It is currently 26 Oct 2021, 09:47




 Page 1 of 1 [ 12 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 11:25 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
Lifted from my Letterboxd diary. Please try your hardest to enjoy my drivel below if you wish to. :thumbup:

Image

Watch the film here on BFI Player

Jeff has the disc. Or buy it direct from BFI here:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I can't quite make my mind up about this 'film'. I use the term fairly loosely because what It Couldn't Happen Here is, is a collection of music from the Pet Shop Boys massive 1987 hit album Actually, with a surreal film cobbled around it. I watched the film on the 2020 BFI Blu Ray disc and must say while the film is a bit of a mixed bag, the disc and the extras are absolutely first class, so I'll cover those first as I feel that the extras alone make the disc a worthwhile purchase and essential viewing.

It Couldn't Happen Here has been available in the past, but is since long out of print on VHS and Laserdisc so to see a Blu Ray world premiere for the film is tremendous. The scan itself is very good. There's a decent balance of grain though some night time scenes can get quite noisy; I guess it was hard to strike a good balance but better than applying DNR and all the other gubbins applied these days that makes transfers look waxy and generally awful. Colours are excellent, the film doesn't look overly saturated or washed out. Considering the film has probably been sat in it's canisters since 1987 it appears to be in surprisingly good condition. No traces of dirt or damage here.

Audio is a different story. I watched the film late at night, so wore my favourite Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones so as to not disturb others. It would be both a blessing and a bit of a curse. You get a 2.0 stereo track here. Nothing fancy, no DTS-HD or 9000.1 Superbit HyperDTS or what have you. And that's fine. However with headphones on, yes I could detect some good use of left and right pans, dynamics and so on. It was all pleasant enough, yet at various moments throughout the film I detected some very obvious sound edits, occasional foley mistakes and most unfortunate of all moments that sounded like damage to the actual audio track itself. Perhaps the damage could not be repaired, or was undetected in the remastering process? It's a shame really, so with that in mind I'm going to hunt down a copy of the film on Laserdisc to compare the audio tracks. If the Laserdisc sounds either a) better or b) has no sign of damage on the track then I'll tear out the audio from that and remux it to my Blu Ray disc to make my own ultimate edition.

As for the extras, this is where it steps up a notch. I absolutely encourage you to watch the interview with director Jack Bond. It's about half an hour long as Bond describes his backstory from childhood to becoming a director and all the (now iconic in many cases) projects he has worked on throughout his career. It's the way he talks to the camera though. Like he's talking directly to you. Some of the things he has to say, especially about his early years, are just so vivid, so touching. I was nearly in tears, genuinely. Again, I urge you to buy this disc, even for just this interview if nothing else. Respect where respect is due. You get another interview on the disc with choreographer Arlene Phillips, again at a half hour long. There is also a commentary track with director Jack Bond which I am very keen to listen to, I'll be making sure to do that soon.

There is also a trailer for the film which, according to the sleeve notes, has been digitally reconstructed. My guess is that the reel for the trailer has been lost, intentionally destroyed or is damaged beyond repair. It doesn't say what the process was for the reconstruction, my guess is a team worked to rebuild it using a VHS or Laserdisc master for reference? It doesn't look like an obvious reconstruction apart from the credits card at the end of the trailer which looks like it was recreated from scratch at high resolution.

Fans of image galleries will be in their element here because you get some really great, high resolution and highly detailed scans of shot cards, draft and final scripts (these are great as you can see big changes between the original vision for the film and the final version) and best of all you get superb high resolution scans of the VHS and Laserdisc sleeves from across the world (USA, UK, Spain and Japan iirc). There are also some great publicity and lobby photo cards, again, lovingly preserved in high resolution.

Finally you get the full music video from the lads 1987 hit single You Were Always On My Mind. It's a shame that the source for this isn't that great, it looks like a 2nd or 3rd generation VHS or Betamax transfer. Again though I imagine this is the best that Warner Music UK could provide. Perhaps more consideration should be given to the preservation of music videos as much as the consideration is given to preserving films, television shows and so on?

