly a reflection on how society has not paid attention to, neglected and taken for granted children, especially in recent decades. Too bad the film did not add more in its 96 minutes.

There are no extras.

Stephen Frears' The Hit (1984) is one of the director's early feature films with Terence Stamp as an informer named Willie who gets away from criminals who sour on him when he testifies in court, only ten years later to be found and kidnapped to be returned to be killed (or worse) for bleated revenge from people he would have been better off not knowing. After an unexpected beginning, he lands up in a car with two criminals, the quiet older Braddock (Jon Hurt) and a young, ready to kill but not shut-up Myron (a remarkable early turn by Tim Roth, who you might not recognize at first) apparently going to get a bounty for their work. They demonstrate they will kill early on.

However, Willie is not very fazed by either of them, which particularly drives Myron nuts, who thinks people should always be scarred and tremble when he makes a threat. Willie knows that he is full of it and keeps playing him like the fool he is. Braddock is not as foolish. So it becomes an unusual road trip and has some interesting twists. Frears would be more successful later with The Grifters (1999) a few years later in the same territory, but the acting work (also including Laura Del Sol, Jim Broadbent, Bill Hunter and The French Connection's Fernando Rey) will continue to make this a curio finally getting its due and it already does have its fans. Now you can see for yourself.

However, as I thought when I saw it a long time ago, it remains an uneven film despite its great cast and get work by DP Mike Molloy, which looks better than ever here, so this is a great second viewing if you are curious to see it again and first one if you have never seen it at all.

Extras include a high-quality paper pullout with tech info and an essay by film critic Graham Fuller, while the disc adds a feature length audio commentary from 2009 featuring director Stephen Frears, actors John Hurt and Tim Roth, screenwriter Peter Prince, and editor Mick Audsley, interview from 1988 with actor Terence Stamp from the television show Parkinson One-to-One and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Peter Weir's The Last Wave (1977) is a well-liked film and considered an Australian cinema classic that is not one of their exploitation 'Oz-Ploitation' films, but is also not one of their turn-of-the-previous-century dramas either. An attempt at an intellectual disaster film (barely science fiction) and juggling racism and oppression by its remarkable inclusion of Aboriginal people (including co-star David Gulpilil as an aboriginal man in the city who bridges the gap between two worlds (white plenty in Australia versus aboriginal plight, et al) is akin to the best Italian Neo_realism of the time.

Richard Chamberlain (proving he was more than just a big international TV star) is the lawyer with a happy family who stars to encounter nature turning on him and every one around him (a theme that started to turn up in various films, including several Australian ones) and does not know what to think of it or do to begin with. The film tries to suggest the split between the civilized world ignorant to nature with no solutions to solve problems, especially ones they made, versus some aboriginal wisdom not connected to Western thinking.

The results are mixed and sometimes get into supernatural suggestion, but can never distinguish if that is just a genre convention or maybe old near-religious thinking of some sort from aboriginal culture. The film is not a documentary, but also wants to a disaster film without showing much disaster, budgetary limits notwithstanding. The result is Weir (as is often the case with all his films (starts saying and doing things only he knowns the meaning of) lands up producing and directing a film that plays like lower-case Nicolas Roeg, but nowhere near as good and I am not merely referring to Walkabout (reviewed elsewhere on this site).

It still remains a curio for so many reason, not the least of which Criterion issued it on DVD years ago or people still talk about it or its stars or other items already covered. If you are going to watch it, whether you have seen it before or not, this is the way to go.

Extras include a Stills Gallery, Original Theatrical Trailer and interview/featurette with actor Richard Chamberlain, Producer Jim McElroy, Director of Photography Russell Boyd, David Straton on the film, Brian Trenchard-Smith talking about his work on the film and its trailer via Trailers From Hell and an excerpt from the 1980 documentary David Gulpilii: Walkabout To Hollywood.

Jean-Luc Godard's Pierrot Le Fou (1965) is back in print, and again from Criterion, but with some controversy. The previous edition was discontinued and it suddenly became a hot item since it was based on what Director of Photography Raoul Coutard had specifically color-graded it as. That transfer even showed up later on a basic Umbrella import PAL DVD, the first time we reviewed it.

At the time, I described it as ''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.''

Of course, it still plays well that way and somehow, seems as relevant as ever. The comedy works whether you get the deeper meaning or not, though some references (the opening joke at the gas station) will be lost on those unfamiliar with older advertising classics) might get missed for more than the usual reasons.

