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The Executioner: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

Luis García Berlanga’s The Executioner (AKA Not On Your Life, 1963) is broadly regarded in most foreign film circles as the ideal Spanish film ever created that is fairly a lofty statement, but the film’s unlikely release for the duration of Francisco Franco’s lengthy dictatorship cements its status as a brilliant black comedy that crept in under the radar. A scathing critique of the death penalty by way of a lighthearted farce, our story revolves around affable undertaker José Luis Rodríguez (Nino Manfredi) and his dreams of being a mechanic. He’s a lonely man who nonetheless lives with his older brother Antonio (José Luis López Vázquez) and is unable to get dates simply because of his morbid occupation…but every thing changes when he meets Amadeo (José Isbert), an aging executioner with far more than 40 years of encounter.

José Luis becomes quickly attracted to Amadeo’s charming daughter Carmen (Emma Penella), who suffers from the very same social hang-up and returns his affections practically immediately. When items get a tiny far more serious, José Luis is inadvertently roped into taking over Amadeo’s “company”…and attempt as he might, The Executioner pulls its protagonist, kicking and screaming, into his very first (and possibly only) day on the job. It really is a excellent downward spiral for the hapless man, who’s forced to closely examine what a lot of individuals casually accept from behind closed doors.

Even on the surface, The Executioner plays just fine as an off-center comedy a single with overlapping perspectives, noisy conversations, well-timed gallows humor, and terrific characters than never so significantly bounce off one another as violently crash. And in spite of its dark and socially taboo subject matter, writer Rafael Azcona (a extended-time collaborator of Berlanga) somehow manages to keep a light atmosphere nearly every single step of the way. The main exception is The Executioner‘s final stretch, punctuated by that kicking and screaming (above) which the director admits to being his initial vision ahead of fleshing out the other 90 minutes. It is a virtually life-altering sequence of events that punctuate the film’s gradual tightening as the clock ticks away. After The Executioner finishes its sometimes subtle but clear message, it’s worth watching again virtually immediately to choose up on what you missed the very first time about. Featuring terrific cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli (who later shot The Good, the Negative, and the Ugly, When Upon a Time in the West, and As soon as Upon a Time in America), it really is a stunning film about ugly topic matter.

The Executioner is also an (regrettably) small-seen film outside of its native Spain, largely since of its absence on Region A/1 house video until now. Thankfully, Criterion delivers a robust package correct out of the gate: The Executioner earns a terrific 4K-sourced 1080p transfer and a number of informative bonus functions, which provides die-difficult fans and newcomers alike a fantastic reason to finally see this scathing, memorable slice of black comedy.

Video &amp Audio Top quality

Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this sparkling 1080p transfer of The Executioner (sourced from a new 4K digital transfer which, for now, appears to be exclusive to Criterion’s Blu-ray) looks superb on its Region A/1 house video debut. Black levels are consistently excellent, image detail and textures are quite sturdy, and the film’s light but noticeable grain structure is represented completely effectively from commence to finish, which results in an incredibly all-natural, clean, and crisp look. No obvious digital imperfections or heavy manipulation (like compression artifacts, interlacing, excessive noise reduction, etc.) could be spotted along the way, aside from a few stray missing frames and very light wear and tear at occasions. I cannot envision The Executioner looking much much better on Blu-ray than it does right here, so die-tough fans and newcomers alike must be incredibly pleased with Criterion’s efforts.

DISCLAIMER: The screen captures featured in this evaluation are strictly decorative and do not represent Blu-ray’s native 1080p image resolution.

There is less to say about the Spanish PCM 1. track, aside from that it is perfectly adequate and sounds greater than expected for a film that is more than 50 years old. Dialogue, music cues, and background effects are fairly crisp and clear with out fighting for attention, despite the fact that the high finish can’t support but sound a small thin on a lot of occasions. All round, this lossless mono presentation appears correct to the supply material and purists will appreciate the lack of surround gimmickry. Optional English subtitles are incorporated during the film and extras for translation only.

Menu Design &amp Packaging
As usual, Criterion’s interface is smooth and straightforward to navigate. This one particular-disc release is locked for Region A players it’s packaged in their standard “stocky” keepcase with terrific cover artwork by illustrator Brian Stauffer. The fold-out Insert Booklet contains an insightful essay by film critic David Cairns and notes about the new restoration.
. .
Bonus Functions
Two mid-length documentaries serve as this Blu-ray’s primary extras, which certainly offers it a bit of added worth. “The Poor Spaniard” (56:39) is the best and longest this lately made and well-rounded profile of director Luis García Berlanga attributes interviews with his son José Luis, writers, Fernando R. Lafuente and Bernardo Sánchez Salas, film critic Carlos Heredero, and numerous other folks. A 2012 episode of Spanish program La Mitad Invisible (“The Invisible Half”, 28:21) contains a few archival interview clips with Berlanga, as well as retrospective comments about the director and his most famous film (which had to undergo a few cuts for censorship’s sake, not surprisingly) overall, it does a fine job of reinforcing The Executioner‘s cultural impact and lasting legacy.

