The Sorrow and the Pity (US/ UK Edition Comparison)

Marcel Ophüls's The Sorrow and the Pity is one of the great WWII Holocaust documentaries of all time, but it takes a rather unique tact, focusing on the Nazi occupation of the small industrial city Clermont-Ferrand in France. Originally created for French television in 1969, it eventually became an international success, nominated for an Oscar in 1972. Ophüls's provocative interview style is very powerful and engaging when combined with his very earnest subjects and the deathly serious topic. And it's coverage is surprisingly thorough, running deep enough to inform even the most dedicated historians.
MGM's 2000 DVD of Annie Hall
It reached even broader audiences thanks to its inclusion in Woody Allen's masterpiece Annie Hall as the date movie he kept taking Diane Keaton to ("boy those guys in the French resistance were really brave, you know? To have to listen to Maurice Chevalier sing so much"). I'm sure that connection is what lead to the US DVD being earmarked "Woody Allen Presents" in 2001.

That US disc was a co-release by Milestone Film and Video, who also released Ophüls's The Troubles We've Seen, and the ever-stalwart Image Entertainment. And I guess you could call it acceptable for its time. It was non-anamorphic widescreen, supposedly in 1.66:1 more really more like 1.51:1. The film was naturally divided over two discs showing a very soft and damaged print. Then, in 2004, Arrow released it in the UK, and I was excited to import an improved edition with a fresh, anamorphic transfer. Did it live up to my expectations? Well...
Milestone's 2001 US DVD on top; Arrow's 2004 UK DVD below.
For the first set of comparisons, I've left the negative space around the image so you can see how they'd appear on a widescreen television. Milestone's non-anamorphic 1.51:1 image just sits in a sea of black, while Arrow's image is slightly pillar-boxed to 1.74:1. Both odd aspect rations, it's hard to say which is more correct... I suppose Arrow is matting for a theatrical presentation, but just slightly off? Milestone's is certainly open matte by comparison, as Arrow's widescreen composition adds no information to the sides but crops a considerable amount vertically. Honestly, watching this movie all the way through both times, I felt like Milestone's felt more natural and pleasing, with Arrow's being too tight. But on the other hand, being anamorphic is a big deal now that fullscreen TVs are dead. Milestone's picture is tiny. So I tend to prefer Arrow's transfer overall, despite feeling like Milestone has the superior aspect ratio.
And the overall image quality's pretty much a tie, too. Arrow's disc seems to have a bit more detail compared to Milestone's smoother, softer image. And often it's hard to tell if you're seeing a little extra detail or a little extra compression artifacting. The print is very worn and damaged in both cases. I have no idea what kind of film elements still exist for this documentary, but I'd put this one at the top of the list of movies in need of an HD restoration.

One big advantage of the Arrow disc, though, is that it includes an excellent interview with Marcus Ophüls, where he's interviewed for almost half an hour after a screening at the National Film Theatre. It's very candid and also shows the same spirit Marcus displays in his films. The Milestone disc's only extra was the original theatrical trailer. Disappointingly, however, Arrow doesn't have that trailer. Not that big a deal, but still, a trailer from a 1960's French documentary is a more unique, interesting viewing experience than your average generic Hollywood trailer of today, and it's just one more example of how everything's a frustrating compromise in this film's situation.
So, it's undeniably a great film that belongs in anyone's collection. And, I guess given our options, I recommend the Arrow disc. The interview's a genuine bonus and I mean, are you really going to watch a tiny, non-anamorphic film if you can avoid it? But the cropping is frustrating, and I've read online (I'm afraid I don't speak enough French to verify this myself) that the subtitles' translations on both discs are dodgy. This comparison has really left me feeling how badly this film needs rescuing on blu-ray by somebody like Criterion. But that's not currently happening and may never, and this film's too important to just optimistically put off. So what the hell, I guess Arrow's DVD really isn't so bad.

Sam Raimi's Drag Me To Hell, the UK Edition (DVD/ Blu-Ray Comparison)

So, I've now covered all three of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films, but I'd sort of feel like I was leaving things incomplete if I didn't follow those up with Drag Me To Hell (what'd you think I was gonna say Diablo Cody's Evil Dead remake?). Especially since there's a compelling reason to post about Drag here anyway. Besides it being almost, if not just, as good as the films in the Evil Dead trilogy but without the reverential status, so I feel like it's a bit neglected and deserving of another look... Did you know there's a UK import blu-ray with more, better extras?
Drag Me To Hell is Sam Raimi's return to horror, as well as a return to smaller films he has more creative control of, after having worked on a bunch of more traditional Hollywood films, particularly the Spider-Man trilogy. Fans had been calling for him to return to his roots for ages, and by all accounts Raimi was having the same feelings. And while he didn't quite come up with the Evil Dead 4 fans kept asking for, he gave us something very much in the same spirit. In fact, some will argue that it could be considered a direct sequel, operating in the same world and mythos (and one demonically possessed character, about midway through the film, is straight-up doing the entire Evil Dead schtick), just not in name and not focusing on Bruce Campbell's character this time around. There's something a little more traditional in Drag's concept though, centering things around a literal old gypsy's curse; but once it gets going it gets as crazy and enthusiastically insane as the ED films, and that's the heart of what we were all asking for anyway, isn't it?

Now, Drag Me To Hell's another one that came out in that period when blu-rays were a thing, but I was still buying DVDs. So I've got the original, wide release Universal DVD, which came in a nice slipcover, and provided both the theatrical PG-13 cut of the film, and the unrated director's cut. Because it was such a major, broadly released title, and then perhaps undervalued by fans afterwards, it's one of those discs that can be picked up very cheap pretty much anyplace. So I figured it was a nice opportunity for an inexpensive upgrade to blu. And when I was looking into it, I discovered that the Lions Gate version released concurrently in the UK back in 2009, had more extras. And Drag was a good little DVD, but it had always been light on special features. And best of all, the UK discs had plummeted in price just like the US ones, so - score!
_______________

Update 10/7/15: I'm now adding the US blu-ray to this comparison, too. No real surprises, it looks pretty identical to the UK blu. But in the interests of being thorough and fully informative, here are both the US and theatrical cuts of the US blu as well.
Lions Gate blu-ray theatrical cut on top, their blu unrated second,
Universal's DVD theatrical cut third and their unrated DVD fourth.
Universal's blu-ray theatrical cut fifth and their unrated blu-ray sixth
So both discs feature both cuts (yes, they're dual-layered). In fact, you'd have to search pretty hard to find a version with only one cut or the other. So in the interests of being complete, I've included comparison shots of both cuts, but they really look essentially identical. They are entirely different encodes (as opposed to using branching or something), but they're very close to the same size and practically speaking, there's no visible distinction. But between the DVD and the blu is another matter. Sure, it's the same core transfer, framed at about 2.40:1, with the same color timing, etc. But standard def compression really didn't do this movie any favors, and the HD version is really beautiful.
UK blu-ray left; US DVD right.
Just look at it up close. What's in the shop window? A bunch of smeary, indiscernible objects? Everything is so much more clear and defined on the blu, you can tell what everything is, even items further in the background. And just looking at the flat side of the truck, grain is very evident, but on the DVD it's soft with smudged edges. It's an impressive difference. And both versions featured 5.1 audio, but you can hear the extra punch in the blu-ray's DTS-HD track. Both versions also have optional subtitles in English, but you do lose the DVD's French and Spanish language options, if that's a concern for you.

