Top positive review
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Magnificent! Criterion continues to raise the bar.
on August 6, 2014
I'll start with my criticisms, which, you'll note, haven't prevented me from rating this set an enthusiastic five stars.
'Lola' doesn't look so hot. I realize the negative is lost, but it looks dull and muddy and digitally scrubbed. I didn't see one speck of grain. This may be the fault of the restoration that was done, and not the transfer. Fortunately, the other films look much better.
I can't wait for the dual format thing to end. All it does is make the set bulkier than it needs to be. People only have so much shelf space. That said, this is a handsome set. I only wish it were thinner.
Not Criterion's fault, but, alas, the English version of 'The Young Girls of Rochefort' seems to be lost -- although we get glimpses of it in Agnes Varda's film on the 25th anniversary of the movie (which is, itself, an unusually moving, personal and intelligent tribute that goes far beyond your average behind the scenes doc).
The trailers provided are for the restorations, not the original trailers. It's a quibble, but I like seeing how films were marketed in their original releases.
Okay, now for the good news, which far outweighs my complaints:
There's an embarrassment of cinematic riches here (not just Demy's films, but Varda's, in which Demy and his work become her subject), so I know I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth, but I feel like I want more, and the extras only whet my appetite for it. The set feels a bit incomplete without 'Model Shop,' and I really miss 'The Pied Piper.'
As I said, most of the transfers are gorgeous, the extras (I'm still getting through them) are substantial and plentiful, and this is overall a top-notch presentation of some wonderful films -- three of which were new to me. My favorite "discovery" here is 'Bay of Angels,' featuring the great, impossibly magnetic Jeanne Moreau playing a truly great character (wonderfully well written and breathtakingly embodied by the actor), some luscious b/w cinematography (beautifully rendered on blu), and a fine score. And it's really nice to see 'Umbrellas' finally looking (and sounding) as good as it should. This set is a treasure, and worth every cent. As terrific a release as this is, Criterion will probably top themselves later this year with the forthcoming Tati set. This company, along with Arrow in the UK, just keeps getting better and better. The additions to their catalogue this year have been incredible.