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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:23 pm 
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Eclipse Series 24: The Actuality Dramas of Allan King

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Canadian director Allan King is one of cinema’s best-kept secrets. Over the course of fifty years, King shuttled between features and shorts, big-screen cinema and episodic television, comedy and drama, fiction and nonfiction. Within this remarkably varied career, it was with his cinema-verité-style documentaries—his “actuality dramas,” as he called them—that he left his greatest mark on film history. These startlingly intimate studies of lives in flux—emotionally troubled children, warring spouses, and the terminally ill—are riveting, at times emotionally overwhelming, and always depicted without narration or interviews. Humane, cathartic, and important, Allan King’s spontaneous portraits of the everyday demand to be seen.

Warrendale

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For his enthralling first feature, Allan King brought his cameras to a home for psychologically disturbed young people. The stunning Warrendale won the Prix d’art et d’essai at Cannes and a special docu­mentary award from the National Society of Film Critics.

A Married Couple

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Intense and hectic, frightening and funny, A Married Couple is ultimately about the eternal power struggle in romantic relationships, as well as entrenched gender roles on the cusp of change.

Come On Children

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In the early 1970s, ten teenagers (five boys and five girls) leave behind parents, school, and all other authority figures to live on a farm for ten weeks. Come On Children is a vivid rendering of one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable—and ultimately directionless—countercultures.

Dying at Grace

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An extraordinary, transformative experience, Allan King’s Dying at Grace is quite simply unprecedented: five terminally ill cancer patients allowed the director access to their final months and days inside the Toronto Grace Health Care Center.

Memory for Max, Claire, Ida, and Company

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For four months, King follows the daily routines of eight patients suffering from dementia and memory loss; the result is searing, compassionate drama that can bring to the viewer a greater understanding of his or her loved ones.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:44 pm 
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Never in a million years did I expect to see Warrendale on Criterion!
What a surprise boxset!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:46 pm 
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I'll admit that I've never heard of this guy or his films. What are they like? Would a fan of Nicolas Philibert's films like them? Or are they more loosely structured like Frederick Wiseman's?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:51 pm 
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The documentaries either sound very interesting or manipulatively exploitative. I can't decide which.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:51 pm 
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Matt, there's some decent background on Warrendale on Allan King's Wikipedia entry:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_King


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:53 pm 
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Yes the two I've seen are similar to a Wiseman film, I think of Warrendale as a film in the same style of something like Titicut Follies.

I can't wait to see the rest of these films, a definite day 1 buy for me.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:57 pm 
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The Allan King Collection Trailer on YouTube. By the looks of things, put together to promote King's website and DVDs available to purchase there.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:58 pm 
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I've been trying to get more into documentaries, so on that virtue alone I'll pick this up, but I have to agree with AOX that they sound like they could easily fall into exploitation. I'm curious to hear more from those familiar with his work.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:06 pm 
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This is VERY exciting!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:18 pm 
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This is an awesome release and precisely the kind of thing the Eclipse line is great for. Great news!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:31 pm 

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A Married Couple must be one of the most frequently aired films up here in Canada. But I haven't seen Warrendale before.

King is truly an example of a "local" filmmaker in that he's very well known here in his home country, but almost anonymous outside of it.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:01 pm 
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This is definitely what I like to see from Eclipse. Coincidentally, today is the 1 year anniversary of King's death.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:21 pm 
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Wow! This came out of nowhere. I've only seen A Married Couple, years ago, and it was quite a time capsule film. I've always wanted to see Warrendale, which is sort of iconic, and Dying at Grace has a small but fanatical following that hail it as one of the greatest documentaries of the last ten years.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:28 pm 

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knives wrote:
I've been trying to get more into documentaries, so on that virtue alone I'll pick this up, but I have to agree with AOX that they sound like they could easily fall into exploitation. I'm curious to hear more from those familiar with his work.

There's an article in Cinema Scope Issue 40 about that topic of debate in King's work, I think. Unless I'm totally misremembering the article. Isn't the feeling of exploitation the reason why Kieslowski stopped making documentaries as a result of one he did about a married couple which I'd love to see someday and compare to King's documentary.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:50 pm 

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Very, very glad I did not shell out and buy any of the pricy ones from King's website. Somebody just unloaded theirs in the trade forum ... I wonder if we have a CC insider in our midst?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:59 am 
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even though this is only the sixth eclipse set of 2010, and 2008 had seven eclipse sets, the Allan King release makes 2010 the biggest release year ever for eclipse both for number of discs and number of titles. 2009 had been their slightest year yet, and if we get another eclipse in 2010 (I think it's unlikely we get a seventh or eighth eclipse, and probably no more eclipse releases until january), criterion will really have blown away the previous high water marks of 2007. I wonder if they've hired someone just to handle just eclipse releases check discs etc as the bluray workload has not seemed to impact the eclipse schedule this year as I think it probably did last year. This is also the first time since 2007 we've had more than one 5 disc eclipse release in a year. Here's to hoping for a seventh eclipse in 2010.

As for the above question about three months in a row with eclipse. Yes and no, originally, in 2007, iirc, the first three releases were supposed to come out one after another. but delays caused Ozu to come out several months late in June, I think.

