Zola

A lot is being made about how Zola, or @Zola, is the world's first feature film adaptation of a Twitter thread.  I honestly don't find that particularly impressive or novel.  We've had plenty of films based on articles and journals; the fact that the source for this one was published on a slightly trendier format doesn't do much for me.  But all of that distracting hoopla aside, this is still a terrific, funny and dark true crime story.  A stripper (Taylour Paige, who apparently stripped at a real club for several weeks to prepare for this role) makes fast and unwise friends with a fellow dancer (Riley Keough, really putting herself out there in a wild collection of performance choices) who invites her on a "ho trip" that has tragedy written all over it.  But as obvious as the outcome may be, Zola is forever unpredictable, and yet it never loses touch with the human truth at the base of it all.
I enjoyed writer/ director Janicza Bravo's last film, Lemon, and she's only coming stronger this time.  Admittedly, this film relies on a lot of bells and whistles, sometimes literally, with how this packed with cute online graphics, Twitter chirps and similar sound effects.  But it fits this particular film; I just hope I don't see Bravo relying on this same bag of tricks in her future work.  The story zips at a super brisk pace, while still managing to pause and find all the great character beats, which is probably only possible thanks to the killer cast, especially Colman Domingo, who somehow finds the time for a dozen projects a year without selling any of them short.

I caught A24's Zola when it first came out and couldn't wait for the blu-ray to land so I could run it back a second time.  It hit stores last week through Lions Gate, and I was not disappointed.  Or, well...
2021 Lions Gate BD.
I was a little surprised, and frankly underwhelmed, by how this film looked on blu when I first popped it in.  But then I looked it up, and this film was shot on 16mm, which is a surprising decision considering the digital nature of the subject matter.  But PQ-wise, it explains everything.  Detail is low, film grain is high.  But it's well captured and encoded for a 1080p blu.  It is dual-layered, which helps.  It's also matted to 1.85:1, and the digital flourishes are crisp and clean to a degree you couldn't get in standard def.  A UHD could certainly display the grain more consistently, but for a 16mm film, this is really all you need.

The 5.1 mix is presented in DTS-HD with optional English and Spanish subtitles.
I was happy to see that this release was not barebones, which I was quite prepared for.  Far from it, we've got some great extras here.  To start, Bravo provides an audio commentary, supported by her editor, who's apparently there just to laugh uproariously at everything she says.  It's not an ideal track, there are long stretches of abject silence that make me wonder if Lions Gate's lawyers took a knife to it.  But when it's rolling, Bravo has good insight and backstory to provide.  There are also deleted scenes, good ones that add a lot to the film, with optional commentary.  And there's a 'making of' featurette that is somewhat your standard promo affair with actor soundbites and clips.  But it also goes a step further, showing us classical paintings Bravo was inspired by and even introduces us to the real Zola.  I just wish it was longer!  Besides all that, there's a couple bonus trailers (but not, for whatever reason, the Zola trailer) and a nice slipcover.
This is one for the collection.  Zola's extremely rewatchable, and if you appreciated the movie, you're going to want to see these extras.  So yes, strongly recommended.

