What I Watched Last Night In HD/UHD etc (Review).

OriusFox

Member
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
"Something wicked this way comes!"

Well, it's about damn time.

This is it, the peak of the HP franchise and the point where it finally utilize the full storytelling potential this world could offer. Having finally done with all the tedious introductory and expository obstacles in the first two movies, we finally reach the third book adaption with more room for very strong character development. Aside from finally taking Hogwarts to the darker realm the rest of the films would settle in, we also get two of the most significant character introductions in the forms of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. The best part of all is that unlike the first two films that meander in their whirlpool of confusion, Azkaban excels with its tight script that never spends too much time on unnecessary plot-devices; almost every single story element presented is related to the two main plots of Sirius Black's pursuit and Harry's own struggle with missing his beloved parents. Chekhov's Guns firing on all cylinders. No filler material to bored us to tears this time.

★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Top notch. If only all HP films can be this good.

Footnote:
And yes, I know the Time-Turner is a cheap way out, which is why it's got a four and a half stars, not full marks. It's definitely the weakest part of the film and deprives it from what could've been a bittersweet and far more ambitious ending.
 

Coz22998

Distinguished Member
Crime and Punishment (Arrow, region B - UK disc)

Having not read Dostoevsky's literary classic, I can't comment on how faithful this 1935 version is. But nonetheless this is a really quite interesting character study of a man who is wracked with his own feelings towards both the crime he commits and the punishment that is forthcoming.......

Peter Lorre is always a fantastic watch and here he brings a dash of his jittery child murderer from M and a splash of his cold, calculating Joel Cairo from The Maltese Falcon. His brilliant criminology student veers between cocky and brash thanks to his vast intellect and understanding of the law and his guilt and fears of how his beloved family and loved ones will react when they find out about his actions.

And with him being hunted in a very cool and calm, almost friendly way, by the local police chief, the bulk of the film is a to and fro between these two, each one getting the upper hand, then the other as the investigation continues. Showing nicely how the inner turmoil of Lorre manifests itself in late night revisits to the crime scene, his interactions with a host of supporting characters, including a local prostitute he falls in love with to his mother and sister who he feels he must provide for, all amp up to drive and heighten his own emotions and its done brilliantly: for a very wordy film, where little other than conversations take place, it still remains nicely cinematic and visual.

The only downsides for me are the initial set up of Lorre is unclear - for such a brilliant man who effortlessly writes magazine articles for thousands of roubles, why he is in the abject poverty we find him in at the films opening and drives the key act in the first act narrative is never explained. And similarly, the film wraps itself up in a very nice and convenient bow which some may find a little too contrived after the nuance of what's gone before.

But I thoroughly enjoyed this as a lovely character piece that only grazes the complexity and themes of the original novel but compromises in the right way to bring a nicely visual telling of the story to the screen.

The transfer is pretty decent - there's a lovely greyscale to the image, with some deep blacks and whites that only occasionally run hot. Detail is great without being top tier and print damage is non-existent. Grain is nice and organic looking and the only issue really is the softening up of the image around the optical fades. But this looked really nice projected overall. The lossless English mono track is crystal clear and that dialogue is always totally intelligible. There's a host of extras of course which I'm yet to tuck into but they look to be a good mix of the focus on Sternberg, Lorre and the film itself.

Summary - far from the complex and weighty tome the novel supposedly is, this is a great character study of a brilliant man unraveling under the weight of his actions. The disc is as good as the film and overall, its a package highly recommended.
 
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Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Classics Night 1

'To Kill A Mockingbird' (1962)

To Kill.jpg


Being under house arrest due to the zombie apocalypse, is not such a chore when one has the comfort of an obscenely large film and TV library. It's simply an excuse to watch even more films.

So, to kick off lockdown, I've decided screen a season of outright classics, the creme de la creme of my collection and films that I never tire of revisiting, just in case the world ends and I never get the chance to see them again. First off, a film that is the very definition of the term "classic".

There is an old adage in the film world, that great novels seldom, if ever, make great movies. Here's one that most certainly proves to be the exception to that rule.

Harper Lee's novel is one of the world's great works of literature and Robert Mulligan's screen adaptation more than does the source material justice.