Also included is a really brief Interview with fellow Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar (3:56), who goes into modest detail about the The Executioner‘s meaning and significance to each himself and Spanish culture as a whole. Last but not least is the film’s Theatrical Trailer (three:36), which is a bit spoiler-heavy but effectively worth obtaining. As described earlier, optional English subtitles are integrated in the course of all applicable extras for translation only.

If you happen to be aware of precisely what The Executioner is actually attempting to say beneath the surface, it’s an really entertaining and critical film that functions on numerous levels. A perfect downward spiral as our harmless protagonist awaits the execution he’s practically forced to carry out, director Luis García Berlanga’s incisive and brilliant critique of the death penalty holds up fairly effectively much more than 50 years later. Criterion’s terrific and lengthy-overdue Blu-ray marks the film’s Area A/1 debut on property video, serving up a flawless 4K-sourced transfer and a handful of mainly recent extras that aid cement its spot in Spanish pop culture. This is a relatively effectively-rounded package for a deserving film, and 1 that need to hopefully lead to a lot more releases of the director’s perform on Blu-ray. Extremely Advised.

Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by evening. He also does freelance design and style operate, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his restricted free of charge time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third individual.

Blu-Ray Evaluations

Trilogia de Guillermo del Toro: Criterion Collection (Cronos / The Devil&#039s Backbone / Pan&#039s Labyrinth) (Blu-ray)

In the course of his surprisingly smooth transition from Spanish horror to mainstream comic book fare—with present and future projects suggesting he’s not completed with either genre—maverick writer/director Guillermo del Toro has garnered a sturdy vital and commercial following throughout the final 20+ years. The Criterion Collection pays tribute to his singular function with the release of Trilogía de Guillermo del Toro, collecting three of his best films (the already-released Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone, as effectively as Pan’s Labyrinth) in a handsomely-developed boxed set.

Cronos (1993) is del Toro’s 1st function-length film, a visually fashionable vampire horror story that he also wrote. Our protagonist of sorts is Jesús Gris (Federico Luppi, who appears in both other films in this collection), an antiques dealer who accidentally discovers eternal youth by way of a 400 year-old golden scarab entombed in a statue. The catch is that Gris now has a taste for human blood, and it does not take long for him to quench his thirst. The other catch is that an individual else knows of the scarab’s location and energy: Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook), a dying businessman who sends his nephew Angel (Ron Perlman, Hellboy) to retrieve it. Deliberately paced, visually inventive, occasionally disturbing, and efficiently edited—components that would turn into hallmarks in a lot of of del Toro’s future films, such as the other two in this collection—there’s a lot to admire about Cronos, both as a wholly original horror fable and a stepping stone for the director’s bigger achievements further down the road.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001), set in sun-drenched Spain of 1939—just ahead of the country’s Civil War came to a close—follows young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) as he’s unexpectedly left at an orphanage. He doesn’t recognize that his father has been killed in action, but it does not actually matter: with the nearest town much more than a day’s walk away, Carlos won’t be leaving any time soon. The orphanage director (Marisa Paredes) is distant but fair, the physician (Federico Luppi) requires an interest in him, and his fellow orphans at some point accept Carlos as one of their own. Less welcoming are Jaime (Inigo Garces), a bully interested in comic book art, and Jacinto (Eduardo Noriega), a greedy caretaker who plans to break into a safe hidden inside the orphanage. Besides for their surroundings, however, everyone has one issue in frequent: they’ve all heard of “Santi”, the ghost of a young boy who supposedly haunts the region at evening. It is not really lengthy ahead of Carlos sees the ghost, but curiosity ultimately overcomes worry.

The lesson, of course, is that real-life danger is often more frightening that anything our imaginations can dream up. To compensate, The Devil’s Backbone always keeps one particular foot in reality: it seldom feels headed in the path of your typical “jump scare” horror film, even when early scenes recommend otherwise. This violent, dramatic tale of loneliness and superstition is laced with political undertones, but its true weight is carried by the excellent performances, terrific music, and engaging visuals. Del Toro’s knack for strong compositions and symbolism is complete show right here, with eye-catching imagery that lingers in the brain for days afterward. While its third act and ending feel more predictable than poetic, The Devil’s Backbone is still a memorable film virtually each step of the way.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), set in Spain following the final gasps of its Civil War, follows young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) and her penchant for fairy tales. After the death of her father, Ofelia and her pregnant mother Carmen (Ariadna Gil) travel to the house of Captain Vidal (Sergi López), their new stepfather and husband. This proves to be a less-than-ideal living environment, fueling Ofelia’s wish to escape into the great world around her: led by an insect-like creature to a labyrinth on the Captain’s land, Ofelia encounters a faun who believes her to be the reincarnation of a princess. She’s given 3 quests to prove herself, each one involving fantastic (and, in some cases, horrifying) creatures or challenging moral challenges. These diversions, even though occasionally violent and hideous in their own appropriate, stand in contrast with the film’s striking true-world backdrop of civil war and the violence in its wake.

These two worlds are blended seamlessly, both in a technical sense and a spiritual 1. Del Toro frequently employs careful vertical wipes—produced to resemble the turning of pages, according to the director’s 2007 commentary also included in this set—to make subtle connections among Vidal’s homestead and the mystical labyrinth. His deliberate use of color is one more telling giveaway, contrasting the increasingly cold reality of Ofelia’s life with the surreal warmth of her fantasy globe. The intricate production style also anchors Pan’s Labyrinth nicely, from detailed and meticulously-framed sets to beautiful practical effects and costume designs. It is a accurate feast for the senses, but has plenty of substance to back up the style. Nominated for six Academy Awards and winner of 3 (Very best Art Path, Very best Cinematography, and Very best Makeup), Pan’s Labyrinth remains del Toro’s final Spanish film soon after establishing a sturdy connection with comic book fans via Blade II and Hellboy earlier in the decade.

Video &amp Audio High quality

Since the discs for Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone are identical to Criterion’s prior Blu-ray editions (save for the artwork), any and all comments with regards to A/V high quality only pertain to Pan’s Labyrinth.

Authorized by director Guillermo del Toro, this newly colour-graded 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer of Pan’s Labyrinth was designed from a 2K master and looks very very good (specially in comparison with New Line’s 2007 Blu-ray, which suffered from excessive noise reduction). As far as “newly colour-graded”, the differences right here are not precisely drastic: far more often than not, the film has a slightly more gold-and-green hue that’s noticeable in just about every daytime shot. There’s plenty of darkness right here and this Blu-ray handles shadow detail very effectively contrast levels seem more all-natural than boosted this time around, although textures and fine image detail are all powerful—or at least evident—from commence to finish. No obvious digital problems, from compression artifacts to edge enhancement (and, of course, excessive noise reduction) could be spotted along the way. It really is a satisfying work that feels completely suited for such a visually gorgeous production, and in my opinion a long-overdue upgrade that prior DVD and Blu-ray owners will appreciate.

DISCLAIMER: The screen captures featured in this assessment are strictly decorative and do not represent Blu-ray’s native 1080p image resolution.

Surprisingly, we get two audio possibilities right here: the standard DTS-HD five.1 Master Audio track and a new 7.1 remix, each in the original Spanish with optional English subtitles. Pan’s Labyrinth is also no slouch in the audio department, serving up a great deal of tension via the effectively-mixed original score, strong channel separation, and no shortage of cautious surround effects that sound robust and dynamic without fighting for consideration. The 7.1 mix adds a few modest touches right here and there…and even though it does not create an totally new and different expertise, I’d think about that any person with the further two speakers will almost certainly want to take advantage of its occasional benefits. General, this is an impressive presentation that, short of a complete-blown Atmos track, can not sound any much better than it does right here.

Menu Design and style, Presentation, &amp Packaging
As usual, Criterion’s interface is smooth and easy to navigate. Every single film is given separate menu alternatives for chapter selection, setup, bonus attributes and much more, with fairly swift loading time and a handy “Resume” function. But the packaging is the real standout right here: seen above, this 3-disc set is housed in a deluxe fold-out case with envelopes and summaries for the films on every single flap, as properly as eye-catching new artwork on the inner and outer case by illustrator Vania Zouravliov. Also tucked inside is a small but impressive 100-web page Hardcover Book featuring an introduction by author Neil Gaiman and three essays by critics Michael Atkinson, Mark Kermode, and Maitland McDonagh, along with production notes and sketches by del Toro and illustrators Carlos Giménez and Raúl Monge.
Bonus Characteristics
Since the discs for Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone are identical to Criterion’s earlier Blu-ray editions (save for the artwork), any and all comments with regards to bonus functions only pertain to Pan’s Labyrinth.

New to this Blu-ray of Pan’s Labyrinth is “The Spirit of Fairy Tales”, an interview with director Guillermo del Toro &amp Cornelia Funke (39 minutes) for the duration of this lengthy conversation, the director and novelist share their thoughts about fairy tales, childhood, and how these influences have shaped their books and films. “Beauty in the Beasts” is an entertaining interview with actor Doug Jones (28 minutes), who portrayed “The Faun / Pale Man”. Jones shares information about his earlier function as a fill-in on Mimic and as Abe Sapien on both Hellboys, as effectively as the special challenges he faced throughout the production of Pan’s Labyrinth (including layers of makeup and prosthetics, standing on stilts, and being the only native English speaker in a Spanish production). A clip from Ivana Baquero’s Audition (three minutes) is also incorporated, maybe the only vintage additional that wasn’t included on earlier discs. Speaking of which…

Carried more than from New Line’s 2007 Blu-ray and DVD are lots of terrific extras including a brief Introduction and complete-length Audio Commentary with del Toro, the interactive “Director’s Notebook” with no shortage of drawings and sketches, 4 brief to mid-length Featurettes (“The Energy of Myth”, “Pan and the Fairies”, “The Colour and the Shape”, and “The Melody Echoes the Fairy Tale”), four Prequel Comics (“The Giant Toad”, “The Fairies”, “The Faun”, and “The Pale Man”), a handful of pre-production Video Comparisons, and almost a dozen Trailers &amp Tv Spots.

