World of Wong Kar Wai

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.
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reaky
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#651 Post by reaky » Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:16 am

Michael, what’s the situation with Indicator’s upcoming Dracula? I believe John Badham mandated the current desaturated release, but you’re putting out both versions, aren’t you? Is Badham involved?

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hearthesilence
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#652 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:29 pm

MichaelB wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:11 am
The problem is that when you work directly with the filmmaker, as Criterion did, you basically have to go along with what s/he wants. Similarly, because Criterion worked directly with Michael Mann, they were only able to include the revisionist Thief, whereas Arrow (deliberately) chose not to involve him, licensed the revisionist version from Criterion *and* included the rightsholder-supplied master, as they were contractually entitled to do.

Indicator usually tries to include multiple versions where available (Eve being a particularly good recent example, with no fewer than four cuts), but their hands occasionally get tied too - at Ken Loach's request, their version of Carla's Song is the revamped version from 2005, although at least all the deleted footage from the 1996 theatrical release is also included (and it's arguably all too clear why it was deleted) and there's no reframing or regrading.

As for The French Connection, one of the most vocal opponents of William Friedkin's revamp was cinematographer Owen Roizman, who (reasonably) believed that he should have been consulted. So that was ultimately reissued in something far closer to the 1971 version.
I'm not sure if it's still up - and I believe someone here posted a link to it when it first appeared over a decade ago - but for anyone who wants to hear it, Roizman sat in on a podcast where that color timing came up, and he did not hold back his criticism. When they re-timed the film correctly, I think you see his name with Friedkin's under the supervision credit.

Anyway, it's unfortunate how often this happens, and not just in films. Plenty of audiophiles have been pleading for reissues of Jackson Browne and Peter Gabriel's Genesis - a few were done ages ago, but it's been pointed out that the original mixes (or versions, whatever you like to call it), have been replaced with modern-day remixes, and it would be impossible to license the originals without artist approval. In Browne's case, I think the new mixes weren't necessarily required, but Browne had to approve the final result, and it was almost a given that he would either request a remix or at least process the master with reverb,

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#653 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:33 pm

reaky wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:16 am
Michael, what’s the situation with Indicator’s upcoming Dracula? I believe John Badham mandated the current desaturated release, but you’re putting out both versions, aren’t you? Is Badham involved?
As a freelancer, I can't reveal any information about future projects that isn't already in the public domain - sorry!

(It is still happening, though.)

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Drucker
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#654 Post by Drucker » Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:08 pm

Just blink twice if you're going to fix all of the problems we have with colors, Michael.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#655 Post by MichaelB » Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:10 pm

I can confirm that current plans are to include both versions.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#656 Post by FrauBlucher » Wed Feb 24, 2021 9:21 pm

Last edited by FrauBlucher on Sat Feb 27, 2021 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#657 Post by FrauBlucher » Sat Feb 27, 2021 4:02 pm


FilmSnob
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#658 Post by FilmSnob » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:54 am

I love that ITML poster. The changes made to the films, not so much. :(

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#659 Post by FilmSnob » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:24 am

allyouzombies wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:52 pm
Mondo is releasing a remastered ITMFL soundtrack this week, as well as a poster: https://theplaylist.net/in-the-mood-for ... -20210208/

Image

Image

I'm not familiar with Mondo. It says they are sold out. Any chance there will be more for sale?

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#660 Post by allyouzombies » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:55 pm

FilmSnob wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:24 am

I'm not familiar with Mondo. It says they are sold out. Any chance there will be more for sale?
Not from Mondo. Once their limited runs sell out, they're gone. Your best bet is to try eBay, or follow the artist Greg Ruth on social media, since he will probably receive a handful of his own copies to sell.

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schellenbergk
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#661 Post by schellenbergk » Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:36 pm

So – after a long absence I decided to dip into this thread and I’ve read 27 pages of the discussion of changes made from the original films. I have a few thoughts.

First, I am looking forward to this box set. Mostly because I’ve seen very few of these films. I saw Happy Together in a theater in Georgetown in DC - in a really terrible venue – during its initial release in the US. If there are differences in the coloration or the music cues or the font used in the titles, I won’t remember them. The only other film of his that I’ve seen is In the Mood for Love, on the Criterion DVD. Who knows if the TV I owned then was properly tuned to render the exact shade of colors that the filmmaker intended. So the differences won’t really matter to me. These are virtually new films.

