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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:24 pm 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Given the impending release of the Frederick Wiseman catalog on dvd, I'd be very interested in people's opinions of his films. I think Wiseman's films are remarkable, based on having seen "Domestic Violence", "Belfast, Maine", "Public Housing", "Welfare", "Hospital", "High School", and "Titicut Follies." What I'm looking for is people's recommendations as to which films to purchase first, based on what they've seen. For example, my favorites among the ones I've seen are "Public Housing" and "Hospital".

I'm particularly interested in opinions regarding "Meat", "Law & Order", "Essene", and "Near Death", but, that said, I'm interested in anything anyone has to say about his films, particularly those that I have not seen.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:12 pm 
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Of those unseen films you named, I've seen Near Death and Law & Order. Near Death is essential - one of the rare films that will have a profound impact on how you think about mortality (like Brakhage's The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes). The film has its own unique rhythm, and spends as much as half an hour on certain pivotal scenes - patients discussing with their families their final wishes, whether or not they want to be resuscitated, and so on. The film is called Near Death because none of the patients really has a chance of recovery, but because of advances in medical technology, they can exist in a kind of limbo while they and their families come to terms with the reality. The role of the doctors in these instances is less about saving lives as it is finding a way to convey to the patients and their families the reality of the situation. Over the course of the film, we see people slowly emerging from their denial and gradually accepting their mortality.

Law & Order is quite good as well - it shows you the ways in which a show like Cops often falls short. The editorial strategy is to juxtapose police at their worst and at their best. In the end, the sense on gets is that police work is a never-ending and futile exercise, the janitors for society's discarded lives.

I look forward especially to seeing Essene, what I've read on it makes it sound amazing.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:45 pm 
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Thank you - that is very helpful. I will absolutely get "Near Death" and "Law & Order." I would be interesting to hear anything else you might have to say about other Wiseman films that I have not seen, quite apart from the four that I identified.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 2:11 pm 
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It's years since I saw Essene but I do remember being at the time totally engrossed by this look at a small group of monks in a closed order. In dealing with the tensions, petty jealousies and burden of faith it is not unlike some aspects of Salesman. There are also some very funny moments as in a heated debate between some of the brothers one of them swats an errant fly with (I think) a heavy Bible.

Where have you found details of this dvd release, I always thought Wiseman was adamant that they would not get a general release???


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:14 pm 
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As I think has been noted in the Eclipse speculation thread (although I'm not trying to suggest you should have seen it there), Zipporah Films says they're releasing them by fall 2007.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 3:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2004 5:19 pm
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Wiseman's new film is being broadcast at 9pm tonight on PBS - at least on Ch. 2 in the Boston area.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:12 pm 
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according to Zipporah Aspen, Ballet, Basic Training, Central Park, Manoeuvre, Misslie, Model, & State Legislature are available for educational purposes to rent or buy on DVD.

They are still saying Fall of 2007 for everything individually released.


Last edited by milk114 on Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 12:59 pm 
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Ah, but the prices have not moved, apparently. It's great that the films will be on DVD, but I think most of us were hoping to not have to shell out $400 or more per title (to put it lightly). Then again, the page says this is for 'educational license' - so maybe they'll take mercy on individuals in the future. One can only hope.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 1:11 pm 
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Oedipax wrote:
the page says this is for 'educational license' - so maybe they'll take mercy on individuals in the future.

Yes, these are for educational use and include public performance rights which allow you to hold screenings of the films open to the public. The FAQ explains what's going on with the commercial releases:
Zipporah Films wrote:
The films are currently only priced for educational/institutional license. We are currently working on transferring the films to DVD, and will likely make them available for individual purchase, and priced accordingly, by fall 2007.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:28 pm 
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On Wiseman's site he now says that individual DVDs will be available on Dec. 3rd without having to pay for the educational rights which made his VHS's and current DVD prices so high. Hopefully this means his films will be able to be more widely seen. I have only seen a few, but they are all brilliant, and am eagerly looking forward to seein the others.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:21 pm 
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The Wiseman discs are finally on sale to individuals, priced at $30 - 40 per film, with a broad selection of titles represented. Good news!


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:42 am 
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This is a real event in my opinion. I have seen a lot of Wiseman now after looking for bootlegs and watching tapes at college and figured there would never be a day they would make it to DVD. I wish they would have like one big bundle price but that is not of much concern. It is amazing news to see them on DVD.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:44 pm 

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ltfontaine wrote:
The Wiseman discs are finally on sale to individuals, priced at $30 - 40 per film, with a broad selection of titles represented. Good news!

