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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Biography > Surfing > Sports > Ireland > Biography > Drama > Comedy > History > Australia > Between Land And Sea (2017/Film Movement DVD)/Big Wednesday (1978/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Men Of Wood And Foam (2016 w/History Of Australian Surfing (1985) and Fall Line (1976/1979)/Umbrella/Region Fr

Between Land And Sea (2017/Film Movement DVD)/Big Wednesday (1978/Warner Archive Blu-ray)/Men Of Wood And Foam (2016 w/History Of Australian Surfing (1985) and Fall Line (1976/1979)/Umbrella/Region Free PAL Import DVD Set)



Picture: C+/B/C+ Sound: C+/B-/C+ Extras: D/B-/B Films: C+/B-/B-



PLEASE NOTE: The Men Of Wood And Foam Import DVD set is now only available from our friends at Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, can only play on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Blu-ray players that can handle the PAL DVD and can be ordered from the link below, while the Big Wednesday Blu-ray is now only available from Warner Bros. through their Warner Archive series. All can be ordered from the links below.



One of the best subjects for filming and filming a documentary of is on surfing, because it is not a sport and recreation filmed enough, not enough people do it (or can afford or get to do it) and unless you go out of your way to mess it up (meaning you do not love or appreciate it), you cannot make a totally bad film on the subject. We've covered a few over the years on the site and luckily, here's three new releases, the last of which include two classics a bonus films...



The stereotype of surfing (outside of the big business angle) is a bunch of young, single young adults hanging at the beach and having a sunny good time. Usually it is guys (usually white males), but that has changed more than you might think. Ross Whitaker's Between Land And Sea (2017) offers some serious surfers going for some of the toughest waves you will ever see... in Ireland!


Turns out it they have usually cold weather (the surfers all wear wetsuits) and really oddly shaped and sometimes more dangerous waves than you can find anywhere else, so the documentary examines the lives of these men on the country's west coast and this includes name surfer Shane Dorian. The men interviewed are older, have wives and even children, also loving the sport and challenge and even hoping this locale could be the next surfing hot spot.


We also get some great shots of these waves (mostly long shots despite the great efforts of several cameramen with underwater-proof housed HD cameras we spot often during those segments) and this plays well enough until it gets heavy-handed in the end with one of the interviewees talking religion and keeps saying the same thing and making the same connection (Jesus and surfing) to the point of it unintentionally being a bad joke.


Otherwise, this is worth a look and will hopefully not be the last time we see this land or surf.


There are no extras.



John Milius' Big Wednesday (1978) is in many ways the best film he ever made, though it has some minor issues, because it is biographical enough that it does not have time for his political views, which in his case are never given exposition when they show up. The film beings in 1962 with three friends (Jan Michael Vincent, William Katt and Gary Busey) living the life of surfing and fun with other friends, chasing women and waves. The selection of classic hit records holds up well, if not as effective as what you might get in a Scorsese film, but great just the same.


Vincent is a one-time great surfer who has left the business over family and alcoholism, the latter of which is quickly included in the opening sequence. It then follows their lives into the next decade (Katt's character lands up serving in Vietnam, though the film says nothing about the war, save a long sequence where the draft center is mocked and draft dodging with fake excuses kicks in) and there is more character development here than you might expect.


The title refers to the day they all get their dream surf waves, huge and repetitively in that size, so the is this build up, but it can be a subplot or parallel plot to the actual story here. Katt should have been a bigger screen star, while Busey and Vincent landed up having awful alcoholism issues in real life that eventually ruined two careers that produced solid acting and filmmaking like this when all three could have potentially been the next breakout star. Their work here alone is clear evidence of that.


Nevertheless, the film was not the hit it should have been thanks to the like of early Star Wars mania and a sudden shift to fantasy product, but I believe it would have been a bigger hit had it made it to screens a few years before and it remains a key film on surfing. Warner Archive has issued it in a new Blu-ray edition that will make fans very happy for the most part. More on the technical performance below, but the surfing footage will look great on any HD or Ultra HDTV.


