It is currently Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:55 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 51 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:55 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Okay, taken over from the CC Random Speculation thread, on Schreck's suggestion.

HerrSchreck wrote:
Red Shoes, Blimp, IKWIG, Canterbury Tale... some of the finest DVDs out there. I'm sure Stairway won't disappoint.

I guess you must have been too blown away by IKWIG (who wouldn't?) to notice that this disc clearly isn't 'one of the finest dvds out there'. Dirt and speckles aside, a lot of chroma noise and other artefacting. I really wish they'd re-do this one, as the extras blow away any other edition of the film. But the image, sadly, doesn't.

The prospect of "A matter of life and death" on CC is great, of course. One of their most charming and immediately accessible films. A film for all ages and tastes, I'd say (whereas I could imagine that there are viewers who don't get excited over "Canterbury Tale" because of the 'lack of action'). I found the courtroom scene a little contrived and too didactic, too, but for me, the mise-en-scene manages to save it. There are precedents for this, of course, Lang's "Liliom" being the most obvious, but it's all handled with a typical ingenuity and inventiveness that clearly shows that Powell had done parts of "Thief of Bagdad" before.


Top
 Profile  
 

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:27 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
You're right of course. Over on the IKWIG thread,

I wrote:
Something I've wanted to say about this otherwise sublime release: it's definitely not up to their usual standards for back then. I see that greenish haze hanging over much of the transfer as seen by some here, the sound is by far the worst of all their P&P releases (I have em all except HOFFMAN & PARALLEL)... part of the image problems seem to stem from the excessive boosting of the contrast, and the fact that the transfer is interlaced. I always assumed this was one of their old transfers from the LD days... a clue to an old LD transfer, used or unused in the commercial venue, is the fact that CC doesn't specificy that it is new in the advetising bullets, i e "Gorgeous new transfer" or "Beautiful new high definition transfer, supervised by..". This disc simply says "Beautiful (or "stunning", or "gorgeous") digital transfer, supervised by..." The clue to my mind that this is a transfer which predated the dvd release is the fact that its interlaced. And the lack of any digital cleanup viz MTI whatsoever. Besides the occasional silent release, by the time of this release (with the CC "line" logo) they were going just about all-progressive.

Nonetheless, the release was executed with so much gigantic affection for the film that none of that matters. I love the cinema far more than I love dvd technology, and will take what I can get with an old release like this. It definitely would be an ideal revisitation for them though. If THIRD MAN got a facelift in the catalog, surely this most hypnotic and mysteriously inspiring of P&P should rate one...

But transfer aside, the extras (especially those durned Powell home movies contrib'd by Thelma S) make it such an obligatory presentation of this film.The film traffics in such transcendant moments, it's just beautiful.

But I did wonder, when I posted on that thread, there were so few people who felt the way I did about the quality of the disc, even for that time. I've seen VHS's that look better. I'm positive the disc is just a dupe of the old LD transfer.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:49 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
I often think Matter of Life and Death (the correct British title! :roll: ) would seem to make a good double bill with The Devil and Daniel Webster. You kind of get the British and American takes on the supernatural as well as seeing the roll call of either devilish or heavenly famous names!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:01 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 12:03 pm
My thoughts on this film echo much of what has already been written on this thread by zedz, davidhare, elipsis, tryavna, and others. However, AMOLAD absolutely features what is undoubtedly one of the finest and most astounding opening sequences in the history of film. What makes this scene so great? Is it the incomparable voiceover accompanying the opening images? The epic scope and grandeur of it? The beautiful red light that Powell uses in both the interior of the cockpit and in the control room? The sublime performances of Hunter and Niven (perfs so great that we sympathize with the two the moment they appear onscreen!)? The almost existential qualities of their conversation, a conversation that is presumably Niven's last? It is, of course, all of these things, and then some. Indeed, I can't describe how moved I am by these opening moments - they leave me overwhelmed and even melancholy. It's such an amazingly touching scene.

It's a shame then that the rest of the film doesn't quite live up to this opening scene, but it's certainly not without its considerable share of merits. If the film goes off the rails at the end (and tryavna's criticism is also completely correct - the American Revolutionary character was totally silly and contrived), it can be forgiven for the glories of its majestic opening half. It is a sublime film, but it doesn't quite rank up there with some of Powell's finest cinematic achievements.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2008 10:49 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
To bring my thoughts-- which echo the above-- over from the "random speculation" thread, which triggered this new activity:

I wrote:
I've had the Columbia VHS of the complete cut of the film (w nude boy in the dunes) for years. I'm surprised it's taken this long to get Stairway (my preferred title) out... although I must say I love the film most for

1) it's avant conception-- visuals, trippy ideas & toggling between B&W and color (I wonder how many times this had been done in sprawling feature films prior to this.. not counting silents like Ben-Hur, Ten Commandments or King of Kings with 2-strip technicolor scenes used as prestige & punctuation in these 90% b&w films),

2) another peek at the wonderful Roger Livsey.. and his cool roofcam.

