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G. Ratcheson (Washington)

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Wooden Ships
Wooden Ships
Price: £14.46

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Show, 16 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Wooden Ships (Audio CD)
IMO, this is by far the best of the officially released Jefferson Starship shows. For some reason PK has had a tendency to officially release sloppy shows while leaving the best in the vaults &/or collectors circles. This one is the major exception.

I would love to also see releases of the similar 2/27/98 (with Diana Mangano in place of Balin & Jack Cassidy in place of Creach) & the 2/25/98 House Of Blues show that at one time was streaming on the HOB website.

I highly recommend this one.

Der Tiger von Eschnapur / Das indische Grabmal (Fritz Lang's Indian Epic) [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1959]
Der Tiger von Eschnapur / Das indische Grabmal (Fritz Lang's Indian Epic) [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1959]
Dvd ~ Paul Hubschmid
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £9.99

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars MOC's Quality First UK Edition Of Fritz Lang's Indian Epic, 17 April 2011
Masters of Cinema has just released a deluxe edition of Fritz Lang's second to last film, 1959's The Indian Epic

It consists of 2 separate films on 2 discs, The Indian Tomb, (aka The Tomb of Love) & The Tiger Of Eschnapur, & runs a total of 203 minutes. This appears to be the first UK dvd edition, & as the 2003 USA Image/Fantoma appears to have gone out of print (& sells for a fortune), this appears to be the only currently available edition aimed at the English speaking market.

For those who haven't seen it, here's a brief but useful description: Combine a 1950's high budget Hollywood epic with a 1940's poverty row serial, a truly international cast (with no a-list actors) & have Fritz Lang direct, & you've got the Indian Tomb! Fans of the above genres (50's Hollywood epics, 30's & 40's cliffhanger serials & Lang) will likely enjoy this, if you don't fall into any of the above you're probably not the target audience. In my opinion, (& I've now watched it 3 times, twice in the last week), this film's allure is the tremendous scenery, great sets & camera work, & easy to digest entertainment that tends to be of a bit higher quality than most similar Hollywood films of the time.

As far as the plot, a German architect has been dispatched to India to build hospitals for the Maharajah. On his way to the palace, he saves an Indian dancer from a Tiger attack & they are instantly smitten with one another. Unfortunately it turns out the reason she is also on the way to the palace is because the Maharajah has seen her dance & is also smitten with her. Add in a plot by the Maharajah's brother to seize power in the province, tons of court intrigue, fake Snakes & Tigers (truthfully I wouldn't have noticed the Tiger was fake in places if David Kalat hadn't have pointed it out in his excellent commentary), & lots of cliff hangers & you have the Indian Tomb.

One other important point: A very different version was originally filmed in 1921 as a German silent film starring the great Conrad Veidt; fresh from his career making starring role as the Somnambulist in Dr Caligari. Lang's future wife, Thea von Harbou wrote the original story. Lang was then hired by producer Joe May to do the screen play with Von Harbou & direct. They ended up doing such a good job on the screenplay that May (who was also an experienced director) kept it & made it himself. As it was a blockbuster hit, Lang was said to have never forgiven May. Per David Kalat, when Atrur Brauner contacted Lang in 1959 & asked him to return to Germany to film a remake, Lang jumped at the chance to reclaim his work. Also per Kalat, this version has more in common with a 1938 Nazi era remake than with the original, though Lang has also changed that storyline considerably.

The cast was truly international, to the point where both the "original German" & the English versions were both dubbed, as few of the actors could talk to each other in the same language, much less act in it. The best-known actor is probably the female lead, American actress Debra Paget, but even she was mostly a b list actress. The high budget on this film (4 million Deutsch marks) went for the sets & location filming. One interesting aspect of this is that the English subtitles are quite different from the English language spoken track. Kalat mentions that the German version was what Lang intended, but he also states that due to both versions being dubbed, he does not recommend one over the other. MOC states that the subtitles for this edition are new translations from the German. Out of habit I mostly watched the German language version with English subs, though my second time through this week was to play the commentary.

Which leads us to the technical aspects.

