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Modesty Blaise [Blu-ray]
(Joseph Losey, 1966)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Cinema Center 100 Productions
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 32,584,662,079 bytes
Feature Size: 26,233,534,464 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.80 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 23rd, 2016
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1586 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1586 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
• Audio Commentary by Film Historian David Del Valle and
Filmmaker Armand Mastroianni
• Animated Image Gallery (4:25)
• Trailer Modesty Blaise (3:37), Fathom (2:50), Boccaccio '70 (2:20)
Description:Her entire appearance changes in a finger snap. She thrashes villains without missing a spiked-heeled step. Welcome to the mad, mod world of sexy, stylish British super agent Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti, L Avventura, L Eclisse). Hired by the government to prevent a diamond heist, Modesty recruits her wily sidekick Willie Garvin (Terence Stamp, The Limey) to help her battle crafty, colorful foes on the secluded island of a suave mastermind thief Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde, Death in Venice) and conniving partner Mrs. Fothergill (Rosella Falk, 8½). Grooving with mile-high hairdos and swinging, psychedelic wall patterns, Modesty Blaise is campy entertainment at its best. The great Joseph Losey (Eva, The Servant) directed this outrageous spy spoof featuring a stellar cast that includes Harry Andrews (Moby Dick), Clive Revill (Fathom) and Alexander Knox (The Vikings).
A popular British comic strip series served as inspiration for this light-hearted espionage adventure, which if nothing else certainly shows the marks of its origins in the mid-1960s. A large departure for director Joseph Losey, better known for brooding interpretations of Harold Pinter works (The Servant, Accident), the film is emphatically bright and colorful, taking on at times a nearly psychedelic feel. The strangeness is emphasized by the unusual casting, including Italian star Monica Vitti in her first English-speaking role as the title character and Dirk Bogarde, playing against type as her arch-nemesis. Essentially everything is played for its camp value, including the rather convoluted, James Bond-like plot, which concerns the hijacking of a shipment of diamonds heading for the Middle East. Like its mod-era sets and costumes, this unusual, inconsistent effort is certainly intriguing and attractive, but might seem rather dated to some.
Coolly received by comparison with the more immediately accessible James Bond films which were then at the height of their popularity, Modesty Blaise is, like Rolls-Royces, built to last. Modelled on the cartoon strip, it plays the game up to the hilt with its op-art sets, its extravagant conceits, its outlandish violence, and its arch-fiend Gabriel (Bogarde having a ball in silvery wig and sinister glasses) daintily dreaming up ever more monstrous fancies. But under the non-stop stream of jokes lies a bitter edge of malice, directed not only against the genre itself but against a society which trusts its politicians and its generals..Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Losey's Modesty Blaise shows some artifacts and edge-enhancement in 1080P (see sample below). For a film that is so visual - this is a disappointment. The source doesn't appear to have had any refurbishing/restoration. To be fair, I found the video issues more prominent in the beginning and they settled to be less noticeable during the bulk of the 2-hoiur film. There are some speckles and noise. This Blu-ray isn't at premium picture quality standards.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Edge Enhancement Halos
Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1586 kbps in the original English language. There are effects in the film - although few are aggressive. The most memorable 'Modesty theme' ofthe wonderful score by John Dankworth (Sands of the Kalahari, 10 Rillington Place, The Last Grenade, Losey's Accident and The Servant among his credits) used extensively throughout the film. The dialogue may be a shade scattered at times - which would probably on-par with the production. There are no subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Kino add a rewarding audio commentary by film historian David Del Valle and filmmaker Armand Mastroianni (who has directed feature films, mini series, movies of the week, TV pilots and episodic series). The film kinda requires this in-depth analysis to bolster appreciation. There are also new interviews with first assistant director Gavrik Losey running shy of 1/4 hour, screenwriter Evan Jones for almost 10-minutes and a short video with assistant art director Norman Dorme. There is an animated Image Gallery that runs over 4-minutes and SD trailers for Modesty Blaise, Fathom, and Boccaccio '70.
August 17th, 2016
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 5000 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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