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Stay As You Are
I will make this brief.
Following the example of fellow DVD Talk writer Paul Mavis, who refuses to review DVDs that are still pan-and-scanned at this late date, I feel like such an incomplete release gets only a capsulized review.
Stay As You Are (Così come sei), the 1978 drama by Alberto Lattuada (Mafioso), is an OK execution of a terrific premise: 50-something architect Giulio (Marcello Mastroianni) sleeps with a much younger woman named Francesca (Nastassja Kinski), then finds out that she could be his illegitimate daughter. (Is it incest!?!?!) Meanwhile, Giulio must decide whether he wants to reconcile with his wife (Mónica Randall) and has to deal with the fact that his (other?) teenage daughter (Barbara De Rossi) is pregnant.
Mastroianni and Kinski (in her first major role) have great chemistry and both give memorable performances, although eventually the story gets too bogged-down and realistic -- especially the many subplots around the main characters -- when a little lightness might have worked better.
Now here's my major bone to pick: Stay As You Are has apparently been out of circulation for a long time because it has been hard to find solid elements to distribute. Cult Epics apparently did their best -- and they have already put out great-looking HD releases, like Black Angel (Senso '45) and Nekromantik 2 -- but didn't come close to finding something that represents what modern audiences expect from HD in this particular case. Unfortunately, the Blu-ray presentation of Stay As You Are is jaw-droppingly sub-par, making the DVD a Rent It for the curious and this Blu-ray an automatic Skip It in my book (more details below).
First off, there is no way that this AVC-encoded 1080p 1.78:1 presentation is natively HD. This is so indistinct and smeary, with oodles of chroma and artifacting issues (see the DVD Beaver review for some particularly damning screencaps), that this has to be some kind of SD upconvert -- and not from a solid master either. On DVD, this would be a mediocre transfer; on Blu-ray, it is completely unacceptable.
The disc also offers up two problematic audio options. There's the slightly preferable Italian LPCM 2.0 option, which is quiet and muffled and comes with typo-filled optional English subtitles. Then, there's the brighter, more spacious-sounding English LPCM 2.0 option, which has terrible voice acting and weird compression that I can only think to describe as digital crushing on the high end.
- The true highlight of this misbegotten mess is the high-quality, hour-plus, 19-track soundtrack album. It would have been nice if it was included as... oh, I don't know... a separate CD, instead of having to stare at stills as it plays, but you take what you can get.
You know, if you're not too fussy, maybe it's worth renting this movie on DVD. It's got some good acting and, as the box intimates, plenty of sexy scenes. But anyone shelling out for a Blu-ray should get Blu-ray quality. Should it be any more obvious? Skip It.
Justin Remer is a filmmaker, oddball musician, and frequent wearer of beards. His new single, Don't Depend on Me, is now available to stream or download on Bandcamp, Spotify, Amazon, Apple, and wherever else fine music is enjoyed.