Directed by Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal | France 2006

 

That indefatigable maestro of cinema, Manoel de Oliveira (he's 98!), has dedicated his latest treat, "Belle Toujours," to Luis Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carrière 's erotic classic, "Belle de Jour."

Bunuel and Carrière's movie explored the kinky adventures of a bored housewife, whom Catherine Deneuve played with legendarily hot passivity. Oliveira's decidedly chaste follow-up centers on Henri Husson , the man who famously tortured Deneuve's dominatrix by whispering something into her paraplegic husband's ear toward the end of the picture. What did he tell him? Who knows -- Oliveira's not saying. But old Henri , still played by Michel Piccoli but now with extra seasoning, is ready to say more about related matters.

The gist of the picture has the nattily dressed Henri wandering around Paris, stopping into an old-money bar to sluice his memories with scotch. He tells the young bartender (Ricardo Trepa , a recent Oliveira regular) the story of a woman who loved her husband so much she had to live a secret sex life and betray him with his friend. His one-man audience doesn't appear to recognize the story, declaring it fantastic yet unbelievable and sadomasochistic -- a fine summary of Bunuel's film.

Excerpt from Wesley Morris' review at the Boston Globe located HERE.

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 2006 - Donostia-San Sebastian International Film Festival

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DVD Review: New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:08:36 
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.7 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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

Bitrate:

Audio French (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Interviews with Manoel de Oliveira (23:06), Michel Piccoli (9:12), Bulle Ogier (5:14) and Ricardo Trêpa (2:14) - 4:3 (letterboxed where widescreen) with optional English subtitles
• Theatrical trailer (1:37)
• Gallery of on-the-set photos
• Downloadable Presskit (PDF)
• 6-page liner notes with essay by Randal Johnson

DVD Release Date: June 24th, 200
8
Keep Case
Chapters: 9

 

Comments:

This is a typical NY'er release - anamorphic and interlaced. If you have a de-interlacing filter on your system (or conversely a CRT) you won't be bothered by the inherent combing (see last capture) but this weakness does indicate the transfer could vastly be improved by being progressively transferred. Aside from that, now expected, weakness this single-layered disc looks fairly good. Possibly due to the modern-ness of the film/print - but regardless detail and colors show strength without digital manipulation. It is very clean without notable damage. Manoel de Oliveira's simple and gentle film seems well represented on this SD DVD considering NY'er apparent transfer limitations.

There are well-translated optional English subtitles supporting the clear 2.0 channel French dialogue.

We appreciate NY'er's supplements additions - in this case 4 separate interviews with the principles - director Manoel de Oliveira responds to a few topics for almost 25 minutes (very interesting), actor Michel Piccoli - close to 10, Bulle Ogier - about 5 minutes and Ricardo Trêpa (the bartender from the film) gets a fairly worthless 2 minutes. The interview extras are 4:3 - letterboxed widescreen and they have optional English subtitles. One may also view a theatrical trailer and gallery of on-the-set photos. Through your PC you can access a downloadable Presskit (in PDF format). Finally there is a 6-page liner notes leaflet with an essay by Randal Johnson. Good stuff NY'er.

While we can continue to show disappointment at the interlaced transfer (a weakness I'm positive NY'er will over come one day) it might be cutting off your noses to spite your face and seeing this de Oliveira film is more important than... not seeing it. His cinema creeps up on you and is perhaps too subtle for modern audiences to embrace right away. But after exposure to some of his work you can tend to appreciate and crave more. This short work may not be his best effort but I still encourage those who are interested to give it a spin. Unfortunately, the NY'er DVD seems pricey but I believe it is the only game in town for Belle Toujours digitally (and English friendly). We thank NY'er for exposing it through DVD and hope they continue releasing a wide range of magnificent, and often underappreciated, world cinema.  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Distribution New Yorker Video - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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