30 M

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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dr. calamari
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Re: 30 M

#101 Post by dr. calamari » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:36 am

I just re-watched M last night, and I really don't see much room for improvement as far as the image goes...it's still much better than the original Criterion release, and as far as I'm concerned more contrast or brightness wouldn't affect the viewing experience.

What I would have liked to see, in addition to the original film, is the 1953 version starring David Wayne as Beckert. I've never seen it and know of no DVD version currently available. if Criterion could have found a copy and secured the rights it would have been a very interesting supplement to an already excellent disc.

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Re: 30 M

#102 Post by HarryLong » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:39 am

I've never seen it and know of no DVD version currently available.
Well, not legally, at any rate. But I have seen it offered...
But the Lang is so perfect & I've heard such indifferent responses to the remake I've never had any real urge to check it out.

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Florinaldo
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Re: 30 M

#103 Post by Florinaldo » Thu Apr 08, 2010 4:18 pm

dr. calamari wrote:I just re-watched M last night, and I really don't see much room for improvement as far as the image goes...it's still much better than the original Criterion release, and as far as I'm concerned more contrast or brightness wouldn't affect the viewing experience.

What I would have liked to see, in addition to the original film, is the 1953 version starring David Wayne as Beckert. I've never seen it and know of no DVD version currently available. if Criterion could have found a copy and secured the rights it would have been a very interesting supplement to an already excellent disc.
After watching the excellent MoC BluRay, I can confirm there is still room for improvement over the image quality of the already excellent CC 2-disc edition.

As for the Losey version, I think David Wayne's interpretation elevates it above the great number of good noir films from the period (but not to the level of Lang's original). In some ways, he's even more perverse and sexually creepy than Lorre. It is a courageous performance because he does not try to elicit any sympathy from the viewer in my view, even in the final sequence, whereas in the Lang film you can't help but hope Becker escapes the trial.

Perhaps one day the rights morass that is preventing a DVD edition will be resolved and the film can be given a proper treatment.
Last edited by Florinaldo on Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 30 M

#104 Post by cdnchris » Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:38 am

As there were people wondering in this thread I'll let everyone know that the English version here is presented in 1080i and there's been no restoration.

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dr. calamari
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Re: 30 M

#105 Post by dr. calamari » Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:05 am

Florinaldo wrote:
dr. calamari wrote:I just re-watched M last night, and I really don't see much room for improvement as far as the image goes...it's still much better than the original Criterion release, and as far as I'm concerned more contrast or brightness wouldn't affect the viewing experience.

What I would have liked to see, in addition to the original film, is the 1953 version starring David Wayne as Beckert. I've never seen it and know of no DVD version currently available. if Criterion could have found a copy and secured the rights it would have been a very interesting supplement to an already excellent disc.
After watching the excellent MoC BluRay, I can confirm there is still room for improvement over the image quality of the already excellent CC 2-disc edition.

As for the Losey version, I think David Wayne's interpretation elevates it above the great number of good noir films from the period (but not to the level of Lang's original). In some ways, he's even more perverse and sexually creepy than Lorre. It is a courageous performance because he does not try to elicit any sympathy from the viewer in my view, even in the final sequence, whereas in the Lang film you can't help but hope Becker escapes the trial.

Perhaps one day the rights morass that is preventing a DVD edition will be resolved and the film can be given a proper treatment.
Thanks, Florinaldo...I've never seen the Losey version, and your mini-review is much appreciated. Maybe some day the rights issues can be resolved and I'll be able to see for myself how good or bad it really is.

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Re: 30 M

#106 Post by cdnchris » Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:29 am

A few high-res grabs:

Grab 1
Grab 2
Grab 3
Grab 4
Grab 5
Grab 6

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Svevan
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Re: 30 M

#107 Post by Svevan » Sat Apr 17, 2010 3:21 am

I can see the debate beginning already. Compared to the available MoC shots from the Beaver, this is much more contrasty and darker. I'm wary of the process of digital manipulation, but ignorant of the film's original "look" so I can't compare the results without responding subjectively. I hope someone who knows can respond and tell us whether this digitally darkened image is correct, but I suspect that no one can actually say. Criterion has a (not absolute) preference for amping up blacks so all of their B&W films seem to have the same level of contrast (take a look at any B&W film on Eclipse and you'll see how LIGHT they are before Criterion puts their hands on them). So my gut instinct is that without some sort of objective guide, digital manipulation will result in a modern B&W look; our cultural frame of reference for black and white films seems to be film noir, and that's not the best approach for, say, Tokyo Story (to make a very outdated example).

It may not be a big difference or a big deal in the long run, but I'd like to preempt anyone out there who thinks this is just a "matter of preference," a common argument used (IMO) to defend costly purchases and avoid tough realizations re: our favorite DVD company.

