Archive for Criterion

Moor and Better

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , on October 18, 2017 by dcairns

Just enjoyed — immensely — Criterion’s Blu-ray of Orson Welles’ OTHELLO* — I opted for the 1952 cut, which I believe to be superior. For one thing, we get Welles narrating the titles, which is always a treat. More spoken titles, please!

“That was a film mainly about the locations,” assessed Fiona. “And what he can do with them,” I added.

As successive restorations have improved the visuals (I first saw the film in a fuzzy 16mm projection with inaudible sound), Welles’ achievement becomes clearer. I still regret Welles’ over-optimism about what he can get away with in terms of lip-sync, or its absence, and his reliance on dirt-speckled freeze-frames for a couple of shots at the climax. But the film, in all its glorious audio-visual incoherence, succeeds as fever-dream, a shimmering flick-book of staggering architectural contortions.

And sometimes it succeeds as Shakespearian drama too — particularly in Welles’ quiet moments, and in everything Fay Compton does as Emilia (the most perceptive character in the play).

I’m doing a Welles thing at the moment. I’ll tell you later.

*My frame-grabs are, perforce, from the old DVD.

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That Gumnaam You Like

Posted in Dance, FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , on June 3, 2017 by dcairns

Teamwork! One of my regular editors, Stephen Horne, is a HUGE fan of GHOST WORLD and also of Bollywood cinema, putting me in the shade on both counts in spite of m immense enthusiasm for both. When he found out Criterion were going to release Terry Zwigoff’s modern classic, he was, to put it mildly, very keen to be involved somehow, anyhow, so I pitched the idea of us making a commentary for the clip from GUMNAAM, the Jaan Pehechaan Ho number that opens the movie. Stephen and his friends in Bollywood fandom provided the expert knowledge, and got us Roshini Dubey to do the velvety voice-over, I really just spoke to Criterion and compiled Stephen’s facts and insights into a piece, with him editing both words and pictures.

Here’s the best version of the song available outside of Criterion’s Blu-ray, again courtesy of Stephen. It will shake the cobwebs out of your head, especially if you Batusi along to it.

 

 

Ohayo!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 25, 2017 by dcairns

Just got my complimentary copies of GOOD MORNING from Criterion. I’ve made a video essay for the disc, entitled Transcendental Style and Farting, about Ozu’s use of humour. Stephen Horne edited it and Danny Carr did the special effects — yes, special effects! We’ve worked together on a few extras and Danny also did the bulk of the FX work on THE NORTHLEACH HORROR. He is Scotland’s leading compositing genius.

I was fascinated — as how can you not be? — by Ozu’d gridlike living spaces, and his empty frames which linger after the characters have shuffled out of shot. I suggested to Danny he could disassemble the rooms into sliding panels, just for fun. A very fifties effect — think Saul Bass title sequences as in SEVEN YEAR ITCH. It made for a very nice set of interstitial bits, that draw attention playfully to Ozu’s compositional tropes.

Danny’s rendition of this surpassed all expectations — one of those things that just instantly WORKED, no fine-tuning required.

GOOD MORNING is available now. When you press PLAY these rooms will magically fill up with people!