999 Matewan

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

999 Matewan

#1 Post by swo17 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:02 pm

Matewan

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Written and directed by John Sayles, this wrenching historical drama recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local miners' struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920. When the town of Matewan's miners go on strike, organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper, in his screen debut) arrives to help them, uniting workers white and black, Appalachia-born and immigrant, while urging patience in the face of the coal company's violent provocations. With a crackerjack ensemble cast—including James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldham—and Oscar-nominated cinematography by Haskell Wexler, Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director John Sayles, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary featuring Sayles and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
• New documentary on the making of the film featuring Sayles, producer Maggie Renzi, production designer Nora Chavooshian, and actors Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham, and David Strathairn
• New interview with composer Mason Daring on the film's soundtrack
• New program on the film's production design featuring Chavooshian
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic A. S. Hamrah

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Randall Maysin
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:26 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#2 Post by Randall Maysin » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:03 pm

Now bring on Lone Star!

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#3 Post by beamish14 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:22 pm

One of the finest American films of the 80's, and it's outrageous that it took so long so replace the atrocious Artisan DVD.

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swo17
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: 999 Matewan

#4 Post by swo17 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:23 pm

Which wasn't even in widescreen

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#5 Post by beamish14 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:30 pm

swo17 wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:23 pm
Which wasn't even in widescreen
Correct. So happy that John Dahl's The Last Seduction also got rescued from that awful company. Still waiting for someone to
liberate After Dark, My Sweet from them.

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Professor Wagstaff
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:27 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#6 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:34 pm

Terrific news. Here's hoping Criterion rescues more Sayles films like City of Hope or Passion Fish. He's in dire need of a critical revival.

beamish14
Joined: Fri May 18, 2018 3:07 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#7 Post by beamish14 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:36 pm

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:34 pm
Terrific news. Here's hoping Criterion rescues more Sayles films like City of Hope or Passion Fish. He's in dire need of a critical revival.

Absolutely. City of Hope was restored by Sony (presumably in 4k). I don't know what the Blu-Ray holdout is.

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ando
Bringing Out El Duende
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Re: 999 Matewan

#8 Post by ando » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:15 pm

Great news. One of my favorite films. The extras don't look especially intriguing or novel but the restoration alone is worth the investment. I don't even remember the soundtrack (probably a good thing).

dda1996a
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am

Re: 999 Matewan

#9 Post by dda1996a » Fri Jul 19, 2019 4:38 pm

Guess I'm a lone in not liking it very much (mostly because of the script; cast and cinematography are excellent), but I would love more Sayles, especially his 90s stuff which I'm dying to see

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LostHighway
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:35 am

Re: 999 Matewan

#10 Post by LostHighway » Tue Jul 23, 2019 1:30 pm

Professor Wagstaff wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:34 pm
Terrific news. Here's hoping Criterion rescues more Sayles films like City of Hope or Passion Fish. He's in dire need of a critical revival.
I completely agree. Matewan is probably my favorite among the Sayles films I've seen but I would love to see Eight Men Out, The Secret of Roan Inish, Lone Star, and City of Hope also in good blu-ray releases. Regrettably I've never seen Passion Fish or Men With Guns. Some of Sayles early films can be a bit clunky in execution but I find them enjoyable despite that.

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FrauBlucher
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:28 pm
Location: Greenwich Village

Re: 999 Matewan

#11 Post by FrauBlucher » Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:01 pm


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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#12 Post by knives » Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:11 pm

Too bad this seems destined to remain forgotten as this has to be in the running for best film to be entered into the collection. This goes beyond union as a political tool and into it as a tool for humanity. We see a WV at disunion fighting based on race and economic needs with the only solution being an acceptance of humanity. The movie is largely methodical in cataloging methods of union and disunion. It's a bit like Scum's too many events with the spectre of religion also ghosting the proceedings.. The movie probably could have rested as a political film, but Sayles wisely knows the best propaganda first needs to be one of the best entertainments.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#13 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:15 pm

knives wrote:
Fri Dec 20, 2019 3:11 pm
We see a WV at disunion fighting based on race and economic needs with the only solution being an acceptance of humanity.
I love the film too, and find its humanist approach to humanist politics a simple straight-lined vision of a layered complex idea on systemic harmony. Imbuing interest into the story doesn't just color in the pattern but serves as the foundational blocks for it as you say. The ending is curious too because it seems in one way to be nihilistic or at least cynical about this political vision but actually can be seen as the opposite, as Sayles surrenders to the essentials of humanism at face value devoid of the philosophical definition, by validating that human side of people and embracing emotional action as acceptable in the objective eyes of the camera.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: 999 Matewan

#14 Post by knives » Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:52 pm

On that humanism one pleasant shock was how well this matched with Cold War. This as well uses music as a motif for culture with the company men's basterdization of the local music being the most chilling moment. These are men who wouldn't worry about disappearing humans for worker bees. With the concerns about automation today the film and its last act feel extra spooky. I think though that Sayles introducing us to the company men's version first means we are left with the locals'.

I think this is also the importance of Oldham's angry speech to Cooper near the end. These are people who feel seen as objects to either help or exploit and Sayles allows them to at least just be people.

There's a documentary I watched back in undergrad about WV during the war on poverty. In it a man shot and killed a Canadian reporter because he was so tired of feeling like a geek show and just wanted to be left to help himself. Sayles, as anyone would, has a hard time threading the needle of what WV has come to represent to for labour while acknowledging the human feelings that would resent that.

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