A gripping screen drama, boasting a superbly literate script, spare, idiosyncratic direction and a series of superb performances from the entire cast, including highly talented child actors that don't have you reaching for the sick bucket.

Towering above them all however, is Gregory Peck in his career defining role as attorney Atticus Finch. There are not enough superlatives to do justice to what is one of the all time great, consummate screen performances, which saw Peck deservedly rewarded with the Oscar. This is Gregory Peck at his most Gregory Peckish.

The film also scooped the statues for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction. The fact that Mulligan missed out on the gong for Best Director is a shame, but then that year's winner was David Lean for 'Lawrence of Arabia.

Robert Duvall makes his big screen debut as Boo Radley. Duvall was recommended for the part by the film's screenwriter Horton Foote, following his performance in Foote's play 'TheMidnight Caller'. Twenty years later Duvall and Foote were successfully reunited for 'Tender Mercies' a film that Foote scripted with Duvall in mind for the lead. The film went on to see Foote and Duvall win Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Actor.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Terminator 2 : Judgment Day (4K UHD) (Theatrical Cut)

Come with me if you want to live!

Say... That's a nice bike...

Stay here. I'll be back.


I've been saving this one for a while (for first time watch of the 4K UHD) ahead of watching Dark Fate. We've all seen this one right? There is literally no point in me explaining this one surely?! This film was one of those rare breed though - an event film. On release this was huge and it remained huge for years after too. Cameron made a more family friendly big budget sequel to the very dark and brilliant Terminator and despite toning down that violence to the 12 level it worked. Well it more than worked - it was a true blockbuster.

Needless to say, Arnie absolutely nailed the role which could easily have gone wrong when you think about it. The humour here is pitched just right for instance - not too cheesy. And then you pair him up against Robert Patrick who doesn't look that threatening until you see his shark eyes. And then there's Linda Hamilton knocking it out of the park as the new, tough, but maybe slightly psychotic Sarrrraaaah Connnnnnor. And hey, Edward Furlong might be a slightly annoying brat true but I think he does a really good job here for my money. The rest of the cast are great too. I have to admit that I am so used to the longer Director's Cut (Special Edition?) that the Theatrical cut seems a bit short and I couldn't help wonder where 'that bit' was but I didn't miss the extra bits that much. Is it better than The Terminator? Not for me. The Terminator still rules this franchise but T2 is such a great sequel - much in the same vein as Alien and Aliens - that it feels like you're splitting hairs when comparing them.

And here comes the trouble - So...I have read a lot about this problematic 4K transfer and when I started watching I initially thought...hey! This looks great! What's the big problem exactly? I have never seen it looking like this. But that is the problem. T2 doesn't look like this! OK, the detail is definitely better here but the all important grain has been wiped off - everything is shiny and smooth. Too shiny. Too smooth. It looks quite fake. You get used to it after a while but a quick compare to my old Optimum disc (not the Skynet!) showed what the problem was. And then there is the teal colour palette which simply doesn't look like what T2 is supposed to look like. The HDR/WCG is not doing any favours here either and the whole thing just seems...off somehow. Its odd, its better in a way but also worse in more ways if that makes sense! The AQ is the same old 5.1 lossless track which is certainly sturdy enough upmixed but certainly isn't up to today's standards. Its still pretty good though and really explodes when it needs to with some good surround and sub bass.

Summary? Well T2 is still a great sequel despite the 4K only being the theatrical cut which is a shame. It doesn't look bad as such (beware internet hyperbole!) but it doesn't look quite 'right' either. Maybe one day we will get a 4K transfer of all 3 cuts to do it justice? I love the steelbook anyway! Now on to Dark Fate...

Film 9/10
PQ 7/10
AQ 8/10
 

Coz22998

Distinguished Member
Oldboy (2003, Arrow, region B - UK disc, part of The Vengeance Trilogy boxset)

Has time dulled this blistering beast of a film? Not really. Others may have come and taken its mantle for some of the more lurid elements, but as an overall piece, the rage and anger in this is all still there and gloriously on show for all to soak up.......

Visually, its lovelier moments remain so - the stunning corridor scene (now even aped in Marvel shows, yet never bettered for me), the school-set flashback that sees the modern day Oh Dae-Su chasing his younger self within what looks like an Escher painting, the snowbound epilogue, it all remains a ravishing watch. Its tricksy narrative is still tight as a drum, the mystery behind the imprisonment and release precision-made to hook you in and not give you any room to be unhooked from it.

