Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not another awards show!! - Godfather Blu-ray Accolades

By John Latchem | Posted: 11 Nov 2008

LOS ANGELES — Despite joining the Blu-ray Disc camp just after the end of the format war this year, Paramount Home Entertainment scored huge wins at the second High-Def Disc Awards.

The studio’s new The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Collection Blu-ray boxed set won for best of show and best catalog title.

2008 High-Def Award Winners:

Best of Show: The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Collection, Paramount Home Entertainment

Best Theatrical Blu-ray: Iron Man, Paramount Home Entertainment

Best Catalog Blu-ray: The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Collection, Paramount Home Entertainment

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pakistani Film Kala Pul (Black Bridge) at ZAP

We are helping Bay Area indy filmmaker Saqib Mausoof (he's originally from Karachi, Pakistan) with post production on his new short film Kala Pul. It premiers this Thursday at the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival.

According to the film fest program: Kala Pul is named after a bridge in Karachi, which connects, and simultaneously separates, the affluent parts of the city and the lower income areas. Our protagonist, Arsalan, returns from the Middle East to this segregated world to investigate the violent death of his younger brother, blamed on fundamentalists. He finds himself estranged from his family, which is divided in opinion between his anglicized father and his devoutly militant younger brother. Now Arsalan must navigate these diverging and conflicting paths to discover his dead brother’s past and Karachi's future.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apocalypse Now and the Holy Grail

The Guardian (UK) had an article in their film section recently describing the joys of viewing a boot-legged video copy of the legendary "5-hour cut" of Apocalypse Now. Ever since we prepared the special 2-disc "Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier" version a few years ago in which we included more than 26 minutes of "deleted scenes" (which really meant scenes that had not been in the final cut of either version of the film: 1979 or 2001) I thought that the mythic status of the 5.5 hour long Betamax video assembly would have faded into oblivion. Not so. Below is Gordon Coates October 17th article. It is followed by my letter to the editor in which I tried to correct some inaccuracies. It was published last weekend.


Coppola's slow boat on the Nung

Gordon Coates on the five-hour Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now

The long and the short of it ... Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

The work print is the holy grail of film collecting. These are the vastly long, rough versions of a picture, containing much of the movie-making fat that is trimmed out by the editing process. For years, film collectors tap their keyboards until their fingers bleed in attempts to track down the bum-numbing versions of movies such as Dune and This Is Spinal Tap for the unseen gems they may or may not hold.

Of all the legendary work prints out there, the most persistently tantalising prospect is seeing the rumoured 289-minute version of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. The theatrical release print runs a mere 153 minutes, and the Redux reissue 202 minutes, so the work print offers almost an hour and a half of unseen footage. To a serious film geek, the prospect is unthinkably exciting - surely it couldn't be true?

Despite a lack of tangible proof that it even existed - including denials from the film's producers - the most dedicated collectors spent years searching for it, until something supposed to be this grail-like object found its way into the public domain. After exhaustive negotiations with an American film collector who had tracked down a copy, I found myself signing for an airmail package, booking the day off work and settling down for some serious viewing.

The first thing to point out is that to call this five-hour work print a "rough cut" is a mistake. It's an "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink" cut, which takes almost all the material from the 238-day shoot and tapes it together in a linear form. The work print moves at a snail's pace, with unfeasibly long scenes. The Ride of the Valkyries helicopter episode alone accounts for well over 30 minutes of footage. Scenes that, with expert editing, would become tense and compelling simply drift along aimlessly, interesting only to anoraks for the extra line of dialogue here and there.

There are, however, gems amid the mass of footage, which leave the viewer wondering how Coppola could have taken the scissors to them. Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz has three extra scenes, which more than quadruple the size of his part. In one, Brando reads from Time magazine to an imprisoned Martin Sheen. In another he delivers a monologue to Sheen about the "master liars" in Washington who "want to win, but can't stand to be thought of as cruel". In a third, he reads TS Eliot's The Hollow Men, while Dennis Hopper gets excited and says "man" a lot.

One of the things removed from the film for the cinematic release, along with the extra footage, is its political conscience. Scenes in which the characters question and criticise the US involvement in Vietnam and the conduct of American government are cut. Themes of politics give way to an exploration of the human nature and psychology.

Of all the cuts, the unkindest are dealt to Scott Glenn's character, Colby, Willard's predecessor, who was charged with killing Kurtz, but instead falls under his spell. In the work print, Colby is revealed to be a significant character who taunts an imprisoned Willard and, more importantly, shoots Hopper's character before being killed himself. Likewise, the character of Lance (played by Sam Bottoms) gets extra scenes designed to show his instability. In one, he inexplicably machine-guns a water buffalo, while screaming: "I control the destiny of every living thing which passes before my sights."

It took Coppola and his editors more than 700 days to turn a million feet of celluloid into a watchable film. What the work print makes clear are the choices editors are forced to make when faced with almost unlimited footage. Scenes that drove the crew to the brink of madness and Coppola to the edge of financial ruin were dropped without sentiment - simply because they didn't improve the story.


Letter: Apocalypse Now and the holy grail

Gordon Coates (Coppola's slow boat on the Nung, Film & Music, October 17) referred to the "holy grail" of film collecting as a "rumoured 289-minute version of Francis Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now", adding that the film's producers denied the existence of this long version. In reality, it comes down to semantics. When the film-makers returned from their 238-day shoot, the editors put together a rough assembly that ran to nearly five hours, and contained all the scenes that had been shot. So when one heard "there is no five-hour version", the producers were not being evasive. It is not a version of a film, it is a catalogue of everything, which then had to be edited into a coherent narrative.

In 1999 Coppola decided to revisit the raw material to create a new version that would be more faithful to his original vision. Apocalypse Now Redux was screened at Cannes in May 2001 and had a theatrical release later that year.

In that long first assembly is the scene in which Kurtz is reading from Time magazine. It was restored, recut and included in the Redux version, along with several other scenes. Brando's reading of Eliot's The Hollow Men can be seen in its entirety as a special feature in the special two-DVD release, Apocalypse Now (Steelbook Edition).

Many significant scenes that were neither in the original nor the Redux version are in the Steelbook version. They include scenes with Willard's special ops predecessor Colby, and the death of the foreign correspondent played by Dennis Hopper. It also includes audio commentaries by the director in which he addresses the editing decisions he faced in the 70s and again in 2000-01.

Kim Aubry
Co-producer of Apocalypse Now Redux

This article appeared in the Guardian on Saturday November 01 2008 on p39 of the Editorials & reply section. It was last updated at 00.06 on November 01 2008.

Tarkovsky takes Brazil

Our good friend Dmitry Trakovsky won a special mention jury award at the 2008 Mostra film festival in São Paulo, Brazil last week. Congratulations to you Dima!
Here are some links to Brazilian festival coverage and reviews.


Poetic Identification, The Means to Enjoy Tarkovsky

Jornal da mostra

  • 32ª Mostra > 23/10/2008
Edition: Renata de Almeida and Leon Cakoff
Dmitry Trakovsky

Poetic Identification, The Means to Enjoy Tarkovsky

Son of Russian poet Arseniy Tarkovsky and one of the most important filmmakers in Russia since Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky is often admired by those that identify with the poetic rhythm of his films, since without this identification his work can at times be seen as slow and difficult. That is what Dmitry Trakovsky, the director of Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky, said in an interview to journalist Rubens Ewald Filho in the Clube da Mostra on Tuesday, October 21st.

In spite of their similar last names, Dmitry explained that he is not related to Tarkovsky. Born in Russia, the young filmmaker lives in the US and, even though he does not often visit his native country, he still maintains strong spiritual ties with his motherland. He could not pinpoint an exclusive reason why he identifies with Tarkovsky´s work, but he did emphasize that he likes the rhythm and the language of his films.

Dmitry, who once studied to become a doctor, explained that American universities offer students the possibility to take courses in parallel to their majors. This system led him to study Buddhism. After completing a short film on the subject, his professor encouraged him to apply for a grant to further pursue filmmaking. This funding laid the foundation of the documentary, Meeting Andrei Tarkovsky.

Dmitry said that Tarkovsky preferred to use long takes because he believed that time is the fundamental fabric of cinema. Mirror, from 1975, is Tarkovsky´s film that Dmitry admires the most, as he believes this to be the director’s most personal and poetic work. Conversely, Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Tarkovsky’s first film, is Dmitry’s least favorite because, as Tarkovsky would admit himself, it did not yet completely reflect the poetic language developed later on in his work.

The young filmmaker took three years to complete the documentary, and tried to investigate the idea, proclaimed by Tarkovsky, that death does not exist. Dmitry’s next project is to make fiction, maybe in a short film.

21/10/2008 - 15h14

Documentário investiga a permanência do cineasta Andrei Tarkovsky

Especial para o UOL
Dmitry Trakovsky faz sua estréia como cineasta com o documentário "Conhecendo Andrei Tarkovsky"
O plano do estudante Dmitry Trakovsky, russo emigrado para aos EUA aos 2 anos, com seus pais, era estudar Medicina. Na própria universidade, na Califórnia, porém, o cinema desviou-o desse caminho. Ele acabou estreando como cineasta com o documentário "Conhecendo Andrei Tarkovsky", que tem sua première mundial na 32ª. Mostra Internacional de Cinema.

As coincidências foram muitas até chegar ao filme, a começar pelo sobrenome do jovem cineasta, quase igual ao de seu ídolo, Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986), prestigiado diretor de "Solaris" (72), "Stalker" (79) e "O Sacrifício" (86).


and a blog entry in Portuguese