Bruce Broughton adds additional music and the supporting cast includes Barbara Hale (Katt's real life mom), Red Brown (who was about to become the second-ever live action Captain America in a series of TV movies with mixed results), Patti D'Arbanville, Sam Melville, Lee Purcell, Fran Ryan, Joe Spinell, Steve Kanaly and a then-unknown Charlene Tilton.


Extras include a feature length audio commentary track by Milius, an Original Theatrical Trailer and Capturing The Swell retrospective documentary.



Shaun Cairns' Men Of Wood And Foam (2016) is a recent TV production from Australian TV that starts in 1956 and shows how the industry had its rough start down under with a ton of great archive footage and new interviews with the men and women who made it happen. It runs about an hour and you can see it was formatted for TV commercials, but the story of The Brookvale Six building the sport out of love for it and as superior recreation tells much about the heart and soul of surfing there. Actor Dan Wylie narrates and Nat Young is among the legends interviewed.


Extras include two featurettes: Midget: The Early Years - A Tribute To Midget Farrelly and one on the soundtrack, plus a music video, plus the Nat Young films History Of Australian Surfing (1985) and Fall Line (1976/1979). The newer History piece is 90 minutes and is a massive compilation work that Young explains took years to get together (he does intro for both films if you select them) and it is very thorough. Maybe a sequel or additional short should be made to update things. Fall Line compares surfing and skiing to make some great points about sports, athletics and satisfaction. Other sports also show up, but Young (who also narrates) has something big and positive to say and he succeeds in a small amount of time where too many have failed in full length releases.


I can also add that this film has some of the greatest surfing footage ever shot and why it is not more well known outside of its country and by diehards of surfing is very wrong. It is a film worthy of Endless Summer and even IMAX surfing films, some of which you can read more about at this link...


http://www.fulvuedrive-in.com/review/10879/The+Endless+Summer+(1966/Monterey+Media+Bl


All in all, this is a great set of surging releases all fans will want to get and everyone should see at least once.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Big Wednesday can show the age of the materials used and a few unexpected flaws, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film even over the decent DVD from years ago and has fine color reproduction throughout. The scope frame is used well without looking odd or awkward, processed in MetroColor, the great Director of Photography Bruce Surtees, A.S.C. (Conquest Of The Planet of The Apes, Dirty Harry, White Dog, Night Moves (also on Warner Archive Blu-ray), Lenny, Play Misty For Me, The Outfit, the original Beguiled) captures the people and drama, as well as the nature and period of time over several decades. Cheers to to Greg MacGillivray for the stunning Panavision surf footage. This is the best looking release on the list as expected, and even has a scene where Jan Michael Vincent is watching The Endless Summer!


The main programs on the other two DVDs are in anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and they look just fine for recent HD production with a few flaws and some mixed editing choices. Neither denatures the color, which is a plus and they are both watchable.


Foam has some older analog video footage and film transfers that vary, as does the 1.33 x 1 History Of Australian Surfing, presented in a 1.33 X 1 frame and mostly in color. Both have some analog videotape flaws including video noise, video banding, telecine flicker, tape scratching, PAL and NTSC cross color, faded color and tape damage. Fortunately, it never becomes too distracting. Fall Line is a totally 16mm full color production and this print has some flaws and specs of dirt in places, but it looks good, though it deserves its own HD restoration.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mix on Big Wednesday was actually an early film issued in basic analog Dolby A/Dolby System noise reduction, so you can use Pro Logic (or the like) on your home theater system and you will get some surrounds. However, some of the sound is nearly mono and the overall recording can show its age, yet this is the best I have ever heard it and unless Warner and Milius go back and replace the hit records with upgraded stereo versions (though some are in stereo), this will likely never sound better.


Land, Foam and even History Of Australian Surfing are presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, though the audio on older clips can be monophonic, yet they sound just fine and probably would improve minimally in a lossless codec. That leaves Fall Line in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, but it does not sound bad for its age and some cleaning up and a new transfer could definitely improve it.



To order the Men Of Wood And Foam Umbrella import DVD set, go to this link for it and other hard to find releases at:


http://www.umbrellaent.com.au/


...and to order the Big Wednesday Warner Archive Blu-ray, go to this link for them and many more great web-exclusive releases at:


http://www.wbshop.com/



- Nicholas Sheffo


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