Sunday and Rosemary Do Lunch

Last Wednesday I had lunch with two upcoming Criterion Blurays — Sunday Bloody Sunday (out 10.23) and Rosemary’s Baby (out 10.30). They met me at Le Pain Quotidien at 12:30 pm. We chose a quiet table and ordered tomato and mozzarella salads and lemonade all around.

Hollywood Elsewhere: Thanks for coming, fellas. I know you’ve been busy recently.

Rosemary’s Baby Bluray: Not at all, Jeff. Thanks for the invite.

Sunday Bloody Sunday Bluray: Good to be here.

HE: So when you guys were movies back in the prehistoric celluloid days, you came out within…what, three years of each other?

RM Bluray: I came out on June 12, 1968 and Sunday was almost exactly…

SBS Bluray: I think it was almost exactly three years later, on July 1, 1971 in England. And in early September of ’71 in the States.

HE: Have you guys met before this?

RB Bluray: Never. But why would we? (to SBS Bluray) You good?

SBS Bluray: I’m good. As I’m sure you are. It’s gratifying to be getting some new attention after 40-odd years.

HE: You guys never played as a double-bill somewhere? At the Carnegie Hall or Bleecker Street Cinema or the Thalia back in the ’70s?

SBS Bluray: Not to my recollection.

RB Bluray: Maybe we did. Who remembers? [Laughter]

HE: In any case, for those who aren’t up to speed I’d like to review some basics. Sunday, you were produced and shot in England but released by major distributors in every country. I think United Artists released you in the U.S., if I’m not mistaken?

SBS Bluray: Correct.

HE: And Rosemary, you were shot in the U.S. and released by Paramount.

RB Bluray: Right.

HE: And being non-Scope films, you were both projected in the same flat format in the same theatres in both the U.S. and England, presumably with the same lenses and aperture plates and yaddah-yaddah. Same all around.

RB Bluray: Presumably.

SBS Bluray: Okay…I see where you’re going with this.

HE: Where am I going?

SBS Bluray: We came out in roughly the same era, and we’re both being released as Criterion Blurays in October, both of us mastered by the same Criterion technicians and creatives, and yet I’m being issued with a 1.66 aspect ratio.

RB Bluray: Oh, God…!

SBS Bluray: And Rosemary’s Baby is coming out at 1.85. [Melodramatically] Why is that?

HE: Okay, how come?

SBS Bluray: Because I was produced and shot in England, a country that was rolling with 1.66 at the time. It’s a gesture to British theatrical tradition.

HE: But your director, the late John Schlesinger, was operating in the same theatrical and commercial realm as Roman Polanski, the director of Rosemary’s Baby.

RB Bluray: Sure.

HE: Schlesinger was British but he was very much a part of the U.S. film industry. He’d directed Midnight Cowboy in ’68, of course. And both Schlesinger and Polanski, who’d come from Poland but was a British resident in the mid ’60s when he made Repulsion and who understood the system they had…they both knew that the lion’s share of their support and funding came from the U.S. film industry so there were no illusions about how most people — Americans, I mean — would see their films, which was within a 1.85 aspect ratio.

SBS Bluray: John knew that. Of course he did. But being a British-born filmmaker, he composed me so I’d look good at 1.66 as well as 1.85.

HE: As I’m sure Polanski did with Rosemary. He knew there were two systems. So why, then, has Criterion chosen to show you, Sunday, with a 1.66 aspect ratio when the reality was that very few if any viewers in the U.S. saw you at 1.66. To hear it from Bob Furmanek and Bob Harris and others, 1.85 was the absolute rule in the U.S. going back to the ’50s. So why haven’t you been Furmaneked, Sunday? Don’t get me wrong…

RB Bluray: [Amused] Yeah, what is this?

HE: I love that you’re coming out at 1.66. Really.

RB Bluray: But how come Criterion has given you more height than me?

HE: Because Polanski told them you’re coming out at 1.85. He ordered it.

RB Bluray: Then why did he approve Repulsion at 1.66? Just because he shot it in England? Presumably Criterion is bringing out Sunday at 1.66 for the same reason, because it was shot in England. But who cares at this point? That was forty odd years ago.

HE: We all live in a 16 x 9 world these days. When it comes to rectangular images and aspect ratios, I mean. Thank God some people have held the line with 1.66 here and there and 1.33 or 1.37 in the case of pre-1953 films , but it’s all very, very abitrary.

  • Sperky

    and the winner of the most retarded post in internet history IS- come on down Wells! Take a bow!

  • Jesse Crall

    This was bizarre..

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I know it’s really difficult to assess information and react to content and all that, but apart from saying “that was really bizarre” and “whoa, what was that?” and “wow, that was unusual!” and other reactions that a typical 13 year-old might share, what did you guys think of the points that were raised?

  • RobbyH

    I like it, Jeff. Never bad to try something different. :)

  • Jesse Crall

    Jeff, you don’t want my opinion on this. You want to lay out yours and have people either agree with you or provide enough contrarian heat to bump up page hits. Fine with me, this post made me laugh, but I watch most old films at revival houses and generally only VOD comedies and low-budget flicks that look fine on a 22 inch tv. In terms of aspect ratio arguments as they pertain to released Criterion films, I’m out of my element…I don’t know why Polanski would approve 1:85 for Rosemary while Repulsion was 1:66; I think it makes sense to release aspect ratios EXACTLY how they were shown in theatres. But that presents a problem because widescreen looks fantastic at the cinema and crappy at home. Having a 50 inch tv mitigates it a little, but there’s always going to be something lost by watching a film at home unless you have a screening room.

  • T. J. Kong

    “what did you guys think of the points that were raised?”

    You should have stopped at:

    ” Because I was produced and shot in England, a country that was rolling with 1.66 at the time.”

    And Rosemary wasn’t. End of discussion.

  • cyanic

    I prefer narrower presentations of 1.85 movies on home video too but 16:9 is the new 4:3.

  • Krillian

    Let’s just say I’m really really glad the days of pan-n-scan are gone.

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  • Sperky

    Wells talks to inanimate objects and imagines responses. Wells buys them salads. An earlier version of this conversation had the DVDS asking how long the Restaurant was there.
    Wells probably plans to shoot up a theatre tonight.

  • Cadavra

    A very well-written and amusing piece, but at the end of the day: What T.J. said (#6).

  • Rael

    Where was this anger for all the years that FFC refused to release APOCALYPSE NOW at the correct ratio? A sin only washed away by the BR version? Just to name one of the many that Wells seems to ignore.

  • Travis Actiontree

    The BluRays haven’t asked you to start fires or “finally make people pay for what they’ve done”, have they?

  • http://www.arthousecowboy.com Moises Chiullan

    If anyone who reads Jeff dislikes the idea of his having imaginary conversations with humanoid embodiments of Blu-rays, please see yourself to the door. This is why I love reading Jeff. Nobody writes stuff like this.

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  • Ghost of Kazan

    From this point onward, I fully expect you to use the term “Polanskied” wherever you would have previously used “Furmaneked.” After all, Furmanek is only trying to protect the wishes of the true villains in this scenario: those goddamn directors and their creativity. It’s not his fault they’re doing it all wrong.

    And thank you, RB Bluray, for getting the last word in.

  • aaronhal9000

    Your Blurays are talking to you now? Hahaha. This blog just keeps getting better. :)

  • GeorgePrager

    The Funhouse walks over carrying a sandwich and a large coke and sits down at an empty seat at the table.

    Hollywood Elsewhere: Hey, man, that’s seat’s taken.

    TF:The seat’s empty. You can’t just claim empty seats in a food court.

    HE: We’re pretending it’s Le Pain Quotidie,

    TF: Well, I got this sandwich at Au Bon Pain, so we’re even.

    Rosemary’s Baby:Buddy, this seat is reserved for Quadrophenia, he’s due in late August.

