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directed by David Riker
USA 1998

 

Aptly compared by Roger Ebert to De Sica's BICYCLE THIEVES, David Riker's LA CIUDAD (THE CITY) attempts to tell the stories of Latin-American immigrants in New York in their own words. Working closely with non-actors in fleshing out characterization and plotting of four stories through rigorous workshops, Riker attempted not so much to train his cast as actors so much as to have them identify with the stories to the point where they felt that no one else was qualified to tell it but themselves. Loosely framed by a series of visits to a local photographer (Antonio Peralta) taking pictures of them to send back home to their families, the four stories do tell of mistreatment and exploitation but also a sense isolation and longing for those left behind. In "Ladrillos (Bricks)", a day laborer meets a tragic end and is mourned by his fellow workers at odds with one another moments before. Francisco (Cipriano García), a young man just arrived in the city and lost rediscovers "Casa (Home)" when he meets Maria (Leticia Herrera) at a quinceanera. The girl turns out not only to be from the same village as him but also offers him the hospitality of her uncle's home when he cannot find the apartment of his own uncle. The ending is bittersweet and amusing. In "El Titeretero (The Puppeteer)", fear, shame, and homelessness stand in the way of a tubercular puppeteer Luis' (José Rabelo, GHOST DOG: THE WAY OF THE SAMURAI) efforts to give his daughter Dulce (Stephanie Viruet) a better future. The "Costurera (Seamstress)" is Ana (Silvia Goiz), a sweatshop worker waiting in vain for several weeks worth of pay, who becomes desperate when she learns her daughter back in Mexico is sick and needs money for hospital treatment. The naive non-professional performances are as enchanting as Tony Adzinikolov's score (performed by The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra) and the French New Wave-ish monochrome photography of Harlan Bosmajian (SAVING FACE).

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 7 July 2000 (Spain)

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DVD Comparison:

New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gary Tooze and Eric Cotenas for the Screen Caps!

(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker

Region 1 - NTSC

Oscilloscope Laboratories
Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 1:27:42 1:28:18
Video

1.65:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.36 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.48 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

New Yorker

 

Bitrate:

 

Oscilloscope Laboratories

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 1.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

Subtitles English, Spanish, none English, English SDH, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.65:1

Edition Details:
� 'La Ciudad: The Making of a Community Film
� Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: 7 June 2005
Amaray

Chapters 16
 

Release Information:
Studio: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
� 'Cinema from Below' making-of (4:3; 27:58, English with optional Spanish subtitles)
� 'Fifteen Years Later' discussion between director David Ryker and actors Guillermina de Jesus and Cesar Monzon (16:9; 23:58, Spanish with optional English subtitles)
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:46)
� Trailers for 'The Maid' and 'Mother of George'

 

DVD Release Date: October 13th, 2015
Tri-fold Cardboard in Slipcase

Chapters 16

 

 

 

Comments

Transferred from a new 2K scan of the original film elements, LA CIUDAD is improved in every way on Oscilloscope's DVD. While I do not have the New Yorker disc on hand, the specs say it has mono sound but the film was recorded in Ultra Stereo (a more budget-friendly but no less sophisticated matrixed surround sound alternative to Dolby Stereo in the eighties and nineties) and is presented here in stereo on a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. As with the older disc, subtitles are available in English and Spanish, but Oscilloscope also adds an English SDH track.

Both extra featurettes are also bilingual with Riker's vintage making-of featurette featuring optional Spanish subtitles (English subtitles are burnt-in for the Spanish dialogue) and optional English subtitles for the new retrospective featurette in which Riker and the two cast members speak Spanish. The vintage featurette with the academic title "Cinema from Below" is a satisfying look at the origins of the project, Riker's casting and workshop processes (not so much training them as actors so much as working with them until they felt that no one else was capable of telling their stories but themselves), and the inspirations for each of the stories and how they were shaped by the performers with an emphasis on the seamstress and bricks stories (although the other two are also discussed to lesser degree). The retrospective featurette has the two cast members Guillermina de Jesus and Cesar Monzon reflecting on why they chose to participate (often attending workshops on their only day off each week), how the stories resonated with their real lives, and the ways in which the workshops and their collaboration on shaping the stories functioned as a sort of therapy.

Gary on the New Yorker DVD: New Yorker have drastically improved their DVD packages in the past few months with strong extra feature additions, but their image quality appears to have plateau'd. This is non-anamorphic and exhibits minor coming in spots (non-progressive) but much of the inferiority of the image is a function of the independent manner in which it was produced. I watched on a tube and it was quite acceptable but putting it under the microscope we can see some deficiencies. Being positive I would love to focus more of the wonderful film which really deserves an audience. The featurette addition is a super extra and helps further appreciation of this fine film. Even with the weak image we strongly recommend!

 - Eric Cotenas

 


DVD Menus
(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT)
 

 


 Screen Captures

(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

Subtitle sample

 


(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Oscilloscope Laboratories - Region 0 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Oscilloscope Laboratories

Sound:

Oscilloscope Laboratories

Extras: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Menu: Oscilloscope Laboratories

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

New Yorker

Region 1 - NTSC

Oscilloscope Laboratories
Region 0 - NTSC

 



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