The Definitive Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid

Earlier this year, I started on a post about the three versions of Carl Reiner and Steve Martin's underrated detective comedy, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.  That's the non-anamorphic DVD that's been the mainstay for years and years, the obscure anamorphic version that I would've recommended seeking out if this was five years ago, and finally the barebones, MOD BD.  But just as I was in the middle of it, Kino announced a new special edition coming out in September, so I waited.  And now we're looking at the best of four.
This 1982 starts off in in very familiar, comedy territory: making light of the traditional 1940's noirish gumshoe flicks.  Filmed in black and white, Our tough talking detective is working late in his office one night when a beautiful dame knocks on his door wearing a black veil in desperation to solve his husband's murder.  But Dead Men takes the homage one step further, by inter-cutting scenes from over a dozen Hollywood classics.  His down-on-his-luck partner is played Humphrey Bogart, accomplished by having Martin exchange dialogue with clips taken from The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and In a Lonely Place.  It's grounded by a lush, traditional score and an earnest, straightman performance by The Thornbird's Rachel Ward, though like all of Reiner and Martin's collaborations, it's not afraid to veer into wild and ridiculous places to find that extra laugh.
It's that clever and snappy writing that keeps this film moving.  The high-concept gimmick could wear itself thin real quick in other hands, but Dead Man's takes are always inventive and surprising.  It does run a little low on steam in the final act, where it gets a little too bogged down in wrapping up its convoluted plot to keep the laughs coming as fast and furious as they had been in the first hour.  But, clocking it at under 90 minutes, it's good natured and uncombersome enough to keep you at least smiling through to the end.  Just how convincing the inserted footage is varies pretty widely, from how contrived the connections are to the shifting picture quality; but none of that matters, because the film never asks us to take it so seriously that we require anymore immersion than it can deliver.  It's more of a giant comedy sketch than a story, but it sustains itself by never running out of fresh jokes.
So yeah, Universal originally released Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid on DVD in 1999.  It was barebones, but alright for its day, when TVs were all 4:3.  But after a few years, a non-anamorphic widescreen DVD was a drag, so I was happy to discover that the 2008 the 'Steve Martin: The Wild and Crazy Comedy Collection' DVD set quietly upgraded the film to an 16x9, and at discount prices.  That was my go-to disc until Universal eventually released it on blu in 2017.  It was an MOD release, but at least it was a pressed disc, not a BD-R.  Still, it was as no frills (not even a menu) as they come, so while I wouldn't call Kino's brand new 2021 blu a loaded special edition, I was happy enough to repurchase the film one more time.
1) 1999 Universal DVD; 2) 2008 Universal DVD;
3) 2017 Universal BD; 4) 2021 Kino BD.

It's easy to forget that not only do non-anamorphic discs not fit your widescreen displays properly, but they're actually a smaller, lower resolution format.  So the older DVD winds up looking even softer and dupier than the 2008 disc, by a considerable margin.  That and it's also probably taken from an older master.  Despite both DVDs being framed at 1.85:1, you can see the newer disc reveals a good deal more information along the bottom and both sides.  It even has a sliver more along the edges than the blu-rays, which are also 1.85:1 but a pinch tighter.  More important, of course, is the sharper, clearer image in the HD boost.  You can start to see hints of film grain in the 2008 disc, albeit in soft clumps, which is far more than what the 1999 DVD could deliver.  But it comes into real focus on the blus.  Both blus, because they're using the same master and are virtually identical, except for Kino's being a shade darker.  No new scan here.  And that's fine; the Universal blu already looked pretty nice and filmic, though it does (and, by extension, so does Kino) exhibit signs of what looks like edge enhancement, as is common with their older masters.

All four discs are good enough to retain the original mono audio with optional English subtitles.  Both blus bump it up to DTS-HD, and the 2008 DVD also threw in a French dub, while the 1999 DVD had extra French and Spanish subtitles.
Extras have always been a sad story with this film.  The 1999 DVD was barebones apart from an attractive insert.  The DVD added the trailer, which has some amusing narration, but nothing else.  And the Universal blu-ray didn't even keep the trailer.  Again, it didn't even have a menu.

But Kino has finally given us, well, something at least.  The chief extra is an audio commentary with director Allan Arkush and film historian Daniel Kremer.  Astute readers will note, however, that Arkush may be a notable director, but he's not the director of this film.  So what we essentially have is just an expert commentary, not one with any first-hand experience.  And that's still nice; there's a lot for them to help viewers with, what with all the vintage films being incorporated and all (though they get really bogged down just listing everyone's IMDB credits).  But that's mostly it.  Kino does bring the trailer back, along with some TV and radio spots.  Probably the most exciting extra, in fact, is a fun promo trailer Martin shot, which is an entirely original comedy bit.  It's great to finally have it with the movie again, but it's still a slim package all together.
So at the end of the day, Kino has given us the best Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid yet.  It's the definitive edition to buy, but with no advances in PQ or AQ, fans who bought the 2017 blu might not be in a big rush to replace it.  Still, to date, this is the definitive edition, and Kino does also include reversible cover art and a nice slipcover.  Plus their prices are always reasonable.  So it may not be anything to get too excited over, but it's worth it.

Dueling Blus: Modern Romance

Yay!  My copy of Modern Romance just landed in America!  Now, I don't know if I've managed to secure a terrific HD restoration of a film that'll never see a proper release in my home country, or if I just paid to import something that'll be coming out in an even better edition from Criterion six months from now.  But like Garth Brooks once said, there's "Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now," and I couldn't live knowing there was a special edition blu-ray of Albert Brooks' demented masterpiece and I didn't have it.  So here it is!

