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Thief (Criterion edition) comments regarding transfer

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Thief (Criterion edition) comments regarding transfer

Old 07-09-14, 12:19 AM
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Thief (Criterion edition) comments regarding transfer

Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
Shit. I bought Thief cuz of the sale. I knew wtf was done to it. Technically speaking, this is a gorgeous image.

Can't grasp why Mann believes EVEN when using the negative as a color reference... That changing color is beneficial to the film.

Fucking great film though. Jesus. It's so goddamn good.
The original 35 mm answer print was used for color reference. It's likely that Thief was handled poorly for broadcast/home video releases that probably weren't supervised by Michael Mann and probably didn't have access to the original print for reference. Back then there wasn't a demand to recreate accuracy to theatrical experience, they wanted to make movies look good on broadcast/DVD which were different technologies with limitations different from film projection. We just got used to those versions that featured boosted contrast and pushed reds, and assume that they are "correct."
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Old 07-09-14, 10:06 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
The original 35 mm answer print was used for color reference. It's likely that Thief was handled poorly for broadcast/home video releases that probably weren't supervised by Michael Mann and probably didn't have access to the original print for reference. Back then there wasn't a demand to recreate accuracy to theatrical experience, they wanted to make movies look good on broadcast/DVD which were different technologies with limitations different from film projection. We just got used to those versions that featured boosted contrast and pushed reds, and assume that they are "correct."
The teal color grading fad is not something that existed in 1981. Not in theaters. Not anywhere. The ubiquity of teal started with the advent of the Digital Intermediate process in the early 2000s.

This would not be the first time that a filmmaker or studio has claimed to use an original answer print (that no one in the public will ever be allowed to see) as a color reference as an excuse to completely digitally revise the visual look of a movie to something it never looked like before. Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the more notorious examples of that.
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Old 07-09-14, 10:25 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
The teal color grading fad is not something that existed in 1981. Not in theaters. Not anywhere. The ubiquity of teal started with the advent of the Digital Intermediate process in the early 2000s.

This would not be the first time that a filmmaker or studio has claimed to use an original answer print (that no one in the public will ever be allowed to see) as a color reference as an excuse to completely digitally revise the visual look of a movie to something it never looked like before. Bram Stoker's Dracula is one of the more notorious examples of that.
Michael Mann's crime movies are never vivid or colorful, when I look at the broadcast version of Thief where people had pink skin, that doesn't look like a Michael Mann movie to me. The Criterion release looks much closer to his typical style, it also has a much more film-like look. From theater to theater a projectionist could botch the color or framing and who knows what prints were used for home video releases.

If the director is supervising a transfer from an original answer print, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt over how his film was originally supposed to look rather than assume the earlier home video releases "got it right." I don't buy the argument that 'films didn't look like this in the 80s!" because I've seen plenty of films with stylized color timing dating back to the 70s. All of the evidence points to Criterion Collection version of Thief being the closest to the desired color timing.

This is the broadcast version of Thief:


This is the Criterion:



The latter looks more like one of Mann's crime movies, which all have stylized looks. In the first image that guy looks like me after a day at the beach.

Spoiler:


Spoiler:

Last edited by DaveyJoe; 07-09-14 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 07-09-14, 10:37 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

I thought Thief was gorgeously restored as well on the Criterion, that was the best part of the movie for me. Unfortunately, when it was said and done, the movie just did not do it for me. The ending completely made me shake my head, especially when it had been pretty good until that point.
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Old 07-09-14, 12:00 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
The latter looks more like one of Mann's crime movies, which all have stylized looks.


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Old 07-09-14, 12:04 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by inri222 View Post


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Old 07-09-14, 02:50 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Michael Mann's crime movies are never vivid or colorful, when I look at the broadcast version of Thief where people had pink skin, that doesn't look like a Michael Mann movie to me.
I'm not saying that the broadcast version is correct either. However, the broadcast version being too pink does not mean that the teal-and-orange version automatically must be correct. They are both wrong, just in different ways.

From theater to theater a projectionist could botch the color or framing and who knows what prints were used for home video releases.
A theater projectionist could not alter the color of a movie to make something that was allegedly teal magically look pink. The colors are printed on the film strip. All a projectionist does is shine light through it onto a screen.

A projectionist could screw up the framing, sure. He could turn the lamp down too low and make the whole thing look dim. But he can't alter the colors on the film strip.

If the director is supervising a transfer from an original answer print, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt over how his film was originally supposed to look rather than assume the earlier home video releases "got it right."
Michael Mann has an extensive history of continually tinkering with and changing his old movies after-the-fact. Most of his movies (including Thief) are only available on home video in "Director's Cut" versions with the original theatrical cuts tossed in the trash can.

This is the guy you're counting on to accurately preserve the original photographic intention?

I don't buy the argument that 'films didn't look like this in the 80s!" because I've seen plenty of films with stylized color timing dating back to the 70s.
Were any of them teal-and-orange? No, not a single one.

All of the evidence points to Criterion Collection version of Thief being the closest to the desired color timing.
It's the color timing that Michael Mann desires today, which has absolutely nothing to do with the color timing that Michael Mann desired in 1981.

The latter looks more like one of Mann's crime movies, which all have stylized looks.
You're basing this on the Blu-ray editions of Mann's other films, which were also tealified years after-the-fact.

That shot of the judge with the teal face and the teal Abraham Lincoln portrait behind him looks absolutely godawful to me.
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Old 07-09-14, 03:11 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
I'm not saying that the broadcast version is correct either. However, the broadcast version being too pink does not mean that the teal-and-orange version automatically must be correct. They are both wrong, just in different ways.
What is the correct color timing, and how do you know?


Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
Michael Mann has an extensive history of continually tinkering with and changing his old movies after-the-fact. Most of his movies (including Thief) are only available on home video in "Director's Cut" versions with the original theatrical cuts tossed in the trash can.

This is the guy you're counting on to accurately preserve the original photographic intention?
Yes, unless Donald Thurin comes out and says Mann changed the colors from their original vision in 1981, Michael Mann is the best person to judge how the film was supposed to look upon release.


Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
Were any of them teal-and-orange? No, not a single one.
There is plenty of variety of color in the Thief criterion, some of the shots have a stylized look, but there isn't a consistent teal tint throughout the entire movie.



Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
You're basing this on the Blu-ray editions of Mann's other films, which were also tealified years after-the-fact.
Proof?
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Old 07-09-14, 03:32 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

That's thing that gets me. Exterior day shots...are not messed with. They look amazing. BUT once you get into an interior or night shot it gets that "color issue" in it.

Who the fuck saw this when it was released? I saw the DVD and it looked fine. Sure it wasn't perfect but it seemed like it was mostly in the intent that was intended to be seen. Not perfect but it looked like it was supposed to mostly be like that.

Not a barometer for truth but even on the CC BD..the trailer for this film doens't have color scheme that the BD gives the film. That didn't happen back in the day. It MAY happen like that now cuz we have that ability but not in that era.



Mann is known to change up his films on home video. I'm willing to believe that Mann concreted his color schemes later on but I don't think his visual in color extended to Thief.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:04 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Of course we see discrepancies in color timing when it comes to trailers versus the final film version all the time. They're often made before post production is complete, I don't know if that was the case when Thief was made, but it may not be definitive proof. I just don't know why Mann and Criterion would use the original answer print specifically as a color reference if Mann was just going to use whatever the hell color timing he felt like.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:21 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

well CC is at the whim of Mann. Or to be exact... they allow themselves to be at the whim of the filmmakers they work with.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:23 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

All I've gathered from this discussion is that I really need to watch Thief. Soon.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:30 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by kefrank View Post
Obviously a different director, but that's how I feel about another film that Criterion released: The Game. I have no desire to see it again because of the ending.
The premise by the time you find out wtf is up by the end is stretching of a reality but it worked out for me.

Originally Posted by Kedrix View Post
I thought Thief was gorgeously restored as well on the Criterion, that was the best part of the movie for me. Unfortunately, when it was said and done, the movie just did not do it for me. The ending completely made me shake my head, especially when it had been pretty good until that point.
Really? I thought it was awesome. Very manly man of an ending.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:38 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
well CC is at the whim of Mann. Or to be exact... they allow themselves to be at the whim of the filmmakers they work with.
Well you ask Michael Mann to take the time to supervise a transfer for his movie and he tells you what's up. Who are they to say: "No, Mike, that's too teal 80s movies didn't look like this, WTF?" That would be awkward, and they need to stay on his good side so he'll work with him in the future for their release of Manhunter().

