Resnais: Five Short Films
(1948 - 1956/Blu-ray)/Gorbachev.
(2021/Julia Child/Sony DVD)/Marionette
B (DVDs: C+) Sound: B-/C/C+/C+ Extras: C/C-/D/C+
for a new group of documentary releases, some more timely than anyone
could have expected...
start with some of the early short films from one of the greatest
filmmakers of all time. Alain
Resnais: Five Short Films
(1948 - 1956) has the legendary filmmaker in his early prolific prime
when he was making remarkable short film after remarkable short film,
(1956,) one of the greatest short films of all time. The shorts
here, per the press release, are...
1957 Cannes Film Festival winner All
the World's Memory
la memoire du monde)
21 minutes, 1956. This homage to the National Library of France
takes us on an impressive architectural and impressionistic tour.
[The cinematography is especially impactful.]
14 minutes, 1949, Co-directed with Robert Hessens. The devastating
bombing of the city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War,
features Picasso's paintings, drawings and sculptures.
13 minutes, 1949. The artist's own writings and artwork are used to
trace his creative journey, from losing his job in finance, the
catalyst for his commitment to paint, through to his final days in
Song of the Styrene
chant du Styrene,)
13 minutes, 1957. Alain Resnais carries out a poetic investigation
into the origins of plastic. It is the perfect example of how to
turn a commissioned industrial film into a lyrical, satirical film
masterpiece. [I liked this one very much and live the ending!]
the Winner of the 1950 Academy Award for Best Short Film, Van
18 minutes, 1948. This boundary-pushing short evokes the life of
Vincent Van Gogh, using his paintings as the only visual material.
solid treasury of smart, important works that have now been saved, I
hope all of his early shorts get the same grade-A treatment and any
serious film fan or filmmaker should see these and all of his many
films. They hold up very, very well.
glossy paper pullout on the shorts with illustrations and interview
with Resnais and film scholar Laurence Braunberger is he only extra.
For more on Resnais amazing work, go to this link for more coverage
of his films:
(2020) in itself is a remarkable, rare interview with the man who
oversaw the end and collapse of the USSR, The Soviet Union, the lead
of the Warsaw Pact that is no more. But Mikhail Gorbachev has rarely
been talked to about the events, what he might think now and what
valuable, priceless things he may have to share when he is not
showing what a masterful politician he still is capable of being.
Living in a former satellite country of the USSR in his final years,
now a widow with his wife sadly gone, in a nice place fans and
friends have built for him.
knowing the horrendous Ukraine invasion was only a matter of mere
months away from the time of this interview, not imagining Vladimir
Putin would cross post-WWII lines like he murderously is as this
posts, talks about how and why the USSR fell, dealing with Reagan,
the U.S., others in the USSR autocracy (including how rude Putin was,
but Chernobyl never comes up like it should have) and is he a
scapegoat for the USSR's fall or is it more complex than that?
also see personal, private moments, non-political moments and a man
who is late in life after changing the world and being shockingly
forgotten and even thrown away. That in itself stands as a metaphor
for so much since the USSR fell. He never speculates on the USSR
being reformed and likely thinks it is not possible, but it also
shows that some better people are in the power structure of Russia,
but can they possibly ever hope to prevail? The actions of Putin's
Russia so bad, the country will be forever scarred by the results and
never be the same again. Not knowing what will happen next now, I
highly recommend this interview documentary, especially since it may
tell us something we do not even know about yet.
are the only extra.
Cohen and Betsy West's Julia
(2021) is another solid documentary on how a woman who once worked
for the secret service and wanted more than a conservative,
conformist life for herself found her calling in cooking and a good
husband that supported her 100%. A biography that starts with her
childhood, it slowly builds up to her getting her massive,
groundbreaking book published and suddenly finds herself with a hit
TV show on the new NET (later PBS) public television network starting
with her home station of WGBH in Boston.
there, she takes off as a star, groundbreaker, icon and changes the
entire food industry forever, even when most people did not know that
yet. We get new details, photos and audio that previous profiles and
biographical programs on her did not offer, plus it is newer, so the
continued influence can be shown, including in interviews with famous
TV chefs now and so many more. I was surprise this was being made
and thought it might be too soon, but it more than delivers and is a
worthy new addition to the legacy that Child continues to make
possible long after we lost her. Highly recommended!
are no extras, but you can read our coverage of one of the older
documentaries on DVD Julia you should also see at this link:
(2021) is a pleasant surprise of a tale of an artist named Robert
Brock, a stage actor an talent who is also a big Broadway fan, but
also has knowledge of stage craft. As a result, he launched a
marionette theater years ago in his hometown of Lancaster, PA, as
this is his story.
of feature films with Puppetoons, as well as films and TV shows with
SuperMarionation, marionettes of all kinds continue to be underrated,
amazing and more beloved than I think the many realize. Even in this
age of advanced ultra high definition CGI visual effects, there is
nothing like seeing such real-life creations in action, some of which
even try to imitate all forms of puppets and marionettes themselves
a man doing this all himself, the costumes, voices, operation of
almost if not all the marionettes and pulling off shows night after
night. As we watch, COVID arrives and changes things, plus Brock,
living with his mom above where the stages are, is fearless in
showing his personal and private life. Maybe more than he should
have, but bold just the same.
runs a solid 84 minutes and is worth going out of your way to see.
Brock has also set up a YouTube channel, which you can look up right
now for more information.
include an on camera Q&A on the film, feature length audio
commentary track on the film by the director and main subject,
Original Theatrical Trailer and Deleted Scenes.
for playback performance. All the shorts on the Resnais
set are in
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition, save Song
in Dyaliscope, EastmanColor and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High
Definition. They can show the age of the materials used, but this is
far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the films and
is not only in the best shape, but the best-looking film among all
the works we are covering here. The monochrome works are fine and
though some of the art is obviously in color in real life, where
applicable, it looks good. The PCM 2.0 Mono is just fine throughout
all the shorts and are likely not to sound much better than they do
here and they are all subtitled, of course.
for the DVDs, the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image (1.85 X 1 on
look as good as they can in this older, low def format, but Gorbachev
has some issues with lack of light from location shooting, including
shots beyond the control of the filmmakers. The lossy Dolby Digital
5.1 on Julia
and lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the other two DVDs also sound
as good as they can in the older, compressed codec, but Gorbachev
has location audio issues that happen more than they should have.
Good thing it is subtitled.