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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:39 pm 
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Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé

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Jean Painlevé was a film director, critic, theorist, and animator, yet his interests and studies also extended to mathematics, medicine, and zoology. Amazingly, all these disparate strands came together in a groundbreaking, decades-spanning artistic career. Operating under the credo “Science is fiction,” Painlevé forged his own unique cinematic path, creating countless short films for both the viewing public and the scientific community. Moreover, he was also one of the first filmmakers to take his camera underwater. Surreal, otherworldly documents of marine life, these films transformed sea horses, octopi, and mollusks into delicate dancers in their own floating ballets. This anthology features twenty-three of Painlevé’s shorts in their original form, as well as Yo La Tengo’s ninety-minute original score The Sounds of Science, written in 2001 to accompany eight of the director’s films.

THREE-DISC SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:

- New, restored digital transfers
- The Sounds of Science, an original score by Yo La Tengo to Jean Painlevé’s films, plus an interview with the band
- New and improved English subtitle translations
- More than two hours of interviews with the filmmaker, drawn from the eight-part television series Jean Painlevé au fils de ses films, directed by Denis Derrien and Hélène Hazera
- PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Scott MacDonald

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:59 pm 
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Adam wrote:
The Painleve makes me very happy. i'd been holding off on the BFI version of it, although it was tops on my list to get the next time I made a BFI purchase.

So I've watched the unforgettable Le Vampire over and over again, and it made me all the more interested in the work of this utterly charming man. This is an absolute must buy for me. I will happily give Criterion the extra ten dollars if it means more daring DVD ventures such as this (and yes, I'm aware of the BFI release, but the fact that this will exist at all in North America speaks volumes about Criterion's dedication to unearthing forgotten cinematic gems).

Can anyone make a list of the films on this compilation? Thanks.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:19 pm 
Dot Com Dom
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Just chiming in to say that anyone who's a fan of this score should not hesitate to pick up a copy of the Sounds of the Sounds of Science from Yo La Tengo's website.

I've already got the BFI but depending on what's added, I may be picking up this set.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:44 am 
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Pardon the ignorance but are these all documentaries, some docs, or none of the above (I understand that may be hard to know since the exact shorts aren't listed). Also are these silent era or are simply mostly silent.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:28 pm 
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knives wrote:
Pardon the ignorance but are these all documentaries, some docs, or none of the above (I understand that may be hard to know since the exact shorts aren't listed). Also are these silent era or are simply mostly silent.

They're kind of documentaries, kind of avant-garde films. Painlevé made films from the end of the silent era to the 1970s, but they have no dialogue or narration. Some of the films do have musical accompaniment (the odd track by Duke Ellington, electronic music by Pierre Henry, noise collage). Like the painted films of Brakhage, Painlevé's films are really a genre unto themselves.

Here's some reading for you if you want to know more:

"Sounding the depths: Jean Painlevé's sunken cinema" by Jim Knox
Wikipedia entry


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:28 pm 
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I have the BFI set, but considering that this has over double the films, plus hours of extras, this is a no brainer 'double dip' for me.

This looks absolutely wonderful. Even though it was somewhat spoiled for us, its still one of the biggest surprises of the year, and may very well be an early contender for DVD of 2009.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:19 pm 
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Usually I try to stay away from the newer Criterions, still getting to some of the lower numbers, but this looks to amazing just from that article. Also I've fallen in love just because of this picture:

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Just fantastic looking


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:36 pm 
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Already owning the BFI release, this still looks tempting.

However, possibly even more tempting are the three volumes of Painlevé's films that were released in France by the label Films des Documents Cinématographique: Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

Without knowing the exact contents of the Criterion set, there would seem to be slightly more films included on these three discs (and the Yo La Tengo feature is included). The films are subtitled, although I am not sure about the extras. I purchased a few other of this label's releases this fall, and the quality of their discs is very good.

Does anyone have these, and can comment?

(With respect to the dispute over the relative correctness of imdb vs. wikipedia, Films des Documents Cinématographique offers this index of "tous les films de Jean Painlevé" -- the tally occupying some middleground between imdb and wiki).