    TF: Tough shit, I’m The Funhouse. I’m due out on Bluray in October. So fuck you. You ain’t better than me. What’s that you’re eating anyway, Pierre?

    RB: A tomato and mozzerella salad.

    TF: NIce.

    SBS:< ./b> Look Sir, we’re trying to have a conversation here.

    TF:So have one. I’ve got an aspect ratio of 2.35 : 1, so I’ve got nothing to hide. What’s yours, dude?

    SBS:< ./b> 1.66

    TF: (Spits out a piece of his sandwich). 1.66!!! That’s for pussies. I also got a cleft-headed albino as a killer. Beat that.

  • Still Ray

    Prager…. that’s impressive. Outstanding even.

    (Bows)

  • Jesse Crall

    Prager is the Bizarro DZ.

    And I wouldn’t mind ‘Blu-Ray Chat’ becoming a regular feature.

  • Mr. F.

    And after lunch, they all went back to Wells’ place, got drunk, and had the BEST. THREESOME. EVER.

  • Raising_Kaned

    LOL.

    It’s posts like this that make you realize that it’s really no coincidence at all that HE has among the strangest — yet coolest! — group of readers/commenters in the entire Blogosphere (yeah, I know — terrible word; I winced when I typed it, too).

  • Raising_Kaned

    D.Z. says…

    So basically Criterion’s Rosemary’s Baby Blu-Ray is Polanski, and the company’s upcoming disc of The Game is Geimer?

  • Ghost of Kazan

    Hey, now Jeff has redacted RB Bluray’s last word. Chop chop chop!

  • scooterzz

    oh, great!…now i have an entire shelf of dvds complaining that i never take them to lunch…

  • kdoucette

    The 3 of you had lunch and didn’t bother to invite Women in Love? How dare you! No man-on-man nude wrestling scenes for you!

    Then again, SBS goes all the way…

  • Bob Hightower

    Jeff, WTF? — your pal Roman

  • moviemorlock

    This is about as close to the Chewbacca defense as one is ever going to get. It does not make sense!!

  • creepingmalaise

    Did the RB Bluray wear those atrocious mauve shoes again?

  • Floyd Thursby

    If RB had sex with SBS, the any resulting biological consequence would be very like JW.

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  • Franco Copola

    If anyone who reads Jeff dislikes the idea of his having imaginary conversations with humanoid embodiments of Blu-rays, please see yourself to the door. This is why I love reading Jeff. Nobody writes stuff like this.
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  • Mauro Picotto

    From this point onward, I fully expect you to use the term “Polanskied” wherever you would have previously used “Furmaneked.” After all, Furmanek is only trying to protect the wishes of the true villains in this scenario: those goddamn directors and their creativity. It’s not his fault they’re doing it all wrong.
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    Where was this anger for all the years that FFC refused to release APOCALYPSE NOW at the correct ratio? A sin only washed away by the BR version? Just to name one of the many that Wells seems to ignore. computer repair washington mo

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    Then again, SBS goes all the way…
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    The BluRays haven’t asked you to start fires or “finally make people pay for what they’ve done”, have they?

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    Jeff, you don’t want my opinion on this. You want to lay out yours and have people either agree with you or provide enough contrarian heat to bump up page hits. Fine with me, this post made me laugh, but I watch most old films at revival houses and generally only VOD comedies and low-budget flicks that look fine on a 22 inch tv. In terms of aspect ratio arguments as they pertain to released Criterion films, I’m out of my element…I don’t know why Polanski would approve 1:85 for Rosemary while Repulsion was 1:66; I think it makes sense to release aspect ratios EXACTLY how they were shown in theatres. But that presents a problem because widescreen looks fantastic at the cinema and crappy at home. Having a 50 inch tv mitigates it a little, but there’s always going to be something lost by watching a film at home unless you have a screening room.
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    A intelligent and graceful adult drama with two powerhouse performances by Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson. About the absence of love, that involves a bisexual triangle between a gay Jewish doctor and a loney middleaged woman who are both having a affair and are in love with the same shallow young boyish sculptor

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