Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Jane B. Par Agnes V./Kung-Fu Master!

Collapse
X
Collapse
  •  
    Scyther
    Senior Member

  • Jane B. Par Agnes V./Kung-Fu Master!



    Released by:
    Cinelicious Pics
    Released on: March 8th, 2016
    Director: Agnes Varda
    Cast: Jane Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathieu Demy, Lou Doillon, Serge Gainsbourg
    Year: 1988/1987
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movies

    This Blu-Ray double feature from Cinelicious Pics celebrates a cinematic middle period for fashion icon and style muse Jane Birkin who, during the 1980s, as the former flame of Serge Gainsbourg, had already proven herself to be more than just a pretty face on the big screen.

    Indeed, Birkin's ability to emote and deliver in front of the camera made her one of those triple threats, in addition to her successful careers in the worlds of music and fashion. Although Birkin would kick start her movie career in sex pot and B-movie roles in such films as Blow Up, Catherine and Co. or the giallo Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye, by the time the late eighties rolled around, Birkin's powerhouse reputation in the world of cinema was assured.

    The two films contained here showcase the ever-beautiful Birkin as she's approaching forty years of age, and were both directed by filmmaker Agnes Varda. The first , Jane B. Par Agnes V., is a bio-pic of sorts, melding together Birkin's firsthand accounts of her childhood, early career and personal life along with bizarre, non-sequitur fantasy sequences which run the gamut of Birkin's performance skills. These scenes are distracting and rarely successful, however, and detract from the far more interesting scenes where Birkin either directly addresses the camera or interacts with Varda on screen. Granted, Jane B. Par Agnes V. is attempting to be a surreal, post-modern take on the biography, and thus succeeds, but mileage may vary as to how much enjoyment Birkin fans will get out of this one.

    Much more successful is Kung-Fu Master!, released a year prior and dealing with a controversial story, very much indicative of its European origins. Birkin plays the part of Mary-Jane, a separated mother of two who embarks upon a shameful affair with her daughter's fourteen year old schoolmate, in a desperate attempt at staving off the inevitable aging process. As if this plot wasn't disturbing enough, the boy, Julien, is played by Varda's real life son Mathieu Demy, while Birkin's own daughters play the children from an earlier relationship. Yet, it's also how Varda's film frames Birkin and lets the story unfold which might leave some viewers scratching their heads, or shaking their fists.

    Varda never judges Mary-Jane for her actions, despite her character's downright predatory actions, such as intentionally setting up instances to meet up with the young boy, Julien, at school or at his home. Of course, it helps that Kung-Fu Master! is never salacious or exploitative when it comes to the actual romance between the two, it's difficult not to be angered by Mary-Jane's behavior, even if we can identify with her character's loneliness and desperation. The end results could perhaps be compared to some of the inappropriate teacher-student relationships which so often make the nightly news, albeit seen from the inside of how this sort of situation could take place.

    There is also quite a bit of commentary upon the A.I.D.S. crisis during the late eighties, a string of thought which gets mentioned throughout the film, whether as random dialogue from supporting characters, television programming or folks passing out panic pamphlets in the city of London. Varda also strangely connects the relationship between Mary-Jane and Julien together with the classic stand-up arcade game Kung Fu Master, known to Nintendo fans simply as Kung Fu when it was ported over to the NES. There are shots comparing Mary-Jane to the captured video game girlfriend Sylvia, as well as several scenes where Birkin and Demy try their hands at completing the game and reaching the final level.

    The acting is exceptional here from everyone involved, while Varda crafts a quickly moving film which never fails to capture our attention. The subject matter may be difficult, but the end results are worth it for those able make it through to the end.

    Video/Audio/Extras

    Cinelicious Pics presents both of Agnes Varda's films scanned in 2k from the original 35mm negatives in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Flesh tones appear even and nicely rendered, with no signs of extensive damage, dirt or debris. Kung Fu Master! looks a bit soft, but nothing distracting at all, while there are also signs of DNR or intrusive artifacts to be seen.