MOC states that this is a new digital restoration with the original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 restored , as opposed to Image stating their 2003 edition was 1.33:1. I am unable to see this difference in aspect ratio on either my Television or PC. My current TV is a USA NTSC JVC 36" old style CRT & my main pc monitor is a Dell 21" LCD wide screen flat panel. On the JVC, the colors appeared slightly more vivid on the MOC than on the Image, but that was the only visual difference I could see. I also made 4 screen caps from each version, & on my computer I couldn't see any significant difference at all between the caps. My review copy was surprisingly in NTSC rather than PAL, I don't know if that had any impact. One other technical comment: In about 20% of the scenes when a new scene first fades in or transitions there is a 2-3 second period where the color lightens, darkens & lightens again to where it will end up. In comparing the MOC to the Image I found the exact artifacts on both, which says to me that it is not anything MOC did wrong with their authoring. The artifacts also show up on my pc's monitor, which says the problem is not in my TV or dvd player. Kalat surprisingly does not mention this issue, so I don't know what the cause is.

Which brings us to the commentary that is exclusive to this edition. On disc1 , it is my favorite DK commentary ever. It's pretty amazing that he can find so much information related to this film that's truly of interest. That's also likely why I wasn't as enamored of the commentary on disc 2: DK had 3 ½ hours to fill, & there's only so much interesting one can say about a 3 ½ hour long action film! I found it amusing that DK states at one point in his long commentary that in his opinion one of the reasons critics tend to not like this film is that it just doesn't have much to intellectualize about! I do recommend taking the time to listen to the commentary, but only on your 2nd watching; DK tends to wander all over the place & it's not possible (at least for me) to follow both him & the film.

The set also includes a new 20-minute documentary & a 48-page booklet. Everything about the set (well everything except the color issue at the beginning of scenes) breathes quality; MOC in my mind is the best of the UK boutique labels & 100% on par with the US Criterion imprint; though usually at more reasonable pricing!

To sum up, if you fall into one of the 3 categories of fans I mention in the opening, I recommend owning this movie. If you already own the Image, the question is do you want to spring for the commentary? I personally feel this would be worth buying just for the commentary if one is a huge Lang fan. If you do not already own the Image/Fantamo edition, & if this type of film sounds interesting to you, this one is a no brainer for Lang fans.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2014 3:04 AM GMT

Heimat Fragments: The Women [DVD]
Heimat Fragments: The Women [DVD]
Dvd ~ Edgar Reitz
Price: £5.50

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Out-takes, Awful Framing Story, 16 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I largely agree with the previous reviewer. This is a selection of outtakes/deleted scenes from the 3 Heimat series, woven together with a dreadful framing story featuring Hermann's daughter Lulu.

I enjoyed the outtakes/deleted scenes, but the framing story was so bad & distracting, it's hard for me to believe it was made by the same director who made the 3 stunning Heimat series. He tries to tie each of the deleted scenes into an area of Lulu's current life & it just doesn't work. I would have greatly preferred commentary from Reitz weaving them together, or just the outtakes presented alone.

I would also suggest that if you haven't at minimum seen Heimat 1 & 2, don't even think of buying this as you'll be beyond confused!

Perhaps the Germany only 3 disc edition ties up some of this, but since there are no English subs on the Germany 3 disc, & since the price on the Germany 3 disc is out of my range I may never know!

Reluctantly recommended for Heimat fanatics like me.

Bow Wow Wow
Bow Wow Wow
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.90

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First CD Release Of Teenage Queen EP, 3 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Bow Wow Wow (Audio CD)
Got it today. I have to agree with the previous reviewers, the sound is pretty mediocre. This album did sound tremendous on vinyl (at one time i owned a Japanese pressing), Sinner does start a couple seconds into the song, & while not mentioned in the other reviews, the liner notes are beyond lame.

At the same time, I got it for under $10 USD, & I'm looking at it as paying $9.50 for the Teenage Queen ep on cd.

Complete Carnegie Hall Concert
Complete Carnegie Hall Concert
Price: £11.48

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Sounding Edition, 27 Feb. 2010
This is by far the best sounding edition out there. Superb mastering by Bjorn Almstead, possibly best known for his work with Carl Hällström for Storyville.

All Star Groups & Orchestra - Three Classic Albums Plus (Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson / Lionel Hampton & his Giants /1954 Apollo Hall Concert)
All Star Groups & Orchestra - Three Classic Albums Plus (Gene Krupa, Lionel Hampton, Teddy Wilson / Lionel Hampton & his Giants /1954 Apollo Hall Concert)
Price: £7.47

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Bargain!, 27 Feb. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Some thoughts: Great collection for the price. While it's not Mosaic
quality, the cost delivered to the USA for 3 classic out print albums on 2 cd's + bonus tracks was less then 25% of what Mosaic charges for their 2 cd sets. The sound quality is actually quite good for a budget public domain release, though not perfect.

Listening on my high end system my best guess is that the LH & His Giants material was taken either from the master tape or from another cd, & the other 2 were cleaned up needle drops with some (but not a lot) of vinyl artifacts from somewhat worn vinyl remaining. It also was mastered at a pretty low level. While I'll take quiet mastering over loud compressed mastering any day, this is quiet enough that they likely didn't use all 16 bits. The best sounding of the 3 albums was the Giants, the worst sounding (by far) was the Apollo concert. On the other hand, on my adequate car stereo, the set sounded really good.

If this set is representative of the series,they're a superb value at the price!


From further listening, I now believe the Giants album is also either a needle drop (though a very good one), or from a commercial reel to reel tape, It's missing too much transparency to be from the true master. Still not at all bad sounding for the price, though.

I can only hear this on my high end system, The average stereo will not be transparent enough for most folks to have any sonic concerns with the 2 studio albums.

Passe Ton Bac D'abord [Graduate First] [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]
Passe Ton Bac D'abord [Graduate First] [Masters of Cinema] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sabine Haudepin
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £7.49

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars MOC's Restored Passe Ton Bac D'abord, 29 Nov. 2009
Recently released for the first time on dvd with English subs by MOC.
Interesting experiment by renowned avante garde French director Maurice Pialat with actress Sabine Haudepin & (due to a very low budget) with a cast of amateurs, mostly from the village the film was shot in.

The plot focuses on the fun & hardships of teens growing up in a small village in late 70's France & issues around working class youth trying to find employment. This was my introduction to Pialat & I'm honestly not certain what I think. While it was fairly easy to watch, at the same time it requires quite a bit of focus. Much of the dialogue was said to be improvised with only a rough plot outline for the new actors to follow.

Has some nice extras, which help explain the film; especially the interviews. One odd fact is that an actor who plays a 30 something teacher in the film was said to be teenager Haudepin's boyfriend in real life!

MOC does their usual excellent job of restoring the print. Region free PAL.

Nosferatu (Definitive Fully-restored version with original score) [Masters of Cinema] [1921] [DVD]
Nosferatu (Definitive Fully-restored version with original score) [Masters of Cinema] [1921] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Max Schreck
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £19.99

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Version Ever Of The Best Vampire Film, 8 Nov. 2009
This review has been significantly shortened to fit Amazon.UK's 1,000 word limit.

Let's get the most important thing out of the way: this is by far the best looking version of Nosferatu I've ever seen. Most of the scratches are gone, & while this isn't from a 1st generation print, for the first time in my experience the picture is good enough to clearly see the actors facial expressions, which is essential for silent film & just makes Max Shreck even creepier! If it really was Shreck playing this role, it's a shame that he's otherwise considered an unimportant actor with so little (if anything else) remaining on film, as he's the creepiest vampire in film history. The picture is so clear that for the first time in my experience it's apparent in a scene near the end that part of Shreck's (otherwise amazing) makeup is a piece of cotton stuck to an ear. The image is not quite on a par with the restored Metropolis (which is the best looking 1920's German restoration I've ever seen), but it's quite good. In fact, you can compare pre-restoration scenes from the film in the excellent disc 2 documentary with the restored edition on disc 1 to see just how good the restoration is.