Update 7/12/18 - 9/18/21: I'm going to wrap Update Week 2021 up here, because I already have some compelling new releases banging on my door.  But I couldn't let this Modern Romance post sit without adding Sony's now competing blu-ray edition; it's essential info for anyone looking to pick this great film up.
The more you think about it, the more unusual Modern Romance is.  It doesn't quite fall in with his more mainstream hits like Lost In America or Defending Your Life, but it's not quite as out there as his subversive mockumentary Real Life.  Essentially, I suppose, it's a romantic comedy; but one that turns the entire genre on its end simply by drawing from the absurd realities of contemporary relationships.  Of course it's funny, but it's not afraid to also wallow in not just depression but our dark sides.  And while much of this film is practically Brooks alone in a room with a rotary phone; it's also helped immensely by a terrific supporting cast including Bruno Kirby, James L. Brooks (in his biggest theatrical role... he's actually quite funny and shows he could've made more of a career in front of the camera), George Kennedy as himself, Bob (Super Dave!) Einstein and this film's unsung heroine, Kathryn Harrold.  Add to that a great, early meta take on filmmaking embedded into this movie, and you've really got something special with this one.
There's really not a lot of Modern Romances to complicate matters here.  There's the original barebones 2006 Sony DVD, which you can see above has perhaps the single, ugliest, worst photo-shopped cover of all time (and no, there's no roller coaster or any allusion to one in the film at all).  When that went out of print, they reissued it as an MOD DV-R in 2014.  And that was it in America.  But thankfully, Indicator/ Powerhouse came to the rescue in the UK, delivering a brand new, special edition blu-ray.  Them less than a year later, Sony announced and released a US BD.  It doesn't have the extras, but it has an all new transfer.  So now, the million dollar question: is it better enough to be worth it?
2006 Sony DVD top; 2018 Indicator BD mid; 2019 Sony BD bottom.


Indicator's booklet isn't too revealing in terms of their transfer, only telling us "Sony's HD restoration was the source of this Indicator edition.  The film's original monaural sound track was remastered at the same time."  So I guess this isn't a fancy, new 4k scan of the OCN or they would've told us, right?  And yeah, grain does look a little unevenly preserved, I suppose, but it still looks pretty great.  And Sony's new blu doesn't tell us anything about what they did either, though it is clearly a different master, or at least a very re-worked transfer.  Indicator's looks to be using the same core master they struck the DVD from twelve years ago, with the same color timing, etc.  Of course, Indicator's blu is an HD transfer, so it loses the fuzzy compression of the DVD.  And one improvement they did make is that the framing's been corrected.  You'll notice the DVD is slightly window-boxed, presenting the film at 1.80:1, whereas both blu-rays remove the pillars, leaving the film more accurately matted to 1.85:1.
2018 Indicator BD top; 2019 Sony BD bottom.
One thing I was slightly initially concerned with is that Sony's new transfer looked a little brown (especially in that supermarket shot), and the whites are pretty toned down.  I felt we needed a couple more comparison shots just for the color timing, so here we go.  This pair communicates it a little better.  There is some subjectivity to whether you prefer the cooler Indicator to the warmer Sony, and maybe Indicator's brights do tend be a little more white-balanced.  On the other hand, Sony has an overall more appealing, less harsh image.  Overall, I'd say I prefer Sony's look, but it's no great leap in any direction.

The DVD had a basic Dolby Digital stereo mix, which sounds like it might've really just been the mono in 2.0, since I didn't notice any separation to speak of giving it a quick re-watch just now.  And we've already read Indicator's statement about Sony's remaster of the original mono, which sounds great, presented here in lossless LPCM.  Sony's blu also has the original mono, but in DTS-HD.  All three discs provide optional English subtitles, with Sony's blu also throwing in French ones.
There are two main components of this special edition.  The first is an audio commentary by film historian Nick Pinkerton, which is quite good.  He takes the material very seriously, though, and you could make a drinking game out of all the times he says "quotidian."  But really, even long-term fans of the film should come away from it with a lot.  Second, then, is an on-camera interview with the DP, Eric Saarinen.  He worked with Brooks several times and has a great memory for anecdotes and personal details, so even if the DP sounds like an interview subject you could just as well skip, I'd recommend watching this one; it's fun.  Also included is the trailer (though it's just a regular trailer, not one of his special ones), a stills gallery, and a really good, 38-page booklet with an essay by Isabel Stevens, an article of Brooks' quotations from various news outlets, and a collection of vintage critical reviews.  This release also includes reversible artwork, so you can hide your British ratings logos.