    The audio tracks, French DTS-HD tracks in 1.0 or 2.0 with optional subtitles provided in English only, are also well balanced, with error-free subtitles from the French language dialogue.

    Extras include a print essay on Varda's work from Sandy Flitterman-Lewis, as well as on camera interviews with the director for both films, where Varda discusses working with Birkin, her inspiration for the films, as well as behind the scenes work and how each picture was conceived.

    The Final Word

    This writer wasn't familiar with the work of Agnes Varda prior to watching these films, but it's clear from this disc that the filmmaker clearly knows what she wants to do, and how she wants to achieve her goals. Mileage will vary as to how successful Varda is in those goals, but Kung-Fu Master! is, at the very least, a viable reason to check this double feature out.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















    Posting comments is disabled.

Latest Articles

Collapse

  • Story Of A Prostitute (The Criterion Collection) DVD Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: The Criterion Collection
    Released on: July 26th, 2005.
    Director: Seijun Suzuki
    Cast: Yumiko Nagawa, Isao Tamagawa, Tamio Kawachi
    Year: 1965
    Purchase From Amazon

    Story Of A Prostitute – Movie Reviews:

    The simply titled Story Of A Prostitute is just that – the film follows a group of 'comfort women' (hookers employed by the Japanese military to service the soldiers) who are sent to Northern China during the height
    ...
    12-01-2022, 06:52 PM
  • Blood & Diamonds (88 Films) Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: December 13th, 2022.
    Director: Fernando Di Leo
    Cast: Martin Balsam, Claudio Cassinelli, Pier Paolo Capponi, Barbara Bouchet
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    Blood & Diamonds – Movie Review:

    In Fernando Di Leo’s 1977 crime picture, Blood & Diamonds, Claudio Cassinelli plays Guido Mauri, a thief who has spent the last half a decade behind bars after getting busted for his part in a high
    ...
    11-30-2022, 03:39 PM
  • Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (VCI Entertainment) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: VCI Entertainment
    Released on: December 6th, 2022.
    Director: Bob Clark
    Cast: Alan Ormsby, Valerie Mamches, Jeff Gillen, Anya Ormsby, Paul Cronin, Jane Daly
    Year: 1972
    Purchase From Amazon

    Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things – Movie Review:

    In Bob Clark’s Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Alan Ormsby (who also wrote and starred in Clark’s Deathdream) plays Alan, a stage director who is obsessed with
    ...
    11-30-2022, 01:10 PM
  • Four Flies On Grey Velvet (Severin Films) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 25th, 2022.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Aldo Bufi Landi, Bud Spencer
    Year: 1971
    Purchase From Amazon

    Four Flies On Grey Velvet - Movie Review:

    The third feature from writer/director Dario Argento, co-written by Luigi Cozzi, and the final film in his so-called ‘Animal Trilogy’ (made up of this picture as well as The Bird
    ...
    11-24-2022, 12:37 PM
  • The Dogs (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 25th, 2022.
    Director: Alain Jessua
    Cast: Gérard Depardieu, Victor Lanoux, Nicole Calfan, Fanny Ardant
    Year: 1979
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Dogs – Movie Review:

    Writer/director Alain Jessua, the same man who gave us 1973’s Shock Treatment, was behind this 1979 picture that takes place in an affluent suburb located just outside of Paris, France. Here, a beautiful young woman named
    ...
    11-24-2022, 12:34 PM
  • The Five Days (Severin Films) UHD/Blu-ray Review
    Ian Jane
    Administrator
    by Ian Jane


    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 25th, 2022.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: Adriano Celentano, Enzo Terascio, Marilù Tolo, Glauco Onorato, Salvatore Baccaro
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Five Days - Movie Review:

    Dario Argento is known the world over for stylish horror films and tense giallo pictures, so it’s odd that in 1973 he’d direct and co-write The Five Days (also known as Five Days Of Milan), a
    ...
    11-24-2022, 12:31 PM
Working...
X