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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:46 pm 
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Le beau mariage (1982)
A film I wasn’t sure I had in fact already seen until I remembered taking a pic of the actress playing Beatrice Romand’s sister to send to my friend who looks just like her. If the film left no impact on first viewing, it leaves a strong negative impact on revisit. Here is Rohmer’s love of flighty youth taken to a bad extreme, as Romand’s Sabine decides, arbitrarily and (like everything else she will do) annoyingly, to marry. Not for love, but in an abstract notion of Marriage. Oh-kay. She is encouraged by her best friend, whom she treats like shit, to pursue a man no one could possibly read as interested in her.

Rohmer’s films are often filled with self-involved and delusional protagonists, but this one is just too much. I kept thinking about how Noah Baumbach, so strident a fan of Rohmer that he named his son after him, has made a lucrative and productive career out of highlighting ostensibly unlikable characters, and yet none of his films (for me) come off as poorly as this one. What’s the difference? A few things, at least: In Baumbach’s films, everyone is varying levels of self-important but also in specific ways tied to profession or contributory function— Sabine is an insufferable cipher with literally no redeeming qualities or contributions in her field (here art history); people call Baumbach characters out for their bullshit— Sabine is encouraged and enabled by her friends and family to wantonly pursue her foolishness and her incessant negativity is never checked (indeed, unbelievably, the object of her unwanted objection only turns her down because he’s not looking for a commitment, not because she’s annoying as fuck); Baumbach’s assholes are entertaining in the frustrations they invoke— Sabine is just frustrating.

Rohmer’s film is a miscalculation. I find little amusing in Sabine’s actions, and the film is as indulgent in her whims as her bestie. There’s only so much one can take of a character acting like a stupid jerk without comeuppance or, at the very least, humor and/or novelty in execution. This film is one long annoying note struck over and over.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:54 pm 
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Thanks for your reviews, Domino! Looking forward to your thoughts on the rest.

One thing that’s always puzzled me, as a diehard Rohmer fan (I’ve seen all his films, most more than once), is how much love The Green Ray gets. To me, it’s never been anything more than a middle-range work – Riviere’s protagonist is a bit annoying, the narrative is very first-world problems (I guess the same could be said for much of Rohmer’s work, but it grates particularly here) and the romantic ending is a little too Mills&Boon for my taste. It certainly still has plenty of charm, and I don’t actively dislike it the way I do Le Beau Mariage, but there are certainly Rohmer films I feel much more attached to.

The highlights for me from this set are Pauline at the Beach and Perceval, both of which I adore unreservedly. But I agree that the latter probably isn’t the best intro to Rohmer’s work: for that, any of Pauline, The Aviator’s Wife, My Boyfriend’s Girlfriend or even The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque would serve well!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:34 am 
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I dove into a bunch of Rohmer last year as I worked through the recent biography of him, which I fully recommend. I skipped A Good Marriage as de Baecque and Herpe didn't seem too enthused by it, either. I did like The Green Ray, but placed it in the bottom half of the 16 features of his I've seen. The ending does work for me, for whatever reason; I guess I just believed the protagonist deserved it. Oddly, the thematically similar ending to A Winter's Tale didn't do as much for me, that was the feature I enjoyed the least.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:50 am 
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Green Ray and Tale of Winter are my Rohmer top 2. :-(


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:34 am 
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Michael Kerpan wrote:
Green Ray and Tale of Winter are my Rohmer top 2. :-(


I still liked them both! Though I think we also had mirroring Rivette favorite/least-favorite with Le Pont du Nord, so perhaps we are just New Wave opposites.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:42 am 
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Oddly, A Tale of Winter is another one that I struggled with! (Again, it’s good, but I have issues with its narrative, and its protagonist is a little distancing at times.) In contrast, from that series, I absolutely adore A Summer’s Tale – it’s my favourite Rohmer work behind Perceval. That dialogue-free first ten minutes is sublime.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:35 am 
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I think I may prefer the "distancing" that puts you off. ;-)

The kind of distancing that puts ME off in Rohmer is the overly talky "philosophizing" one sometimes encounters.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:03 am 
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I bought this set with a little trepidation because there was so little information out there with regard to comparisons with the Potemkin set, which I also have.

