Frederick Wiseman on DVD

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Antoine Doinel
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#51 Post by Antoine Doinel » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:05 pm

kevyip1 wrote:Sure, every filmmaker wants to have his films released by Criterion and get PAID for doing commentaries and contributing supplements, etc. BE REALISTIC. Not every filmmaker is that lucky.
And not every filmmaker is that lucky to have complete ownership of his films. He has a wealth of opportunities to license and make his films available to wider audience for a better price. I'm sure there are more than a few companies who would love to work Wiseman and present the films to his liking. For whatever reason, he is choosing to self-distribute, to a limited audience (presumably those who are already aware of his work) thus resulting in a ridiculously high price for a tolerable transfer, burned on a DVD-R.

That's hardly something to be impressed about.

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Gregory
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#52 Post by Gregory » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:19 pm

I'm really grateful to have these films with good transfers. For this discussion of what a fair price for these titles is, I think it's worth noting that Wiseman isn't so bad off financially that he absolutely depends on being able to get $30 - $40 per title for DVD-Rs to individuals who happen to appreciate his work that much. I hardly know the exact state of his finances, but people who have some aquaintance with him have mentioned to me that while he apparently isn't fabulously wealthy, he's hardly a starving-artist type.
Other people will probably say this is irrelevant but I it matters to me to some extent in how I decide which high prices are warranted. I know of people who run very small record labels, for example, who try to keep every single title in print and release all kinds of things that are wonderful but unprofitable and thus lose on the order of $10,000 per year. I'm unlikely to get indignant about the price of something when I know that to be true about a label/publisher. Wiseman's case seems different, as far as I can tell.

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Max von Mayerling
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#53 Post by Max von Mayerling » Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:34 pm

Having watched portions of my copies of both Law & Order and Meat, I have the following reactions:

I'm generally satisfied with the quality of the transfers, although I think there is no question that they could be better. They are acceptable, but not impressive.

I have more or less the same reaction as Doinel. I would think that it would make more sense for Wiseman to do a licensing deal. He'd get a lower cut, but he's also get some additional marketing (if, for example, it was with Criterion), and I'd like to think that there would be additional sales that would compensate for his reduced cut on each disc. That said, I am not a filmmaker, nor do I run a dvd production company, so I don't really know what I'm talking about. Certainly, the market is unfortunately going to be pretty limited in any case.

All that said, I'm going to buy more of these. Particularly some of the ones that I've never seen. Near Death, for certain. I take some satisfaction from the fact that this money is going to Wiseman. Whether he's rich or a slime or whatever - he made these amazing films, and I personally don't begrudge giving him an extra $15-$20 per dvd over what I would expect to pay for something from a major studio. I understand that some on this board don't agree with that, and I can understand that. And so I assume they won't buy the dvds, and that probably settles the matter.

Regarding Meat. I have only watched about the first 10 minutes, but I found it pretty disturbing going so far. The comment regarding the banality of it was right on the mark. And the mechanization of it. I mean, if it isn't the banality of evil we're watching, it's at least the banality of slaughter, however one feels about that. It's very different, of course, from Blood of the Beasts, which I think is totally amazing, in part in relation to the issue of mechanization.

EDIT: Ok, now 35 minutes into Meat. I think there are images in this that equal Blood of the Beasts in terms of the spellbinding horror. Some astonishing shots of the dismembered heads. I wish this looked as good as Criterion's Blood of the Beasts.

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#54 Post by domino harvey » Sat Mar 15, 2008 1:59 pm


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#55 Post by denti alligator » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:21 pm

Oedipax wrote:In a recent interview, Wiseman mentioned that he's been doing some acting in Paris, and as it turns out, it was in a production of one of Beckett's plays, also directed by Wiseman (Happy Days). For those who haven't seen
Strange. "Happy Days" has only one character, and she's a woman. I doubt Wiseman would be playing this role.

As for these films. If you live in the States and you really want to see them but don't want to pay these prices, I have two words for you: Interlibrary Loan. Any institutional or public library should be able to get copies of these DVDs for you to view (at home, usually), maybe even the glass-plated ones. And if you feel like watching them again: request the interlibrary loan again. Nothing's stopping you. The only reason to own these is a) if you live outside the US (and your library can't get them); b) you insist on giving FW money for his films; c) you want to have the spines on your shelf to show off to your cinephile friends.

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#56 Post by tavernier » Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:30 pm

Actually, there are 2 characters in "Happy Days": Winnie's husband makes a few short appearances throughout the play.

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Elephant
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#57 Post by Elephant » Thu May 15, 2008 8:57 pm

Two new DVDs from Zipporah: Near Death and Sinai Field Mission.

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#58 Post by Oedipax » Thu May 15, 2008 9:41 pm

Elephant wrote:Two new DVDs from Zipporah: Near Death and Sinai Field Mission.
AWESOME. Near Death is absolutely essential.

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#59 Post by denti alligator » Thu May 15, 2008 10:02 pm

Oedipax wrote:
Elephant wrote:Two new DVDs from Zipporah: Near Death and Sinai Field Mission.
AWESOME. Near Death is absolutely essential.
Yes, one of the very best films of the 1980s.

