Friday 1 September 2017

On Blu-ray - David Hare trawls a new edition of Welles' THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI and other titles from hot new Brit publisher Indicator

Rita Hayworth, The Lady from Shanghai
The about to be former Mrs Welles and her flummoxed dope of a husband from the climax of The Lady from Shanghai (1947). Screens are from the superb Indicator Blu-ray which is no less than the fourth and far and away the best transfer of Sony's amazing 4K restoration to Blu.

Orson Welles, The Lady from Shanghai
I counsel you get your hands on this disc available here from IndicatorIf you haven't already purchased one of the earlier BD incarnations, either of the very problematic TCM Archive releases from 2013, or the more recent 2014 Mill Creek bare bones edition which is quite good or seemed so until the Indicator edition turned up . Both TCMs suffer from compromised encoding, the first too small a file with low bitrate and overly bright white level, and the second "corrected" TCM was a total FUBAR with incorrect black level settings which in layman's terms made it far too dark crushing everything near black to black. It was a major fuckup.

And two more titles from Sony through Indicator label, starting with a very welcome 4K sourced BD of Bill Forsyth's wonderful Housekeeping (1987) with the hardly remembered Christine Lahti. This and Local Hero (1983) with Burt Lancaster are Forsyth's best known movies but Housekeeping has been out of circulation seemingly forever, since a weakly produced and distributed DVD did the rounds more than ten years ago. This Sony/Indicator BD is glorious. The movie deserves a big new audience and I wish I was familiar with more of Forsyth's work. He and Alexander Payne seem to be the noble inheritors of Hal Ashby amongst very few others in their gentle preservation of difficult and hurt characters who just get by in life outside and largely despite the uncaring mainstream. Perhaps his characters are even as uniquely "universal" as Ozu's in a brutal modern world.

Ross Martin, Lee Remick, Experiment in Terror
Blake Edwards Experiment in Terror from 1962 was previously released on Blu by Twilight Time. I don't know if Indicator sourced a new 4K from Sony for this but there are small and palpable improvement to image most notably grain management and dynamic range in the new Indicator BD. The film has a very curious atmosphere enshrouding it, not just menace but something slightly autistic as if the protagonists seem to be partially behaving like "normal" from a sense of duty, one which the psychotic intruder into suburban life has aroused as a germ of latent possibility for enlivenment from the thrall of imminent danger. Edwards' control of tone is constantly to the fore and dominates the mise-en-scene, indeed viewing the picture can become a little like watching models moving in slow motion while the narrative unfolds with brisk determination.

Tommy Rettig, Hans Conreid, The 5000 Fingers of Dr T
And last but not least (although I have never cared for it) Roy Rowland's 3 strip 1953 Technicolor Dr Seuss nightmare fantasy, The 5000 Fingers of Dr T, also released on a stunningly beautiful Indicator Blu-ray from a new Sony 4K. It must be either my tormented Catholic childhood or my extremely filthy adult mind but the whole show reeks to me of extreme pedo kink, with more than a little BDSM torture thrown in for children who never wanted to play the piano (or in my case football, unless it was afterwards in the showers with the older boys.) I think I would rather watch endessly looped reels of the actual BDSM client in Barbet Schroeder's 1975 masterpiece of genuine kink, Maitresse having his cock nailed to a plank in the specialist Paris bordello by a fetchingly leather and rubber clad Bulle Ogier. I like my perversity clean, not surreptitious. Anyway for others with tastes that lie in the direction of grown overweight men dressed as blowflies in giant pink and yellow tights tormenting small boys (especially the unbearably "sweet" Tommy Rettig) this disc of Dr T has your name branded on it.

All the Indicator titles are region free, as always. I notice recently that a long hoped for 4K restoration of Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946 UK) has been finished by Grover Crisp's team at Sony and will be debuting at the London FF this November Given the demand from the P&P fan base I would be laying money on the Blu-ray release for the new 4K going to Indicator in the new year.

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