Missing in action is an episode of The Charlie Rose Show featuring del Toro with fellow directors Alfonso Cuarón (Youngsters of Males) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams), as properly as a poster gallery incorporated in the marketing and advertising campaign section. Not specifically significant losses, but disappointing for an otherwise properly-stocked Blu-ray.

Thanks to the director’s infectious enthusiasm, eye for detail, and an obvious love of bonus attributes, die-challenging fans of Guillermo del Toro’s work have been treated to no shortage of completely-loaded, complete residence video releases during the last decade or so. Criterion’s handsomely-created Trilogía de Guillermo del Toro, which collects three of his finest films (the currently-released Cronos and The Devil’s Backbone, as nicely as Pan’s Labyrinth), might just be the ideal to date. Serving up a trio of amazing A/V presentations, lots of terrific supplements, and stylish packaging that even contains a 100-page hardcover book, this boxed set is an absolute no-brainer for any individual even halfway interested in del Toro’s Spanish-language output. Unless you already personal Cronos and/or The Devil’s Backbone, there is completely no cause not to pick this boxed set up instantly (or at least put it on your want list). Extremely Advised.

Randy Miller III is an affable workplace monkey by day and film reviewer by evening. He also does freelance design and style function, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third individual.

Blu-Ray Testimonials

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Clouds of Sils Maria: The Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

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&#13 &#13 The Film:&#13

Over the previous couple of years, a handful of films have tackled the concept of an aging celebrity’s legacy and their intrinsic, often obligatory pull to the form of art that brought them their stardom. From an ex-superhero film star’s attempt at a stage play in Birdman to a retired composer’s supply to conduct a final functionality for royalty in Youth, these stories have reached into the psyches of people whose inventive pursuits have given them decades of distinctive context involving the work they’ve created, as effectively as how their fields have evolved about their participation. Maneuvering among these pieces of operate significantly like the organic phenomenon in its title, Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria tackles the notion in a related manner, thrusting an aging actress into the mature opposite top role from the production that helped make her a star in her youth. Assayas draws nuanced performances out of his pair of leading ladies as they explore the actress’ evolving perception of a role that straight confronts her age, even though these keyhole glimpses into her adjust reduce away much sooner than they ought to all through. &#13

Juliette Binoche is Maria Enders, a film and stage icon in her forties who owes the bulk of her accomplishment to a production from her youth, Maloja Snake, a tale of the intense lesbian connection among a young, confident assistant — Sigrid, whom Maria played — and her amenable boss, Helena. As she’s traveling to Switzerland to accept an award on behalf of the writer and director of Maloja Snake, Maria leans from her personal assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), of his unexpected death, casting a shadow over the occasion and impacting her train of believed. Out of the tragedy, nevertheless, emerges an opportunity: Maria is supplied the possibility to embody the role of Helena in a stage revival, a signifies to which she may well be able to pay homage to the writer-director. By accepting the provide, she’ll also have to examine how she’s transitioned from the young assistant she after played to the matured character, as well as taking a close appear at the starlet (Chloe Moretz) who will now play Sigrid, which throws her into an analytical frame of thoughts that disrupts her private relationships. &#13

Modest dramatic happenings upon a train start a series of progressive vignettes centered on Maria’s absorption with her age and legacy, numerous of which jump around and fade to black at inopportune instances in Clouds of Sils Maria … at points exactly where much more insight into her reactions would’ve been welcome. These keyhole glimpses into her life, into how she shoulders the burden of the director’s death and the substance of her own accomplishments up until that point, do kind into a cohesive portrait of the woman’s present state of turmoil, navigated by Juliette Binoche’s reliably sober, reflective persona. Olivier Assayas appears devoted to keeping the audience at a distance from the layers of the actress’ personality, although, alternatively much more concerned with her dissection of where she’s arrived in her profession and why she’s no longer the lady who after played Sigrid. The cause for this vagueness rests in her struggle to pin down her own identity, and although that’s an admirable endeavor when filtered through Binoche’s attraction to characters with comparable internal conflicts — a war photog in 1000 Times Good Night a painter in Words &amp Images — Maria lacks the substantial traits that deepen these intentions. &#13