Well I finally got a chance to do a direct comparison myself, just with one film so far, Le Rayon Vert, and I am delighted to report that there is a huge difference, favoring Arrow, so I feel like my purchase is already justified.

I suspect this restoration is a new one (there is a restoration slide at the beginning which is missing on the Potemkin), but whether it’s that or just because the encoding is better, everything about the Arrow image is superior! The 16mm film grain is so much more accurately resolved—it really looks like film, as opposed to the smeary and blocky quality of the Potemkin, which seems to have had all the fine detail obliterated with noise reduction. The color is more vibrant and appealing, too. Also, the running time is around 4 minutes longer since this is presumably transferred at 24 fps instead of the Potemkine’s 25. I could clearly hear the difference in pitch. Note that the running time on the back of the Arrow case incorrectly gives the 25fps/PAL length.

So anyway, I highly recommend this set to Potemkin owners based on Le Rayon Vert alone. The Potemkin version looks very poor on a biggish screen (mine is 65”) and is virtually unwatchable once you’ve seen how nice the arrow looks!


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:05 pm 
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I look forward to comparisons to other films from the Potemkine set...


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 12:22 pm 
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Sadly, Dave Kehr's wonderful blog seems to have been wiped out. The discussions were wonderful (I've never seen Kent Jones so lively and upfront about the films he dislikes or believes to be overrated). Anyway, fragments are preserved by archive.org and I was able to retrieve this information, which apparently came from Criterion's Six Moral Tales box set that is now out-of-print:

colinr from January 17, 2010 wrote:
There was a nice discussion on aspect ratios during the “Moral Tales, Filmic Issues” interview in the Criterion box.

Rohmer describes just preferring the 1.33:1 ratio and having to fight for it from the first, since France used 1.66:1 as a standard for projecting films and that most other filmmakers preferred it (Le Signe du Leo was filmed in that 1.66:1 ratio). He preferred 1.33 according to the interview because it “cuts things off”, offering a narrower rather than wider space and gives the example of not being able to keep a person’s face and hands in the same shot without having to re-frame in a mannered way. He comments that it is even worst in the way films are cropped to 1.85:1 now as a standard television format and emphasises the importance of respecting the original ratio when screening any film.

He then says that though he tooks precautions from the Comedies and Proverbs cycle on to ensure that they could be screened in 1.66:1 ratio without losing too much detail, the proper ratio is 1.33:1. He mentions that Claire’s Knee was screened in 1.66:1 a few times and didn’t lose much but in 1.33:1 “because you’d really see the mountains”. And what better reason for respecting the ratio could there be?

So I'm guessing the Academy ratio really was the way to go, but 1.66:1 should be "acceptable."

And again, with Amazon.co.uk's 10 pound coupon good for today only, this would be a nice day to pick up this set.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:30 pm 

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I'm getting close to caving on double-dipping here... I found a blog comparing the Arrow DVD releases with the new set, going into pretty nice detail about the extras on each disc, and they sound like some great ones, particularly on Perçeval:
http://www.dvdexotica.com/2018/01/the-e ... arrow.html
http://www.dvdexotica.com/2018/01/the-e ... ow_14.html


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:12 pm 
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Thanks for the links! Despite what I found in my previous post, I have to say I may prefer the 1.66:1 ratio based on the screencaps. I blew up the examples posted and flipped back and forth between transfers, and in every example given, the 1.66:1 ratio focuses your attention more on the faces of the actors who are the main subject of the composition, whereas the extra vertical information tends to pull one's attention away for various reasons. This makes a big difference when so many of these shots are played as if you're eavesdropping on their conversations. It makes quite a difference even when the scene is played for other reasons. For example, if there's a sign on a building, your attention's drawn to it when it's "centered" more by the extra space above it, but when it's now on the edge of the frame, you're more likely to look at the characters in the middle of the frame. In another shot, I wind up paying more attention to the lead actress who otherwise becomes more lost in the composition as she's already sitting within and across from a line of restaurant patrons - having the extra information above and below her filled with more details like bright spots in the window tends to pull one's focus away from her.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:28 pm 
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Still waiting to see more Potemkine/Arrow comparisons.... ;-)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 8:00 pm 
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I'd do it myself but I've got the Potemkine Comedies & Proverbs in storage and can't get to it for the short term future. I've only watched the first disc of this new set but I think it looks far superior to what I recall of the other release.