Then in 2008, they announced four releases in a row (kurasawa, lubitsch, klein, and silent ozu) for jan-april. But Klein was delayed until may.

So while three (or more) eclipse have been scheduled consecutively before, it's never actually happened that we've had three consecutive monthly releases.

fwiw, we're up to 96 discs in the eclipse collection with this release, imagine how few of those would have received the criterion treatment over the last four years without this line.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:37 am 
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Mise En Scene wrote:
Isn't the feeling of exploitation the reason why Kieslowski stopped making documentaries as a result of one he did about a married couple which I'd love to see someday and compare to King's documentary.


As I recall, Kieslowski gave two reasons for abandoning documentaries. One was feeling that his camera's presence in a courtroom was influencing the judge; the other was indeed a feeling of intrusion on the young couple in First Love (which is in the excellent PWA set discussed in this thread).


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 9:07 pm 
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Matt wrote:
Eclipse Series 24: The Actuality Dramas of Allan King

Image

Canadian director Allan King is one of cinema’s best-kept secrets. Over the course of fifty years, King shuttled between features and shorts, big-screen cinema and episodic television, comedy and drama, fiction and nonfiction. Within this remarkably varied career, it was with his cinema-verité-style documentaries—his “actuality dramas,” as he called them—that he left his greatest mark on film history. These startlingly intimate studies of lives in flux—emotionally troubled children, warring spouses, and the terminally ill—are riveting, at times emotionally overwhelming, and always depicted without narration or interviews. Humane, cathartic, and important, Allan King’s spontaneous portraits of the everyday demand to be seen.

Solely on the basis of synopses you quoted, Matt, it might be fair to describe him, albeit a tad simplistically, as documentary film's equivalent of Maurice Pialat?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:31 pm 
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aox wrote:
The documentaries either sound very interesting or manipulatively exploitative. I can't decide which.

I think they sound very interesting....but at the same time, as you call it, "manipulatively exploitative." However, I'm not familiar with these at all...can anyone who has seen these elaborate?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:31 pm 
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This link to a very comprehensive Allan King resource was posted on Dave Kehr's blog. It should answer a lot of questions about the films.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:38 pm 
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Has anyone been able to locate the link for this set on amazon? Sometimes it seems an impossible task to locate their links. I've been searching for a few days and have yet to succeed.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:03 pm 
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headacheboy wrote:
Has anyone been able to locate the link for this set on amazon? Sometimes it seems an impossible task to locate their links. I've been searching for a few days and have yet to succeed.

It might not yet be listed. There's often a delay between announcements and pre-order availability. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and the Charade and Breathless Blu-rays aren't up on Amazon yet either.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:09 am 
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DVD


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 8:58 am 
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oldsheperd wrote:
Matt, there's some decent background on Warrendale on Allan King's Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_King

I appreciated the link because after about 20 minutes in I felt rather confused about what was going on. The staff treatment/behavior seemed rather odd and unusual. It's good to know that this holding technique was an experimental therapy device used at Warrendale. In that respect, I wonder why the eclipse line has to be so bare bones. It wouldn't hurt to have a small essay or some context to allow a viewer to be oriented to the film(s).

Minor Spoilage for WARRENDALE, perhaps:

You can see why the holding technique never caught on (as far as I know), as it seems to encourage scenes and outbursts, promotes physical behavior, involves from today's perspective some very obvious questionable and inappropriate physical contact between staff and patients (including 30 year old males with their legs wrapped around 16 year old girls).

I understand that the theory is to get the children to confront their emotions and let it all out, but adding an element of wrestling to the therapist-patient relationship seems a significant misstep from theory to practice. There were at least two instances where the holdings we witness seem inappropriate -- getting Carol out of bed (which the staff is mildly chastised for) and pinning Irene when simply she doesn't want a staff person's arms around her shoulders. (I might have confused Carol and Irene, as I tended to do during the film, but one of them has a killer leopard-print winter coat).

So for me, the film is a fascinating document, but is as much about the disturbed children as it is about the disturbing and misguided ways used to treat them. It certainly didn't seem useful that the kids were allowed to curse freely every day and smoke (at least on hockey night). Today I assume treatment is more about medication/drugs (briefly alluded to in Warrendale), but I assume our "greater enlightenment" also won't pass the sniff test 40 years from now. Indeed, stories of medication misuse seem fairly prevalent.

Edit: there seemed to be a weird edit.splice in Warrendale at 130:32 -- during hockey night. A voice-over, by the lead male staff, I believe, starts and is cut after two sentences. It sounds like the intro to some sort of overall summary of the situation/film, but then it is abruptly cut and instead we hear the hockey announcers.


Last edited by Lemmy Caution on Fri Oct 22, 2010 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 1:19 pm 
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I can safely say I've never seen anything like "Dying at Grace." It might be odd to say, but I felt like I NEEDED to see it. My experiences with death have been almost nil. King's "actuality drama" definitely has me re-thinking about how I hope to die.

Very interesting to see how King edited what must've been a herculean amount of footage. The nurses' notes from their rounds serving as de facto narration was a great decision, or sure. Additionally, I enjoyed the presentation of Ms. Simac's death and its aftermath almost as "bookends" to the film.

"Warrendale" later today.


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