Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: France, 1997 (The Swindle), France, 1999 (The Color of Lies), France, 2000 (Nightcap), France, 2003 (The Flower of Evil)
Director: Claude Chabrol (All Films)
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Michel Serrault, François Cluzet, Jean-François Balmer, Jackie Berroyer, Jean Benguigui (The Swindle), Sandrine Bonnaire, Jacques Gamblin, Antoine de Caunes, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Bernard Verley, Bulle Ogier (The Color of Lies), Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Anna Mouglalis, Rodolphe Pauly, Brigitte Catillon, Michel Robin, Mathieu Simonet (Nightcap), Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Mélanie Doutey, Thomas Chabrol, Henri Attal (The Flower of Evil)

Release Date: April 25th, 2022 (UK), April 26th, 2022 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 105 Minutes 36 Seconds (The Swindle), 112 Minutes 53 Seconds (The Color of Lies), 100 Minutes 52 Seconds (Nightcap), 104 Minutes 47 Seconds (The Flower of Evil)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Films)
Rating: 15 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Stereo French (All Films), DTS-HD 5.1 (Nightcap, The Flower of Evil)
Subtitles: English (All Films)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £69.99 (UK) / $99.95 (USA)

"For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of Cinema, leaving in his wake fifty-five feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. The Swindle sees Chabrol at perhaps his most playful as a pair of scam artists, Isabelle Huppert and Michel Serrault, get in over their heads. But who is scamming who and who do you trust in a life built on so many lies? The murder of a 10-year-old girl sparks rumors and gossip in The Color of Lies, as suspicion falls on René (Jacques Gamblin) the dour once famous painter, now art teacher, who was the last person to see her alive. Enigmatic, perverse, seductive, Isabelle Huppert encapsulates everything that makes Nightcap a film John Waters calls "Cinematic Perfection" in this tale of suppressed family secrets. Finally, in The Flower of Evil, incest, old money and intergenerational guilt come under the scalpel as an outwardly perfect bourgeois family begins to unravel when the wife involves herself in politics. Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol's voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5 (The Swindle, Nightcap, The Flower of Evil), 4/5 (The Color of Lies)

Here’s the information provided about the transfers, “The films in this collection were restored and supplied by MK2.”

And here’s additional information about the transfers, "New 4K restorations of The Swindle, Nightcap and The Flower of Evil."

The Swindle comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 43 GB

Feature: 26.7 GB

The Color of Lies comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 39.5 GB

Feature: 28.6 GB

Nightcap comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.9 GB

Feature: 26.8 GB

The Flower of Evil comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 46.1 GB

Feature: 27.1 GB

Though the sources used for these five films are comparable, the three strongest transfers are The Swindle, Nightcap, and The Flower of Evil, which all received new 4K restorations. That said, The Color of Lies looks good, despite coming from older sources.

There are no issues when it comes to image clarity, compression, or grain, and black levels look very good. That said, these four transfers all look great.

Audio: 4.25/5 (LPCM stereo French), 4/5 (DTS-HD 5.1 French)

The Swindle and The Color of Lies each come with one audio option, a LPCM stereo mix in French. Nightcap and The Flower of Evil each come with two audio options: a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in French and a LPCM stereo mix in French. All of the audio mixes are in great shape; dialog always comes through clearly, ambient sounds are well-represented, and everything sounds balanced. That said, the DTS-HD 5.1 mixes offer a slightly fuller sound experience than their LPCM stereo counterparts. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for all four films.

Extras:

Extras for The Swindle include an image gallery (7 images), theatrical trailer (1 minute 45 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival conversation with actress Isabelle Huppert (25 minutes 38 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival Behind the scenes featurette (8 minutes 22 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), archival select scene audio commentary by Claude Chabrol (24 minutes 20 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny (2 minutes 28 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an interview with Cécile Maistre-Chabrol titled Film as a Family Affair (38 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French/English with removable English subtitles), a visual essay by film scholar Catherine Dousteyssier-Khoze titled Chabrol’s ‘Soap Bubble’ (14 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with non-removable English subtitles for French dialog), and an audio commentary with film critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan.

Extras for The Color of Lies include an image gallery (8 images), theatrical trailer (1 minute 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival Behind the scenes featurette (25 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), archival select scene audio commentary by Claude Chabrol (20 minutes 8 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny (2 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), a visual essay by film critic David Kalat titled Chabrol’s ‘Soap Bubble’ (14 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with non-removable English subtitles for French dialog), and an audio commentary with film critic Barry Forshaw and author Sean Hogan.

Extras for Nightcap include an image gallery (11 images), theatrical trailer (1 minute 39 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), screentest for actress Anna Mouglalis (10 minutes 33 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival Behind the scenes featurette (26 minutes 5 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actor Jacques Dutronc (32 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actress Isabelle Huppert (7 minutes 6 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), archival select scene audio commentary by Claude Chabrol (43 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny (3 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), a visual essay by film critic Scout Tafoya titled When I Perurit Good… (11 minutes 15 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with non-removable English subtitles for French dialog), and an audio commentary with film critic Justine Smith.

Extras for The Flower of Evil include an image gallery (4 images), theatrical trailer (2 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with screenwriter Catherine Eliacheff (24 minutes 47 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archival Behind the scenes featurette (25 minutes 36 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), archival select scene audio commentary by Claude Chabrol (49 minutes 29 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an archive introduction by film scholar Joël Magny (3 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo French with removable English subtitles), an appreciation by Agnes Poirier titled Behind the Masks (14 minutes 30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English with non-removable English subtitles for French dialog), and an audio commentary with film critic Farran Smith Nehme.

Rounding out the extras is an eighty-page booklet with cast & crew information for each film, an essay titled Les Femmes Impenetrable: Chabrol’s Women written by Sean Hogan, an essay titled It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye: Rien ne va plus and Other Chabrolian Secrets written by Brad Stevens, an essay titled Revive, Revive, Revive: Trauma, Politics and The Color of Lies written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, an essay titled Nightcap (Merci pour le chocolat): The Poison of Perversity written by Pamela Hutchinson, About the Transfers and Production Credits.

Summary:

The Swindle: A man and a woman who travel in an RV look for victims to scam out of money. From there, they come across their best mark, who has access to five million francs. Will they put off another scam, or is this scam too good to be true?

The Swindle is a crime caper that has all the elements that are synonymous with the films of Claude Chabrol. That said, the result is a film that might surprise those who are only familiar with Claude Chabrol’s thrillers.

The characters are well-defined and the performances are all great, especially Isabelle Huppert (Madame Bovary) in the role of Elizabeth (Betty) and Michel Serrault (La Cage aux Folles) in the role of Victor. Though these two characters make an unusual duo, The most notable difference between them is their age. They have an undeniable chemistry that carries The Swindle.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where The Swindle comes up short. The premise is deliriously realized, the deliberately paced narrative always holds your attention, and there is an exemplary twist ending that brings everything that preceded it together. Another strength is how the visuals let the performances take center stage. Ultimately, The Swindle is a highly entertaining farce that is a must-see if you're a fan of Claude Chabrol.

The Color of Lies: A small town is rocked by a ten-year-old girl’s murder, and her art teacher becomes the number one suspect. Along the way, another murder happens in which the art teacher becomes involved. Is he guilty or is someone trying to frame him?

The Color of Lies opens with a jarring moment where two children find a ten-year-old girl’s lifeless body in the woods. This moment is a textbook example of Claude Chabrol’s ability to create arresting moments. From there, the narrative does a great job of building tension that reaches a boiling point by the finale.

Though The Color of Lies has all the elements that are synonymous with the films of Claude Chabrol, The result is a different kind of whodunit where the detective and their investigation take a backseat.

The cast members all give excellent performances, particularly Jacques Gamblin (Safe Conduct) in the role of René Sterne, an art teacher who was the first to see the murdered ten-year-old girl.Another performance of note is Sandrine Bonnaire (La Cérémonie) in the role of René’s unfaithful wife, Vivianne.

From a production standpoint, The Color of Lies is a film where everything perfectly falls into place. The premise is well-executed, and the narrative is overflowing with tension. Another strength of The Color of Lies is how effective Claude Chabrol is when it comes to concealing the killer's identity. Ultimately, The Color of Lies is an extraordinary film that fans of psychological thrillers are sure to enjoy.

Nightcap: A young woman becomes close to a family after she discovers that there was confusion at the hospital regarding her and the family's son, who were both born on the same day.

Though the premise toys with the idea of two children who may have been accidentally swapped at birth, This can be seen as a MacGuffin in the grander scheme of things. With the relationship between the son and his stepmother being the focal point,

The performances were all great. With the standout performance being Isabelle Huppert’s (Story of Women) portrayal of Marie-Claire "Mika" Muller, an heiress of a Swiss chocolate company who makes hot chocolate for her family. Another performance of note is by Anna Mouglalis (Kiss of the Damned) in the role of Jeanne Pollet, the young woman who reaches out to the family whose son was born on the same day as she was.

From a production standpoint, Nightcap is a superbly realized film. It is a narrative that’s driven by its well-defined characters, and its finale provides satisfying closure to the events that preceded. Another fascinating aspect of Nightcap is how effectively it uses coincidence. Besides the two characters possibly being accidentally swapped at birth, The Jeanne character is also a gifted pianist, like the man who may be her father, and she also bears a striking resemblance to his deceased wife. Ultimately, Nightcap is a riveting melodrama that has all the hallmarks that are synonymous with the cinema of Claude Chabrol.

The Flower of Evil: A family's life is turned inside out when their matriarch decides to run for mayor. From there, things become further complicated when an old mugging scandal involving the family is brought to light. Will a past scandal destroy the family, or will they overcome their past?

Though Claude Chabrol is most remembered for his work in the thriller genre, He was a versatile filmmaker who effortlessly worked in any genre he worked in. That said, no matter what genre he worked in, his use of humor is one element that can be found throughout his filmography.

At the heart of The Flower of Evil is a melodrama about secrets, past and present. And the effect of said secrets? With the finale providing redemption for one character's past transgression while freeing another.

The cast members are all excellent in their respective roles. The most memorable was Suzanne Flon (One Deadly Summer) as an elderly aunt named Line. She delivers an amazing performance in which her character effortlessly switches from lucid to someone who’s in a daze. Another performance of note is that of Bernard Le Coq (Beautiful Memories) in the role of Gérard, the patriarch of the family.

From a production standpoint, there’s not an area where The Flower of Evil does not excel. Its deliberately paced narrative does a great job of maintaining tension, and a jarring finale provides perfect closure. Ultimately, The Flower of Evil is a powerful film that stays with you long after its final moments have faded off screen.

Twisting The Knife: Four Films By Claude Chabrol is an exceptional release from Arrow Video that comes with strong audio/video presentations for each film and a wealth of insightful extras about each film and Claude Chabrol, highly recommended.




































Written by Michael Den Boer

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