For those not familiar with Nosferatu, here's a BRIEF history. F.W. Murnau, one of the great Expressionist German directors filmed this unauthorized take off on Dracula in 1922. Bram Stoker's widow sued, & all prints were ordered destroyed. Fortunately for us, various collector's & export copies survived & since the 1950's(??) there have been various attempts to reclaim & restore a definitive edition. Based on the editions I've seen & reading about the 2002 BFI that I haven't seen, the current version is by far the best we've got. The clarity varies somewhat (as several prints were used), but it's mainly quite sharp & watchable. The restoration was done by noted Murnau scholar Luciano Berriatúa who also produced the excellent documentary that's on both the Kino & Eureka. There is also a restored musical score that was originally composed for the film in 1922. It's quite nice & it works really well with the film. The fidelity of the 2007 full orchestra recording is a little too good for a film this old; it feels a bit disorienting. They used a combination of the original German title cards, & where not available very close facsimiles. Both the titles & some of the book pages are absolutely gorgeous; it makes me wish I could read German & not ruin the artwork with the English subs!

For me there are 3 minor shortcomings to the film & package:
1. The tinting. This has nothing to due with Eureka; but the yellow tinting is much stronger then the other colors, I wish they would have used a weaker yellow.

2. The book is really nice, but the type is just to small for my 50 year old eye, even with reading glasses. I was able to read the entire book, but it was difficult.

3. I'm a collector, & as such I would have liked a lot more info on how they tracked down the prints used in this, why they're the best, if the principles believe there is any chance of ever improving on this edition, etc. There is a comment in the book that (if I remember correctly) some years ago noted Murnau scholar Lotte Eisner told Berriatúa of a French print that was the best existent & where she believed it was; that was the main print used here (& was new information to me), but again I would have enjoyed lots more detail. The commentary also barely touches on this.

The documentary is excellent. Of the information presented, one thing completely new to me is that Albin Grau who was both the film's producer & art director was a practitioner of Black Magic & a peer of Alistar Crowley; that's likely a big part of why this film feels so real. Both Grau's sets & book pages & Murnau's filming are really well done. The book & documentary also describe a story of Grau meeting a Romanian who told a tale of his father being a real vampire... There also is some useful elaboration on the film's budget problems; they made one of the greatest films of all time on what was basically an Ed Wood budget, which is said to be why much of the film is shot in real locations to save cost. In retrospect, the locations are part of the film's strength & atmosphere. I only find 1 scene hokey; they used a hyena as a werewolf. The commentators actually liked that touch, but I think a real wolf would have been a bit scarier! The documentary, commentary & book all also mention Shadow Of The Vampire, a recent semi fictional biopic on the making of Nosferatu. I highly recommend Shadow. Along with Nosferatu & Lugosi's Dracula, it's one of the top 3 vampire pictures ever.

I chose to be wordy on this, because I really think Nosferatu is the best horror film of all time. The bottom line is that this is a superb restoration. To be honest, at times I felt like i was watching the film for the first time; this restoration is that good. It isn't like the Metropolis restoration where the quality just smacked me in the face; I watched this twice (once with & one without the commentary) & it gradually crept up on me just how much better this edition is.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2014 9:15 AM BST

The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set [DVD] [1922]
The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set [DVD] [1922]
Dvd ~ Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Price: £33.96

66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Set Gets It Right, 29 Oct. 2009
This is a significantly shortened version of a review I wrote that was too long for Amazon UK's policy.

The box includes the most recent restorations of 1922's Dr Mabuse The Gambler, 1933's The Testament Of Dr Mabuse, & Lang's last film, 1960's 1,000 Eyes Of Dr Mabuse. The set also includes an entire disc of extras for the 1922 film, 3 deluxe booklets with essays on each film, & exclusive new commentaries from noted Lang scholar David Kalat. All 3 films have superb image quality, especially considering the age of the films. The set is region free PAL.

