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A Christmas Tale [Blu-ray]
(Arnaud Desplechin, 2008)
Review by Gary Tooze
Production: Why Not Productions
Video: Criterion Collection - Spine # 492
Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 48,388,234,227 bytes
Feature Size: 32,220,690,432 bytes
Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: December 1st, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio French 3722 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3722 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
• New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by
director Arnaud Desplechin
Description: In Arnaud Desplechin’s beguiling A Christmas Tale (Un conte de Noël), Catherine Deneuve brings her legendary poise to the role of Junon, matriarch of the troubled Vuillard family, who come together at Christmas after she learns she needs a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative. That simple family reunion setup, however, can’t begin to describe the unpredictable, emotionally volatile experience of this film, an inventive, magical drama that’s equal parts merriment and melancholy. Unrequited childhood loves and blinding grudges, brutal outbursts and sudden slapstick, music, movies, and poetry, A Christmas Tale ties it all together in a marvelously messy package.
Farce, tragedy and mystery simmer together in Arnaud Desplechin's
searing A Christmas Tale (Un conte de Nöel) in a way that will
make anyone dreading the holidays with their family grateful for what
strife they may face. It's nothing compared to what the Vuillard clan
gets up to.
Arnaud Desplechin’s “A Christmas Tale” is one of two recent IFC Films releases being put to the Criterion label along with Matteo Garrone’s “Gomorrah”. In 2010 Criterion/IFC will release Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,”, Jan Troell’s “Everlasting Moments,” Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours,” Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s “Still Walking,” and Abdellatif Kechiche’s “The Secret of the Grain.”
There really is no critiquing the image quality of the Blu-ray. It appears perfectly rendered with a nice sheen of consistent grain - it exports occasional surprising detail from the many medium shots in the film. This is a dual-layered transfer with the 2.5 hour feature taking up over 32 Gig of space. It probably looked strikingly similar to the 2008 theatrical. Colors seem accurate with realistic skin tones. There is some minor noise in monochromatic darker sequences. The 1080P Blu-ray shows some dimensionality as well. This is no action film with excessive CGI and effects - but the high-definition digitization exports the film's humanist qualities extremely well. It is advertised on the box as the digital transfer being 'supervised by director Arnaud Desplechin'. I expect it looks about as good as it ever will for your home theater viewing.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3722 kbps is left without a lot to separate. The passive film is heavily dialogue-driven but when an instance of rear channel sound surfaces - it is crisp and adept. Grégoire Hetzel's score switches moods deftly with the tone of the film - and it is this that benefits the healthy lossless track. There is a heavily artistic combination of visuals and music that is well supported in HD. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
We get the hour-6-minute long 2007 documentary from Desplechin entitled "L’aimée". It involves moving out of one of several of the Desplechin family residences in the town of Roubaix. It is simple and touching with a lot of shots of static interiors. There is a new documentary featuring interviews with Desplechin and actors Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve - in English. For 36-minutes they discuss the making of - production and performances with Desplechin giving the most interesting input. There are also some trailers in HD - and a 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Lopate. Considering it is Criterion the supplements directly relating to A Christmas Tale seem a little sparse.
November 18th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze