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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 6:30 am 
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CONVERSATION PIECE, Luchino Visconti’s heartfelt tale of loneliness and intimacy starring Burt Lancaster and an international ensemble cast, is set to be released in a Dual Format edition as part of the Masters of Cinema Series on 15 August 2016 http://amzn.to/1TCb7he.

Eleven years after The Leopard, the revered Italian maestro Luchino Visconti reteamed with the iconic Burt Lancaster on the lavish Conversation Piece [Gruppo di famiglia in un interno].

A retired American professor (Lancaster) lives a solitary and luxurious life in a house in Rome. His world takes an unexpected turn when he is forced to rent part of his house to a countess and her companions: a lover, a daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend. Forced into interaction with the unruly younger group, the professor’s growing fascination begins to stir the possibilities of a life he had previously kept at arm’s length.

A sumptuous, grandly enjoyable chamber drama with a wry sense of humour, Conversation Piece features an international ensemble cast including Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano and Stefano Patrizi (with uncredited cameos by Claudia Cardinale and Dominique Sanda). The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Visconti’s penultimate film in a new dual-format edition from a brand new 2K restoration.

SPECIAL DUAL FORMAT FEATURES:
1080p transfer of the film from a brand new 2K restoration | Features both the original English language soundtrack and the Italian dub track that was produced at the same time | Optional English SDH (for the English track) and optional English subtitles for the Italian track | Interview with critic and screenwriter Alessandro Bencivenni | Trailer | Plus: Booklet featuring a new essay by Pasquale Iannone; and vintage writing on the film.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:13 am 
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Location: Brandywine River
Burt Lancaster in the library with the lead piping.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 8:54 am 
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Glad it specifies new transfer; the previous blu ray release rates as the very worst PQ of any disc I own.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 9:13 am 
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R0lf wrote:
Glad it specifies new transfer; the previous blu ray release rates as the very worst PQ of any disc I own.


My guess would be that it actually uses the restoration made by Gaumont for their 2013 release (which indeed is muche better than the US release).

EDIT : actually, I'm wrong. Kevin has answered on blu-ray.com that "It's a newer restoration, not the same one as the Gaumont disc."
It means that it will be the 3rd different presentation of the movie in 4 years :shock: (Raro 2012, Gaumont 2013 and now MoC 2016). I'm extremely surprised.
And to say we're still waiting a Blu Ray release of Obsession.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:24 am 

Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:48 am
Blu-ray.com review

The multiple releases of Conversation Piece seem to be an unfortunate index of the worst trends in BD "restorations", with a special focus on color timing revisionism.

On the one hand, you have Raro's demonstration of what too much DNR looks like, followed by the "why were the '70's such a jaundiced time?" of the Gaumont, and now we have "no, seriously, any previous video releases with white whites were horribly manipulated; all movies should have dull whites and flattened contrast" of the Eureka rendition.

You'd think a white-on-white room with primary color accents wouldn't be that hard to pin down, visually.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 11:54 am 
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The question I'm always wondering when stumbling on cases like this is : does actually anybody knows how it should look, rather than how these looks are possibly all wrong in various aspects and levels ?
And I'm saying that as a very general and open point, aiming both sides of the debate (restoration teams and forumers). I mean, it's not as if the restoration teams are aiming to be wrong on the purpose so they can be ranted upon, but it's also not as if we knew exactly what the original photo was.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:03 pm 
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tenia wrote:
The question I'm always wondering when stumbling on cases like this is : does actually anybody knows how it should look, rather than how these looks are possibly all wrong in various aspects and levels ?
And I'm saying that as a very general and open point, aiming both sides of the debate (restoration teams and forumers). I mean, it's not as if the restoration teams are aiming to be wrong on the purpose so they can be ranted upon, but it's also not as if we knew exactly what the original photo was.


That is absolutely a valid question to raise, and my sense is that there aren't always clear answers. (I was privy to some of the questions faced on another restoration project.) From what I understand, one of the challenges arises when you start with a scan of the camera negative; it's great for capturing fine detail, but it means that you have to recreate the color timing from scratch. Not only that, but you are using different tools from what were used originally - computer programs rather than an optical printer, filters, etc. That creates an opportunity for inadvertent errors-you might forget to properly filter a day-for-night shot, for instance. Or you could end up introducing bigger changes to the film.

If you have a vintage release print that is not too faded you can use that as a reference, but even that can raise its own set of questions. Maybe the initial release prints of a film were not ideal quality for various reasons.

There is still always some question of taste and creative judgement that ends up creeping into the process, I think. In the case of Conversation Piece, the fact that the screen captures of the Eureka edition are so dominated by grays and lack highlights & shadows is a tip-off that something might be wrong. Svet Atanasov comments in his review that the new transfer lacks vibrancy compared to old transfer, and he is right. The film was shot on studio sets--i.e., careful control over lighting, especially on actors' faces--but the new transfer used in the Eureka edition doesn't seem to reflect that adequately. Many of the images look flat and lack depth; the compositions are not shaped by the lighting in the way that you would expect for a studio film. Especially a studio film directed by Visconti.

I do agree with Svet that the color balance looks better than in the Gaumont Blu-ray, but that becomes a moot point ultimately.

UPDATE: I would like to hear more input from people who have seen both the Gaumont and MoC Blu-rays, when they get the chance to make a comparison. For me, looking at the Gaumont Blu-ray again confirms my initial impression that it does tend towards the greenish and brownish side in some scenes, and the yellowish in others. I think that the perceived color bias is shaped in part by the heavy interiors, and may also be partly a byproduct of the original cinematography. But on the whole the disc is fine and even looks very nice in many shots.

If you look at the whites on the Gaumont Blu-ray, there is in fact a broad range of whites and off-whites in the production design. They are affected in part by the overall lighting scheme and the reflected light of the costumes and settings. To give you an example of the interesting range of whites, look at the white apartment interior that corresponds to the screen capture above. The Gaumont Blu-ray does tend toward the yellowish side in that shot, but it's not extreme and contrast looks fine. The basic design concept of the scene - the subtle play of different whites - is still preserved. So while Gaumont Blu-ray may not have flawless color timing, it may not unduly distort the intended look of the film, either.

I'm curious to hear how the MoC disc plays in motion.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:05 am 
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Apparently there's an hour long documentary as an extra. What is it with Masters of Cinema keeping the special features on their discs a secret?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:31 am 
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Beaver... The whites slightly less grey in these screen caps, I guess, but not much so...


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:39 am 
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jsteffe wrote:
There is still always some question of taste and creative judgement that ends up creeping into the process, I think.


Isn't it also the case from the viewer's point of view ? I've often seen discussions which seemed more heavily oriented by older visions of precedent releases than the intrinsequial qualities and limitations of the newer release.

For instance, there's someone on Blu-ray.com who keeps saying Arrow has an habit of getting teal pictures on their BD, with Porkys being the sole example. The actual lack of pattern aside (one sole example does not make a pattern), the Arrow disc is indeed much bluer than the FOX one... or is the FOX disc actually yellower ? Depending of your own preference (not a technical fact, but a personal preference), you might see the comparison one way rather than the other, and prefer one transfer over the other, despite not knowing which one is actually the more faithful.

In the case of Conversation Piece, the question would then be : is one of the 3 presentations faithful to the original look of the movie ? If not, which one is the more faithful ? And to assess this, what factual elements are available ?

I’m only 29 but prefer catalog movies, meaning the Blu Ray releases I’m reviewing are likely my first experience of the movie, so I’m often stumbling at the lack of possibility to ensure I’m assessing properly the color-grading. There are many examples where I didn’t have the knowledge myself to do so and had to rely on gut-intuition, external feedback, comparison with other releases and experience taken from other movies, but none of that are intrinsequial factual proofs.

For instance, I still strongly believe Criterion’s Hiroshima mon amour blacks are too elevated but was answered that Henri Alekan was known to use milky blacks as part of his work on photography but again, this isn’t direct confirmation, only comparison with other works.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 12:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:00 am
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tenia wrote:
jsteffe wrote:
There is still always some question of taste and creative judgement that ends up creeping into the process, I think.


Isn't it also the case from the viewer's point of view ? I've often seen discussions which seemed more heavily oriented by older visions of precedent releases than the intrinsequial qualities and limitations of the newer release.


Of course! Furthermore, memory is a fluid and capricious thing. Judging a transfer by screen captures is also a tricky proposition, since the very process of selecting frames can inadvertently end up emphasizing certain tonalities, as I have learned over time. And our perception of color and tonality within an image is also strongly affected by its surroundings.


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