As for the film itself, well it's a bit of a mixed bag. The majority of it makes no sense and may well be that it is open to the viewer to interpret what they think it is all about or what it signifies. I'll give my thoughts here of how I interpreted the film, it may very well differ to your opinion and that's fine, again, that's maybe how the director envisioned it and wanted to create discussion.The film appears to depict Neil and Chris on some sort of a road trip, from a sleepy, but once bustling, seaside town (Frinton-on-Sea is my best guess) to Scunthorpe to make an appearance at a nightclub. Along the way they meet a variety of strange and surreal characters including much-loved Carry On star Barbara Windsor who appears as the owner of a B&B in Frinton-on-Sea, and also as Neil's mum. Each segment of the road trip is broken up with mini 'music videos' of a variety of hits from the bands 1987 hit album Actually.

What I found interesting is the opening scenes appeared to depict Neil and Chris as schoolboys, getting up to mischief, it also appears to imply they went to schools run by religion (perhaps Chruch of England or Catholic, I'm unsure). The boys break away from a school outing and along the way stumble upon various things that are perhaps classed as 'sins' (the song It's A Sin is slotted in here rather aptly). Things like 2p peep show cinema arcade machines, explicit cabaret shows featuring guys in leather and girls in sexy period outfits (perhaps suggesting exploration of their sexuality?).

The road trip makes it's way towards Scunthorpe and the climax where the surrealism is cranked up to another level. It really is quite bizarre stuff, I wouldn't say on the same level as David Lynch, Shinya Tsukamoto or the writings of Hunter S Thompson. Perhaps more along the lines of the great Jim Morrison film HWY An American Pastoral (which I haven't seen in years, reminder to self to rewatch it soon!). There is an underlying theme of World War II here but I can't quite put my finger on what the significance of it is supposed to be.

Barbara Windsor is superb, taking the surrealism in her stride and throwing herself fully in to her role. As do all of the cast, you get some great dance pieces here but also some superb character roles. One scene in particular features the boys sat alongside a travelling ventriloquist at a greasy spoon cafe. The boys overhear the man placing his order for a fried breakfast and I'm almost certain the scene is an outtake as both Neil and Chris are absolutely wetting themselves in hysterics, yet the ventriloquist never breaks character and finishes the scene. It's worth watching the film just for this scene, I was in hysterics too and if it was an outtake it's brilliant that director Jack Bond left the scene intact.

Before you know it 86 minutes have flown by and the end credits are rolling. It's difficult to formulate an opinion on the film immediately because there is so much to digest. It could all be a load of old cobblers and the film simply means nothing. I'm inclined to believe otherwise. Underneath all of the madness I think the boys, and the director, actually had something to say. It's just hard work trying to pick out all the little pieces to find out what that message actually is.

One thing is certain, I am delighted with the BFI disc and am glad I took a punt on it. As an 80's child I am well aware of how huge the Pet Shop Boys were back then (and still are today), though I was unaware of the existence of this film. Looking at it now it's great to see the little pieces spliced out of the film that went on to make up some of their music videos that I would have seen aired on TV of a Saturday morning (I never had the luxury of Satellite or Cable television in my home, just 4 terrestrial channels). That bloody tuxedo Neil is wearing finally makes sense now!

Take a punt on this disc, or rent the film on BFI Player (though buy the Blu Ray if you can). It's a great historical piece with the bonus of being filled with even better music. Thank goodness it's now been rightfully and properly preserved for the future.



Last edited by teddanson on 19 Nov 2020, 01:36, edited 1 time in total. _________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 15:17 
Jedi Knight
Jedi Knight
User avatar

Joined: 14 Jan 2010, 09:44
Posts: 5346
Location: Ann Arbor
Has thanked: 780 times
Been thanked: 774 times
Thanks for the review. I’m a huge fan of these guys and have been since the EMI version of West End Girls. I’ve owned ICHH on LD since new.

The movie is a wrapper for the music videos it’s shot around. At this point in their career they had only written so many songs and most of them were about their own then short lives. The movie works around these songs and therefore is also about their own then short lives and it’s pretty straightforward in that regard. They start out as school boys being told everything is wrong, they reject this world and move for the disco. No big. It seems impossibly weird but it’s just Tommy or Quadrophenia but gay and with a drum machine.

The constant present of WWII is due to them being Brittish and born in the 50s. For these people the reality of WWII was around them all their lives, still bombed out buildings, veterans everywhere, etc but they didn’t participate in it which makes for a very significant generational gap. People born around this time often have interesting perspectives on the war despite/because they weren’t actually in it. Miyazaki comes to mind and of course Roger Waters.

The original US LD looks and sounds terrible. I’m told the Japanese one is at least in Stereo.

I really really like the breakfast scene. Lots of tomatoes and beans, IIRC.
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 15:51 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
signofzeta wrote:
I really really like the breakfast scene. Lots of tomatoes and beans, IIRC.


And when yer wan comes back with his breakfast and he says "...and another side of beans please" I totally lost it. :lol:

Oh absolutely there was the sexuality element to the film. I think as well that at the time the film was made homosexuality wasn't really a lifestyle that was generally accepted publicly so artists would throw in curveballs to their work. Or just be absolutely blatant about it (I'm thinking Frankie Goes To Hollywood here). It looks to be very much apparent here with It Couldn't Happen Here.

By the looks of it I wasn't too far off with my interpretation of the film. :thumbup:

Thanks for the heads up on avoiding the US Laserdisc. I've looked in to getting the Japan disc, it's got a Dolby Surround track on it apparently. This would correlate with the end credits of the film where it is denoted there too. It's strange then that the Blu Ray is 2.0 Stereo only. Maybe that is all BFI had to work with?

It's a real shame about the damage to the audio track, I'm almost certain that is what it is. If you listen with headphones you will certainly pick up on it. It's not present a great deal, just at a couple of moments in the film. Though if that Japanese audio track is intact and sounds far better then I'll definitely go for that and mux it myself to my own mkv. Also, the Japan LD is LBX, the USA disc is 4:3 though has in-screen subtitles which is a bit of a downside if you want a pure picture. Though the Blu Ray is a brand new 4K scan (and a Blu Ray world premiere) so audio aside I don't see a major reason to get the Laserdisc other than for that.

I'm a big fan of their work too. Not so much the new stuff, more their work circa 1984 to around the Go West and Se A Vida E period (c.1996-ish). Such a pity the film was made a year before Introspective or you would have likely had one of my favourite Pet Shop Boys tracks on it, Domino Dancing.
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 16:48 
True fan
True fan
User avatar

Joined: 28 Jun 2019, 18:26
Posts: 346
Location: UK
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 116 times
Would have thought that Bluray 2.0 PCM track would still contain the Dolby Surround matrix info, did you try it using Pro-Logic decoding? Happy to be proved wrong though.
_________________
Pioneer HLD-X9/CLD-925/CLD-2950
Sony MSC4000
Sony VPL VW500ES
Lumagen Radiance 2144
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 17:22 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
laserfanhld-gb wrote:
Would have thought that Bluray 2.0 PCM track would still contain the Dolby Surround matrix info, did you try it using Pro-Logic decoding? Happy to be proved wrong though.


Interesting! I had another look at my soundbar manual (have a look at the link below, hit CTRL+F on your keyboard and search for Pro Logic) and made some adjustments. Switched off adaptive DRC and changed the matrix to DPL from DTS Neo 6. I'm playing the disc now and instead of "PCM", when I bring up the current decoder display it is now showing as "PCM \ Dolby PL II Movie".

