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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Who's Crazy? [Blu-ray]

 

(Thomas White and Allan Zion, 1966)

 

Avant-Garde DVDs as discussed in Daryl Chin's article At Home and Abroad - Some Views From the Avant-Garde on DVD HERE

 (CLICK COVERS FOR MORE)

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Grand Motel Films

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:13:30.280

Disc Size: 36,705,788,793 bytes

Feature Size: 21,224,404,992 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 25th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1578 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1578 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), None (French burned-in)

 

Extras:

• Q&A with Director Thomas White (courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center) (27:49)
"David, Moffett & Ornette" (1966 episode of Tempo International) (28:18)

Trailer (0:58)
Booklet Essay by Adam Shatz (Contributing Editor at the London Review of Books)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Long thought to be lost until the only surviving copy was salvaged from director Thomas White's garage, Who's Crazy? (1966) is a wild, free-form burst of 1960s experimentalism.

Accompanied by an ecstatic original soundtrack by the great Ornette Coleman, and starring actors from The Living Theatre, Who's Crazy? follows a group of mental patients who hole up in a deserted Belgian farmhouse, where they cook large quantities of eggs and condemn one of their own in an impromptu court. The actors don t have much need for words when they can dance around, light things on fire, and drip hot wax on each other instead.

Ornette Coleman and the other members of his trio David Izenzon and Charles Moffett recorded their score for Who's Crazy? in one go while the film was projected for them, and the result feels like a slapstick silent film with the greatest possible accompaniment.

 

 

The Film:

This experimental comedy film uses members of the Off Broadway Living Theatre Company for the characters. A busload of inmates headed for an insane asylum escape and find refuge in an old abandoned farmhouse. After a mock wedding, the police move in and try to recapture the inmates. The feature relies heavily on the improvisations of the group.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Who’s Crazy?” was filmed—in raw and bleak black-and-white—in rural Belgium and features members of the New York-based Living Theatre troupe (minus its founders, Judith Malina and Julian Beck), as inmates in a mental institution who are being transported by bus. When the bus breaks down in a lonely place in the wintry countryside, an inmate runs for it. When two guards hustle to recapture him, the rest of the patients all escape and elude the guards. Making their way to a desolate and abandoned brick farmhouse, the uniformed patients find a way in, take shelter, and construct, in isolation, an antic yet earnest domesticity that summons the Living Theatre troupe’s wide and wild range of improvisational inspirations.

Excerpt from The NewYorker located HERE

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

Who's Crazy was digitally restored from the only film element known to still exist; a 35mm print with French subtitles. The print had been used for projection and as a result had areas of significant damage: scratches, tears, splices and broken perforations. The print was repaired, cleaned, and scanned with liquid gate at 2K resolution. Laboratory work was completed at Colorlab in Rockville, Maryland in 2015.

 

The dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Who's Crazy has a max'ed out bitrate. The image quality is at the mercy of the only source and the restoration. It's watchable with some minor damage (see last capture) that is usually frame-specific. There are some unusual cuts and the 16mm-negative to 35mm-print visuals are full of luscious grain. This Blu-ray does the best with the restoration provided. Through most of the viewing you forget the weaknesses.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Damage Sample

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1578 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. Once again the limitations are subject to the source, and production with muffled dialogue and no effects produced. It sounds as it looks. There is a musical score from the Ornette Coleman Trio - Ornette Coleman, David Izenzon and Charles Moffett with saxophone, drums (brushes) and violin (I think). It suits the film. There are faint burned-in French subtitles and optional English (SDH) subtitles (see sample above) - mostly on the top of the frame - offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Supplements include a 1/2 hour Q&A with director Thomas White (courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center) from 2017 discussing how the restoration came to fruition by the discovery of the print. "David, Moffett & Ornette: The Ornette Coleman Trio" - a 1966 episode of Tempo International. It's a documentary directed by Dick Fontaine and starring David Izenzon, Charles Moffett, Ornette Coleman and others in a free-form Jazz practice session interspersed with discussion points on scoring the film, Who's Crazy?. There is also a, short, re-release trailer and the package has a booklet with an essay by Adam Shatz (Contributing Editor at the London Review of Books) entitled 'Art of the Improvisers' mostly about the music.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had never seen Who's Crazy? It's definitely a product of its time with unusual creativity, innovation and exploration. It's weird, hippie-esque, stuff but also entertaining in it's own, unique, grassroots, manner filled with rituals and chanting. The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray seems the only way to see this at all and it is, no doubt, the best presentation. A commentary would have been an appreciated addition, if, for nothing more, than to put an explanatory face on the story. Recommended to the cinematically adventurous!  NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 33% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

July 20th, 2017

 

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

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
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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