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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2005 3:55 am 
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First Run own the rights to one of the greatest German films ever made: Konrad Wolf's I Was Nineteen (1968)

They issued it on VHS in 2001. I have emailed them about a possible DVD edition.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:06 pm 
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First Run recently released, Naked Among Wolves (1963) directed by Frank Beyer (Jacob the Liar) which was shot in Totalscope 2.35:1, being the first or one of the first German films shot in scope.

Does anyone have this? Is the transfer 2.35:1 anamorphic?

First Run have released quite a few fims from the DEAF studios. I mentioned I was Nineteen above and so in light of these recent releases of vintage German films, things bode well for a DVD release of I was Nineteen in the near future. It's one of the great German films, I feel; very powerful and moving, as are all of Frank Beyer's films.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:55 am 
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Hi,

Does anyone know how their dvd of The Cow (1974, Dariush Mehrjui) looks like?

Thanks,

Dennis :)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 2:57 pm 

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The quality of First Run Features DVD is similar to old Fox Lorber DVDs.

I watched La Petite Lili DVD rented from Netflix and was very disappointed. The picture was non-anamorphic, hazy and subtitles were burnt-in. In my opinion First Run Features DVDs deserve only rental, because of low quality of transfers.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:44 pm 
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Keaton wrote:
Does anyone know how their dvd of The Cow (1974, Dariush Mehrjui) looks like?

Haven't seen that one, but I have seen First Run's Hamoun disc. I'm quick to defend First Run based on the limited market of the titles they put out, but I hafta say, the Hamoun disc was poorly done. Picture quality was very bad, and subtitles would inexplicably disappear for spells. On the other hand, their Leila disc's not bad.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2006 1:54 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:13 pm
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If you're interested, here's Not Coming...'s new feature on McElwee.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 4:30 pm 

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FRF seems to be distributing in the US some old DEFA films for Germany's Icestorm Entertainment. Of these, I have so far seen one, Jürgen Böttcher's Jahrgang 45 (Born in '45 in the US). The film was shot in 1966, screened in a rough cut and promptly banned at that stage. The director managed to complete it in 1990. It is a marvellous semi-documentary study of East Germany's aliented younger generation facing a bleak future in a Communist-run country. Beautifully shot in b/w, it reminded me a little of Marlen Khutsiyev's A Rain in July from the same year, showing as it does the Antonioni influence in almost every scene (and also that of an earlier semi-documentary masterpiece, Menschen am Sonntag / People on Sunday). I wish more people would go and buy this - first, because it's wonderful, and secondly because these out-of-the-left-field releases of minor gems nobody's ever heard of deserve all the support they can get.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:26 pm 
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The Gleiwitz Case (1961, Gerhard Klein)

This one was somehow overlooked. It was released in April. It's one of the best films produced in East Germany, if not simply one of the best German films of the 60s.

DVD Talk review

Also, DVD Savant reviewed Naked Among Wolves and he says that the 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is excellent.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:06 am 
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Subbuteo wrote:
I was actually quite pleased with Alice. Ok its not brimming with extras but in terms of the feature alone I was suitably impressed.

...though it only contains the dubbed English version, not the original Czech. I've only seen the Czech version on an unsubtitled VHS tape bought in Prague in the mid-1990s, but it's vastly superior, if only because the lip movements in the gigantic close-ups of Alice's mouth are properly in sync.

(I'm far less purist about Faust, though - there are no lip-sync issues at all, and I think Andrew Sachs did an amazing job with the English track. A friend tells me that the Czech track has virtues of its own, but most of them won't be apparent to anyone who doesn't actually speak the language - they're things like direct quotes from classic Czech adaptations of the legend, which subtitles would struggle to convey).