And even those more infamous elements - the live octopus eating (still icky) and its final reveal - while the shock factor may have subsided, their place in the narrative still feels earned and relevant, rather than just being there for shock value.

Its still not up there with the first film in the trilogy for me - the casting of Lee Woo-Jin still rankles because of the significant and obvious age difference between him and Choi Min-sik; and some of the plotting teeters almost uncomfortably on the edge of contrivance, something which its predecessor managed to avoid almost completely.

But its still a film with immense power both in its visuals and its narrative and one that effortlessly entertains despite its more gratuitous elements.

The new 4K mastered transfer from Arrow is really good, despite some obvious low level issues. The previous transfers I've seen have been ok because of the source material and some of that was never going to be fixed in this new transfer - but its still a clear improvement over the old Tartan disc I had before. Colours pop nicely and detail levels are decent, without ever being exceptional. There are a few moments where low level print damage is obvious (during the school flashbacks we had some faint vertical lines appear on screen), but overall this is a step up from previous versions, even if its not quite up there with the best of it's Hollywood peers. The lossless Korean 5.1 track is very similar, with a heavy focus on the front array but some nice dynamic range and clear dialogue. Extras are legion and I haven't even looked into them yet, but with multiple commentaries and a feature length making of, I can't see fans being disappointed in any way.

Summary - its Oldboy. The same Oldboy it ever was. And even more so in light of the awful US remake. But Arrow's Oldboy looks better and has a boatload of extras so its easily all kinds of win.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Terminator: Dark Fate (4K UHD)

Dreams of the end of the world are very common.

So you're here to protect her. What are you? Never seen one like you before. Almost human.

I am human. Just enhanced. You know, increased speed and strength, thorium micro-reactor. Which means I can rip your throat out if you **** me off, so don't.

I won't be back.


I'm probably the last one here to see this yet again but I was in no rush to be honest. Especially after the gigantic mess that was Genisys - which I actually turned off halfway through because it was annoying me so much - I wont be trying to watch Genisys again that's for sure. How does this compare? Well...I am sure you all know that this one pretends that T3, T4 and Genisys don't exist. I actually liked T3 and T4 quite a lot but they obviously don't match up to the first two classics.

And so....Dark Fate certainly starts VERY strongly for me. Without going into spoilers we get a quick flashback from T2 and then an extremely well done sequence that follows T2 which I will not go into detail about - suffice it to say that this sequence alone got me on the film's side straight away and I loved it! We then go pretty quickly into the film's first major set-piece and its an absolute blast - the CGI is off the scale good and I cannot think of a better action sequence in recent times off the top of my head. Its a little (worryingly for me ;) ) bit akin to a certain brand of superhero films in a way but I managed to let that go because it certainly doesn't pull any punches. The new big bad robot is played by Gabriel Luna and he's not bad but he's certainly no Robert Patrick or Arnie of course. Mackenzie Davis is the standout for me - she absolutely owns this role and you can tell she is giving this everything. Her character really stood out and she was totally believable. I have to say I wasn't as impressed with Natalia Reyes who just didn't really convince as the future saviour of humanity. Linda Hamilton and Arnie however are excellent in their reprised roles and they certainly help anchor the film and make it better than it really is. I cannot stress enough that the action scenes in this film are as good as just about anything and though you can see the CGI artificiality at times, its still gobsmacking to experience.

The film moves along well but does slow down at times and I did find the film seeming longer than it actually is. The constant references to T2 and T1 did get a bit tiring at times too. There seemed to be a lot of plot contrivances for my money which were explained in the film at times but still didn't convince. However....unlike Genisys it most certainly did keep me watching and I was on the edge of my seat a couple of times too so its not all bad news! I did notice elements of the dreaded wokeness - the band of women against the evil men - but it wasn't too heavy handed with this element fortunately though I can see quite a few people railing against this stuff. Did it deserve to tank at the box office? Not for me but then again, plenty of greater films have - Blade Runner 2049 for example. It seems that the public mainly want a certain type of generic action film made by a certain studio but hey - what do the public know?! :D Bring on Phase 4 indeed ;)

What helped with watching this one was the PQ/AQ. As you would expect, the PQ may be a 4K upscale but its a superb transfer. Black levels are excellent (they have to be with the many dark scenes including some unusual very dark night time sequences with virtually no light at all). Colour and detail are also superb. Its maybe not quite the very best I have seen on 4K UHD but its close! The AQ is yet another superb Atmos track and this is yet another reference or close to damn it track. Astounding surround and sub bass. Very clear dialogue of course and good levels too, it never felt too loud or too quiet - just right. Great stuff!