Indeed good news. But I just wanted to point out that not all titles are available for sale to individuals. Based on the discussion above I looked up Near Death and found it is only available for educational use, in VHS format, at $600.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:59 am 
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Hospital isn't available yet either. But hopefully they stick to what was posted and keep adding more films.

Quote:
Please check back as we will be adding new titles regularly.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:55 pm 
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I just placed an order for Meat and Law & Order. I'll post regarding the quality once I get my mitts on them.

Perhaps this thread now belongs in dvd news & discussions.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
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Received all 23 dvds in the mail this morning. Aspen, Domestic Violence, DV2, State Legislature, Central Park, Welfare, Juvenile Court, Public Housing, and High School 2 are 2-discers. Belfast ME is a 3-discer. The rest single discs. Interlaced. I checked High School, The Store, and State Legislature. The earliest film, not surprisingly, has a fair amount of dirt on it, but the transfer looks quite good to me. Color in The Store looks a bit faded. Still, overall, I'm very happy. What a pleasure to have them in hand. Can't wait for the rest to become available.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:04 pm 
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Can you verify that they are glass-mastered DVDs and not DVD-Rs?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:39 am 

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:03 am
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Matt wrote:
Can you verify that they are glass-mastered DVDs and not DVD-Rs?

Hmm. I've never checked this kind of thing before, but the playing surfaces have a kind of purply shine, like my dvd-rs, and lack the barcode info on the inner ring that most of my commercial dvds have. If I were forced to guess, then, I'd say they look more like dvd-rs.

The labels and covers look cheap, though perhaps not "bootleg cheap".


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:53 am 
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I really want to order Titicut Follies, Law and Order, and High School, but I'm not crazy about the idea of paying $35 for DVD-Rs that Wiseman is burning on the iMac in his garage.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 2:59 am 
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Jeff wrote:
I really want to order Titicut Follies, Law and Order, and High School, but I'm not crazy about the idea of paying $35 for DVD-Rs that Wiseman is burning on the iMac in his garage.
You can pay $500 for the educational ones if you wish. Yes, prices like these for DVD-Rs are ridiculous, but considering Wiseman has to get paid, and this is really the independent equivalent of him selling them out of the trunk of his car, I think its nice for him to make these available at an affordable amount for private use at all, because like most independant filmmakers of his ilk, its education and 16mm rental in which they really make their money.

With that said, while Wiseman is great and all, what I really want is that Cool World.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:17 am 
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My limited knowledge of DVDs vs. DVD-Rs is that the former usually last longer. How likely is it that if I shell out for a pile of Wiseman DVD-Rs some of them will be unplayable in 5-10 years? I realize this is difficult to predict and that it might depend on the quality of the media they're using, but maybe someone can inform me a little more on this question before I decide how much to wager on these.

Cold Bishop wrote:
With that said, while Wiseman is great and all, what I really want is that Cool World.

Agreed! Maybe if enough of us inquire about that one, they'll produce a DVD of it, with a DVD-R counterpart for individuals.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:02 am 
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Jeff wrote:
I really want to order Titicut Follies, Law and Order, and High School, but I'm not crazy about the idea of paying $35 for DVD-Rs that Wiseman is burning on the iMac in his garage.



I'm OK with the individual cost if it's going direct to the filmmaker but $60.00 for shipping three DVD-Rs to Europe!!!!!

Maybe old Fred's delivering them personally?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:36 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2007 12:15 pm
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I would have no problem with the prices on these, but the fact that they're DVD-Rs is really frustrating to me, and I think it's a bit disingenuous to advertise them as DVDs. I'd love to see Wiseman get paid (and at $30+ a pop, he/Zipporah are making a pretty big profit off of these things if the quality is like what people are suggesting), but for that price shouldn't people at least be able to get a real DVD? This is one of the bigger disappointments of the year for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 12:07 pm 
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Allan King's website offers something similar (DVD-Rs with nice, semi-professional packaging). I purchased Warrendale and am glad simply to have it available in a nice transfer.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:18 pm 
Everything I've read about Wiseman makes him sound like a total slime, and this latest nonsense cements my opinion. His films were unavailable to the general public for DECADES and now they're only available as outrageously overpriced DVD-Rs (not even advertised as such)... doesn't he want people to see his "socially conscious" work? I guess not. Unless there are some weird rights issues or other legal reasons for all of this, there's no excuse. But, you know, this is fairly typical documentarian hypocrisy as far as I can tell.


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