a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Facets wants neither your money nor your attention

Someone on my cine-nerd newsgroup recently remarked about how Facets Multimedia, the "videotheque" whose aim is to calm the fuck down as many obscuritants as possible, is rather poorly organized. This is hard to argue with. Take the front page of their site, for instance. There, you shall find numerous alerts for other company's products, which can be helpful: for what it's worth, it was during a visit to their site many months ago that I first discovered Warner Bros. was planning the awesome Sam Peckinpah box set that just came out, long before anyone else was talking it up. But there's a point where modesty, or whatever ails Facets, becomes a handicap, and the line has certainly been long crossed when your company isn't tooting their horn about the Feb. 28th release of Béla Tarr's The Werckmeister Harmonies to disc. (The still above is from that film's highly memorable whale carcass scene.) This is terribly exciting stuff, and it only gets more drool-coaxing: there will also be discs for 1988's Damnation and 1984's Almanac of Fall. And what's this about a Sátántangó set with no current release date? (I have no direct links; you'll just have to search engine the titles.)

Thanks to Facets, you wouldn't even know seeing these films was an option. Despite all the huzzahs from Gus Van Sant, the dichotomy between those who know who Béla Tarr is and those who've actually seen any of his work is arguably more massive than with any other filmmaker. His only distributed film has been Werckmeister, and I've been told that Menemesha Entertainment, who handled its American distribution, all but assured its failure at the box office with their neglegence and general assholish disposition. Facets should be bragging up a storm -- or at least informing, say, Film Comment, who don't even list the Tarr maelstrom in their video section. Surely I, who stumbled upon this information accidentally, am not the only person who knows about this. Unless I am.

On the other hand, maybe it's wrong to speak so ill of Facets. They are the only company who have put out any Tarr on disc, and, along with June's 3-Pack (with the allegedly Cassavetes-ish The Outsider, Prefab People, and Family Nest), they'll have almost all of his feature-length work out on disc as of late next month. What am I carping about? Facets rules! Let's all go buy their stock!

Also, regionless folk (and by that I mean those who don't have to worry about NTSC and PAL): how's the much-cheaper Werckmeister/Damnation two-pack? Good transfer? Worth nabbing even if you can only run it on, like, one player?


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