The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

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DarkImbecile
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The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:05 pm

I was able to catch The Duke of Burgundy in a theater the other night, and am happy very I was able to do so; between this and Berberian Sound Studio, Strickland seems to be establishing himself as a director whose visual stylishness and proficiency with sound design and music* require appreciation in the best viewing environment possible.

Burgundy is a step up from the already very good Berberian, primarily because Strickland has this time built a similarly beautiful (in its way), surreal, and immersive world around two more compelling characters and a domestic dynamic that is more complex than it at first appears (and at first it appears pretty damn complicated). Chiara D'Anna and Sidse Babett Knudsen are fantastic as the central couple, Evelyn and Cynthia, slowly peeling away more and more layers to reveal fundamental insights into the nature of compromise, love, and restraint in asymmetric relationships.

As impressive as Berberian was in its use of sound, Burgundy is as compelling in its visuals; the simple moment near the beginning where the camera focuses past, then on and between tassels hanging from a tablecloth signals a cinematographic step forward that continues to pay off throughout. As in Berberian, the more "traditional" narrative structure breaks down for an extended, exhilarating sequence of auditory and visual riffing; Strickland makes an appropriate analogy between the narrative structures of his films and a noise rock band throwing an extended section of atonal dissonance into an otherwise standard pop structure in this Dissolve interview. The use of reflection and refraction alone makes Burgundy more of a treat for the eyes than any film I saw last year.

But probably the most powerful scenes are two that feature less stylistic flourishes and more character-driven payoffs:
SpoilerShow
The birthday cake scene - which blew me away - and the point where Cynthia can no longer deliver her lines. While most people's relationships probably don't share much in common on the surface with the one in the film, almost anyone who wants more from their significant other, who struggles to provide more to their partner, or who feels taken for granted will be able to connect to what they're seeing onscreen here.
An excellent film, and one that I hope is quickly followed by more from a talented director with a fairly unique combination of talents and interests; if Berberian and Burgundy aren't quite masterpieces, I'd love to see Strickland try for one.

*Or bug noises...

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swo17
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#2 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:30 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:An excellent film, and one that I hope is quickly followed by more from a talented director with a fairly unique combination of talents and interests; if Berberian and Burgundy aren't quite masterpieces, I'd love to see Strickland try for one.
Have you seen Katalin Varga? I'd say that one was a pretty good try.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#3 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Feb 08, 2015 5:45 pm

I haven't found a way to get my hands on it yet, but I'm glad to hear you recommend it; the only other person I've spoken to who had seen it was mixed (but maybe just isn't in tune with Strickland's style). Is it similar in style and tone to his latest features or more of an outlier?

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swo17
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#4 Post by swo17 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:03 pm

I haven't seen this new one yet, but it's similar to BSS, both being heavily indebted to European cinema of the '70s. It's out on DVD in the UK, which is unfortunately all the distribution it's likely to receive.

Jakamarak
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#5 Post by Jakamarak » Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:25 pm

I wanted to see this at IFC Center but they only screened it once or twice a day.

This past week it only played at 11:45 PM. That wouldn't have been a deterrent had the temperature not been around 10 degrees every time I tried to psych myself up to venturing out.

I did some searching, however, and was happy to find it is available On Demand through Time Warner Cable. I'll be watching it tonight.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#6 Post by Mr Sausage » Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:00 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:I haven't found a way to get my hands on it yet, but I'm glad to hear you recommend it; the only other person I've spoken to who had seen it was mixed (but maybe just isn't in tune with Strickland's style). Is it similar in style and tone to his latest features or more of an outlier?
I watched it on swo17's recommendation for the Horror list project and it is indeed an excellent film, one with a menacing use of low frequency sound and a plot that goes in some unusual directions.

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GaryC
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#7 Post by GaryC » Mon Feb 09, 2015 3:26 am

swo17 wrote:I haven't seen this new one yet, but it's similar to BSS, both being heavily indebted to European cinema of the '70s. It's out on DVD in the UK, which is unfortunately all the distribution it's likely to receive.
The UK cinema release is 20 February - I've seen the trailer a few times now. Like all or almost all of Curzon/Artificial Eye's releases, it will be available video on demand on their Curzon Home Cinema site, though you have to be in the UK or Ireland to access that.

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swo17
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#8 Post by swo17 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:26 am

Sorry if I was unclear, but I was referring to Katalin Varga, for which Strickland has lamented his distribution deal.

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MichaelB
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#9 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:59 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:the simple moment near the beginning where the camera focuses past, then on and between tassels hanging from a tablecloth signals a cinematographic step forward that continues to pay off throughout.
It's probably worth noting that cinematographer Nic Knowland also shot the Quay Brothers' Institute Benjamenta, which also features some virtuosic focus pulls.

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GaryC
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#10 Post by GaryC » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:26 am

swo17 wrote:Sorry if I was unclear, but I was referring to Katalin Varga, for which Strickland has lamented his distribution deal.
That did get a UK cinema release - a fairly limited one, but no more so as I remember than other foreign-language releases from Artificial Eye/Curzon Film World.

It may have to be Curzon Home Cinema for me for Duke of Burgundy as my weekends are mostly taken up in late Feb/early March and it won't be playing at a local cinema to me this side of the next blue moon.

merzbau
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#11 Post by merzbau » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:31 pm

So this is a bit of a weird question, but: has anyone else had an experience with the US Shout! Factory blu-ray of The Duke of Burgundy crashing or locking up their players? I'm using an all-region Toshiba BDX 1300 from 220 Electronics, and while the disc will play as far as the menu, when I try to actually play the feature I get a black screen with the clock locked at 00:00 and a totally unresponsive player. It's happened twice, and both times I had to physically unplug the player to turn it off and retrieve the disc, since it would no longer respond to remote commands or even the face buttons on the player.

Curious if anyone has any theories as to what might be happening, too. The disc works fine on my PS3, so it doesn't seem to be faulty. Has anyone seen this or something similar happen with another R1 blu-ray/all region player combination?

QUICK EDIT to say: yes, already tried 220 Electronics, their business is borderline shady so I'm not entirely surprised they failed to respond

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R0lf
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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#12 Post by R0lf » Mon Jun 13, 2016 2:08 am

merzbau wrote:So this is a bit of a weird question, but: has anyone else had an experience with the US Shout! Factory blu-ray of The Duke of Burgundy crashing or locking up their players? I'm using an all-region Toshiba BDX 1300 from 220 Electronics, and while the disc will play as far as the menu, when I try to actually play the feature I get a black screen with the clock locked at 00:00 and a totally unresponsive player. It's happened twice, and both times I had to physically unplug the player to turn it off and retrieve the disc, since it would no longer respond to remote commands or even the face buttons on the player.

Curious if anyone has any theories as to what might be happening, too. The disc works fine on my PS3, so it doesn't seem to be faulty. Has anyone seen this or something similar happen with another R1 blu-ray/all region player combination?

QUICK EDIT to say: yes, already tried 220 Electronics, their business is borderline shady so I'm not entirely surprised they failed to respond
Did you try using the safe word?

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Re: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, 2015)

#13 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:28 pm

I can say from experience that one thing this film gets right about sadomasochistic relationships is how inconvenient life can be, as to how it can pop that bubble of headspace people try to get in. I'm thinking of the trunk scene in particular in regards to this.

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