Monday, February 20, 2006

Unseen Cinema

Today, some cinephilic fun and games.

There are a few filmmakers whose body of work I’ve pretty much been able to see in its near-entirety—like Hitchcock, Satyajit Ray, Bresson, Truffaut, Lang, De Palma, Rohmer, Sembene. There are others I love deeply and have tried to see whatever I can, but I’m still missing some key films in their oeuvre, for example, Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, Hawks’ Road To Glory, Renoir’s Toni, Cassavetes’ Love Streams, Resnais’ Providence, Godard’s Numero Deux, Fuller’s I Shot Jesse James, Polanski’s Cul-De-Sac.

A funny thing happens when films you’ve pursued for years suddenly become available on DVD. Once, you would’ve jumped in your car and driven a few hours to see them. But when they’re sitting right there at Netflix, batting their eyelashes and flaunting their availability, your urgency withers. Don’t get me wrong: when you do get around to watching them, they often turn out to be every bit as rewarding as you imagined they’d be. But sometimes it just takes you a while.

So, let me ask you to name:

(1) One film, unavailable on video/DVD, that you would love to see.
(2) One film you’ve wanted to see for a long time, available on video/DVD, that you haven’t gotten around to seeing yet.

My own picks:

(1) Douglas Sirk’s There’s Always Tomorrow (1955), made during the amazingly fertile late-career period when he turned out one masterpiece after another from '55 to '59 (All That Heaven Allows, Written On The Wind, The Tarnished Angels, A Time To Love And A Time To Die, Imitation Of Life). The film is also on programmer James Quandt’s top 10 favorites list.

(2) Jacques Rivette's Céline And Julie Go Boating (1974): Everything I’ve read convinces me that it’s a guaranteed blast, and yet there it sits neglected in my local public library. I resolve to watch it pronto.

So, over to you.


Blogger girish said...

Zach has a new post: "The Imagistic Geneaology of the Chinese Bookie."
And he's also building a new site.

February 20, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I hope you're not forgetting to check Brian's blog, Hell On Frisco Bay, because it's Frisco-centered.
He's got a storehouse of neat links in each post.

February 20, 2006 8:31 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt's been musing about the cinematic aspects of Olympic coverage lately.

February 20, 2006 8:34 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Nick Rhombes on Whistle Punk and Cormac McCarthy.

I only recently learned that he wrote the 33 1/3 book on the Ramones debut record.

February 20, 2006 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

While I've made a point of seeing films made for other "regions", a practice I hope the MPAA will one day realize is foolish, I have yet to dip in the waters of black market - R DVDs of some films that I would really like to see. That said, my answers to your questions are:

1. The Damned by Joseph Losey. Director's cut please. I did see this once on TV many years ago. There are so many films not available in any format that it's hard to limit oneself to one title. Borzage and Tashlin remain under-represented, and I seem to be the only person who remembers Italian filmmaker Ugo Gregoretti.

2. Imitation of Life by John Stahl. Crawling up my Netflix list along with Rene Clement's Forbidden Games.

February 20, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Borzage is criminally under-available on DVD. (Just one: Farewell To Arms). God bless TCM; I've managed to snag a dozen or more there.

February 20, 2006 9:07 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh and Peter--I just watched Stahl's Imitation Of Life for the first time last year. A beauty.

February 20, 2006 9:09 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Steven Shaviro on Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin.

February 20, 2006 9:15 AM  
Blogger Zach Campbell said...

1. There are so many to choose from. Here's one: Straub/Huillet's Too Early, Too Late.

2. Since we've mentioned Sirk, I'll say Imitation of Life--I want to wait until I can see it on the big screen, but I'm pretty sure that I've missed a few chances to do so in the past five years. So, I consider it one of my most glaring viewing gaps. I do have two letterboxed VHS copies of film (as well as one of Stahl's) in my own private dub collection, to boot! So it's anything but "unavailable" to me ...

February 20, 2006 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I didn't realize Celine and Julie had been released. That film is so completely unlike anything I have ever seen. I remember trying to describe it to Joanna afterwards: "Yeah, so there are these two girls -- they're kind of like Laverne and Shirley, except sexier and, you know, French -- and they find this house that might be haunted but they only see the ghosts if they eat magic candy. And there might be some time travel involved. Or not. And it's funny. I think."

I'd love to see Hal Ashby's first film, The Landlord, released to DVD. That other-Region Love Streams disc is probably my choice for question #2.

February 20, 2006 11:58 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

Before I die, will I ever get to see all twelve+ hours of Rivette's Out 1?

February 20, 2006 12:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren, my local public library has Celine and Julie on VHS. And your description sounds utterly bizarre and fantastical.

Which reminds me: I've read about a book Rosenbaum wrote on Rivette's films called The House Of Fiction, which I've been unable to find anywhere. Haven't tried ILL though; I will after I see the film.
And I've seen very little Rivette: his first, Paris Belongs To Us, La Belle Noiseuse, and a few recent ones, my favorite of these last being The Story Of Marie and Julien.
I don't know his 60s/70s/80s stuff at all.

February 20, 2006 1:15 PM  
Blogger girish said...

The prolific Steven Shaviro:
"Some philosophers are such great writers and stylists that they are a pleasure to read — even in translation. Plato and Nietzsche are the most obvious examples, though I’d also include Spinoza, Hume, and Wittgenstein, at the very least, on my short list of great philosophical stylists. And the rhetorical effects of style are a big part of what attracts readers to such philosophers — Nietzsche, especially, seduces more on account of his style than on account of his actual arguments. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s a delusion, in any case, to think that you can separate logic from rhetoric, or content from style. Even mathematicians value “elegant” proofs. In things less cut and dried than mathematics — like metaphysics and ethics — style and rhetoric are even more important."

February 20, 2006 1:21 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

G: I’m not sure about a Rosenbaum book on Rivette, but he did write an essay, “Work and Play in the House of Fiction: On Jacques Rivette,” that can be found in the book, Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (Berkeley: University of California Press).

February 20, 2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Celine and Julie is NOT out on USA region DVD, but there are some (old) VHS copies running around. Note, it comes in a 2-tape VHS set.

February 20, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Flickhead, for clearing that up.
Yeah, I looked up my copy of Placing Movies, and sure enough it's in there.
The problem with collecting books and essays on movies is that as time passes and we continue to see films, we forget what films were written about and where, even if the material is within a few feet of us, under our very roof. Wish I had a Google search for just the material I have at home...

February 20, 2006 1:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Dennis wishes Altman a happy 81st birthday.

February 20, 2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Considering the literally vast quantity of things literally unavailable on either VHS or DVD, I don't think this question is even tenable.

What I see as the most problematic whole categories are:

1. classical (pre-1949) Chinese cinema. Only a handful of movies were ever available on VHS (and now all of those well out of print), none are available on DVD. These are, of course, somewhat available in non-subtitled versions, but for those of us not fluent in Chinese.....
2. studio-era Japanese cinema outside of the big 3 (Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu). At least Ozu and Mizoguchi have VHS tapes (though very very few DVDs). Beyond them, however, the entirety of a massive and brilliant industry (which in some years put out MORE films than the Hollywood studios of the same era) is almost entirely unavailable.
3. American independent films before 1985, excluding some Cassavetes. The work of Barbara Loden, Shirley Clarke, Robert Kramer and many others remains very difficult to obtain.
4. One of the most shameful and horrific examples - Nicholas Ray's awe-inspiring They Live By Night is neither available on official DVD (there is a grey-market DVD)nor VHS. I have myself seen it on a big screen

February 20, 2006 1:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Alex, I had TCM for about 10 years, and literally taped a couple of thousand films over that period (inlcuding ten or so Nick Rays, like THEY LIVE BY NIGHT). The flip side is that I'm terrified to even open the closet they're stored in--just no time to watch 'em, especially given theatrical screenings to catch, and everything in the DVD "queue".

