Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Irving Penn 1917-2009

I just read that we lost Irving Penn, at age 92. Penn was, in my humble opinion, the greatest of all American fashion photographers and one of the top two American photo portraitists (with the late Richard Avedon). My opinion of Penn's genius is shared by hundreds of thousands of others, and it is an informed opinion--I grew up with a fabulously talented photographer father who loved and taught me the value of Penn's work. (Ironically, we also lost my father, Frank Ufert, this year, as Irving Penn once saw my father's work and admired it... quite a compliment!)

I am devastated. He lived a long and incredibly productive life, but he will be so, so missed. NO ONE ELSE, again in my opinion, had a more masterful eye than Irving Penn.

See the announcement from the Associated Press.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gojira on Blu-ray: a disappointment

Ok, I was warned...

Imagine my delight several months ago when I learned that the legendary 1954 Toho Kabushiki-kaisha (東宝株式会社, a.k.a. Toho Studios) film, GOJIRA (ゴジラ, a.k.a. "Godzilla"), the seminal film of my life, would be released in the U.S. in a high-definition transfer on Blu-ray disc on the Classic Media label. I have already seen a number of HD transfers of black and white films and many have been spectacular, including Sir Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949), Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and others. With the prior deluxe two-disc DVD release by Classic Media of the subtitled 1954 Japanese original -- the first time it appeared on a commercial U.S. DVD -- along side of the famed 1956 U.S. version (not only dubbed into English but re-cut and featuring new scenes with the late Raymond Burr), one would have assumed that this Blu-ray issue would be quite fine. (This, even considering the fact that they were not using -- according to several reports -- one of the near-mint condition/digitally cleaned and restored, Toho master prints.)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Best Recent Opera Singer Finds

Evelyn Herlitzius as Brünnhilde (w/Christian Franz) in Wagner's Siegfried.

Some of my favorite recent opera singer "finds." Many are not "new" singers, but all are singing very actively today, I've only found them recently, I really respect their work and love each of their voices.