Sony drops Indicator's extras, which is its big weak spot, keeping only the trailer.  One little thing they do add is a second teaser trailer, which is interesting because it's animated and brings in the roller coaster motif they must've used to justify that ugly DVD cover.  So that's something, at least.
So the good news is we finally have Modern Romance in HD.  I was positively giddy when the first blu showed up in the mail, and only found myself being more and more pleased as I worked by way through the presentation and all the special features.  It's an absolute first class presentation all around... other labels should takes notes on how to make a booklet like the one included here.  When Sony came out with their newer edition, I wasn't in such a rush to triple-dip.  Ultimately, I'd say it's a slim upgrade, not the Criterion we might've been expecting, and if you're looking to buy this film now, the choice comes down to which do you prioritize more: tip-top PQ or special features.  Either way, though, Brooks fans should be happy.

The Eric Rohmer Collections from Arrow, Part 1

In 2005, Arrow released an 8-disc DVD boxed set called The Eric Rohmer Collection, which consisted mostly of his Comedies & Proverbs films, plus one or two others.  Now Arrow has just come out with their new limited edition (2000 copies pressed) 9-disc Eric Rohmer Collection.  A few of the films are different, all of the extras are ported over, and more have been added.  Certainly of note to Eric Rohmer fans is that this set follows the famous French set from Potemkine, which I discussed a bit in my Triple Agent piece.  This set sports new restorations that weren't in that set (and has all 1080p transfers, where much of that set was 1080i), and where Potemkine only subtitled the main features, and not the shorts or extras, Arrow a wealth of fully subtitled special features.  Of course, Arrow's new set doesn't include all of the films in the Potemkine set, but for the ten it does, I'd say these are pretty much the definitive releases, especially for English-language fans.

Update 1/19/18 - 9/19/21: Last year, Criterion finally upgraded their Six Moral Tales box to blu-ray, so I'm adding their new Love In the Afternoon BD to the mix.  ...Also, as Update Week 2020 marches on, I added the screener DVD of Sofia Coppola's On the Rocks to my FYC disc page.
So let's start with the one film that's in the 2005 set but absent from the 2017 one: the oldest feature in either set, 1972's Love In the Afternoon (a.k.a. Chloe In the Afternoon).  It kind of makes sense it wasn't carried over, as it was sort of the odd man out in the old box.  See, Love In the Afternoon is one of the films in Rohmer's famous Six Moral Tales series.  On DVD, these films have typically been boxed together, by Criterion in the US and by Artificial Eye in the UK.  I guess it was just a film Arrow had the rights to and so stuck in the box, but it did feel a little out of place by itself.  I mean, the opening credits even label the film as part 6, so viewers would be wondering "well, where's parts 1-5?"  And the popular theory is that Criterion has plans to release the Six Moral Tales on blu at some point.  The theory proved correct!  So now, here's all three versions.
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2006 Criterion DVD mid; 2020 Criterion blu below.

Okay, usually I only retain the negative space around a film for a single set of comparison shots when I do it at all, but I left it around both because I want you guys to notice something.  Compare the two Arrow shots, and you'll see it has a curious, shifting aspect ratio.  The Criterion disc is always slightly letterboxed to 1.32:1, while the Arrow shifts around from 1.32 to 1.36:1, although it has less picture information - mainly along the bottom - than Criterion either way.  And no, neither of those shots are from the credits or anything.  It's just an arbitrary shift.  Anyway, that's the least of Arrow's problems.  Look how much more natural the colors are on the Criterion DVD, let alone the blu, compared to Arrow's, which seems to have a sickly green hue cast over the whole thing (admittedly, even the blu looks a bit overcast in the first set of shots, but I think that's meant to be the ugly halogen lights of the shop they're in).  Criterion had a much cleaner, more defined look in 2006.