February 20, 2006 1:58 PM  
Blogger girish said...

In my VHS collection, I've seen the films of a few "first-rank" directors (Ray, Fuller, Sirk, Lang, etc) but it's the vast number of other films and filmmakers that I haven't made time for.

February 20, 2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Great news.
Looking forward to Cannes.
And new films by: Lynch, Kaurismaki, Dumont, De Palma, Jia Zhang-ke, Makhmalbaf, etc.

February 20, 2006 3:01 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Music videos at Mubarak's place.

February 20, 2006 3:04 PM  
Blogger girish said...

The entire college is closed today except grad night classes. Which means me.
Off to get into the pre-class headspace.

February 20, 2006 3:06 PM  
Blogger Mubarak Ali said...

1. One of my most-wanted-to-see films right now is Michael Snow's La Région centrale (an older cousin of Too Early, Too Late, perhaps?). Plenty more, of course - when will Garrel's L'Enfant secret become available?

2. Girish, I totally recognise the taking-for-granted of long-seeked-and-now-available films that you describe. There are countless films under this category for me, most of which would be classic American films from the 40s and 50s. There's also recently released stuff like Karoly Makk's Love or Yamanaka's Humanity and Paper Balloons.

February 20, 2006 3:16 PM  
Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

Most wanted film on DVD (that I'm embarrassed to say I've never seen): Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker!

Most wanted films available on DVD that I've never seen (and they're all in my queue, batting their eyelashes as we speak):
Jacques Becker's Touchez Pas au Grisbi
Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers

I now officially request that God do what He can to give us at least a 30-hour day...

February 20, 2006 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Duck, You Sucker is available as a British DVD. I reviewed it back in 1972 when I was in summer school in Boulder, Colorado. The theater credited me for extending the run from one to two weeks.

February 20, 2006 5:53 PM  
Blogger aaron w graham said...

Sam Fuller's PARK ROW

Nicholas Ray's WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN (1976), which I've heard is on a French DVD of THEY LIVE BY NIGHT.

Those two are at the top.

February 20, 2006 5:59 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Girish, thanks for linking me! I have to say I put a bit more effort than usual into the links for that particular post. For example, it took longer than I expected to track down Aaron Luk's Crimson Kimono piece which I knew I'd seen before somewhere, but wasn't coming up through my usual search engine attempts.

Love your question. I probably wouldn't have thought of your choices myself, but I certainly agree with them. Here's my choices:

1. Out of a thousand possibilities, I think my #1 most-desired unseen title would be Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep.

2. Do films I actually have in my collection count? One of these days I'm going to take a look at Hiroshi Teshigahara's Rikyu, which I have the Panorama DVD of sitting on my "unwatched" shelf. Jerry Lewis's the Nutty Professor falls into the same category, as do numerous others. Of films that are just a rental away, Kiarostami's Close-Up might be tops.

February 20, 2006 7:01 PM  
Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

Nice call on Killer of Sheep, Brian. Having just seen Los Angeles Plays Itself again recently (at the Roxie in SF), that one should have been closer to the top of my mind, and it's a far less embarrassing admission for me than the Leone film!

February 20, 2006 7:49 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Killer of Sheep is so unavailable that my film professor was unable to rent the 16mm for class. Talking about Los Angeles Plays Itself, Haile Gerima's Bush MaMa is probably even more fabulously unobtainable than Killer of Sheep.

February 20, 2006 8:30 PM  
Blogger weepingsam said...

For question 1, not available on video (at least not that I can find, after a cursory look) - I would probably say something by Oshima - probably Diary of a Shinjuku Thief if I were picking one.

Question 2, I might as well stay close at hand - I found a copy of Fuller's 40 Guns - no, 2 copies! - back around Christmas time. Gave one to my brother for Christmas (along with Winchester 73 and 7 Men From Now - a cowboy Christmas!) kept the other for myself since I hadn't seen it, and had been trying to find a copy for years. But now that I own it - it's been sitting on the shelf in its plastic wrap since...

February 20, 2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey thanks, folks!
And check out this happy KILLER OF SHEEP update.

February 20, 2006 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Girish: I read that the Fassbinder Foundation is working to restore Berlin Alexanderplatz so it may be available within a year or so. Love Streams is on a French DVD with A Child is Waiting. Cul-de-Sac is available as a British DVD. If you don't have a region free DVD player, you should get one soon, followed by a subscription to Nicheflix and Nicheflix a la Carte. GreenCine also has foreign DVDs but they don't identify them as such.

February 20, 2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanks, Peter. I do have a region-free player, but I clearly need to get a Nicheflix subscription...
And I like your new post elaborating your choices.

February 20, 2006 9:45 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Darren--What's Going On was one of the first pieces of vinyl I remember memorizing.

February 20, 2006 9:50 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael on Lucretia Martel's La Cienaga.

February 20, 2006 9:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

New blog discovery: David Byrne.

February 20, 2006 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

One film, unavailable on DVD, that I'd love to see is Kenji Mizoguchi's The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums. After recently watching Ugetsu, I've got a hankering for Mizoguchi's movies. (I think the film was out for a while on VHS, but in the days of that technology I was watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and missed the good stuff.)

One film that is on DVD and that I've wanted to see for a long time is Kieslowski's Decalogue. I can't believe I still have yet to see it.

And De Palma's The Black Dahlia appearing at Cannes? That'll be interesting.

(P.S. Thanks for the link to my post.)

February 20, 2006 10:04 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Oh you're welcome, Michael.
And I think I watched Decalogue one episode a day for 10 days one Christmas-time...
It was a great (if grim) way to spend Christmas.

February 20, 2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I just watched Decalogue, but over the course of three weeks. Kind of diminished the impact, I think. ... I'll have to give it another go, especially since the one I watched twice was even better the second time.

February 20, 2006 10:37 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

1. I'd like to own a DVD of the 1973 Jerry Schatzberg movie "Scarecrow," which has been on cable recently. It's an astonishing movie that has dated better than a lot of more well-known films from that era. But it's only on VHS. And I would love to be able to re-watch Robert Altman's 1988 "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," which drew heavily on Altman's training in the early days of television (it was shot on film, but the camera placement and editing were very "Playhouse 90") and on live coverage of the Iran-Contra hearings (Brad Davis, a jarheaded ringer for Ollie North, played Queeg, and he was usually photographed from the heroic low angle used on North).

2. Ashamed to say I've never seen "The Life of Emile Zola," still a go-to reference point for any critic writing about serious crowd-pleasing biopics made at the studio level.

February 21, 2006 1:36 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt--That's an interesting point about the Zola film; I've never seen it.
And look: wishes do come true!

February 21, 2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And I'm embarrassed to admit I've never even heard of that Altman film.

February 21, 2006 6:16 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Eva Green, from Bertolucci's The Dreamers, has been cast as the new Bond girl.
Not that I'm paying rapt attention; the last Bond film I saw was The Living Daylights with Timothy Dalton, twenty years ago.

But I thought it'd be a nice excuse to exhume Liz Penn/Dana Stevens' review of The Dreamers, which closes with this footnote about Eva Green:

"I will say that Eva Green does have important hooters. They're big in proportion to her slender, girlish body, but absolutely real, and just saggy enough remind porn-numbed American audiences that even young girls are naturally subject to gravity. In short, they're marvelous, and will probably soon be all that remains in my memory of The Dreamers."

News about Dana from the Cinetrix.

February 21, 2006 6:54 AM  
Blogger girish said...

MZS: "The House Next Door's 02/18/06 interview with former Salon critic Charles Taylor inspired some of the most heated reactions of any article yet published here. A number of comments centered on Taylor's defense of Brian De Palma's "Mission to Mars," a sci-fi epic that has proved surprisingly divisive for such a gentle movie. To build on that discussion, I've culled a representative selection of reviews, arranged in a spectrum from pans to raves."

February 21, 2006 6:57 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Jim Tata writes about seeing McCoy Tyner in concert.

February 21, 2006 7:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Wouldn't you know it! Girish has alerted me that after years of sulking because "Scarecrow" was only available on VHS, it's just now available on DVD through Amazon. Thanks, man.

February 21, 2006 12:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

You're most welcome, Matt.

February 21, 2006 12:21 PM  
Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

Matt ZS: I was just about to write about Altman's Caine Mutiny Court-Martial for a post on his films on my site. I can hook you up with the movie, if you'd care to lay your hands on it.

And Michael: I'd have to add Decalogue to my great unseen/unwrapped list too!

February 21, 2006 3:03 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Hey, Dennis--You're on. I've been wanting to see that thing again forever. Hope you don't mind if I write about it, too; I'm also working up some Altman stuff.

I wonder if this could be the start of another blogathon? If so it'd have to happen fast, since the obvious peg is Altman getting his honorary Oscar and "Prairie Home Companion" making its US premiere at SXSW, both in March, right?

You've got my e-mail, right? If not, it's all over the Internet.

February 21, 2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger Dennis Cozzalio said...

I'd love to do a blog-a-thon on just about any Altman film-- there are so many to choose from that could be considered underappreciated, and some that could be considered overpraised. I'll marshal my resources and get that out to you as soon as possible.

February 21, 2006 5:09 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Why pick one Altman movie? Why not an Altman blogathon keyed to his special Oscar? Anybody who wants to participate can write about whatever the hell they want.

I already know what I'm gonna do. It'll be cool!

February 21, 2006 7:28 PM  
Blogger girish said...

The next couple of weeks are crazy for me personally, but I'll be cheering y'all from the sidelines if you do.

February 21, 2006 7:37 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt--Why don't you pick a date and then people will know what to shoot for?
Personally, if I end up joining you all, it'll be at the last minute.
But it's a great idea, Matt.

February 21, 2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Not being a mind-reader, I have no idea whether this would work for everybody, but the logical date is March 5, the day Altman gets his Oscar. Or maybe we could aim for March 4 to give people time to read and process it before watching the broadcast.

This is a last minute idea, but hell, the man's not getting any younger, and if not now, when? I say why not give him some deep dish personal appreciation on his special day. He can go home that night, hollow out the stauette to make a gigantic pipe, stuff Oscar's hollowed out face with some of that reputedly world class Altman ganja, and read our posts.

Anyone who can participate should participate. No pressure. In the spirit of Altman, an ensemble venture, a cacophany of criticism, everybody speaking in his or her own voice.

February 21, 2006 8:18 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I don't even deserve a vote since I'm a "maybe" on this, but Sunday March 5 might give us one extra day.

February 21, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Maybe March 3 would be smarter since as you remind me, many people blog from work. There will always be stragglers, it comes with the territory.

I say we declare a Robert Altman blogathon weekend and in the spirit of Altman, keep it loose. The hard deadline is when the master gets handed his little gold man.

Thoughts, anyone?

February 21, 2006 8:32 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Altman. Yeah. Rock on. Looking forward to it.

February 21, 2006 8:48 PM  
Blogger Matt Zoller Seitz said...

All right, what's the protocol here? Do I send out an e-mail or declare a blogathon on my site or what?

February 21, 2006 8:55 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt--Here's an idea:
Why don't you do a blog-a-thon announcement post and I'll make sure I link to it too.
You might perhaps ask people to indicate in your comments box if they'd be interested in joining in...

February 21, 2006 9:28 PM  
Blogger girish said...

And I like your idea of the Altman Blog-A-Thon Weekend.

February 21, 2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger girish said...

I have a conference paper submission deadline that Friday, but if we've got all weekend, I may indeed be able to put something together at the last minute and join y'all. MZS, you're a persuasive man.

February 21, 2006 9:45 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Matt Zoller Seitz announces a Robert Altman Blog-A-Thon Weekend March 3-5.

February 21, 2006 9:50 PM  
Blogger Andy Rector said...

unavailable films I won't sleep on if/when they're ever released: MARIE POUR MEMOIRE (Garrel), KUHLE WAMPE (Dudow,Brecht), DUELLE (Rivette)

Films I've let pass since they finally became available: THE MIRROR (Panahi), LES VAMPIRES (Feuillade), and worst of all, a copy of INDIA (Rossellini).

February 21, 2006 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I guess I was early with my Altman piece.

More proof that Hollywood is brain dead: An announced remake of Rohmer's Chloe in the Afternoon starring Chris Rock! I guess it's only a matter of time before we see the Rob Schneider version of My Night at Maud's.

February 22, 2006 7:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Let's try this on for size:
Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa.

February 22, 2006 8:23 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Andre, I put off seeing LES VAMPIRES for a good while because it was so long, but it turned out to be a grand old time. I want to see JUDEX next.

February 22, 2006 8:35 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

1. Susan Sontag's Duet For Cannibals (and all her other movies, for that matter, and I'll squeeze another film in here that is techincally available on VHS but out of print and hard to track down that Sontag wrote an essay about so it's related, Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's Hitler: A Film From Germany.)

I can't think of a number two that isn't even more pretentious than my number one, so I'm leaving it blank.

February 22, 2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I'm heading out to Toronto soon and hoped that before leaving I'd be able to post something I've been fidgeting with for a few days. But it looks like that won't happen until tomorrow afternoon.

February 22, 2006 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Walter (QB) said...

1. The Cellist by Isao Takahata. Supposedly one of the animator's warmest and gentlest movies, it's only available on bootlegs and in Japan.

2. The Decalogue by Krystof Kieslowski. I've got no excuse, as I love Kieslowski and the box set (10 hrs!) has been looming at me at the local video store for 3 years now.

February 22, 2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Girish, I am sorry I will be missing you this time. This is a great question, especially part two. I spent so much time moaning about the unavailability of Altman's California Split, and have I rented it yet? nooooooo.

When I asked a similar question to No. 1 in December, I asked for Julien Duvivier's "Lydia." I'd still like that one, but recently I am hearing a lot about a bright Pre-Code comedy called "The Greeks Had a Word For Them." So that is my pick why-can't-I-find-this-damnit.

February 22, 2006 12:56 PM  
Anonymous goatdog said...

1. Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, which I had an opportunity to see a couple of years ago but (whine whine) I didn't feel like it. My better half saw it and raved about it, and I'm still kicking myself.

2. Mikheil Kalatozishvili's Cranes Are Flying, which I even had in my home via Netflix for four months before sending it back unwatched.

(Campaspe, has The Greeks Had a Word for Them.)

February 22, 2006 1:06 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Apparantly the California Split DVD release was compromised by music rights issues, which has delayed my rental of it too, Campaspe

February 22, 2006 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Yan said...

Cranes are Flying is really lovely, just lovely. The ending is silly, but still...

1) Zero de Conduite isn't on a properly released DVD is it? And Godard's selections from histoire(s) du cinema... And Twin Peaks, Season 2--what is the deal with that?

2)Au Hasard Balthazar. I don't know why I haven't gotten to this yet--I've seen so many of his others. I'm afraid it could be too maudlin, what with the Jesus-donkey and all, but he can do this sort of thing so well usually, so I don't know... Anyway, it will playing at a local cinema soon, so let's say I was waiting for it to show up on the big screen.

February 22, 2006 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Yan said...

Oh, and can someone convince me to see this "French girls--one of whom is named after a wonderful French novelist--go boating" film? I can't bring myself to watch it. The descriptions sound fascinating and delightful, but all the film stills I've seen look tres dreary. I also caught the first 20 minutes or so on tv once, but it didn't do anything for me...

February 22, 2006 4:13 PM  
Blogger David Lowery said...

1. There are several long cuts of films I wish were available. The five hour Thin Red Line, for example.
2. Lawrence Of Arabia. Waiting for the big screen. 70mm projection. And it better be a perfect print!

