Eclipse Series 11: Larisa Shepitko

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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whaleallright
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#26 Post by whaleallright » Fri May 16, 2008 6:18 pm

I'd love to see Eclipse do a Tolomush Okeev set in the future and include his debut short There Are Horses. From what little I've read about him I'm very intrigued. His use of nature shots has been compared to Malick.

There's a grand tradition of Central Asian filmmaking that is almost completely unknown outside of the former USSR -- I'm tempted to say even there, since very few people in the Central Asian republics even seem to recall their own nations' film history. There was some festival-based noise about the "Kazakh new wave" around 1990, and some accompanying retrospectives -- and a trickle of films from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan (all French and German co-productions) since, but anything made prior to 1990 has fallen between the cracks.

Does anyone know if Omirbaev's AINOUR ever got made? It's on IMDB as a 2007 release, and it was mentioned on some reports of CNC funding, but it doesn't appear to have gone to any festivals, surely the only market open to Omirbaev at this point (outside of Paris)?

ptmd
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#27 Post by ptmd » Sat May 17, 2008 12:09 am

Omirbaev is a modern master and Ainour/Shuga is one of the new films I most want to see. It did get made and it played at Rotterdam earlier this year. The few people I know who've seen it, like Kent Jones, think it's one of his best, although goodness knows when any of us will have a chance to see it theatrically. Hopefully, a French DVD will come around sooner or later because Omirbaev does have some standing in Paris at least.

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Donald Trampoline
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#28 Post by Donald Trampoline » Sat May 17, 2008 3:49 am

Maybe I'm a bit of a curmudgeon but Shepitko leaves me cold, especially Wings. She does a good job with story and acting but to me seems to have no innate camera sense. She seems to know just where to put the camera to get the least out of every scene. I wondered if some of this was perhaps budgetary, where she wanted to use long takes (and does) but couldn't do the extensive rehearsing necessary to pull off complicated movements that would have lent the scenes some dynamism, or brought us into the emotions of the characters further.

I recall one scene in Wings that is very emotional for the lead actress, and there's just this dead shot of her in a chair from a fairly distant camera position showing the full chair and much of the room around her (that we have seen plenty of already). If it was graphically interesting perhaps that could justify being that far away from her in that key scene, but the shot is completely boring and not beneficial to the heart of the scene. Anyway, that's from memory, so details may not be exact, but these type of thoughts occurred to me all through Wings.

I would love for far more films by Mikhail Kalatozov to get released on DVD. Quite an underrepresented Russian filmmaker on DVD. And Klimov, too, before Shepitko. I do want everything to be released, even this, so people can have the chance to see it and evaluate it, but my lack of enthusiasm for it really pinches given the gaping Kalatozov omissions. :(

Your faithful curmudgeon.

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bunuelian
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#29 Post by bunuelian » Sat May 17, 2008 5:20 am

I'm feeling intensely obliged to buy this, due to my interest in Soviet film, having seen neither of these.

I have nothing else to add, but I felt it was my obligation to troll, since I've been reduced to that status by the elite.

Murasaki53
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#30 Post by Murasaki53 » Sat May 17, 2008 5:37 am

I'd like to read opinions of Fassbinder about The Ascent. I know he was really outspoken against giving the film The Golden Bear that year.

Out of all the Criterions I've ever watched, Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz is by far and away the worst : the most tedious, pseudo-artistic piece of garbage I've ever sat through.

Of all the great films never released on DVD , The Ascent is one of the best. For me, knowing that Fassbinder thought this about Shepitko's masterpiece just confirms my low opinion of him.

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Cold Bishop
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#31 Post by Cold Bishop » Sat May 17, 2008 5:44 am

Murasaki53 wrote:Out of all the Criterions I've ever watched, Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz is by far and away the worst : the most tedious, pseudo-artistic piece of garbage I've ever sat through.
compelling argument

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#32 Post by Murasaki53 » Sat May 17, 2008 5:52 am

It's not really an argument. It's purely an emotional response. I guess we can all think of writers, directors and artists that everyone else goes into raptures about while we wonder what they all see in them.

In my case, it's Fassbinder.

Someone will probably come on here in a minute and point out that he actually really liked the film but just thought there was a more deserving candidate that year.

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#33 Post by tavernier » Sat May 17, 2008 10:29 am

Ashirg wrote:I'd like to read opinions of Fassbinder about The Ascent. I know he was really outspoken against giving the film The Golden Bear that year.
From the Berlin Film Festival website, about then-festival director Wolf Donner:
In the run-up to the festival, Donner himself had made a selection trip to Moscow under what were at times absurd conditions. He returned with, among others, Larisa Shepitko’s Voskhozhdeniye | Ascent, which would win the Golden Bear, not, however, without fierce wrangling among the jury members. The films in the Competition were strong this year, which also contributed to the swift acceptance of the new festival director. François Truffaut showed L’Homme qui aimait les Femmes | The Man Who Loved Women; other entries included Camada Negra | Black Litter by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, Between the Lines by Joan Micklin Silver, Nickelodeon by Peter Bogdanovich, Jabberwocky by Terry Gilliam and Le Diable probablement | The Devil Probably by Robert Bresson, upon which four out of five jury members also would have liked to bestow the Golden Bear.