Summary? Well this one doesn't match the first two Terminator films naturally but it certainly can stand with T3 and T4. Its a bit silly at times but you can say that about a lot of action films of course! I am not particularly itching to see it again soon but its certainly fun to watch for 2 hours and the superb PQ and AQ help with that. Good stuff (but no cigar!).

Film 7/10
PQ 9.5/10
AQ 10/10
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Zombie Apocalypse Lockdown

Classics Night 2

'Chinatown' (1974)

Chinatown.jpg


Roman Polanski's masterpiece and another film that I never tire of revisiting.

Boasting one of the most dazzlingly perfect screenplays ever written, this contemporary (well it was contemporary in 1974) neo-noir is quite simply one of the finest pieces of celluloid ever to pass through a movie camera.

At once a product of '70s Hollywood, yet imbued with Polanski's European sensibility, 'Chinatown' is an elegant, supremely literate and ultimately disturbing foray into the dark political (and personal) underbelly of 1937 Los Angeles.

A top-notch cast, including Jack Nicholson, on the cusp of super-stardom, Faye Dunaway, in probably her finest screen performance and John Huston as one of cinema's all time great monsters, make this drama/mystery totally riveting from start to finish.

Icing on the cake is a simply gorgeous musical score from Jerry Goldsmith, one which I often think may be his finest work.

Of course a film with all of this going for it was heavily Oscar nominated. In all, the film received 11 nominations, but amazingly won in only one category 'Best Original Screenplay' for Robert Towne. That may seem like a criminal oversight on Oscar's part, but bear in mind that year's opposition was mainly from 'The Godfather Part II' (not for nothing is the 1970s regarded as Hollywood's second Golden Age).

The film fared better in The Golden Globes that year, where it won Best Motion Picture Drama, Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama – Jack Nicholson, Best Director – Roman Polanski and
Best Screenplay – Robert Towne.

Sheer brilliance in every department from start to finish. If you've never seen this film, kick yourself hard, switch off 'Star Wars' and grab yourself a copy of this beautiful Blu-Ray transfer, post-haste.
 

Garrett

Moderator
Icing on the cake is a simply gorgeous musical score from Jerry Goldsmith, one which I often think may be his finest work.
The main theme to die for no one does horns like Jerry(just took my Bob James of to stick the soundtrack of Chinatown on at your mention of it) Jerry got an Oscar nomination for it.
Watched LA Confidential the other week and thought Jerry's work on Chinatown must have been the shoe in for him being hired for it.
 

mark6226

Well-known Member
Tunes of glory criterion blu ray. What a movie and what a crime that yet another British movie is denied a British release.
PQ is as expected from criterion. It's worth getting a mutli region blu ray player just to get movies of the quality that may never be released in the UK
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Zombie Apocalypse Lockdown

Classics Night 3

'King Kong' (1933)

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While Peter Jackson's remake is a firm favourite and undoubtedly ups the stakes in the FX department as well as developing a superbly realised and previously unexplored relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow, the original still edges it for me with its primitive charm and Classic Hollywood style.

Plus anyone who fell in love with that big ape at an early age on a small black and white TV screen, won't be wooed away from him, despite all the CGI jimcrackery on offer in the remake. Despite being a fifteen inch lump of fur and rubber, thanks to the genius of Willis O'Brien, the original Kong has an undeniable charm all of his own.

Where the original does have the edge over the Jackson remake however, is in terms of its sheer kinetic pace.

While I had no problem with the marathon running time of the remake (even in its further extended home video version), once the original hits Skull Island, the film adopts a breathtaking pace that never lets up until the very end.

