The John Cassavetes Collection

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ellipsis7
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The John Cassavetes Collection

#1 Post by ellipsis7 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:04 am

Cassavetes SHADOWS & FACES on Dual Format from the BFI on 23rd April... Wow!
SHADOWS:

Dual Format Edition containing the DVD and world premiere Blu-ray release of John Cassavetes¿ groundbreaking debut feature, Shadows (1959), a film which gave birth to a radical new film language that has influenced the work of filmmakers for decades since its release. Shadows revolves around the inter-racial romance between a black woman and white man, and their relationship with her jazz singer brother. Its depiction of themes of inter-racial relationships and non-conformist lifestyles were way ahead of its time. Shot on location in 1950s New York, with a cast and crew made up primarily of amateurs, this radical, ground-breaking film is as devastatingly powerful now as ever. The film¿s score features jazz legend Charlie Mingus.

Specs:

- Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
- Audio commentary Seymour Cassell and Tom Charity
- Silent rehearsal footage (DVD only)
- Peter Falk on Cassavetes (Paul Joyce, DVD only)
- Original trailer

FACES:

Dual Format Edition containing the DVD and world premiere Blu-ray release of John Cassavetes¿ astonishingly powerful 1968 feature, Faces, a film which has had a huge and lasting impact on independent filmmaking, evident in the work of Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and Jim Jarmusch to name only a few. Set in suburban middle-class America of the 1960s, Faces portrays the disintegration of a marriage with an honesty rarely matched in cinema. Originally released when Cassavetes was a big name Hollywood acting star (The Dirty Dozen, Rosemary¿s Baby) Faces was nominted for 3 Oscars ¿ an unheard-of achievement for an independent film at the time.

Specs:

- Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
- Alternative opening sequence (17 mins, DVD only)
- Optional audio commentary on alternative opening sequence by Peter Bogdanovich and Al Ruban (17 mins, DVD only)
- Seymour Cassel interview with Tom Charity (47 mins)

Zot!
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Re: Shadows & Faces

#2 Post by Zot! » Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:15 am

The only problem I see with this is that people will wait to see if Criterion upgrades their boxset. Wonderful news.

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What A Disgrace
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Re: Shadows & Faces

#3 Post by What A Disgrace » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:20 am

If the rest of the Criterion box set's contents get released by the BFI, I'll just get their discs. I already have the Criterion box, and the BFI releases have exclusive extras.

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Re: Shadows & Faces

#4 Post by Calvin » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:31 am

I've never seen any Cassavetes before (shock, horror!) but I'm strongly tempted to blind buy these. This probably sounds really lazy of me but I don't understand the BFI's practise of just putting the SD extras on the DVD. I don't know any other companies that do it and I don't see why it's necessary.

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neilist
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Re: Shadows & Faces

#5 Post by neilist » Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:35 am

Calvin wrote:I've never seen any Cassavetes before (shock, horror!) but I'm strongly tempted to blind buy these. This probably sounds really lazy of me but I don't understand the BFI's practise of just putting the SD extras on the DVD. I don't know any other companies that do it and I don't see why it's necessary.
Not putting SD extras on the blu-ray was discussed earlier here.

p.s. Yes, blind buy this.

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neilist
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Re: Shadows & Faces

#6 Post by neilist » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:02 pm

Incidentally, I was watching the film adaption of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' just the other night and was thinking throughout it of the number of similarities between it and 'Faces', so it'll be interesting to see 'Faces' again now considering that.

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tenia
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Re: Shadows & Faces

#7 Post by tenia » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:11 pm

Funnily, I was just thinking that my favourite boxset I have in my whole collection is the Cassavetes Criterion set, and that it might be difficult to have a HD upgrade.

And now, here it is. \:D/

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manicsounds
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#8 Post by manicsounds » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:12 pm

Looks like these are the same extras from the Optimum DVD editions ported over.

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antnield
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#9 Post by antnield » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:38 pm

These are now up on Amazon with the subtitle: The John Cassavetes Collection. So more to follow I would guess...

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MichaelB
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#10 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 22, 2012 10:11 am

Both these releases are confirmed region-free.