And now, in 2020, it's so much more attractive to finally see it in HD, scanned in 2k from the original 35mm OCN.  Grain is robust and natural.  It's a bit pixelated when you zoom in, so the compression could maybe be slightly better, but you can't ask for much better without a UHD.  And the film's finally in a consistent 1.37:1 with no windowboxing.  All three discs include the original French mono in 2.0 with optional English subtitles, but the BD is now naturally lossless with an LPCM track.
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2006 Criterion DVD mid; 2020 Criterion blu below.

The only extra Arrow's disc has is Rohmer's unrelated 1958 short film, Veronique and Her Dunce.  It's a charming, 17-minute comedy about a tutor struggling to teach a young boy determined not to learn.  And, no, it hasn't been included in the 2017 blu-ray box either.  However, coincidentally, it was also included on Criterion's Love In the Afternoon DVD and blu in their Moral Tales boxes. And here, the differences are much more subtle.  Both DVDs are fullscreen at 1.32:1 and seem to be using the same master.  The Criterion is a tiny bit smoother, with the Arrow hinting slightly at the film's original grain.  But it's so slight, the distinction is beyond trivial.  The blu-ray tweaks the AR to 1.33:1 but otherwise seems to be using the same SD master for a not much improved transfer.  In fact, the edge enhancement seems a little more pronounced on the blu, though maybe that's just the higher resolution preserving the flaws of the master a little better.  Anyway, for all intents and purposes, they're all interchangeable.  All three editions feature the original French mono in lossy 2.0 with optional English subtitles.
Both discs also have the trailer.  Now again, Criterion's discs are part of their big Moral Tales boxed sets, so it has a whole bunch of stuff.  But in terms of what's directly related to Love In the Afternoon, the only thing they really have is a 12-minute "video afterword" by Neil LaBute.  Unfortunately, it's non-anamorphic and interlaced (yes, on the blu, too), but it's interesting for LaBute fans to hear how Rohmer influenced his work.  So okay, now let's get into all the films that are in the 2017 set, including three that weren't in the 2005 one.
1976's The Marquis of O is a fascinating little film.  Usually Eric Rohmer writes and directs his own original screenplays, but this time he's adapted the 1808 novella by Heinrich von Kleist, with almost word-for-for dialogue and on-screen title cards.  It's a fascinating little story, a mystery with an obvious solution everyone will have solved before they've even finished setting it up.  The marquise is rescued from some ruffian soldiers by a Russian officer who defeats her father's army in Italy during the Napoleonic Wars.  Soon after, she becomes pregnant, but insists she never had any kind of sexual relations to have caused it.  Again, there's really no mystery as far as the audience is concerned, but it becomes an alluring comedy of manners and gripping moral debate as all of the characters puzzle over the case, concocting theories and accusations, falling in and out of love.  It's also Rohmer's only film spoken in German, rather than his native French, presumably a nod of extra faithfulness to the source material.
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2017 Arrow blu below.
This is one of 2005 Arrow's best DVDs and therefore one of the closest to its 2017 blu-ray upgrade.  The framing is the same (although the DVD is slightly squeezed, showing the same information in 1.33:1 instead of the blu's 1.37:1) and the detail is strong.  I mean, sure, it's somewhat softer by virtue of being an SD DVD instead of an HD blu-ray, but as we move through this set, you're going to see this gulf is rarely so narrow.  The biggest difference here is the coloring.  This film has a yellowish, candlelit look to it for sure, but the DVD seems to have helped that along excessively by putting a yellow filter over everything, while the blu-ray lets the actual colors shot on film speak for themselves.  Look how the blu in the fire of the second shot has been completely washed away on the DVD, but restored on the blu.  And I don't mean to downplay the HD upgrade in terms of clarity and detail, look how natural the grain is on the blue wall in the first shot, as opposed to the random smudginess of the DVD.  The blu is beautiful, but this is a case where the DVD wasn't so bad either.  That wasn't always the case in the 2005 set.