The First Mabuse film appeared in 1922. It's based on Norbert Jacques' novel; & perhaps the most important thing to know about the film is the 2nd part of the title: "A Document of Our Times". I have found the German Weimar Republic period (roughly post WW1-around 1932) to be absolutely fascinating. I'm not aware of any other time & place on Earth that was quite this completely decadent. In Mabuse the Gambler, we get a real taste of what life may have been like in Weimar Germany, combined with a who done it thriller, a little bit of horror (the bad Dr controls his subjects by hypnotism), the occasional expressionistic set design , combined with a tremendous script from Lang's soon to be wife Thea Von Harbou & great acting from stars of the time such as Alfred Able (Metropolis), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Von Harbou's former real life husband!), & Gertrude Welker who in my opinion steals the picture as the Countess Told. Mabuse, The Gambler follows Lang's previous thriller The Spiders (1919-1920) & predates the later Spies (which borrowed a bit from Mabuse) & M. It is a 4 ½ hour epic with no dull moments, lots of unexpected plot twists & is a must view for fans of classic film. The production values were way ahead of its time & like Testament it does not appear dated today.

A brief comment on the commentary tracks: I strongly recommend first watching the film without the commentary especially if you haven't seen it before, then going back for a 2nd viewing with commentary. I know this is a huge time commitment (but hey, you spent the $50, right..?) , but in my opinion necessary here. Sometimes with silent film, I'm able to watch the film first time thorough with commentary. Here DK's fascinating commentary wanders all over the place (likely because he has so much time to fill), so that what he's discussing often doesn't synch with what's seen on screen, & even though I've seen this film several times previously I found it challenging to follow both the plot & the commentary at once. Nonetheless, I highly recommend spending the time to listen. I have read tons of background on Lang the last few years & there was still much new to me here & some helpful insights. I recommend the same for the other 2 films, but for different reasons: They have dialogue & DK gives away the twists & turns of the plot.

Now on to Testament: This 1933 classic is Lang's second talkie after the hugely influential M, & is both a sequel to The Gambler & to M, as Otto Wernicke reprises his Inspector Lohman character from M. Rudolf Klein-Rogge once again plays Dr Mabuse, though the character is quite different here then in the 1922 film. While still basically a thriller, this one has the highest horror quotient of the 3 films , & is just superbly well done for the times. It also has a subplot of exposing the early Nazi fascism, though just how deeply is open to a lot of disagreement by critics & historians . Remarkably advanced for being an early sound film, Testament does not feel particularly dated to me, though like the other 2 Lang Mabuse films, it's also very much a film of it's time. This was Lang's last German film until the wonderful 1959 remake of the Indian Tomb.

Finally we jump 27 years forward to 1960 for Lang's final film, 1,000 Eyes Of Dr Mabuse. While on the one hand, it's my least favorite of the 3, it's still got Lang's touch & in my opinion the greatest importance of this film is it's influence on the spy genre. In my opinion, the James Bond series borrowed really heavily from 1,000 Eyes. In fact, when I first saw 1,000 Eyes I really thought of Bond & (to a lesser degree Austin Powers), but again it's very much a period piece of Europe in 1960 & still has lots of intriguing Lang plot twists. 1,000 Eyes takes place completely in a fictional German hotel & this Mabuse is intent on destroying the world . While he also uses hypnotism to control people, the phrase "1,000 Eyes" describes a network of video cameras & televisions.

Another thing that raised my opinion of 1,000 Eyes after watching it for the second time this past week was going back to the 2008 Image release of 3 of the post Lang Mabuse sequels also produced by Artur Brauner & starring several of the same actors. When I first picked up the Image set last year, I was unable to make it through more then a few minutes of the 1st film. Having finally watched the 1st 2 films from the sequels set after watching the 3 Lang films in this box I got a new appreciation for 1,000 Eyes. It's corny in places, but still is a film of reasonable quality & the Cornelius character is pretty spooky. By comparison the 3 sequels (which very much imitate Eyes) often come off as unintentional comedy. The difference? Lang.

I have to stop here due to the word limit, but the set is highly recommended.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 5, 2013 10:38 AM BST

Live From Loreley
Live From Loreley
Price: £12.86

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Music, HORRIBLE Remaster, 10 Sept. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Live From Loreley (Audio CD)
In a nutshell, this is my favorite live Marillion release, & possibly my favorite of all Marillion albums.

Unfortunately, their entire 2 disc remaster series has been RUINED by bright, shrill, loud, PAINFUL compression. Play this on a cheap stereo with no high end & it's almost listenable. Whoever has done the mastering on this series should be ashamed of themselves.

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