(1966/MVD/Liberation Hall DVD)/The
Seventh Seal 4K
(1957/Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The
Student and Mr. Henri
Ultra HD Picture: B+ Picture: B/C/B/C+ Sound: B/C+/B/C+
Extras: C-/C/B/D Main Programs: B-/C+/B+/B
for a new set of dramas, including an upgraded classic and a remake
of another classic...
(2022) is an English-language, British-produced remake of Akira
Kurosawa's drama classic Ikiru
with the great Bill Nighy as a swamped-at-work civil servant whose
life is empty and after all these years of his work taking away from
his life, happiness and individuality, is just starting to get truly
fed up when he gets a diagnosis of very bad health issues that means
his life is coming to an end.
a few (or few) people for inspiration, he decides to make the rest of
his life count in ways he had not expected before it is too late.
Like its predecessor, the film takes its time to ask some important
questions about life, existence, happiness, love and how we spend our
lives and time. Kazuo Ishiguro (The
Remains Of The Day)
delivers a well-updated screenplay without making any stupid errors
way too many horrid 're-imaginings' have in the last few decades,
Nighy more than holds his own and though we encounter some things we
have seen and heard before, they also bear repeating. The result is
an increasingly rare small film that more than delivers.
Burke, Aimee Lou Wood and Alex Sharp lead the supporting cast.
Making Of featurette (A
and trailers are the only extras.
(1966) is an installment from the ABC-TV anthology series ABC
(the tenth of only 26 episodes produced, including the great Evening
adaption with Anthony Perkins, reviewed elsewhere on this site) is
also written by the legendary director, based on the book by
Katherine Anne Porter. Jason Robards is an 1890s Texas farmer whose
farm is failing, in part because he is not hands-on anymore.
wife (Olivia De Havilland) has fallen out of love with him and things
look bad, but a stranger/drifter named Olaf (Pier Oscarsson of The
Girl Who Played With Fire,
offers to help out and slowly starts bringing the farm back to
functionality and profitability. Unfortunately, he as a few secrets
that will soon come back to haunt him and them all.
made this between two of his classics, Major
so he manages to squeeze the story into the space of less than an
hour make it surprisingly as compelling as he is efficient with it.
Under seen if that for years, its nice to have it in print in any
form and this one includes the option (like many more recent Tonight
Show staring Johnny Carson
DVDs) of watching it with the original TV commercials.
being nicely shot, especially with its limited budget, it has a great
supporting cast including Theodore Bikel, Ben Johnson, Robert
Emhardt, L.Q. Jones, Peter Robbins (the original voice of the
animated Charlie Brown) and Joan Tompkins. Definitely recommended,
though I wish it were longer.
Seventh Seal 4K
(1957) is one of the most commercially and critically successful of
all the bold, groundbreaking, original films the legendary Swedish
filmmaker ever made, put him, his cast and art house cinema on the
map and remains one fo the most iconic films of its kind in all of
The Crusades and a huge plague kill millions of people with no hope,
a knight (the mighty Max Von Sydow) takes a break at a local beach to
play chess alone and rest up, but before he can gather himself
together, The Grim Reaper aka Death (Bengt Ekerot, creepy as ever in
a brilliant performance) shows up to challenge him. The deal is then
struck that, as long as the Knight can beat Death at chess, he gets
to live. This leads to a larger narrative of other people and events
that start and never stop until the film ends.
Bergman's screenplay has no faults, dead moments, false notes or
wasted time as he delivers some big statements about life and living,
including delving into spiritual faith and being so densely visual
and period-correct that it puts dozens of multi-million dollar films
to shame. It had been a long time since I had seen the film and
though I like it, I cannot match the superfans who love it and all of
Bergman's other works. Still, it is a serious, must-see film for any
film fan worth the claim. The old beer commercial that once asked
'why are foreign film so foreign?' was made when you did not have 4K
discs, enough Criterion Collection releases (or their imitators, some
of whom are actually good) or the high fidelity of image and sound
you can now get at home. That's why a classic like Seventh
(or Fellini's 8
are as accessible as ever.