3) The melodrama and story up to

The coutroom scene, which is one of the rare moments in my own aching opinion (every time I watch it I want it to work like it did when I saw it on PBS as a young kid) that a gloriously executed piece of key P&P cannot be saved by their magnificent mise-en-scene. Very rare moment in prime P&P where the piece de resistance has not dated well with age. Also rare in that I have no use for Massey in a performance, a man who I enjoy for his strangely warm & dapper cold elegance and very surely felt performances, from most anything like The Old Dark House to Things To Come to pop-ins like Langs excellent Woman In The Window. The whole concept of the love story, and the "technicality" that Niven is trying to slip thru viz Marius Gorings character/heaven's goofup to stay alive, suddenly klunks into the anglo-american to & fro, which today doesn't seem to flow with much sense. Even back then, with the circumstances of strained relations (the motive behind the film, in a sense) due to the presence of huge numbers of US servicemen, the segue into that topic in the courtroom... with the film suddenly being "about" US/anglo relations without any warning... must have seemed rather abrupt.

That complaint aside, it's still such a sentimental favorite of mine there'd be no way I could resist owning it in digital on a CC (I'm pretty sure it's the first P&P I ever saw.. and I recall always scanning the tv guides as a kid hoping and praying it'd come on again so I could see that way cool staircase once more and dig that spaced-out plot in the first 2/3rds; I recall asking my all parents and uncles & grandparents afterwards "Did you ever hear of a really wild movie called.."). Many CC releases may be up for grabs via other PAL releases from other fine labels around the world... but for me once CC releases a P&P, you've gotta own it. Red Shoes, Blimp, IKWIG, Canterbury Tale... some of the finest DVDs out there. I'm sure Stairway won't disappoint.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:46 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:25 pm
Location: Near dark satanic mills...
Sony has already indicated that AMOLAD is on the way (well, it's been on the way for some years). Over at the BritMovie forum, P&P guru Steve Crook has some more info, courtesy of Thelma Schoonmaker:

It'll be packaged with Age of Consent in their "Collectors Choice" series. An odd choice but Columbia have the rights to both of them in the States.

AMOLAD will have a commentary by Ian Christie and Martin Scorsese has done an interview and introduction to both films.

AoC will be the one with the original soundtrack restored and there are also interviews with some of the people involved in the making of it like Helen Mirren, Tony Buckley (editor), Peter Sculthorpe (composer), Ron and Valerie Taylor (underwater camera) and Kevin Powell.

Thelma and some friendly people at Columbia have worked hard to get all of this done. They've done some tidying up on the prints of both films and the soundtracks.


So no Scorsese commentary as rumoured...

As noted elsewhere, Sony releases 'Age of Consent' in the UK next month.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 8:15 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
I saw this for the first time recently, courtesy of Sony's latest DVD edition, I fell in mad, swooning love with this film. Previous to this, the only Powell/Pressburger films I had seen were The Red Shoes (astounding) and IKWIG (excellent). While some in the thread have suggested the film is a little to self-aware, I have to disagree. Of course, Powell/Pressburger's mastery of the camera is in full force here but it's no less audacious than The Red Shoes, and while I too was keenly aware of the technical prowess going on, the film's emotional wallop knocked whatever recognition I may have had of them right out of the water. For me, part of the film's success is that it's effectiveness isn't anchored to it's post-WWII setting. Its love story and general longing for life transcends any specific time period. As for the climatic court case, it worked entirely for me but I could see how it couldn't for others. But as I make my way through the rest of the Powell/Pressburger films this is standing right up there so far with The Red Shoes. A glorious fantasy that Powell/Pressburger elevate from a trifle into something palpably resonant.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:46 am
My goodness, man, you need to make massive haste to secure an encounter with Colonel Blimp and Black Narcissus-- forget AMOLAD, these two are the most glorious experiences in the whole medium of cinema.

Then Canterbury Tale, Contraband, etc etc mutatatis mutandis....


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:44 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:39 pm
Location: Lebanon, PA
What HerrSchreck said.
And - though I'm likely in the minority on this one - TALES OF HOFFMAN.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:31 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
HarryLong wrote:
And - though I'm likely in the minority on this one - TALES OF HOFFMAN.


Which would get a high recommendation from me, too! And probably even "Gone to Earth", which is so often overlooked, but for me forms part of a sort of 'pastoral trilogy' together with "Canterbury" and IKWIG, even though it's somewhat weaker, admittedly. But a 'weaker' film by P&P in most cases still blows away the majority of other films made at the same time, and "Gone to Earth" is worth watching for its unbelievably beautiful images alone. And of course it has that very special 'natural mysticism' that I love so much about Powell's countryside films.

