Roizman Trashes Freidkin’s New Blu FRENCH CONNECTION Transfer


french1Renowned cinematographer Owen Roizman (THE EXORCIST; THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE; NETWORK) has openly called director William Friedkin’s new Blu-ray transfer of the Roizman-shot THE FRENCH CONNECTION “atroscious”, “emasculated” and “horrifying.” According to Roizman:

owen-roizman“Billy [Friedkin] for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn’t consulted. I was appalled by it. I don’t know what Billy was thinking. It’s not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious.”

He then added:

“It would be a travesty to see The Exorcist [which Roizman also shot] transferred in this fashion.”

According to Leonard Norwitz at DVDBeaver:

Friedkin wanted a new look for his film for this Blu-ray release. He doesn’t go so far as to say that this the look he always wanted but never was able to achieve… Think of it as something like the color we see on Fox’s Five Star DVD, then desaturate it some and make it cooler, and you have some idea of how this new video looks. Pretty much gone is the noise inherent in the dark scenes like the club Doyle and Russo visit in the beginning of the movie, but don’t expect all that grain to magically disappear – which is a good thing, considering it was intentional to start with. Of course, the usual benefits of Blu-ray – dimensionality and resolution still pertain. But keep in mind this was never a high-resolution film to begin with. Friedkin insists this is better than his movie has ever looked, and once you accept its alternating film stocks, tight and heavy film grain, high and moderate contrast as all being in keeping its faux-documentary look, you’ll be just fine.

Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere had this to say about the new Blu-ray: 

I don’t care if this makes me sound unhip — it’s awful, a rip-off, a desecration and a five-alarm burn. The original film (i.e., the version that played in theatres in ’71 and which was captured for the 2005 standard DVD) is plenty gritty and muddy-looking on its own without Friedkin futzing around. Please, I’m telling you — don’t buy this friggin’ thing. Unless you’re a purist monk it’ll just piss you off. Trust me on this one.

Added: Glenn Erickson, the DVD Savant over at DVDTalk.com observes:

Fox’s new Blu-ray of The French Connection is already raising a controversy on the web, for William Friedkin’s personally supervised transfer. The original movie had a purposely ugly look; release prints were slimy, grainy and colorless. (I can see the Fox people in 1971 approving any mess that came from Deluxe as ready for the screen: “Looks terrible! Good Work! Ship it!”) The previous DVD release worked digital magic to bring out all the color and detail in Owen Roizman’s cinematography, reducing the grain and boosting the colors to the point where some of the mid-winter scenes looked downright cheerful.

In a new HD featurette, , Friedkin demonstrates his revisionist rationale. He wanted to mute the colors and retain a lot more grain, yet not lose the sharpness of Roizman’s images. To that end he had his colorist create an element that oversaturated and de-focused the color. This smeary color image was very lightly superimposed over a B&W rendering of the film, resulting in a sharp, grainy movie with pastel colors. Because the colors are de-focused, they don’t stay strictly “within the lines” of objects. Gene Hackman is as sharp as a tack, but his red Santa Claus suit bleeds softly all around him. Blacks clog up at night with almost a hi-con look. New York appears cold and inhospitable. It’s an interesting effect that indeed achieves Friedkin’s stated goal of creating a degraded color image. And he makes no bones about stating that it’ll stay that way because that’s the way he likes it!

Roizman Trashes Freidkin’s New Blu FRENCH CONNECTION Transfer

Obama Has DEA Halt Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries


MEDICINAL MARIJUANAMedical marijuana dispensaries are legal in the state of California. However, in George Bush’s America, the Federal Government overrode the state so the Feds continued to conduct regular raids on these dispensaries, arresting the folks who ran them and the patients who frequented them. But that has finally come to an end as Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DEA would end its raids on the state-approved facilities. What (Obama) said during the campaign,” Holder added, “is now American policy.”

Obama’s take?

“My attitude is if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the way to relieve pain and suffering is medical marijuana, then that’s something I’m open to. There’s no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain.”

As for the raids, “Federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws… ”

As of today, thirteen states allow the cultivation, sale and use of medical marijuana.

