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Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2001 12:50 pm
Can anyone provide a comparison of 'Pola X' with Leos Carax's earlier feature films? It is yet to see the light of day in Australia. Same for 'Time Regained', 'Eternity and a Day' (supposedly on cable soon), and 'Flowers of Shanghai'. If you see these films, think of me. . . :-/ *sigh*
Re: Pola X
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2001 2:17 pm
I did not care for "POLA X" at all. While the other Carax films that I had seen, "Mauvais Sang" and "Lovers on the Bridge" had a thematic reason for its characteristic rawness, "POLA X" seems to be schizophrenic and indecisive.
"Time Regained" can be best described as lush, surreal, very fluid, and in my opinion, very true to the spirit of Marcel Proust. Very beautiful film. The way that the time visually weaves from present to past, and from event to event is quite amazing.
"The Flowers of Shanghai" feels very insular and hermetic – the characters have little or no interaction with the outside world. In that sense, it is markedly different from his earlier films like "City of Sadness", "A Time to Live and a Time to Die", or "Goodbye South Goodbye". Hou's command of ellipsis is exquisitely showcased. This film reminds me a little of Kenji Mizoguchi's "Street of Shame", as one of the "flower girls" schemes to buy her freedom. An excellent film.
"Eternity and a Day" is a languidly paced film that is very contemplative. As in "Time Regained", the flashbacks are seamless and fluid, although the main character, Alexandre, remains old. I preferred this film to Angelopoulos' "Ulysses' Gaze", but does not reach the levels of his masterpieces, "Landscape in the Midst" or "The Travelling Players". This one reminds me a little of Andrei Tarkovsky's "Nostalghia", in which the protagonist's spiritual journey is symbolically depicted as a physical wandering.
In case you're interested, "POLA X" is available on UK Region 2 DVD; "Time Regained" is available on UK Region 2 DVD and coming soon to Region 1 (3/27); "The Flowers of Shanghai" is on Hong Kong DVD with non-removeable Chinese and English subtitles; "Eternity and a Day" is available on UK-PAL VHS.
If you any questions on the quality of these films on DVD and PAL VHS, feel free to post or email me. I have most of them (except "POLA X", which I only saw once at the NYFF) in my collection.
Re: Pola X
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 9:07 am
thanks acquarello. well. . .since you asked, if you have any transfer info on the following it'd be appreciated -- The Hole, Vive L'Amour, Tokyo Drifter, I Am Cuba, The Red Desert (bad reviews), Happy Together (bad reviews), The Seventh Seal, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Cleo from 5 to 7, Ohayo. thanks!
Re: Pola X
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 1:20 pm
I don't have "I am Cuba" from the list but I have the others. I'll have to get back with you on some of them later this evening, since it's been a while since I saw them.
"The Hole" - Oddly enough, I have been watching this film for the past few days and just added it to my site last night. It is letterboxed, non anamomorphic, with removeable English subtitles. The transfer looks great, with good color saturation (especially the Grace Chang musical numbers) and clean detail. Recommended.
"Vive l'Amour" - colors are more muted than "The Hole". Detailed evaluation forthcoming.
"Tokyo Drifter" - Good, clean transfer, very nice, saturation of color without bleedthrough. I didn't care too much for the film, itself, though. Recommended if you're a Suzuki fan. Incidentally, "Branded to Kill" is incompatible with some early generation players, like my old Panasonic A-110 and L-50 portable, which either freezes at the layer change or randomly pixellates. It plays fine on my Sony DVP-670D or Toshiba SD1600.
"Red Desert" - Good, warm colors. I'm surprised by the bad reviews, other than the reviewers took the bleak and cloudy landscape to be pastiness of the film. Detailed evaluation forthcoming.
"The Seventh Seal" - Nice, sharp black and white. I don't remember any glaring imperfections. Detailed evaluation forthcoming.
"The Passion of Joan of Arc" - Excellent transfer and restoration, very good black and white detail. There was one scene change at the jail that was very worn (lots of black noise), but is certainly the best print of the film that I have ever seen. You also have the option of turning off Einhhorn's "Voices of Light" soundtrack. Highly recommended.
"Cleo from 5 to 7" - Excellent transfer and source print, very good and true colors in the opening scene (with the Tarot reader), sharp detail on the black and white. Detailed evaluation forthcoming.
