“Cristian — Greetings & salutations. Could I ask you to please explain the aspect-ratio situation on the Criterion Bluray of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days?’
What does the audience gain from the top half of Anamaria Marinca’s head being chopped off? What does it gain from Vlad Ivanov‘s forearms and hands being sliced off?
Quote: “The framing is slightly different than previous releases, with the image showing more on the top and left of the frame, with slightly less at the bottom (the right edge of the frame staying the same).”
“‘Slightly’ different? Tooze’s frame captures show that the Criterion version is MUCH wider than previous versions, and that significant amounts of visual information have been lopped off the tops and bottoms.
“I haven’t seen the Criterion Bluray but if Tooze’s description is correct, why would your film suddenly be presented in a different aspect ratio after so many years? Because once again, a Criterion Bluray has cleavered visual information for no discernible reason. I prefer the earlier versions, which felt more natural with ample breathing room. I generally deplore Criterion’s arbitrary aspect-ratio revisionism. Their recent slicing of Some Like It Hot (1.66 cleavered down to 1.85) was unforgivable.
“Hope you are well. — Jeffrey Wells, HE”
From Mark Smith: “Last night my wife and I caught a restored DCP of The Apartment at the Metrograph. I’d only seen this 1960 classic once or twice when I was younger, but have now watched it three times in the past six months. It just gets better and better.
“But last night was the first time I saw it with an audience.
“The crowd encompassed a wide age range. Some Millennials (20s), some middle-ish (35-45), some older (50s). My wife and I are 46.
“I was shocked — shocked, I tell you! — at how many people, old and young, were laughing during the scene where Jack Kruschen‘s Dr. Dreyfuss is trying to revive Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), particularly when he’s slapping her across the face. I guess it was nervous laughter, perhaps a ‘ha-ha, isn’t this part sooo dated?’ type of nervous laughter, but I was pretty put off by their reaction.
“The movie had been a sweet-but-scathing comedy up to that point, playing it broad-but-grounded with a sprinkling of genuine sadness that never veers into the Maudlinville.
“But that slap is a turning point: not only a literal slap to keep a character we really like from dying, but it’s a figurative slap in the face for Jack Lemmon‘s C.C. Baxter, the moment where he really begins his moral about-face; and it’s a slap to the audience, to wake them up and shout ‘Hey! Don’t you realize this whole situation — cheating husbands, drunken floozies, selling your soul for a window office — which we’ve presented up to now for laughs, is actually reeeeally fucked up and twisted?”
(Also: Was The Apartment the first film to allow an audience to hear a character vomiting off-screen?)
“But let’s say the audience was laughing out of shock that the doctor was slapping the girl in the face…well, what the fuck else was he supposed to do, given his limited resources? Being woken up in the middle of the night, his only supplies a black bag with a B12 cocktail, some instant coffee and an ineffectual schnook for an assistant? His mission was to keep the woman awake or else she’s DEAD.
“What the fuck is WRONG with you idiots??
“But the digital restoration looked really really nice. And the part where Fran is running down the street to Baxter’s apartment is one of the great romantic moments in cinema. What a great fucking movie.”
Could No Country For Old Men be made today? I can’t see why not. Last time I checked bleak fatalistic nihilism didn’t necessarily argue with the wokester party line.
Josh Brolin‘s out-of-focus footage of Woody Harrelson was almost certainly accidental, but I like flirting with the idea that it was half-intentional. When Harrelson asks if his mike is okay (3:51), the back-and-forth that ensues between he and Brolin is somewhere between surreal and mildly amusing. At 5:09 Brolin returns to out-of-focus Harrelson. At 5:17, Harrelson says, “I feel like I’m comin’ off a little bit strange.” And then at 5:30, Brolin initiates a hilarious fade-to-black while Harrelson is in mid-sentence.
All “making of” docs should be on this level…brilliant.
On 12.28 World of Reel‘s Jordan Ruimy posted titles of 13 late 20th Century comedies that couldn’t be made today, and if they were made would be torn apart on Twitter by “woke” dogs and eaten alive. Tropic Thunder, Blazing Saddles, Airplane, There’s Something About Mary, Team America, The Jerk, MASH, Animal House, Borat, Caddyshack, Trading Places, Bad Santa and A Fish Called Wanda. Was he right? Did he forget a few titles?
We all understand that almost all good comedies are about tweaking social norms and giving some kind of offense, and these days, of course, giving offense is out. Hollywood Elsewhere believes that almost any late 20th Century comedy that focused on a straight male character living any kind of louche lifestyle (including any with a moderate, comme ci comme ca sexual appetite) would be dead in the water if someone attempted to remake it. A Shampoo remake wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance in today’s climate…not a chance.
Other verboten comedies mentioned on Facebook comment thread: Soul Man. Watermelon Man. Four Lions. The Hangover. Private Benjamin. Trading Places. Dr. Detroit. 1941. The Breakfast Club. Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.
Facebook comment #1: “A lot of these movies could get remade it’s just more likely the elements read now as offensive would be excised, toned down, or re-conceptualized to turn them on their ear in some wokey way. And they’d almost certainly be worse.”
Facebook comment #2: “They should teach a class in school called ‘context.'”
Facebook comment #3: “Altman’s MASH would never get made and I’m surprised they haven’t tried to burn it yet.”
Hotshot Hollywood journalist who knows everyone and everything: “There’s no question that Barack Obama and his people had someone put this list together based on other critics’ lists. No way [did Obama choose] Annihilation [on his own steam]. It’s purely a critical conceit when movies like this appear on year-end lists. Ditto a lot of the other titles on there. I doubt Obama has seen two thirds of them.”
HE repeat #1: “Barack Obama knows a Marvel superhero flick when he sees one. He’s been around the block, knows the score. And he’s certainly on to the historical and cultural achievement game that Black Panther and its admirers are playing. There was no alternative, no other way to go — he had to put Black Panther high on his list.”
HE repeat #2: “Obama almost certainly saw Green Book. I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t at least glancingly aware that across the board it’s among the top five Gold Derby Best Picture hotties. Five’ll get you ten he saw it, recognized its value and decided against including it because he didn’t want to invite the derision of the woke thugs.”
HE repeat #3: “I would respectfully argue that Obama’s sense of taste is flawed, as the presence of the obviously mediocre, wildly over-praised Blindspotting on his list confirms.”