827 McCabe & Mrs Miller

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
Message
Author
User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12260
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#76 Post by MichaelB » Thu Oct 06, 2016 5:21 am

TMDaines wrote:Does everybody here who is opining on the colour timing have their monitors calibrated?
I do, but I've also seen the film twice in 35mm and know what a fool's errand being overly prescriptive can be with regard to this particular film.

As zedz said, if Zsigmond approved the timing of the source print, that's about as accurate a reference as you're ever going to get with both the director and cinematographer now dead.

User avatar
barryconvex
Posts: 312
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#77 Post by barryconvex » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:31 pm

dwk wrote:Criterion posted a web exclusive essay by Robert Christgau: Stranger Songs: The Music of Leonard Cohen in McCabe & Mrs. Miller
I remember when Christgau was a must read critic. i still consider his capsule book of 70s LP reviews a worthy guide to that decade's rock records and a fine place for beginners to begin delving into that era's treasures. In fact it was one of the places i began learning about 70s music that wasn't necessarily by the big names and is probably how i first heard Cohen (although i'm not certain of that) but he completely ignored the american underground movement (as did so many others) of the early to mid 80s and by the times the decade was over he seemed hopelessly out of touch. i haven't kept up with him at all for at least 20 years and after reading the article linked to above i don't think i'm missing anything.

User avatar
Minkin
Posts: 1863
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#78 Post by Minkin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:39 am


User avatar
barryconvex
Posts: 312
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:08 pm
Location: NYC

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#79 Post by barryconvex » Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:39 am

Rewatching this again yesterday i finally caught the significance of William Devane's character-"The Lawyer" also cheekily named "Clement Samuels" on the sign outside his office. Previously i thought this scene was a throw away five minute interlude of semi-comic relief. While it does break the tension and relieve us of some of the gloom and mud of Pres. Church i had somehow either missed or didn't take seriously Devane's machinations in all my previous viewings. Even though there's nothing subtle about this character and his intentions are obviously shady. To put it another way- before this viewing I think i fell for the same line of bullshit McCabe did!!

User avatar
Finch
Posts: 2769
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#80 Post by Finch » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:43 am

Why are people still linking to his reviews when he's been discredited and no one on this forum rightly takes him seriously anymore?

User avatar
Minkin
Posts: 1863
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#81 Post by Minkin » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:50 am

Finch wrote:
Why are people still linking to his reviews when he's been discredited and no one on this forum rightly takes him seriously anymore?
Its still quality information. He takes decent screencaptures, includes the restoration information, and covers the extras fairly well.

Tooze has been lampooned on this forum for more than a decade, yet we don't post such vitriol and pointless spam comments everytime somebody links to him.

Love them or hate them, Tooze and Svet are the main reviewers until Chris gets around to it.

User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12260
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#82 Post by MichaelB » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:56 am

Minkin wrote:Tooze has been lampooned on this forum for more than a decade, yet we don't post such vitriol and pointless spam comments everytime somebody links to him.
That's because he couldn't be more different when it comes to dealing with unarguable errors of fact - in my experience, he fixes them in a matter of minutes and sends a nice thank-you reply for sparing him any embarrassment (since I always PM or email him rather than call him out in public).

Whereas dealing with Svet over errors of fact (and just those: I completely respect reviewers' opinions) is like pulling teeth - and very very slowly, and with no anaesthetic. It's a really exceptionally unpleasant experience dealing with something that should be very straightforward indeed, and it leads to the bizarre situation that he ends up knowingly peddling inaccurate information. Because he'd rather do that than ever admit to being wrong.

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Posts: 3001
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#83 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:58 am

Finch wrote:
Why are people still linking to his reviews when he's been discredited and no one on this forum rightly takes him seriously anymore?
Every single person? Really?

User avatar
Minkin
Posts: 1863
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#84 Post by Minkin » Thu Oct 20, 2016 5:59 am

Regardless of your personal differences and difficulties with Svet, its still not an appropriate response to call for a ban on all links to a reviewer.

