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(aka 'Summer Hours')

Directed by Olivier Assayas
France 2008

 

Universally acclaimed by critics, the multiple award-winning Summer Hours is the great contemporary French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’s most personal film to date. Three siblings, played by Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, and Jérémie Rénier, must decide what to do with the country estate and objects they’ve inherited from their mother. From this simple story, Assayas creates an exquisitely nuanced drama about the material of globalized modern living. Naturalistic and unsentimental, Summer Hours is that rare film that pays respect to family by treating it with honesty.
 

***

Assayas’s most fully satisfying film for some while, this is a warm, wise drama about the tensions and mysteries of family life. With a seemingly loose but meticulously assembled narrative in the style of his earlier ensemble piece ‘Late August, Early September’, it chronicles the interactions between the various characters with psychological subtlety and precision, even as it explores the changing roles played by art, property, work and blood-ties in an increasingly globalised world.

While never ignoring the grief death causes, Assayas refuses to sentimentalise; it’s a film of deft, delicate nuances, particularly alert to the fact that everyone has not only his/her reasons but also, inevitably, secrets that will be borne to the grave. Perhaps the characters are finally a little too uniformly decent, but it would be churlish to bemoan the generosity of spirit in a film so beautifully performed, intelligently written and fluently directed.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 5th, 2008

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Comparison:

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Artificial Eye Film Co. - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 513. - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:38:15 (4% PAL speedup) 1:43:05.220
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.70 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 47,559,516,311 bytes

Feature Size: 29,321,017,344 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

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

Bitrate: DVD

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio French (Dolby Digital 5.1) , French (Dolby Digital 2.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio French 4015 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4015 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Interview with Olivier Assayas (23:16)
• 
Interview with Jérémie Renier (15:26)
• Trailer
• Stills Gallery
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: November 24th, 200
8
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85

Disc Size: 47,559,516,311 bytes

Feature Size: 29,321,017,344 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• New video interview with Assayas (28:48)
• Making-of documentary featuring interviews with Assayas and actors Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche, and showing the cast and crew on set (26:00)
• Inventory, an hour-long documentary by Olivier Gonard, shot partly in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, that examines the film’s approach to art (50:39)
• 28-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 20th, 2010
Thicker transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray - March 2010: I remember this film very well and so this subsequent Blu-ray viewing was, in some ways, less satisfying than than my initial presentation, but I was certainly wow'ed by the 1080P visuals. The improvement is in the usual areas - detail advances and there is now some depth - colors don't vary much at all. It looks quite strong - but then again so did the Artificial Eye DVD. Much of the sequences are shot outdoor and the 'summer feel', accentuated by Eric Gautier allusive cinematography, is very apparent. There may be a negligible amount of extra information the Criterion frame and it is in theatrical running time (where the PAL DVD has 4% speed-up). With such a modern film the variance in image quality is not as significant as we have seen in older films and restorations. In fact, I might go so far as to suggest a double dip (if you already own the UK disc) based on the appearance only is not recommended - but there are other considerations.

Audio has a powerfully and robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4015 kbps 5.1 but with the dialogue driven film - it is largely wasted. Some 'hints' sneak into the rear speakers and this is a nice touch adding to the aura. Effects sounds are, obviously, minimal but it was always apparent that the Criterion outclasses the older DVD in this area. In concise terms this lossless audio rendition is probably flawless in its attempt to recreate the original film's audio. As usual, there are expertly rendered, optional, English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it is being Region 'A'-locked.

Supplements come in three digital offerings and some liner notes. There is a new video interview with Assayas in English running almost 1/2 an hour. I liked this as I enjoy hearing this director talk about his film and the directions he is evolving. It was recorded specifically for Criterion in January 2010 - so is very current. There is a 26-minute Making-of documentary featuring interviews with Assayas and actors Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche, and showing the cast and crew on set. Lastly, Inventory is an hour-long documentary by Olivier Gonard, shot partly in Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, that examines the film’s approach to art. It runs over 50-minutes and is a wonderful piece with plenty of art images and light cultured discussion. Criterion have included a 28-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones.

There is no question as to this film's greatness and Assayas' assured direction. Here's hoping he has many more years of this style of distinct cinema that harkens back to the French New Wave. For those keen on owning the film in their digital library (all should!) - THIS Blu-ray is the obvious way to go. Double-dipping for those who currently own the Artificial Eye DVD will lie more in the supplements in my opinion which tip the scales for re-indulging. In either regard I'm very happy to have this work looking and sounding so immaculate with the interesting and informative extra features.

***

ON THE ARTIFICIAL EYE DVD: Great film and pretty strong SD image from Artificial Eye. This is a progressive transfer housed on a dual-layered disc. Detail is strong with colors being somewhat subdued but consistent. Good news again that I don't see excessive digital manipulation and the image is extremely clean without excessive noise or artifacts.  

Audio gives us options for original French language in a fairly untested 5.1 and also 2.0 stereo choice. There was no music/score that I can recall.  There are optional English subtitles.

Supplements include an interview with Assayas in English and his relatively thick French accent. It comes with clips from the film and his input as writer/director. We get a second, 15 minute, interview with actor Jérémie Renier. This is also in English with no subtitles but while his command of the language is not as sure as Assayas - he gets his points across. There is a trailer, stills gallery and text screen filmographies.

I like Artificial Eye - great DVD production company and this is a perfect example of the type of arthouse film they help expose to English audiences. A solid DVD of a fabulous film experience - Assayas really nailed this one! Recommended!  

Gary W. Tooze

 



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Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT


 

 

 


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Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution Artificial Eye Film Co. - Region 2 - PAL Criterion Collection - Spine # 513. - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze

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