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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:50 pm 
"Without obsession, life is nothing"
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UK outfit has just released Satyajit Ray's The Adversary. Anyone bought it?

Oh, and they have Saragossa Manuscript on the way too.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 1:23 pm 
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Lino wrote:
UK outfit has just released Satyajit Ray's The Adversary. Anyone bought it?

No, but I'm reviewing it. Sadly, it's a dreadful transfer of a pretty ropey print - clearly ex-theatrical, most frames riddled with spots and scratches, burned-in subtitles that are hard to read against pale backgrounds (the high contrast doesn't help here), and the transfer itself is off-puttingly jerky whenever there's any significant panning or other movement. I'm guessing a NTSC-PAL conversion, but I'd need to look at it more closely.

And this is the final retail version, not a check disc.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:28 pm 
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Oh, dear. So much for my intentions of acquiring more Ray, then.

I really hope they don't mess up with Saragossa, though.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 1:47 pm 
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Mr. Bongo will be releasing Antonioni's Cronaca di un amore on 19 Nov. No extras though, priced at £10.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 8:56 am 
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FSimeoni wrote:
Mr. Bongo will be releasing Antonioni's Cronaca di un amore on 19 Nov. No extras though, priced at £10.

I have a checkdisc of this - I'll dig it out later tonight and report back.

(I'm certainly not assuming all their releases are as bad as The Adversary, any more than I rank Second Run by the standards of the VHS-quality Romeo, Juliet and Darkness)

OK, I now have a final production copy of Story of a Love Affair (which is the title on the box), and a quick glance suggests that it's a vast improvement on The Adversary in that it has a decent source print with optional electronic subtitles. It also appears to be native PAL.

That said, it still falls some way short of MoC's Bellissima, my personal benchmark for Italian films of this vintage. The source print is OK in terms of greyscale (nice rich blacks and whites without going overboard on the contrast), but the image is softer and muddier than I'd have expected for what claims to be transfer from a new print struck from the original negative. Also, it's interlaced.

Unlike The Adversary, there are some extras - but nothing too exciting: still and poster galleries and something called "slideshow", which offers more of the same.

Still, for an RRP of a tenner, it's not too bad a package.

UPDATE: I've now watched it properly, and it's actually a pretty dreadful transfer. I think the source print was fine, and possibly the telecine too, but the picture is riddled with blocky artefacts and the sound has the same low-bitrate electronic tinniness that marred The Adversary. To add insult to injury, the pointless American dub has superior sound - though that's not saying much.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2007 1:52 pm 
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Thanks, Michael, for that... No improvement on the NoShame R1 version of CRONACA, obviously, and probably not even up to that serviceable standard... Overall best print, transfer & picture quality has to be the French R2 Carlotta version (with French subs)...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:51 pm 

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Mr Bongo's ad in the new Sight and Sound lists Identification of a Woman and Black God White Devil as coming from them in the UK in 2008, in addition to Saragossa Manuscript and L'Avventura. Hopes are dampened and doubts raised a bit by the ad listing the director of Black God White Devil as "Clauber Rocha" and Saragossa Manuscript as being directed by "Wojcieck Has" and restored by "Martin Scorcese".


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:00 pm 
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Good to hear IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN/Antonioni coming to DVD, hopefullly as an anamorphic widescreen transfer (contrasting with the previous academy ratio pan and scan bfi vhs)... Any mention of a month for this release?... Can it at least be better than their CRONACA disc...


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:03 pm 

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Nothing more specific than 2008, I'm afraid.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:46 am 
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OK, I have a checkdisc of The Saragossa Manuscript and...

...a quick spin suggests it's a very pleasant surprise!

To get the unequivocally good news out of the way, it's anamorphic, uncut, and the soundtrack does NOT have the horrible electronic artefacting that marred the other two Mr Bongo discs that I've seen. (True, it's nothing to write home about either, but I'm quite satisfied that it reflects the original mid-1960s mono track).

It also appears to be native PAL, as I couldn't detect any telltale NTSC motion judder, and the 175-minute running time is what you'd expect after applying PAL speedup to a 182-minute film. The transfer also appears to be progressive - I'll update if I notice anything that suggests otherwise.

The source print appears to be in pretty decent condition, with minimal damage bar the odd blemish here and there. Even better, the image has a gratifyingly wide dynamic range, with proper blacks and whites and plenty of greys in between.

Unlike the US release (Beaver review), the subtitles are white.

The image isn't flawless - it's a trifle soft at times (though certainly no worse than suggested by the Beaver framegrabs and arguably a notch sharper than those), and there's some pronounced artefacting and texturing at times. However, I should stress that I'm watching a DVD-R checkdisc, and my laptop has a history of reacting badly to such things - I'll watch the whole thing on a domestic player as soon as I get a chance.

The most contentious issue will probably be the aspect ratio. I grabbed a frame and analysed it in Photoshop, and it appears to be 2.1:1. This is clearly better than the version on the R1 disc, which was controversially reformatted to 1.92:1 - but I don't know if the OAR was a full 2.35:1 Scope. I also don't know for certain the aspect ratios of the French and (forthcoming) Polish releases - for all I know, they may be sourced from the same master. The only on-disc extra is a small stills gallery.

Anyway, that's an interim report - I'll post back when I've had a chance to watch the whole thing. I'll also see if I can do matching grabs for comparison with the Beaver review.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 7:31 pm 
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I finally got round to doing a direct comparison between the Mr Bongo disc and the Beaver caps (I resized the former so that it's the same height), and ended up with:

Image
Image

So, as you can see, the image is exactly the same in terms of content - but one of the transfers has had its proportions fiddled with. I don't have the Image disc, so it's hard to tell.

(On the other hand, the Mr Bongo subtitles are clearly better, if only because they're not yellow!)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:33 pm 
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It's actually pretty easy to tell that the transfer with yellow subs is squeezed. Very excited, will definitely be putting in a pre-order for this


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:33 pm 

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MichaelB wrote:
(I resized the former so that it's the same height), and ended up with ...

So, as you can see, the image is exactly the same in terms of content -

From what I'm seeing on the screen, not quite exactly the same content.

The upper image looks cropped ever so slightly at the top (from the looks of the column in the far upper left) and a bit more noticeably at the bottom (from the hand in the lower right section).

The landmarks that I'm finding look close enough to identical on the left and right.

*Maybe* resizing to match widths instead of heights would be a bit better?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:29 am 
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PillowRock wrote:
*Maybe* resizing to match widths instead of heights would be a bit better?

Your wish is my command:

Image
Image


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:20 am 
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I've just read that Mr. Bongo will be releasing more from Has and a foursome of Antonioni, though no titles specified (with the exception of the two previously announced Antonionis).


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:34 am 
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FSimeoni wrote:
I've just read that Mr. Bongo will be releasing more from Has and a foursome of Antonioni, though no titles specified (with the exception of the two previously announced Antonionis).

Six Has films have been announced in Poland - two are out already (Noose and One-Room Tenants, both from the late 1950s), with four more to follow, presumably shortly. One is Saragossa, but I can't recall the others offhand - possibly Lalka and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, but don't quote me.

I've only dipped into the Polish discs thus far, but transfers seem solid enough, and the main features have English subtitles - though sadly not the extras, which include rare Has shorts.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:55 am 
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The 3 Antonioni titles we already know are coming from Mr Bongo...

CRONACA DI UN AMORE / STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR (already released and apparently so-so)

L'AVVENTURA

IDENTIFICAZIONE DI UNA DONNA/IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN (new to DVD with Eng subs)

It's anyone's guess what No. 4 will be but it can't be LA NOTTE (MoC), L'ECLISSE (Optimum), RED DESERT (coming from BFI), BLOW UP (Warner) or THE PASSENGER (Sony), which are all already spoken for...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:35 pm 

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Le Amiche?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:21 pm 

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stephan73 wrote:
Le Amiche?

Or I Vinti, which hopefully would be a port of the Minerva release?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 12:45 pm 
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Is the isolated score on the Region 1 Image disc of Saragossa Manuscript any good? I'm leaning much more toward picking up the Mr Bongo disc but the score might sway me - I suppose it depends a lot on whether the music in the film itself is obscured by dialogue or sound effects and whether there is that much of it!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:53 pm 
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Mr Bongo's website announces that Memories of Underdevelopment is coming soon, here's hoping that the transfer is good, I won't hold my breath though.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:59 pm 
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ellipsis7 wrote:
The 3 Antonioni titles we already know are coming from Mr Bongo...

CRONACA DI UN AMORE / STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR (already released and apparently so-so)

L'AVVENTURA

IDENTIFICAZIONE DI UNA DONNA/IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN (new to DVD with Eng subs)

It's anyone's guess what No. 4 will be but it can't be LA NOTTE (MoC), L'ECLISSE (Optimum), RED DESERT (coming from BFI), BLOW UP (Warner) or THE PASSENGER (Sony), which are all already spoken for...

Is it not more likely to be Il Grido or La Signora senza Camelie?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:09 pm 
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My bet is on Il Grido.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 7:54 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
Is the isolated score on the Region 1 Image disc of Saragossa Manuscript any good? I'm leaning much more toward picking up the Mr Bongo disc but the score might sway me - I suppose it depends a lot on whether the music in the film itself is obscured by dialogue or sound effects and whether there is that much of it!

No idea about the score, but as the Mr. Bongo disc is up for pre-order at HMV for only £6.99 (surely a misprice), it's got to be worth it!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:47 pm 
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MichaelB wrote:
The most contentious issue will probably be the aspect ratio. I grabbed a frame and analysed it in Photoshop, and it appears to be 2.1:1. This is clearly better than the version on the R1 disc, which was controversially reformatted to 1.92:1 - but I don't know if the OAR was a full 2.35:1 Scope. I also don't know for certain the aspect ratios of the French and (forthcoming) Polish releases - for all I know, they may be sourced from the same master. The only on-disc extra is a small stills gallery..

I've only just seen this. I do own the Image DVD, and I reviewed it five and a half years ago for DVD Times - see here..

Briefly, if it's the full version then its source is Has's own print, which was the only surviving copy - the negative had been destroyed - or any masters derived from it.

I saw the film projected in 35mm seven years ago at the Cine Lumiere in London - in the 152-minute version - and I'm pretty sure, from memory, that the film was 2.35:1.

The Image DVD had a useful booklet containing analyses of the film's structure and a checklist of characters and the chapters they appeared in - very handy with a film like this, which is hard enough to follow in its full-length version, let alone a shortened one! (There was also a two-hour version released outside Poland.) Incidentally, this may be the only film to feature a flashback inside a flashback inside a flashback inside a flashback, if you count the stories within stories as flashbacks.


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