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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Walden / Lost, Lost, Lost (Double Feature) [Blu-ray]

 

(Jonas Mekas, 1969, 1976)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Walden: Daguerreo Press

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Walden Runtime: 2:56:20.403 / Lost Lost Lost Runtime: 2:53:22.141

Walden Disc Size: 49,547,737,577 bytes

Lost Lost Lost Disc Size: 49,152,641,945 bytes

Walden Feature Size: 44,454,801,408 bytes

Lost Lost Lost Feature Size: 40,753,600,512 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps / 25.99 Mbps

Chapters: 10 / 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 17th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Walden Cut:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1874 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1874 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1779 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1779 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Lost Lost Lost:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1900 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1900 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1559 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1559 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, French, none

 

Extras:

WALDEN:
Audio Commentary by Jonas Mekas
Short Films by Jonas Mekas:

Cassis (1966 - 5:49), Notes on the Circus (1966 - 12:46), Hare Krishna (1966 - 4:49) Report From Millbrook (1965 1966 - 11:41)
LOST LOST LOST:
Audio Commentary by Jonas Mekas
Short Films by Jonas Mekas:

Travel Songs (1967 1981 - 23:19), Williamsburg (1949 2002 - 12:00)

Jonas (1967 1968), a film by Gideon Bachmann (32:16)

Booklet essay by Ed Halters

 

Bitrate:

Walden

 

 

Lost Lost Lost

 

 

Description: Jonas Mekas is a filmmaker, artist, poet and writer. He remains one of the most influential figures in independent and underground cinema. Born in Lithuania in 1922, he arrived in 1949 in New York where he co-founded the legendary Film-Makers Cooperative, Film Culture Magazine and Anthology Film Archives, as well as supporting emerging independent voices of the New American Cinema in his column in the Village Voice. He also pioneered the diary form of filmmaking, documenting many of the leading figures and events of the New York art and culture scenes of the 1950s and 60s. These films comprised his Diaries Notes and Sketches project.


Walden (1969), Mekas' first completed diary film, is an epic portrait of the New York avant-garde arts scene of the 1960s, featuring many of Mekas' friends of that period, including Andy Warhol, John Lennon, Yoko Ono and The Velvet Underground.


Lost Lost Lost (1976), comprised of fourteen years of foot- age, documents Mekas' early years in New York as he and his brother Adolfas build their new life in America, discovering the city and the burgeoning film and arts community of the 1950s and 60s downtown scene.

 

 

The Film:

Walden:

In this sense, Walden more closely resembles the written diaries of poets like Ginsberg and Kerouac than the canonized publication whose title Mekas cribbed. The film’s narration often matches Thoreau’s unabashed self-congratulatory voice and love/hate relationship with urbanity, but Walden the diary film succeeds as a personal record where the novel-length essay failed due to self-contradictory soap-boxing; where Thoreau argues for seeking transcendence in life rather than art while penning consciously didactic and numinous prose, Mekas is able to make the same assertion by arhetorically celebrating what he sees. There are longueurs in the film, to be sure, but that’s also part of the point: In one sense (in the best sense), Walden is a depository of longueurs assembled for future generations. Unlike documentaries from the same period, there are few anachronisms that distract our attention with thoughts of how different attire or appliances or mannerisms were 50 years ago; Mekas skillfully omits these superficial details to instead capture domestic still-life scenarios, ocean-side landscapes darkening at sundown, perfunctory professional interactions, pea-coated masses braving snow and sleet, and, through it all, the immutable playfulness of children in nearby pastoral settings. It’s not only a living document of what quotidian existence was like in the ‘60s for a Lithuanian refugee residing in Manhattan, it’s an earnest homage to the elusive state of being—warts and all.

Excerpt from SlantMagazine located HERE

Lost, Lost, Lost

Filmed between 1949 and 1963, Lost, Lost, Lost looks back at Mekas’ earliest years in New York. As Mekas adjusts to a life in exile, he searches for a sense of community among Lithuanian émigrés in Brooklyn before finding kinship in the burgeoning arts scene. A sense of melancholy permeates the film but by the end, Mekas finds ecstasy: paradise regained through cinema. Mekas connects with Lower Manhattan’s poets and filmmakers, and the 60s adventure begins.

Excerpt from BFI located HERE

 

(More Avante-Garde - CLICK COVERS below)

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

DVDBeaver are quite interested in the avant-garde on digital as referenced by our reviews of Avant-Garde: Experimental Cinema of the 1920s and 30s, Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film - 1947-1986, Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Films and Daryl Chin's article for DVDBeaver At Home and Abroad - Some Views From the Avant-Garde (where Jonas Mekas is mentioned) and after Masterworks of American Avant-garde Experimental Film 1920-1970 (containing work by Mekas!) this would be our second Blu-ray review in this genre.

 

The transfers are all 1080P and being avant-garde they is no real way to critic quality. They are what they are but I can say contrast in the black and white films is notably layered and colors (in the color entries) exhibit bold strength and depth. This very positively adds to the film experience, IMO. This Blu-ray brings out the 16mm grain and it looks lovely - colors (red and pastels) are richer and deeper than SD could export. There is scratches and damage but it only seems to add to the homey quality embracing the period, family memories and production limitations. Yes, that is John and Yoko.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Walden screen captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Lost, Lost, Lost screen captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel tracks at around 1900 kbps (24-bit). The audio is a weak point to the presentations - not with the lossless rendering but the productions themselves have noisy sound with significant background hiss. There is no one to blame as this is authentic to the original recordings. It sounds as it sounds and you do get used to it after a while. I hear sometimes recognizable music (beautiful choirs in Reel 4 of Walden) - none that I could identify now - I was busy enjoying it. There are optional English and French subtitles on both features (but, of course, there is very little, as in 'non', dialogue) but the title cards are translated to French - and my Oppo has identified the Blu-ray disc as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Kino Lorber add some fabulous extras - both films get an audio commentary by Jonas Mekas which is quite a feat considering the length of the films (close to 6 hours in total). But the audio quality again suffers and he is not always easy to hear (varies in volume levels) and he does have an accent. Still, as you let the visuals wash over you - you can get a sense of his thoughts and there is value to that - there is another person joining Jonas with occasional questions. Mekas talks of nature, the titles, experimenting with LSD, briefly meeting Ginsberg, and the 'diary concept' of his films - all interesting. Over the two Blu-rays there are, additionally, five shorts by Mekas; Cassis (1966 - 5:49), Notes on the Circus (1966 - 12:46,) Hare Krishna (1966 - 4:49) Report From Millbrook (1965 1966 - 11:41) on the Lost, Lost, Lost Blu-ray - Travel Songs (1967 1981 - 23:19) and Williamsburg (1949 2002 - 12:00) plus there are also a kind of homage in a 1/2 hour film by Gideon Bachmann entitled Jonas (1967 1968). The package also has a liner notes booklet essay by Ed Halters.

 

Walden

 

Lost, Lost, Lost

BOTTOM LINE:
What I found most appealing of Mekas' films is the overwhelming sense of positive-ness exported by the visuals. They often feels like impressionism with scattered images and hints of scenes - nostalgic, artistic and human. Really, it is quite beautiful if you open yourself up and embrace it. The Kino Lorber Blu-rays provide authentic 1080P presentations rich with grain and sometimes deep color. the package is drenched in value with the commentaries and Mekas' shorts as supplements.
Fans of this genre - those who can drink deeply of the Avant-garde pool - don't require my endorsement - but they have it anyway. Absolutely recommended! 

Gary Tooze

November 9th, 2015


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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