For Larisa Shepitko it was the beginning of her recognition in the West and of a much too short career – she died at the age of forty in a car accident in the summer of 1979. Wolf Donner, who since has also come to an untimely death, wrote a moving tribute to her in Wolfgang Jacobsen’s "50 Years of Berlinale".

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Donald Trampoline
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#34 Post by Donald Trampoline » Sat May 17, 2008 12:57 pm

Murasaki53 wrote:I'd like to read opinions of Fassbinder about The Ascent. I know he was really outspoken against giving the film The Golden Bear that year.

Out of all the Criterions I've ever watched, Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz is by far and away the worst : the most tedious, pseudo-artistic piece of garbage I've ever sat through.

Of all the great films never released on DVD , The Ascent is one of the best. For me, knowing that Fassbinder thought this about Shepitko's masterpiece just confirms my low opinion of him.

Now I feel even more justified in my opinion above on Shepitko, given that Fassbinder is a genius and everyone clearly knows this (by "everyone" I mean 90% of rational-thinking people). :) (I've seen many Fassbinder films, but I have not yet seen Berlin Alexanderplatz though.) I could almost sympathize with you because I really hate pseudo-artistic garbage too, but I am pretty sure I could get a ruling from a referee that neither Fassbinder nor Shepitko could accurately be labeled such.

Now I'd really love to hear Fassbinder's thoughts on her work, purely to see if his criticisms coincide with mine or if perhaps he has some other bone to pick.

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#35 Post by Murasaki53 » Sun May 18, 2008 6:24 am

Rather than get worked up about Fassbinder, maybe it's better to focus on what's good about The Ascent.

First of all, I liked the allusions to the Passion of Christ.

Secondly, I enjoyed Tarkovsky stalwart Anatoly Solonitsyn's chilling cameo.

The Ascent isn't as good as Rublev, of course. Nor is is as good as Klimov's Come and See.

But it is still a great movie.

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thethirdman
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#36 Post by thethirdman » Sun May 18, 2008 1:53 pm

Murasaki53 wrote:Someone will probably come on here in a minute and point out that he actually really liked the film but just thought there was a more deserving candidate that year.
It is well known Fassbinder admired Bresson's Le Diable probablement. He used the ending of that film in the opening scene of The Third Generation.

Ron Holloway, the director of Paradjanov: A Requiem, provided some interesting comments about the The Ascent and the 1977 Golden Bear in an interview last year.

Here is the relevant question:
Did you have a hand in the 1977 Golden Bear for Larisa Shepitko’s Aufstieg – The Ascent?

If I did, then I am very proud of having supported that film with all the possibilities at my disposal at that time. While viewing Soviet films in Moscow at Goskino, Wolf Donner and I had to wrestle with Film Minister Filipp Yermash to win his approval for this Berlinale entry. Yermash, of course, wanted us to take a socialist-realist Party film. We won the argument by pointing out that we, too, would have a difficult time at the Berlinale promoting a Russian film in which the German Wehrmacht appeared to be less than human in dealing with partisans in Belorussia. In retrospect, the only dilemma we faced at the festival was a split jury. Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Derek Malcolm, among others, supported the Robert Bresson entry. The tide was turned when I asked Jerry Rappoport, the “Jack Valenti for Eastern Europe,” to introduce Larisa Shepitko to Ellen Burstyn. She ended up casting the deciding vote. For Dorothea and myself, it was an exciting Berlinale, perhaps the best in its distinguished history.

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souvenir
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#37 Post by souvenir » Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:31 am

It looks like we might have a title for this set now - Two Masterpieces by Larisa Shepitko

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Thomas J.
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#38 Post by Thomas J. » Mon Jun 02, 2008 8:22 pm

souvenir wrote:It looks like we might have a title for this set now - Two Masterpieces by Larisa Shepitko
I hate this title; specifically, the use of a value judgment. Can't they just name it "Two by Larisa Shepitko" -- We're just continuing to water down such evaluative terms like "classic" and "masterpiece." Besides, can I demand a refund if I watch the two movies and don't consider them to be "masterpieces" on the grounds of false advertising?

Oh, I get it now...the use of hyperbole in the title matches the hyperbolic tone of the movies brilliantly!

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HerrSchreck
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#39 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Jun 02, 2008 10:29 pm

How about the presumed Deliriousness of Klein's fictions?

Although they haven't used it in the titles before, they throw Masterpiece around quite a bit in their descriptions.

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Thomas J.
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#40 Post by Thomas J. » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:07 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:How about the presumed Deliriousness of Klein's fictions?

Although they haven't used it in the titles before, they throw Masterpiece around quite a bit in their descriptions.

