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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 2:38 pm 
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jindianajonz wrote:
MichaelB wrote:
I don't know for certain, but my educated guess is that it's a by-product of creating the dissolve between the two shots during the film's original post-production - a small bit of dirt ended up in the optical printer, and because they were working from the negative at the time it's registered as a white dot.

I always thought explanations like this were interesting; is there anywhere that you know of that goes into detail on the causes of different types of film damage? I always wondered about the unmoving lines that occasionally occur- how did the same damage end up in the same location on multiple frames?

If it's anything like the situation with The Long Goodbye, it may well be down to some less than perfectly-calibrated optical printing - the giveaway is if there's a dissolve or similar optical transition in the same shot.

And of course you often see fixed damage on shots featuring titles or other onscreen text, for the same reason.

But vertical scratches, or tramlines, are caused by the print being physically scratched at some point, often due to something as annoyingly simple as a piece of grit in the projector gate. They're very very hard to remove, for the same reason that the Long Goodbye restorers decided to leave well alone, although the effect can be minimised by "wet-gating" the print (bathing it in fluid) during telecine. But that only works if the scratches physically affect the actual print being telecined/scanned - if they've been printed in from another source (for instance, if the print you're working with is a dupe of a different damaged print), wet-gating doesn't work.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:46 am 
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And to prove that the film divides audiences to this day, here's Film Intel.

(Despite being headlined "Blu-ray review", it's entirely about the film itself - the disc doesn't even rate a passing mention.)


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:06 am 
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I'll never understand reviews that just pick an aspect of a movie that's clearly part of the intended design (the tonal mismatch brought on by the inherent out of placeness of Marlowe in the 70s, with the attendant rather shocking turns from comedy to horror) and declare that a flaw, rather than actually arguing about whether it works or not.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:45 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:55 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I'll never understand reviews that just pick an aspect of a movie that's clearly part of the intended design (the tonal mismatch brought on by the inherent out of placeness of Marlowe in the 70s, with the attendant rather shocking turns from comedy to horror) and declare that a flaw, rather than actually arguing about whether it works or not.

It works, and I love the Chandler novel: unquestionably his greatest.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 10:49 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I'll never understand reviews that just pick an aspect of a movie that's clearly part of the intended design (the tonal mismatch brought on by the inherent out of placeness of Marlowe in the 70s, with the attendant rather shocking turns from comedy to horror) and declare that a flaw, rather than actually arguing about whether it works or not.

I don't understand, wouldn't picking on it indicate that aspect doesn't work for the reviewer? I like the film even less than the reviewer and I don't think his criticisms are particularly off-point or outrageous. I don't especially want to get into this in a thread filled with people who are foaming at the mouth over their effusive love of the film (and it's not like I'm immune to Gould-starring Altman, as I liked M*A*S*H and loved California Split and Nashville), but if you don't think Altman's approach to the material works, then that's indicative of a subjective flaw. Like, of course, right?


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:29 pm 
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Hmm, I think it's that the way they're presented in the review makes it sound to me as though things that are clearly choices on Altman's part are accidental rather than part of the design of the film. I don't have an issue with not liking that design, but it comes off to me like someone pointing out as an obvious flaw that Breathless is full of jump cuts.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:57 am 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
I'll never understand reviews that just pick an aspect of a movie that's clearly part of the intended design (the tonal mismatch brought on by the inherent out of placeness of Marlowe in the 70s, with the attendant rather shocking turns from comedy to horror) and declare that a flaw, rather than actually arguing about whether it works or not.
Story of my life. I've found the "clearly" bit to be the stumbling block for many people, as also seems to be the case with that particular reviewer: it's just not "clear" to him at all what Altman is up to. The Long Goodbye is actually one of my favourite films and, seeing it misrepresented like that, I can't resist a little tangential trot on my favourite hobbyhorse:

Film tone. What the hell is it about this concept that seems so hard for some people to understand? Or, to put it more gently, why is it that there seems to be two types of moviegoers/critics/filmmakers: those who view tonal consistency as some unviolable sacred axiom of filmmaking, and those who don't (or even, like myself, often find it boring and are excited by successful intentional modulation of tone). Critics of the former ilk love to use the word (and expressions like "tone-deaf"), as if they sort of recognize what's going on, but instead of appreciating it, they treat it as evidence that the filmmaker obviously doesn't know what they're doing, as they can't even hold a consistent tone for 90 minutes. (I've seen more than my share of genuinely tone-deaf films, which is why it always amazes me for these people fail to differentiate between intentional tonal modulation and actual inability to handle tone).

Altman is an obvious example of a master manipulator of tone whose critical reception has always mirrored this division; other particularly divisive masters (and personal favourites) would be Kiyoshi Kurosawa and James L. Brooks. One of the great mysteries for me is how Bong Joon-ho (whom I also love) gets away with it with unanimous praise: has anyone ever seen a review of The Host accusing him of tone-deafness?

Edit: Pardon my ignorance, apparently it's one of those scriptwriting 101 things. This has got to be the funniest damn thing I've read in a while - this guy certainly nails it: "If you don’t get this right, you will feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment in your film, perhaps without even knowing why, and its marketability and commercial potential will be severely compromised." :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:18 am 
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repeat wrote:
One of the great mysteries for me is how Bong Joon-ho (whom I also love) gets away with it with unanimous praise: has anyone ever seen a review of The Host accusing him of tone-deafness?

I have, but the reviewer usually cancels it out with a racist, "That must be a Korean thing," every time. Also as Dom noted with regards to himself, and even Matrix notes, these tonal shifts in the Altman are able to be well criticized as not succeeding to make a functionable film (though that is not my own opinion).


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:24 am 
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Oh yeah, of course they are in all of those people's films - but what functions for each of us is so subjective it shouldn't be the stuff of critical reviews at all. To me ignorance of something so basic as this just functions to reveal the worthlessness of a critic. (Edit: That came out a bit harsh - just meant that personally I tend to ignore personal "reviews" in favour of more critical analyses, unless I'm somehow passionately interested in the reviewer themselves)


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:57 am 

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Quote:
Edit: Pardon my ignorance, apparently it's one of those scriptwriting 101 things. This has got to be the funniest damn thing I've read in a while - this guy certainly nails it: "If you don’t get this right, you will feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment in your film, perhaps without even knowing why, and its marketability and commercial potential will be severely compromised." :D

Here's what I find really funny: "Tone is difficult to define, but it will click eventually. It is related to mood and style, but there is more to it than that. The best way to describe it is by saying that a film’s tone is essentially its flavor." So, tone = flavor? Yeah, thanks. Why not tone = hue? Tone = aroma?
Tone = the squishy feel of something you just stepped in?


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:34 am 
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His introduction of the culinary metaphor also invites a rather unfortunate comparison of the "marketable" movie to a full course dinner where everything tastes consistently the same for two hours straight. Actually when I got to the James Cameron bit I honestly thought for a sec that this must be a mischievous parody of those Hollywood screenwriter handbooks...


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:42 am 
Dot Com Dom
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It is possible to be perfectly aware of what Altman is doing and still find the final product awful. Don't assume that someone who dislikes a film you love is just ignorant-- based on this approach, the film is infallible and incapable of being criticized (if you don't like it, you don't "get" it), which is the opposite of the serious approach to film you seem to desire


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:05 am 
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No, I don't mean that - like matrixschmatrix above, I don't have a beef with anyone having a different taste, but that sort of thing doesn't make for very valuable criticism when you're actually writing a review like that. A critic who is perfectly aware of how the film is working should be able to write about it in an articulate way and still, if they feel compelled to, add as a side note that it rubs them the wrong way personally, without presenting that as a flaw in the film (like I think that reviewer was doing - although I've certainly seen worse.) Didn't mean to derail this thread.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 2:33 pm 
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Am I right in assuming that what's rubbing people the wrong way is the writer's assumption that the movie is only the way it is--or could only be the way it is--because Altman was trying to do something more orthodox and simply failed at it? That the author isn't assessing whether the concept behind the movie is done well, he's assuming that there is no such concept, that the peculiar style could only be poor filmmaking?


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:01 pm 
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That was what I was trying to get at, yeah. There are certainly any number of movies that intentionally deviate from the Syd Field approved filmmaking style in ways that I find irritating as hell, and certainly intending to do something dumb doesn't mean that it's above criticism- but it always just feels lazy when it's critiqued specifically for its deviation rather than any actual failure of execution.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 3:41 pm 
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That was my point as well: false expectations or genre and/or tone - and when the filmmaker is explicitly manipulating those, the result gets bashed by critics of a certain mindset. "I went to see this thriller and it wasn't at all suspenseful." And that's exactly what happens when people think that Altman is trying to do a neo-noir and fails, or that Brooks is trying to do a rom-com and fails, or that Kurosawa is trying to do horror and fails, or, you know, Cristi Puiu is trying to make a thriller and fails, whatever. (Can you believe this film? It's supposed to be a thriller and it's three hours of some guy walking left and right?). I'm not criticizing that casual moviegoers do this, it's inevitable, especially if you work in/near a genre. All I'm saying is that professional critics really should know better.

It would've been perfectly possible for that Film Intel guy to write effectively the same review but better, if he would've just considered that everything he thought was wrong about the film just might be there on purpose, and think about it a bit to see if there isn't maybe a consistency to it, maybe read a little bit on Altman to try and contextualize it against his other works, and maybe find out something. And what's best, he still could have told the world that he doesn't much care for that sort of filmmaking personally.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:45 pm 
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AVForums rather likes it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:40 pm 
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Sam Turner's review of the film is the most irrelevant piece of film writing I've seen on this film in living memory. He doesn't get the film, he doesn't have a nose for the humor and hence the tonal shifts (which are entirely consistent throughout the film's length, and are all filtered through Gould's superb performance and Altman's direction of him). He simply doesn't comprehend the synergies between Altman's personal style, and his vision of the material (long meandering takes in Scope with long lenses with multiple chacracters and audio streams for a start) and he surprisingly fails to nail the film's one possible fault, the ending. He also appears to have no historical perspective on the many critics of Altman's films who have speculated meaningfully about his perceived "failure" or his inability to or indefference to supplying a satisfactory climax in film after film. Altman himself used to wonder out loud about this while he was alive. Indeed Nashville was criticized at time of first release by people who otherwise loved the film, including Kael. Considering Altman has now been dead for several years and his films have settled into some sort of modernist canon, there has surely been more than enough analysis of his narrative skills, in tandem with his formal conceits, which IMO are profoundly successful. Not least the immersive formal device in all his best movies of rendering "leads" and "Central characters" in terms of human mass, and very much casting conventional narrative tropes (and Leigh Brackett's reworking of Chandler is one of the best) into a broader vision in which the individual is literally adrift in an indifferent world. Long Goodbye to me is Altman's first great achievement in this vein, and I have to really watch myself when I try to note the sharp tonal shift at the very end when Marlowe takes the decisive action that climaxes the picture, after the semi-somnolent torpor that has virtually submerged him for the preceeding 1 hour 40 minutes. To me this "failure" on Altman's part is as much like a formal challenge as anything else to his audience to completely bend their expectations of three act narrative structure, and for that matter character definition and identification. But the real discussion to me is how well or otherwise you think this works.

As I said, this online review is really irrelevant because it simply doesn't recongnize a single important element of what the picture is doing. As for its complete neglect of the disc quality, well...


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Sun Dec 15, 2013 10:37 pm 
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matrixschmatrix wrote:
Hmm, I think it's that the way they're presented in the review makes it sound to me as though things that are clearly choices on Altman's part are accidental rather than part of the design of the film. I don't have an issue with not liking that design, but it comes off to me like someone pointing out as an obvious flaw that Breathless is full of jump cuts.

My favourite example of this was a reviewer (more than one, if I recall correctly) patronizingly scoffing at Do the Right Thing because the quotations that close the film contradicted one another - and clearly Lee didn't even notice this obvious flaw.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 6:34 am 
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david hare wrote:
As I said, this online review is really irrelevant because it simply doesn't recongnize a single important element of what the picture is doing. As for its complete neglect of the disc quality, well...
I don't want to pounce on that guy personally as the review isn't really below the standards of what is commonly accepted as "criticism" on the internets (and besides, he only ever promised "occasional added intelligence"!) - but what makes this doubly ironic is that for the missing context and background information he wouldn't have had to look any further than Arrow's plentiful extras, which he also entirely neglects to mention.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Mon Dec 16, 2013 2:00 pm 
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Yes, so he's also lazy.

It frankly sounds like he hasn't even seen the disc.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:19 pm 

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By the way does anyone happen to know what the situation is with the US distribution of this film? Is the MGM dvd the only way to get it for the foreseeable future?


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:19 pm 
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MGM owns it, so the ball's in their court.


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 Post subject: Re: The Long Goodbye
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:28 pm 
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This was the last thing to arrive in the mail before Xmas and I've finally watched it. Ironically I had been playing the old MGM back for reviewing quite a bit through the year as I'm revisiting a lot of Altman and Alan Rudolph.

I just wanted to say thanks to Michael Brooke and David Mackenzie for such an absolutely ace release. This is really classy work, right down to the wonderful booklet and - among everything else - that terrific IV with Zsigmond on the push printing and the contribution of the Technicolor lab, just a year or so before they shut down their dye transfer line in 1974. The transfer does an outstanding job replicating this very tricky palette and image. It's a small miracle in fact.

I'm not doing anybody's best of the year (least of all my own) this year but this is one of them. Criterion could not have done a better job in any department.

Bring em on fellas.


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