see why Sydow landed up having a career in big commercial films like
Say Never Again
and was the perfect choice as THE priest to take on Satan in William
With a great supporting cast that includes Bibi Andersson, Gunnar
Bjornstrand, Gunnar Olson, Erik Strandmark, Maud Hanson, so many
others and that we all just went through a pandemic, there has never
been a better time to see The
(partly per the press release) include another
great, high quality, illustrated booklet on the film with tech
information and an essay by critic Gary Giddins, while the discs add
an introduction from 2003 by director Ingmar Bergman, a
Feature-Length Audio Commentary and video afterword by Bergman expert
Peter Cowie, Bergman
(2006), a feature-length documentary on Bergman by Marie Nyrerod, an
audio interview from 1998 with actor Max von Sydow, a tribute to
Bergman from 1989 by filmmaker Woody Allen, Bergman
a selected video filmography tracing Bergman's career, narrated by
Cowie and an Original Theatrical Trailer.
in Paris, Ivan Calberac's The
Student and Mr. Henri
a dramedy that tells the story of Constance (portrayed by Noemie
Schmidt) as she embarks upon a journey into adulthood. Constance,
desperate to forge her own path in life, wants more than just working
at her father's produce stand. Belittled for not successfully
completing university, she opts to leave home and rent a room in
Paris, wherever she can get one.
randomly by Mr. Henri, a crotchety old man (portrayed by Claude
Brasseur) to be his tenant, Constance is thrilled to have a place to
stay, though seems reluctant to accept the space when told to produce
a security deposit plus first and last month's rent. Henri,
undeterred, offers a solution: free room and board if she agrees to
seduce his son, Paul (portrayed by Guillaume de Tonquedec), who is
married to Valerie (portrayed by Frederique Bel) ...and Henri doesn't
torn between being true to herself and finding a way to survive,
reluctantly agrees, though the journey to drive the couple apart
teaches her more about herself than she'd anticipated. In the
process, she also endears herself to Henri, who adopts her as a
surrogate daughter of sorts, who gets to know her true passion is
music and makes her his own musical protege.
the character development of everyone, Constance, Henri, Paul, and
even Valerie, is not a steady, progressive indicator of growth.
Rather, each character seems to be rooted in his or her own ways and
then suddenly transforms. Paul, dedicated husband, suddenly is open
to the possibility of an affair. Henri, crusty old man, suddenly is
a caring, concerned father figure and mentor to Constance. And even
Constance, so uncertain of herself, is suddenly self-assured and
confident, under the tutelage of Henri.
quite comedic, it's difficult to find these sudden transformations
believable, and the viewer is left with a sense of dissatisfaction.
After all, real life certainly doesn't unfold with such magical
transformations, and much of the action is relatively banal, making
it hard to be invested in the storyline. In its favor, though, the
story does not have a fairytale ending for all characters involved,
which more accurately reflects a 'true to life' unfolding of events
that is more believable.
film is in French and includes English subtitles. A Distrib Films
film, it runs for a total of 99 minutes.
for playback performance. The
2160p HEVC/H.265, 1.33 X 1, black & white, Ultra High Definition
image on Seventh
is the best I have ever seen the film outside of a 35mm print, with
only some minor damage, issues and maybe some slight digital
tampering, but the lack of HDR is odd and the 4K scan was only just
done in 2018. Why not include that or even better Dolby Vision? I
don't know, but Criterion has handled the film since the old 12-inch
analog LaserDisc days, so they are as familiar with it as any film
they've ever handled. It should be noted that Criterion had no HDR
of any kind either for their definite release in 4K of Romero's Night
Of The Living Dead
(1968, also reviewed on this site).
1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white digital High Definition image
transfer on the regular Blu-ray version is not bad, but still not as
good as the 4K and both have Swedish PCM Mono sound off of the
original magnetic soundmaster. It is a little rougher on the regular
Blu-ray, more refined and distortion free on the 4K version and now
sounds as good as it ever will.
1080p 1.48 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Living
does nothing innovate or unusual with its odd aspect ratio, mostly
offering compositions in the black-style 1.33 (or 1.37) X 1 block
style aspect ratio. Color and definition are just fine, while the
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is well recorded and
presented. Only expect so much from a dialogue-based film, though.
1.33 X 1 image on the Wine
DVD is from a second-generation source, thus the roughness, ghosting,
video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, cross
color, faded color and even a bit of tape damage holds the image
back, but we do get the original commercials. We'll guess the
original 2-inch color videotape is in the ABC archives somewhere.
The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound fares a bit better and is
pretty clean and clear for its age.
anamorphically enhanced image and lossy Dolby Digital sound on Henri
are about as good as the film is going to get for this older format.
Nicholas Sheffo and Christen Stroh (Henri)