Pete Hammond‘s Deadline review sold me on the Netflix doc Five Came Back (3.31). I just gained access to the Netflix press site and will watch later today or this evening. Based on Mark Harris‘s 2014 book, the three-part, three-hour series relates the sagas of five U.S. film directors (John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, George Stevens) and their frontline work during WWII, and uses commentary from Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Guillermo del Toro, Paul Greengrass and Lawrence Kasdan to discuss the particular journeys of the five. Narrated by Meryl Streep.
Said it last January: At the very least Roger Michell‘s My Cousin Rachel (Fox Searchlight, 7.14) is going to look great. The dp is Mike Eley, whose only major credit (at least in terms of high critical regard) is having co-shot Kevin McDonald‘s Touching The Void. You can tell right off that Rachel Weisz‘s Rachel is deranged and trouble for all concerned, and particularly for Sam Claflin‘s Philip. Claflin strikes me as a better looking, less creepy Michael Fassbender. Philip was played by Richard Burton in Henry Koster‘s 1952 version, which popped only a year after Daphne du Maurier’s novel was published.
HE to Criterion’s Peter Becker (who’s on vacation): “Peter — Could you please tell me what Criterion’s plans are for offering 4K versions of its library, if not via physical media (4K UHD Blurays) then at least via 4K streaming files on Filmstruck? I’ve been floored by Amazon’s 4K streaming versions of Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai, and I would love, naturally, to see L’Avventura, Blow-Up, One-Eyed Jacks, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and all my other favorite Criterion Bluray titles on 4K. A Filmstruck app, by the way, still isn’t available on the Roku box. A tech support person recently wrote that the Filmstruck app will arrive on Roku sometime in May. Is that true? I realize that you’re not exactly a vigorous communicator when it comes to direct questions from persons like myself, but is there any chance you could reply this time? Or at least ask someone to provide answers on your behalf? Many thanks — Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere”
Posted by TCM chatroom guy named “TopBilled” in thread about when Roku will finally carry the Filmstruck/Criterion app. A Filmstruck rep told him sometime in May, but you never know.
I was discussing with a friend the differences between real and fake 4K, and just how many 4K Blurays out there are generating the maximum true blue, and how many are flim-flamming with HDR-enhanced 2K uprez product, which seems to be good enough for most customers. There’s a half-decent site (Real or Fake 4K) that examines the particulars. Everyone says how great the Revenant 4K Bluray looks, but even this visually dazzling tour de force isn’t a pure experience. Real or Fake 4K says that while “films shot with 2.8K camera have more than twice the pixels as an ordinary 1080p Bluray”, The Revenant was “shot in 3.4K (some scenes 6.5K), VFX-rendered in 2K with the digital intermediate done in 4K” — obviously close but not quite an absolutely pure 4K cigar. The friend recommended that I buy Panasonic’s 4K UHD Bluray player — DMP-UB900 — for $600 and change, and right away I thought “no way.” Not until an abundant library of pure 4K Blurays of quality-level films are available, preferably with a good percentage of the classic stuff shot in large-format celluloid (70mm, VistaVision, et. al.). And that price has to come down.
Queer as I am for black-and-white Scope (2.39:1), I can’t see paying $30 for Twilight Time’s Our Man in Havana Bluray. I saw this agreeably droll Carol Reed film at the Aero two and half years ago, and as pleasant as it was it failed to lift me out of my seat. It was obviously made without any such notion in mind. Yes, I know the Bluray will almost certainly look sharper and richer than it did at the Aero. I would probably cough up $20 but no — Twilight Time insists otherwise.
Maureen O’Hara and Alec Guinness flanking Fidel Castro during making of Carol Reed’s Our Man in Havana.
“Vacuum Cleaner Intrigue,” posted on 8.22.14: Last night I went to see Carol Reed and Graham Greene‘s Our Man in Havana (’59) at the Aero. A dryly amusing, mild-mannered timepiece. Intelligently written by Greene, pleasantly assembled. Handsomely shot in widescreen black-and-white (those old cobblestoned streets of Havana look wonderful under streetlights), although everyone is unfortunately affected with the CinemaScope mumps. Alec Guinness in his prime, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward, Maureen O’Hara, Ralph Richardson, Burl Ives, etc. The sort of light-hearted, old-school, mid 20th Century film that was all but eradicated by the cultural upheavals and radical passions of the ’60s and all that followed.
I was told this morning that my Cannes ’17 press credentials have been approved, and that I’m good for the usual pink-with-yellow-pastille badge. Unlike Team Sundance, the Cannes people know how to treat a hard-filing veteran. I wrestled briefly with using the above headline, but it’s the first thing that came to mind and that’s usually the way to go. (Yes, every so often it’s not.) “In Like Flynn” means you’ve got it, no sweat, walk right in, etc. We’re all aware of Errol Flynn‘s errant reputation, but I decided long ago that he’s more of a metaphor for self-destruction than anything else. Flynn totally cancelled his cool ticket by destroying himself with drink. The man looked like a 73 year-old when he died at age 50 from a heart attack. He may have been “in like Flynn” in the late ’30s and ’40s, but he was “wrecked like Flynn” by the mid 1950s, when he was only 45 or thereabouts. Heed this warning, party animals: think seriously about making lifestyle adjustments when you hit your late 30s or else.
Errol Flynn at age 35 or thereabouts.
Destroyed, diseased, dessicated at age 50.
HE’s own Cristian Mungiu — Palme d’Or winner for 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and co-recipient of last year’s Best Director prize for Graduation — will serve as the honcho for the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s student and short film juries. What does this have to do with the price of rice in Pomona? Nothing, but at least it’s another opportunity to remind engaged, upmarket viewers to catch Graduation when it opens on April 7th…please.
It’s also an opportunity to re-post my 5.19.16 Graduation review, titled “Graduation Is A Grabber, But Cutting A Slight Ethical Corner In a Tight Spot Isn’t Necessarily An Evil Thing”:
Cristian Mungiu at Bouchon during a 2012 Beyond The Hills promotional party.
Graduation is a fascinating slow-build drama about ethics, parental love, compromised values and what most of us would call soft corruption. It basically says that ethical lapses are deceptive in that they don’t seem too problematic at first, but they have a way of metastasizing into something worse, and that once this happens the smell starts to spread and the perpetrators feel increasingly sick in their souls.
I don’t necessarily look at things this way, and yet Mungiu’s film puts the hook in. I felt the full weight of his viewpoint, which tends to happen, of course, when you’re watching a film by a masterful director, which Mungui (Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, Beyond The Hills) most certainly is.
And yet I tend to shy away from judging people too harshly when they bend the rules once or twice. Not as a constant approach but once in a blue moon. I’m not calling myself a moral relativist, but I do believe there’s a dividing line between hard corruption and the softer, looser variety, and I know that many of us have crossed paths with the latter. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.