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Pierre Etaix (Criterion) (Blu-Ray) (Version française)
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A French comedy master whose films went unseen for decades as a result of legal tangles, director-actor Pierre Etaix is a treasure the cinematic world has rediscovered and taken up with relish. His work can be placed in the spectrum of classic physical comedy with that of Jacques Tati and Jerry Lewis, but it also stands alone. These films, influenced by Etaix�s experiences as a circus acrobat and clown and by the silent film comedies he adored, are elegantly deadpan, but as an on-screen presence, Etaix radiates warmth. This collection includes all of his films, including five features, The Suitor (1962), Yoyo (1965), As Long as You�ve Got Your Health (1966), Le grand amour (1969), and Land of Milk and Honey (1971)�most of them collaborations with the great screenwriter Jean-Claude Carri�re (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie)�and three shorts, Rupture (1961), the Oscar-winning Happy Anniversary (1962), and Feeling Good (1966). Not one of these is anything less than a bracing and witty delight. DIRECTOR-APPROVED SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES � New digital restorations of all five features and three short films � New interview with director Pierre Etaix � New video introductions by Etaix to seven of the films � Pierre Etaix, un destin anim� (2010), a portrait of the life and work of the director by his wife, Odile Etaix � New English subtitle translation � PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic David Cairns The Suitor 1962 � 84 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � In French with English subtitles � 1.66:1 aspect ratio Yoyo 1965 � 98 minutes � Black & White � Monaural � In French with English subtitles � 1.66:1 aspect ratio As Long as You�ve Got Your Health 1966 � 68 minutes � Black & White/Color � Monaural � In French with English subtitles � 1.66:1 aspect ratio Le grand amour 1969 � 87 minutes � Color � Monaural � In French with English subtitles � 1.66:1 a spect ratio Land of Milk and Honey 1971 � 76 minutes � Color � Monaural � In French with English subtitles � 1.66:1 aspect ratio
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Now, with the re-release of all his films, I find that Etaix was literally a clown at one time, and brought that background to film. So far, I've watched The Suitor, Yoyo (in which Etaix' background is a major aspect of the plot - a rich kid who runs off to join the circus) and two highly inventive short films. All are beautifully filmed on low budgets, but the Blu-Ray restoration helps show the highly polished works that they are.
I would recommend these films to anyone who enjoys Jacques Tati (Etaix's mentor) or Bill Forsyth movies. They are in that quiet spirit, but evoke hearty laughter.
I didn't hear about Pierre Etaix, until I read that his work had been compared to Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton. Since I am a fan of both filmmakers and since I heard that Etaix was an influence on the likes of David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and Woody Allen, I looked into it. I must confess, I was hesitant to buy the Criterion box set since I did not want to spend my job money on something that had the potential to disappoint me. But once I finished watching "The Suitor", my qualms were erased. Then when I saw "Yoyo" and "Milk and Honey", I was in a state of elation. In the end, I couldn't be any happier to spend $40.
Critics have compared Pierre Etaix to Keaton and Tati, which is an appropriate comparison, but I would also add that his work blends the free-form anarchy of the Marx Brothers, the political subtexts of Rene Clair comedies, the surrealistic imagery of silent Bunuel and the circus-like atmosphere of early Fellini. Telling you this would make you feel this his work is artsy-fartsy nonsense, but nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you don't like French comedies, you'll love this box set. All the movies and shorts are absolutely fantastic - superbly directed, riotously funny and subversively witty. Even experimental movies like "Land of Milk and Honey" (a documentary feature that plays like a darker "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" and thus outraged many critics) and the four-part "As Long as You've Got Health" have the charms that have sadly disperse in today's comedy world. As a result, the laughs are plentiful at first viewing, but the rewards become great in second or third.
Besides the outstanding digital transfers, the box set comes with a healthy supply of bonus features that does the director justice. Each of the films are accompanied by an introduction of Pierre Etaix, who comes across as a warm, modest but insightful person. And there's also an enjoyable one-hour documentary on the director that's located on the first Blu-Ray disc.
As I stated before, I didn't want to purchase this box set, but I'm glad I did. And with a Jacques Tati box set rumored to be released this year, it's safe to say that I'll be in comedy heaven very, very shortly. Pierre Etaix was cruelly ignored these past few years, but now his movies are given newer life, thanks to Criterion. Etaix is a comedy genius to rival Chaplin, Keaton, Hardy and Tati, and now his work is available for everyone to see. For comedians and comedy filmmakers alike, this box set is pure nirvana.
Strongest recommendation to buy (and steal) at all costs.