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 4:09 pm 
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polecat wrote:
FRF seems to be distributing in the US some old DEFA films for Germany's Icestorm Entertainment. Of these, I have so far seen one, Jürgen Böttcher's Jahrgang 45 (Born in '45 in the US). The film was shot in 1966, screened in a rough cut and promptly banned at that stage. The director managed to complete it in 1990. It is a marvellous semi-documentary study of East Germany's aliented younger generation facing a bleak future in a Communist-run country. Beautifully shot in b/w, it reminded me a little of Marlen Khutsiyev's A Rain in July from the same year, showing as it does the Antonioni influence in almost every scene (and also that of an earlier semi-documentary masterpiece, Menschen am Sonntag / People on Sunday). I wish more people would go and buy this - first, because it's wonderful, and secondly because these out-of-the-left-field releases of minor gems nobody's ever heard of deserve all the support they can get.

Many thanks for bringing this title to my attention, Polecat. I've just ordered it and will post my reaction to it when I get a chance to see it.

I also placed an order for Murderers Are Among Us, which also piqued my interest. It appears to be going OOP. (At least, DVD Planet and Deep Discount are no longer carrying it.) So anyone who's interested in it at all may want to pick it up now.

First Run has pretty much flown below my radar until now, but based on the reviews of their most recent releases, it sounds like the only significant problem with them is that they tend to go the PAL->NTSC route. And since I've more or less come to accept that from Kino, VCI, and other indie labels when necessary, it seems silly to hold it against First Run any longer. At any rate, two titles make for a small enough investment to find out for myself.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:42 am
I don't know exactly what the PAL/NTSC situation is, but the original German distributor, Icestorm, lists the same discs on their site and on Amazon.de as NTSC - so I am hoping this is not a debilitating conversion, but rather a direct NTSC transfer.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2006 12:03 pm 
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polecat wrote:
I don't know exactly what the PAL/NTSC situation is, but the original German distributor, Icestorm, lists the same discs on their site and on Amazon.de as NTSC - so I am hoping this is not a debilitating conversion, but rather a direct NTSC transfer.

The Icestorm listing must be incorrect. I finally watched Jahrgang last night, and it was most definitely a PAL->NTSC transfer. Not terrible by any means, but not significantly better than some of Kino's and New Yorker's similar conversions.

The movie itself was quite interesting, and I'm glad you steered me to it. I definitely see the Italian influence you mentioned, but I was also reminded of some of the Free Cinema documentaries made by Lindsay Anderson, Tony Richardson, et al in Britain about a decade earlier. Maybe it was all the dance-club scenes....

My only real complaint is that, although the lead actor was good, he was clearly too old for his role. But I guess that might work in the film's favor. After all, he's supposed to be an adult who hasn't stopped acting like an adolescent. (By the way, he also had one of the biggest noses I've seen on a lead actor!)


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 9:46 am 
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Has anyone ordered the three disc DVD of Peter Watkin's La Commune (Paris 1871) yet? I'm thinking of ordering it - it also has the documentary The Universal Clock: The Resistance of Peter Watkins as an extra feature.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:12 pm 

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colinr0380 wrote:
Has anyone ordered the three disc DVD of Peter Watkin's La Commune (Paris 1871) yet? I'm thinking of ordering it - it also has the documentary The Universal Clock: The Resistance of Peter Watkins as an extra feature.

I've got it. It looks good. I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch the whole thing yet. I can post some comments on the set when I get a chance to watch it this weekend, if you like.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:55 pm 
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Hey Try,

Please post your impressions of Murderers... when you get the chance.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:05 pm 
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Thanks neal!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 7:48 am 
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carax, here's DVD Savant's review of The Murderers Are Among Us.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:23 pm 
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Thanks Gordon! Savant's description of the visual style---referencing both Expressionism and Third Man seals the deal for me. I'll be picking this up, if I'm not too late.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 4:15 pm 
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First Run releases for January:

Wolfgang Staudte's, Rotation (IMDb).

Kurt Maetzig's, Council of the Gods (IMDb).

