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Criterion's Le Samourai - Member Reactions?


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted October 26 2005 - 03:26 AM

How do our members feel about the quality of this
release? Have any flaws been noted, as with the
infamous first printing of Rififi?

Thanks.

#2 of 21 OFFLINE   Brian PB

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Posted October 26 2005 - 04:33 AM

Have any flaws been noted, as with the infamous first printing of Rififi?

Gee, you can really hold a grudge. Posted Image

Rififi was released in April 2001 and the problem was quickly addressed. Criterion has perhaps the best quality control in the industry. They actively solicit problems from their customers, respond quickly to complaints, and replace the offending disc with very little hassle. I own around 200 of their releases, and I've yet to have a problem.

With respect to Le samouraï, multiple reviews have failed to find any significant technical flaws or mastering problems:

DVD Talk
DVD Savant
Digitally Obsessed
Slant Magazine
DVD Journal

The review at DVD Beaver should be posted soon.

I'd advise you to get off the fence, bury the hatchett, and buy with confidence.


#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 05:07 AM

That's a bit of an odd question, Dave! Is this the first Criterion DVD you have purchased - or planned to purchase - since 2001's, Rififi? That was over four and a half years ago and in the interim, Criterion haven't had any transfer or authoring errors, to the best of my fairly good knowledge.

Buy with confidence, Dave. It's a great disc. I have had mine since last Friday. I love the film (and Melville's films in general) and the transfer is great, sound is good and the extras are interesting, though not as comprehensive as I would have expected. A commentary by Ginette Vincendeau would have been worthwhile, as here full-length track on the UK BFI edition of Le Cercle Rouge is superb. Vincendeau's and Rui Nogueira's thoughts on Le Samourai are good, though.

This release has been the surprise of the year. I thought that the film was owned by New Yorker, but I seemed to have been the first to learn from them that they had lost the rights to Criterion, but I was a bit sceptical. But here it is!

2006 should see L'Armee des ombres from Criterion and the BFI, according to Ginette Vincendeau, whom I contacted last month. It too is an amazing film, long overdue on home video with English subtitles. The French R2 from Studio Canal is said to have an excellent anamorphic transferm but it lacks English subtitles. A new print of the film will be shown in the USA via Rialto and in the UK via the BFI early next year, so be on the look out!


#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted October 26 2005 - 06:43 AM

Sure, I've been buying Criterions -- I've known about
Criterion since the laserdisc days.

However, by way of explanation, this was more than
just an ordinary Criterion -- this was one of the
top two or three titles on my most-wanted list.

I guess I was just afraid somebody would eventually
find a flaw -- although I was certainly hoping
there would be no flaws. But, jeez, it almost
seems inevitable -- my bad luck, maybe -- for
people to discuss flaws in my favorite films;
a sync problem here, or a frame missing from
'The Awful Truth' (there was a thread about
the missing frame on this Forum), or the
misisng dialog in 'Bringing Up Baby'
(also discussed in a thread on this
Forum).

In any event, I'm very, very pleased to hear there
are no flaws with this release. Thanks for the
responses.

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 07:22 AM

I had a feeling that you were a Criterion hound like me, Dave!

I can totally empathise with you, regarding the intense scrutiny that remastered transfers go through, ie. The Wizard of Oz, Evil Dead 2, Ben Hur, etc. This attention to detail is a good thing, of course, but my blood departs from my knuckles everytime I read the first reviews, or see a screen-captured comparison of a 'remastered' edition of a film that I know and love.

I actually have the French DVD from Rene Chateau and the colours are a little different in the Criterion, which is bluer and has fine grain in darker scenes, just like the theatrical prints. The Rene Chateau seems to have had DVNR applied to it and finer details are smudged and the brightness seems to have been boosted, leaving the night scenes a dark grey and with macro-blocking. The Criterion transfer is more film-like and has is practically scratch-free, whereas the Rene Chateau transfer has a few moments of vertical scratches.

BTW, Dave, did you, or are you planning to buy the new The Wages of Fear 2-disc?


#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted October 26 2005 - 08:39 AM

Gordon, I have the original 'Wages of Fear', and yes, I'll
be double-dipping on the new version. My budget last
night allowed for 'Le Samourai', Looney Tunes,
'Detective Story' and 'Save the Tiger'.

Next week's budget will allow for 'Wages of Fear',
'Wizard of Oz', 'Strange Love of Martha Ivers'
and 'Office Space (SE)'.

I have the R2 'Le Samourai' as well, but the Criterion
will become my primary copy.

I also have the R2 (U.K.) 'Le Doulos', and 'Leon Morin,
Pretre'.

I also bought (from Amazon.uk) a hardcover copy of
Vincendeau's book.

#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Deepak Shenoy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 10:47 AM

I wish I could provide a reaction but my DVDs would have to get here first. For some reason DVDPlanet hasn't even shipped them out yet Posted Image

I have been buying 2-3 Criterions each month for the last 3-4 years and I haven't been disappointed even a single time with the quality of the releases. There have been mastering problems with a few DVDs like Rififi, Spellbound, etc but Criterion has always provided replacements promptly.

#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Lars Vermundsberget

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Posted October 26 2005 - 11:23 AM

DVDPlanet is still in business? Posted Image

In that particular case - I can hold a grudge.

#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Elijah Sullivan

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Posted October 26 2005 - 11:39 AM

The transfer to Le Samourai was very pleasing to my eyes, and the features were pretty good when you count the very nice insert. The audio was very reasonably good considering the age.

Unfortunately, it is not DTS Posted Image

Posted Image

#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Deepak Shenoy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 11:43 AM

Quote:
DVDPlanet is still in business?

