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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Death > Melodrama > Revenge > Polish > Road Trip > Slice Of Life > Crime > Environment > Official Op > Blue White Red: Three Colors Trilogy 4K (1993 - 1994/Kieslowski/Criterion Blu-ray Box Set)/Fill'er Up With Super (1976/MVD/Radiance Blu-ray)/Goliath (2022/Icarus DVD)

Blue White Red: Three Colors Trilogy 4K (1993 - 1994/Kieslowski/Criterion Blu-ray Box Set)/Fill'er Up With Super (1976/MVD/Radiance Blu-ray)/Goliath (2022/Icarus DVD)

4K Picture: B- Picture: C+ (Red: B-)/B-/C+ Sound: B-/B-/C Extras: B/C+/C- Films: B-/C+/B-

Now for some art film dramas from Europe...

Lauded as a cinematic triumph in its time, Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy 4K includes in order of release and narrative chronology, Blue (1993) White and Red (both 1994) starting off with Juliet Binoche as a woman who survives a horrible car crash that takes her husband and child. How will she deal with this? Will she survive and recover, or will it destroy her?

Binoche is good here, but I did not think the screenplay was up to her performance and did not totally buy this, yet many others did. Emmanuelle Riva and Julie Delpy make up the decent supporting cast, but even they could not overcome the lulls and other small issues the film had. We see Binoche in the follow-up films, but in incidental ways.

White has Delpy (as the same character from the previous film) divorcing from her husband (Zbigniew Zamachowski), but he is very vengeful and determined to get back at her! This film also has some good moments, but I never bought they were a couple that could have been together to begin with and few parts here also fell flat for me. Again, some good locales and good cast that can act, but the script has its limits.

Red has a woman (Irene Jacob) finding out that a local judge (international screen legend Jean-Louis Trintignant, who just passed away in 2022) is abusing his power by getting into people's lives in the most unethical ways. He does this as a sickness and it is the most intriguing of the concepts the three films have to offer. On its own, it is not bad, but trying to make this a (profound?) continuation (or even conclusion) of the last two films does not work out either. Still, some good visuals and acting, but not enough to help it for me.

Still, I was hoping that maybe by seeing these again and in 4K, I might see something new. Instead, it just confirmed how somewhat overrated I always thought these films were despite all the talent involved. Then I thought, maybe they'll still look unexpected spectacular upgraded and restored. Maybe I would catch some visual items that would enhance the narrative. Well, it did not turn out that way at all.

Getting to the playback performance, the films have some issues they should not have. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.85 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on all three films have detail issues, too much grain, too much noise and are lacking the color of the title each is supposed to possess. I have some ideas why in a moment, but there is not enough of each color in each film or as much as there has been in every single video release of the Trilogy since Criterion issued it a long time ago, this set possessing spine #587.

The blue in Blue is off kilter, faded, odd or has a swimming pool that is suddenly turquoise for some reason, the white in White is barely in many of the scenes it was always in and makes one wonder how those films got their titles to begin with. The red in Red has so many issues, I thought I was watching it on VHS or Beta tape with the reds looking maroon, noisy, oddly grainy and off. These issues are repeated in the also-included 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital high definition images on the regular Blu-ray discs, save Red, which is somewhat accurate versus its original 35mm photochemical theatrical release. How did this go wrong?

Well, its not the Eastman Kodak 35mm color negative, used on all three films, as it was never a problem. In the 'restorations' of the Trilogy, the first two films come from the original 35mm camera negatives and Red comes from an archival print. That the regular Blu-ray is the best-by-default presentation here proves the colors were added in post-production, but with the director and some others no longer with us and no guidelines to follow, the first two films cannot look correct since no notes or guidelines were left to follow for future restorations, so endless liberties for the worst were taken, despite good intensions. Since the third film comes form a finished print, at least the color red was completed in post, yet the Blu-ray and 4K discs STILL have issues. With al the money spent to fix and upgrade these films, you think the owners would actually have had some previous video copies or even a few film prints (35mm? 16mm???) to go by to make these color-accurate?

It is a huge disappointment, especially for such a costly set. The oddest issues with 4K transfer keep coming from French films (Umbrellas Of Cherbourg) or films owned by French studios from other countries (Raw Deal with Schwarzenegger) but why? Someone needs to intervene quickly before more messes like these pop up.

As for the sound, the box says the films are in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, which is an upgrade from their original theatrical sound releases, but the 5.1 is ONLY on the 4K discs, while the regular Blu-ray discs all only offer PCM 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic surrounds. From the old logos at the end of the films, you would think it was old theatrical analog, Dolby A-type noise reduction, but these films were actually issued at the last minute in Dolby far-superior analog SR (Spectral Recording) noise reduction system and they sound fine in regular stereo. Why both discs do not have both soundtracks is yet another oddity, but I will say that the 5.1 upgrades (from the original magnetic stereo soundmasters) are one of the rare times I have heard such upgrades from Dolby SR that worked and were not botched. I like both versions, with the 5.1 having some advantages over the 2.0 Stereo, but not so much that it is that much better. At least the sound was handled well and correctly.

