Do you want to read a Bluray review that hems and haws and tap-dances on the fence rail and goes badda-bop and badda-beep? Then read Martin Leibman‘s Bluray.com review of the brand-new William Friedkin and Owen Roizman-approved French Connection Bluray, which I creamed over a couple of days ago.
Clearly the new Bluray represents the film as originally shot and seen — 16mm-ish, rugged, gritty –with some reds and oranges popping through extra vividly. There’s no question this is the version to have and hold instead of that godawful blotchy, muddy, desaturated Bluray that Friedkin mastered and had released by Fox Home Video in 2009.
But Leibman, striving for a tone of balance and fairness and detachment, can’t bring himself to just say that. Largely because (we eventually learn) he doesn’t agree, but also because the changes haven’t been passionately explained.
Here’s how he puts it when he finally gets around to the yay-nay portion of the review:
“In a case like this, then, with an argument existing for one side” — i.e., the way the film looks on the new Bluray — “and none, really, for the other, it comes down to personal preference. The majority seems to prefer, or at least has demanded in the past, a transfer more in line with what this release offers.”
“Seems” to prefer? Hey, Martin…don’t go out on a limb!
Here’s my favorite line in his review: “At the end of the day, it makes for a fun little comparison but serious viewers have certainly been put in something of a pickle with this one.”
Believe me, Martin — nobody but nobody feels like they’re in a pickle with this thing. The bad version has been discredited, pure and simple, and the Munchkins are marching around the town square singing “ding-dong, the witch is dead.”
To my knowledge there’s only one person who might be saying that it’s a 50/50 thing, and that some might prefer the ’09 version and some the new one blah blah and what a pickle, and that’s MCN’s David Poland. Poland actually wrote the following when Friedkin’s bleachy version was released in early ’09: “The French Connection on Blu-ray is one of the great additions to the highest shelf of my Blu-ray library, up there with The Godfather, the Kubrick films, and Pixar.”
Leibman finally comes down on the side of the 2009 version near the end of the piece, not because of what he sees and feels or thinks but because the new version lacks the passionate defense or explanation from Friedkin to explain why the natural hues have been reverted back to.
“Considering Friedkin’s rather passionate and convincing argument on the old release, however, it’s difficult to argue against it, especially considering that there’s no such explanation here save for a blurb on the box proclaiming the approval of both the director and the cinematographer for the new transfer,” he writes.
Have you ever read such a load of gooey gelato bullshit in your life?
What Leibman is saying, in effect, is this: “Seeing is not believing because the visuals alone are not enough. A persuasive argument and/or explanation for the natural look and tone of this new transfer must be included on an extras supplement or on a printed statement of some kind, or the Bluray itself must necessarily suffer in the minds of critics like myself. It’s not enough, in short, for this new Bluray to look better. It has to be accompanied by a persuasive theory.”
If the “lacks a persuasive theory” remark rings a bell, it’s from Tom Wolfe‘s The Painted Word.
Hey, how come you only invited geeks like /Film‘s Peter Sciretta to last Tuesday’s special showing of your 85-minute Star Wars prequel re-edit? I’ve been really vocal about being a Lucas hater for 13 years now, and I’ve written reams about the prequels over the years and…I don’t know, I kinda feel I’ve paid my dues. I’m not saying I deserved to be invited, mind — it’s your film, do what you want — but if and when you invite a second wave of online journos to see it, please keep me in mind.
Grace’s film is called Star Wars: Episode III.5: The Editor Strikes Back. “It should be noted,” Sciretta writes, “that the Star Wars prequel trilogy is almost 7 hours in total length, and the shortest film (Episode 1) is more than 51 minutes longer than Grace’s fan cut. What this means is a lot of footage ended up on the editing room floor, and a lot of creative choices were made in the editing process.
“And the result? Topher Grace’s Star Wars film is probably the best possible edit of the Star Wars prequels given the footage released and available.
“What’s most shocking is that with only 85 minutes of footage, Topher was able to completely tell the main narrative of Anakin Skywalker’s road from Jedi to the Sith. While I know the missing pieces and could even fill in the blanks in my head as the film raced past, none of those points were really needed. What’s better is that the character motivations are even more clear and identifiable, a real character arc not bogged down by podraces, galactic senates, Jar Jar Binks, politics or most of the needless parts of the Star Wars prequels. It not only clarifies the story, but makes the film a lot more action-packed.”
Comic-book artist Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, a.k.a. “Moebius,” died today in Paris of cancer, at age 73. Not being a comic-book guy, I first became aware of Moebius when he was referenced in a line of Quentin Tarantino dialogue from Crimson Tide (’95). Moebius drew a two-issue Silver Surfer comic book (under the title of “Parable”) in ’88 and ’89. Jack Kirby was the original Surfer creator, of course — even I knew that.
(l.) Moebius Silver Surfer; (r.) the Kirby version.
From Crimson Tide:
Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (i.e., Denzel Washington): Rivetti, what’s up?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti (i.e., Danny Nucci): I’m sorry, sir. It’s just a difference of opinion that got out of hand.
Hunter: What about?
Rivetti: It’s really too silly to talk about, sir. I’d really just forget about…
Hunter: I don’t give a damn about what you’d rather forget about. Why were you two fighting?
Rivetti: I said, the Kirby Silver Surfer was the only real Silver Surfer. And that the Moebius Silver Surfer was shit. And Bennefield’s a big Moebius fan. And it got of hand. I pushed him. He pushed me. I lost my head, sir. I’m Sorry.
Hunter: Rivetti, you’re a supervisor. You can get a commission like that.
Rivetti: I know, sir. You’re 100 percent right. It will never happen again.
Hunter: It better not happen again. If I see this kind of nonsense again, I’m going to write you up. You understand?
Rivetti: [No answer]
Hunter: Do you understand?
Rivetti: Yes, sir.
Hunter: You have to set an example even in the face of stupidity. Everybody who reads comic books knows that the Kirby Silver Surfer is the only true Silver Surfer. Now am I right or wrong?
Rivetti: You’re right, sir.
Hunter: Now get out of here.
Rivetti: Yes, sir.
And I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how I should be fully knowledgable about comic-book culture if I want to write about or reference any movie based on a comic book, etc. I hate fucking comic books for the dumb-down, pandering-to-bloated-junkfood-eating-geek effect they’ve had upon the plots of way too many mainstream adventure movies. I deeply respect the artistry of great comic books and high-end comic-book artists, and I’ve have spent many an hour studying the great stuff at Golden Apple, etc. But God, how I hate all abut a very select fraternity of comic book movies (i.e., Nolan’s Batman films).
Everyone has been waiting for…indeed, salivating in anticipation of the box-office death of Disney’s John Carter. And now it’s happening. Andrew Stanton‘s Mars-based CG spectacle earned a bit less than $10 million yesterday and will end up with…oh, $27 or $28 million by tomorrow night, possibly a bit less or more.
Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino is predicting roughly a 45% drop next weekend, or $13 or $14 million, plus $2 million a day during weekdays. All in all he think it’ll end up with maybe $90 million all in. MCN’s David Poland has written that the film will do “no more than $120 million.” Really? The word-of-mouth isn’t toxic on this thing, but quadrupling (or more-than-quadrupling) its opening weekend haul seems sounds like a stretch. Joe and Jane Popcorn have definitely gotten the message by now that Carter is a disaster film. They might see it out of curiosity, but I can’t see how any genuine enthusiasm could be out there right now.
And the verdict of HE readers…?