Whereas the Jackson remake takes its own sweet time to develop the character of Kong and his entirely believable relationship with Darrow in between the horrors (the only thing Fay Wray wants from her Kong is a speedy divorce!), the original eschews this in favour of non-stop, balls-to-the-wall monster action, with one superbly realised set piece after another, ensuring that this is a film that continues to thrill despite its almost 90-year vintage.

A masterclass in narrative economy and pacing and beautifully restored by Warner for its Blu-Ray release, including the restoration of some quite graphic scenes that fell foul of the censors' scissors over the years.

But alas, still no sign of the legendary lost spider pit sequence, removed after some preview screenings because it literally stopped the show as well as proving too gruesome for many audience members.

Kong fanboy Peter Jackson really indulged himself in the remake, giving us a truly squirm inducing spider pit sequence, but the original still remains one of cinema's holy grails.

"Rama KONG!"
 
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Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Zombie Apocalypse Lockdown

Classics Night 4

'West Side Story' (1961)

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There are certain indisputable truths in this life. The Beatles are the greatest musical group that has ever walked the face of the earth, Boris Johnson has totally mismanaged this current pandemic we are facing, Jeremy Clarkson is an enormous tw*at (I didn't type "twit"), bears sh*t in the woods and ''West Side Story' is the greatest stage and screen musical of all time.

(Someone smack the person at the back who mentioned Andrew Lloyd-****ing-Webber.)

Leonard Bernstein's compositions were groundbreaking in their stunning fusion of jazz, Latin and classical forms with traditional Broadway musical conventions, resulting in a score that sounds as dynamic, vital and as fresh as it did over sixty years ago.

And of course, this comes from the Golden Age of BLW (Before Lloyd Webber) when musicals were crammed to the gills with a variety of memorable, hummable tunes, as opposed to the strident, grating, virtually tuneless dirges that seem de rigueur in contemporary stage and screen musicals. And in this department' West Side Story' is one of the best, with numerous songs that have crossed over not only as cover versions in the pop market, but have also provided rich pickings for many leading jazz musicians.

Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer are quite serviceable romantic leads in the Romeo and Juliet roles, but as usual in classic Broadway musicals, the secondary leads are often more interesting, in this instance Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris and particularly Rita Moreno who simply electrifies the screen every second she is on it. Deservedly, she and Chakiris received Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, among the 10 Oscars that the film scooped that year, including Best Picture.

Robert Wise and Jerome Robins shared the Best Director Oscar, as Robbins directed the musical numbers with Wise directing the remaining dramatic scenes. Jerome Robbins' jazz/balletic choreography is simply knockout and more than rises to the challenge of the musical score and to this day many professional dancers and choreographers regard 'West Side Story' as the toughest test for any dancer. Given that the film is packed wall to wall with outstanding musical/dance sequences, it's easy to see where the lion's share of directorial credit belongs.

Much as I love Steven Spielberg and trust his cinematic nous, I have some trepidation about his upcoming remake of 'West Side Story'. Particularly puzzling was this press release...

"Kushner [the screenwriter]plans to keep the story closer to the original Broadway musical than the 1961 film..."

Puzzling, because I have seen the show on stage three times over the years and apart from a few minor tweaks, the film is incredibly faithful to the stage production. In the film, 'America' is expanded in to a singing/dancing face off between the boys and the girls, whereas in the stage version it is performed by only three girls, 'Somewhere' is changed from a solo number in the stage version to a duet in the film and 'Cool' and 'Gee Officer Krupke' swop places in the narrative (working much better in the film version) .

Otherwise in terms of narrative, musical arrangements and right down to every last step of the choreography, the film is pretty faithful to the stage version. The other thing that gives me pause over the remake, is that there will be new choreography and for anyone that knows 'West Side Story' the chirography is as much a part of its DNA as the musical score. We shall see...

Anyhow, we will still have the glorious original, which tonight will pass before my eyes for around the 50th (60th? 70th? Lost count years ago!) time.

I really DO like to be in Am-er-ee-ca!
 
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Coz22998

Distinguished Member
A cracking double bill last night and this morning celebrating all things vehicular and cinematic......

Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans (2915, streaming on BBC iPlayer)

A fantastic look at how the King of Cool somehow lost the love of his life - racing - through the making of this turbulent film (big shoutout to Steve Withers on this weeks podcast for the heads up on this).