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/lit_files/269161.pdf

When I switch to the commentary track it displays the decoder as "DD \ Dolby PL II Movie" Correlating this with my YSP-2700 manual it appears to be working, thus your theory is proved right? If that's the case then this is great news if it's picking up the Dolby Pro Logic signal! It definitely sounds a little different. Only thing I really want to check now is if that Laserdisc audio track is intact. My hope is the Laserdisc pressing was done when the negatives were in a better state and thus the audio damage may not be present.
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 17:38 
True fan
True fan
User avatar

Joined: 28 Jun 2019, 18:26
Posts: 346
Location: UK
Has thanked: 129 times
Been thanked: 116 times
It'll be interesting to hear of your findings if/when you obtain a copy of the JPN LD Ted. Zeta mentioned above that his US version is 4:3 so I wonder if it's actually pan & scan or open matte? would be keen to see the Japanese letterboxed version.
_________________
Pioneer HLD-X9/CLD-925/CLD-2950
Sony MSC4000
Sony VPL VW500ES
Lumagen Radiance 2144
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 18 Nov 2020, 18:46 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
Yep, according to the LDDB entries the USA disc is 4:3 P&S. Both Japan pressings are LBX apparently.

The Blu Ray has some very high resolution images of all the Laserdisc and VHS releases. Bizarrely they also included scans of the actual VHS tapes which is something I haven't seen before on one of these Blu Ray galleries! They did miss out the Japan VHS though, I found some images of it on a Japanese Pet Shop Boys fan site today.

If I could get a listen at the Japanese Laserdisc at some specific points in the film, I would be able to compare it to the Blu Ray and see if it's the same damage problem with the audio. If it's no better then to be honest there wouldn't be much point getting the Laserdisc imho as the 4K scanned Blu Ray is pretty much the ultimate edition out there.

I had a quick listen to a little bit of the audio commentary. It's really insightful. For example, SPOILER-ISHthe big breakfast that is thrown at Barbara Windsor's face took three takes to get right!END SPOILER-ISH Definitely giving the film a watch with the commentary soon.
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 19 Nov 2020, 00:49 
Genuinely interested
Genuinely interested
User avatar

Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 02:42
Posts: 47
Location: United States
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 3 times
teddanson wrote:
Yep, according to the LDDB entries the USA disc is 4:3 P&S.

Is someone with access to both versions able to eyeball the framing to confirm? Because according to the film's IMDB page the cinematographic process was spherical as opposed to anamorphic, which if correct suggests to me that an open matte at least exists.
_________________
My collection
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 19 Nov 2020, 01:18 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
I found a German TV version on YouTube which is in 4:3. The USA Laserdisc could be the same source, if it is then I don't think it looks like it is open matte, the framing is essentially the same minus the sidebars of course. I'll try and compare it with my Blu Ray tomorrow.

I can spot one major difference immediately. A title card has been spliced into the credits. In the original they are white and overlaid like the rest of the credits.

In the German version it's got a brand new animated credit and the film is now renamed Pet Shop Boys: Der Film.

See below, I timestamped it. Don't watch the rest if you don't want to spoil the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw3pcjQfpRc&t=51

Get on to BFI and buy the blu! :thumbup:
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2020, 01:28 
Genuinely interested
Genuinely interested
User avatar

Joined: 30 Apr 2015, 02:42
Posts: 47
Location: United States
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 3 times
teddanson wrote:
See below, I timestamped it. Don't watch the rest if you don't want to spoil the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw3pcjQfpRc&t=51

Get on to BFI and buy the blu! :thumbup:

Thanks! I found a frame in that German TV version you linked that matches one in the trailer. It appears to not be a true open matte, but have different framing for theatrical and TV versions. In other words, panned and scanned from the full frame as opposed to the theatrical matting. I attached screenshots of both for comparison.

Lddb indicates the Japanese release is in 1.66:1, making me wonder if that's the true full frame, or at least a compromise with the full width of the frame with still more of the picture on the top and bottom. Otherwise it either wouldn't be letterboxed enough for whatever reason, or it's really 1.85 and someone eyeballed it wrong.


Attachments:
File comment: German TV 1.33:1
Screenshot from 2020-11-19 19-07-48.jpg
Screenshot from 2020-11-19 19-07-48.jpg [ 109.82 KiB | Viewed 544 times ]
File comment: BFI trailer 1.85:1
Screenshot from 2020-11-19 19-08-07.jpg
Screenshot from 2020-11-19 19-08-07.jpg [ 131.72 KiB | Viewed 544 times ]
_________________
My collection
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2020, 08:41 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
Regarding the German TV version, it could well be the exact same source as the German VHS. Both being the USA version just with a German dub?

