We Can’t Go Home Again

with

Don’t Expect Too Much

 

We Can’t Go Home Again

Written by Nicholas Ray & Susan Ray

Reconstruction and Restoration by Susan Ray

Photography by Richie Bock, Danny Fisher & Stanley Liu

Edited by Richie Bock, Tom Farrell & Danny Fisher

Produced by Nicholas Ray

Directed by Nicholas Ray

1972-79

 

Featuring:

Leslie Levinson

Tom Farrell

Richie Bock

Jil Gannon

Jane Heymann

Nicholas Ray

 

Production Studio:

Theatrical: Harper College

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories

 

Video:

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Disc Size: BD50

Feature Size: 21.41 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate-High (27~32 Mbps)

Feature Runtime: 95 minutes

Chapters: 18

Region: All


Audio

English DTS MA Stereo

 

Subtitles

Optional English

 

Extras (in SD):

• Extended Interview with Nick Ray Biographer Bernard Eisenschitz (19:20)

• Extended Interview with Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (18:30)

• CBS Camera Three - Profile of Nicholas Ray (28:45)

The Janitor from the 1974 film Wet Dreams (12:05)

• About Marco with Actor Claudio Mazzatenta and Asst Director Gerry Bamman (9:35)

• Rushes from Ray’s Marco (28:30)

• 24-page booklet with essay by Susan Ray



SYNOPSES [Oscilloscope]

WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN 

The most complete, newly restored version of Nicholas Ray’s experimental masterpiece, made with his students at the State University of New York at Binghamton, WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN embodies Ray’s approach to filmmaking as a communal way of life. The film records Ray’s groundbreaking use of multiple image as a way of telling more than one story simultaneously, and of colorization as a way to heighten emotional expression. He called it a “journalistic” film, one that shares the anthropologists’ aim of recording the “history, progress, manners, morals, and mores of everyday life,” at a critical moment in American history. Ray plays himself in the film, serving as mentor, friend, and reference point around whom the students’ stories constellate.


        

 

DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH

Did Nick Ray leave Hollywood, or did Hollywood leave him? What was he up to when he returned to the States after a decade in Europe? What was his intention with WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, that experimental film he made with a bunch of college students? What was he doing with so many images on the screen all at once? How did he do it? Why was the film never finished? Did he lose his way, his talent, his sanity, his common sense? DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH, a full-length documentary helmed by Ray’s wife Susan, investigates these questions and the relationship forged by Ray between his life and his art. Drawing on the director’s archive of never-before-seen film, video, and stills, Susan finds answers to our questions about Nick Ray in Nick Ray’s own words and images. And we learn from interviews with members of the original crew of WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, directors Jim Jarmusch and Victor Erice, and others, how this man lived, saw, learned, and taught, how he fought and danced with his demons, how he loved.


        

 

About the Directors:

Nicholas Ray was born in the heartland of America, in Galesville, Wisconsin, on August 7, 1911. He lived a bold and adventurous life, always searching for a deeper understanding of himself and his world. His career touched every aspect of American cultural life and included his direction of such film classics as Party Girl, In A Lonely Place, Lusty Men, Bigger Than Life, Bitter Victory, and, of course, Rebel Without A Cause. When the Hollywood system became too restrictive, Ray exiled himself to Europe, where he lived for 10 years, returning to the States in 1969. He worked on We Can’t Go Home Again between 1971 and 1976, acted in films of Wenders and Foreman, and in 1977, having come to grips with his alcohol addiction, he turned to teaching, which he has been quoted as saying was the most fulfilling work of his life.


                   

 

Susan Ray was born on November 15, 1951, in New Haven, Connecticut. She attended the University of Chicago, and it was in Chicago, at the Conspiracy Trial, that she first met Nicholas Ray. Soon she was working full-time for the director, and soon after that they were living together in New York. There Susan worked as a book editor while also giving her efforts to whatever project Ray had underway. The couple collaborated on the concept and first pages for We Can’t Go Home Again. She has edited and introduced with her memoir the book I Was Interrupted: Nicholas Ray On Making Movies, and over the years has published several short pieces about Ray. She has practiced Rinzai Zen for 30 years, ordained in the lineage of Kyozan Joshu, Roshi, and studied with a number of indigenous healers. She is a writer by trade, with a semi-fictional novel in final revisions. Don’t Expect Too Much is her first film, and she hopes not her last.