Second, it’s really important to remember that it’s not criterion making these changes - it’s the director. And this brings up the most interesting aspect of this discussion – does the creative artist have a responsibility to preserve the original version of his or her own work? Or does the creative artist have the right to continue tinkering with the work as much as they wish?

Wong Kar Wai Is certainly not the first artist to revise their own work. Think of Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass changed substantially in every edition between the initial one and the deathbed edition - which was three times as long as the original. The first and last editions are both widely available – but the ones in between are very hard to find which is a pity. Do we really begrudge Whitman for adding to his master work? Or take the case of Charles Dickens. There are two different endings did David Copperfield. Herman Melville revised Billy Budd rather substantially : most readers don’t have a clue which version they’re reading.

I am willing to give Wong Kar Wai the benefit of the doubt here. He’s made a decision of how he wants his work to be presented, and I believe that is certainly his right as an artist. I’m excited to see what he’s chosen to do. I am interested to hear what he’s changed but I can’t quite understand the strong feelings about the new versions of the film which I have not yet been seen.

In editing older texts for publication this is a constant question for editors. Typically editors will - based on their personal taste - choose either the original edition or the final edition for publication. There are certainly arguments to be made about preserving the original instincts of the artist. There are equally strong arguments for letting the artist have the final say on their own work.

In a perfect world we would have both versions available and be able to choose. But in this case the artist prefers us to see only the latest revision. I am willing to keep an open mind and watch the new versions.

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Drucker
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#662 Post by Drucker » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:46 pm

schellenbergk wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:36 pm
So – after a long absence I decided to dip into this thread and I’ve read 27 pages of the discussion of changes made from the original films. I have a few thoughts.

First, I am looking forward to this box set. Mostly because I’ve seen very few of these films. I saw Happy Together in a theater in Georgetown in DC - in a really terrible venue – during its initial release in the US. If there are differences in the coloration or the music cues or the font used in the titles, I won’t remember them. The only other film of his that I’ve seen is In the Mood for Love, on the Criterion DVD. Who knows if the TV I owned then was properly tuned to render the exact shade of colors that the filmmaker intended. So the differences won’t really matter to me. These are virtually new films.

Second, it’s really important to remember that it’s not criterion making these changes - it’s the director. And this brings up the most interesting aspect of this discussion – does the creative artist have a responsibility to preserve the original version of his or her own work? Or does the creative artist have the right to continue tinkering with the work as much as they wish?

Wong Kar Wai Is certainly not the first artist to revise their own work. Think of Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass changed substantially in every edition between the initial one and the deathbed edition - which was three times as long as the original. The first and last editions are both widely available – but the ones in between are very hard to find which is a pity. Do we really begrudge Whitman for adding to his master work? Or take the case of Charles Dickens. There are two different endings did David Copperfield. Herman Melville revised Billy Budd rather substantially : most readers don’t have a clue which version they’re reading.

I am willing to give Wong Kar Wai the benefit of the doubt here. He’s made a decision of how he wants his work to be presented, and I believe that is certainly his right as an artist. I’m excited to see what he’s chosen to do. I am interested to hear what he’s changed but I can’t quite understand the strong feelings about the new versions of the film which I have not yet been seen.

In editing older texts for publication this is a constant question for editors. Typically editors will - based on their personal taste - choose either the original edition or the final edition for publication. There are certainly arguments to be made about preserving the original instincts of the artist. There are equally strong arguments for letting the artist have the final say on their own work.

In a perfect world we would have both versions available and be able to choose. But in this case the artist prefers us to see only the latest revision. I am willing to keep an open mind and watch the new versions.
My primary pushback on this is the collaborative nature of film. Kar-Wai was the director and therefore, arguably, is primarily responsible for the images we see. But costume designers, set designers, lighting people, and dozens of other behind the scenes players had a role to play in the original construction of these films as they were originally exhibited. With the flick of a switch through restoration software, he has the singular power to un-do or re-do their work.

In addition, I believe works of art, especially ones that had a cultural impact, should be available in the format that they made their initial impact. It's no different than audiences today being unable to see Star Wars the way audiences in 1977 did.

Those are the two reasons I believe it's not right that only the new editions are available (and of course, these are the ones that will be screened in repertory houses and available on streaming platforms going forward).

