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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

("La femme bourreau" or "The Executioner Woman" or "A Woman Kills" or "La Femme Executioner")

 

Directed by Jean-Denis Bonan
France 1968

 

A series of prostitute murders disturb the public with the thought of a serial killer on the loose. Hélène Picard, a prostitute, is sentenced and executed for the murders, but shortly thereafter similar crimes continue. Executioner Louis Guilbot meanwhile develops a relationship with the investigating officer, Solange, who soon learns Louis may not be who he says he is.

Filmed in the tumultuous events of May 1968, Jean-Denis Bonan's A Woman Kills never found distribution due to controversy around the director's first film and producer Anatole Dauman (The Beast, Hiroshima mon amour) was unable to find distribution for the film for 45 years until Luna Park Films brought it back to life in a new restoration. Now released on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere, audiences outside of France can finally experience this utterly singular film, a new wave-influenced serial killer film that presents its narrative in an almost true crime approach yet focuses more on the psychological aspect with echoes of Polanski and Franju, set to a discordant, jazzy score.

***

Positioned somewhere between the Italian giallo of the time and the New Wave, A Woman Kills, one of those miraculous objects emerging intact from oblivion, prefigures DePalma in a primitive but equally sensual mode. The formal archaism of this work, both dry and candid, the crazy songs of Daniel Laloux, and the formidable and hazy free jazz of Bernard Vitet, characterize its inimitable flavor.

Excerpt from Les Inrockuptibles HERE

Poster

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Review: Radiance Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Radiance Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:08:46.664
Video

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,975,779,489 bytes

Feature: 20,186,785,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio French 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Radiance Films

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,975,779,489 bytes

Feature: 20,186,785,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Virginie Sélavy
• Introduction by Virginie Sélavy (4:54)
• On the Margin: The Cursed Films of Jean-Denis Bonan (Francis Lecomte, 2015/2022, 37:51) - a newly updated documentary featuring director Jean-Denis Bonan, cinematographer Gérard de Battista, editor Mireille Abramovici, musician Daniel Laloux, and actress Jackie Rynal
Short films by Jean-Denis Bonan:

• The Short Life of Monsieur Meucieu (1962, 13:04)

• A Crime of Love (1965, 6:53), rushes of an incomplete film;

• The Sadness of the Anthropophagi (1966, 23:38)

• Crazy Matthew (1967, 17:01)

• A Season with Mankind (1967, 18:43)
• Trailer (1:39)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm


Blu-ray Release Date:
February 6th, 2023
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Radiance Films Blu-ray (December 2022): Newcomer, Radiance Films have transferred Jean-Denis Bonan's A Woman Kills to Blu-ray. It is cited as being from a "2K restoration of the film from the original 16mm elements". Considering the production limitations, the image quality is quite good. It is transferred on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. There is minor frame specific damage - a few 'marks in the gate' but overall it is extremely watchable. Rounded corners are intentionally utilized for a flashback. The contrast improves beyond the opening and texture is heavy although not an overwhelming as we have seen from other 16mm to 1080P. Textures appear consistent and there is pleasing detail in the film's many close-ups. It prefaces impressive physical media by Radiance Films - great job!

NOTE: We have added 48 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Radiance Films use a linear PCM dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. A Woman Kills has few aggressive moments that come through with modest depth and score by 'Free Jazz" innovator Bernard Vitet, that includes odd background noises (sensory elevation) and some unusual songs (Daniel Laloux?) that create a specific tone for the viewing. The sound quality is supportive of the video with intentional vérité-like scattered qualities although dialogue is fully audible via the uncompressed transfer. Radiance Films offer optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Radiance Films' Blu-ray offers a new commentary by critics Kat Ellinger and Virginie Sélavy. They answer the question on whether A Woman Kills is a genre film, and discuss its obscurity and inability to be marketed, connections with Jean Rollin's The Rape of the Vampire, the jazzy score, serial killer films that came out in 1968 (The Detective, The Boston Stranger, No Way to Treat a Lady), quotes from Paul Douglas Grant's Cinéma Militant: Political Filmmaking and May 1968, Alain Robbe-Grillet's Trans-Europ-Express, Sadomasochism in cinema, the significance of the dates mentioned in A Woman Kills and many other topics that relate to the film. I found it very revealing with keen analysis and certainly worth listening to gain more from your viewing - the pair worked extremely well together. There is also a 5-minute introduction by Virginie Sélavy. Francis Lecomte's On the Margin: The Cursed Films of Jean-Denis Bonan was a documentary made in 2015 - updated for 2022 (footage was added by Lecomte), running shy of 38-minutes. It features director Jean-Denis Bonan, cinematographer Gérard de Battista, editor Mireille Abramovici, musician Daniel Laloux, and actress Jackie Rynal discussing the work of the director-writer-actor. It is in French with optional English subtitles as are 5 shorts films by Jean-Denis Bonan which include his first; The Short Life of Monsieur Meucieu made in 1962, that shows signs of ideas and visual motifs that he would use in later shorts and A Woman Kills. Also here are 1965's A Crime of Love - essentially rushes of an incomplete film narrated by Jean-Denis Bonan; a short horror, The Sadness of the Anthropophagi running 24-minutes from 1966, Crazy Matthew and A Season with Mankind both from 1967. There is also a trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm.

Jean-Denis Bonan's A Woman Kills is 'on the margins of the margins' as Virginie Sélavy describes. I was very curious as I had never seen a film by Jean-Denis Bonan - aside from the 1/2 1994 documentary Carne, You Said Carne on Criterion's Hotel Du Nord Blu-ray. Very little of his work had any distribution. Luna Park Films brought A Woman Kills back with a new restoration. Bonan has a connection to genre-filmmaker Jean Rollin (Requiem For a Vampire, The Nude Vampire, The Demoniaques, Zombie Lake) who is briefly in A Woman Kills (and he is briefly in Rollin's The Rape of the Vampire.) Themes here include escape - both literally from the authorities and figuratively from his past - manipulation, innocence, perversity etc. A Woman Kills intentionally skirts around many genres from psychological thriller to eroticism including sly humor and plenty of discreet French filmmaker references tucked in with echoes of Polanski and De Palma. It showed incredible promise running an hour ten-minutes and I'm surprised Bonan didn't have a more extensive career. I'm so pleased with the Radiance Films Blu-ray for this extensive package with wonderful commentary, documentary, short films - exposing a director I was unaware of and the competence of the a/c transfer. This bodes very well for newcomer Radiance Films  and this Blu-ray package is absolutely recommended to the adventurous cinema fan.

Gary Tooze

 


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Distribution Radiance Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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