Well, that's different, because "delirious" is a descriptor and "masterpiece" is not. I mean, you can get a feel for the tenor of a work if you say, "that movie is really delirious." On the contrary, if I were to tell you, "that movie is a masterpiece," do you really get a sense of what the movie is like?

I view the delirious of the title as a description of the type of movies Klein made, so in that light, Criterion is merely describing the works. However, "Two Masterpieces by [insert name]" does nothing more than evaluate the works for the potential consumer who will make up his own mind anyway. It's not objective and seems, frankly, crass. "Oh, I know you haven't heard of these two movies, but please buy them anyway...they're masterpieces!"

If you go to a car dealership and the salesman says to you, "You gotta check out this deal I have in the back. The car's beautiful." That's not much help, is it? If the salesman instead says "...The car's red and two door...," right then and there at least you're getting a feel for the flavor of the car and can personally react based on your feelings for or against the objective information.

In sum, it more or less seems to me that Criterion's reaching for consumers with this title. They must not be too confidant of its appeal.

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cysiam
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#41 Post by cysiam » Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:49 pm


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#42 Post by Napier » Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:55 pm

Let the windowboxing bitch session ensue. Or have we all finally gotten over it?

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#43 Post by jsteffe » Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:39 pm

cysiam wrote:Beaver
Thanks for the link. The transfers seem to look pretty good, I think. I saw an unsubtitled print of WINGS in Moscow and recall that the contrast wasn't that strong on that print, either. The film didn't seem as well-photographed on the whole as THE ASCENT, which is truly masterful. But WINGS is still a marvelous film, and I can't wait to have my hands on this set!

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#44 Post by movielocke » Thu Jul 31, 2008 7:54 am

yes it's a shame criterion feels a need to throw away five percent of the resolution, but I'll still netflix them at least. I'm just relieved the Ozu transfers were done before they started the nasty pictureboxing.

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#45 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:15 am

I think the fact that it's only two masterpieces lends a little bit of humility to the title of the set. If it were five masterpieces or something like that, it might sound really obnoxious and unnecessary.

And are we still talking about pictureboxing? Really?

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#46 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:13 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:And are we still talking about pictureboxing? Really?
Given opportunity, people here will literally bitch about anything

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#47 Post by movielocke » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:06 am

I don't understand why criterion doesn't also picture box 1.78 and 1.85 transfers, there's overscan on widescreen tvs as well. and 1.66:1 would probably look better non-anamorphic to most people with 1.33 tv, so they should really stop the silly practice of releasing those anamorphic when most of their consumers have 1.33 tvs.

Also, think how much better a 2.39 film will look if picture boxed to make it slightly narrower in height but to ensure that the edges aren't overscanned and are brought within the title safe area.

It's such a beneficial practice in making more picture available, I really don't get why they don't apply it to all of their titles, regardless of aspect ratio.

I really hope they do it for blu ray as well, I think people will definitely see the light of what a great idea it is when Chungking Express is pictureboxed.

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#48 Post by denti alligator » Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:55 am

movielocke wrote:I don't understand why criterion doesn't also picture box 1.78 and 1.85 transfers, there's overscan on widescreen tvs as well. and 1.66:1 would probably look better non-anamorphic to most people with 1.33 tv, so they should really stop the silly practice of releasing those anamorphic when most of their consumers have 1.33 tvs.

Also, think how much better a 2.39 film will look if picture boxed to make it slightly narrower in height but to ensure that the edges aren't overscanned and are brought within the title safe area.

It's such a beneficial practice in making more picture available, I really don't get why they don't apply it to all of their titles, regardless of aspect ratio.

I really hope they do it for blu ray as well, I think people will definitely see the light of what a great idea it is when Chungking Express is pictureboxed.
I figured you were kidding, but you spelled "definitely" correctly, so I'm a little unsure.

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#49 Post by Tommaso » Fri Aug 01, 2008 2:19 pm

Well, I'm not sure myself whether I would not agree with him on the 1.66 part of the argument. My TV never allows me to watch an anamorphic 1.66 film in its intended ratio, but stretches it (admittedly rather smoothly and unintrusively) so that it fills the whole 1.78 screen. I know from discussions here that other users have the same problem.There are a lot of non-anamorphic 1.66 discs in my collection that actually after zooming in don't look worse than anamorphic ones, provided the transfer itself is well done and at a high bitrate.

The picture-boxing is a quite different affair, of course. Though I personally benefit from it, from a technical standpoint and especially if you use a projector the picture-boxing is indeed a bad thing.

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#50 Post by Matango » Mon Aug 04, 2008 4:10 am

Widescreen TVs + non-anamorphic DVDs of any AR is an abominable combination for me. Zoom in and you lose too much picture, watch as normal and the pic size is too small.

But moving on...Why didn't the Shepitko liner notes writer get a credit, I wonder...and who was he/she? Is this a standard thing with Eclipse?

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