Music Jukebox
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Κυριακή, 25 Ιανουαρίου 2009

Track listing

1.  Main Title (The Godfather Waltz) 3:04
2.  I Have But One Heart 2:57
3.  The Pickup 2:56
4.  Connie's Wedding 1:33
5.  The Halls Of Fear 2:12
6.  Sicilian Pastorale 3:01
7.  Love Theme From The Godfather 2:41
8.  The Godfather Waltz 3:38
9.  Apollonia 1:21
10.  The New Godfather 1:58
11.  The Baptism 1:49
12.  The Godfather Finale 3:50

Review by Dan Goldwasser, Sep. 21st 2008

Released with much acclaim and anticipation on DVD back in 2001, the Godfather trilogy featured the three Francis Ford Coppola films over four DVDs, and a fifth DVD of solid extras. Faced with a deteriorating negative, in 2006 Coppola implored Steven Spielberg (whose Dreamworks was a part of the Paramount family) to use his clout to push forward with a restoration of the classic films. Indeed two years later, restored by Robert A. Harris of The Film Preserve (who worked on the Lawrence of Arabia and Vertigo restorations), the Godfather trilogy finally hits the market on Blu-ray disc, in what is likely to be considered the ultimate presentation of the films.

The Godfather chronicles the downfall of mob boss Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) and the rise of his reluctant son Michael (Al Pacino) in his place, during the 1950s. The Godfather Part II (one of the rare instances where a sequel is better than the original) continues the epic story, taking us to the past to show Vito Corleone's (Robert De Niro) rise to power as a new immigrant to America from Sicily at the turn of the century, as well as continuing the story from the first film with Michael's expansion of power into the political realm, and Cuba, just before the revolution. Finally, The Godfather Part III takes place in the late 1970s, and follows Michael's attempt at redemption through religion, but he can't quite escape the life of crime he's established for his family.

The first two films have been painstakingly restored, frame by frame, and it shows. (The third underwent a nice remastering.) The look of these films, as determined by cinematographer Gordon Willis, was to evoke the feeling of an old photograph. High contrast, with whites blown out, and shadows completely dark, grain is apparent but not obtrusive. Colors seem a bit high on the saturated side, with skin tones looking more orange than natural, but that goes more towards the "old photograph" style. Since Gordon Willis consulted on the restoration, I can only imagine that this is exactly what he intended it to look like. The restoration was not 100% a cleaning effort either - there are the occasional specks of dirt, but they're hardly noticeable and when compared to the 2001 DVD, it's immediately obvious how great these Blu-rays look. There is detail in the shadow, which was completely missing from the DVDs. The image is hardly going to be considered a reference quality one, but it is the best these films have looked. For the third film, they remastered it to help match the black levels of the previous two films, so that there is more of a continuity throughout.

All three Godfather films are given the full 5.1 Dolby TrueHD treatment, but it doesn't make much of a difference, except for the occasional sound effect, and some of the music, most of the audio is very much front and center. For purists, the original English mono track is included (for the first two films), as well as French and Spanish 5.1 tracks. The third film benefits most from the 5.1 track, since in 1990 it was more common to use the rears to enhance the sound field. It's not a reference quality track, but is satisfactory and gets the job done.

The supplements are where things really get cracking. First and foremost, the best supplement on these discs remains the original 2001 DVD feature-length commentaries by Coppola himself. The stories he tells about the productions, problems encountered, and even criticism and controversies (especially regarding the casting of his daughter Sophia Coppola in Part III) are all addressed, and it makes for a fascinating dissertation on these films. The fourth Blu-ray disc contains all of the 2001 DVD supplements, as well as some new features created exclusively for the new release.

"The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't" is a 30-minute featurette that goes in depth into the circumstances that were present in the early 1970s that allowed The Godfather to be made. New interviews with such Hollywood heavyweights as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are included, as well as comments by director Francis Ford Coppola, sound editor Walter Murch, and many others who were directly involved with the creation of the film. "Godfather World" runs about 12-minutes long, and shows us interview bits with a slew of Hollywood's finest all talking about the influences that the Godfather films have had on modern filmmaking. The most interesting extra, "Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather" runs almost 20-minutes long, and goes into great detail about the restoration process that helped save the films, and made them look as good as they do today. "When the Shooting Stopped" is a 15-minute look at post-production and editing challenges on the first film. An odd supplement, "The Godfather on the Red Carpet" features various celebrities commenting on the films, taken from the Cloverfield premiere. The misleadingly labeled "Four Short Films on The Godfather" section features not four short films, but really four short featurettes featuring interview outtakes that wouldn't really fit into any larger segments. (The four segments are "The Godfather vs. The Godfather Part II", "Cannoli", "Riffing on Riffing", and "Clemenza".) All of these extras are presented in full HD.

Released on the original 2001 DVD but repurposed for HD is "The Family Tree / The Crime Organization" - a handy breakdown of the relationships (and various rap-sheets) of all the primary characters encountered through the trilogy. As mentioned above, all of the 2001 DVD supplements are included on this disc, in a section labeled appropriately enough to indicate it. "The Godfather Family" is a 75-minute long documentary that was produced during The Godfather Part III, so it doesn't have the hindsight that a newer documentary might have, but it still goes into great detail on the films (with more of an emphasis on the first two, obviously). Seven featurettes cover various aspects of the productions: "The Locations of The Godfather" (locations), "Francis Coppola's Notebook" (novel vs. screenplay, and influences), "The Music of the Godfather" (two featurettes, one on Nino Rota and another on Carmine Coppola), "Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting" (development of the epic saga), "Gordon Willis on Cinematography" (a brief discussion about the look of the film), and finally the original 1971 "Making of The Godfather" featurette, which is basically a dated EPK piece.

A seemingly random collection of "Storyboards" is included as well as an extensive collection of "Photo Galleries", theatrical trailers (in HD), Academy Award acceptance speeches, and other promotional bits. Finally, the bulk of the disc is taken up with nearly an hour of "Additional Scenes" grouped through a "Historical Timeline". Most of these scenes were used in the "chronological" television version of the film, and are presented in standard definition. A shame these couldn't be restored either, and the deleted scenes from Part III have an annoying workprint "Property of Paramount" burn-in on the screen the whole time.

Overall, this is the best presentation that the Godfather films will be likely to get on home video. The new supplements are great, and the old supplements are still excellent - this is a no brainer, and if you don't already have a Blu-ray player, then The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration should be enough of a reason to upgrade right away.



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Σάββατο, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2009

Track listing

1.  Musica Ricercata, II (Mesto, Rigido E Cerimoniale)  
2.  Waltz 2 From Jazz Suite  
3.  Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing  
4.  When I Fall In Love  
5.  I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)  
6.  Naval Officer  
7.  The Dream  
8.  Masked Ball  
9.  Migrations  
10.  If I Had You  
11.  Strangers In The Night  
12.  Blame It On My Youth  
13.  Grey Clouds  
14.  Musica Ricercata II (Mesto, Rigido E Cerimoniale)

Review by James Barry on May 10th 2003

  Like most Kubrick films, Eyes Wide Shut was scored mostly with pre-existing music. Even the original score for the film served mainly to re-work pre-existing material. And what will everybody remember from this one? In all likelihood, the three-note piece by Ligeti, which sounds like the tinkering of a child who has not yet begun to discover the joys of the other dozens of keys on a piano. This piece works amazingly in the film, but on it's own, it's dull as a spoon (and twice, at that!).

As for me, I rather like the "Waltz" by Shostakovich. Again, an instance of Kubrick choosing music that fits the film like a glove, but this time, it's a piece that is actually enjoyable outside the film. Who would have thought? There's actually a fairly amusing story behind Shostakovich's calling the piece a "Jazz Suite," but I'll not go into that. As for the other jazz on the album, it passes without incident, really nothing bad at all, but nothing extraordinary. As for Liszt, I'd sooner take his symphonic poems than the solo piano piece, "Grey Clouds". (Additionally, I really don't recall where the piece on the album played in the film).

So what's left? Chris Isaak's "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing" is a blast - and far and away the most accessible thing on this album (which is arguably the ultimate example of Kubrick's fickle and diverse musical tastes). After that, we have the original score by Jocelyn Pook. Who is Jocelyn Pook? As it turns out, a composer/performer whose work Kubrick had heard in a concert and it struck his fancy. How's her music? At the risk of sounding unmusical, I'll go with "creepy". "Masked Ball" (which was one of the pieces re-worked for the film at Kubrick's request) is wonderful, bringing to mind what I thought to be the strongest scene - visually and aurally - in the film. The two cues composed for the film - "Naval Officer" and "The Dream" - are haunting minimalist inventions, heavy on the strings, with solo players providing the melodic flow to accompany repeating ostinatos from the rest of the players. "Migrations" is, in my opinion, the least of Pook's contributions. While I tend to enjoy Eastern-influenced music in general, this piece really just doesn’t do it for me; I tend to hit the repeat button rather than letting the album play through this far.

All in all, a nice album to have around if you're prone to mood swings (especially in your musical interests!), and one that will certainly bring to mind images of the film for any who have experienced it. Whether that is good or bad is up to you - and that's how Kubrick would have wanted it.




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Τρίτη, 20 Ιανουαρίου 2009
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Τετάρτη, 17 Δεκεμβρίου 2008

The last few decades have seen the blues move from being a vital form of expression - giving voice to the concerns of the daily lives of first sharecroppers and then those huddled in the back streets of poor black city neighborhoods - to become a heritage industry. With every year that passes, fewer of the original bluesman are left standing. Incredibly, at the time of writing, David "Honeyboy Edwards" and Robert Lockwood Jr. both of whom played with Robert Johnson, were still with us, but the connection with the pre-war world of the Mississippi Delta will soon inevitably be lost forever. New stars have emerged, but there has been nobody of sufficient stature to take the place of the pioneers who shaped and molded the blues into the institution it is today. as Giles Oakley put it in a 1997 afterword to a new edition of his 1976 book 'The Devil's Music', "It is still possible to hear plenty of magnificent music, live or on record. But what is far less easy to find is the new-direction innovator".



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Σάββατο, 13 Δεκεμβρίου 2008

The blues has been said to be at a crossroads many times in its hundred-year history, but the dawn of the 1960s was a particularly critical juncture. Big social changes were in the air. Five years earlier in 1955, the 43-year-old black seamstress Rosa Parks had refused to give up her seat to a white man on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Civil Rights movement had become a moral crusade. Segregation and racial injustice in the deep South were still a fact of daily life, but the march on Washington at the end of August 1963, at which Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I have a dream" speech, proved that the tide could not be halted.



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