Originally Posted by Dan View Post
All I've gathered from this discussion is that I really need to watch Thief. Soon.
Definitely set aside an evening to watch it, it's awesome, and it looks stunning on the Criterion BluRay.

Originally Posted by Solid Snake View Post
Really? I thought it was awesome. Very manly man of an ending.
Yeah, I may have been underwhelmed the first time I saw it, but while re-watching the other night I thought the ending was perfect.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:40 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Solid Snake;12163647 regarding Thief's Ending

Really? I thought it was awesome. Very manly man of an ending.

Very manly man ending? Absolutely. Did it make sense in the context of the movie? In my opinion, absolutely not.

Spoiler:

Seriously though. Here is my beef. Okay, so the thief kicks his wife out and she leaves with their adopted child. Then he blows up his house, blows up his car dealership (probably blows something else up cause we love explosions.), and then walks into bad guy's house and kills everybody. Here is the messed up part, he then gets shot at the end, only to show that he has a bullet proof vest underneath on as he walks off.

Here is my point, either A)if he has a bulletproof vest, then why kick his wife and child to the curb? He could just go off and re-find them and live happily ever after or B)If he feels the need to kick his wife and child to the curb to protect them and subsequently blows up everything he owns, then why bother wearing a bulletproof vest? He seems like he would have nothing to live for and would go out in a blaze of glory.

Again these are just my opinion, but that was my take.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:53 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Kedrix View Post
Very manly man ending? Absolutely. Did it make sense in the context of the movie? In my opinion, absolutely not.

Spoiler:

Seriously though. Here is my beef. Okay, so the thief kicks his wife out and she leaves with their adopted child. Then he blows up his house, blows up his car dealership (probably blows something else up cause we love explosions.), and then walks into bad guy's house and kills everybody. Here is the messed up part, he then gets shot at the end, only to show that he has a bullet proof vest underneath on as he walks off.

Here is my point, either A)if he has a bulletproof vest, then why kick his wife and child to the curb? He could just go off and re-find them and live happily ever after or B)If he feels the need to kick his wife and child to the curb to protect them and subsequently blows up everything he owns, then why bother wearing a bulletproof vest? He seems like he would have nothing to live for and would go out in a blaze of glory.

Again these are just my opinion, but that was my take.
Spoiler:
Frank's entire life resolves around his independence. He grew up state raised then spent his entire adult life in prison. He doesn't know how real relationships work, his dream of a family is a fantasy montage made from magazine photos. But he wants this fantasy so he breaks his one rule of independence by joining up with Leo so he can fast-track the family life.

Of course he discovers that Leo won't let him be his own man, he will own him forever, and if Frank bucks, Leo will destroy his family. So Frank beats him to the punch, he dissolves his family, destroys his material possessions and then kills the man that lied to him, and sought to own him. It's not ideal, but Frank knows he brought this outcome on himself. His family will always be at risk because of his profession, so he pushes them away for their own safety. You have to remember his speech in the diner about his time in prison: “You gotta forget time. You gotta not give a fuck if you live or die. You gotta get to where nothing means nothing . . . I survived because I achieved that mental attitude.” This attitude leads to his actions in the finale when Leo pushes him too far.
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Old 07-09-14, 05:08 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Yep. Frank fucked himself over and now he had people he loved at risk. Made sense.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:05 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Spoiler:
Frank's entire life resolves around his independence. He grew up state raised then spent his entire adult life in prison. He doesn't know how real relationships work, his dream of a family is a fantasy montage made from magazine photos. But he wants this fantasy so he breaks his one rule of independence by joining up with Leo so he can fast-track the family life.

Of course he discovers that Leo won't let him be his own man, he will own him forever, and if Frank bucks, Leo will destroy his family. So Frank beats him to the punch, he dissolves his family, destroys his material possessions and then kills the man that lied to him, and sought to own him. It's not ideal, but Frank knows he brought this outcome on himself. His family will always be at risk because of his profession, so he pushes them away for their own safety. You have to remember his speech in the diner about his time in prison: “You gotta forget time. You gotta not give a fuck if you live or die. You gotta get to where nothing means nothing . . . I survived because I achieved that mental attitude.” This attitude leads to his actions in the finale when Leo pushes him too far.
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Old 07-09-14, 11:16 PM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
What is the correct color timing, and how do you know?
The correct color timing is somewhere in between the two extremes of the pink broadcast version and the teal Blu-ray version.

How do I know? Because I was alive and studying movies in the 1980s, and have enough knowledge of filmmaking and film history to recognize that the teal-and-orange fad started much later. I was there when teal-and-orange started to overtake Hollywood. That didn't occur in the 1980s. It happened when Digital Intermediates came on the scene in the early 2000s, and it has unfortunately stuck around ever since.

Unlike many people, I am also able to discern the difference between the colors blue and teal. Even many prominent filmmakers cannot. In his commentary track on The Town, Ben Affleck talks about wanting to give the photography a blue overcast. The color blue does not appear anywhere in that film. It's all teal, teal, teal. When the characters drive past Boston Harbor, the water is bright teal like the goddamn Caribbean. It's laughable.

Yes, unless Donald Thurin comes out and says Mann changed the colors from their original vision in 1981, Michael Mann is the best person to judge how the film was supposed to look upon release.
One might have assumed that William Friedkin was the best person to judge how The French Connection was supposed to look upon release. Yet when he supervised the first Blu-ray release of that film, William Friedkin tinted the whole movie purple. Because William Friedkin lost his f-ing marbles sometime between the time he made The French Connection and the present day.

Filmmakers are not gods. They are not infallible. They're just people. Sometimes they screw up and make bad decisions.

The danger of the digital toolkits available today is that they allow filmmakers to very easily make wholesale changes to their old movies decades after the fact. When Michael Mann supervised the Blu-ray color grading for Thief, he didn't base the colors on how he photographed the movie in 1981. He graded it how he thinks the movie should look today, based on his personal preferences thirty years removed.

Mann also made new changes to the editing, beyond those from the last home video "Director's Cut." He treated the Blu-ray as his opportunity to conform the film to his current whims, as a director thirty years older than when he originally made it.

Like George Lucas, Michael Mann is an obsessive tinkerer. In his mind, his movies are never "done," and constantly need new updates to bring them in line with his current feelings about them.

Every time Mann supervises a new home video release of one of his films, he makes changes to it. The cut of Heat available on Blu-ray is not the theatrical cut. Mann removed a few lines of Al Pacino's dialogue, because he decided with a re-viewing that he didn't like them anymore.

I've lost count of how many different versions of Manhunter there are. Even copies labeled the "Theatrical Cut" are not really the actual theatrical cut. In one of his commentary tracks for that movie, Mann talks about his favorite line of dialogue, apparently unaware that he cut that line from the version of the movie he was watching. He's futzed with the movie so many times he can't even remember what he did to it.

So, yeah, when Michael Mann says that the colors on the Thief Blu-ray are exactly what the movie was supposed to look like in 1981, I have to take that with a massive grain of salt the size of a boulder.
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Old 07-10-14, 08:37 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Spoiler:
Frank's entire life resolves around his independence. He grew up state raised then spent his entire adult life in prison. He doesn't know how real relationships work, his dream of a family is a fantasy montage made from magazine photos. But he wants this fantasy so he breaks his one rule of independence by joining up with Leo so he can fast-track the family life.

Of course he discovers that Leo won't let him be his own man, he will own him forever, and if Frank bucks, Leo will destroy his family. So Frank beats him to the punch, he dissolves his family, destroys his material possessions and then kills the man that lied to him, and sought to own him. It's not ideal, but Frank knows he brought this outcome on himself. His family will always be at risk because of his profession, so he pushes them away for their own safety. You have to remember his speech in the diner about his time in prison: “You gotta forget time. You gotta not give a fuck if you live or die. You gotta get to where nothing means nothing . . . I survived because I achieved that mental attitude.” This attitude leads to his actions in the finale when Leo pushes him too far.
I guess I'm just not feeling it. Maybe it's because I grew up in the suburbs
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Old 07-10-14, 08:44 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Yes, unless Donald Thurin comes out and says Mann changed the colors from their original vision in 1981, Michael Mann is the best person to judge how the film was supposed to look upon release.
Ya think? But no, we're to accept as fact the opinion of the internet experts that state repeatedly they know better. THEY are the expert, and have spoken, so it must be true.