The Potemkine release was commendable in particular for just going full auteurist and releasing all of his films in one big lot but it was always deeply problematic transfer-wise and I don't really understand why so many gave it a pass just for being so thorough (plus the bonus features being totally useless to non-French speakers was a strong point against).


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:50 pm 
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Ribs wrote:
The Potemkine release was commendable in particular for just going full auteurist and releasing all of his films in one big lot but it was always deeply problematic transfer-wise and I don't really understand why so many gave it a pass just for being so thorough (plus the bonus features being totally useless to non-French speakers was a strong point against).

This is pretty much why I passed on it - most, if not all, of the films that I'd really like to revisit haven't had licensing issues, so it seemed far more sensible to be patient and wait for better releases. I'm certain the "Six Moral Tales" isn't far behind, and I can wait a bit longer for the "Four Seasons" films (it doesn't feel like it's been that long since I saw them projected at BAM and Lincoln Center).


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:56 am 
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Quick technical comparison of the Potemkine vs Arrow set :
(each time : Potemkine vs Arrow)
(NB : for 1.33 vs 1.37, I'm refering to the backcovers, I haven't measured the exact ratio so can't say for sure which is which; it's more to point out when it's not 1.66).

The Aviator's Wife : 1.33 vs 1.66 / 1080i vs 1080p / older restoration vs newer restoration
A Good Marriage : 1.33 vs 1.66 / 1080i vs 1080p / older restoration vs newer restoration (color timing is now slightly colder)

Pauline at the Beach : 1.33 vs 1.66 / 1080i vs 1080p / older restoration vs newer restoration
Full Moon in Paris : 1.33 vs 1.37 / 1080p vs 1080p / same older restoration, looks OK and unfiltered but slightly visibly dated

The Green Ray : 1.66 (incorrectly written as 1.33 on the backcover) vs 1.66 / 1080i vs 1080p / older restoration, looks DNRed vs newer restoration
My Girlfriend's Boyfriend : 1.33 vs 1.37 / 1080p vs 1080p / same older restoration, looks OK and unfiltered but slightly visibly dated

The Marquise of O : 1.33 vs 1.37 / 1080i vs 1080p / older filtered restoration vs newer restoration (color timing is now slightly colder)
Perceval : 1.33 vs 1.37 / 1080p vs 1080p / newer restoration vs different restoration but which looks very similar to the Potemkine one

Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle : 1.37 vs 1.37 / both 1080p / same recent restoration
The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque : 1.33 vs 1.37 / 1080i vs 1080p / similar (very soft) aspect, looks like a 2K restoration made from a very soft element (very fine details like grass or hair are almost non-existing at times)

All the newer restorations are visibly superior to the older ones. They're more natural with untouched grain and a clear uptick in details. Some movies are notably grainy, like Reinette & Mirabelle or The Green Ray. The Green Ray was shot on 16mm, I suspect the same is true for the other grainy movies.

To sum up, in the Arrow set :
- The Aviator's Wife, A Good Marriage, Pauline at the Beach, The Green Ray and The Marquise of O have better newer restorations.
- The Aviator's Wife, A Good Marriage and Pauline at the Beach are now 1.66.
- A Good Marriage and The Marquise of O newer restorations's color gradings have a visible emphasis on blues.
- Perceval and Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle have the same recent restorations.
- Full Moon in Paris and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend have older but OK restorations.
- The Tree, the Mayor and the Mediatheque has the same very soft restoration.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:25 pm 
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Thanks a lot for these comparisons, tenia. It's really unfortunate some of the new restorations went for 1.66 because 1.33 was clearly Rohmer's artistic intent. Rohmer said in an interview he made sure the Comedies and Proverbs could be shown in 1.66 because a lot of theaters would not project 1.33, but 1.33 was still his original intent and shooting method.