Both discs feature the original German mono track in 2.0, though the blu is in uncompressed LPCM.  And both discs have optional English subtitles.
The only extra on the DVD is a non-anamorphic trailer, which disappointingly has no subtitles.  It's a strange, amusing trailer, so I was happy to see it translated (and anamorphic) on the blu.  Besides that, the blu gives us a nice but brief archived television with star Bruno Ganz (the internet's famously memed Hitler from Downfall).  It's about four minutes long, and that includes clips from the film, so it's pretty superficial, but better to have it than not.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum, we also get a long and in-depth television documentary on cinematographer Nestor Almendros.  An interviewer asks him about his life, but things get more interesting as he then provides a sort of audio commentary for clips of many of his films, from early student works to Kramer Vs. Kramer.  And yes, it comes near the end, but there's a decent chunk on The Marquis of O, so things don't feel too disconnected.  It's a fascinating piece, but I do wish Arrow had included at least some little thing, even if it was just one of their own employees getting in front of the camera for three or four minutes, just to talk about the original novel and how Rohmer's film relates to it.  Because that's both a very interesting story and kind of essential to fully understanding and relating to the film.  Yes, this film comes with a book; but something on the topic on video would've been great.  Still, compared to previous editions that gave us nothing, it's hard to justify griping, so I'll just move on.
Onto 1976, with another of Rohmer's adaptations, again quite faithful, this time of Chrétien de Troyes' unfinished 12th century romance, Perceval, the Story Of the Grail.  Take a look at my site's banner and take a guess if I like this film.  😉  It's got a fascinating look, based on the look of the more two dimensional art from that period, like Laurence Olivier's technicolor adaptation of Richard III, but taken even further.  Like with Marquis, Rohmer's faithfulness to centuries' old writing without updating it for modern sensibilities gives it a strangely enchanting appeal.  Even the film's score was played live alongside the camera during filming using authentic medieval instruments.  And as far as the basic story, hey, you can't go wrong with an Arthurian classic.

Now Perceval is one of the films added to Arrow's 2017 set that wasn't in their original 2005 box.  But if you want to see how far we've come with this film, I've got the old Fox Lorber DVD from 2000 [left].  It's what I've lived with all these years until this set, now long out of print, rare and still the only DVD edition of this film ever to be released in the USA.  Consequently, it goes for a lot of money used online.  You figure somebody state-side's gotta rescue this film eventually, right?  Especially now that these new masters are out there.  With the decline of physical media, though, maybe not...  But, hey.  Pretty much all of Rohmer's films are fullscreen and shot on 16mm, so maybe it's still good enough if you're not a hardcore AV nerd, right?
2000 Fox Lorber DVD on top; 2017 Arrow blu below.
Oh boy, no, wrong!  Yes, both films are fullscreen at about 1.33:1 (the DVD's a bit more like 1.31:1); but the DVD is still cropped around all four sides.  But that's nothing compared to the soft, fuzzy hue of the DVD's transfer.  It looks like it was taken from video tape (seriously, it may well have been), and one that had turned puke green at that.  Ugh.  In comparison, the blu looks immaculate, with so much sharp detail brought back to the picture.  That's partially due to the fact that this is one of the few films Rohmer actually shot in 35mm (so was The Marquis now that I think about it...), so there's a lot more to zero in on.  And this is a film where the colors and creative look are really central to its reputation, so it's a relief to see this new restoration (although to be fair, I've seen shots from the Potemkine set, and there's was pretty close to Arrow's, too).

Both films have the original French mono track in 2.0, with the blu's in LPCM.  But hey, why are the subtitles on the Fox Lorber screenshots?  Oh yeah, because they're burnt in on that disc, while they're removable on the blu.  One more point for them.
Unsurprisingly, Fox Lorber's disc is barebones.  But Arrow's come up with two, fantastic French TV docs made during the filming of Perceval that give fantastic, deep looks into the making of this movie.  Each one comes in at just under half an hour.  One focuses more on long interviews with Rohmer and the cast, while the other gets into the filming behind the scenes, showing us everything from the musical rehearsals, set building, even training the horses. And that one talks to more of the crew at the end.  It's awesome that all of this was recorded and preserved, and finally now subtitled into English (that's right, Potemkine, I want you guys to feel bad).
Now with The Aviator's Wife in 1981, we step into the first of the six Comedies and Proverbs films.  All six of these are in both sets, and settle in for a lot of 16mm now, and Rohmer's original scripts.  These are comedies more in the lighthearted classical sense of films that end happily rather than the modern Mike Myers getting kicked in the balls six times style, and each one opens with an actual on-screen proverb that sets up the themes of the story.  In this case, it's "one can't think of nothing."  The story is of a young philosophy student who sleeps days and is up nights, making it difficult for him to spend time with his girlfriend.  He becomes suspicious that she's cheating on him with her ex, a pilot, and he begins to follow him around the city, making a new friend along the way.
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2017 Arrow blu below.
Here's another case where the aspect ratio is rather interesting.  We've gone from a standard (for classic Rohmer flicks) 1.33:1 on the DVD, to a wider 1.67:1 for the blu.  It crops the film vertically somewhat, but also restores some picture along the sides.  And watching the film, it really looks like that extra horizontal information is meant to be in the picture, and DVD has a lot of headroom, so I presume the blu's AR is correct.  The colors are definitely more natural on the blu, and while 16mm is never going to yield a heap more detail, it looks a lot better defined on the blu than the DVD, which has a slightly muddy, somewhat video-tape look to it.  All in all, it's quite a pleasing upgrade.

