Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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domino harvey
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#76 Post by domino harvey » Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:37 pm

Finally watched Mr. Freedom and was pleasantly surprised at how much better it was than Polly Maggoo. It really is wonderfully off-kilter and the excessively high school musical art department-ness of the film has a real charm. Add to that the parade of bizarre French cameos and some great lines ("My father worked in a sewer. After the depression, they closed down the sewer!") and this was a hoot-- though the joke starts to wear pretty thin after about an hour.

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#77 Post by domino harvey » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:53 pm

Bajaja wrote:What the Criterion people did with the aspect ratio of The Model Couple (and I have suspicions about Mr. Freedom, too) is inexcusable. One rarely sees such a blatantly incorrect aspect ratio on DVD, with heads chopped off so severely that often one cannot even see the eyes of the speaking character! Is really Tim Lucas (whose DVD review was mentioned a few posts above) the only sane person in the business? While I like the film(s), I also feel like asking my money back.
Having tried watching about twenty minutes of this, I have to agree. I don't care if William Klein himself tells me it's supposed to be 1.66, he'd be wrong about his own film. It looks like it would be tight even at 1.33, at 1.66 it's absurdly misframed. I can't remember ever seeing a matting as poorly done as this

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#78 Post by Perkins Cobb » Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:23 am

jorencain wrote:About "The Model Couple", Jon Mulvaney says:

"Thanks for your email, and your patience. Please rest assured that the film is supposed to be shown 1.66, not 1.33. The telecine was done from the original negative. There was no reframing of the image for the sake of restoration, and William Klein came to approve the final master. I was told that in this film Klein experimented a lot with the way he shot it, so the framing is very unique."
And adding insult to injury, Jon M. violates the cardinal usage rule that unique is never modified.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#79 Post by Yojimbo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:52 pm

'Imagine: The Many Lives of William Klein' starting shortly on BBC One (23.05)
I don't have the set, and passed on it a few times, but I'll be checking out this hour-long docu. to see whether he's worth investigating further

Details, per http://entertainment.ie/tv/display.asp? ... earch&pn=2" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Alan Yentob meets William Klein, street photography pioneer and creator of some of the 20th century's most striking fashion images - not to mention his 20 films, including the first documentary of Muhammad Ali, in 1969, and the 1966 fashion satire Who Are You, Polly Magoo? As his work is celebrated with an exhibition at the Tate, Alan Yentob spends time with Klein to find out about his remarkable creative life.
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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#80 Post by knives » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:00 pm

He's a pretty fascinating person even aside from his art so you'll probably wind up enjoying yourself.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#81 Post by Yojimbo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:21 pm

knives wrote:He's a pretty fascinating person even aside from his art so you'll probably wind up enjoying yourself.
They concentrated more on his photography, - particularly streetscapes, and social commentary shots, - and also docs. such as his 'Cassius Clay', - although there were some clips of 'Polly Magoo' and his fashion photos.
As well as an interview with one of his regular models.
Both of them have changed considerably, looks-wise, since their heyday!

I was wondering whether he was a photographer contemporary of Kubrick, - or whether their paths ever crossed, - but there was no mention of it. And when they mentioned that he had been brought up on 108th St. in Manhattan, I knew immediately his family were a victim of 'The Great Depression'; 110th Street being, of course, the 'border' with Harlem.
I thought early on that he might have a similar exiled artist relationship to his native city as Joyce and Beckett, but now I don't think so.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#82 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:28 am

Any documentary that ends with the subject giving the middle finger to the camera has to be good! (And finally, after all of those samey Who Do You Think You Are?-type programmes, it was refreshing to see someone return to the apartment building where they grew up and on being asked their response to returning to the fabled halls of their birth just asking if they could "get the fuck out of there"!)

It was great fun to see him good-naturedly bickering with Dorothy McGowan over who created the light in some of their photographs (the subject or the photographer having ultimate authority, or some kind of symbiotic relationship? That comes up a lot in the discussions of the photographs, especially the one of the Russian girl where Klein talks of it looking as if it was focused only on the girl in the foreground whilst also capturing the rest of the family with differing reactions in the background!)

Polly Maggoo is the only film from this set that gets focused on in any detail (the documentary is much more about his photography) but there are clips from his short film on Time Square, Broadway By Light, that fascinating Cassius Clay documentary that Yojimbo mentions (along with his Eldridge Cleaver documentary, which makes me long for an Eclipse set of his documentaries!), as well as excerpts from Klein's segment of Far From Vietnam, which apparently cost him his job at Vogue.
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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#83 Post by bigP » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:21 am

This sounds great. I missed it last night, unfortunately, but raring to watch it tonight on BBC iPlayer. Thanks for the heads up / info guys.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#84 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:49 am

colinr0380 wrote:
Polly Maggoo is the only film from this set that gets focused on in any detail (the documentary is much more about his photography) but there are clips from his short film on Time Square, Broadway By Light, that fascinating Cassius Clay documentary that Yojimbo mentions (along with clips from his Eldridge Cleaver documentary, which makes me long for an Eclipse set of his documentaries!), as well as clips from Klein's segment of Far From Vietnam, which apparently cost him his job at Vogue.
I was prompted to look up Eldridge Cleaver on Wiki, because I recalled that many of those '60s radicals had been transformed into unrepentant capitalists.
I wonder was his subsequent 'flirting' in Fashion design in any way prompted by talks with Klein?

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#85 Post by colinr0380 » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:55 pm

Here's Broadway By Light. It reminds me a little of the Pennebaker short Daybreak Express, although rather than dawn showing the rush hour in full swing in that film, here the dawn leaves the advertising slogans looking drab, with their mechanics somewhat exposed and ugly looking compared to their seductive night time light-show beauty.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#86 Post by htshell » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:34 pm

Seeing Broadway by Light in 35mm is a must. The Walker Art Center has a wonderful print in their archive.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#87 Post by kazuwabe » Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:20 pm

If anyone lives in the New York City area, the Museum of Arts and Design is showing six of William Klein's films and hosting a conversation with him, starting in March and going through April.

Among the six, the only one showing that is part of the Eclipse box set is Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, while the others are harder-to-see documentaries, including the ones he did on Little Richard and Muhammad Ali. (I think these could make an interesting additional Eclipse box set).

If you don't live in the area, I found one of the films MAD is screening, Messiah, on YouTube. The film plays Handel's oratorio in full and accompanies it with images of people in different contexts related to Christianity, most of which are frightening or just bizarre. Kind of in the vein of Baraka but with a more specific theme and Klein's signature satirical tone. This was the last film he made.

Tickets for the talk will probably go fastest. Anyway, thought I'd give y'all a heads up in case anyone's interested.

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Re: Re:

#88 Post by Charles » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Bajaja wrote:What the Criterion people did with the aspect ratio of The Model Couple (and I have suspicions about Mr. Freedom, too) is inexcusable. One rarely sees such a blatantly incorrect aspect ratio on DVD, with heads chopped off so severely that often one cannot even see the eyes of the speaking character! Is really Tim Lucas (whose DVD review was mentioned a few posts above) the only sane person in the business? While I like the film(s), I also feel like asking my money back.
Having tried watching about twenty minutes of this, I have to agree. I don't care if William Klein himself tells me it's supposed to be 1.66, he'd be wrong about his own film. It looks like it would be tight even at 1.33, at 1.66 it's absurdly misframed. I can't remember ever seeing a matting as poorly done as this
I just got to this set -- which I really like, but would sure as hell have preferred to love. I've watched the first 20 minutes or so of Mr. Freedom and The Model Couple, and while the latter is the greater offender, both are guilty of scalping the players. I had no previous knowledge of these films, and had done no research on them or on the Eclipse set prior to popping them into the player last night. I had to check my own settings to reassure myself that I hadn't knocked something out of whack. I'm happy at least to read here that I'm not the one who's nuts.

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Re: Eclipse Series 9: The Delirious Fictions of William Klei

#89 Post by Numero Trois » Sun Dec 08, 2013 2:46 am

jbeall wrote:Well, I thought Mr. Freedom was more effective as satire than Team America, for example, but it is kinda one-note. I thought it was less obnoxious than more recent Parker/Stone stuff, as at least the satire usually has a point beyond simple gross-out. Politically, it was quite prescient,
Not prescient at all. It came out in 1969, after all. And as bad as the Iraq War was, it doesn't quite match the madness that occurred in Vietnam. Though I do agree that Mr. Freedom wears out its welcome after awhile. Surely it looked great on paper. The Model Couple, on the other hand can more accurately be described as prescient.

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Mr. Freedom (William Klein, 1969)

#90 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:34 am

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Re: Mr. Freedom (William Klein, 1969)

#91 Post by domino harvey » Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:45 am

Don't forget to consult Criterion's Muriel extras for all the crucial deets on Seyrig's wig in the film. I can't believe people voted for this movie? It's the best of the three Klein films in the Eclipse set, but talk about damning with faint praise!

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Re: Mr. Freedom (William Klein, 1969)

#92 Post by knives » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:40 pm

I like it even though it's political commentary isn't terrible smart. Though I think Model Couple is a lot better.

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Re: Mr. Freedom (William Klein, 1969)

#93 Post by Numero Trois » Wed Nov 09, 2016 8:00 am

Yes, this is a very curious choice for discussion. It would've worked better as a short. The anti-war stance is as timely as ever, and will remain so, but after a while the lack of complexity becomes tiresome not to mention shrill. In theme its even thinner than something like The Slender Thread, which is saying something. Well, at least there's plenty to look at.

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