On camera interviews with friends, family and those involved in the film are intercut with a huge amount of fantastic archive footage of McQueen at work and at play and its a massively in-depth look at what drove him and his love of racing as well as the making of the film itself.

From his well known love of racers and his semi-professional career (coming second at Sebring behind Mario Andretti) to his lesser known hatred of the Frankenhiemer film Grand Prix (the reading of his Le Mans treatment by his son where he eviscerates the film plainly for all to see and in writing no less is scarily hilarious), we start to get under the skin of the man and what drove him to attempt the film when everyone around him knew it was somewhat problematic.

Any documentary lives and dies on two things - the breadth and quality of those interviewed and the tone the film takes: in both cases, this film is simply wonderful: unlike the similar doc I Am Steve McQueen, which tried too hard to ape the cinematic cool of its subject matter, this film just stands back and lets its interviewees tell their story and the confidence is well rewarded - from the actors in the film to the drivers hired, including one involved in a terrible accident, to the son of the film's producer who quickly became the bad guy as far as McQueen was concerned, the second half of the film does a wonderful job of explaining the scale of the production, the glorious filming techniques of the race and the terrible failure of the narrative and the multiple screenwriters and attempts employed to try and shape it into something workable.

Ending with audio of McQueen in Mexico near the end of his life, you can hear the regret etched in his voice and the final interview with Niele McQueen who says he simply wasn't the same after the film shows how much this film impacted the Hollywood legend and the film a near perfect document of the whole tale. Hugely recommended not just for racing or McQueen fans.......

Le Mans '66 (aka Ford v Ferrari, 2019, Fox, region free - UHD, UK disc)

Taking a similar tone and feel to the above documentary, the film oozes a classical feel to its traditional cinematic telling of the rise of the Ford Racing Team and of the two men who drove the company to the heights it achieved at this time.

For the opening scenes, it goes for pure California cool - every shot is drenched in that west coast sunshine, warm colours and a soundtrack that mixes those glorious tunes of the period with a score that apes the same feel. The whole thing engulfs you in a time and place that may or may not have existed but its joyous to just spend time in.

As good as Damon is, Bale is hilarious - a man out of time and space, the main drama of the film is the conflict between him and the Ford Board and how Shelby was the middle man in it all, desperately trying to show those what he knew - that Ford wouldn't succeed without Bale's Ken Miles.

And when we get to the racing (we see Sebring and the Le Mans race) the film places us in those drivers seats, giving us a thrill of the race, surrounded by some wonderful VFX and sound design - its maybe not quite as visceral as that captured in McQueen's film, but its also not that film - this is about the men and the racing was there to show us what drove them. And come its really quite emotional ending, you're left with a brilliantly classical film, told with a steady hand and by the best actors around and with just enough money to get us to that time and that place and into those cars.

Not quite as good as Rush for me (probably only because I knew of the Hunt/Lauda story and I knew nothing of these guys here), but its damn close.

The disc is a belter - I've had this digitally for a month now but I've held off watching it until I had the disc and I'm so glad I did. That sound track is a stunner - its not the eardrum blowing out assault some may have feared, rather a meticulously designed film to place the sound all around you so that when the film instantly flits between open California roads and tunes on the radio to a self-enclosed tin can travelling at 200mph, your ears tell you this without your eyes having to. Sound is everywhere and its rich and powerful when it needs to be, the throb and hum of those engines smile inducing. The PQ isn't quite as impressive but its not far off - again, going for that classical look, there's very fine grain laid over the image but it looks nice an organic. The colours are lush and deep and when we get to the rainy night in France, blacks are nicely deep and inky. As a transfer goes, its nigh on perfect fort he film and style Mangold is going for.

Summary - much more focused on the characters than I was expecting, this was a wonderfully rich story of two very different men and their shared passion and ambition. That just so happens to be one of the coolest films you've seen in a while.

McQueen would have bloody loved it.........
 

Mr Lime

Distinguished Member
Zombie Apocalypse Lockdown

Classics Night 5

'La Belle et la Bête' ('Beauty and the Beast') (1946)

Belle.jpg


Jean Cocteau was a French poet, critic, playwright, novelist, designer, painter and sculptor. So when he decided to turn his hand to film making, one could expect the results to be something quite extraordinary.

