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Joanna [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Classification: 18
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: BFI
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 25, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LNSFL8[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

Michael Sarne (The Road to Saint Tropez; Myra Breckinridge) wrote and directed Joanna based on the tales of his girlfriend at the time. Joanne, an art student with a free lovin’ lifestyle had run off with big, strong African lover who was a bouncer at a nightclub in Saint-Tropez, meanwhile she’d also ended up falling in love with a Greek guy who owned a boat in the south of France. Her stories of lovers and sexual escapades set the tone for this slice of Swinging Sixties mod filmmaking, which was Sarne’s first full-length feature.

At the time of its release, Joanna was billed as the “female Alfie.” So, to borrow a line from that film, what’s it all about? Hardly anything, really. The young art student Joanna (Genevieve Waite) comes to London from her provincial town and falls in with the wild, Mod London crowd. Looking for love in all the wrong places, her promiscuous lifestyle eventually leads her into a bit of trouble, but not before she has a whole lot of fun getting there.

What mostly made Joanna shocking for its time (1968) was its look at interracial relationships, mainly between Joanna and her friend’s brother, a Senegalese nightclub manager named Gordon (Calvin Lockhart). Least surprising of all, is that the film so shocked the people of Genevieve Waite’s native South Africa that it was banned there entirely.

Is it really the female Alfie? Well, not quite. It lacks any discernible plot and the sense of lighthearted fun contained in Alfie. The strengths of Joanna are in the brilliant colors of the 1960s, rendered vibrantly here in this Blu-ray release, and the dream-like, non-sequential sequences that are often quite beautiful and are informed heavily by Sarne’s infatuation with Fellini.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Joanna appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The film was scanned at 2K and graded in High Definition from the original 35mm interpositive held at Fox Studios. The picture was restored using MTI restoration software, removing dirt, scratches, and warps, repairing damaged frames and improving stability issues. While every effort has been made to present Joanna in the highest quality presentation possible, some picture and audio issues remain. Because of the nature of the film’s production, as well as the state of the original materials, Joanna occasionally suffers from density fluctuation and periodic reductions in sharpness due to the extensive use of opticals. Some vertical scratches and other instances of film damage are also present.

Joanna may never look great or be a reference quality release on any format, but the BFI have done well to maintain a pleasingly film-like appearance without damaging the original intent of the filmmakers. There isn’t any video noise evident and no sign of artificial sharpening. Colors, where the image is at its sharpest and most stable, are vivid and and nicely saturated.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The PCM 2.0 Mono soundtrack exhibits some drifts in synch due to the large portion of post production recording and also many instances of crackle. It’s not a very full sounding soundtrack either, but overall it provides intelligible dialogue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

The supplement’s include Sarne’s famous Road to Saint-Tropez as well as a new DVD-only interview with the director.

The supplements included with this release are:

  • Road to Saint Tropez (1966; 31 mins; 1080p/24) – Sarne’s debut film, an “anti-travelogue” starring Udo Kier, Melissa Stribling and Gabriella Licudi.
  • Death May Be Your Santa Claus (1968; Frankie Dymon Junior; 37min. 1080P/24) – An experimental examination of an interracial relationship in late 1960s London.
  • New Interview with Mike Sarne (2010, 16 mins., DVD only).
  • Joanna, Mike Sarne’s novelisation of the film, presented as a downloadable PDF (DVD only).
  • Booklet – Illustrated booklet with essays and film notes by Chris Campion (writer and author currently working on a biography of John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas) and an essay by Kodwo Eshun.
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Another lost gem of British cinema is uncovered by the BFI in this release of Joanna. It may not be one of the stronger films on the Flipside label, but it still well worth watching if only for its nostalgic charm, screen-stealing performance from Donald Sutherland, and irresistibly cute leading lady.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LNSFL8[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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