New Blu-rays for December 11, 2012: Buster Keaton Complete, Bourne Again, and More
The Bourne Legacy
Complex and flashback heavy, The Bourne Legacy expands on the action thriller world created by the late novelist Robert Ludlum and the previous three films based upon his books. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy (screenwriter of the Bourne film trilogyand writer-director of Michael Clayton, Duplicity), The Bourne Legacy introduces a new hero swept up in the conspiracy machinations exposed in the previous films. On the verge of having everything exposed, members of the government's intelligence community, led by Edward Norton, begin to close down and bury the highly secret Operation Outcome, a US Department of Defense black-ops program. This includes all the operatives who've been genetically-engineered via pills and viruses to have physical and survival skill enhancements making them stronger, faster, smarter - including Aaron Cross (Renner) - and the scientists who developed and put into practice the treatment - including design and research chemist Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Together they must run and hide from all the forces and resources at the government's disposal whilst trying to expose what's been going on. The killer heavyweight cast includes Scott Glenn, Stacy Keach Jeremy Renner, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, and Oscar Isaac.
This disc has reference quality visuals and audio. The highly detailed picture with pores, lines, and stubble all visible, has everything sharp and well -defined with distinct lines to watches and textile patterns and texture to fabrics. Excellent contrast with bright whites and a wide range of tones noticeable in natural-looking skin - Weisz's pale, others tanned in rounded, solid, dimensional faces.
Legacy has a very natural, open sound with bassy, snappy gunshots, thumping blocks of traditional Bourne-style close-quarter fist-fighting, footsteps on wooden floors, and the crisp rattle of guns falling to the ground from lifeless hands all seeming real. There's good use of the 7.1 channels with very active surrounds and rears. Well-separated instruments have electronica elements, strings, and drums bouncing around from one channel to another, and highly immersive atmospherics of crowds, a roaring river, and a burning-house fire. There's constant op-room chatter and phone-rings, airport announcements, traffic, and a rather startling alarm all going off back behind your head.
Very tense action stunts are filled with accurate bike-bys as well as train, car, and fire-engine pans across the front and diagonally through the room and past you or aircraft coming up overhead from behind.
Video: 2.40:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. Extras: commentary by director-writer Tony Gilroy, co-writer Dan Gilroy, editor John Gilroy, director of photography Robert Elswit, second unit director Dan Bradley and production designer Kevin Thompson, "Re-Bourne," "Enter Aaron Cross," "Crossing Continents: Legacy on Location," "Man vs. Wolf," "Wolf Sequence Test," "Moving Targets: Aaron and Marta," and "Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase" featurettes, 7 minutes of deleted scenes, Wolf Sequence animated storyboard/footage reel created for the wolf attack; DVD and UltraViolet digital copy for streaming/downloading. Studio: Universal.
With Dick Tracy (1990), director Warren Beatty (Reds, Heaven Can Wait, Bulworth) took on the much-beloved 1930s classic comic strip created by Chester Gould and the challenge of transforming the flat drawings into a pulp movie through creating a heightened unreality of comically cartoonish characters, scene-chewing acting, outrageous prosthetic make-up, and striking staging, sets, and lighting. In an attempt at to be evocative of the source, Beatty restricted the film's color palette to the same seven shades that appeared in the original strip. And producer Beatty beefed up the Danny Elfman score by having Stephen Sondheim write five songs for the film and trusted the visuals to the great cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor, The Conformist).
In 1938 Chicago, famous yellow-coated police detective, Dick Tracy (played by Beatty), with the aid of his loyal associate Sam Catchem (the great Seymour Cassel) and chief of police Brandon (Charles Durning) must take on crime boss Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), who with the support of Caprice's fast-talking henchman Mumbles (Dustin Hoffman), hitman Flattop (William Forsythe), minion crime boss Pruneface (R. G. Armstrong), and Caprice's gang of assorted oddball mobsters intends to take over the city's underworld. While fighting to carry out his crusade against Caprice, Tracy is torn between his love for girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headly) and the seductive powers of sultry torch-singer Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). The battle between Tracy and Caprice is complicated by a third player, the faceless Blank (unknown), who threatens both the detective and crook as well as the city itself.