Interestingly enough, her assistant Valentine truly does possess that kind of underlying substance, and the way she handles Maria’s gradual and unpretentious downward spiral becomes one of the chief motives to experience Clouds of Sils Maria. Kristen Stewart ends up being a sublime match for Valentine: she’s an optimist and enthusiast who’s burdened with her boss’ old-college cynicism, and she’s a person who sees the inventive risks that artists take in mass-industry productions and isn’t afraid to admire celebrities younger than her with polarizing personalities. The actress, after the starlet of Twilight who’s slowly come into her personal by means of other indie projects like Welcome to the Rileys and Camp X-Ray, brings restrained, simmering exasperation to the individual assistant accountable for maintaining Maria afloat. Small, seemingly inconsequential glimpses at their every day activities, such as when Valentine runs via a series of appearance and efficiency possibilities for Maria to think about, are made intriguing by the sort of personality each Assayas and Stewart have managed to craft with the assistant.&#13

Early on, amid Maria’s somber reflection on the director and her insecurity over playing the older function in the play that sparked her profession, Clouds of Sils Maria feels somewhat aimless, reveling in the back-and-forth amongst the actress and her individual assistant for a day-by-day study of their lives. It really is only after Maria and Valentine start reading the lines of Maloja Snake collectively — and after they commence to analyze the temperament of Chloe Moretz’ Jo-Ann Ellis as her “replacement” — that the film discovers the cause it really is meant to exist, drawing indirect, uniquely-deciphered parallels amongst the boss-assistant relationships in true life and in the language of the play. Their lengthy rehearsals and discussions over interpretations of the play, and of other films, performances, and actors, permit organic clashes of opinions to emerge between them, propelling the film by means of the gorgeously photographed stretches of land via which they take lengthy hikes. As the connection in the play starts to boil, so as well does the relationship in between Maria and Valentine, only at a diverse temperature. &#13

Interrupting his story with hypnotic driving sequence through the Swiss mountains, extended footage from a Maloja Snake doc, and a deliberately hokey film-inside-a-film, Olivier Assayas artfully slipstreams through subjects of evolving careers, deceptive appearances, and coming to grips with age in Clouds of Sils Maria. There’s a lot to get absorbed in with Maria’s internal conflicts, though the director’s fascination with maintaining particular items undisclosed– punctuated with these numerous fades to black at interesting points in scenes or conversations — continues to be a source of aggravation all the way till the fog comes rolling in at the finish. Assayas so desires his audience to empathize with the aging actress and her push-and-pull partnership with her name-creating play, and her journey through self-realization can definitely spark a discussion about one’s personal cathartic understanding of youth and expertise. That stated, Clouds of Sils Maria continually turns away just as its far more profound inclinations are about to emerge, and it really is a testament to Assayas’ common craftsmanship that one wishes it wouldn’t do that.&#13

The Blu-ray:&#13




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The Criterion Collection have released Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria as spine #822 in their collection, arriving in their familiar clear-case design. The front artwork largely carries over onto the disc design and style, with the silhouettes of faces visible in blue wavy patterns. Inside, a foldout Booklet consists of data about the transfer, cast credits and an essay from Molly Haskell entitled “iClouds of Sils Maria”. &#13

Video and Audio:&#13

&#13 For the most component, Olivier Assayas and Only Loves Left Alive cinematographer Yorick Le Saux operate around a cooler, dimmer blueish-hued color palette, deviating in outside sequences and the insistently warm lighting of restaurants. This 2K-sourced AVC digital transfer from The Criterion Collection of the 2.35:1-framed film does an impeccable job of coaxing the restrained flesh tones from the cooler atmosphere, while allowing the information in close ups — strands of hair, creases about eyes, folds in fabric — to emerge with crisp clarity. Some heavier noise emerges in a few extreme low-light sequences that give the image a bulkier look, while a handful of black levels err dangerously close to crushing out particulars in their dimness, once again in the course of darker sequences. These are couple of and far amongst, however, and they’re greatly overshadowed by each the interior and exterior beauty of the photography, particularly when Binoche and Stewart hit the Swiss hiking trails and all the verdant shades and textures engulf them. &#13

The five.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track revolves practically completely around vocal clarity and very mild suround atmosphere, and this surround presentation sustains an exceptionally clear, distortion-free of charge presence to every articulation and mild sound impact that emerges. Items like the tossing of books and the slam of a purse on a windshield are the minor effects that come about, and they’re as clear and responsive as they want to be against the all-natural separation across the front channels. The dialogue remains delightfully sharp and aware of midline bass levels, never ever sounding raspy for the duration of numerous theatrical yelling sequences. Surround activity beyond the resonant music is rare, but a handful of sequences involving thunder and driving send some effects to the rear channels, which are clear and appropriately balanced with the front finish. It’s not a complex track, but the digital evenhandedness makes it delightful to hear. &#13

