118 Oleanna

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MichaelB
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118 Oleanna

#1 Post by MichaelB » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:12 am

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OLEANNA
(David Mamet, 1994)
Release date: 20 August 2018
Limited Blu-ray Edition (World Blu-ray premiere)

Based on his own controversial and incendiary stage play about a young college student who accuses her much older professor of sexual harassment, David Mamet’s riveting drama features two grandstand performances from leads William H Macy (Fargo, Magnolia) and Debra Eisenstadt. Now more relevant and provocative than ever, Oleanna is both a reaction against the plague of political correctness, and a powerful, yet teasingly ambiguous, plea for tolerance between the sexes.

INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original stereo audio
• Power Play (2018, 18 mins): new and exclusive interview with award-winning actor William H Macy who recalls working with David Mamet on the controversial stage and screen versions of Oleanna
• The Understudy (2018, 11 mins): new and exclusive interview with actor and director Debra Eistenstadt who discusses her role and the experience of working with Mamet and Macy
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional photography and publicity material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 32-page booklet with a new essay by Rebecca Nicole Williams, an examination of the controversy surrounding the play and the film, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• World premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

#PHILTD118
BBFC cert: 15
REGION FREE
EAN: 5037899071748

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domino harvey
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:07 am

Sadly, this is the only bad film David Mamet ever directed and it's the one to now get the Indicator treatment. I know it's a timely film, so I get it, but man alive does Mamet wreck his own masterpiece of a play. Maybe there's footage of the original run with Rebecca Pidgeon that can be included, to wash the taste of whoever replaced her in this mess-- inexplicable that the one time Mamet unquestionably should have cast his wife (who originated the part on stage), he didn't and what's worse, replaced her with an actress that fails to plausibly manipulate the audience onto her side.

Hopefully the extras justify picking this up, but one hopes Indicator has their eyes set on a box of Mamet's Sony titles (Things Change, the Spanish Prisoner, the Winslow Boy, and I guess Redbelt too)

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Re: 118 Oleanna

#3 Post by beamish14 » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:14 pm

I've always been very partial to this one. Macy is terrific, and I've never had much of a problem with Eisenberg in the female lead. The MGM DVD looks awful, and seeing this in its OAR for the first time ever will be a real treat. Some may point to this work as the first overt expression of Mamet's horrible, reactionary politics, but I think it's more nuanced and clever to make any kind of grand ideological statement. Like his later play Race, it's punctuated with a real sadness that permeates throughout the rage.

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Re: 118 Oleanna

#4 Post by M Sanderson » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:21 pm

Can’t wait. I like Mamet as a director and hope for more afterward.

There’s so few Mamet on Blu ray just as there’s so little Pinter.

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Colpeper
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#5 Post by Colpeper » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:20 am

I count myself fortunate to have seen the original London stage production, directed by Harold Pinter and still with its original cast of David Suchet as John and Lia Williams as Carol, when it transferred from the Royal Court to the Duke Of York's in autumn 1993.

The remarkable thing about that production was that Pinter had persuaded Mamet to allow use of Mamet's original ending, which the author had abandoned between the initial run in Cambridge, Massachusetts and its off-Broadway premiere later in 1992.

The play had arrived from New York with such a reputation, akin, some suggested, to melodrama or, I would have said based on the reports at the time, some kind of stunt polemic, that I was wary of it and only chose to go on the day because it seemed an easier sell to the friends I went with.

In the popular imagination, according to the play's caricatured notoriety, we 3 young, conservative, males might have been expected to side vocally with the male character. However, the performance we saw that afternoon astonishingly managed to balance our sympathies so finely between the 2 protagonists that we were convinced Mamet was not aiming for the polarization many had talked about. Obviously, he did plan an uncomfortable time for the audience (and the performers), but there were no cheers, shouts nor pantomime boos.

Only 1 line produced a single audible gasp (not from us)
SpoilerShow
Carol: I saw you, Professor. For two semesters sit there, stand there and exploit our, as you thought, “paternal prerogative,” and what is that but rape; I swear to God.
This was a Saturday matinee in October and maybe there was just an especially reverent crowd in that day, but I doubt it.

While the main credit must go to the actors and Pinter's direction, I felt that it was also the ending which helped cement the surprising recognition of dual sympathies, at the expense of some ambiguity.

The printed programme contained the complete text of the play, but it was the New York version, so evidently even Pinter's powers of persuasion only went so far. In fact, I can't see that the Massachusetts / London version has ever been published.

25 years later, I believe I recall the final line of that original climax, although memory might have failed me,
SpoilerShow
John (reading from the statement which Carol's group has prepared): I have let down the young.
If Pinter was referring to that when he wrote, "The last line seems to me the perfect summation of the play. It's dramatic ice" , then I think he was right.

The following year, in his film version now to be released by Indicator, Mamet reverted to the New York ending (albeit with 1 minor tweak).

To me, that reversion was as disappointing as the casting of Debra Eisenstadt.

Otherwise, I agree with Domino that Eisenstadt was the weak link in the film, although Lia Williams would have been my choice.

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All the Best People
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#6 Post by All the Best People » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:39 am

Colpeper, can you let us know what the penultimate's line change was? It's not included in the excerpt of that article available to non-subscribers.

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domino harvey
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#7 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:48 am

SpoilerShow
Only familiar with the printed version, and I don't have my copy handy to quote exactly, but he calls her a cunt and says he would never touch her, which is followed by the infamous "Yes, that's right" response that ends the play. Not sure if that's any different in the Pinter version
I must confess that I don't like the line Colpeper recalls at all as a replacement for what Mamet settled on, which to me is a precise encapsulation of the very question that drives the play. Great story/recollection of the London perf though!

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Colpeper
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#8 Post by Colpeper » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:35 am

I appreciate that the New York version is a more natural conclusion. In a way, it chimes with the end of the 1st act (which actually raised a laugh in London) and appears to leave nothing more to be said.

The full published text was still there in the Pinter production, but appended with a further verbal exchange culminating in the line I quoted. As with any script, the full impact is in the performance, so maybe you had to be there.

But if you take the academic setting to be crucial, rather than just incidental, then I think the play is just as much about a failure of communication and trust between generations as between the sexes. To a conservative, education is part of Edmund Burke's inter-generational contract (ultimately between the dead, the living and those yet unborn), so that might explain part of why I held John so culpable in Oleanna and why the London ending seemed so ... well, not fair but not unfair.

On a separate note, one addition I really liked in the film is the charming school song "Brief College Days" (Music: Rebecca Pidgeon & Lyrics: David Mamet). Worth buying the disc for that alone.

I should perhaps investigate more of Pidgeon's music career. Recommendations anyone?

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barryconvex
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#9 Post by barryconvex » Wed Jun 06, 2018 11:59 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:48 am
SpoilerShow
Only familiar with the printed version, and I don't have my copy handy to quote exactly, but he calls her a cunt and says he would never touch her, which is followed by the infamous "Yes, that's right" response that ends the play. Not sure if that's any different in the Pinter version
I must confess that I don't like the line Colpeper recalls at all as a replacement for what Mamet settled on, which to me is a precise encapsulation of the very question that drives the play. Great story/recollection of the London perf though!
In the movie doesn't Macy
SpoilerShow
call her a cunt and then attack her after the "don't call your wife baby" line?
I haven't seen it since 1995 and i'm totally unfamiliar with the the various stage productions but i've only ever identified with Macy's character. If one of the goals of the play is to garner empathy towards Carol's cause then Eisenstadt's performance must be judged as a total failure as i've only ever seen her as a shrew and not completely sane.

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domino harvey
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#10 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:07 pm

No Mamet participation at all in the announced extras...

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Re: 118 Oleanna

#11 Post by MichaelB » Fri Aug 03, 2018 5:14 am

Much like Albert Brooks and Modern Romance, Mamet is aware of Indicator's release, but he opted not to be involved - I imagine he thinks that the film should speak for itself.

But we were at least able to confirm with him that the correct aspect ratio is 1.66:1 - a bit counter-intuitive given the nationality and era, but if that's what he wants, that's what he's getting.

Final specs announced:

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#12 Post by EddieLarkin » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:30 am

Does that mean the master provided was wider (1.78:1/1.85:) and it has now had the sides reduced to achieve 1.66:1? Or it was 1.66:1 to start with?

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MichaelB
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Re: 118 Oleanna

#13 Post by MichaelB » Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:44 am

We had a choice of two HD masters, one framed at 1.66:1, the other at 16:9, which is why we needed to find out which was correct. We'd normally assume 1.66:1 in such situations, but it was worth checking given that it's quite an unusual ratio for an American production from the mid-1990s.

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