Extras include a high quality booklet on the Trilogy including (per the press release) essays by film critics/scholars Colin MacCabe, Nick James, Stuart Klawans, and Georgina Evans; an excerpt from Kieslowski on Kieslowski; and reprinted interviews with cinematographers Idziak, Edward KÅ‚osinski, and Piotr Sobocinski, while ONLY the regular Blu-ray discs add Interviews with cowriter Krzysztof Piesiewicz, composer Zbigniew Preisner, and actors Julie Delpy, Irene Jacob, and Zbigniew Zamachowski

  • Selected-scene commentary featuring actor Juliette Binoche

  • Video essays by film critics Annette Insdorf, Tony Rayns, and Dennis Lim

  • Documentary from 1995 featuring Kieslowski

  • Three short films by Kieslowski: The Tram (1966), Seven Women of Different Ages (1978), and Talking Heads (1980,) plus the short film The Face (1966), starring Kieslowski

  • Interview programs on Kieslowski's life and work, featuring Binoche, Insdorf, Jacob, film critic Geoff Andrew, filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, producer Marin Karmitz, and editor Jacques Witta

  • Behind-the-scenes programs for White and Red, and a short documentary on Red's world premiere

  • and Trailers for each respective film in rough condition.

Alain Cavalier's Fill'er Up With Super (1976) is another road movie from the period we started to get so many of them, and not just from Hollywood, as good as most of those were. A car salesman (Bernard Crombey) misses the holiday with his family when he has to deliver a fancy station wagon to a rich client, but brings a friend (Xavier Saint-Macary) with him and they soon pick up (talk about the old days) two hitchhikers (Patrick Bouchitey and Etienne Chicot) and it lands up being a once-in-a-lifetime growing experience for all of them.

Of course, you could never make this film today since the scenario would be more like a thriller or horror film or both, living in a far more violent world now, hitchhikers or not. It is a period piece for certain and is a part of a cycle of cinema sadly long gone. I had seen this film decades ago and though I think some of it has held up well and it is honest and raw enough. However, I did not think it worked overall then and time has not changed that.

Other moments are dull, some unconvincing and it does not achieve or say as much as it thinks it does, but I can see its appeal for some and why it is a favorite for others. I should add it is not 'too French' or 'too foreign' either, just a slightly overrated film that has survived enough to get a solid restoration and one it deserved. Now you can judge for yourself.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer is from a 2K scan of the original camera negative and it can look good, but it has some soft spots and parts that have not aged well, so it can show the age of the materials used. The PCM 2.0 Mono sound is also decent and the restoration work is decent, but parts have just not aged well due to the low budget and technology, so expect flaws and limits throughout despite the best efforts to clean this up and not ruin the original audio.

Extras include a Reversible Sleeve featuring designs based on original posters

  • Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Murielle Joudet, a newly translated contemporary article on the film and an extract of an interview with Cavalier

  • Limited edition of 2000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings

  • While the disc adds Friends First and Foremost: An interview with Bernard Crombey - in this video interview the star discusses his work on the film, his collaborators and his career (2019, 28 mins)

  • Three interview short films with the cast directed by Cavalier: My Wife Lives in Fear with Etienne Chicot, Bernard Crombey and Patrick Bouchitey (2011, 4 mins), It's a Full House with Bernard Crombey (2011, 6 mins) and The King of the Bottle with Patrick Bouchitey (2011, 8 mins)

  • An appreciation of Fill 'Er Up with Super by Cahiers du Cinema deputy editor Charlotte Garson (2022).

Frederic Tellier's Goliath (2022) concludes our dramas, a look at a nightmare caused buy deadly pesticide exposure echoing all kinds of issues in deadly chemical exposure that are popping up all over the world. When a man dies from prostate cancer linked to the deadly substance, a school teacher (Emmanuel Bercot) becomes a political activist in a way she never imagined. Then we have two lawyers, one for the company producing the chemicals (Pierre Niney) and one fighting them (Gilles Lellouche) heading for a legal collision that will capture many in the middle.

The teacher will be one of them, but instead of this being some kind of thriller or melodrama, this is based on a true story and tries its best to play is straight enough to be an outright drama trying to deal with the various social issues the situation and screenplay have. We rarely see this kind of film anywhere, especially from the U.S. market, so its a plus when a movie by grown adults for grown adults gets made. What used to be so common prior to the 1980s is all too rare now and we have payed a huge price for that and still are as you read this.

Cheers to the cast as well, delivering convincing performances and never really hitting any false notes. Again, yet another film about something (like the also very recent She Said) that is strangely not getting the press or attention it deserves. Its definitely worth a look.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image looks fine for this older format with good color, detail and depth, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has more than a few weak points for some reasons, so be careful of high playback volume and volume switching to be on the safe side.

Extras include trailers for other Icarus releases.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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