Dick Tracy co-stars Mandy Patinkin as piano player 88 Keys, James Caan as rival crime boss Spuds Spaldoni, Catherine O'Hara as female criminal Texie Garcia, Dick Van Dyke as corrupt District Attorney John Fletcher, Henry Silva as Pruneface's top gunman Influence, James Tolkan as Caprice's accountant Numbers, Paul Sorvino as Caprice's mentor and Club Ritz owner Lips Manlis, and Charlie Korsmo as a young street urchin who witnesses the massacre of mobsters Shoulders (Stig Eldred), Stooge (Jim Wilkey), Rodent (Neil Summers), Brow (Chuck Hicks) and Little Face (Lawrence Steven Meyers) at the hands of Flattop and Itchy (Ed O'Ross).
Video: 1.85:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: none; digital copy. Studio: Disney.
The Qatsi Trilogy
The Qatsi Trilogy is the collection of three extraordinary audiovisual experiences - Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi - made over a 20 year period between1982 and 2002 by director Godfrey Reggio.
In Koyaanisqatsi (1982)Reggioz collaborated with composer Philip Glass to create a stunning collage tone poem of visually striking imagery through the use of slow motion and time-lapse photography (speeding things up) all set to Glass's hypnotically repetitive and slowly evolutionary themes, echoing the transition of the world from an untouched natural environment - starting ancient native American cave drawings and moving across landscapes of the United State- to a man-made technological one. The word "Koyaanisqatsi," chanted on the soundtrack, is a Hopi indian term for "life out of balance." It is the only word spoken in the film.
Five years later, Reggio joined forces again with Glass and other collaborators to create Powaqqatsi (1988) which uses similar techniques to non-verbally explore the third world existing in the southern hemisphere, contrasting traditional ways of life with the new one brought on by the introduction of industrialization. Powaqqatsi means "parasitic way of life" or "life in transformation."
Completing the trilogy, Naqoyqatsi (2002) completely focuses on the contemporary world dominated by gobalized technology and violence encroaching on the old ways. Added to the arsenal of techniques previously employed, is the digital manipulation of archive footage and stock images which are intercut with computer-generated imagery. Naqoyqatsi translates as"life as war."
The three-disc set contains restored digital transfers of all three films, approved by Reggio, with lossless soundtracks of Glass's music.
All, Video: 1.85:1. All, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: "Essence of Life" interview program with Reggio and Glass on Koyaanisqatsi, new interview with cinematographer Ron Fricke about Koyaanisqatsi, early 40-minute demo version of Koyaanisqatsi with a scratch soundtrack by Allen Ginsberg and a new introduction by Reggio, new interview with the director about Koyaanisqatsi's original visual concept with behind-the-scenes footage, "Impact of Progress" interview program with Reggio and Glass on their collaboration, "Inspiration and Ideas" interview with the director about his greatest influences and teachers, Anima Mundi (1992) 28-minute montage of images of over seventy animal species directed by Reggio and scored by Glass, video afterword by Reggio on the trilogy, "The Making of Naqoyqatsi" featurette, panel discussion on Naqoyqatsi from 2003 with Reggio, Glass, editor Jon Kane, and music critic John Rockwell, "Music of Naqoyqatsi" interview with Glass and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, television spots and interview with the director relating to his 1970s multimedia privacy campaign in New Mexico, booklet featuring essays on the trilogy by film scholar Scott MacDonald, Rockwell, and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben. Studio: The Criterion Collection.
Back in 1998 when Memento, the film that brought him international acclaim, was just a twinkle in director Christopher Nolan's eye, he made this 69-minute no-budget, no extras, no permits, black-and-white, 16 mm feature, shooting the movie on weekends with his friends whenever he could raise more money for the film stock. Following impressed audiences, critics, and Hollywood honchos alike with Nolan's psychologically mind-bending storytelling and neonoir directorial bravura.
Following is the fragmented tale of an unemployed young writer, simply known as He (Jeremy Theobald), who follows strangers through London searching for material and inspiration for his first novel by watching them from afar and developing theories about their personalities. He gets all that and more when he meets one of his subjects, Cobb (Alex Haw), who knowingly approaches him, thereby intriguing He. Cobb reveals that he is a thief and says he can use someone with the writer's talents and inclinations, and takes him along on a burglary. Cobb then confuses the writer further by revealing that he doesn't break into apartments for the money, but because he enjoys the ritual and the process of entering people's private lives and - like He - being able to tell what kind of personality lives there, inhabits such a home. In effect, they both rob by looking. The writer then asks Cobb to rob the apartment of a beautiful blonde (Lucy Russell) he wishes to know more intimately.
A new, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by Nolan, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack and a new 5.1 surround sound mix created by sound editor Gary Rizzo.
A Linear Edit version of Following is included in the extras that, a la Godfather Saga TV cut, re-edits the scenes into chronological order.
Video: 1.33:1. Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM Mono. Extras: Linear Edit version in chronological order, director's commentary, new interview with Nolan, side-by-side comparison of three scenes in the film with the shooting script, Doodlebug (1997) three-minute film by Nolan starring Jeremy Theobald, booklet featuring an essay by film critic and programmer Scott Foundas. Studio: The Criterion Collection.
The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection
This 14-disc set Ultimate Collection contains a huge gathering of the genius master comic filmmaker's classics that includes 11 features and 2 sets of shorts from1920–1937 - College, The Saphead, Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr., Three Ages, The Navigator, Seven Chances, Go West, Battling Butler, The General, Steamboat Bill, Jr., as well as the Buster Keaton Short Films Collection, and Lost Keaton, many of them with multiple scores and soundtrack options.
After three years working for producer Joe Schenk and silent film star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's Comique comedy troupe as a gag-man, actor, and student of directing, Schenk gave Keaton his own production unit. In the years between 1920 and 1923, Keaton made 19 two-reel shorts of about 18-23 minutes, all of which are included in the three-disc Buster Keaton Short Films Collection included here. They have been newly remastered and the shorts are as follows: The High Sign (1920–21), One Week (1920), Convict 13 (1920), The Scarecrow (1920), Neighbors (1921), The Haunted House (1921), Hard Luck (1921), The Goat (1921), The Play House (1921), The Boat (1921), The Paleface (1922), Cops (1922,), My Wife's Relations (1922), The Blacksmith (1922), The Frozen North (1922), Day Dreams (1922), The Electric House (1922,), The Balloonatic (1923), and The Love Nest (1923).
Keaton, wanting to step up to the big leagues where Harold Lloyd and Charlie Chaplin played, began making feature-length pictures of 60-80 minutes each, just acting in some and directing and starring in others. Many of these first efforts during the mid-1920s are considered amongst the greatest comedies ever made.
In The Saphead (1920), directed by Herbert Blaché, a seemingly pampered and privilege party-animal son of the richest Wall Street financier in New York with no talent or interest in finances eventually saves the fortune of the family through accidental trading.The Saphead comes with two scores, one composed and performed by Ben Model (here in a stereo) and a Robert Israel-arranged-and-directed score (in both stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1).
Our Hospitality (1923), co-directed by John G. Blystone and Keaton, finds Willie McKay traveling back south in the 1830s to his birthplace to collect his family inheritance and getting caught up in the infamous Canfield and McKay feud. Our Hospitality hasa score by composer Carl Davis (here in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and a LPCM 2.0 mixdown of the same track) recorded in 1984 performed by the Thames Silents Orchestra, and a score by Donald Hunsberger commissioned by Kino in 1995 (presented in Dolby Digital 2.0).