And I think it might be worth renaming this thread to cover all the BFI's Cassavetes titles, now that we know there are five. To start the ball rolling, I've deleted the separate threads for the other three.

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bainbridgezu
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#11 Post by bainbridgezu » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:49 pm

Fantastic news, MichaelB.

The Seymour Cassel commentary on Shadows means I won't be waiting for Criterion to upgrade their release (Lelia Goldoni is charming, but a full commentary trumps an 11-minute interview).

I look forward to your treatment of Chinese Bookie.

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The Elegant Dandy Fop
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#12 Post by The Elegant Dandy Fop » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:16 pm

I won't be giving away my Criterion set anytime soon (which is still my favorite DVD set yet), especially to hang onto the Cineastes du Notre Temps on Faces and the audio interviews with Cassavetes. Still, being able to see this on Blu-Ray is going to be a great joy! I don't know if the BFI is planning on selling them individually, in a set or both, but I will get all of these and treasure them.

Now my question: will Ray Carney be bitter about not being involved in a release of Cassavetes' films again?

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Re: Shadows and Faces

#13 Post by MichaelB » Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:55 pm

The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:I don't know if the BFI is planning on selling them individually, in a set or both, but I will get all of these and treasure them.
The impression I get is "individually".

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antnield
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#14 Post by antnield » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:06 pm

Faces:

Image

...and Shadows:

Image

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MichaelB
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Re: Shadows and Faces

#15 Post by MichaelB » Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:35 pm

Full specs announced for Shadows and Faces:
BFI launches The John Cassavetes Collection on 23 April
with Dual Format Editions of Shadows and Faces

Five films by American filmmaker John Cassavetes – the spiritual father of the independent film scene – will have their worldwide Blu-ray premiere this year, with the release of Dual Format Editions (containing DVD and Blu-ray discs) by the BFI. The John Cassavetes Collection is launched on 23 April with his ground-breaking debut feature Shadows (1959) and his 1968 film Faces starring Gena Rowlands.

Shadows

Cassavetes’ first film charts the doomed relationship between a young mixed-race woman Lelia (Lelia Goldoni) and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man who betrays his prejudice when he meets Lelia’s brother, a struggling jazz singer. Shot on location with a cast and crew largely made up of amateurs, Shadows features a swinging, improvised score by Charlie Mingus and Shafi Hadi, and is considered to be the first truly independent American film.

Special features

• Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition;
• Audio commentary with actor Seymour Cassel and film critic Tom Charity;
Falk on Cassavetes: the early years (DVD only, 13 mins): never-before-seen interview footage with Cassavetes’ friend and collaborator;
• 16 mm footage of John Cassavetes and Burt Lane’s acting workshop (DVD only, 4 mins);
• Original theatrical trailer (DVD only, 4 mins);
• 32-page illustrated booklet featuring new essays and notes from Michael Atkinson, Brian Morton and Tom Charity.

RRP: £19.99 / cat. no. BFIB1125 / Cert PG USA / 1959 / black & white / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles /
82 mins / Original aspect ratio 1.33:1
Disc 1: BD25 / 1080p / 24fps / PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 / PAL / Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps)

Faces

Shot in searing, high-contrast black and white 16mm, Cassavetes dissects the suffocating world of middle-class Los Angeles where hollow laughter and drunken frivolities mask loneliness and social alienation. Nominated for 3 Oscars® – an unheard-of achievement for an independent film at the time – Faces employs a freewheeling, realist approach, and showcases some of the finest performances ever seen in American cinema.

Special features

• Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
• Alternative opening sequence (DVD only, 20 mins)
• Alternative opening sequence audio commentary (DVD only, 20 mins): Peter Bogdanovich and Al Ruban discuss an earlier cut of Faces
• Seymour Cassel interviewed by Tom Charity (DVD only, 47 mins);
• 32-page illustrated booklet featuring interviews and new essays from Tom Charity and Al Ruban.

RRP: 19.99 / cat. no. BFIB1126 / Cert 15
USA / 1968 / black & white / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles / 130 mins / Original aspect ratio 1:66:1
Disc 1: BD25 / 1080p / 24fps / PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit)
Disc 2: DVD9 / PAL / Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps)

John Cassavetes’ three mid-1970s features A Woman Under the Influence (1974), The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) and Opening Night (1977) will be released in Dual Format later in 2012.