Image

Image

(images from Google Books see here and here)

An article by Rohmer on 1.33 also here.


In his book on the director's work, Derek Schelling has explained how essential the "anthropocentric sense of scale" is to Rohmer's films, which includes the aspect ratio (the "preference for the classically proportioned imaged reflects...the idea that the human figure should not be lost in the frame" - p. 96). By releasing the films of a series like Comedies and Proverbs in non-uniform aspect ratios (this goes for Potemkine too for The Green Ray), these companies are also betraying a sense of these films' affiliation with one another. As limited in quality as it is, I'm keeping my old Green Ray dvd because it at least preserves the 1.33 AR.


Last edited by Rayon Vert on Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:31 pm 
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I don't know how to post screen shots as you have done, but I do know how to remove the highlighting of search terms:
in the address bar, just take the giant url obtained from your search,

"https://books.google.ca/books?id=Pw4bBwAAQBAJ&pg=PT196&lpg=PT196&dq=rohmer+i+shoot+in+1.33&source=bl&ots=
LMRpz2giTn&sig=uDBGLQECBx_aVtlfW2bEwjOn5Fk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=
0ahUKEwi9lNrz6JvZAhUFKKwKHYE3BY4Q6AEILjAB#v=onepage&q=rohmer%20i%20shoot%20in%201.33&f=true"

and chop off everything starting from the first instance of "=rohmer+i+...". When you hit return, or copy-paste into a new window, the interwebs magically adds back a little piece of code it needs at the end, and you now have the url for a highlight-free page:

"https://books.google.ca/books?id=Pw4bBwAAQBAJ&pg=PT196&lpg=PT196#v=onepage&q&f=false"


Last edited by bottled spider on Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:34 pm 
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OK thanks spider! (I just uploaded those screenshots on imgbb.com - that's been useful for uploading screenshots from my own dvds as well)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 5:40 pm 
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I've spent this winter watching the whole of the Potemkine set, two movies a week.. Its always disappointing when I have to reset the screen for 1.66. The widescreen versions never look bad, but they never look interesting either. The 1.33 compositions are so engaging! I knew these movies were made to be seen either way, but I had not before now read Rohmer's words on the subject. I had assumed the widescreen presentations were all instances where Rohmer had for whatever reason preferred it! The Potemkine set is so thorough, I don't understand how this could happen. I'm a bit cheesed.

I'm currently halfway through the Four Seasons. Spring and Winter have been both 1.66. Are these exceptions to Rohmer's thoughts above or have they been similarly inexplicably lopped?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 6:20 pm 
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Binky wrote:
I'm currently halfway through the Four Seasons. Spring and Winter have been both 1.66. Are these exceptions to Rohmer's thoughts above or have they been similarly inexplicably lopped?
They're supposed to be 1.33 as well. I'm fairly sure that in all his film the only ones that weren't, like Rohmer has stated, were Le Signe du Lion and L'Anglaise et le duc.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:00 pm 
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Rayon Vert, I suppose I'll just be grateful then that most in the set are in their proper ratios. Although I'd like to see these movies as they were intended, I don't plan on getting them again as Potemkine has swallowed the whole of my lifetime Rohmer budget. I agree with everything Rohmer said in the interview you posted above, and not just for his movies! All those low budget horror and science fiction movies from the 50s that were originally shown widescreen but were then open matte before 16:9 TVs became the standard; I've found I prefer the extra breathing room of 1.33, even against the director's wishes and even when the occasional boom mic peeks into view.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:34 pm 
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Rayon Vert wrote:
Binky wrote:
I'm currently halfway through the Four Seasons. Spring and Winter have been both 1.66. Are these exceptions to Rohmer's thoughts above or have they been similarly inexplicably lopped?
They're supposed to be 1.33 as well. I'm fairly sure that in all his film the only ones that weren't, like Rohmer has stated, were Le Signe du Lion and L'Anglaise et le duc.


Though according to Nestor Almendros in his book A Man With a Camera, Pauline at the Beach is 1.66:1 as well. All the other six of the features he shot for Rohmer are 1.33:1 though, according to him.


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