Just as fun are the people that will claim they remember exactly how it was in the theater decades ago. Nevermind that even accepting the possiblity of a pefect photographic memory, ever theater viewing can be vastly different based on the choices or mistakes made by the theater.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:05 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
The correct color timing is somewhere in between the two extremes of the pink broadcast version and the teal Blu-ray version.

How do I know? Because I was alive and studying movies in the 1980s, and have enough knowledge of filmmaking and film history to recognize that the teal-and-orange fad started much later. I was there when teal-and-orange started to overtake Hollywood. That didn't occur in the 1980s. It happened when Digital Intermediates came on the scene in the early 2000s, and it has unfortunately stuck around ever since.
I know Teal&Orange became popular after DI in 2000, which isn't really what we see in the Thief BD, but are you saying it was impossible to color time certain shots to look teal back in 1981? Or you just don't remember movies looking like that back then?


Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
One might have assumed that William Friedkin was the best person to judge how The French Connection was supposed to look upon release. Yet when he supervised the first Blu-ray release of that film, William Friedkin tinted the whole movie purple. Because William Friedkin lost his f-ing marbles sometime between the time he made The French Connection and the present day.
Yeah, and in that case the cinematographer came out and said the bluray colors were changed from their original vision. If that were to happen with Thief I would agree that Criterion should go back and redo the colors, and send free copies of that version to people who bought the first BD.

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
Filmmakers are not gods. They are not infallible. They're just people. Sometimes they screw up and make bad decisions.
No, and the same goes for film viewers who go off of memory to swear that films never looked like this before. But Michael Mann made the movie and used the original answer print for color reference, so I think he has more credibility on the subject than people on the internet.


Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
Mann also made new changes to the editing, beyond those from the last home video "Director's Cut." He treated the Blu-ray as his opportunity to conform the film to his current whims, as a director thirty years older than when he originally made it.
And I'm glad he did, the sped-up footage at the ending was ridiculous. Returning to the slow motion was a good decisions. Of course that was a choice that brought the film closer to its original vision, so I don't take it as proof that he used this opportunity to alter the color timing away from the original vision.


Originally Posted by Kedrix View Post
I guess I'm just not feeling it. Maybe it's because I grew up in the suburbs
Spoiler:
You can look at it as the kind of experience that leads a character like DeNiro's in Heat to say that you have no attachments in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds. Frank discovered that his life philosophy and line of work did not allow room for a family or personal attachments, so he had to sever them.


Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
Ya think? But no, we're to accept as fact the opinion of the internet experts that state repeatedly they know better. THEY are the expert, and have spoken, so it must be true.

Just as fun are the people that will claim they remember exactly how it was in the theater decades ago. Nevermind that even accepting the possiblity of a pefect photographic memory, ever theater viewing can be vastly different based on the choices or mistakes made by the theater.
And the internet has been wrong before about releases that were "supposed" to have a more natural color timing.

Last edited by DaveyJoe; 07-10-14 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:35 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Are you're saying it was technically impossible for Thief to look like that in 1981?
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Old 07-10-14, 09:52 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by DaveyJoe View Post
Are you're saying it was technically impossible for Thief to look like that in 1981?
Movies were not bathed in teal like that in 1981. That's a modern fad. If you knew anything about filmmaking, you'd be able to recognize that.

Technically impossible? I suppose, technically, Michael Mann could have tinted the entire movie bright flourescent green if he'd wanted. But is it really likely that he would have done that?

Eventually, this teal-and-orange fad will die off, and some other color grading fad will take its place. Perhaps in 2030, filmmakers will all makes movies in bright fuchsia and yellow. Michael Mann will retroactively go back and "update" all of his old movies to the new, modern fuchsia-and-yellow coloring, and insist that this is what they've always looked like. And you'll swallow his story whole, and dismissively roll your eyes at anyone who complains. Because the director is a god, and if he says that his movie was always fuchsia-and-yellow, no one is ever allowed to question his wisdom.
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Old 07-10-14, 10:55 AM
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Re: Criterion releases on Blu-Rays, Part II

Originally Posted by hdnmickey View Post
Of course I do/am. Rather than admit yoru first shot was off you move the goal so your shot will be on target. Comparing knowing if a B&W film changed to color is a back up to your claim you KNOW your opinion on Thief is fact? = Moving the goal posts to both endlines!
I have not moved any goalposts. I have made an analogy to help you comprehend the issue. Obviously, it hasn't gotten through to you.
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