Three Ages (1923) - part of a Keaton-directed double-bill here with Sherlock Jr. - is the first feature Keaton wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. It takes the linked-by-theme three-story structure of D. W. Griffith'sIntolerance, presenting man's thwarted romantic adventures throughout world history from the dawn of man in the Stone Age, through the gladiatorial Ancient Rome, to the Roaring Twenties. Three Ages has a string-based score by Robert Israel (here in LPCM 2.0), a Lee Erwin organ score (in Dolby Digital mono), and an anonymous piano score (in Dolby Digital mono).
Sherlock Jr. (1924) concerns a movie theater projectionist and janitor who, having fallen asleep while watching a film about a jewelry robbery, in his dreams leaps onto the silver screen to join in the story as a detective. Sherlock Jr. comes with music by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra score (in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and a LPCM 2.0 fold-down of this track) a vintage jazz score compiled and synchronized by Jay Ward (in Dolby Digital mono), and a Club Foot Orchestra score quoting pop songs and scores from the 1950s and '60s (in Dolby Digital 2.0).
In The Navigator (1924), directed by Donald Crisp and Keaton, a wealthy young man, after being dumped by his fiancé, goes on his honeymoon sea cruise to Honolulu alone but gets on the wrong vessel and finds himself adrift on an empty passenger ship with his ex. The Navigator has a new Robert Israel score (in both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0 stereo).
In Seven Chances (1925), directed by Keaton, a partner in a financial brokerage firm that's about to go bust learns one day that his grandfather has left him seven million dollars if he is married by 7:00 p.m. on his 27th birthday - which happens to be that same day. Seven Chances' opening scenes were shot in early Technicolor and it has a new Israel score (in both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0 stereo).
Go West (1925) - part of a Keaton-directed double-bill presented here with Battling Butler - finds Keaton as Friendless, a go-west-young-man young man who goes west to make his fortune, trying his hand at farming, cattle-wrangling, and bronco-busting. The film ends in the leading-a-cattle-stampede-through-the-streets-of-Los-Angeles stunt climax. Go West has a Eric Beheim score (in Linear PCM 2.0).
In Battling Butler (1926), Alfred Butler is sent out hunting and fishing by his father to make a man out of him, but he meets a girl and, to impress her family, passes himself off as Battling Butler, championship fighter. Battling Butler has an Israel score (in Linear PCM 2.0).
The General (1927), directed by Keaton and Clyde Bruckman, finds Keaton as Johnnie, lover of a train - The General - and a girl, enlisting in the Civil War but learning that his two beloveds have been captured by Union spies. Keaton's ultimate masterpiece has been mastered from a 35mm archive print struck from the original camera negative. The General has ascore from1987 written and conducted by Carl Davis and played by The Thames Silents Orchestre (here in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0), another score made up of traditional silent movie tunes arranged for piano and strings and directed by Israel (in Dolby Digital 2.0), and a theatre organ score from the 1970s by Lee Erwin (in Dolby Digital 2.0).
In Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) - which includes the famous wall-falling-over-onto-Keaton-in-a-cyclone stunt - the genius comic acrobat plays the shy son of a steamboat captain caught in the middle of another feud, this one between his father and another Mississippi riverboat owner. Steamboat Bill, Jr. was directed Charles Reisne. It's remastered from archival 35mm material. An alternate version (to be found in the extras) is included- from the Killiam Shows Archive - comprised of alternative takes and camera angles. The traditional version has a score of new music by The Biograph Players (in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and also a Dolby Digital 2.0 track), a vintage organ score by Lee Erwin (in Dolby Digital mono), and a piano score by William Perry (in Dolby Digital mono). The sole audio option for the "Killian" version of the film is a piano-centric score by William Perry (in Dolby Digital 2.0).
The shorts in the two-disc Lost Keaton: Sixteen Comedy Shorts consists of all the 16 films Keaton made with Educational Pictures between 1934 and 1937which pay homage to his earlier work - but use sound. The included two-reelers are The Gold Ghost, Allez Oop, Palooka from Paducah, One Run Elmer, Hayseed Romance, Tars and Stripes, The E-Flat Man, The Timid Young Man, Three on a Limb, Grand Slam Opera, Blue Blazes, The Chemist, Mixed Magic, Jail Bait, Ditto, and Love Nest on Wheels.
