Tim here. The recent release of Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty on a DVD/Blu-Ray combo from the Criterion Collection means that most of us in North American finally have our first decent chance to see the most recent winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. And by “decent chance”, I mean two things: one is that if you live outside of any of the usual big urban centers that get little foreign releases, The Great Beauty hasn’t been remotely near your home before now. The other is that even if you live in one of those places, The Great Beauty isn’t likely to have played in any of the best & shiniest multiplexes, but in the dogged little art theaters that don’t have the money to do much besides show movies in a more or less tolerable environment. Where I live in Chicago, for example, the film played in the biggest art house that’s long on well-preserved atmosphere from the golden age of movie theaters, and which boasts just about the crappiest projection and tinniest speakers of any commercial venue.
That’s no way at all to see a movie as heavily invested in surface-level appeal as The Great Beauty, so that’s one cause for celebration all by itself. Now we have a chance to see Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography in crisp, retina-searing high definition, allowing all the rich, lurid colors of the production design and costume to glow right off the screen.