Archive for September 24th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

     Last night’s high definition screenings of the beloved classic The Wizard of Oz in over 400 theatres nationwide  leaves one questioning if they were really privileged to be part of this 70th anniversary celebration, in spite of reported sell-outs in nearly every location showcasing the enhanced print.  With a flat rate of $10 a ticket, including for even the youngest kids, the price point is comparable to what moviegoers are being asked to cough up for the recent spate of 3D versions of summer fare, much of which hasn’t measured up to the hype.

     The 10:00 P. M. screening last night at the AMC multiplex in Clifton, New Jersey featured a print no better than any DVD of the film that has been released to date, and particularly disappointing sepia tone bookend sequences that failed to bring out the ‘sharp detail’ that was promised by distributors.  While the larger image is of course a special treat for fans, it accomplished nothing by way of compositional enhancement or color saturation, two factors that motivated many to attend in the first place.  True, the audio mix was lively, and the most minute orchestral cues were decipherable, but it’s a glass half-full.  With this kind of shoddy execution, one can’t help but question the build-up and the motivation behind this aggressive promotion of a film that needs little publicity or marketing. (more…)

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asthenic 1

(USSR 1989 153m) not on DVD

Aka. Asteniceskij Sindrom

A bottleful of sadness has been spilt

p  Micha Lampert, Kira G.Muratova  d  Kira G.Muratova  w  Kira G.Muratova, Sergei Popov, Alexander Tschernych  ph  Vladimir Pankov  ed  Vladimir Olinik  m  Franz Schubert  art  Oleg Ivanov

Olga Antonova (Natasha), Sergei Popov (Nikolai), Galina Zakhrudayeva (Masha – blonde), Natalya Buzko (Masha – brunette), Pavel Polishchuk (Iunikov), Natalya Ralleva (mother), Aleksandra Svenskaya (teacher),

Surely one of the least seen of all great films of the last twenty-five years, director Kira Muratova’s magnum opus is one of the most taxing films you’ll ever see.  Though my introduction aimed to try and open up new possibilities to the popcorn munching brigade, this one probably isn’t for their membership.  I’d suggest that they try, but I think in converting people to watching foreign, and especially difficult foreign movies, one must start them off in more favourable surroundings; start with Cinema Paradiso, Crouching Tiger, some Kurosawa and the Claude Berri Pagnol films and work from there.  This, one might say, is a graduation assignment.

              Syndrome opens in stark monochrome at a funeral, where the deceased’s wife suddenly bursts into extreme hysteria and walks away from the graveside.  The mourners follow her, but she tells them in no uncertain terms to “go to hell”, and stomps off to deal with her grief in her own way.  That way involves changing into the epitome of rude, aggressive offence, deliberately pushing people over in the street, insulting people, including one’s boss in the act of resigning, and even slapping a man and bursting into hysterics when he answers in the negative when she asks whether he’ll sleep with her.  She picks up a drunk, offers sex, and then screams as she throws him out afterwards. (more…)

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