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Agnes Varda in California
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes the films: Uncle Yanko, Black Panthers, Lions, Love (...and Lies), Mur Murs, Documenteur

Agnes Varda in California


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Agnes Varda
2015 | 306 Minutes | Licensor: Cine-Tamaris

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $44.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #43
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: August 11, 2015
Review Date: October 13, 2015

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SYNOPSIS

The legendary French filmmaker Agnčs Varda, whose remarkable career began in the 1950s and has continued into the twenty-first century, produced some of her most provocative works in the United States. After temporarily relocating to California in the late sixties with her husband, Jacques Demy, Varda, inspired by the politics, youth culture, and sunshine of the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, created three works that use documentary and fiction in various ways. She returned a decade later, and made two other fascinating portraits of outsiderness. Her five revealing, entertaining California films, encompassing shorts and features, are collected in this set, which demonstrates that Varda was as deft an artist in unfamiliar terrain as she was on her own turf.

Discuss the film and DVD here   


PICTURE

Criterion’s 43rd Eclipse DVD set gathers together five films that Agnes Varda made while in California during two separate trips. This set gathers together the films Uncle Yanco, Black Panthers, Lions, Love (…and Lies), Mur Murs, and Documenteur. Uncle Yanco and Black Panthers share one single-layer disc, with Mur Murs and Documenteur sharing a dual-layer disc. Lions, Loves (…and Lies) is presented on its own dual-layer disc. Lions and Documenteur are both presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and have been enhanced for widescreen televisions. The other films are presented in the ratio of 1.33:1.

It’s a shame these films didn’t make it to Blu-ray because they all look quite beautiful, and on DVD they still manage to look impressive. I was most struck by Mur Murs and Documenteur, which both show a rather solid grain structure and nicely controlled compression. Sharpness and detail are strong across the board, with fine details and even textures in clothing, exterior walls, and so on coming through rather clearly. Colours vary between each film and probably depend on film stock and shooting conditions, but on the whole they look beautifully saturated, with impressive oranges and reds particularly. Black levels are okay but crushing is a bit of an issue throughout all of the films.

The restoration work across all five films is also very good and very little in the way of damage remains, just a handful of minor marks that pop up once in a blue moon. On the whole the restoration and the transfers are all quite stunning, and again it’s a shame Criterion didn’t see it as being worthwhile to release these on Blu-ray since I feel they’d all look rather stunning.

9/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Uncle Yanko

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Uncle Yanko

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Uncle Yanko

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Black Panthers

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Black Panthers

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Black Panthers

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Lions, Love (...and Lies)

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Lions, Love (...and Lies)

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Lions, Love (...and Lies)

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Lions, Love (...and Lies)

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Lions, Love (...and Lies)

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Mur Murs

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Mur Murs

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Mur Murs

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Mur Murs

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Mur Murs

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Documenteur

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Documenteur

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Documenteur

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Documenteur

AUDIO

All five films present Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks. Uncle Yanco is the sole French-only film, while Black Panthers and Lions, Love (…and Lies) are in English. The last two films both present two audio tracks each, the first being their original respective bilingual English/French tracks, and then alternate English-only tracks.

Sound quality across all five films is consistent. Dialogue sounds fairly sharp and clear, and none of the tracks present distracting damage or noise. Range is pretty limited and all of them do sound a bit flat on the whole. Still, considering the age and shooting style of each film they sound better than I was probably expecting.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Other than the alternate English-only tracks for Mur Murs and Documenteur, this Eclipse set doesn’t feature any special feature of any sort other than the usual excellent set of notes found in the liners (and one insert) by Michael Koresky, going over this period of Vardas’ career. As usual they add great value but Agnes Varda did record an interview with Criterion on these films, which they then posted online. Not sure why they still can’t add material like that to their Eclipse line sets.

2/10

CLOSING

A fantastic set of films, each sporting a wonderful transfer that still looks strong upscaled. It comes highly recommended.




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