Otherwise I can only second Schreck's recommendations, especially the "massive haste" bit. And that goes for almost all P&P films.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:10 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
HerrSchreck wrote:
My goodness, man, you need to make massive haste to secure an encounter with Colonel Blimp and Black Narcissus-- forget AMOLAD, these two are the most glorious experiences in the whole medium of cinema.

Then Canterbury Tale, Contraband, etc etc mutatatis mutandis....


I know, I know --- actually, I caught up with Canterbury Tale two weeks ago (thought it was good, but ultimately pretty slight), The Edge Of The World yesterday (beautiful, but melodrama in the latter third was a distraction) and Age Of Consent (the less said, the better).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Antoine Doinel wrote:

I know, I know --- actually, I caught up with Canterbury Tale two weeks ago (thought it was good, but ultimately pretty slight)


:shock:

I can't really follow you here. "Canterbury" for me is, if not the 'deepest', then at least the most multi-layered and complex of all their films. The plot itself may be somewhat whimsical or at least 'strange', but there is so much in there: the problem of American-British relations and cultural (mis-)understandings, handled much less didactically than in AMOLAD; the question of tradition and in which way to preserve it (or not); the role of women and the exploration of alternative lifestyles (see the Prudence Honeywood character), the question of 'What is Englishness' and so on and so on.... The greatest thing about the film is that it never breaks down under the load of these musings and that all these themes come to together in such an effortless way and are thus perhaps not as apparent on a first viewing as they become on subsequent viewings. Not to speak of the images themselves and of the magnificent acting by everyone involved, but particularly by Eric Portman and John Sweet. Oh, and it's also a great film about filmmaking, in a metaphorical way; the (manipulative) power of images. Probably my favourite P&P film, despite the Red Shoes ballet. But I admit that, like IKWIG, I had to watch it twice before I really, really began to appreciate and love it.

I tend to agree with you about "Edge of the World", though the beauty of its images again didn't let me worry about the melodrama too much (after all, I also like Arnold Fanck's films, and somehow "Edge of the World" strangely reminded me of them in places). I sometimes think I must be the only person here who actually enjoyed "Age of Consent", but then, I didn't expect it to be a great film in the first place and, with that frame of mind, found it quite amusing and, as usual, visually striking. But it's a trifle, for sure, though a lovely one.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:09 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:22 pm
Location: Montreal, Quebec
I guess to call A Canterbury Tale "slight" was a bit of an exaggeration. I did enjoy it but it really didn't have much of an effect on me despite its intentions. I did recognize much of what you pointed out in the film, but I have to disagree that it was handled with any less didacticly than in AMOLAD. Colpeper is given numerous occasions in which he explicitly details his views on tradition and the value of knowing your history, and there are several sequences in the film which draw out the different viewpoints of Americans and the English. The film goes out of its way to gaze longingly at English countryside life (the excursion into the children's war game for starters) and makes its point known fairly clearly. As for the sexual identity/cheekiness in the film with Honeywood and the Glueman, I wouldn't attribute it much more to it than P&P having a laugh and getting something by the censors.

And yeah, even the P&P I've seen at their "worst" have at least been striking visually.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:25 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:39 pm
Location: Lebanon, PA
Quote:
As for the sexual identity/cheekiness in the film with Honeywood and the Glueman, I wouldn't attribute it much more to it than P&P having a laugh and getting something by the censors.

Without weighing in on the veracity of certain claims - or rumors if you prefer - about Powell's bisexuality, that touch may be something more personal than Powell just sneaking something past the censors ...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:37 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Antoine Doinel wrote:
I did recognize much of what you pointed out in the film, but I have to disagree that it was handled with any less didacticly than in AMOLAD. Colpeper is given numerous occasions in which he explicitly details his views on tradition and the value of knowing your history, and there are several sequences in the film which draw out the different viewpoints of Americans and the English.


Sure, but the question is whether Colpeper's views are to be taken as 'the message' of the film or not. Livesey's points in the courtroom sequence surely appear as such, whereas Colpeper's lecture is not only constantly subverted by the way it is filmed, but also by Colpeper himself. His inadvertent stumbling over the power supply shows not only that he needs modern technology to promote his traditionalist views, it also effectively prevents his audience (and us) to see the images he wants to show. There are other such instances in the film (the proximity of the Cathedral and the cinema in Canterbury, for example, pointed out quite early in the film) where P&P draw our attention to the 'fabrication', if not artificiality of the magical images we see in the film and invite us to be skeptical about what we see. That doesn't mean that Powell didn't in fact celebrate the landscape and a sort of 'simpler' way of living; it's not only the likeability of John Sweet which in the end lets us side with his point of view more than with Dennis Price's. But "Canterbury" leaves so much more room for interpretation and contemplation than AMOLAD.