Obama Has DEA Halt Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Discovering The Grateful Dead. Why Now? Why Then?


up-1jerryThe Grateful Dead lasted 30 years. The remaining members continue to play both together and separately, but the music has never managed to reach the same heights it attained before the passing of lead guitarist and singer, Jerry Garcia. Garcia’s heart, his very soul, was seamlessly integrated into the fibers of the music. He infused it with a primal energy and joy as if he were channeling the very essence of music itself.

The Grateful Dead attempted and achieved what few musicians ever do. Through daring and often reckless improvisation, the Dead sacrificed commercial popularity to, instead, try and tap into something bigger than themselves. Like Michelangelo carving away at marble to discover the David that was always inside, the Grateful Dead played their music with the knowledge that, eventually, the music would begin to play them. They weren’t so much creating as they were revealing. And in so doing, they attracted a rabid fan-base ready to join them on their journey, to be a part of these miraculous moments that were taking place secretly within the walls of concert halls and theaters across the globe, while the rest of the world continued on, oblivious to the small gathering of people who were, in their own way, touching the face of God.

bandWhile this may sound like a lot of hyperbole, anyone who has genuinely tapped into what took place within those walls on those special nights when everything converged just right, know that truer words were never spoken. The Grateful Dead were never an ordinary band. And like so many artists that reach beyond the norm, they were vastly misunderstood by the masses and the industry who had other ideas about what music was and should be.

To the newcomer, the music of the Grateful Dead probably won’t seem as “magical” and “transcendent” as I’ve painted it here, but I assure you, like so many things we encounter in life, there is more here than meets the eye (or ear, as the case may be). Therefore it requires an open mind and a spirit of exploration. It took a certain level of genuine curiosity for me to go beyond listening to the Grateful Dead to actually “hearing” the Grateful Dead. But when that day arrived, I never looked back. So now, about 34 years after making that initial discovery, not a day goes by that their music is not a part of my life.

jerry_garcia_stdFor many Dead-Heads, the spring tour of 1977 was the Grateful Dead’s peak. Something happened that allowed the band to soar to heights unseen. There was a beauty and resonance to their music that seemed to have been forming for years to arrive at this very place. There were still touches of the jazziness that had become a strong component of their sound palette in 1974, but it had also taken on a more “mystical” edge infused by the musical explorations that gave birth to their BLUES FOR ALLAH album (their best studio effort, IMHO), with a newfound desire to return to their rock and roll roots while managing to incorporate the bluegrass sounds that had inspired them back when they were a simple jugband playing coffee houses in the Bay area. All of this while still embracing the sense of vocal harmony and storytelling that lead them to create the incredible AMERICAN BEAUTY and WORKINGMAN’S DEAD albums.

So this week, I’m offering up a terrific show they played at the Mosque in Richmond, Virginia on May 25, 1977. Not one of the shows usually referenced from this tour (like the beloved and now famous Cornell University show), this outing is nonetheless inspired and breathtaking. The first set is a terrific mix of songs and styles. The perfect warm-up for the fluid and adventurous second set that, like the Grateful Dead were known for doing, is a non-stop 120 minutes of seamless, wall-to-wall music, taking songs and connecting them with living, breathing jams –bridges, if you will– to places unknown and lands untouched, unique to that single evening, that place, that moment in history, never to be repeated again.

Enjoy.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1977-05-25.sbd.miller.87591.sbeok.flac16

grateful-dead-kaiser-bw-400

Discovering The Grateful Dead. Why Now? Why Then?

This Is What A President Is


r-obama-speech-hugeHow wide is the gap between our last president and our current. That is not a question, but a statement. Listening to Obama address Congress and the nation this evening was another fresh and welcome reminder that the man who ran for office is the same man we elected. That much of what is usually rhetoric and is quickly “forgotten” or ignored as soon as the presidential shoes are filled by others, has not been forgotten or ignored by this president. 

And how welcome it is to hear the President of the United States speak and not feel shame, to not feel manipulated and ignored. I believe we are in the best possible hands. And we are in a very difficult, unforgiving situation. As both a country and a world. 

And for those who cannot see how genuine this man is and how needed he is at this time in history, then you’ve probably crawled so far under a rock that you can’t see much of anything beyond the darkness you’ve surrounded yourself with. No, the man is not a saint nor a savior, he is simply a decent man, a smart man, a man full of awareness, knowledge and integrity. All basic things a president should be and have. All things that have been lacking in that office for far too long. Like food and shelter, these things are essential and, if we’re smart and honest and daring, we should never have to do without them again. 

