Film Forum (NYC)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Post Reply
Message
Author
Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#101 Post by Perkins Cobb » Thu May 05, 2011 9:19 am

I have to walk back a little on my praise of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, now that I see their format info (added at the last minute) on the upcoming Taiwan series: everything, except for one new film, is showing on HD. This is puzzling because a number of these films have shown on 35mm during my lifetime as a New Yorker: Rebels of the Neon God at FSLC, and several of the Li Xing (Lee Hsing) films at Anthology.

If that implies a preference for HD over 35mm (whether that preference is based on budget, convenience, or aesthetics) then my membership will not be renewed.

User avatar
FerdinandGriffon
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:16 am

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#102 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Thu May 05, 2011 10:12 am

Perkins Cobb wrote:I have to walk back a little on my praise of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, now that I see their format info (added at the last minute) on the upcoming Taiwan series: everything, except for one new film, is showing on HD. This is puzzling because a number of these films have shown on 35mm during my lifetime as a New Yorker: Rebels of the Neon God at FSLC, and several of the Li Xing (Lee Hsing) films at Anthology.

If that implies a preference for HD over 35mm (whether that preference is based on budget, convenience, or aesthetics) then my membership will not be renewed.
This is very disappointing. I saw a lovely 35mm print of Rebels of a Neon God at Asia Society a little over a year ago.

J Adams
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:28 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#103 Post by J Adams » Thu May 05, 2011 11:03 am

I will be skipping the whole thing then.

I've written them a polite email expressing my objection to HD screenings. Of course, this will be an increasing trend. At least they've fessed up.

Thank god we still have Anthology which somehow manages to get generally decent 35mm's for sparsely attended programs.

Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#104 Post by Perkins Cobb » Thu May 05, 2011 11:48 am

If something only exists as a digital restoration, then fine, I'll see that (although I think back to The Whole Shooting Match and kind of wish that I'd been able to see a battered 16mm print of the original version). But if there's no compelling reason not to show it on film, then it's a "fail." Digital masters belong on my plasma, not projected in a big movie theater.

J Adams
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:28 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#105 Post by J Adams » Thu May 05, 2011 12:17 pm

I would also say that, for a country retro of the type WR often does, movies unavailable in 35mm should be excluded unless there's a compelling reason to show them. I'm slightly less picky about new films because almost all commercially released films are going to be screened digitally in commercial theatres, so that cow is out of the barn. There are a few cinemas in NYC, such as the Beekman, that don't appear to have digital projection, so I will go to those venues when I can.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#106 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu May 05, 2011 3:15 pm

As far as I'm concerned, a significantly lower overhead for the theater is a compelling enough reason to choose HD over 35mm. I'd rather attend a theater with a wider range of electic screenings that has to resort to HD from time to time rather than one limited by their devotion to film.

J Adams
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:28 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#107 Post by J Adams » Thu May 05, 2011 4:14 pm

Here's the response I got. The digital projection at Alice Tully by the way is particularly harsh.
If you were to attend the section "Cannes Classics," which begins next Thursday and features recent restorations, you would see 100% digital restorations, all presented in various digital formats. About half of the films shown in the New York Film Festival last year were projected digitally--by choice of the filmmakers.

Digital restoration is, like it or not, the future of repertory programming. Film restoration is expensive, and then you have the problems of storage, shipping, etc. While we might have wished that Taiwan invested in 15 subtitled film prints for this series, the fact is that they wouldn't, because of the cost. But they did do nice digital restorations of the works we have in our show.

Between access and some notion of celluloid purity, I come down on the side of access. So while at both the Walter Reade and the upcoming Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center we will continue to show celluloid when possible, we will also show digital copies when needed. I hope that you will continue to support our programs.

Best wishes,
Richard Peña

Richard--W
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 6:56 am
Location: on the border

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#108 Post by Richard--W » Thu May 05, 2011 4:53 pm

J Adams wrote:Here's the response I got. The digital projection at Alice Tully by the way is particularly harsh.
...
Digital restoration is, like it or not, the future of repertory programming.
...
This is so depressing.
Replacing 35mm film with digital projection is like losing consciousness when you are trying with every ounce of your will stay conscious, like sliding into the deep black abyss of depression that has no bottom ....

