A nearly 30-year-old classic monster movie has been given an improved Bluray treatment. Apparently the 2010 Bluray wasn’t good enough. Dark Horizons‘ Garth Franklin says it’s “one of the most infamously bad Blu-rays ever created…the amount of digital noise reduction used has effectively destroyed all the grain and thus all the detail in the picture.” Franklin claims that a new 2K Predator Bluray is coming out in France in August, and yet there’s no listing on French Amazon. The Predator franchise was milked dry years ago so I couldn’t care less.
Two days ago I was riffing about a Cinemaholic checklist piece called “The 25 Most Awaited Movies of the Second Half of 2016.” I was working my way backwards from #25 but only got as far as #19. Only John Lee Hancock‘s The Founder seemed to offer possible intrigue among these seven. The other six — John Cameron Mitchell‘s How to Talk to Girls at Parties, Alexandros Avranas‘ True Crimes, Scott Derrickson‘s Doctor Strange, Justin Chadwick‘s Tulip Fever, Peter Berg‘s Deepwater Horizon, Amma Asante‘s A United Kingdom — didn’t feel quite right.
I don’t know why I even started this thing as the Cinemaholic list is partly whimsical and certainly too popcorny, but I might as well finish it. Please note that the reverse order of the films listed indicate Cinemaholic’s levels of excitement and/or preference. It doesn’t reflect mine.
18. Farren Blackburn‘s Shut-In (Europa, 11.11.). Featuring: Naomi Watts, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton, David Cubitt, Jacob Tremblay. Synopsis: Psychological indoor creeper — New England, winter, possibly Orphanage-like. HE suspicion/presumption: Essentially a genre film, doesn’t seem top-tier enough. Bottom line: Maybe a classy spooker and maybe not, but what’s it doing on a most anticipated list? And what kind of a first name is “Farren”?
17. Clint Eastwood‘s Sully (Warner Bros., 9.9). Featuring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney, Anna Gunn, Jamey Sheridan, Jerry Ferrara. Synopsis: Everyone knows the synopsis — I’m sick of repeating it. HE suspicion/presumption: The bureaucrats gang up on poor, honorable Sully after he saves a planeload of people = downish moral fable about how seasoned, reliable good guys aren’t sufficiently valued. Bottom line: You know Hanks will nail this.
15. Stephen Gaghan‘s Gold (TWC/Dimension, fall/holiday). Featuring: Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez, Bryce Dallas Howard. Synopsis: An unlucky balding guy (McConaughey) pools forces with with a geologist (Ramírez) to find gold in the Indonesian jungle. Bottom line: The director-writer of Syriana is a skilled, serious-minded fellow so you have to presume this is an attempt to revisit the spirit of Treasure of Sierra Madre (or something like that), but why is this film being distributed by Dimension?
I’m not qualified to write a proper tribute to legendary Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, whose death from cancer was announced a couple of hours ago. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his work, but I’ve been too much of a Kiarostami dilletante to offer anything worth reading. I haven’t even seen Taste of Cherry, which won the Palme d’Or at the ’97 Cannes Film Festival, or Through The Olive Groves. But I can at least say that when you watched his films you always felt deeply immersed. Like all great films, they made you feel wholly subservient to their realm. My favorite Kiarostami pic was his last — 2012’s Like Someone In Love. I’m sorry but I really and truly didn’t care for Certified Copy — it actually pissed me off. But don’t listen to me. Read an appreciation by Guy Lodge or someone better acquainted with Kiarostami’s filmography. Try Owen Gleiberman’s essay — pretty good.
Some of the most miserable moments of my life have been spent on the phone with tech support. Not to mention the angriest. Some tech support calls have turned me into a saliva-spitting werewolf. I’m not saying I’d literally like to see a cross-section of tech-support personnel crucified along the Appian Way, but I’ve definitely fantasized about this. Most tech support people are stupid, protocol-following sadists. They know they’re driving you crazy, and they kind of enjoy it. Just once before I die I want to run into one of these guys. Just once.
And now comes a 7.3. N.Y. Times piece by Kate Murphy about tech support rage (“Why Tech Support Is (Purposely) Unbearable”). I don’t know the name of this tune. I’ve sung it, lived it. I carry the scars on my psyche.
Murphy quotes a 2015 survey by the industry group International Customer Management Institute, to wit: “92 percent of customer service managers said their agents could be more effective and 74 percent said their company procedures prevented agents from providing satisfactory experiences.”
“Bush” (Simon & Schuster, 7.5) is a new assessment by respected historian and academic Jean Edward Smith. The first sentence: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” The last: “Whether George W. Bush was the worst president in American history will be long debated, but his decision to invade Iraq is easily the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.”
Smith, 84, is a longtime academic and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has published stellar biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Listen to this mp3 excerpt.
I don’t know why I’ve never bought the 2009 German Bluray of Anthony Mann‘s El Cid (’61), but I finally did this morning — $20something including shipping. An August ’09 DVD Beaver review says that the Koch Media Bluray (a) delivers essentially the same package contained in the January 2008 Miriam (i.e., Miramax) two-disc DVD, (b) reps an improvement over the DVD version but (c) could look better.”
And that was by 2009 standards. Seven years have passed, 4K renderings are commonplace and an early ’60s large-format film looking pretty good no longer cuts the mustard.
If Universal can pop for luscious 4K remasterings of Spartacus and One-Eyed Jacks, somebody should stand up and create a 4K-scanned domestic Bluray of El Cid. Martin Scorsese pushed for a restoration of this 1961 costumer way back in ’93, and yet nothing has resulted on these shores aside from the 480p Miriam two-disc DVD, which popped in January 2008.
El Cid needs a domestic 4K rebirth. Like Spartacus, El Cid was shot in 35mm 8-perf Technirama. The materials were upgraded to 70mm for roadshow engagements. A quality-level remastering would look like $100 million bucks. If it were my call I would get restoration guru Robert Harris, who delivered that immaculate Spartacus restoration Bluray along with the Godfather restorations of a few years back, to do the job. Who better?
I’m told that El Cid was shot on Eastman 5250 or 5251, and that the materials shouldn’t have significant fade issues.
Scorsese’s Film Foundation partnered with Uni on the One-Eyed Jacks restoration. A proper El Cid Bluray seems like a natural for the Film Foundation, especially given Scorsese’s ardent support for restoring this historical epic 23 years ago.