Quite aside from all that, this is really a great release on Criterion's part!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:15 pm 
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Number-wise, the Sense of Cinema article puts it at a little under 200. So averaging five a year for 40 years, taking into account that he worked in other areas as well but was pretty into this stuff, it seems reasonable. Whatever the exact count is, though, that's a lot of box sets. Get hopping, Criterion!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:42 pm 

Joined: Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:38 pm
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Scharphedin2 wrote:
Already owning the BFI release, this still looks tempting.

However, possibly even more tempting are the three volumes of Painlevé's films that were released in France by the label Films des Documents Cinématographique: Vol. 1, Vol. 2 and Vol. 3.

Without knowing the exact contents of the Criterion set, there would seem to be slightly more films included on these three discs (and the Yo La Tengo feature is included). The films are subtitled, although I am not sure about the extras. I purchased a few other of this label's releases this fall, and the quality of their discs is very good.

These French editions look good but at 28 Euros each, they come out at 100$ US, before shipping charges. As for extras, they don't seem to include the 2 hours worth of interviews with Painlevé Criterion has selected. This French publisher has a quirky but interesting offering of titles (you don't see Farrebique and Malraux's L'Espoir on the same list as Scola's Parlons Femmes every day).

I have only seen a handful of Painlevé's films, but this is the one April title that gets me really excited. Truly enterprising from Criterion. I hope they don't wait too long before revealing the exact selection of shorts in their edition.

By the way, this is not the first time Painlevé has been featured on a Criterion release. No, I won't make this a quiz: he wrote the narration to Franju's Le Sang des Bêtes, an extra on the Les Yeux sans Visage DVD.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 1:56 am 
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Matt wrote:
This anthology features twenty-three of Painlevé’s shorts in their original form, as well as Yo La Tengo’s ninety-minute original score The Sounds of Science, written in 2001 to accompany eight of the director’s films.

awesome. I was at YLT's debut performance of this at the Castro in SF


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:50 am 
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Wait, is the soundtrack like an extra on its own? As in to download off the DVD or what?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:07 am 
Dot Com Dom
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kaujot wrote:
Wait, is the soundtrack like an extra on its own? As in to download off the DVD or what?

A version of it plays over the selected shorts it scores. It's available to own on CD from Yo La Tengo's website. I like how the BFI did it, where they had reversible covers-- one for Painleve and one for Yo La Tengo's the Sounds of the Sounds of Science


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:02 pm 
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domino harvey wrote:
Just chiming in to say that anyone who's a fan of this score should not hesitate to pick up a copy of the Sounds of the Sounds of Science from Yo La Tengo's website.

I found a used copy at my local indie music shop for $5 last weekend! \:D/ Really, really great stuff.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:09 pm 
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Have Criterion revealed anywhere which films will be included?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:05 pm 
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Criterion's site has this as bumped down to two discs and retail reduced to $39.95. Those "more than two hours of interviews with the filmmaker" are now gone, as are the "notes on all films by Painlevé" in the booklet


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:15 pm 
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Smells like a separate release.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:25 pm 
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Maybe they decided the seahorses looked better in the formation of some number lower than 23.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:59 pm 
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Lame. :\


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:46 pm 
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God damnit. Seriously. I don't...ugh. And this was looking like such a grand release.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:33 pm 
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Maybe they didn't want to make people who already owned the BFI or French releases feel bad.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 8:43 pm 
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Boo-urns.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:05 pm 
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Has anyone written to JM to ask why they've dropped those extras?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:14 pm 
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Hi Michael,

We've made some necessary changes to this release, however I'm not at liberty to go into details regarding the omission of some of the material that was previously planned to be included. However, our spine number 468 "Science is Fiction" will still be the largest compilation of Painlevé's films released on DVD, and we're excited and proud to add it to our collection.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to write in again if you have other questions!

Sincerely,

Jon Mulvaney


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:38 pm 
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mfunk9786 wrote:
Hi Michael,

We've made some necessary changes to this release, however I'm not at liberty to go into details regarding the omission of some of the material that was previously planned to be included. However, our spine number 468 "Science is Fiction" will still be the largest compilation of Painlevé's films released on DVD, and we're excited and proud to add it to our collection.

I hope this helps, and please feel free to write in again if you have other questions!

Sincerely,

Jon Mulvaney

Damn, could Mulvaney be any less helpful? :roll:


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