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#109 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu May 05, 2011 9:24 pm

Sorry guys, but he's right.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#110 Post by knives » Thu May 05, 2011 9:28 pm

While I don't think this is a problem with most films assuming the HD projection is extremely strong (stronger than most that exist now anyways), but I think in darker films that might be a problem. I'm specifically thinking of Lost Highway which in all honesty looks better and more evocative on VHS than DVD because of the very dark lighting which doesn't seem to be able to be communicated with digital.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#111 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu May 05, 2011 9:42 pm

I have to throw an "are you crazy?!" your way. The Blu-ray of Lost Highway made me see the film in a completely new light, it looks approximately a hundred thousand times better than the DVD, and the film is much more effective as a result of the improvement.
Last edited by mfunk9786 on Thu May 05, 2011 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#112 Post by knives » Thu May 05, 2011 9:49 pm

I'll admit I haven't seen the Blu for Lost Highway or anything else along the lines of what I'm talking about, but if the tech has caught up to that very specific shadow play than I'm impressed. Just to clarify what I'm talking about is how things get so dark as to be nearly invisible, but you can still see the slightest glimmer of movement so you know you're looking at something, but can't tell what.

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#113 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu May 05, 2011 10:51 pm

By definition, then, the contrast ratio of HD makes that effect more powerful.

User avatar
dad1153
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:32 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#114 Post by dad1153 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:28 am

I'm surprised that, except for one time (a totally sold out showing of "The Complete Metropolis"), I never have trouble getting a seat in the first three rows at Film Forum even during a packed showing. I mean, those screens are so small I feel I have to sit in the third row just to keep the illusion I'm at my father's home sitting in front of his Vizio 80" set. And yet most people that attend Film Forum gravitate toward the middle and back of the theater, where the screen would feel like a smart phone a couple of feet away from your face. How do you even read subtitles from that far away?

Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#115 Post by Perkins Cobb » Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:44 am

Completely agreed. It's like watching a movie in a shoebox. The first three rows are too close to the screen, but they're better than the alternative. Plus there's no rake, so past the first few rows you'll have heads in your way. The small theaters to the right have one good seat each: in the one closest to the entrance, it's in the third row on the right end of the aisle; in the other one, it's in the fourth row (I think) on the left side of the aisle. (In both cases, the placement of a pillar means there's an empty space partly in front of these.) If I get there early enough, I can get the one good seat about 75% of the time.

I walked out of a crowded screening of a Naruse film where I could only get a lousy seat and couldn't read the subs unless I sat on my feet, without even bothering to ask for a refund (and was rewarded it when BAM showed the same film on a much better screen a few months later). Truly a horrible theater, to be avoided unless they're showing an major rarity (which they don't often do).

User avatar
dad1153
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:32 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#116 Post by dad1153 » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:19 am

Yeah, the big theater on the left is awesome from the "money" row (4th). I saw "Cousin Jules" there a few weeks back during it's exclusive limited run, and the anamorphic 2:35:1 photography came through (barely) helped immensely by the screen being a tad bigger than the one's on the right. I wouldn't go as far as saying Film Forum should be avoided because when the film is rocking (like their screening of Leos Carax's "Mauvais Sang") you pretty much tune out the surroundings. Still, for a cinephile savvy crowd like the one that gravitates toward Film Forum, Angelika (same complaints as Film Forum, except the passing subway trains add shaking/rattiling to the experience) or Lincoln Plaza (bigger theaters but the projectors vary wildly in quality from one to the next; saw "12 Years a Slave" with a projector that was clearly dying and made the film look like a rear-projection TV set circa 1988), I was surprised that during the premiere of "The Past" FF was packed, but I had the first three rows for myself. I mean, do you really not want to BE in the movie instead of looking at the back of my head? :)

BTW, with the premiere of "The Past" Film Forum raised its regular ticket price to $13. Sucks, but it sure beats the $14.50 AMC charges for their non-matinee movies.

Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#117 Post by Perkins Cobb » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:53 am

I had the pleasure of seeing Cousin Jules on the huge screen in the Walter Reade. A revelatory film (even in an overbright DCP).

User avatar
Drucker
Your Future our Drucker
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#118 Post by Drucker » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:32 pm

I will stick up for Film Forum. Between them, IFC and Lincoln Center, there certainly seems to be more 35MM screenings there. Their repertory selection is certainly the most diverse I'd argue, with things like the monsters and aliens series from last year, French "Old" Wave, New Yawk films, 1933 films, the Universal series. That's only since I've been paying attention (last two years or so). Many of these screenings come in prints, which is a rarity these days and a real treat (especially for someone like me who this is all still pretty new to). The Ozu series was fantastic. The selection is great, the audience is frequently as well (seeing The Cameraman during the MGM Silent Roar a few years ago was a real treat. As was seeing two cheesy 50s space films with my wife and father in law last year).

