The Criterion Collection release of three masterworks by Max Ophuls — “La Ronde,” “Le Plaisir” and “Madame de . . . ” — is very welcome, although the quality of the transfers falls just short enough to frustrate the pickiest amongst us. As you can see from the frame grab above, the tonal range is a is a tad too narrow, resulting in a slightly dull image that doesn’t pull the viewer into the Ophulsian vortex in the way it should. But it seems churlish to complain, given how long it has taken for these vital films to make it to home video in any watchable form. Overall, they seem to me a solid if not dramatic improvement over the British Second Sight discs, but there are commenters here much more technically savvy than I am, and I look forward to their observations (hello, David Hare!).
I also have a few words in the New York Times about Fox Home Entertainment’s second volume of horror films, which includes the very stylish “Chandu the Magician” (1932) by William Cameron Menzies (with comedy relief directed by Marcel Varnel), an eye-pleasing transfer of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s first feature, the gothic thriller “Dragonwyck” (1946), and the minor “Dr. Renault’s Secret” (1942) from Harry Lachman. Lachman is also (too well?) represented in the fifth and final volume of Fox’s Charlie Chan series, also out today.
Jean-Luc Godard has released his first film since 2006, “Une Catastrophe” — a one-minute montage on themes of love and death that is serving as the trailer for this year’s Viennale. It’s viewable online here.