Video, All: 1.33:1. Buster Keaton Short Films Collection, Audio: LPCM 2.0 stereo. Extras: 90 minutes of visual essays by nine Keaton experts illustrated with clips and still photographs for 15 of the 19 short films, "The Men Who Would Be Buster" series of films and clips including the1929 two-reel, 15-minute remake of The Play House called Only M and excerpts from Be Reasonable and Hello Baby! - both influenced by The Goat - and White Wings which borrow from Hard Luck, outtakes from The Goat, Cops, The Blacksmith, The Baloonatic, and Day Dreams, visual essay on the film's locations by Silent Echoes author John Bengston, bonus films including Character Studies (5:33) and Seeing Stars (2:45, excerpt) and two shorts that spoof Keaton and other silent film stars, booklet with an essay by Jeffrey Vance and notes on the individual films. The Saphead, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0 stereo, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: alternate version of The Saphead comprised from different takes and camera angles, "Pair of Sapheads"8-minute featurette comparing the two versions, "Buster Keaton: Life of the Party" 1962 audio recording with Keaton recalling his youth, stills gallery from Keaton's vaudeville days. Our Hospitality, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: "Making Comedy Beautiful" visual essay about the making of Our Hospitality narrated by Patricia Eliot Tobias, Hospitality 49-minute alternate cut of the film with optional introduction by Patricia Eliot Tobias, The Iron Mule 1925 short anonymously directed by the then-blacklisted Fatty Arbuckle with cameos by Keaton himself, stills gallery. Sherlock Jr., Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0. Extras: commentary by historian David Kalat, 15-minute documentary on the making of the film, visual essay on the film's locations by Silent Echoes author John Bengston, stills gallery. Three Ages, Audio: LPCM 2.0, Dolby Digital mono. Extras: Man's Genesis (1912) nine-minute excerpt of D.W. Griffith prehistoric romance that inspired Keaton's parody, visual essay on the film's locations by Bengston, Three Ages re-cut as a trio of stand alone short films, gallery of stills. The Navigator, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0. Extras: commentary by silent film historians Robert Arkus and Yair Solan, short documentary written by film historian Bruce Lawton about the making ofThe Navigator, "Asleep in the Deep" recording of the Wildfred Glenn song referenced in the film, stills gallery. Seven Chances, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0. Extras: commentary by Ken Gordon and Bruce Lawton, "A Brideless Groom" Three Stooges short based on the same story as Seven Chances, "How a French Nobleman Got a Wife Through the New York Herald Personal Columns" 1904 Edison Company short, tour of filming locations hosted by author John Bengtson with then-and-now photo comparisons, "About the Technicolor Sequence" discussion of the restoring of the opening Technicolor sequence by film historian Eric Grayson, stills gallery. Go West and Battling Butler, Audio: LPCM 2.0. Extras: "Go West" a 12-minute 1923 western comedy short produced by Hal Roach. "Buster Keaton: Screenwriter" 60-minute 1958 audio recording of Keaton discussing a script proposal for the TV western series "Wagon Train. Battling Butler remake gallery of excerpts from a script Keaton wrote in 1947, stage production photos from the 1922 stage production of Battling Butler, additional gallery of Battling Butler stills. The General, Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, LPCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: video tour of the authentic General, presented in association with The Southern Museum, tour of the filming locations, presented by John Bengtson, author of Silent Echoes, behind-the-scenes home movie footage, filmed introduction by Gloria Swanson, filmed introduction by Orson Welles, "The Buster Express" brisk montage of train gags from throughout Keaton's career. Steamboat Bill, Jr., Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0. Extras: documentary on the making of the film, stills gallery, "Why They Call Him Buster" montage of pratfalls, two vintage recordings of the folk song "Steamboat Bill." Lost Keaton, Audio: LPCM 2.0 mono. Extras: film notes on individual shorts, "Why They Call Him Buster" featurette, photo gallery. Studio: Kino.