You can read about the image issues below, but you get more than enough extras, which pretty much repeat the discontinued version, so that at least is good, and includes a thick, high quality booklet on the film with an essay by critic Richard Brody, along with (Blu-ray only) a 1969 review by Andrew Sarris and a 1965 interview with Godard, while the disc adds an interview with actor Anna Karina from 2007, A ''Pierrot'' Primer, a video essay from 2007 written and narrated by filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, Godard, l'amour, la poesie, a fifty-minute French documentary from 2007, directed by Luc Lagier, about director Jean-Luc Godard and his work and marriage with Karina, excerpts of interviews from 1965 with Godard, Karina, and actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Last but absolutely not least is Leon & Cocnina's The Wolf House (2018) from Chile that is a stop-motion animation marvel that deals with another ugly, real-life incident, this time about a murderous cult in Chile launched by an Ex-Nazi in real life that included the sexual child abuse of children, set up in that country so they were far away from any authorities who would try to stop them. In the same amazing heart and soul mode of Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (see our 4K coverage elsewhere on this site) and other such bold and daring works of art, a young lady escapes to the forest to evade abuse (this includes being isolated and starved!) where her emotional and mental damage combine with her imagination. Can she survive?

What follows is a painstaking, often amazing and even brilliant 73 minutes of some of the best stop-motion animation (even in the face of the best CGI I have seen in recent decades) and any kind of animation I have seen in years, reminding me of brilliant work like the IMAX-made More (also reviewed on this site) and shows that animation as an uncompromised artform is as real and alive and relevant as ever. A political classic too. This is a must-see and is one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Extras include a high quality booklet with a Directors' Statement, an essay: THE BITTERNESS OF HONEY by Jack Zipes and a Selection of ORIGINAL ARTWORK by Cristobal Leon and Joaquin Cocina, while the disc adds some more great animation: WEATHERVENE, a short film by JoaquĆ­n Cocina, DER KLEINERE RAUM (THE SMALLER ROOM), a short film by Cristobal Len and Nina Wehrle, Deleted Scenes (wish they could have stayed in the film somewhere, because they are remarkable too) and Video Interviews with the filmmakers.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on The Hit is easily the best I have ever seen the film, with some expect grain, but far better color and depth that when I saw it many years ago. The cinematography of Director of Photography Mike Malloy, who worked with Frears several times, is always deceptively simple, adding more complex ideas than it would seem and staying just gritty enough to make you believe they are in the world and situation they are in. The PCM 1.0 Mono sounds fine for its age, a rare film to still not be in at least stereo at the time it was made and comes from a 35mm magnetic soundmaster. That held up well.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on The Last Wave is from a new HD master that even easily outdoes the older Criterion DVD transfer we reviewed from years ago, with much better color range, more clarity and more warmth to the image. That resolves scenes, light and fleshtones far better, making the film even more palpable and watchable. It also looks better than several of Weir's high profile Hollywood films. The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mix is also a big improvement over previous audio for the film in older video releases and is so good, I cannot imagine it sounding better than this.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Pierrot Le Fou is a new 2K scan of the original Techniscope camera negative, and though you get good, rich color at times, the transfer has odd issues including waxy images, color that is off, grain you should not see and color that is inaccurate, especially versus the previous Criterion Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film with a transfer that was supervised by longtime Godard Director of Photography Raoul Coutard. The deviation started with current film owners Studio Canal, who years ago, cancelled the rights to a few dozen films Criterion had licensed (Man Who Fell To Earth included) shocking and disappointing fans. Maybe Studio Canal can follow Coutard's guidelines when they get to a 4K version, but the older Criterion release (especially the Blu-ray) is hard to come by, so this is the compromise you'll have to tolerate.

Mind you, Techniscope was always a little grainy since the frame is a tiny 2-perforation frame, but it was usually printed in 3-strip dye--transfer Technicolor at the time, so Godard was the first to openly shoot the format and issue it in EastmanColor, no matter the grain (non-technicolor Techniscope was usually known as Chromoscope at the time) and gave him a look no one had attempted yet.

The PCM 1.0 Mono sound is just fine with no problems or issues, showing its age at times, but the 35mm optical monophonic soundmaster has held up well and I only wish it were 2-track mono.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.66 X 1 image on Bracelet has only so many locations where it was shot and looks just fine for the format, but it is so nice, I bet a Blu-ray would make it look better. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 is dialogue-based and as good as it can get in the old sound format.

The anamorphically enhanced, bookended 1.33 X 1 image on Wolf is meant to look like an old 16mm film print that is worn in spots, but usually not during the incredible animation. Of course, this would be amazing in HD and especially 4K, but it still impresses here. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is lower-sounding than usual, but some of that is intended as part of the style and intentional distortion and some warping is meant to sound like an old 16mm library or school film print that has been played hundreds of times and maybe not stored as well as it could have been. Be careful of high playback volumes and volume switching.

To order The Last Wave Umbrella import Blu-ray, go to this link and other hard to find releases at:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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