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#60 Post by Gregory » Thu May 15, 2008 10:38 pm

Elephant wrote:Two new DVDs from Zipporah: Near Death and Sinai Field Mission.
And watch for Canal Zone sometime this summer.

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#61 Post by Oedipax » Fri May 30, 2008 3:12 pm

The transfer quality on Near Death is quite nice. Non-progressive, but the film still looks way better than the French-subbed TV recording I had.

Received Public Housing in the mail today, and that transfer looks great as well. I can see myself ordering a title every week or so for the foreseeable future. My poor, poor wallet.

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#62 Post by yoshimori » Fri May 30, 2008 5:26 pm

Elephant wrote:Two new DVDs from Zipporah: Near Death and Sinai Field Mission.
Comedie francaise is also now available.

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#63 Post by Cash Flagg » Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:34 pm

Not related to Wiseman, but received this email from Zipporah today, in regards to a possible dvd release of The Cool World:
We do hope to release THE COOL WORLD on DVD. The original materials for the film need to undergo restoration, so this likely will not happen until sometime in 2009. Please check back then.
Something to look forward to.

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#64 Post by yoshimori » Sat Jun 28, 2008 2:14 am

Now available: Adjustment and Work, Multi-Handicapped, and Hospital.

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Antoine Doinel
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#65 Post by Antoine Doinel » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:43 pm

An interview with Wiseman. At the end it notes he has two more films on the way.

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foggy eyes
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#66 Post by foggy eyes » Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:23 am

An article from the last issue of Sight & Sound is online. Also, Zipporah are offering 50% off shipping to the UK until the end of the month.

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#67 Post by Elephant » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:04 pm

Two more films on DVD: Essene, which I've not seen, and the excellent Primate.

Unless I'm mistaken, this means every Wiseman film, except for Seraphita's Diary, Racetrack, and The Garden is now available on DVD. Anyone know why there's no mention of or information on The Garden on the Zipporah website? (EDIT: Never mind. Found my answer.)

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#68 Post by yoshimori » Thu Sep 18, 2008 2:26 am

Elephant wrote:Unless I'm mistaken, this means every Wiseman film, except for Seraphita's Diary, Racetrack, and The Garden is now available on DVD.
Thanks for the alert re Primate and Essene.

Also still unavailable, Deaf.

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#69 Post by Oedipax » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:06 pm

Zipporah has a deal going right now where you can get 20% off Domestic Violence 1 and 2 when you buy them both, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. More details and the coupon code to use during checkout are here.

I highly recommend both films; the first part in particular is one of Wiseman's finest efforts in my opinion, and the ending montage of part 2 is sublime.

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#70 Post by Elephant » Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:43 pm

Oedipax wrote:I highly recommend both films; the first part in particular is one of Wiseman's finest efforts in my opinion, and the ending montage of part 2 is sublime.
Domestic Violence is an amazing film; it might be my favorite Wiseman. It starts off like a brutal episode of Cops: just total savagery with that woman who's bitten through her cheek, and you suspect that it's going to be horrible to sit through. But the final 2+ hours, with these women in the shelters, some of whom have been beaten savagely and repeatedly anywhere from a few times to (in some cases) fifty years, trying to stay strong and get back on their feet, is some of the most uplifting, inspirational stuff ever put on film.

Anyway, the final scene, with the cops responding to the man who won't let his sick wife go to sleep, is probably my favorite scene in all the twenty or so Wiseman films I've seen. The fact that that guy is shirtless, has the mullet, is smoking, drinking beer, all the white trash cliches, but almost has a theatricality in the way he speaks as he paces the house is such a bizarre juxtaposition and it's riveting to watch the cops try to sort things out for the couple and talk some sense into the man.

That scene, and the unbearable conflict mediation scene in High School II are the ones I show to people the most, if they don't know anything about Wiseman.

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Re:

#71 Post by Elephant » Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:55 am

yoshimori wrote:Also still unavailable, Deaf.
Not anymore.

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Max von Mayerling
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Re: Frederick Wiseman on DVD

#72 Post by Max von Mayerling » Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:50 am

Zipporah is having a sale. Buy 2, get one free (& other, oddly, less attractive deals if you buy even more).

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Cash Flagg
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Re: Frederick Wiseman on DVD

#73 Post by Cash Flagg » Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:51 am

It appears as if the free shipping code cannot be combined with the sale code.

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Oedipax
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Re: Frederick Wiseman on DVD

#74 Post by Oedipax » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:05 pm

Racetrack is now available as well, meaning every Wiseman film besides Seraphita's Diary (and the unreleased The Garden) is now on DVD, unless I missed one somewhere. Great news.

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Re: Frederick Wiseman on DVD

#75 Post by foggy eyes » Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:41 am

Heads up for Londoners (or other interested parties in the UK): the BFI Filmstore (at NFT) is now stocking loads of Zipporah discs for quite reasonable prices. I picked up Near Death for £25 (after 10% member's discount) which, thanks to the current exchange rate, works out about £10 cheaper than importing. Other titles can be had for just under £20.

I've been meaning to look into Wiseman for a while. My library has Titicut Follies (the only one I've actually seen), Basic Training, Essene, Juvenile Court & Model on VHS. Is it simply a case of buying and working through the rest in chronological order?

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