"Ohayo" - A lot of people seem to grumble at this Criterion release, but it looks very good to me. The image is full frame (non-anamorphic) and the sound is mono. There is one section with the English tutor that momentary jumps and is torn, another spot where the white privacy screen seems to flicker, and another when the shadow of the aunt is seen and seems to be choppy. However, the colors are warm and slightly muted, and very true to the films of the period (the color palette in "An Autumn Afternoon" are similar). I watch this one at least once a week - the little boy, Isamu, is hilarious.) - Definitely worth a purchase, especially since it's the only Ozu on DVD.
Re: Pola X
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 2:18 pm
Oops! Forgot about "Happy Together". The transfer is very good, letterboxed (1.85), non-anamorphic, and the print quality is also very good, with some minor dust and scrathes. The lush colors are true and the detail is crisp. Highly recommended.
Incidentally, "Happy Together" and "Fallen Angels" are both from Kino, which is another DVD manufacturer that I'm very fond of. They also did the Andrei Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice" and "Mirror", and are currently working on releasing Sergei Paradjanov's "The Color of Pomegranates" and "Ashik Kerib" and "Legend of the Suram Fortress (the latter two as a double feature) on DVD.
Re: Pola X
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 10:35 pm
The Seventh Seal - Non-anamorphic, 1.33, mono, optional English subtitles. Great transfer, sharp contrast, crisp black and white. DVD contains a Peter Cowie commentary, illustrated filmography and restoration demonstration. Not my favorite Bergman film, but a good introduction to his work. Highly recommended.
Vive l'Amour - OAR presentation (1.66), non-removeable subtitles, very good color, contrast and detail, although interior shots seem a little dark (ignore earlier comment on color), very good print (only occasional specks and scratches). Recommended.
Red Desert - Original print is in good to very good condition (a fair amount of specks and scratches, but not overly distracting), OAR presentation (1.85), non anamorphic, transfer is very good, colors are warm and true, very good detail and contrast. As I mentioned earlier, I don't understand the reason for the poor reviews. The only thing that I can see is that the reviewers saw the sooty, ash covered landscape (especially near the refinery) as a lack of detail or color. Great film and highly recommended DVD (and an infinitely better introduction to Antonioni's oeuvre on DVD than the regrettable "Beyond the Clouds").
The Passion of Joan of Arc - Non-anamorphic, 1.33. The DVD also contains a commentary by Caspar Tybjerg, an audio interview (off camera) with Falconetti's daughter (Helene Falconetti), a history of the turbulent events that ultimate destroyed the original negatives of the film. Highly recommended, one of the best film DVDs available on Region 1.
Cleo from 5 to 7 - Non-anamorphic, OAR presentation (1.66), excellent detail. Story is lighter and more innovative camerawork than the harrowing, cinema verite style of "Vagabond". Highly recommended for fans of nouvelle vague or Agnes Varda. However, I would recommend "Vagabond" first as an introduction to Varda. There is also a cool cameo with Michel Legrand, composer of the music to "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", which was directed by Varda's husband, Jacques Demy.
Re: Pola X
Posted: Thu Feb 15, 2001 3:11 am
thanks, that was very extensive. good news about the incorrectness of the reviews on Il Deserto Rosso and Happy Together.
Re: Pola X
Posted: Thu Feb 22, 2001 10:19 pm
FYI - Three Leos Carax films are coming to Region 1 DVD on April 10:
Boy Meets Girl
Re: Pola X
Posted: Fri Feb 23, 2001 11:04 pm
I do have the "Red Desert" on DVD released by Image Ent. and I'm thoroughly satisfied with the transfer and image resolution which is a far cry from the VHS version I saw. The only flaw (?) I noticed is the inconsistent hue which occurs in between distance shots. For instance, on medium shots, a reddish hue was prominent and when it shifts to close-ups, it becomes yellowish and even bluish at times. I don't know if this is deliberate or not. I know this is Antonioni's first color feature and the film relied heavily on color symbols. What do you think acquarello?
Re: Pola X
Posted: Sun Feb 25, 2001 2:21 pm
I don't remember the color shift off hand, and unfortunately, I'm out of town this weekend, so I can't cue up the DVD until Monday night. Any particular chapters that I should pay attention to?
As for Antonioni's style, though, he uses color in a similar way as Bergman (as part of the mise-en-scene), and not quite like Tarkovsky (oneiric). I would suspect that the shift in hue is probably more to limitations of the camera lens (the angle of the incident light refracting different colors in the spectrum, since the shifts seem to occur as a function of distance), which should have been corrected in post production. My guess is that it was just overlooked.