February 22, 2006 5:31 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

goatdog -- The Cranes are Flying is, as Yan says, a lovely film. There are some really bravura shots in that movie (and it's interesting you mentioned it; I was just thinking about it and told myself it's high time I watch it again).

February 22, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Brian - I was wondering what the heck was going on with California Split. I had heard such good things about it. I think rights issues are behind a fair number of delays, though I darkly suspect that a lot of films I want to see aren't available just because there isn't much profit in them.

Goatdog - You rock! I only hope everyone else's wishes are granted so quickly. I am wondering, however, what in blue blazes a "collector's copy" is supposed to be, especially when I'm warned that it is "visually poor." Does that mean someone taped it off a late-night showing on TCM? :D

I was reminded of "The Greeks Had a Word for Them" when I was visiting Richard Gibson's Film Stuff blog. I highly recommend stopping by there, if you haven't already. I don't know Mr. Gibson, but he has sophisticated taste and posts beautiful screen captures. Lately he has been posting an amazingly esoteric collection of film-star pictures from cigarette cards, most of which I've never seen before.

February 22, 2006 7:32 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Nice. More fun reading.

Siren--Sorry we couldn't rendezvous this time. It was afternoon before I was able to make it into Canada, and you know how we need at least three to four hours for one of our luxurious lunches!
I'm sure we can do that before too long.

February 23, 2006 12:41 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Sorry, I didn't make myself clear enough. California Split was indeed released on DVD (last year, I think), but purists are upset because Phlylis Shotwell's rendition of "Kansas City" was replaced with another musical track.

February 23, 2006 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Girish: I found out that NoShame is to release a box set of "early" Valerio Zurlini films. I hope to get more information soon.

February 23, 2006 11:12 AM  
Anonymous girish said...

That's good news, Peter.
I've seen on the big screen (and liked) FAMILY DIARY, VIOLENT SUMMER and THE GIRL WITH A SUITCASE. The DVD transfer of the last is one of the most atrocious I've ever seen.

February 23, 2006 11:26 AM  
Blogger Maya said...

I don't even know how to begin responding to your question, Girish!! I currently have nearly 700 movies in my Greencine queue. Will I live long enough?

February 23, 2006 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

The Zurlini box set will have Girl with a Suitcase from the original negative, and Violent Summer. I don't have a release date yet but it will be after April.

February 23, 2006 5:14 PM  
Blogger Ryan said...

Great point, Girish. I've thought the same thing myself. For example one movie I've had on my top ten movies to see is The Innocents from 1961. But now that it's out on DVD, I have it at #12 on my Greencine queue. Maybe b & w scope films just don't excite when you know you'll be watching it on DVD.

As it happens, There's Always Tomorrow was on my own list, and I got to see it last Sunday. It turned out to be magnificent, perhaps Sirk's darkest vision of 1950s Americana, yet invested with Sirk's empathy for his characters' plight. What makes Sirk one of cinema's pre-eminent directors is a scene in which he wryly foregrounds a toy robot, suggesting that MacMurray's bourgeois life is no better than a robot's, yet at the same time depicts an earnest, emotionally-charged scene between MacMurray and Stanwyck talking about the way their lives leave no choices for them. Even though the viewer is invited to get far ahead of the characters, the director's "critique" never condescends to the characters, taking their unachievable aspirations with the utmost seriousness.

I think it's Sirk's greatest movie, and I say this as someone who considers four of his movies to be masterpieces and count Sirk as one of my all-time favorite directors.

As for movies that fit this category, I'd say Nick Ray's Bigger Than Life and Mizoguchi's Straits of Love and Hate and Chikamatsu Monogatari. The Ray is one of those 50s widescreen auteur treasures I keep missing, even though it's been screened three times in the last four years in LA. The Mizoguchis are so rare they aren't shown at most Mizoguchi retros.

I'm hoping the Masters of Cinema collection will get their hands on the Mizoguchis.

February 23, 2006 6:21 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Ryan, the Sirk film sounds stupendous.
Really something to look forward to.