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senseabove
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#663 Post by senseabove » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:58 pm

schellenbergk wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 1:36 pm
does the creative artist have a responsibility to preserve the original version of his or her own work? Or does the creative artist have the right to continue tinkering with the work as much as they wish?
Flatly, yes and yes.

Even accepting some fuzziness of "original" and that Wong is a frequent tinkerer between festival and theatrical, there's still a responsibility to preserve a work in the form most widely experienced. Citing a historical precedent of artists who also tinkered has no bearing on archival practices, which mass release is a form of, effectively cementing the presentation of an artwork for the following generation—and given the precariousness of home video, possibly many more. Archivists' responsibility is as much to a culture and its history as to the artists. The cherry on top is that we've had no indication that I've seen that Wong or anyone else has made efforts to preserve the films in their original form, whether or not they see home video release.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#664 Post by soundchaser » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:48 pm

There's also the fact that these changes appear to be literally destructive to the quality of the film. They're not simply tweaks to color and framing - they're actively detrimental to the black levels, color dispersal, and information in the frame. It would be like if a writer changed the chapters of a novel by skipping every third word of a sentence, to stretch your analogy a bit.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#665 Post by FilmSnob » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:01 pm

Why should it be an either / or thing? If the artist wants to tinker, let him tinker. Updates, director's cut etc. Just make sure to release both the update and the original.

Remember when Spielberg tried to take the guns out of ET? What about when the Nazis cut all Jewish people out of pre-1933 films? This is just a slope we should never be going down nor even talking about imo.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#666 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:16 pm

FilmSnob wrote:
Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:01 pm
Remember when Spielberg tried to take the guns out of ET?
I know people here are hot and cold on South Park, but this is one of their best commentary gags

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Mr Sausage
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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#667 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:21 pm

“schellenberg” wrote: Wong Kar Wai Is certainly not the first artist to revise their own work. Think of Walt Whitman. Leaves of Grass changed substantially in every edition between the initial one and the deathbed edition - which was three times as long as the original. The first and last editions are both widely available – but the ones in between are very hard to find which is a pity. Do we really begrudge Whitman for adding to his master work? Or take the case of Charles Dickens. There are two different endings did David Copperfield. Herman Melville revised Billy Budd rather substantially : most readers don’t have a clue which version they’re reading.
This is the first place my mind went. I sympathize with people wanting the original versions, but I was taken aback at the moral and ethical nature of many of the arguments because, in lit circles, this is par for the course. To add to your list, Henry James famously revised most of his novels for the New York edition, in some cases wholly changing the books. Frankenstein was substantially altered after its initial publication. In the 19th century, many novels were published serially and then altered, edited, or even rewritten for publication as a stand alone volume (I read a handful of Thomas Hardy over Christmas and my editions had all the changes listed in the apparati). Poets near the end of their careers often revised their poems for final collected editions.

In some cases, earlier editions are mere historical curios. Paradise Lost is published exclusively with the 12 books of the third edition and the later ‘arguments’ before each book; no one reads the 10 book first edition except textual scholars. Paradise Lost is the later changed editions. The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is read and published mainly in its later versions, with modernized spelling and marginal annotations by the author. You mainly get the original in editions reproducing the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Barth cut substantial sections from The Sot Weed Factor after deeming the original too long, and this goes unremarked on, the revised text being the standard version.

So I didn’t bat an eye to hear this was being done with films. It’s a crying shame people won’t get the originals, especially if the new versions are worse. But this is an old, old artistic practise, in some cases producing canonical versions, in others ruining things, and everything in between. The charges of unethical behaviour seem silly and ahistorical to me.

“Drucker” wrote: My primary pushback on this is the collaborative nature of film. Kar-Wai was the director and therefore, arguably, is primarily responsible for the images we see. But costume designers, set designers, lighting people, and dozens of other behind the scenes players had a role to play in the original construction of these films as they were originally exhibited. With the flick of a switch through restoration software, he has the singular power to un-do or re-do their work.
How those things appeared in the final film was always under Wong’s discretion, tho’, wasn’t it? Unless all those people were involved in the original editing and colour timing and were asked to sign off on it, the point seems moot. They had as much control over this aspect then as now.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#668 Post by soundchaser » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:34 pm

EDIT: Please ignore this. (And yes, I recognize the irony here.)
Last edited by soundchaser on Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#669 Post by knives » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:06 pm

In famous cases yes, but in most cases no. For every multiple editions available book you find there’s at least six you don’t.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#670 Post by soundchaser » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:18 pm

Sorry if I misread your argument, Mr Sausage. I think my brain glommed onto those two examples and couldn't see past them. But I think you're misreading mine as well, or I didn't make it very well, because I think using those runs counter to your point. (And of course the material conditions of publishing are quite different from those of releasing a film, even if they both involve a few people other than the author/auteur.)

EDIT: The post this was in response to has now been deleted.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#671 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:22 pm

soundchaser wrote:The difference is that those original versions are often readily available alongside the revised texts, especially in the cases of Frankenstein and Lyrical Ballads. You'd be hard pressed to find a Wordsworth collection that doesn't include both versions of the latter. I think the Marianne Moore discussion upthread is worth revisiting, as Heather Cass White is a far better writer than I, but it's the deliberate revisionism and repression of the originals that strikes me as, let's say "dubious" rather than "unethical." (Especially as Wong's philosophical justification is precisely that the films are not historical objects.)
I was confining myself to the claim it’s unethical to revise an already distributed work, not whether it’s ethical to suppress anything. Whether multiple versions are now available is neither here nor there.
knives wrote:In famous cases yes, but in most cases no. For every multiple editions available book you find there’s at least six you don’t.
Speaking of which, I’d be curious to know if the ten-book edition of Paradise Lost has ever been published commercially in the last century or more outside of facsimiles of the first few editions meant for scholarly use. This seems like the signal instance of a work whose later authorial revisions are treated as the sole official text 100% across the board.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#672 Post by soundchaser » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:30 pm

Ok, yes, to contend with your argument on its actual terms (again, sorry!): I think you could make the case that the material conditions of publishing a poem/novel are sufficiently different from those of releasing a film that it could be considered unethical to revise the latter but not the former. (Something senseabove has argued as well.) But then I’ve done work with the Percy Shelley canon, which was notoriously revised and tinkered with not just by the poet but by his wife and publishers, so I understand these things aren’t always clear-cut.

And it’s also the word “restoration” that rankles here — implying they are “restored” to an original version/vision, when they are much the opposite.

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World of Wong Kar Wai

#673 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:30 pm

soundchaser wrote:Sorry if I misread your argument, Mr Sausage. I think my brain glommed onto those two examples and couldn't see past them. But I think you're misreading mine as well, or I didn't make it very well, because I think using those runs counter to your point. (And of course the material conditions of publishing are quite different from those of releasing a film, even if they both involve a few people other than the author/auteur.)

EDIT: The post this was in response to has now been deleted.
Honestly, my post felt kinda dickish, so I deleted it and made a new one. Sorry I didn’t do it fast enough. (This is not a passive aggressive comment on the topic, I swear!).

If someone wants to make an argument that it’s unethical for filmmakers in specific to make post hoc revisions but not other artists, they can. I didn’t see many of those arguments (they seemed to be about artists in general), and I find the idea dubious. But people can have at it if they want to.

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Re: World of Wong Kar Wai

#674 Post by tenia » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:30 pm


soundchaser wrote:There's also the fact that these changes appear to be literally destructive to the quality of the film. They're not simply tweaks to color and framing - they're actively detrimental to the black levels, color dispersal, and information in the frame.
I'd be careful regarding the final grading in what is to attribute to Wong and what is the usual MO from Ritrovata.

As for the moral standpoint of revising a movie like here, I'm mostly bothered too by the use of "restoration" and the overall limited explicitness on the set that these are new alternative versions of the movies. Is the foreword compiling these changes and that Janus published online even included in the set ?

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World of Wong Kar Wai

#675 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:38 pm

soundchaser wrote:Ok, yes, to contend with your argument on its actual terms (again, sorry!): I think you could make the case that the material conditions of publishing a poem/novel are sufficiently different from those of releasing a film that it could be considered unethical to revise the latter but not the former. (Something senseabove has argued as well.) But then I’ve done work with the Percy Shelley canon, which was notoriously revised and tinkered with not just by the poet but by his wife and publishers, so I understand these things aren’t always clear-cut.

And it’s also the word “restoration” that rankles here — implying they are “restored” to an original version/vision, when they are much the opposite.
I don’t see how methods of distribution affect the ethicality of the act of artistic revision. In such an argument it’s the distribution, not the revision, which is or is not unethical, and therefore the distributors who are liable rather than the artist.

I think people are making category errors.

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