Now what's the deal with the two cuts, anyway? I mean, why would anyone care to watch the edited PG-13 version when they've got the uncensored director's cut on the same disc? Well, it is a little bit of overkill, but there's a reason they've bothered to preserve the theatrical cut as well. The cut version isn't just missing shots (although there are a few moments that really lose their impact precisely due to removed shots), it's also got some alternative bits that are unique to that version. Some of it's pretty inconsequential, like a demon's CGI blood being colored black instead of red, which I guess bothers the MPAA more. But one scene in particular, where our lead character decides to sacrifice her cat to appease the angry spirits haunting her, are 100% reshot, and not even in a similar way.
Top: a shot only in the theatrical cut; bottom: a shot only in the uncut version.
In the PG-13 cut, we see her looking around for her cat, finding it, and then cutting away to the exterior of the house as we hear sounds letting us know the gruesome deed was done. So, in the unrated version, it's the same but instead of cutting away, we see a shot of her killing it... right? No. Actually, it's totally different, and there is no bit of her looking around for and finding her cat in the laundry basket. Instead, it's a very dramatically shot moment where she comes towards the camera from shadowed silhouette to scream and repeatedly stab it. Two totally different scenes conveying the same plot point.

Still, like I said, it's pretty much overkill. It's definitely better that they include both cuts rather than letting those alternate moments fade away into anecdotal film history. But the cat scene is the only hugely different scene. The rest is all short insert shots or slightly altered CGI. I think fans would have gotten a lot more out of just including the alternate cat scene in a little 5-minute featurette that also went over and showed the extra changes. Because it's really not worth sitting through the entire film a second time just to go, "oh, I see, that close up where the staple actually goes into her forehead has been removed, but everything else is exactly the same." But if it was a quick deleted scene, we could just quickly watch it and have the same take-away. Plus, a little deleted scenes feature would make the special features less barren and make this feel a little more like the special edition we all want.
The Universal DVD only had one extra, but at least it was a good one. It was a roughly 30-minute featurette called Production Diaries, which is a series of short segments looking at different behind-the-scenes moments during the filmmaking. It's all hosted by Justin Long (who played the boyfriend in the film), and because it zeroes in on moments and details, it's a lot more interesting than your standard, promotional featurette where each actor describes their character and says how wonderful everybody else was to work with. It's fun and engaging. The only problem is how lonely it looks sitting all by itself on the special features page of the DVD menu. Great, but that's it? There's not even a trailer, although it autoplays a bunch of unrelated trailers at the start of the disc. Blah.

Universal's blu-ray is a mirror of the DVD, except it has BD-Live... so it loads up "fresh" ads (when I tried it now in 2015, it brought up the Seth Rogen feature Neighbors and an ad for Universal's horror classics from the 40s).  That's hardly an advantage. A genuine plus, I suppose, if you're one of the very select few people with a use for it, is that it's enhanced for D-Box. That's that thing where if you own a special chair wired to your entertainment system, it will vibrate at select times during the film. Not even the UK blu has that.

Now, Lions Gate didn't exactly turn this into the fully loaded special edition we'd expect for a big Sam Raimi horror bonanza; but they at least managed to double what Universal had. The UK blu does also have the Production Diaries, so it's 100% profit, no trade-off. But it's also added another 30+ minutes worth of interviews. They talk to Raimi, Long and star Alison Lohman in three separate sit-downs. These are clearly promotional, but the woman doing the interviews is obviously a genuine fan, so asks questions we really want to hear the answers to, like "where's our Bruce Campbell cameo?" (which gets an honest answer) rather than just prompting them to fawn all over each other. They're also delightfully uncut, showing us moments like when they take a break and Sam Raimi steps out of frame so a crewman can walk by, leaving us with a steady shot of an empty chair. So again, it's still no great collection of feature length documentaries and audio commentaries with the entire cast and crew; but they're good, fun pieces worth watching.
So if you're like me and still just have this film on DVD, I definitely recommend upgrading to the blu-ray; the picture difference is substantial. And if you're doing that, you should definitely go for the UK blu. If you already have the US blu, is it worth switching just for the interviews, maybe not. Though, again, it is cheap, so it might still be worth throwing into your cart while you're ordering something else from the UK. As an added incentive, Zavvi has just re-released the UK blu in an exclusive steelbook. It's all the same content, though, so I was happy to go the standard cheaper way; but both options are on the table. At any rate, it's certainly a film that deserves a second look, and you'll want to do that in HD.

