Friday, December 1, 2023

The Final Iteration Of Love Child?

Apparently Rachel Weisz & Colin Farrell are as out as Penélope Cruz & Edgar Ramírez before them, but Love Child is still coming.  According to, Elizabeth Olsen is now set to star in the picture, with no word yet on her male co-star.  The brief description of the plot reads the same as it did in 2017, though they quite possibly just took it from there.  According to a casting ad in Backstage, it's coming from Volition Media and is due to start filming in "March or April 2024 in NYC."  Not to jinx it, but that sounds pretty settled!  🤞

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Welcome To the Dollhouse - The Special Edition!

Well, it only took, what?  24 years since the original barebones DVD release of Todd Solondz's ground-breaking depiction of modern adolescence, Welcome To the Dollhouse (27 if you want to go all the way back to the laserdisc)?  But we've finally got a proper special edition!  Sony at least gave us a feature-less blu-ray in 2018 to tide us over.  But you can throw all of that crap out, now, because a new UK outfit called Radiance Films - sort of the next iteration of the sadly shuttered Arrow Academy line striking out on their own - have given this film the care and respect it's always deserved.  The official release date is March 6th.
2023 Radiance Films blu-ray.
So I've taken screenshots that match my earlier comparison of the DVD and previous blu-ray, so you can go ahead and compare them directly.  The film is still framed at 1.85:1, the color-timing's the same, and is clearly using the same master, which we now know from Radiance's booklet, is taken from the interpositive.  But these are not identical.  Radiance's new edition features a much better encode.  Casual viewers might not notice the difference, but flipping back and forth between the old and new screen shots, you can watch the film grain appear and disappear.  This new edition really does have a stronger capture and genuinely filmic look.

Importantly, too, in the audio department, Radiance restores the original stereo track (in lossless PCM), as opposed to the US blu-ray, which replaced it with a 5.1 remix.  All three discs also offer optional English subtitles.
But now let's get into The Special Features Club (sorry)!  First and foremost, we get all new on-camera interviews with Solondz and Heather Matarazzo.  There's also a Criterion-style visual essay, which tracks the Dawn Wiener character through this, Palindromes and Wiener-Dog, and a fun audio commentary by the hosts of the This Ends At Prom podcast.  The trailer is here, too, restored to widescreen for the first time.  Also included is a full-color, 48-page booklet, with credits, Solondz's director's notes, three critical essays, extracts from a Solondz interview and critical reviews, and technical notes.  This limited edition features reversible artwork, an obi strip, and if you order direct from Radiance, a Welcome To the Dollhouse bookmark.

The limited edition is restricted to just 2000 copies, and is still available as of this writing.  Though after that sells out, there will very likely be a standard edition with all of the same contents except the obi, bookmark and booklet.  This release is region B, so make sure you can play region B blu-rays before ordering.  If you can't, though, this fantastic disc may be reason enough to get yourself a region free player!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Love Child Is Back On Track!

It's been over four years since we heard about Todd Solondz's upcoming feature, Love Child.  Obviously, the pandemic derailed everybody's film projects, but the fact that it was originally intended for a 2018 release date made it seem like this particular film was stalling long before that.  So it was great news to wake up to a Love Child news story today across the trades.  Apparently the film is complete and ready to start making the semi-public rounds, debuting at Cannes' upcoming "Virtual Market" later this month.  This article from Indiewire seems to have the most details.

The film is still with Killer Films, but apparently Penélope Cruz & Edgar Ramírez are out, and Rachel Weisz & Colin Farrell are in - the film's imdb page has already been updated to confirm the replacements.  The premise sounds the same as it was described to us in 2017, though I think there's a good chance the characters are no longer named Immaculada and Nacho.  Solondz has been quoted as saying, "This is my first movie with a plot and my first movie taking place in Texas... It’s fun and it’s sexy and it’s shaped by the Hollywood movies that made me want to become a filmmaker."  Can't wait!

After this unexpected good news, one wonders if we'll hear updates on The Quarters and St. Petersburg sometime soon, now, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Welcome To the Dollhouse Finally in HD! (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

It's been a long time coming, but we've finally gotten a much-needed upgrade to his middle-school masterpiece Welcome To the Dollhouse.  Sony has just released the film on blu-ray, and it's quite a substantial upgrade over the very old (1999) DVD from Columbia Tri-Star.  Now, early releases in this line of Sony's blus were MOD BDRs, which is to say burnt discs like you can make on your computer as opposed to properly pressed discs, which last longer and don't have the playback issues on some players like BDRs do.  But happily, like Warner Archive, Sony has switched to pressing these blus right, so Welcome To the Dollhouse is a properly pressed disc.

And it looks pretty great - here are a couple comparisons (DVDExotica the screenshots to see them in full size, 100% resolution) between it and the blu.  The original DVD also offered a fullscreen version that really butchered the compositions.  So let's look at all three versions.
1999 DVD (fullscreen) top; 1999 DVD (widescreen) mid; 2018 blu-ray bottom.
Now, I've left the matting on the first set of shots just to make the differences a little clearer.  The fullscreen DVD is framed at an aspect ratio of 1.31:1, and splits the difference between cutting off information along the sides while opening up the mattes to uncover a little more vertical information.  The widescreen DVD is framed at a common but not quite accurate ratio of 1.78:1, with slight matting along the bottom and sides, areas which would've largely been hidden by televisions' overscan area back in the 90s.  Finally, the blu-ray presents the film in its authentic, original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and as you can see, shows even more info along the sides than the previous widescreen DVD.
And of course, the blu is naturally an upgrade over the DVD just by virtue of being high definition over standard definition.  But the DVD really shows its age, with messy, blocky compression, edge enhancement unnatural colors and other flaws that have really been crying out for a new master.  I mean, this close-up highlight speaks for itself.  It's still not quite a cutting edge blu... It's a single layer disc where the film grain appears a little wishy-washy, and fine detail could probably still be a little bit clearer.  But compared to other contemporary blu-ray releases, it would probably rate a solid B, and compared to the old DVD, it's flat-out essential.

Interestingly, the blu-ray replaces the original stereo mix with a 5.1, though I can't say they sound very different.  Of course, the blu-ray bumps the audio up to a lossless DTS-HD track as well.  Both discs also include optional English subtitles, and unfortunately but unsurprisingly, both discs are pretty barebones, only offering the fullscreen theatrical trailer for a special feature.  International fans will be happy to know it's an all-region (ABC) disc.

Now, if we could just get Happiness... that DVD is even more in need of replacing.  It isn't even anamorphic.