His first film as a director in 1930 was as short, experimental film 'Le Sang d'un Poète' ('The Blood of a Poet'), a series of surreal images with no conventional narrative structure and pretty much what one would expect from Cocteau given his explorations of the avant garde in other artistic fields.

It would be 16 years before he would direct another film , but this time he would turn his attention to conventional story telling in probably its most simple form, that of the fairy tale and in the process delivered not only one of the classics of French cinema, but one of the great works of world cinema.
'La Belle et la Bête' is a conventional fairy tale, simply told, in terms of its narrative structure. But there all concessions to conventional film making end and Cocteau's avant garde sensibilities deliver one of the most visually stunning and surreal experiences ever committed to celluloid.

The castle of The Beast is filled with dark, eerie, other worldly imagery with living statues and ornamentation in every room. The Disney version's anthropomorphic candlesticks, clocks, teapots, etc, are lifted wholesale from this film, although Cocteau's versions are far colder, darker and much more sinister. Indeed despite it's fairy tale source, the film exudes a decidedly adult sensibility and makes no concessions to a juvenile audience. The scenes at Belle's home, her family, the village and its inhabitants are portrayed in entirely realistic terms, with the fairy tale/fantasy elements only coming into play when we enter the domain of The Beast and even then this is darker fare.

This is not to say that children might not enjoy the film, but I'd think twice before showing it to very young moppets. Friends of mine watched it during a TV screening some years ago and their 9 year old was literally terrified when the Beast appeared.

Oh yes, The Beast. The Beast is one of the most impressive looking creations ever put on the screen. A terrifying yet supremely tragic figure, superbly portrayed by Jean Marais (Cocteau's long term lover), whose face is obscured throughout by heavy, virtually unmoving prosthetic makeup, leaving only his stunningly expressive eyes as his primary means of performance.

Indeed so impressive is The Beast and one become so invested in the character, that the film's only disappointment is when he is restored to his human form and the resulting powdered and pompadoured prince is a decided let down after the majestic Beast. You have been warned.

Josette Day is a radiant Beauty and the perfect foil for Marais, but this is not a film about performances (good as they are), this is a director's film (nay, an artist''s film) and Cocteau delivers one of the most magical looking pieces of cinema you will ever set eyes on. The scenes of village life and Belle's home are based on the paintings of Dutch master Jan Vemeer, while the design of The Beast's domain was inspired by the eeire engravings of Gustave Doré with an ample helping of Cocteau's own surreal imagery.

The result is one of the most visually ravishing and magical pieces of cinema ever realised. Some simple, yet startling and highly imaginative visual effects are achieved live in camera (mostly through reverse cranking the film) and the art direction and incredible costume design fill the screen with images that look like they have stepped out of the most lavishly illustrated fairy tale book you have ever seen. But this is not to say that the film is to be enjoyed merely as a technical exercise, as it is undoubtedly an emotionally rewarding experience as well.

A testament to the broad appeal of the film is best conveyed from my first viewing of the film, which was during my teenage years when it was shown one night on BBC2 as part of a French film season. My father absolutely detested subtitled films and when he saw what I wanted to watch, he cried, "Not a bloody subtitled film! And it's a kid's film too!".

However, there was obviously nothing good on the other two channels at the time (yes children, once upon a time there were only three TV channels), as, despite his protestations, I got to watch it and I will never forget when it was over, my dad turned to me with a slightly gobsmacked expression and said, simply, "That was one of the best films I've ever seen!".

In a nutshell, that's it - one of the best films you'll ever see. And dare I say it, yer actual Work of Art, into the bargain.

I can't comment on the UK Blu Ray from BFI, but the Criterion restoration is superb. There are some fluctuations in image quality with some scenes looking softer than others, but these are not faults with the transfer, but are legacy issues due to Cocteau using different film stocks while shooting, due to shortages of film stock in post-war Paris.

The Criterion release also features an interesting bonus feature. In 1994 Phillip Glass composed an opera based on the film and synchronised to the action and dialogue on the screen. This was performed with a live orchestra and singers during a silent projection of the film in Paris in a festival honouring Cocteau. The Blu Ray allows the viewer to watch the film with the option of the opera soundtrack.

I've not explored this feature yet, but perhaps some night when i'm feeling brave, I might. :)
 
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domtheone

Distinguished Member
Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle (US UHD)

Seen this movie at least 3-4 times now so can comfortably say, it bests its sequel by a fair margin.

