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filmlover

Foreign language

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Please review foreign language DVDs here, thanks. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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I recently purchased Seijun Suzuki's T?ky? nagaremono ("Tokyo Drifter") on the Criterion Collection's release. Then today I found a "trilogy set" of Suzuki's work for sale at Tower's demise. It seems to be a Japanese import for the US. The problem is that T?ky? nagaremono is one of the three. Is anyone familiar with this set? Is it worthy of purchase, even though one of them is already owned (and I'm assuming the Criterion disk will be of better quality)?

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I bought a japanese import of Jean Renoir's Toni, and the english subtitles were a mess. Things came out saying "go store to will me?" It was horrible. Every translation was unreadale. I wouldnt recommend any japanese imported foreign films.

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Persona (1966)

Directed by Ingmar bergman

Starring: Liv Ullman, bibi Andersson, Gunnar bjornstrand

MGM DVD Release

 

Persona is a mind blowing film. It is not easily accessible for those that are not familiar with the work of bergman, but after watching a few of his films, and understanding his style, this film will come to the viewer at full force, and will display why bergman is one of the greatest auteurs of all film history.

 

The print on this dvd is pristine. There arent any cracks in the film, and it is presented in its original aspect ratio, and is in crystal clear black and white.

 

Persona involves a theatre actress who stops talking during a performance of the Greek Tragedy, Electra. She is put in the hospital, and a nurse named Alma is chosen to care for her. Elisabet, the woman who doesnt speak, and Alma go off to a cottage where they spend every moment together, trying to cure Elisabet of her supposed sickness. Alma reveals her deepest secrets to Elisabet and what follows is open to interpretation, with each of the characters possibly blending into one. It is fascinating stuff. Throughout the film, bergman reminds the viewer that it is only a movie that we are watching, leading to one of the theories of the movie being about nothing. One must see it to understand it. The film is one of bergman's best, but one should start off with the Seventh Seal or Wild Strawberries before viewing this one.

 

There are a few dvd extras on the disc, including an audio commentary, an interview with Liv Ullman, an interview with bibi Andersson, and a 27 minute documentary about the film. The commentary is decent, and it gives many perspectives on interpreting the film that would have gone unnoticed throughout a first viewing. The commentator knows what he is talking about, and he seems to have more fun than most commentators do on the dvd's.

 

The supplementary interviews are pointless. Liv Ullman rambles on about her relationship with bergman, giving no new perspective on the film, while bibi andersson talks about her being the mediator for both bergman and Ullman. The documentary is basically a rehashing of what the viewer learned in the commentary, with a few little sections of an interview with Ingmar bergman. One must expect the extras to be lacking, because it is not a Criterion release.

 

Despite the poor supplementary material, I would definitely encourage anyone to rent this film, and then if they are intrigued by the quality of film-making, go out and buy it. It is a wonderful joy to watch, and one to leave you thinking.

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I'm bumping up the individual genre threads so people know where to place items or reviews about a particular genre.

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*The Seventh Seal (Blu-ray) (UK import)*

 

Ingmar Bergman's fascinating story of a knight home from the Crusades and challenging Death to a chess game during the times of the Great Plague is brought masterfully to Blu-ray. Crisp detail, excellent black and white (Bergman's use of shadows comes across so well here). At times, the quality of the black and white image is so good that it has a bit of a "pop" (three-dimensionality) to it.

 

There are two audio tracks, one in the original Swedish and the other in English. Both are 2.0 mono, and both are good but I prefer the original Swedish for the actors' real voices. There are English subtitles available.

 

Also on the disc are two shorts. The first is "Karin's Face," a 15-minute presentation by Bergman from 1984 (in HD), and the second is a look at fascinating on-set black and white footage during the making of "The Seventh Seal." The footage is silent but Ian Christie offers English commentary. The footage is truly closer to being a home movie than could ever be called a documentary, but that is what makes it so enjoyable because you get to see the stars and Bergman being much more playful and relaxed. A trailer is also included, but it is rather odd because of how much of the plot it reveals.

 

This is a region free Blu-ray disc and plays all contents everywhere.

 

The Blu-ray package also has a second disc, a standard DVD with the very same contents but everything is in PAL and cannot be played in North America unless you have a PAL-playing DVD player.

 

"The Seventh Seal" is out of print but can be bought new from sellers on Amazon UK. (That's how I bought it.) Here's a link (by the way, the cover used by Amazon UK is incorrect):

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seventh-Seal-Blu-ray-Max-Sydow/dp/B000TQLJ0U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1233241489&sr=8-1

 

It's a great classic to own.

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I recently had the opportunity to check out the DVD release of Steven Soderbergh's Che, originally a 4+ hour movie that is being distributed in two separate parts. This is truly the kind of movie that generally isn't being made any more - a true, sweeping epic that encompasses several decades includes dozens of parts.

 

The Weinstein DVDs do justice to the movie's sweeping action, which interestingly is being presented in two different aspect ratios: 2.35:1 for Part One, which deals with Che joining Fidel Castro's revolutionary struggle in Cuba, and 1.85:1 for Part Two, which deals mostly with Che's failed attempt to help bring about revolutionary change in Bolivia. The sound is quite good for both movies, and they also have both regular English subtitles and SDH ones. (Nearly all of the movie is in Spanish).

 

Aside from Benicio Del Toro's amazing performance in the title role, there are several other good performances, including a delightful turn by Mexican actor Demi?n Bichir as Fidel Castro; Oscar nominee Catalina Sandino Moreno as Che's future wife, Aleida; and smaller supporting roles by Franka Potente, Lou Diamond Phillips, Joaquim de Almeida and Matt Damon. (Yes, Matt Damon).

 

Needless to say, Soderbergh's epic take on the socialist icon of the 60s totally outdoes the earlier Hollywood take, which starred Omar Shariff as Che and Jack Palance as Fidel Castro (and which has been playing regularly on FMC).

 

The one major drawback to the current DVD release of the film is the total absence of any bonus features; one can only hope the Weinstein company might consider re-releasing a fancier edition of this movie at some point in the future.

 

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*Une femme mariee* (A Married Woman) (Blu-ray)

 

This is a UK import but plays all regions.

 

The film, if one can call it that, is a series of short cuts showing a married woman going between her husband and her lover. Intimate, everyday events are the norm for this film from Jean-Luc Godard. Much of the film if done in close-up of hands crossing, people?s faces, body parts. It is not a dynamic storyline, more like fleeting glances into moments from being with her and the men. The full title of the film is quite accurate: "Une femme mariee, fragments d'un film tourne en 1964 en noir et blanc" (A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White). It is an intriguing film, but one feels at the end that one hasn?t experienced anything other than a filmmaker's experiments in cinematography and storytelling.

 

The picture quality is excellent, as is the audio. The only audio track is one in the natural French with the ability for English subtitles.

 

The Blu-ray comes with an 80-page booklet that is highly informative, including several intellectual essays.

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Hi. It seemed to be a good time to ressurect the individual threads that were set up when I helped get this Forum created. We are getting so many threads being started for so many things that could all be in one place that it makes it hard to find anything.

 

Keeping within a theme thread makes the Classic Film DVD Reviews Forum a much neater place and better organized.. Thanks.

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