Oh yes, they are in business and actually I have been quite happy with them. They usually ship pre-orders at least a few days before release. This week was the first time when they got the Criterion releases a bit late (BTW they shipped today). They did ship the other titles I had ordered (Detective Story and Strange Love of Martha Ivers) on time.

-D

#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 11:53 AM

You have - in my opinion, at least - impeccable taste, Dave! You even imported the hardcover of An American in Paris! It's an excellent resource for Melville fans.

Have you seen L'Armme des ombres? It's an amazing film and has been so hard to see over the years so it will be great to see it on DVD from the BFI and Criterion. I am really hoping to see more Melville films on DVD in 2006, especially Le Silence de la Mer and Le Deuxième souffle.

Deux hommes dans Manhattan is available in Japan. I have yet to confirm if there are English subtitles or if the Japanese subtitles are locked. With postage, it's about $44 from CD Japan.

And when is Rue Nogueira's, Melville on Melville going to be re-published? I mean, come on, it's been out of print for about ten years now.


#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 26 2005 - 12:07 PM

It is worth noting that Criterion DVDs are now exclusively distributed by Image Entertainment. Image used to distribute on a title-by-title basis, but this month has seen them take over full distribution of Criterion's releases in addition to all the other companies - including themselves - they distribute for. Hopefully, it's just a snag and the old hound will be a bit more spritely from next month onwards. This change could be why CD-WOW is not stocking this months Criterion's. Kill! is listed, but I doubt that it is in stock. A real bummer. I wrote a long-ish email to CD-WOW about this and I received a curtosy reply stating that the issue has been passed on to the relevent department. Fingers crossed, as CD-WOW offered the lowest prices on the net and were the premier resource for European Criterion hounds, such as myself. A lot of Scandinavians used Criterion for this purpose, I know that.

Oh, the trifles of life!


#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Daniel P

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Posted October 26 2005 - 01:29 PM

Gordon, is L'Armme a confirmed 2006 release? Or are you just speculating?

#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted October 27 2005 - 08:42 AM

Thanks for the kind words Gordon.

No, I've never seen "L'Armme des ombres".

With the three existing Criterions, plus 'Un Flic' from
Anchor Bay, and the R2 (U.K.) titles, our Melville
libraries are becoming well-stocked.

Gordon, would you agree after Melville the next great
director whose work should be better represented on
DVD is Max Ophuls? I have R1 'Lola Montes', and R2
'Caught' -- and that's it. I'd love for Criterion
to release 'The Earrings Of Madame De'. I'm lucky
to own Criterion's LD, but I'm also greedy: I'd
like a special features-packed DVD as well.

#15 of 21 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted October 27 2005 - 08:46 AM

Quote:
I own around 200 of their releases, and I've yet to have a problem.

Quote:
...Criterion haven't had any transfer or authoring errors, to the best of my fairly good knowledge.

I guess members are ignoring the not-so-small issue on the Jules and Jim release (which Criterion hasn't addressed to my knowledge).

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   Frank*C

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Posted October 27 2005 - 09:49 AM

What some members have ignored is the high standards that Criterion has set for the DVD industry. Yes, they've made mistakes, but few and far between. I own a complete collection of Criterion and have found no other company that comes close to the consistant product that Criterion puts out every month. Sure, people will point to Warner and say that they put out great discs, but I firmly believe that Criterion set the standard and now more and more companies are "forced" to comply or face the wrath of a more educated consumer, many that have no reservations about buying a non region 1 release if the R1 is inferior. As for the Jules and Jim release, I'm sure they'll address it in the near future.

#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 27 2005 - 11:09 AM

Hi, Daniel.

I wouldn't say that they are confirmed, but the BFI submitted the uncut version of L'Armee des ombres a few months ago to the BBFC and it recieved a 12A certificate. Ginette Vincendeau stated in her email that the she will be either be interviewed on tape or that she may even record another full-length commentary, although she said that she was apprehensive! The film is owned by Rialto in the USA and most of what Rialto reissues theatrically is released on DVD by Criterion. Jon Mulvaney at Criterion has also stated that more Melville films will be released by Criterion in 2006, so it seems pretty certain, but who knows how long we will be waiting. I am not expecting an early 2006 release, though. Let's wait until there is an official announcement before we get our hopes up.


#18 of 21 OFFLINE   Lars Vermundsberget

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Posted October 27 2005 - 11:14 AM

Quote:
Oh yes, they are in business and actually I have been quite happy with them.


Well, actually, I knew. But I just sort of wish they weren't.

It's been a couple of years now since they f***ed up a good number of orders for me and never saw themselves fit to deal with it adequately afterwards. So I still feel they owe me something, I guess...

I used to order Criterions from DVD Planet at very reasonable prices, but now I use DVD Pacific instead.

I own well over a hundred Criterions ("Criteria"?) and I think they keep a high standard. As for failures otherwise, they don't seem to be better than the rest of my collection - which still isn't so bad.

#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Frank*C

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Posted October 27 2005 - 12:45 PM

Got this from the Criterion forum, upcoming releases:

322- Mr. Arkadin $39.95
324 - La bete humaine $29.95
325 - Kind Hearts and Coronets $29.95

#20 of 21 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 27 2005 - 12:56 PM

Yeah, I just saw that over there, Frank. Awesome titles. I really hope that we get multiple versions of Arkadin.

There will more than likely be a fourth title. It would be pointless specula... OH, GIVE US THE 2-DISC OF PLAYTIME, ALREADY!!!

Like, I say, no point in speculating. Posted Image



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