S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(aka 'Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl')
Manoel de Oliveira
Portugal | Spain | France 200
Adapted from a 19th-century novella by Eça de Queiroz, Manoel de Oliveira's exquisite Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is the story of an ill-fated romance between a young accountant and a mysterious woman he spies through his window.
Portuguese elder statesman Manoel de Oliveira has been making films since 1931. The 101 year old’s delightful latest is a perfectly executed comic miniature on the perils of old-fashioned courtship. Delivered as an irate remembrance from the seat of a train, the story describes the lengths to which pretty boy Marcário (Ricardo Trêpa) goes to woo the sultry maiden (Catarina Wallenstein) who throws him come-hither looks from a window opposite his office. Playing on the idea that our traditional notions of romance are at loggerheads with the modern world, the film’s players struggle to uphold the chivalry and politesse expected during a burgeoning relationship. Sly, understated and ruthlessly focused, the functional yet elegant photography by Sabine Lancelin enhances the film’s ironic kick.
Theatrical Release: February 10th, 2009 - Berlin International Film Festival
DVD Review: Cinema Guild - Region 1 - NTSC
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|Distribution||Cinema Guild - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.5 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.
|Audio||Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
conference with director Manoel de Oliveira, actors Ricardo Trêpa,
Catarina Wallenstein, Filipe Vargas, and producer François D'Artemare
from the 2009 Berlin Film Festival (70 minutes)
It's hard to describe Manoel de Oliveira films to anyone not previously exposed to his deliberately paced efforts. DVDBeaver has reviewed The Convent, Magic Mirror and Belle Toujours - where we see hints of Bunuel - although perhaps more formal than... perverse. But I often find a delightfully whimsical subtext in his work that reminds me of Tati. But you could definitely say two things - Oliveira films are unique and an 'acquired taste'. Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl is certainly no different. Some will seek, and find, an understated level of entertainment and others will simply be bored. I feel fortunate to be part of the former group - but, without reiterating the Woody Allen joke about the two elderly ladies in the Swiss resort - the latter individuals may feel less perturbed as the film is just over an hour long.
Cinema Guild's SD-DVD image quality is excellent - a dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic 1.66:1 transfer that exports healthy detail, strong colors and some textured grain. There is also digital noise in darker scenes - but this is at a minimum. It can be a shade thick - but it suits the presentation. I suspect it probably can't look much better in this format.
Audio gives two Portuguese flavors - a standard 2.0 channel stereo and underutilized 5.1 surround. There are plenty of silent pauses but dialogue, when actually spoken, is clear and audible. There are optional English subtitles on the region 1 encoded NTSC disc.
Extras shine with a 2009 Berlin Film Festival Press conference that is longer than the feature. It includes director Manoel de Oliveira, actors Ricardo Trêpa, Catarina Wallenstein, Filipe Vargas, and producer François D'Artemare discussing the merits of the film and production details. Included is a short, 16-minute, film by Manoel de Oliveira entitled The Panels of São Vicente de Fora - A Poetic Vision. It was made in 2009 and many could distinguish it as the work of the director. Cinema Guild offer an exclusive look at The Strange Case of Angelica, the new film from Manoel de Oliveira - which we presume they will also release. There is a teaser trailer and lastly a 4-page leaflet featuring essay by James Quandt, Senior Programmer at TIFF Cinematheque.
This is an exemplary DVD production, by Cinema Guild, of the work of a gentle and very humanist filmmaker. Those serious to discover the director wouldn't go wrong picking this up - and those more versed in, and patient with, his style should enjoy this immensely. For the rest - you probably haven't even read this far...