As we'll see is pretty consistently the case across these sets, both discs feature the original French mono track in 2.0, with the blu being presented in uncompressed LPCM.  And both discs have optional English subtitles.
In terms of extras, we get to one of the cooler features of Arrow's 2005 set: Eric Rohmer himself gives us a 10+ minute "introduction" to the film.  He does this for a bunch of these movies.  They're essentially mini-audio commentaries where he talks over footage from the film, and they're pretty great.  Also included is the original theatrical trailer, and yes, both of these have been carried over to the 2017 blu.

Now, on this same blu-ray they also include Rohmer's 1964 short film, Changing Landscape.  This is almost an industrial film, except at its heart, it's really Rohmer philosophically musing about the naturalism of man-made constructions.  It's mostly of interest for Rohmer devotees to not only see what else he's made, but to find the themes and echoes of this in his other work, and vice versa.  You wouldn't show it to your buddies for some casual entertainment.  This short was also in the 2005 set, but on their My Boyfriend's Girlfriend disc.  I suppose it's an arbitrary distinction, since it has no connection to either feature besides being made by the same filmmaker.  But it's on this blu, so let's compare them here.
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2017 Arrow blu below.
This is clearly not a new restoration, and the two versions look downright identical.  It's anamorphic on the DVD and in HD on the blu, but I think it's safe to assume they just upscaled the same master.  And that's fine... an updated scan would've been nice, but considering it's just being presented as an extra and didn't look too bad to begin with, I can't say I'm disappointed.  It's a bonus; it looks fine.
Comedies & Proverbs #2 is 1982's A Good Marriage.  The proverb this time is "can any of us refrain from building castles in Spain?" a quote from one of Jean de La Fontaine's fables.  Béatrice Romand, who played the young girl in Rohmer's 1970 Moral Tale, Claire’s Knee, returns as an adult woman in an affair with a married man.  She ends it, resolving to put such caprices behind her and settle into a proper married life.  She and her best friend find an ideal candidate, a wealthy lawyer; but of course, plans have a way of going awry.  Can we create the realities we imagine through sheer determination, or is that just being stubborn and foolish?
2005 Arrow DVD on top; 2017 Arrow blu below.
Again, we go from fullframe (1.30:1) to widescreen (1.67:1), trading vertical information for horizontal.  Still 16mm, but the DVD definitely has a messy, low quality look to it that's really cleared up on the blu.  In terms of color, though, you'll notice this blu leans pretty green, though, which strikes me as a little dubious.  The saturation might be a bit heavy on the DVD, but otherwise its colors actually look more authentic for the most part.  Still, I wouldn't trade the color difference for the serious boost in HD quality, and it's not as noticeable when you're not standing them right next to screenshots from the warmer DVD; but we might've found the one visual weak spot in Arrow's killer set here.

And yup, original French mono track in 2.0, uncompressed on the blu, and optional English subtitles on both discs.
Once again, the 2005 disc gave us a nice Rohmer "introduction" commentary, plus the trailer, and again the 2017 blu-ray ported them both over.  The blu-ray has given us one more addition, a brief interview with star Andre Doussollier.  By brief, I mean very brief - it's less than three and a half minutes long, including a clip from the film.  It's another little archival clip from French television, like the Ganz one with The Marquis of O.  Not exactly a boatload of content, but a happy inclusion none the less.

And hoo, boy.  I'm starting to run out of steam here, and we're only about halfway through this impressive collection of films.  So I think we'll break this up into two parts, ending the first part here, and to be continued in Part 2 coming in the immediate future...