Cult Epics has been the patron saint of Tinto Brass’ post–Caligula work in the United States, giving quality DVD and blu-ray releases to his films from The Key on down the line. Their latest achievement in this arena is Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotic Cinema, a lavish 4 blu-ray/1 DVD set that collects the four films he made between 2000 and 2006 in high-definition style. It includes all the extras from the initial releases of these titles plus a weighty pair of new extras that the Brass aficionado will appreciate.
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For starters, everything here has a strong 1.78:1 transfer: though this slightly crops Brass’ preferred 1.66:1 ratio, it doesn’t interfere too badly with the compositions. Brass shot on HD cameras a lot during this era and it transfers well, offering plenty of color and sharp detail (even when he deliberately blows out the imagery in some sequences). Italian tracks are offered for all films as well as English mixes wherever available — for example, Black Angel is a film that didn’t have an English dub. The soundtracks are lossy instead of lossless but the results sound decent, with no distortion and clear mixes throughout.
All extras from the original blu-ray releases of these titles are included. Each film has a trailer and at least one vintage making-of featurette. Don’t confuse those featurettes for electronic press kit-style throwaways: each is vital viewing for the Brass fan because you get plenty of quality on-set footage, both clothed and unclothed, plus the maestro talking at length about each film and his theories on sex, relationships and making erotica.
Unique to this set are two extras. The first is a bonus DVD featuring a 90 minute interview with Brass, filmed and edited by Cult Epics’ head honcho, Nico B. The director talks about his career from his early days as an assistant director to Roberto Rossellini all the way to Black Angel. Plenty of clips are included to provide visual variation, including some fascinating looks at his experimental early work.
He doesn’t talk much about Salon Kitty or Caligula, which might disappoint some fans, but you get plenty of interesting thoughts on everything from The Key on down. The director gets deep into his philosophy of sex plus some interesting detours here and there (a highlight arrives when he expresses his thoughts on his conflicted relationship with the feminist movement). It’s a must-watch for anyone with a serious interest in the Brass filmography.
The other new extra is a full-color, 39-page booklet that Nico B. put together for this set. It includes a print interview with Brass that draws from the same source as the bonus DVD: this is a good as the maestro’s thickly-accented English can be a little tough to follow at times and this print version provides a nice backup resource for those moments. The booklet also includes a comprehensive filmography with comments on each film from Nico B. All in all, this booklet shapes up nicely as a pocket resource for the director’s fans.
Overall, Cult Epics’ Tinto Brass: Maestro Of Erotic Cinema is a treat for the director’s fans and a nice way for any curious erotica fans to delve into the director’s latter-day work. It’s good enough to make one hope that Cult Epics will give a similar high-def box set treatment to the earlier Brass films in their catalog.