User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12260
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#85 Post by MichaelB » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:06 am

Minkin wrote:Regardless of your personal differences and difficulties with Svet, its still not an appropriate response to call for a ban on all links to a reviewer.
I completely agree. A link plus constructive criticism is by far the best course of action. And constructive criticism here is much more likely to stay intact than constructive criticism on the Blu-ray.com forums.

(I barely go there any more now, but I used to flag up posts that were critical of Svet and keep an eye on them - and, sure enough, they'd be quietly deleted a few days later, presumably when he or his fellow mods thought that nobody would be looking any more.)

User avatar
tenia
Posts: 3541
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#86 Post by tenia » Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:54 am

I thought people just started doing random puns with the movies and the reviewers' names. I certainly didn't take this one for anything else than this (especially since it followed Lone Wolf and Beaver and Lone Svet and Cub, Punch Drunk Beaver, Beaver meets The Squid and the Whale, or A Touch of Tooze).

Color me disappointed if it turned out to be one-offs. :|
Minkin wrote:Regardless of your personal differences and difficulties with Svet, its still not an appropriate response to call for a ban on all links to a reviewer.
Where has there been a call for a ban on all links to a reviewer ?

User avatar
djproject
Posts: 387
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:41 pm
Location: Framingham, MA
Contact:

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#87 Post by djproject » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:57 am

From what I understand, it was just a simple link to the Blu-ray.com review as this, DVDBeaver and (of course) CF.org seem to be the go-to places for reviews on Criterion titles for this group. It just so happens that Svet (p-bassoon) is the one who reviews the Criterion titles (and apparently some other films as well) for Blu-ray.com.

I don't think there was ever a call to disregard or ban his reviews. There is, of course, an effort to contain those conversations about him into its own thread and not scatter the dissent, so to speak, throughout numerous discussions.

As I am currently the most vocal advocate (not intentionally mind you) for the puns, I do it mostly because 1) I think it's a very lighthearted way to break the monotony and 2) I've seen precedents for this. I don't think it is ever not allowed. However, if it is to be discouraged, I will respect it.

(Please correct me for any errors in facts made here.)

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Posts: 28730
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#88 Post by domino harvey » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:52 am

Mod here. Please feel free to continue posting links to DVDBeaver and the Pro-Bass and criticize or praise each as you see fit. They're both public figures and fair game for discussion / lampoonery / puns

User avatar
Finch
Posts: 2769
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 5:09 pm
Location: Edinburgh, UK

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#89 Post by Finch » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:09 pm

I wasn't asking for a ban; I just think there are reviewers out there who are better and especially more humble writers than Atanasov. I like most of Slant's writers (especially Ed Gonzalez), Michael McKenzie and I thought the late Mike Sutton was very good.

Anyway - back to McCabe and Mrs Miller!

User avatar
chiendent
Posts: 117
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:32 pm

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#90 Post by chiendent » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:00 am

My flash sale order arrived today so I just finished watching this for the first time. I can see why this was such a challenge to restore and grade but I thought it looked fantastic, a bit grainy in the beginning but beautifully warm in the interior shots. As for the movie itself I loved it and look forward to reading more about its production and discussing it when I have more time to let it settle in.

User avatar
senseabove
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#91 Post by senseabove » Tue Nov 01, 2016 2:30 pm

Last night I finally got the time to watch the copy of McCabe & Mrs. Miller I picked up in the flash sale. I saw a 35mm print in theaters a few months ago, after having anticipated seeing it for a very long time due to my love of Altman and the film's reputation as one of his best, but I was quite disappointed: partly because the print was in pretty bad condition, partly because it was not what I was expecting from Altman at all, and probably partly because I'm not particularly a fan of/haven't seen a lot of Westerns, so the "anti-Western" aspect of it didn't do much for me. But the movie did stick with me, and eventually fell on the side of "I disliked it, so I suspect there's something to consider," rather than "I just didn't like it, so I'll move along." Plus, I figured a good quality scan would help my appreciation.

Boy am I glad I sprung for it. On second viewing, it was much, much more interesting. I love Altman because there's always a feeling of just sinking in to watch characters come in and out of view like you're sitting on a bench in the park. For the most part, he doesn't telegraph the importance of characters or plot points, so you miss things if your mind wanders and you focus on things that turn out to not be important, or that are significant but not pivotal, crucial to the atmosphere and the narrative construction, but not to the actual mechanics of the plot. And that's what I love about his films.