HarryLong wrote:
Without weighing in on the veracity of certain claims - or rumors if you prefer - about Powell's bisexuality, that touch may be something more personal than Powell just sneaking something past the censors ...


Interesting, I never heard about these rumours before. But true or not (and who cares anyway), the exploration of alternative forms of living together - alternative with regard to the time the films were made - is fairly common in Powell's films. Think of the quite 'modern' relationship of Byron and Farrar in "Small back room", for example, or the curious sort of couple that Brown and Livesey form in IKWIG. There's always the feeling of ininhibitedness regarding sexual matters in these films; just contrast this with the social pressure in Lean's "Brief Encounter", for example. While I think that the queer readings of Andrew Moor in his book on P&P often overshoot the mark, I would certainly agree with you that all this has a deeper significance than just having fun with the censors.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:32 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:39 pm
Location: Lebanon, PA
Quote:
Interesting, I never heard about these rumours before.

And I've struggling without success to recall where I stumbled upon them. I know the assertion took me somewhat by surprise & I still suspect it should be filed under the questionable . And in a way they are of the "who cares?" variety except that life elements are usually an influence on any creative director's work ... and that includes sexual orientation. Would an entirely straight director have included the examples you cite above, not to mention the rather obviously but never overtly stated gay Lermentov* in THE RED SHOES? Would James Whale have made the same movies if he were straight?
Npt looking to start a debate ... just noting.

*Spelling probably not right but I'm too lazy to research it.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:43 am 

Joined: Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:31 am
Location: Somerset, England
I'd never heard about Powell being bisexual but I suppose he would have been aware of Portman's homosexuality and his extreme guilt and paranoia about it (smashing all the mirrors in his cottage, according to Kenneth Tynan). Maybe some of that sexual tension found its way into the Colpepper character, accidentally or otherwise. Certainly Colpepper and Portman were both very secretive about their activities - and Portman's very understandable fear of the law regarding his sexuality adds an extra layer of irony to his playing a J.P!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:44 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
HarryLong wrote:
[ Would an entirely straight director have included the examples you cite above, not to mention the rather obviously but never overtly stated gay Lermentov* in THE RED SHOES? Would James Whale have made the same movies if he were straight?

Difficult to say, really. Lermontov is surely a good example, as is Colpeper (and both were played by gay actors), but with the examples I mentioned from IKWIG and "Small back room" I rather have the feeling that Powell and/or Pressburger wanted to stress that love/friendship blossoms best without social pressure (thus the absence of the latter in these two examples), and that on the other hand sexual attraction becomes a potential danger IF that pressure works its way (see "Black Narcissus" or "Peeping Tom"; you could also argue that the pressure that Lermontov exerts on Vicky is the reason for her eventual death in "The Red Shoes"). Of course such a point of view is a truism ever since the days when Freud invented psychoanalysis, but given the climate of the 40s I think P&P's approach was rather daring. I think one could perhaps describe the stance of these films as truly liberal, but not 'libertine'. Or simply as very modern. But there often is a certain 'love conquers all'-feeling to these films; especially in AMOLAD of course.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:31 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:39 pm
Location: Lebanon, PA
Tommaso wrote:
I think one could perhaps describe the stance of these films as truly liberal

And very accepting of human failings and foibles. There's a line, which I can't quote precisely, that struck me when I first caught up with RED SHOES & which I still ponder from time to time when Lermontov tells the young composer that while it may be painful for him to have had his work stolen, it must be far more painful to have the drive to create but no talent for doing so.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Sep 22, 2017 9:52 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:35 pm
Per The Daily, the 4K restoration of A Matter of Life and Death is premiering tomorrow at the Film Forum in New York. Perhaps we'll soon get information on a potential release.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:14 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
Location: NYC
The new restoration is fantastic... going to be playing again at Film Forum New Year's week.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 5:28 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
Lucky boy seeing it so soon.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:05 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller
diamonds wrote:
Per The Daily, the 4K restoration of A Matter of Life and Death is premiering tomorrow at the Film Forum in New York. Perhaps we'll soon get information on a potential release.

London FF in November.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:40 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2016 2:35 pm
Trailer for the 4k restoration. The skin tones do look a tad more natural, but otherwise it doesn't look too far off from the current Blu-ray if memory serves.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
I've actually seen this three times from some excellent 35mm prints (one of which may have been an IB tech print - I think it was but couldn't get confirmation) and the color in that trailer feels a touch muted as it doesn't quite bloom like the way it's supposed to. Hard to say, watching from a computer screen isn't ideal.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 51 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection