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Cousin Jules [Blu-ray] [Import]

Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A unique film Aug. 26 2014
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray
A sort of ‘directed documentary’ this beautifully photographed, almost wordless film slowly shows the day to day life of a real aging couple (in their 70s for most of the 5 years the film took to shoot) living in rural France. He works as some kind of metal worker in his small barn, she runs their small farm and house. Their activities are never explained, we just watch.

Yet the fact that there is artifice is acknowledged as well, in clever and telling ways. A couple of times one or the other of Jules or his wife Felicie look right into camera for a moment, and there’s no attempt to hide the breaking of the 4th wall. One feels like the rare chit-chat there is between the two was awkwardly done for the cameras. There’s a sudden freeze frame at a moment we later understand to be of significance, which jarringly reminds us we’re watching a carefully composed and constructed film, not simply ‘real life’.

And film-maker Benichette’s beautiful wide screen compositions look far more like the stunning work of a great fiction cinematographer than a documentarian catching life on the fly. (And, indeed, a supplemental piece on the blu-ray about the restoration of the film makes it clear that the gorgeous lighting was far from the ‘natural’ light it seems to be).

So this odd, but often hypnotic film sat on the shelf for 40 years, overlooked by distributors, and in a wide screen/stereo format that was hard for art-houses of the day to deal with. And now it comes back to life, a one-of-a-kind meditation on age, time and an almost gone way of life. It didn’t quite have the deep emotional impact - at least on first viewing -- I wish it had. But it’s also one of those films I know will bounce around in my head, and that will lead me back to watching it again.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique film Aug. 26 2014
By K. Gordon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
A sort of ‘directed documentary’ this beautifully photographed, almost wordless film slowly shows the day to day life of a real aging couple (in their 70s for most of the 5 years the film took to shoot) living in rural France. He works as some kind of metal worker in his small barn, she runs their small farm and house. Their activities are never explained, we just watch.

Yet the fact that there is artifice is acknowledged as well, in clever and telling ways. A couple of times one or the other of Jules or his wife Felicie look right into camera for a moment, and there’s no attempt to hide the breaking of the 4th wall. One feels like the rare chit-chat there is between the two was awkwardly done for the cameras. There’s a sudden freeze frame at a moment we later understand to be of significance, which jarringly reminds us we’re watching a carefully composed and constructed film, not simply ‘real life’.

And film-maker Benichette’s beautiful wide screen compositions look far more like the stunning work of a great fiction cinematographer than a documentarian catching life on the fly. (And, indeed, a supplemental piece on the blu-ray about the restoration of the film makes it clear that the gorgeous lighting was far from the ‘natural’ light it seems to be).

So this odd, but often hypnotic film sat on the shelf for 40 years, overlooked by distributors, and in a wide screen/stereo format that was hard for art-houses of the day to deal with. And now it comes back to life, a one-of-a-kind meditation on age, time and an almost gone way of life. It didn’t quite have the deep emotional impact - at least on first viewing -- I wish it had. But it’s also one of those films I know will bounce around in my head, and that will lead me back to watching it again.
4.0 out of 5 stars A lost gem resurfaces on Blu-ray and DVD July 23 2014
By Randall F. Miller III - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
"Cousin Jules" was filmed by late director Dominique Benicheti and cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn over the course of five years and released in 1973. It's "neither documentary nor fiction", as described by the director, and follows his cousin Jules Guiteaux (and Jules' wife, Felice) in their day-to-day lives in the French countryside. Jules is a blacksmith by trade and Felice tends to most of the domestic duties. Both nearing 80 years of age, they work tirelessly and rarely speak...and sadly, Felice died during the five-year filming process, which makes the second half of "Cousin Jules" even more solitary than the first. There's no narration and no music, giving viewers a true "you are there" experience. Some may find it boring, others will enjoy the experience.

Filmed in CinemaScope and recorded in true stereo sound (one of, if not, the first documentary to do so), "Cousin Juiles" was exhibited only a few times upon its 1973 release and quickly "retired" by the director since most art-house theaters at the time lacked proper equipment to screen it properly. Now more than 30 years later, the film has resurfaced on DVD and Blu-ray, meticulously restored by Dominique Benicheti and a team of friends and colleagues. Like Felice during the film itself, though, the director died during the lengthy restoration process and it was completed and released without him. In this case, life imitated art and this only adds to the mystique surrounding Benicheti's little-seen gem.

CinemaGuild's Blu-ray offers a fantastic A/V presentation and only limited extras, including a short restoration featurette hosted by the director before his death in 2011. I'd imagine there would've been more extras had he not died unexpectedly, but what we get is entertaining and informative. A true one-of-a-kind release that shines on Blu-ray, but the DVD also offers comparatively strong A/V despite the limits of standard definition.

Just for the record, I wrote separate DVD and Blu-ray releases for this title at DVDtalk.com...feel free to look them up if you'd like.
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