05 Apr 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 7. Mini-"ARGH's!" (Previews & Peeks), 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL- “ARGH!” – “Street Angel” Review – PREVIEW


Tomorrow “ARGH!” contributing writer Jonas Erickson focuses on director Frank Borzage’s Street Angel (1928) in Wednesday’s BL- “ARGH!”

Come back to learn something!

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02 Mar 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 2. Weekday "ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “The Silent Skirmish”


During Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony, Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award winner Francis Ford Coppola and Honorary Oscar® recipients Kevin Brownlow and Eli Wallach walked together onto Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre’s stage to rousing applause.

Few viewers at home (or in the theatre audience … and seemingly the entire Hollywood press for that matter) would have known that the relationship between Coppola and Brownlow has been a long, complicated, and contentious one.

“ARGH!” Central’s guest contributor Jonas Erickson explains how a classic silent film is at the center of their storm.

Click – HERE – for the complete Wednesday BL-”ARGH!”!

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02 Mar 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “The Silent Skirmish”


When Kevin Brownlow completed years of restoration work on Napoleon (1927) – Abel Gance’s culminating work of the silent cinema – Francis Ford Coppola sought the right to distribute the film in the United States. Although Coppola had nothing to do with the years of painstaking research and reconstruction efforts, he demanded that the film conform to a strict 4 hour running time. Reluctantly, cuts were made, the film re-edited, re-tinted and toned, and wrongly projected at full sound speed, compromising Brownlow’s five hour long restoration. Coppola’s father, Carmine, provided a score. Here, as elsewhere, the premiere of Napoleon at the Radio City Music Hall was greeted with much acclaim and fanfare. Coppola reaped much glory while Kevin Brownlow remained a marginal figure in the minds of the American public.

Brownlow has since further restored another half hour of Gance’s epic. This 2000 restoration did not simply extend length; materials previously only available in 16/17.5 mm reduction prints have now been replaced by superior 35 mm elements and new digital restoration equipment has revealed a quality of image that simply could not be obtained twenty years earlier. Certainly, such work is deserving of high honor and our utmost gratitude… Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t think so.

Coppola will not permit a release of this latest restoration in the United States and has even threatened lawsuits should it be exhibited overseas (victory – Napoleon has screened in Europe unobstructed.) Why does Coppola want to suppress an achievement so important to anyone who cares about this art form? Embarrassingly enough, petty nepotism may be the reason.

Coppola supposedly wants his father’s score alone to accompany the film. In this digital day and age, it is nearly impossible to believe that THIS is our Gordian Knot. One can only assume that Coppola just wants a cut of the money.

Francis Ford Coppola might have a piece of the 1980 edition but what of Kevin Brownlow’s quite substantial subsequent work on the film? What right does Coppola have to a film personally bestowed to Brownlow by Mr. Gance himself? Coppola has no moral right to claim this work as his own, surely a judge would recognize this and rule in favor of Brownlow and the British Film Institute. Right?

Perhaps, but Coppola is ruthless and Brownlow and the publicly-funded BFI lack the cash reserves that Coppola (backed by Universal) could simply toss away. A prolonged legal battle would place Brownlow and his endeavors in a difficult position. Stalemate.

So Napoleon remains frozen, currently too complicated to exhibit theatrically on a widespread basis, exiled to the vaults. This film constitutes Kevin Brownlow’s life work, a half century of study, fragment collecting, preservation, writing, and restoration have been lavished on this one film. The profound impression that Abel Gance’s masterpiece has left on Brownlow has only left a positive impact on film and film history. Coppola’s inexcusable behavior, his hypocrisy, foolishness, and greed, is a disgrace.

- Jonas Erickson

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01 Mar 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 7. Mini-"ARGH's!" (Previews & Peeks), 0 Comments Tagged , , , , ,

mini-”ARGH!” – “The Silent Skirmish” – Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – Preview


Why has there been little ink about the contentious relationship between this year’s Honorary Oscar winner Kevin Brownlow and Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipient Francis Coppola?

Tomorrow’s BL-”ARGH!” entry breaks the silence.

Click HERE for previous Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” entries!

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16 Feb 2011, Posted by arghcentral in 5. Wednesday BL-"ARGH!", 0 Comments Tagged , , , , , , ,

Wednesday BL-”ARGH!” – “A Man Escaped”


A Man Escaped (French: Un condamné à mort s’est échappé)

France, 1956, Gaumont Film Company

Directed by Robert Bresson

What Robert Bresson accomplished with A Man Escaped is everything the generic thriller aims for but rarely achieves: extreme highs and lows, expectation, tension and suspense. A Man Escaped, however, is no thriller.

Bresson’s path is straight but not narrow. Every shot, glance, action, thought, and sound exists to reflect the inner condition. Austerity, coolness, no apparent emotion, all suggestion. Bresson does not allow his performers to exhibit feeling. Camera movement, composition, editing, and sound design replace the conventional human expression found in acting. It is documentary divorced from reality and remarried to dramatic fiction, naturalism that isn’t at the service of phony “realism” but abstraction.

The title itself betrays precisely what happens in the film; a Lieutenant of the French Resistance is arrested, sentenced to death, and escapes. This is the story of André Devigny, told to a T, no detail left untouched. This is only the plot of the film, so what is it about this picture, one that lays all of its cards out before us, that is so emotionally stirring? The condition of salvation, of freedom, both existential and spiritual.

– Jonas Erickson

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