Specific Features:&#13

Olivier Assayas: Beyond Time (37:46, 16×9 HD):&#13
&#13 This lengthy chat with the director, speaking in English, matches the good quality of Criterion’s earlier releases: elaborative and paced deliberately, correctly spaced out with clips from Clouds of Sils Maria an other films. He discusses functioning with Juliette Binoche and his writing process, the things that go untouched by the passage of time, and the parallels in between his film and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. He then gets to the meat of the film itself, discussing how he wanted the really feel of selecting up in the middle of a story in the course of the opening train sequence and how Assayas landed on Kristen Stewart as the supporting actress, as properly as the chronology of the shooting schedule. It’s an intriguing chat that sports that good flow Criterion has become so good at from general discussion about the filmmakers’ origins to the nitty-gritty about the focal film itself.&#13

Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart: Fiction and Reality in Clouds of Sils Maria (37:46, 16×9 HD):&#13
&#13 The interview time with Binoche and Stewart is chopped up and edited collectively into somewhat correlating subjects, delving into how they got started with Assayas with the film’s conception, the origin and presence of their characters, and sooner or later into the skilled all 3 actresses have shared in their areas amongst pop-culture. Binoche also discusses her characters weight and the revealing swimming scene, while they both touch on their deeper outlooks on the themes touched upon in the characters, as nicely as robust female figures in common and discussing the freer-kind nature of Assayas’ process. &#13

The Criterion Collection have also integrated the brief 1923 documentary Cloud Phenomena of Maloja (ten:23, 16×9 HD), from which footage was taken and employed in Clouds of Sils Maria, as well as a somewhat deceptively-reduce Theatrical Trailer (two:09, 16×9 HD).&#13

Final Thoughts:&#13

&#13 Olivier Assayas wraps up a meditative premise with decent, overly enigmatic drama in Clouds of Sils Maria, his tale of an aging actress who ruminates on her career as she prepares to play the lead character opposite the one that created her a star in her youth. Juliette Binoche delivers a predictably absorbing overall performance as the actress, but Kristen Stewart manages to steal the show as her assistant, Valentine, who embodies genuine enthusiasm and optimistic artistic interpretation in the face of cynicism and jealousy from her boss. While extremely well-performed, meticulously crafted, and ultimately thought-provoking, Assayas also wishes to hold particular elements of Maria’s life behind closed doors, in the midst of overly self-assured skips via time, which loses some of the character-driven film’s potency along the way. The Criterion Collection’s presentation appears and sounds wonderful, and comes with a predictably fine collection of interviews with the director and his actresses. Strongly Suggested.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer — DVDTalk Testimonials | Individual Blog/Website&#13


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Blu-Ray Evaluations

Clouds of Sils Maria (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection

Judge Gordon Sullivan has his head in the clouds.

“A multilayered drama…”

Right after a series of thoughts-bending films (Demonlover, Clean, Boarding Gate), writer/director Olivier Assayas appeared to be settling down with Summer time Hours, a relatively gentle household drama. But then he got political with the back-to-back Carlos and One thing in the Air (which have been also both period pieces). For any quantity of factors, Assayas took however another turn with Clouds of Sils Maria, a film that reunites him with Juliette Binoche (who appeared in the 1st film Assayas wrote, Rendez-vous, and in Summer season Hours). It’s a beautifully-shot and beautifully-acted drama that will please as a lot of viewers as it will confound.

Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche, Godzilla) is on a train to accept an award getting bestowed on dramatist Wilhelm Melchior. Enders got her start off in acting by staring as the young seductress Sigird in Melchior’s most popular play, Maloja Snake. She’s traveling to Switzerland to accept the award with her intrepid assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart, American Ultra) when she learns that Melchior has died. In her grief, she is approached by young director Klaus to play Helena in Maloja Snake, the aging woman seduced by Sigrid in the play. Although reluctant, Maria agrees and starts to prepare. Then she learns that internet sensation and celebration girl Jo-Ann Ellis (Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass) and Maria has to come to terms with the character and her personal mortality.

The beauty of Clouds of Sils Maria is that watching it is like watching several distinct films at when. On the most standard, surface level the film is a kind of chamber piece among Juliette Binoche and Kirsten Stewart. In the very first half the pair struggle below the weight of Melchior’s death, and in the second they square off as Enders prepares for her function. This includes trading lines with Valentine. The fact that the play-with-a-film is about a young lady seducing an older lady offers their interactions an added spark, producing it not possible for the viewer to always inform what is the pair reading lines to a single an additional and what’s the pair squaring off about their true life interactions.