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MichaelB
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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#16 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:52 am

I've just watched the Blu-rays of Shadows and Faces back to back, and they're both fine - grainy as hell, of course (especially Faces, originally shot on high-contrast 16mm), but that's hardly a complaint. As is the fact that while these UCLA restorations look as good as I've ever seen these films look, they've made no attempt at "correcting" things like hairs in the camera gate. In fact, it's very likely that the Blu-rays resolve close to every scrap of detail present on the original celluloid.

High definition aside, there are two big improvements over the discs in the Optimum DVD box: Faces is now framed correctly at 1.66:1 (the Optimum box either cropped or stretched it to 16:9), and optional subtitles are provided for both features - which proved particularly helpful in the case of Shadows.

Extras are mostly recycled from the Criterion and/or Optimum boxes, though the Peter Falk interview on Shadows is new (shot in 1993, previously unreleased), as are the BFI's usual comprehensive booklets, each with multiple essays - I particularly liked the double-act by Mike Atkinson and Brian Morton, tackling the filmic and jazz elements of Shadows.

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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#17 Post by eerik » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:59 am

Any idea if there will be box-set with all five films?

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Re: Shadows and Faces

#18 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:02 am

MichaelB wrote:
The Elegant Dandy Fop wrote:I don't know if the BFI is planning on selling them individually, in a set or both, but I will get all of these and treasure them.
The impression I get is "individually".

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MichaelB
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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#19 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:05 pm

eerik wrote:Any idea if there will be box-set with all five films?
If there is one, it will probably come out long after the individual releases, if the precedents set by Terence Davies and Jacques Tati are any guide.

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tenia
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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#20 Post by tenia » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:35 am

If using a single layered BD for Shdows is understandable since the movie is quite short, I'm quite surprised (and disappointed) that Faces also is only on a single layer BD, with then a quite low bitrate for such a grainy movie.

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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#21 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:35 am

The Beaver on Shadows and Faces.

With regard to Tenia's point, he says that "Any noise is overwhelmed by the film grain". And I know exactly what he means - the grain is so obtrusive in Faces (in fact, it may well be the single grainiest film in my entire Blu-ray collection) that issues of digital noise are completely irrelevant.

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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#22 Post by Cronenfly » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:53 pm

Is the Beev mistaken on the region coding (check disc issue, etc), or did these go B late in the game?

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tenia
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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#23 Post by tenia » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:43 pm

MichaelB wrote:With regard to Tenia's point, he says that "Any noise is overwhelmed by the film grain". And I know exactly what he means - the grain is so obtrusive in Faces (in fact, it may well be the single grainiest film in my entire Blu-ray collection) that issues of digital noise are completely irrelevant.
I'm quite fine with this answer. From my knowledge, I simply thought that, on the contrary, so much grain would need a higher bitrate to be displayed correctly.
Last edited by tenia on Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#24 Post by cdnchris » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:51 pm

Cronenfly wrote:Is the Beev mistaken on the region coding (check disc issue, etc), or did these go B late in the game?
I only have Faces right now but it's region free, so I'm going to guess that Shadows will be the same way.

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Re: The John Cassavetes Collection

#25 Post by MichaelB » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:16 pm

Both Shadows and Faces are definitely region-free - I've just locked my player to Region A and successfully played both.

And these are final retail copies, not checkdiscs.

The only potential regional issues are that the DVDs will be encoded to the PAL video standard, but the Blu-rays should play in any machine worldwide.

UPDATE: I emailed Gary Tooze with these findings, and he's changed the reviews.
tenia wrote:I'm quite fine with this answer. From my knowledge, I simply that, on the contrary, so much grain would need a higher bitrate to be displayed correctly.
This certainly makes sense in theory, but I suspect that with the grain at this vast quantity, the difference really is negligible in practice. In fact, the disc's producer told me earlier today that he's very proud of the way that on the Blu-ray you can clearly make out the differences between the four film stocks that Cassavetes used - Double X Reversal, Tri X Reversal, Four X Reversal and Plus X reversal, each with varying different degrees of film grain which are used to reflect the 'tone' of the different sequences being filmed.

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