I don't know anything about these films - I'm guessing that they are set during or just after WWII - but Staudte was one of the great post-war pre-New Wave German filmmakers.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 12:34 pm 
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carax09 wrote:
Hey Try,

Please post your impressions of Murderers... when you get the chance.

Sorry for my delayed response, Carax. Didn't have much free time over the weekend.

By all means you should purchase Murderers Are among Us, though you may have to track it down on Amazon now. It's a very thoughtful and stylish film, and of course, it's of great historical importance for German cinema. Stylistically, it reminds me of a cross between Fritz Lang and Roberto Rossellini, but you should definitely not go in expecting it to be too much like The Third Man, despite a few similarities. Murderers is not film noir; it's really a morality tale disguised as psychological drama. Yes, the film has the look and feel of film noir at times, but it's focused primarily on how emotionally/spiritually wounded people manage to heal themselves -- and, in the process, heal the larger society.

Savant's review of the movie is interesting, but flawed. (Just take a look at his footnotes to see the evidence; he obviously mistook Jud Suess for Der Ewige Jude -- two very different movies.) I think his main mistake is that he views Murderers as an "East German" film when, in fact, East Germany did not really exist yet. Certainly, the sector Staudte was working in was occupied by the Soviets, and he had to alter the ending to suit Soviet policy. But in mid-1946, the East German state hadn't been formed, and Staudte doesn't appear to have felt himself particularly aligned with the Soviet occupiers. (He approached the Americans and British about making this movie first.) So where Savant sees a somewhat unsettling subtext in the resolution, I see a compromise that Staudte probably would have had to make with either the British or the Americans. (And in a way, I think Staudte set up a situation for which he couldn't have found an entirely satisfactory resolution, but that's part of what makes the movie so fascinating. Its uncertainty is "true-to-life.")

However, Savant is right about two issues: (1) Hildegard Knef is absolutely beautiful in this movie. It's a shame that she was never used properly in Hollywood. (2) And the DVD is yet another PAL->NTSC conversion. In fact, the traces of the conversion are more noticeable here than in First Run's more recent Jahrgang. Of course, Murderers was a very early DVD (from 1999), and I try to be fairly forgiving of non-progressive and PAL-sourced DVDs that are that old. But it's just a little distracting at times. (Perhaps PAL->NTSC conversions have improved along with most other aspects of DVD technology over the past seven years?) Otherwise the print is very nice, though the sound is about as weak as you might expect from a film made under immediate post-war conditions.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 4:49 pm 
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neal wrote:
I've got it. It looks good. I haven't had a chance to sit down and watch the whole thing yet. I can post some comments on the set when I get a chance to watch it this weekend, if you like.

I wanna know... how is it?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:20 am 

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My apologies. Somehow life managed to make it difficult to find time to watch a six hour film. It's long, but it's definitely worth it. It's a brilliant concept and the Rouchian ideas of the filming as "the event" that are all over Watkins' work work well here with his commentary on the media and the politics of representation.

Technically, it's non-anamorphic, but it looks really good. There are a few little artifacts, but they're hardly noticeable. The sound seemed fine to me, though I don't know French and thus wasn't relying on it for much.

I'll try to post more complete and cogent comments in a day or two.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 12:33 pm 
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Don't worry about the wait neal - there's nothing worse than feeling obligated to do a report on something to dampen your enjoyment of a film, so I'd say take it at your own pace!

This is the link to the La Commune page of Peter Watkins' website
[quote]During sixteen months of intensive research and pre-production, with the exception of La Sept ARTE in France, all of the major global TV associations which were approached, refused to participate in funding for the film. “I do not like Peter Watkins' films,â€


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:20 am 
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Are there any reviews up on the La Commune set yet?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:22 am 
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Alyosha wrote:
Are there any reviews up on the La Commune set yet?

Pro-B is supposed to be working on one for DVD Talk, but I haven't seen it post yet. Word is that it's a fine print but that it's a PAL->NTSC port, like some of First Run's other stuff.


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