It would be great to see the Japan Laserdisc for comparison. Plus the audio tracks of both Laserdiscs to inspect the damage if any.

Lifted this awesome info and images from a Pet Shop Boys fan site:

VHS: 1989 UK (Picture Music Int'l; EVV 1104) [rental; Ackland ps; Sep 88]
VHS: 1989 UK (Picture Music Int'l; MVN 9912063) [retail; white psb ps]
VHS: 1992 UK (Music Club/PMI; MC-2098) [PAL; budget reissue]
VHS: 1997 UK (PMI; MC-2098) [reissue, w/o Music Club logo]
VHS: 1989 DE (Rainbow; M-555) ["Der Film"/dubbed in German]
VHS: 1990 US (Epic Home Video; n/a) [promo]
VHS: 1990 US (Epic Home Video; ISBN 0-8001-0849-3) [PG-13!]
12"LD: 1990 US (Columbia; 59676) [mono]
12"LD: 1992 US (Epic Home Video; 59676 {ISBN 0-8001-0941-4}) [mono]
12"LD: 1990 JP (Picture Music Int'l; EV078-3010) [surround stereo; lyric sht; jap subtls]
12"LD: 1991 JP (Picture Music Int'l; TOVW-3073) [fold-out info sheet; reissue?]
2xVCD: 2001 HK (Lanmart; LTVD063) [english video CD with chinese subtitles]
[20 tracks]

LP: 1987 UK (EMI; PSB-1) [promo; never issued]
CS: 1987 UK (EMI; TC PSB-1) [promo x200]
CD: 1987 UK (EMI; CD PSB-1) [promo; never issued]
5:17 It Couldn't Happen Here
5:07 Suburbia [video mix]
7:39 It's A Sin (disco mix) ["extended version"]
4:41 West End Girls
3:59 Always On My Mind
5:09 Rent
3:32 Two Divided by Zero
4:17 What Have I Done To Deserve This? (extended version)
5:11 King's Cross
5:28 One More Chance
5:09 I Want To Wake Up
[Awarded as a prize in the 1987 Brighton Festival competition.
All songs are commonly-available versions.]

VHS: 19?? DK (Pathe-Nordisk Film Video AS; 498-999) [priest ps]
[Retitled to "Pet Shop Boys: It's A Sin" and subtitled in
Danish. Sleeve text reads (in Danish): "It's more than just a
movie, it's more than the most popular pop-group of the 80's,
it's more than just stunning effects, fantastic shootings and
capturing sound, it's a completely overwhelming experience.
It's PET SHOP BOYS "IT'S A SIN"" // "The huge success from the
movie-theatres - the nicest and most surprising movie since
Pink Floyd "The Wall!""]

[Promotional Items: It Couldn't Happen Here]
10"x14" film program; 8pp, glossy paper, gorgeous! (JP)
Presskit; eight 8"x10"" photos (UK)
UK promo (Picture Music Int'l); 4-page A4 glossy colour press
book/presenter for film release featuring film synopsis and many
colour photos!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Note there is no scan of the 2nd Japan Laserdisc pressing.

Website with all this great stuff is:

https://www.psb-catalogue.com
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Review: It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
PostPosted: 20 Nov 2020, 09:07 
Hardcore fan
Hardcore fan
User avatar

Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 14:21
Posts: 1143
Location: New Delaware
Has thanked: 293 times
Been thanked: 326 times
Found the Japanese VHS and rehosted it in.case it disappears. Someone may wish to archive all these images. I cannot find the Danish VHS. Also there is UK versions on that fan site I've not hotlinked here.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image
_________________
Blog: The Coterie / L'boxd: Diary
Pioneer CLD-R7G, CLD-D925 | Yamaha APD-2 | DVDO Edge, VP50 Pro
Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
 Page 1 of 1 [ 12 posts ] 


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: