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April 30, 2012

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The Siren

I am so very flattered to be quoted, but much more than that, the Lean love warms my wizened heart.

JREinATL

Since you're pretty positive on the Universal 100 discs you review, I wonder if you have any thoughts on the digital restoration/preservation methods they explain here: http://youtu.be/XXnu58AwvME.

Given your reviews, it sounds like the results work. But I can't help wondering if sometimes they're going too far (e.g., removing the inherent flicker in "All Quiet").

Peter Nellhaus

I just saw the DVD version of Takashi Shimizu's "Shock Labyrinth". Hope you write about the Blu-ray 3D version, which I can only imagine looks great. Format aside, a film I liked much more than expected.

Glenn Kenny

@JREinATL: I know what you're saying, but I can't, finally, deny that the de-flickering of "All Quiet" makes for a MUCH more fulfilling viewing experience. The flicker's distracting in the same way that incorrect frame rate in a silent film is distracting. As for going too far, as I mention with respect to "Buck Privates," it's arguable that that's the case there...and yet, for the purposes of that film, I actually did not mind. I am not, as it turns out, as MUCH of a purist as I've thought. But I do think I'm still...discriminating. I'm happy with the Universal stuff I've seen, the choices the restorers have made all feel reasonable to me, and I'll keep my eye out. "The Birds" is going to be particularly interesting, I think.

David Ehrenstein

"Cahiers du Cinema" once declared categorically "Jerry Lewis is the autieru of all his films EXCEPT 'Boeing Boeing.' "

I couldn't disagree more about "Who's Minding the Store?" The climactic sequence involving a vaccum cleaner during a Ladies Day Sale is spectacular.

I worte the liner notes to "The Last Temptation of Christ" Blue-Ray. They're different from the liner notes I wrote for the Criteriaon DVD version.

Owain Wilson

I live in the UK, and I've been waiting for over a month now for my copy of A NIGHT TO REMEMBER to arrive from the US. Painful.

Apart from that, another absolute must read, Glenn. I could happily sit here for hours reading your Blu-ray Consumer Guide, but 20 titles sounds good enough for me.

warren oates

After discovering HEAVEN'S GATE, I came to THE DEER HUNTER late in life, just a few years ago and I was blown away by all of it except the Vietnam scenes, and all that Russian roulette, which just seemed goofy to the point of self parody. But the whole beginning, especially what we see from the very first images to the last moment of the wedding, seem to me some kind of masterpiece about a certain all but vanished way of small town American life. All the more impressive because the sense of "place" has been created out of whole cloth, stitched together from footage shot in a handful of different states. Fans of the film will need both this release and the StudioCanal Blu-ray, which is also optionally region A, because it has slightly better color and a commentary by the director.

So no controversy at all from Glenn or David about the HD mastering on LAST TEMPTATION, which many have grumbled is not at all adequate and results in noticeable artifacting?

bill

"This movie is about movies almost as much, or maybe even more, than Hugo and The Artist are."

I still haven't seen THE ARTIST, but I get what you mean. Apart from the obvious embracing of classic melodrama both in tone and visuals (if memory serves, that is one damn red sky at the end, there) Spielberg's much-talked about approach to violence while maintaining the PG-13 feels almost experimental, like one of the reasons he chose this material to film was to see if he could still do that. Over the years, Spielberg has become, without anyone seeming to make note of the seeming incongruity, one of the most blunt purveyors of screen violence, certainly in mainstream Hollywood, but I'd argue just in modern film, period (that houseboat scene in MUNICH is unlike anything else I can think of). And lately, if he's making a film where violent death is a theme, that movie is going to be graphic. He couldn't do that here, and he wanted to see what he COULD do.

WAR HORSE a little bit overt in this way. Saying that the implication of violence in the film calls attention to itself strikes me as a pretty dumb thing to say, so I'm going to try to not say it, but, for instance, the suddenly riderless and shockingly un-bullet-ridden horses, that could be charitably described as almost dreamy -- not quite surreal -- or something, and for me didn't particularly imply much horror. It felt more like the English cavalry guys just dismounted off-camera.

I don't know, it's a curious film, one I didn't think worked. But you could see Spielberg working on stuff. I don't mean therapy or anything, but stylistically, trying things, seeing if stuff worked. It's admirable in that way, but I still didn't like it much. Wanted to, though.

BobSolo

The "informative extras" on Letter Never Sent are... what exactly? A great film but the disc (or my copy, at least) came completely unadorned.

Glenn Kenny

@Bobsolo: Sorry to have let a vague note stand. I was taken by the booklet essay, which is indeed...informative.

Peter Neski

stock footage in Deer Hunter ,what are you complaining about?
the few news reel shots?? this is one of the greatest looking
films of all time

Glenn Kenny

@ Peter Neski: That was kind of, you know, a joke.

bosque

Peter Neski is right though about Deer Hunter being great looking. It has lots of great shots, but one that really stands out is the scene where Christopher Walken stumbles down that blue-lit street to the Russian Roulette game for the first time (at 1hr 44mins 59 secs). Looks like a freakin painting. Cimino is rude about his "cameraman" Vilmos Zsigmond, on the UK commentary track because he was only around for the time it took to shoot the movie. But this film isn't only great because of its script and acting, it looks great as well and that's principally because of the cinematography.

Petey

While I share much of Glenn's assessment of The Deer Hunter, I will say that it would've been a masterpiece if only the director had shot 100% of the movie during Magic Hour.

Oliver_C

Cimino from 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' to 'Year of the Dragon': the cinematic equivalent of watching a time-lapse of an organic banana go from firm and green to perfect ripeness, only to end up as black rot.

David Ehrenstein

Loathe "The Deer Hunter" with the intensity of 1000 suns.

The Siren

Popping back in to say that my last viewing of All Quiet on the Western Front was on TCM, looking gorgeous, no "flicker" which I don't believe I ever noticed before, either, so I must not have experienced that wrinkle. Magnificent film, beautiful short tribute to it from Glenn. In addition to MIlestone's own influences, watching All Quiet last year I was jolted by realizing how often I've seen it visually quoted. By Mr. Spielberg, for example.

Josh Z

While the new French Connection Blu-ray is far more watchable than the last, I'm still unhappy with it. Friedkin's ridiculous "pastel" colors may have been removed, but a lot of the film has instead been given "modernized" color grading with far too much teal (like every goddamn movie churned out of Hollywood today), which is nearly as obnoxious.

Cadavra

I agree that MONEY may be Jerry's best film, and much of that is due to the fact that Tashlin managed to talk the famously color-obsessed Lewis into doing it in B&W. A lot of credit is also due to the writer, John Fenton Murray, whose decidedly off-trail sensibilities also gave us THE MAN FROM THE DINER'S CLUB, MAN'S FAVORITE SPORT and the truly oddball non-sequel McHALE'S NAVY JOINS THE AIR FORCE.

And BTW, 17 comments and no one's pointed out the year's most unforgivable typo: BETTY Davis?

bill

I meant to add before, when I first saw THE FRENCH CONNECTION as a kid, that ending, as the British say, did my head in. Still kind of does.

Dan Coyle

I always though the Curb Your Enthusiasm them song would go well with the final shot of the Deer Hunter.

Guest

I'm having second thoughts about the corrected "French Connection" too. I don't know if these stills are accurate, but I don't remember the lawn in front of the capital building having an unnatural fluorescent look to it.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-French-Connection-Blu-ray/39973/#Screenshots

Pete Apruzzese

Thanks for posting another guide - this one a Herculean effort considering the amount of titles you covered. I might reverse your rankings of The Geisha Boy and Rock-a-Bye Baby, on my system The Geisha Boy was really vibrant while RaBB was just a tad muted. You gotta love the opening of RaBB, I can just imagine the script: "Jerry has to control a loose firehose."

I have a credit at Amazon - that Lean/Coward box set looks awfully tempting...

Victor Morton

On Glenn's word, I just bought the SCARLET STREET Blu-ray despite not yet having a player. Anybody know why that great film always had looked like crap on home video.

Ian W. Hill

Victor, SCARLET STREET is in the public domain, so anyone could (and did) throw whatever crappy print of it out that they cared to without bothering to do even minimal cleanup -- and as this was the case, no one thought they'd make back what it cost to put together and release a good, restored edition, until now. Glad to have it.

Victor Morton

Ah ... that makes sense, though I must say that quite a few PD films had at least some good editions out there -- IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, many (most?) silent films. It seemed like SCARLET STREET only had that one horribly soft-contrast print with sometimes-unintelligible dialog and a perpetual hiss. (Dunno if this was PD film too, but I similarly despaired for some years of ever seeing a good copy of THE FALLEN IDOL. The A&E Channel seemed to specialize in showing these kinds of crappy prints.)

jbryant

Victor: Yeah, THE FALLEN IDOL was PD, too. I remember having it on a VHS from Good Times video or some such outfit.

I once picked up a DVD of Capra's MEET JOHN DOE at the 99 cent store, packaged in a cheap cardboard sleeve. Surprisingly, the transfer seemed to be from a pretty decent VHS source.

Stacia

I still laugh at how offended I was the first time I saw Boeing, Boeing, an offense that came entirely from my lack of understanding of just how ingrained the misogyny of that time period was. Ridiculous plots and inane dialogue were acceptable to a great degree, at least as long as it propelled the hateful sex farce shtick. Lewis was surprisingly good in the film, though, and I say that as someone who isn't much of a Jerry Lewis fan. And I can't hate on Olive Films, who is doing some darn good work recently.

Years ago on Usenet, someone posted one of my favorite reviews ever, of the 1925 Phantom, which sadly I can only offer a paraphrase of: It plods along forever until the very end when it doesn't plod enough.

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