Blu-ray Review Round-up is a curated collection of insightful reviews and analyses of the latest releases.
From classic films to modern blockbusters, this platform offers a comprehensive overview of picture quality, audio performance, special features, and the overall value of each Blu-ray edition.
Blu-ray Review Round-up
Blu-ray Review Round-up provides an essential guide to help you make informed decisions on your next purchase.
La Belle Noiseuse Cohen
Jacques Rivette’s mesmerizing “La Belle Noiseuse” is a swift but engrossing four-hour film that simultaneously reinforces the mystical allure of the creative process and dismantles the romanticized notion of the artist-muse relationship.
The once-renowned painter, Edouard Frenhofer, is reinvigorated upon meeting Marianne, the girlfriend of a young artist who idolizes him.
He rekindles an old project with Marianne as his nude model, asserting explicit control over their relationship’s physical boundaries, which accentuates her vulnerability.
Beyond the studio, the emotional implications are complex due to the intertwined histories of Frenhofer and his wife, Liz, and Marianne and her boyfriend, Nicolas.
Rivette meticulously captures the artistic process through languid yet organized scenes, depicting Frenhofer’s work in a manner that accentuates Piccoli’s detached performance and Béart’s defiant portrayal of Marianne.
Cohen’s Blu-ray release, sourced from a new 4K restoration, delivers a stunning 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer with exceptional clarity and well-managed grain.
The 2.0 PCM mono track is clear and free from distractions.
The release also includes insightful extras such as a new commentary by film historian Richard Suchenski and archival interviews with Rivette and screenwriters Pascal Bonitzer and Christine Laurent.
Cohen Media Group / 1991 / Color / 1.37:1 / 238 min / $34.99
People also viewed Savant Blu-ray Review: “Foreign Correspondent” (1940)
The Sacrifice Kino Lorber
Andrei Tarkovsky’s final film, “The Sacrifice,” although not as celebrated as his other works, encapsulates the gravity of nuclear war through a Swedish family’s meandering yet captivating story.
The film juxtaposes theatrical elements with a sparse narrative structure, reflecting the madness of its subject matter.
The story revolves around the patriarch, Alexander, who grapples with the impending nuclear threat and embarks on extreme and irrational actions in a desperate attempt to avert the catastrophe.
Kino’s new Blu-ray release, sourced from a 4K restoration, offers a visually improved 1080p, 1.66:1 image with enhanced clarity and shadow delineation.
However, the color leans towards a distinct greenish tone, which departs from the previous look.
The release also includes a new audio commentary, excerpts from Tarkovsky’s diaries in the booklet, and the feature-length making-of documentary, “Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.”
Kino Lorber / 1986 / Color / 1.66:1 / 146 min / $39.95
Moonrise The Criterion Collection
One of the recurring narrative devices that I find unappealing is the overt psychologizing that directly links a character’s present actions to their past.
In “Moonrise,” one of Frank Borzage’s later films, this storytelling approach is notably present as the protagonist, Danny, is haunted by his father’s execution for murder, leading him to commit a similar act.
Borzage, known for creating atmospheric worlds, infuses the film with a nightmarish dread, enveloping Danny in entrapment.
Heavy noirish shadowing adds to the film’s dark ambiance, with the protagonist’s reckless behavior reinforcing his sense of detachment.
Despite the conventional plot, Borzage’s direction elevates the material, offering a fresh perspective even on familiar noir elements, such as the carnival scene.
Criterion’s 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer from a new 4K restoration adeptly captures the film’s darkness, maintaining detail and minimizing issues.
The uncompressed mono audio is also commendable. In addition to a booklet essay by Philip Kemp, the release includes a new conversation between film historians Peter Cowie and Hervé Dumont.
Criterion Collection / 1948 / Black and white / 1.37:1 / 90 min / $39.95
Intimate Lighting (Intimní osvětlení) Second Run
Ivan Passer’s “Intimate Lighting” is a subtly observed film that delicately captures the intricacies of human interaction.
Set in a small town, the film revolves around Petr, a moderately successful musician, who reunites with his old friend Bambas.
The film masterfully portrays the underlying expectations and benign tensions between the characters, highlighting gentle peculiarities in scenes of musical struggles, late-night rendezvous, and toasts gone awry.
While labeling “Intimate Lighting” as a comedy of manners might be an overstatement, Passer’s keen interest in human interaction shines through.
The film’s elusive charms stem from its simple plot and effortless tonal balance, devoid of sharp satire.
Second Run’s region-free Blu-ray release presents a 1080p, 1.37:1 transfer sourced from a new 4K restoration by the Czech National Film Archive, offering solid clarity, a convincing film-like appearance, and clean 2.0 uncompressed mono audio.
The release includes Passer’s debut short film, “A Boring Afternoon” (1964), an interview with Passer, and a booklet featuring essays from Trevor Johnston and Phillip Bergson.
Second Run / 1965 / Black and white / 1.37:1 / 74 min / £19.99
Edward II Film Movement
Derek Jarman’s cinematic adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan play presents a captivating blend of contradictions.
The film exudes a calm, detached manner while pulsing with sensual imagery, showcasing a formal austerity and tonal nimbleness.
Shot in an unadorned castle, the film evokes a chilly atmosphere.
Yet, each scene is meticulously designed, from sexually charged bedroom sequences to anachronistic gay-rights protests and a whimsical musical performance by Annie Lennox.
Jarman adeptly explores and amplifies the homoerotic undertones of Marlowe’s play, focusing on the relationship between King Edward II and his lover, Piers Gaveston.
The film boldly portrays their flaunted relationship, provoking tension between Queen Isabella and Mortimer, leading to plans for a coup.
While some criticisms point to a lack of cohesion and simplistic renderings of Marlowe’s complex characters, the film’s elements compensate for any narrative shortcomings.
Jarman’s keen eye for arresting production design, compelling compositions, and political enthusiasm create a captivating experience where each image rejuvenates the viewer’s attention.
Film Movement’s new Blu-ray offers a 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer, significantly improving over the previous DVD release.
Despite a slightly hazy look and occasional tiny dots, the transfer is watchable with acceptable grain and fine detail.
The release also includes an excellent 2.0 LPCM stereo track and extras such as an interview with producer Antony Root, a booklet featuring Tilda Swinton’s appreciation, and an essay by filmmaker Bruce LaBruce.
Film Movement / 1991 / Color / 1.85:1 / 90 min / $39.95
Also, see Budd Boetticher: A Maverick Voice from the Past