And I will point out that Sen McCain continues to be one of the strong, outspoken skeptics of Obama’s plan. And that was not lost on the director of tonight’s address as the cameras seemed to find Sen. McCain (and others throughout the evening) at opportune moments–the story within the story–as you can witness here in this clip:

 

I find it interesting that the Republicans’ answer to Barack Obama, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, was chosen to give the Republican rebuttal to Obama’s address. It was a somewhat incoherent and silly rebuttal, as is witnessed by MSNBC’s Matthews, Maddow and Olbermann:

Now to be fair, Jindal never stood a chance with these guys. Listen to the accidental “Oh God” that is uttered on air (by, one assumes, either Olbermann or Matthews) as Jindal appears before the cameras:

Nevertheless, I share the sentiment. 

This Is What A President Is

Indy Spirit Award Winners


BEST FEATURE
The Wrestler

BEST DIRECTOR
Tom McCarthy, “The Visitor”

BEST FIRST FEATURE
Synecdoche, New York

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD 
In Search of a Midnight Kiss

BEST SCREENPLAY
Woody Allen, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Dustin Lance Black, “Milk”

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”

BEST MALE LEAD
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
James Franco, “Milk”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Maryse Alberti, “The Wrester”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Man on Wire

BEST FOREIGN FILM
The Class

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
Charlie Kaufman (Director), Jeanne McCarthy (Casting Director), Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Diane Weist, Michelle Williams, Synecdoche, New York

 

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD
Heather Rae, “Frozen River”

ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Lynn Shelton, “My Effortless Brillance”

LACOSTE TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Margaret Brown, “The Order of Myths”

Indy Spirit Award Winners

Obama, Rahm And The Stimulus Outreach


Obama 2008Not everyone is thrilled with President Obama’s insistence that reaching across the isle to Republicans is of the utmost importance. I, however, believe it is crucial. It is one of the reasons (the many reasons) I voted for Mr. Obama. And I have no love for Republicans as a whole. Particularly those who still believe the Bush Administration was a good thing for America and the world. Those individuals and myself live in two different countries of mind. But… We do share the same country so far as physical geography goes and we share the same laws and neighbors. And I would love to see that country be one where we are adult enough to work together to help sustain what has the potential to be the greatest country in the world. Not a superior country, mind you, but an admirable, enviable one. An example for others, as it were. A role model. We have not been that for some time now. Not that all is bad in Shangrila, but we have some serious growing up to do. And I strongly admire that President Obama has been trying to take us there. No easy task. No short road. And I’m glad to see that, when push comes to shove, he will eventually do the right thing and stand up for his own beliefs when he must. It’s a shame the stimulus package turned out not to be the area where the two parties could come together. Though not for lack of trying.

Following an interview with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, the Wall Street Journal reports:

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel conceded President Barack Obama and his team lost control of the message for selling their massive stimulus bill last week, fixating on bipartisanship while Republicans were savaging the legislation...

Mr. Emanuel owned up to one mistake: message. What he called the outside game slipped away from the White House last week, when the president and others stressed bipartisanship rather than job creation as they moved toward passing the measure. White House officials allowed an insatiable desire in Washington for bipartisanship to cloud the economic message a point coming clear in a study being conducted on what went wrong and what went right with the package, he said.

 

But, he said, Washington should have learned something about Mr. Obama as well, with the shift from bipartisan overtures to outright mockery of his opposition.

He has an open hand, Mr. Emanuel said. But he has a very firm handshake.

The Huffington Post adds:

According to Emanuel, the White House “lost” control of the message for four days. He suggested that the president decided to change his tone after the House vote, when not a single Republican voted for the bill…

When the president spoke to House Democrats at a February 5th retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, he’d moved from courting Republican support to attacking them as obstructionists who clung to “”false theories of the past.”

A top aide added:

“The President’s always going to reach out to people in both parties. I mean we have these upcoming summits, one on fiscal reform, and another one on health care. There’s gonna be Republican participation, and that will never change.”

Obama, Rahm And The Stimulus Outreach