All the cast are decent value (Karen Gillan :love::blush:) and it's a fairly entertaining remake on the 90's original.

The Rock and/or Kevin Hart fans can't go too far wrong here.

PQ is pretty decent. Everything looks lovely and there's lots of lush colour. Facial close ups are a bit below the best (and real) 4K transfers.


Tonight's viewing is Alien in lovely 4K :cool::clap:
 

Nayfne

Distinguished Member
Jumanji - Welcome to the Jungle (US UHD)

Seen this movie at least 3-4 times now so can comfortably say, it bests its sequel by a fair margin.

All the cast are decent value (Karen Gillan :love::blush:) and it's a fairly entertaining remake on the 90's original.

The Rock and/or Kevin Hart fans can't go too far wrong here.

PQ is pretty decent. Everything looks lovely and there's lots of lush colour. Facial close ups are a bit below the best (and real) 4K transfers.


Tonight's viewing is Alien in lovely 4K :cool::clap:
Watched Alien 4k last night, no matter what films i have, i always end up going back to the classics.
 
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Nayfne

Distinguished Member
Sorry I've not posted much on here guy's..truth be told, I've felt as flat as a fart recently, with everything that's going on..flicking in and out of Disney+ etc..i did manage to watch Bohemian Rhapsody 4k and Alien 4k yesterday..made me feel so much better, and pretty much switched off from the Apocalypse on the doorstep...certainly watching 3 or 4 films tomorrow, regardless.
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Sorry I've not posted much on here guy's..truth be told, I've felt as flat as a fart recently, with everything that's going on..flicking in and out of Disney+ etc..i did manage to watch Bohemian Rhapsody 4k and Alien 4k yesterday..made me feel so much better, and pretty much switched off from the Apocalypse on the doorstep...certainly watching 3 or 4 films tomorrow, regardless.
I know! Watch Melancholia. That will make you feel better about the current situation!
 

Nayfne

Distinguished Member
I know! Watch Melancholia. That will make you feel better about the current situation!
Probably just what i need Jim, a warm, light hearted, uplifting comedy?:confused:
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
Love the ending to Melancholia:D

Likewise Rogue 1. These Final Hours etc etc. Sure beats the typical everything’s gonna be fine Hollywood affair lol.

Alien - (US UHD)

Just over a year since i saw this one its one day cinema release last year so i finally got it of the shelf and watched it again last night.

No real review as such, other than to say, just like the cinema viewing, pretty awesome watching in 4K.

Everything about the movie - story, performances, set design, cinematography, score, is superlative, and without equal (in its specific genre).

Almost the polar opposite to Jumanji that i watched before. No lush landscapes, dazzling sunsets here. Just lots of dim, low light, murky interiors.

No matter, even if you've seen the movie a hundred times, you’ll notice things that you've never seen before. Masses of detail on the ships. Loads of junk/crates kicking around everywhere. Tons and tons of individual lights and switches. Detail on space suits etc etc.

Used to scare me as a kid but thats all gone now. The only scene that still gives me the heebie-jeebies is the whole Dallas air lock scene. The combination of the tracker pulses and foreboding score (i see theres an isolated score audio track on the disc - must watch that sometime as the score really is something else) filling the scene with dread.

The final countdown looks and sounds pretty amazing too. Even Mothers voice just seems so perfect for the situation.

Just perfect.

Still prefer Aliens though:rotfl:
 

Jim Di Griz

Distinguished Member
Probably just what i need Jim, a warm, light hearted, uplifting comedy?:confused:
Errr...no ;-) Thing is..you half expect Jack Bauer to save the day and um well just watch it. You will feel better! And dont worry its not arty. It ends with the biggest explosion you have ever seen! :D
 

Nayfne

Distinguished Member
I've decided on this instead :rotfl:
20200329_102921.jpg
 

brian s

Distinguished Member
Errr...no ;-) Thing is..you half expect Jack Bauer to save the day and um well just watch it. You will feel better! And dont worry its not arty. It ends with the biggest explosion you have ever seen! :D
Not arty? Maybe it's faulty memory but I recall it being pretty arty. Or did I see the director's cut?


Bri
 

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