Peel back a single more layer, even so, and Clouds of Sils Maria is a film about film. Although Enders is preparing a stage play, she makes frequent references to the films she’s done—including a film version of Maloja Snake. There’s lots of speak about ìartî versus ìblockbusters,î and even though Enders admits to staring in them to get a paycheck (and reportedly Binoche took her role in Godzilla to add oomph to this aspect of her character) it is the stage that matters to her. And if the discussions weren’t adequate, the film itself functions references to other films, each actual and fictional. The ìcloudsî of the title, and the title of the play Maloja Snake refer to a climate pattern that happens in the mountain geography about Sils Maria. This was captured in a 1924 silent film, some of which we see projected in the film.

If you go even additional, however, Clouds of Sils Maria is also a film about the actresses who play the characters. The film began with Binoche approached Assayas about functioning together again, and she gave him the simple story that he crafted into the screenplay. Certainly there is not a one particular-to-one correspondence among the actress and the character, but watching for parallels is fun. There was some speak also of Kristen Steward playing Jo-Ann, and considerably of the dialoguge about tabloids and blockbusters could be mentioned of her profession as much as Elli’s youthful fame.

Clouds is not only a series of motion pictures superimposed on one particular one more it’s also a film about the ambiguity that comes with that. The film plays with time, shuttling us amongst days at Sils Maria, by no means really pinning down how significantly time passes among the film’s different moments. Characters appear and disappear, and the film is as a lot about the passing of life as it is about anything else. The film also wins points for not siding with any of the three primary actresses. Binoche is right about her interpretation of Helena, Stewart is similarly correct in her much more resistant reading, and Moretz’s fierier, significantly less reverent approach is equally valid in terms of the film.

Even though it could look cheesy to come, Clouds of Sils Maria is a film that in the end makes the case for why life and art require to be tied together. The film requires the arts—theater, especially—absolutely seriously, as a matter of life and death. That does not imply that the film is critical and formal, but rather breaths with all the life that art inspires.

This is Criterion’s third outing with Assayas, and the film is in very good hands. The 2.40:1/1080p AVC-encoded transfer is almost flawless. The film took some time to develop and fund simply because Assayas genuinely wanted to shoot on 35mm, and that shows. The source looks to be in excellent shape, with no harm. Detail is sturdy throughout, with lots of properly-resolved grain. Even challenging scenes like the titular clouds appear excellent and never suffer from encoding difficulties. Colors are properly saturated, and black levels are deep and consistent. There is a tiny bit of crush in the blacks in a handful of darker scenes, but it is not a large problem. The film’s DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is surprisingly robust for a talk-heavy drama. The opening on the train characteristics some superb directionality as the cars roll by way of the mountains. A chamber piece by Handel perofmred in the film sounds rich and detailed. Dialogue, however, is the priority and it comes via clean and clear. There are alternatives for subtitles that translate the French/German dialogue as properly as a far more robust SDH set.

Extras begin with a pair of interviews. The first spends virtually 40 minutes with Assayas detailing the film’s genesis and production. The second intercuts Bincoche and Stewart discussing their characters and experiences generating the film. We also get the entirety of Cloud Phenomena of Maloja, the silent quick that is featured in the film. The film’s American trailer is also incorporated. The usual Criterion booklet characteristics a fine essay by critic Molly Haskell.

Fans could want for a couple of a lot more extras, specifically the inclusion of Moretz. For every person else, Clouds of Sils Maria is a contemporary French drama. That indicates there isn’t a lot of narrative thrust, and the film’s resolution is a lot more ambiguous than a lot of viewers will be comfortable with.

Clouds of Sils Maria could make the best case for Olivier Assayas as a total master of cinema. He’s crafted a drama that is emotionally moving, intellectually stimulating, and beautiful to look at. Anyone who doubts that Kristen Stewart (or Juliet Binoche, or Chloe Grace Moretz) can act should spend some time with this film. Criterion have completed a commendable job presenting the film in hi-def.

DVD Verdict

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Discovered to Cease Worrying and Enjoy the Bomb (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection

Judge Patrick Naugle will never ever quit worrying. Ever.

Stanley Kubrick was at one time the bane of my existence. Fifteen years ago, I wrote a assessment for Warner Bros. common def DVD release of 2001: A Space Odyssey that was, oh, let’s say much less than favorable. In reality, it was downright scathing. Although I acknowledged the film’s influence on future cinema, I noted that it was at ideal dated and at worst sluggish and boring. A decade and a half later, I stand by my judgment in that assessment. Nonetheless, I had so several unfavorable responses they virtually clogged up my inbox.

The excellent news is I won’t get hate mail for my assessment of Kubrick’s 1964 classic Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Discovered to Cease Worrying and Adore the Bomb because this is, hands down, my preferred Kubrick film. Even though I haven’t been an enormous fan of Kubrick’s function in the previous (which consists of A Clockwork Orange and Spartacus), this is both subversive and wacky, a really fantastic film filled with some absolutely remarkable performances and a message that gets far more timely as the years go on.