       

 

The Movie : 6

What’s that you say: Never heard of “We Can’t Go Home Again”? Perhaps that’s understandable.  Not because the film isn’t some undiscovered “Messiah” or “Guernica.”  Not because it isn’t another “In a Lonely Place” or “Johnny Guitar” or because it is unfinished. But because it is so idiosyncratically experimental - certainly it is unlike any Hollywood movie before it - the sort of movie that reeks “art house.”  We Can’t Go Home Again is a student film, quite literally, since Nick Ray made it at a college (State University of New York at Binghamton) as a college project with the help of college students.  In fact, the movie is very much their story – and, in a way Ray’s, too.

 

We Can’t Go Home Again is peculiar enough as a viewing experience that I would recommend starting with the Bernard Eisenschitz interview in the Bonus Features. Eisenschitz is Nick Ray Biographer and provides just the right balance of passion, detachment, context and knowledge about this unusual director and this even more unusual film  You might continue with Susan Ray’s essay “Passing It On” found in the booklet.  She places Nick Ray’s legacy in a personal context and also speaks about the restoration of We Can’t Go Home Again.


A good deal of what is so peculiar about We Can’t Go Home Again, besides the obvious multi-image approach to the narrative, is the way the image and images are framed – since framed they are, even though the original intention was to be shown via several projectors.  It seems clear to me that Ray did not intend the film have a frame as such, so watching it forced into any single format, as we have here - is unsettling.  On top of everything else, We Can’t Go Home Again was left unfinished at the time of Ray’s death in 1979 - He seemed as much if not more interested in the process of making the film as in completing it.


       

 

Critical Reaction:

Chicago Reader

“Nobody talks to children," observes James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. "No," agrees Natalie Wood, "they just tell them." Nicholas Ray, who directed the 1955 movie from his own story, earned a reputation as a filmmaker who not only talked to young people but listened to them. . . The cinema of Nicholas Ray was a world of lonely misfits unable to make their peace with society. . .  [When he began work on We Can't Go Home Again] Ray immediately abandoned the classroom for hands-on instruction, with students rotating every two weeks from camera to sound to lighting to acting. There was an element of mutual exploitation: to him the students were a pool of unskilled but free labor that could keep his new project moving, and to them he was their ticket to the big time, a Hollywood veteran whose address book was jammed with movie stars' phone numbers (most of them out of date). At the same time, the interviewees speak of Ray with admiration if not always affection; the man they remember was a brilliant artist and a passionate teacher, infuriating and inspiring.  - J.R. Jones


       


notcoming.com

The line between what is and is not real in We Can’t Go Home Again is more than just a blur: it’s downright schizophrenic. . . Nicholas Ray, weary after decades of Hollywood filmmaking, assumes a teaching position at the State University of New York at Binghamton and instructs his students through a collaborative feature-film endeavor. . . The symptoms of the disorder – paranoid delusions, warped perceptions, withdrawal from everyday life, behavioral irregularities, and a global splintering of one’s consciousness – are the threads of Ray’s delirious tapestry. And regardless of the many characters that pass by the screen, the one who remains at the center is always Ray. Like so many orbiting moons, the characters (all of them Ray’s students) circle around their teacher, either in submission, collaboration, or defiance, and often alternating between the three as their relationship develops and Ray’s own mental, physical, and spiritual states continue to deteriorate. . .


Like much of the rest of the film, Ray’s closing message is fraught with contradictions: its hope for the younger generation is offset by his own capitulation; the “floodgates” may be “rushing,” but Ray seems unable to navigate this surge of ideas. . . It is as if Ray’s greatest life lesson to pass on is the story of his own life: his failures, his successes, his doubts, his hopes, his struggles, his successes—his movies. A belated comeback to the student who questioned Ray’s knowledge just because he made some “movies” is that, yes, that is precisely why Ray knows so much. Because by making movies, Ray lived a thousand lives in addition to his own. – Cullen Gallagher


       

 

KQEK.com

At best, WCGHA is part student film as funneled through the director’s unrealized dream of making a multiple-image experimental film that self-consciously uses its crew and creators in a docu-drama setting, riffing then-current political unrest of the country’s youth as they struggle to address the corruption, war protests, and disgust from factions who regard their lifestyle, vernacular, and political beliefs as more useless than genuine counterculture.