Beyond that, IFC has a really, really boring lineup and frequently plays the same films over and over again (Terminator, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Alien, etc. etc. etc). They probably have the best screen, but their selection is mostly dull. And Lincoln Center has a great selection like Film Forum, but their theaters are just as small! I saw the Leopard there and 1) it was a blu ray and 2) it wasn't exactly some overly engrossing experience like I'd get at, say, an AMC Theater for a new film down the street.

Also, parking at Lincoln Center vs. parking at Film Forum, where if you get in before 3pm on a Sunday you can usually park right on 6th Ave for free and quickly exit the city through the Holland Tunnel? It's no contest to me, Film Forum is the best.

Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#119 Post by Perkins Cobb » Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:56 pm

Well, the new theaters at Lincoln Center aren't huge, but at least the seats are reasonably comfortable. I get annoyed when they put the repertory screenings down there instead of across the street but when they do show something in the Walter Reade, it's really the best rep experience available in the city. (Not trying to pick a fight with BAM, MoMA, Anthology, or Moving Image partisans - great times to be had there, too.)

I'm hesitant to complain about any theater that's still making the effort to show 35mm but, honestly, it seems wasted on a theater as cramped and badly designed as the Film Forum's. If there is one, I'll always choose a good Blu-ray or even DVD over seeing a print there.

User avatar
FerdinandGriffon
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 11:16 am

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#120 Post by FerdinandGriffon » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:49 pm

Perkins Cobb wrote:If there is one, I'll always choose a good Blu-ray or even DVD over seeing a print there.
That's just crazy talk. You may have to switch around once or twice but I'm 5' 9" and I almost never have a problem getting a clear eyeline at FF. Sure, it's a postage stamp screen, but so is Anthology's second theater, and if you can't stomach that then you're missing out on some of the best programming in the city. Almost all of the repertory houses in Paris are postage stamps (or handkerchiefs, as the French call them) and that did nothing to stop my time there from being the greatest cinephilic experience of my life, or Accatone being my favorite theater in the world.

I like big screens too, but the drop in experience quality that a viewer suffers from the move to a small venue is tiny in comparison to that which comes with home video (which I don't turn my nose up at either!).

User avatar
matrixschmatrix
Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#121 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sun Jan 05, 2014 2:58 pm

In the three or four times I've seen a movie at Film Forum, I've had shitty seats with poor views every time, and weirdos sitting a few seats away make strange noises throughout the movie twice. Plus the seats are close enough together that it put pressure on my broken kneecap and I could barely walk after seeing Godfather II.

On the other hand, screw it, I'll put up with a lot to see the kind of movies they show on 35mm.

Perkins Cobb
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#122 Post by Perkins Cobb » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:01 pm

FerdinandGriffon wrote:That's just crazy talk.
Nope. In theory, 35mm is almost always preferable to digital. In practice, my plasma vs. Film Forum is the difference between an enjoyable experience and a(n often) irritating one.

(And the small screen at Anthology has stadium seating. Plus, a far greater percentage of what gets shown there isn't available in a good home video edition, because the programming is more adventurous. But I'd definitely put Cinema Village and the Angelika on my "rather watch it at home" list.)

Numero Trois
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:23 am
Location: Florida

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#123 Post by Numero Trois » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:09 am

dad1153 wrote: And yet most people that attend Film Forum gravitate toward the middle and back of the theater,
That isn't just an FF thing. People seem to do the same no matter what the screen size whatever part of the country you're in.

User avatar
Cold Bishop
Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 9:45 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#124 Post by Cold Bishop » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:20 am

People who sit in the front rows are children or weirdos. This isn't IMAX; you situate yourself where you can take in the whole frame.

User avatar
FrauBlucher
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: Film Forum (NYC)

#125 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Jan 06, 2014 8:48 am

I too, will defend the Film Forum. I am a member and have averaged 25 to 30 screenings a year at this little cramped, mishapen gem. I am fortunate that I live 3 blocks from the FF. I will not complain one bit nor will I take it for granted because there many folks that do not have access to the wide variety of films the FF offers. Yeah, there are some lousy seats, smallish screens and some annoying patrons (like the two sitting in front of me during a showing of Diary of a Country Priest who were loudly munching on pop-corn and slurping their sodas, ugh). But the pluses vastly outweigh the minusus. For me, going to the movies, old or new, is still a wonderful experience.

Post Reply