Satirizing the Cold War among American the USSR, Dr. Strangelove issues Basic Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden, The Asphalt Jungle), a military specialist who has exceeded his authority and sent bombers into Russia with nuclear weapons. This does not sit well with the President of the United States, Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers, Being There), who wants to know if the attack can be recalled. Common Buck Turgidson (Goerge C. Scott, Patton) advises the President to let the attack go on as planned, though Russia informs the President that they have a Doomsday device ready to detonate need to the U.S. attack. Surrounded by military consultants, generals, and a wild-eyed wheelchair bound former Nazi turned scientist named Dr. Strangelove (also Sellers), the President must make some hard choices from the fabled “war area.”

Kubrick’s subverse sense of humor is on complete show in Dr. Strangelove, a film that is hard to categorize whilst it really is most definitely a comedy, it is also a war image and—at times—even a bit of a drama. Kubrick’s film is also meant to be a scathing satire of war and the government and its leaders (as evidenced by Seller’s often silly portrayal of 3 various characters). I’d even go so far as to say that Dr. Strangelove is a daring movie that “offers it to the man”, so to speak. Although it can be a bit heavy handed at instances, the film’s literal and often allegorical ideas by no means distract from the film’s amusing performances.

And what performances there are in Dr. Strangelove! First, praise have to be provided to Peter Sellers playing three quite distinct and extremely different characters. Sellers’ work here was deserving of an Oscar playing a bald, bespectacled President of the United States, a mild mannered English army captain, and a crazed wheelchair bound Nazi should take some kind of raw talent. Sellers does the close to-not possible by creating us think that each of these characters has a life of their own. Even though all three of the characters are very amusing, Sellers’ Dr. Strangelove steals the show with his crackling, maniacal personality—Strangelove is just unpredictable adequate that you don’t often know if he’s on our side or the enemy’s side. Seller’s offers a efficiency that genuinely shows off the master thespian’s legendary comedic chops.

The supporting cast is stellar, which includes Sterling Hadyen as the gruff Brigadier General who chews on cigars as heartily as he chews the scenery (typically reminding me of Robert Stack’s character in Airplane!). In a smaller part originally developed for Sellers as effectively is Slim Pickins (Beyond the Poseidon Adventure) who rides into cinema history on the renowned last shot of the actor riding a giant A-bomb, rodeo-style, to its final location (all even though twirling his hat over his head). Lastly there is the wondrous George C. Scott as the awesomely named Air Force Basic Buck Turgidson, whose overall performance is so pitch perfect is nearly boggles the mind. Scott is robust, angry, zany, and just plain hysterical as the womanizing leader. Rumor has is that for the duration of the film’s shoot Scott wanted to play his character much more simple. Kubrick told Scott that he’d like to shoot it both methods, and wouldn’t use the crazier requires. Kubrick lied (which infuriated Scott), but the director’s instincts were right on the funds for Scott’s character.

What tends to make Dr. Strangelove a classic is how much is resonates with today’s events. The film is prophetic when it shows arguing generals trying to decide what and who to bomb the film also includes one particular of the funniest pieces of comedic dialogue ever committed to film: “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here—this is the war room!”). From Sellers and Scott’s performances to the snappy dialogue and gorgeous staged black and white cinematography by Gilbert Taylor (Star Wars), every little thing about this performs and operates splendidly. I am positive it won’t come as significantly of a surprise when I say the film comes hugely recommended.

Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Blu-ray) Criterion Collection is ultimately presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen in 1080p higher definition. This black and white transfer appears exceptional, restored by way of a 4K transfer. Criterion delivers up not only the correct aspect ratio (the preceding edition was 1.85:1) but also a sharper, clearer image than the earlier Sony Blu-ray release. The print features a crystal clear image with out any major defects or imperfections. The soundtrack is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 1. Mono in English. This audio mix is a great reproduction of the original soundtrack for the film. Even though the bulk of the track is entirely front heavy, the dialogue, effects, and Laurie Johnson’s (First Men in the Moon) film score are all clearly recorded and effortlessly distinguishable. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.

Bonus characteristics include new interviews with Stanley Kubrick scholars Mick Broderic and Ronney Hill, archivist Richard Daniels, cinematographer and camera innovator Joe Dunton, Camera Operator Kelvin Pike, and David George (son of Peter George, whose novel the film is loosely primarily based on), excerpts from a 1966 audio interview with Kubrick, four short documentaries “About the Making of the Film”, “The Sociopolitical Climate of the Period”, “The Perform of Actor Peter Sellers”, “The Artistry of Kubrick”), a few interviews from 1963 with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott, an excerpt from a 1980 interview with Peter Sellers from NBC’s The Nowadays Show, theatrical trailers for the film, and an essay by scholar David Bromwich.

Dr. Strangelove is arguably Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film, and his most accessible. Sellers and Scott give exceptional performances and the film itself is endlessly amusing. This is Kubrick at the prime of his game. Fans of the film will undoubtedly want to replace their prior Blu-ray for this newly minted release.

DVD Verdict