The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened? The Blu-ray!

Here's another fun, Kickstarter-funded documentary on cinema: The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?, telling the story of the unfilmed Superman movie that was to star Nicholas Cage and be directed by Tim Burton. And unlike the recent That Guy Dick Miller, they've offered a blu-ray option, so we're not again stuck with the collectors' edition in SD while casual viewers are watching it online a lot cheaper in HD. And more than that, it's a very substantial special edition, promising "over 8+ HOURS of EXCLUSIVE content."

This film is very reminiscent of Jodorowsky's Dune, and I mean that as a compliment. I was a little worried at the very beginning, with the director putting himself onscreen as the focus, like this was going to be about a documentary filmmaker with an obsession over a lost Superman movie rather than just being about the lost Superman movie. And when it cut to candid convention footage of comic book fans offering not particularly insightful or interesting thoughts on the idea of Nicholas Cage playing Superman, who are all hard to hear with the loud convention-goers chattering behind them, I started to feel pangs of buyer's remorse. Especially since they charged ten blucks shipping when it only cost them about three. Visions of Paypal charge-backs started dancing in my head...
But the film immediately kicks into high gear from there, and really everything else is great. Everything's professional and looks and sounds great, including a subtle and effective score. There's a bunch of in-depth interviews with pretty much everybody you could hope for: Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, Jon Peters, Grant Morrison and a heap of special effects, costume and design people, as well as comic artists, all come together to really burrow into the details of what went on in the pre-production of this film. One highlight was getting to hear Jon Peters refute parts of Kevin Smith's infamous tale of working on Superman Lives from An Evening With Kevin Smith, while justifying others.
There's also lots of artwork, models and screen-tests and even recreations to really give you the feel of what this film would have been and get you as close to seeing the actual film as possible without it actually existing. The only big guy they couldn't get, understandably, was Nicholas Cage himself; but they have a lot of great behind-the-scenes footage of him and archival interview clips of him talking about Superman Lives from other sources, so his voice really doesn't feel absent. And considering he wasn't really involved with the designing and most of the pre-production like the people directly involved were, I definitely didn't feel shorted of Cage. The entire film was very satisfying.
Speaking of satisfying, this is a pretty great blu-ray for the film, too. It's properly pressed, not a BD-R, and it's region A B and C. It's a 1080p 16x9 image (normally I wouldn't even bother specifying that on a new release these days, but when it's a scrappy little self-funded release from a first time company, it's good to be safe) framed at 1.78:1 with DTS-HD 2.0 audio. And you wouldn't normally expect subtitles on an indie title like this, but yeah they've got English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.
And thank goodness it's a dual-layer disc, because they're a really impressive amount of extras on hand. There are two audio commentaries, one by the director John Schnepp on his own and one with him and his editor and three producers. Do you like Kevin Smith and wish there'd been more of him in the movie? Well, there's two features, about 45 minutes each, just talking with him, plus a one hour and fifteen minute Q&A with him and Schnepp, giving you about three solid extra hours just with Kevin Smith. That ought to be enough to keep any Smith fan happy, but he pops up a bit more in some of the other extras, too.

There's a 45+ minute featurette which is almost a sequel with all new footage and artwork, plus another brief 5 minute follow-up with several of the interview subjects. There's about 50 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a ton of additional and extended interviews, including more with Tim Burton and Grant Morrison, more convention footage, another Q&A, red carpet premiere footage (which is a full half hour itself), and the trailer. I definitely come back to the word "satisfying" here. It's all the extras any fan would want and probably more to the point where most viewers will find themselves picking and choosing rather (and if so, may I suggest skipping the second commentary, where they repeatedly devolve into just talking in silly voices) than pouring through every second of it. But if you want it, it's all there.
I was worried about this film coming off as amateurish and lacking, but TDOSLWH rose to the challenge. There is also a DVD option, which is missing most (but not all) of the extras and of course squishes the picture down to SD. But considering the quality of this release, I'd say go for the blu if you've got the player. And if you've already streamed the film online, there is definitely more than enough great, additional content to justify still ordering a physical copy. Just, you know, be ready to take a hit on their BS shipping.