But in McCabe, that aspect takes on a claustrophobic, menacing quality which I think was the source of my dislike the first time around. It isn't like taking a swim in a tumbling narrative ocean a la the big ensemble dramas (or even the "chamber" dramas like 3 Women). It's like trying to figure out whether that shadow is a shark or school of fish. By quickly amplifying all the tenuous fears it establishes in the first half, of strangers and the precariousness of the "social contract," of how easy it is to die in the West, the movie turns borderline psych-horror once it moves into the second half (especially considering how the landscape and weather transform from messy inconvenience to menace). (That long-shot and pan of
SpoilerShow
McCabe running from the church across the snow-covered town!
) It's different even from the explicitly "horroresque" 3 Women, because
SpoilerShow
by the time we get to the "turn" in that movie, we know we're in a different place that's either the result of severely manipulative mind games or some sort of hallucination or dream.
We're suspicious and we have a target for it,
SpoilerShow
Pinky
. McCabe, on the other hand,
SpoilerShow
basically trips and falls from a world he effectively rules to a world where death could literally be around any corner. We knew he was clumsy and flying by the seat of his pants, and we knew nature was a ready killer, but it's hard to digest just how quickly that mistake precipitates his death. And the fact that he dies slowly, painfully, alone, unloved, and not exactly honorably after successfully defeating his enemies is, with regard to "the Western," just about the most horrifying ending possible.


And my favorite bit of trivia from the making-of doc is that Altman actually shot the ending in reverse shot order, so what looks like snow piling up incredibly quickly was, in reality, snow melting over several days.

User avatar
Adam Grikepelis
Posts: 603
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 5:04 am

Re: 827 McCabe & Mrs. Miller

#92 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Sat Nov 05, 2016 5:58 am

There's a good interview with cinematographer & filmmaker James Chressanthis on a recent episode of the American Cinematographer podcast that I just listened to. It goes into some detail about the digital restoration for this disc and the way the film was shot, as well as offering up some anecdotes about Vilmos Zsigmond & Robert Altman. Chressanthis was a consultant to Criterion and a friend of Zsigmond.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5881
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#93 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:28 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, March 12th.

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.

User avatar
DarkImbecile
Posts: 1257
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#94 Post by DarkImbecile » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:54 am

I'm neither a major Altman devotee nor have I yet been able to get into any of the supplements after having watched McCabe & Mrs. Miller for the first time last night on the new(ish) Criterion Blu - after knowing the film only by reputation for Altman's subversive treatment of the genre and audiovisual components - so while I'm not sure I have much insight to add, three things stood out that seem worth noting:

*For some reason, Julie Christie doesn't always leap to the forefront of my mind when thinking of the outstanding actresses of the late '60s and '70s, which seems like a mistake every time I see her in something like this, where she arrives partway through the movie and retroactively makes the previous 30-40 minutes seem like unnecessary prologue for not having involved her. As much as I enjoy Beatty here, she blows him off the screen while wolfing down eggs and explaining his own best interests to him.

*Perhaps my favorite element of the "anti-western" undercutting Altman does here is in relation to the masculine and feminine roles played by the two leads. In a genre defined by the stoic, quiet yet forceful competence of its leading men, Beatty's McCabe is a stubborn, foolish, bumbling businessman who talks to himself about having poetry inside himself, stammers his way through a "confrontation" with the villainous killers, shoots people in the back, and spends his last scene with his supposed love interest emotional and fearful, being cradled like a baby. Christie, meanwhile, embodies the forceful, assertive competence but also the aloofness so often reserved for the male heroes of these stories, and ends the film not cradling the wounded hero in the snow but lost in the haze of an opium den. The fact that Beatty wakes up alone on the climactic morning and has no support in facing his death is an almost shocking commentary on his relationship with Christie's Miller relative to standard Western tropes.