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Re: 30 M

#108 Post by perkizitore » Sat Apr 17, 2010 6:48 am

Svevan wrote: It may not be a big difference or a big deal in the long run, but I'd like to preempt anyone out there who thinks this is just a "matter of preference," a common argument used (IMO) to defend costly purchases and avoid tough realizations re: our favorite DVD company.
One of the best posts of the year so far! :D

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Re: 30 M

#109 Post by gyorgys » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:44 am

Svevan wrote: Criterion has a (not absolute) preference for amping up blacks so all of their B&W films seem to have the same level of contrast (take a look at any B&W film on Eclipse and you'll see how LIGHT they are before Criterion puts their hands on them). So my gut instinct is that without some sort of objective guide, digital manipulation will result in a modern B&W look; our cultural frame of reference for black and white films seems to be film noir, and that's not the best approach for, say, Tokyo Story (to make a very outdated example).
Intelligent post! Especially the assumption about film noir as a modern frame of cultural reference for most B&W films as a means to give them a contemporain look. One of the hallmarks (?) of Criterion is contrast boosting (sometimes resulting in obscuring details), which could be responsible for the often made critical remarks with regard to frequently observed contrast flickering in their (re)masterings (e.g. Antonioni's L'avventura and the B&W Ozu's).

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Re: 30 M

#110 Post by triodelover » Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:43 am

Svevan wrote:I can see the debate beginning already. Compared to the available MoC shots from the Beaver, this is much more contrasty and darker. I'm wary of the process of digital manipulation, but ignorant of the film's original "look" so I can't compare the results without responding subjectively. I hope someone who knows can respond and tell us whether this digitally darkened image is correct, but I suspect that no one can actually say. Criterion has a (not absolute) preference for amping up blacks so all of their B&W films seem to have the same level of contrast (take a look at any B&W film on Eclipse and you'll see how LIGHT they are before Criterion puts their hands on them). So my gut instinct is that without some sort of objective guide, digital manipulation will result in a modern B&W look; our cultural frame of reference for black and white films seems to be film noir, and that's not the best approach for, say, Tokyo Story (to make a very outdated example).

It may not be a big difference or a big deal in the long run, but I'd like to preempt anyone out there who thinks this is just a "matter of preference," a common argument used (IMO) to defend costly purchases and avoid tough realizations re: our favorite DVD company.
=D> =D>

While I don't doubt that noir is the reference for viewers of a certain age, I suspect that Criterion's "hands on" approach (as opposed to MoC's stated preference for "hands off") has more to do with their perception of their customer's viewing environs (see pictureboxing) than any stylistic or genre tilt. Then there's the cultural element associated with a largely American market (titles in English vs the native language, for example). For a large swath of the American market, HD equates to sharp, high contrast and, most of all, modern.

i am assuming by "our favorite DVD company" you mean Masters of Cinema, no? BFI, then? O:)

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Re: 30 M

#111 Post by carax09 » Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:48 am

On the basis of those grabs, I feel comfortable with Criterion's knob twiddling, in this case. Since M is a proto-noir, lit in a fairly low-key scheme in order to bring out a chiaroscura effect, one would expect some inky blacks in the image.

On the other hand, it should be a source of concern that this look has become Criterion's house style, when ideal contrast should be determined on a case-by-case basis. In my opinion, the worst case of heavy-handed contrast boosting was with Late Spring---what a disappointment that was. I can't wait to see what the BFI do with that title!

In any case, these overlapping interregional releases are certainly creating a persuasive argument for not allowing oneself to be tethered via hardware to a particular zone...

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triodelover
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Re: 30 M

#112 Post by triodelover » Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:22 pm

carax09 wrote:On the basis of those grabs, I feel comfortable with Criterion's knob twiddling, in this case. Since M is a proto-noir, lit in a fairly low-key scheme in order to bring out a chiaroscura effect, one would expect some inky blacks in the image.
I take the opposite view, I guess. Comparing Chris' screen grabs to my copy of MoC's M and Gary's grabs, I find the CC looks artificial and clearly manipulated. Take the grab of Peter Lorre in the shop doorway noticing the "M" chalked on the back of his topcoat in his reflection. That archway was lit from both a streetlamp and the shop sign. I think the grain in the CC is solely a product of the manipulation. The MoC just looks more period-correct, for lack of a better term. As far as offering the fact that M is a proto-noir in mitigation, you could say that about a host of films from the '20s and '30s none of which looked like this originally.

It does seem to have become Criterion's house style. It didn't bother me when I was watching on a 32" CRT. Now that I've been watching for a year and a half on a 50" plasma, I find it very intrusive. But then again, films from this period and earlier have never been their long suit.

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Re: 30 M

#113 Post by Tribe » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:57 pm

I know you're all well-intentioned, but I fail to see anything "wrong" with the picture in those screen grabs.

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Re: 30 M

#114 Post by triodelover » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:53 pm

Tribe wrote:I know you're all well-intentioned, but I fail to see anything "wrong" with the picture in those screen grabs.
We're picking nits - trying to decide between a Grand Cru Burgundy and a first growth Bordeaux. (For the record, I'll always choose the Burgundy.) :)

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Re: 30 M

#115 Post by Tribe » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:31 pm

triodelover wrote:
Tribe wrote:I know you're all well-intentioned, but I fail to see anything "wrong" with the picture in those screen grabs.
We're picking nits - trying to decide between a Grand Cru Burgundy and a first growth Bordeaux. (For the record, I'll always choose the Burgundy.) :)
Then imbibe and be merry! :D The talk of "preempting" (and the resulting bandwagon of me toos) anyone who voiced some different opinion was just rubbing the wrong way.

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Re: 30 M

#116 Post by triodelover » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:00 pm

If my comment came across as preemptive, I apologize. Either version is miles ahead of what we've had before and if i didn't have the MoC, I'd buy the CC. I've always favored a hands off approach wherever possible. It's why I build preamps without tone controls and other filters.

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Re: 30 M

#117 Post by Tribe » Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:48 pm

No need to apologize at all...I was referring to a different comment. As I said...drink up!

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Re: 30 M

#118 Post by Svevan » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:01 pm

Tribe wrote:The talk of "preempting" anyone who voiced some different opinion was just rubbing the wrong way.
My comment was in no way intended to preempt those who have "some different opinion." I was intending to preempt those who believe there is no right answer, and will merely justify the purchase of whichever product is more convenient/desirable to them. You stated that you "fail to see anything 'wrong'" with the grabs; I don't either. But do you at least see something "different?" The two digital presentations aren't identical, and that seems indisputable. I and many others think that Criterion manipulates their B&W films to have deeper darks and high contrast, giving them all a similar appearance (there are exceptions of course; it seems to be a more recent phenomenon, starting around spine 200 or so). It is possible that Criterion has a trump card and is darkening this image in key spots because they have privileged information that we don't: it is also possible that they want to make the image sharper by boosting blacks, putting the image in line with their "house style." I wanted only to preempt those who don't want to examine this question with neutral eyes. (MoC isn't in some sort of privileged position here; they just encoded Criterion's master without any digital touchups).

I think that people tend to support certain DVDs not because they have any real objective reasoning for preferring that digital presentation, but because they prefer the company, the extras, the cover art, or they're region-locked. This is a continuation of an argument about the colors in Tales of Hoffman, where certain people stated, as you did, that they "didn't see anything wrong" with the color-scheme, as if their individual perspective shorn of some historical context meant anything. For the record, I see nothing wrong with EITHER presentation (and more detailed analyses are forthcoming), but one must surely be "more correct" than the other. I'm not claiming to be the decider, and the differences may be minimal anyways.

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Re: 30 M

#119 Post by Tribe » Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:26 pm

Svevan wrote:
Tribe wrote:The talk of "preempting" anyone who voiced some different opinion was just rubbing the wrong way.
My comment was in no way intended to preempt those who have "some different opinion." I was intending to preempt those who believe there is no right answer, and will merely justify the purchase of whichever product is more convenient/desirable to them. You stated that you "fail to see anything 'wrong'" with the grabs; I don't either. But do you at least see something "different?" The two digital presentations aren't identical, and that seems indisputable. I and many others think that Criterion manipulates their B&W films to have deeper darks and high contrast, giving them all a similar appearance (there are exceptions of course; it seems to be a more recent phenomenon, starting around spine 200 or so). It is possible that Criterion has a trump card and is darkening this image in key spots because they have privileged information that we don't: it is also possible that they want to make the image sharper by boosting blacks, putting the image in line with their "house style." I wanted only to preempt those who don't want to examine this question with neutral eyes. (MoC isn't in some sort of privileged position here; they just encoded Criterion's master without any digital touchups).

I think that people tend to support certain DVDs not because they have any real objective reasoning for preferring that digital presentation, but because they prefer the company, the extras, the cover art, or they're region-locked. This is a continuation of an argument about the colors in Tales of Hoffman, where certain people stated, as you did, that they "didn't see anything wrong" with the color-scheme, as if their individual perspective shorn of some historical context meant anything. For the record, I see nothing wrong with EITHER presentation (and more detailed analyses are forthcoming), but one must surely be "more correct" than the other.
This is a much better, if not more detailed, explanation than what I took your initial comment to mean. In your initial post about this you noted and claimed "ignoran[ce] of the film's original "look" so [you couldn't] compare the results without responding subjectively." So, I think it's clear you don't know what the original looked like and as a result you can't claim any particular privileged knowledge whether or not the CC version is inappropriate or not.

Having said that, sure, there are differences that are plainly visible in the caps...but that really doesn't mean much in the absence of some "smoking gun" regarding how the images are supposed to look in the first place. So in the absence of the same it does go back to a subjective sentiment regarding which one is correct. And you're right, my subjective view that there's "nothing wrong," as if my "individual perspective shorn of some historical context meant anything," is as subjective of your more detailed assessment.

And again, I do realize the commentary is well-intentioned...but I felt I had to call out the express "preemption" you emphasized in your original post.

Still, I think it's a vast minority of the population (perhaps not so much the minority of those who post here) who engage in the detailed "real objective reasoning for preferring [a] digital presentation" over another as grounds for preferring one version of a release over another. It's fine for what it is, but for those of us who feel little benefit arises out of such hair splitting it's sort of much ado about very slight variations and awfully subjective in the absence of that elusive "smoking gun."

Ultimately, and this has nothing to do with your post, I have been forever leery of judgment calls about the merits of one release over another ever since the ruckus raised in this Forum over the so-called reversed transposition scene in Jules and Jim, wherein so many posters (I don't believe many of those still post here) just went on and on as if Criterion had transgressed some ultimate moral code, only for it to later be disclosed that the transposition was in the original print.

Regardless, thanks for the explanation.

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Re: 30 M

#120 Post by Svevan » Sun Apr 18, 2010 10:09 pm

Seems we agree. A more comprehensive comparison is necessary for us to assess whether the differences are anything more than marginal; in the meantime, I hope someone out there does have that smoking gun.

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Re: 30 M

#121 Post by TMDaines » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:12 pm

Svevan wrote:You stated that you "fail to see anything 'wrong'" with the grabs; I don't either. But do you at least see something "different?" The two digital presentations aren't identical, and that seems indisputable. I and many others think that Criterion manipulates their B&W films to have deeper darks and high contrast, giving them all a similar appearance (there are exceptions of course; it seems to be a more recent phenomenon, starting around spine 200 or so).
I'm glad I'm not the only who gets this impression. It's like their DVDs are "Criterions" rather than DVDs of films just being released by Criterion. You don't need to go any further than Criterion's Facebook page to see evidence of this. A significant proportion on there seemingly buy them as "Criterions" rather than buying the DVD as it's the best, or even just a good, release of a film they are interested in.

I do love Criterion as they have done a great job on so many films I'm interested in but I don't think the video aspects of their releases are the strongest.

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Re: 30 M

#122 Post by tenia » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:31 am

TMDaines wrote:I do love Criterion as they have done a great job on so many films I'm interested in but I don't think the video aspects of their releases are the strongest.
They have their share of "bad" releases technically, but you have to admit they do quite an amazing job on audio & video. They have pretty weak releases (I remember of Hamilton Woman especially), but come on guys ! Most of their releases from the past 250 ones are like definitive editions in terms not only of contents, but also for A/V (except for, ahem, picture-boxing).

Apart from that, people who buy them as a collection, and not this much for the movies they release, that's another problem (but honestly, I can surely understand that).

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Re: 30 M

#123 Post by TMDaines » Mon Apr 19, 2010 4:41 am

tenia wrote:
TMDaines wrote:I do love Criterion as they have done a great job on so many films I'm interested in but I don't think the video aspects of their releases are the strongest.
They have their share of "bad" releases technically, but you have to admit they do quite an amazing job on audio & video. They have pretty weak releases (I remember of Hamilton Woman especially), but come on guys ! Most of their releases from the past 250 ones are like definitive editions in terms not only of contents, but also for A/V (except for, ahem, picture-boxing).
Sure, I'm not saying they're bad, it's just they're too "hands-on" with many of their older film releases in my opinion. I look at what MoC and RHV in Italy do with their older films and I find that filmic look so beautiful. Criterion kind of take that away.

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Re: 30 M

#124 Post by montgomery » Mon Apr 19, 2010 9:58 am

I agree that they're too hands-on, in both audio and video. I applaud Resnais for making them include an unrestored soundtrack for Marienbad, and I wish they would do that for every release.

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Re: 30 M

#125 Post by zitherstrings » Mon Apr 19, 2010 2:54 pm

It's hard to argue there are no instances of Criterion over-contrasting, that's for sure. But I feel like the MOC version of M is perhaps under contrasted? There is a very clear surface to the image versus a slight bit of depth to the Criterion captures. Sunrise, of a similar period by MOC, doesn't have this surface issue from what I could tell. So perhaps their M is incorrect?

Of course this is all rather amusing in the context of films this old. I imagine Lang himself never had the "ideal" presentation given the variances in technology at the time.

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