While We're Young, Not From Criterion But Still Pretty Solid (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

You know, when trailers for While We're Young first appeared online, I was a little nonplussed. I knew I was going to get it, because I've been a fan of Noah Baumbach's since I found him through his earliest films with Chris Eigeman, hoping for more Whit Stillman films. But it looked pretty generic, as if Baumbach was shooting for a broader audience with a more typical, mainstream comedy. Ben Stiller was back (not that I have anything against Greenberg), and the jokes and the situation all just sort of felt like typical Apatow-lite fare. So, alright, that would be fine. I was confident I'd still be amused by the film - hey, Charles Grodin's in it - but maybe I was letting my collector inclinations get the better of me, pushing me to pre-order a blu-ray of a I only really needed to watch once just for the sake of being a Baumbach completionist. That can be a bit of a bad habit of mine; I don't even want to tell you how many lame Hellraiser sequels I purchased before put the brakes on that.

Update 5/9/17: Added the DVD edition, just because I could.
But happily I was wrong. The trailer, I think now, was a bit misleading. Not that this film is lacking the light-hearted wit it displayed, like all of Baumbach's work has; but the film has more heart, substance, and just flat-out good writing than the more casual fare I was bracing myself for. It's a smart story with issues you don't usually see other filmmakers handling, or at least not the finer points. In one sense, the film is about three documentary filmmakers with conflicting ideologies, which reminded me a lot of Crimes and Misdemeanors. And any film that manages to remind you of Crimes and Misdemeanors is probably on a very good track. Then, in another sense, the film's really about three married couples, and how they relate to each other and outsiders differently when they're together and when they're apart. There's also more familiar themes of growing pains, technology and generation gaps. In fact, this film makes great use of a scene from Ibsen's Master Builder, the Wallace Shawn version of which has been very conveniently concurrently released from Criterion, and makes for a terrific double bill. Admittedly, one or two scenes (the bit with the yoga, or the hip-hop class shown in the trailer) do feel like they're born of some more mainstream Tina Fey/ Steve Carrell-style comedy, but that's not really a bad thing; possibly pandering, they're still funny, and Baumbach makes them fit effectively within the rest of the story.

So yes, now I'm very glad I've got Lions Gate's brand new blu of Wile We're Young in my collection, and didn't waste money renting a stream of it first or something. It comes in a slipcover which doesn't mention any extras on the back. But then the inside cover with alternate artwork (matching the DVD) shows there is at least a little bit. No loaded special edition, but a nice little package.
2015 Lions Gate DVD on top; 2015 Lions Gate blu on the bottom.
The slightly matted 1.85:1 image looks great, as you'd expect from a brand new release where the filmmakers probably handed off a finished digital transfer for Lions Gate to slap directly onto disc. Detail looks so crisp and clean on the blu, it's a little to look at the compressed DVD.  I mean, it's not a huge difference, but when you get in close, it's definitely more on the ugly side.  This film has a nice, sharp but low contrast look, with light darks and whites that are consistently downright tan.  So the DVD struggles.  Audio is a nice 5.1 track (DTS-HD on the blu), with optional English, Spanish and English SDH subtitles.
The extras, which are the same on the DVD and blu, are divided into four featurettes and two behind-the-scenes segments. Honestly, the distinction between the two categories is pretty arbitrary, but they're listed separately on the menu. All six segments are short and clip heavy, but still include interviews with most of the leads and Baumbach and do feel like they're saying at least a little more than the typical hollow promotional filler. They're satisfying in that they feel worth watching, but all together I think they run less than twenty minutes and you definitely won't feel like you've finished a special edition. There are also a couple bonus trailers, but disappointingly, not one for the actual film on hand.
One interesting little detail: in the film, the hip-hop class is dancing to 2Pac's "Hit 'Em Up," the song where he and his crew diss Puff Daddy and his Bad Boy team. But in the featurette about that scene, they're dancing to "Do What I Do" by someone named William Davies featuring Nino Bless. They made the right decision using 2Pac in the film, it's a funnier contrast with the darker, violent lyrics as opposed to the more generic, upbeat track by Davies; but I wonder why it's different here. Did Baumbach songs late in the game, or maybe Lions Gate just didn't want to pay to license 2Pac for the featurette, who knows?
So yeah, if any fellow Noah Baumbach fans were holding off on this film at all, I'm happy to report this film won't let you down so go ahead and jump right in. And the blu is a good little disc, even if most of us were probably hoping Criterion would do another fancy edition like they have for several of his past tiles. And if you're not particularly a Baumbach fan coming into this, I'm not sure this is the movie to really jump in and start discovering... I'd suggest maybe The Squid and the Whale. I mean, this film will still work as a charming little "we're no longer in our 20s" comedy either way; but then you'll probably be more than happy just catching this on Netflix. But the blu will be right here waiting for anyone with their laminated fanclub card.

Today, Let's Be Ken Russell Completists!

What do you get the Ken Russell fan who has everything? Oh, sure, the Russell lover in your life already has BFI's fancy but woefully incomplete restoration of The Devils, the BBC Collection boxed set and a loaded special edition of Tommy. But I bet they don't have this pair of DVDs on their shelves: Tales of Erotica and Women & Men: Stories of Seduction. They probably passed on them because they look like cheap, late night cable TV softcore from the 80s (Tales of Erotica is even bundled in a boxed set with three other DVDs of presumably genuine softcore flicks called The After Dark Collection). Well the cable TV part, but the fact that these are clearly being sold as softcore, or trying to be sexy, is pretty misleading. They're both anthologies, somewhat based around the topic of sex or romantic relationships, but you'd have a hard time finding anything less steamy than these flicks. And anyway, far more most important than degree of steam is that they each have a segment directed by the great Ken Russell. So let's look and see what we've got.
I remember when HBO was advertising the heck out of their original 1990 movie Women and Men: Stories of Seduction. They were trying to get a lot of mileage out of the fact that Molly Ringwald was making a comeback in it, and she had - gasp! - short hair. There's actually a bunch of noteworthy name actors in this, including James Woods, Beau Bridges, Melanie Griffith and Peter Weller. They also have the high minded concept of being based on stories by famous writers like Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemmingway. I already made this point in the last paragraph, but just to hammer it home, you'll never find anything less sexy than James Woods and Melanie Griffith meandering around an old train station flatly reciting Hemmingway to each other for 30 minutes, or Elizabeth McGovern do voice over narration about suicide in a terribly put-on "20s lady" accent.

Anyway, you can buy Women and Men on its own; but for the same price you can get Women and Men and its 1991 follow-up Women and Men 2 packaged together, so you might as well get that one. I did, but honestly, I never even watched part 2 until the other night for this review. There's one slightly interesting segment by Mike Figgis, where he Juliette Binoche and Scott Glenn in a bit taken from one of Henry Miller's novels. Other big names in part 2 include Matt Dillon, Kyra Sedgwick, Ray Liotta, Andie MacDowell and Johnathan Demme. But enough about all that, let's get to the Ken Russell.
Happily, Russell has the most fun source material: Dorothy Parker's "Dusk Before Fireworks." Ken Russell leaps at the opportunity to splurge on wild 20s fashion and set design - I guess there's a reason why HBO marketed this film around Ringwald's look after all. The story is classic Parker: frivolous and fun. There's not a lot of substance, but a good handful of entertainment to be drawn out of this silly story about two lovers who to have an affair but are constantly interrupted by the telephone. It's a stage play for the small screen, but Russell gives the film a look that justifies seeing it filmed rather than in person at your local community theater.
Unfortunately, but predictably, both films are just videotape-sourced fullscreen transfers, soft and interlaced. Ghost frames, too, yup. They're made for TV back before widescreen televisions were a thing, so it's the right OAR. But these could look so much better today if anybody who owned the rights cared. That's never going to happen, though, so I recommend just taking what we can get. The upside is these DVDs can be found dirt cheap. And of course there are no extras or anything, except both films have the option to view them dubbed into Spanish. I think it actually makes McGovern's performance better.