I have a letterboxed, passable-quality VHS of Bigger Than Life. The film's a powerhouse.
Oddly, I watched it (coincidentally) right after I had to get a cortisone shot, and it made me pretty paranoid for a while.
(For those who don't know the film, James Mason plays a suburban dad/husband who turns completely psychotic, all-out bananas, when he starts taking the "experimental drug" cortisone.)

February 23, 2006 8:03 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

There are grey-market copies of Love Streams running around.

The things I also want to find are:

Candy Mountain
Robert Kramer's Ice
Robert Kramer's Milestones
Mark Rappaport's The Scenic Route
Barbara Loden's Wanda
Jon Jost's Roman Walls

California Split is definitely available, since I saw it over a year ago.

February 23, 2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Maya--GreenCine appears to allow larger queues than Netflix...
Peter--Nice: Claudia Cardinale will get the velvety B&W transfer she deserves...
Alex--You're way ahead of me. I haven't seen a single film on your list, including the Altman.

February 23, 2006 10:28 PM  
Blogger Moe Green said...

Fun article.
Hey in Hollywood there's a cool local video store Rocket Video on La Brea that has lots of this stuff and more (including, Wilder’s The Big Carnival, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Depp’s The Brave, That Aldridge cool violent flick with Marvin and Borgnine about the hobos trying to ride the tain. Etc.)
I’m pretty sure they have the following in one form or another, to rent....
Imitation of Life, Forbidden Games, Mysterious Skin
The Landlord VHS, Love Streams VHS
Celine and Julie, La Belle Noiseuse, The Story Of Marie and Julien, Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker! VHS, Sam Peckinpah's Major Dundee, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers (one of my favs)
Jerry Lewis's The Nutty Professor, Kiarostami's Close-Up, Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz VHS
Cul-de-Sac VHS and Scarecrow, The Life of Emile Zola, LES VAMPIRES, The Decalogue by Krystof Kieslowski Mikheil Kalatozishvili's Cranes Are Flying California Split, Au Hasard Balthazar, Candy Mountain
Mizoguchis - lots of his stuff
Not sure but i think: Robert Altman's 1988 The Caine Mutiny Court Martia and The Damned

I have so many I wanna see, and can’t. I agree with some one who mentioned Nick Ray's Bigger Than Life and They Live By Night they would top my list
but also i’ve been wanting to Peter Watkins’ Culloden (1964) and ecspecially The War Game (1965)
Not to mention, All the Lovin Kinfolk and John Carpenter’s Someone's Watching Me! (High Rise) The Anderson Tapes, Puzzle of a Downfall Child and this thing The History of White People In America. Oh and I wish they put 1900 (and The Conformist and all the Bertalluchi stuff on American DVD)
just started my own Blog MOE GREEN IS DEAD

February 24, 2006 8:46 PM  
Blogger Richard Gibson said...

Moe Green: 'Culloden' and 'The War Game' are readily available in UK via BFI - British Film Institute. Have a look on Note it may be region coded it may not.

Both 'Bigger than Life' and 'They live by night' are out in France and Spain but seemingly not UK or USA which is a real shame. If you can read French then you can buy from - they are like a Barnes and Noble in France, alternatively try

I read on IMDB that '1900' is coming out this summer. It's on British TV again this week.

Hope this helps.

February 26, 2006 4:49 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Moe, I just heard that THE CONFORMIST is being released to DVD before too long.
And I'll be sure to check out your blog. Thanks for your comments.

February 26, 2006 8:11 AM  
Blogger Alex said...


Odd Obsession in Chicago had a DVD with Culloden and The War Game on it. Now WHERE they got it from....I didn't ask too many questions.

February 26, 2006 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Fun Boy said...

You guys realize that a lot of the movies mentioned in the previous 92 comments have come out on DVD recently -- or at least they can be gotten that way. :)

The day when EL TOPO comes out on DVD is when I'll be doing a jig.

April 07, 2006 4:16 PM  
Anonymous Cannes Rental said...

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January 07, 2010 2:50 AM  

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