*I'm curious what others think the film is saying, if anything, about religion. The visual prominence of the church in the early and final moments of the film (the early shot of the cross being placed on the spire against the rising sun was particularly striking), the oddness of the pastor character, the community coming together to keep the building none of them seem to have any use for from burning down, the name of the town, and so on seem to be pointing to some larger commentary that I'm just not tracking at the moment.

I liked this more than I was anticipating based on my uneven reaction to the other work of Altman's I've seen, and I'm hoping the commentary/supplements dive into more depth on either of these latter two issues (not that more on Christie wouldn't be great also); can anyone recommend one or two features (on the Criterion or elsewhere) to target if I couldn't find time for the entire package?

User avatar
ando
Bringing Out El Duende
Posts: 1377
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City

Re: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#95 Post by ando » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:51 pm

DarkImbecile wrote: *I'm curious what others think the film is saying, if anything, about religion. The visual prominence of the church in the early and final moments of the film (the early shot of the cross being placed on the spire against the rising sun was particularly striking), the oddness of the pastor character, the community coming together to keep the building none of them seem to have any use for from burning down, the name of the town, and so on seem to be pointing to some larger commentary that I'm just not tracking at the moment.
Interesting. I remember Christie's character warning Beatty about keeing the girls busy with clients or their dispositions would turn them toward religion. That says alot about what she knows about the human character (particularly in that line of work) and how religion functions as a spiritual resort in wide open, unestablished, middle west enviornments. I need to revisit the film to flesh out this idea further, though.

User avatar
Lachino
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:25 pm
Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Re: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#96 Post by Lachino » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:08 pm

I wondered about that too. I suppose the coming together in the climactic scenes could be seen as one more "anti-western" theme since by western morality the townsfolk ought to line up behind McCabe and defend their man against the big corporation's incursion. Running to the church's rescue instead is the easy way out and speaks to their fickleness.

I think this ties in well with Ando's suggestion. More fundamentally, Altman's point seems to be that it's either the whorehouse or the church for these people and as McCabe is on the verge of being chased out, they transfer their loyalties to the other camp as a precaution!

User avatar
Drucker
Posts: 4091
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#97 Post by Drucker » Sat Mar 10, 2018 11:21 pm

I'm not sure this film has an overarching message, but my reading of the religion/burning church angle isn't so much religion as it is community. Early in the film Beatty claims he won't have any partners. To himself, he's a self-made man even if that doesn't reflect reality. In classic westerns, it's one righteous man against the world, and he and he alone stands between chaos and order. Here, it's the opposite. Those who have embraced community will survive and thrive. The man who claimed he could do it all on his own? It's his own undoing.

There's an interesting shot in that last scene of the town's sole black couple separating from the "community" as well. Not sure exactly what Altman is doing here, unless it's the very obvious racial comment, but it was an interesting shot.

As for the rest of the film: this was my second time watching it, and after getting two feet of snow this past week, it felt very timely to watch! I don't know if reading the booklet or reading posts here I first came upon the idea of how claustrophobic this film is, but it's one of the most powerful elements. Rather than wide open vistas, we have a tight forest, that gets tighter due to buildings, and then within those buildings people are living on top of each other like when they share bathtubs or are in the whorehouse. And of course, Beatty's character is forced further and further inward throughout the film, and is perpetually backed into a corner from everyone. It's unclear on first viewing, but now that I think about it, this film is really a story of Beatty running away. Back to my first point: maybe he would have had a shot had he not been all alone.

User avatar
ando
Bringing Out El Duende
Posts: 1377
Joined: Mon Dec 06, 2004 6:53 pm
Location: New York City

Re: McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)

#98 Post by ando » Mon Mar 12, 2018 1:50 am

Drucker wrote:I'm not sure this film has an overarching message, but my reading of the religion/burning church angle isn't so much religion as it is community.
I see them as one and the same in this instance. You have the church and the whorehouse vying for supremacy, essentially. Recall the sequence of the first three whores coming into town on horseback just as the church crucifix is being hoisted atop of the church. That symbolic dialectic is mirrored in MccCabe's (and Mrs. Miller) influence in the town vs. the pastor and the church. The dramatic conflict is far more about power and influence than any existential consideration.

Post Reply