And now we move away from adaptations of classic literature disguised as softcore to ridiculous comedy disguised as softcore. Tales of Erotica is a film made up of four short films. In fact, they're really four episodes of a German television series called Erotic Tales, packaged as one little movie for the USA. This stuff is really ridiculous. Mira Sorvino stars in the first segment where she has no lines, because all the action is instead narrated by her two New York nurse friends from who "tawk laik dis" in cartoonishly exaggerated accents. The week before she's to get married, Mira falls in love with a man in a painting, and winds up entering into its dull, dreary world. Amazingly, this episode won an Oscar as a stand-alone short film in 1994, which just blows my mind.
It almost blows my mind as much as Melvin van Peebles segment, which starts out as a long hip-hop barbecue music video. Eventually the dancing stops and we find out there's one guy at the party who's essentially a parody of Lenny from Of Mice and Men, and nobody wants him to come to the after party because he's such a goofy hick. He's bummed until he helps an old lady out of a car wreck and she turns out to be a genie who grants his two greatest wishes: a motorcycle and sex. But it's really more of a double wish than two separate wishes, because he just has sex with the motorcycle, which transforms into a half-human hybrid in a scene which must be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, there's a condition to the wish, and I guess irony ensues.

There's also some terrible thing where a woman seduces a jacuzzi salesman by behaving in the most obnoxious way possible. And then it all turns out to be a conspiracy of some convoluted sort that makes no sense. The best thing about it, I guess, is a small role by Witchboard's Kathleen Wilhoite.
The only good thing about this film is Ken Russell's segment, and even that's far from his greatest work. It's called "The Insatiable Mrs. Kirsch," and it tells the story of a young man staying at the same hotel as a beautiful woman, but he hears strange buzzing sounds coming out of her room at night. This is just Russell being playful with a silly little story that suggests sometimes maybe erotic fantasies do come true, when you chance upon that one in a million like-minded partner. It rolls around in its beautiful ocean-side scenery like a pig in mud, and has some classically over-the-top imagery, like a woman turning an entire field into a crude illustration of a naked man with a huge penis... which she does jumping jacks on. It's not exactly one of his greatest artistic achievements, but it's quite charming.
Again, there's no extras except for four horror bonus trailers from Trimark's catalog. And again, it's another fuzzy full-screen video sourced transfer. But, like Women and Men, you can get it for pennies, so what could you expect?

If you want to go even farther, the entire, original Erotic Tales 30-episode series has been issued on DVD overseas. There's a collection of ten(!) now hard to find, individually released German discs by WVG Median released back in 2005. And in 2011, Madman released two boxed sets, Erotic Tales and More Erotic Tales (also sold together as one larger set) in Australia. These are all listed everywhere as being anamorphic widescreen, but I've checked them out, and the OAR actually varies episode to episode. And all the eps featured on Tales of Erotica are fullscreen on the Madman sets, too.  So don't bother tracking them down just for a widescreen Russell episode. The rest of the series involves some other noteworthy filmmakers, though, including Nicholas Roeg, Hal Hartley and Bob Rafelson, so who knows? There may be another genuinely good episode or two in there if you have the temperament to go digging.

But this post is about being a Russell completist, not a Roeg completist.  So I recommend just picking up the Women and Men and Tales of Erotica discs wherever they're cheapest. They're not amazing, but speaking as a Russell fan myself, I was pleasantly surprised.