Ray continued to edit and re-edit the film over the years, trying to shape it into something he felt worked, but not unlike Welles and Don Quixote, it was a project that could never be completed due to insurmountable yet practical issues: money to finish the project, actors that had moved on and aged, and a director’s mindset that wasn’t the same as in 1973. The version that is now in formal circulation is due to a lengthy restoration program which finally clicked when funds and dedication from technicians allowed Ray’s widow, Susan Ray, to essentially clean up the film. Two known prints exist from the 1973 Cannes edition, and it’s that version – not the re-edited attempts from later years – which has been restored without changing a single frame. The audio’s been beautifully cleansed in spite of its sometimes crude form, and Ray’s narration – recorded for the Cannes cut but apparently never used – sounds brand new. It’s a bit of a marvel to hear Ray’s voice so clearly, and it adds extra depth to a film that became a personal obsession, if not an attempt by its co-creator to leave one final work before the effects of alcohol, smoking, and finally cancer killed him in 1979. – Mark R. Hasan


       

 

Image:

As they say in The Outer Limits: “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.”


We Can’t Go Home Again is meant to be shown by several projectors, each with a different film medium: video, super 8, 16 mm, 35 mm and occupying different, sometime overlapping portions of the frame, each necessarily in very different resolutions.  More consequential, however, is how raw and manipulated much of the footage appears.  The image quality for Don’t Expect Too Much, however, enjoys better source elements for the newer interviews and looks better for it.


        DVD

       

        Blu-ray

       


The real aspect ratio of the movie is 1.33:1, which is what the DVD displays it as, while the Blu-ray fills the 16x9 at each side with black bars.  Most often a good portion of the acreage in both formats is devoted to some seemingly faux frame that helps to fix the aspect ratio but also reduces the images even further.  As I watch the movie on video, I remain unconvinced that the use of the framing device around its ever-changing montage works.  More than this, I believe it is contrary to what Ray intended, as stated in Susan’s documentary by several people, Ray included.  I find the outer frame seriously distracting and I kept asking myself: What is this frame doing there? Does it have anything to say for itself?  I don’t know who is to blame for this: possibly Nick himself.  After all, the multi-projection idea could never have been the final intention outside of the classroom or the odd film festival, but rather to incorporate all the images onto a single strip of 35 mm film - a rather daunting task in the pre-digital age.


        DVD

       

        Blu-ray

       

 

Audio & Music:

The “line-readings” of the students almost always sound stiff and unspontaneous, which interferes with the documentary style of filming.  Music and narration is clear and buoyant by comparison, especially on the Blu-ray which makes use fan uncompressed audio track.

 

DVD Comparison:

Oscilloscope’s DVD release offers exactly the same content as the Blu-ray, but spread over two discs instead of one - the second disc set aside for the Bonus Features.  A single BD50 manages both films and all the bonus features without compromise.

 

Side-by-side comparisons of image quality at full resolution (which, sadly, I am not able to provide on this page) favor the Blu-ray by no small margin in terms of brightness and sharpness, which is something of a surprise considering how problematic the source elements are.  The Blu-ray feels more solid and has better motion characteristics.  The DVD, for some reason, is a little pinker.  Oscilloscope does its usual good job at not adding enhancements or transfer artifacts - all the more remarkable considering the film stock.


        DVD

       

        Blu-ray

       

 

Extras: 10

Once again, Oscilloscope scores major points with their extra features.  The studio is not entirely clear about whether this release is a double feature, comprising the films of both Rays, or a single feature that has a serious Bonus of a feature length documentary.  The promotional materials favor the latter approach, the DVD and Blu-rays themselves see this as a double feature.


There are two extended interviews, with Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, himself a student in Nick Ray’s class, and Ray’s biographer Bernard Eisenschitz, both of whom seen in brief clips in Susan’s documentary. The half-hour CBS Camera Three Profile of Nicholas Ray - another recommendable segment - is surprisingly lacking in EPK Q&A.  And I especially liked the short film, The Janitor, from the 1974 multi-directed film Wet Dreams.  There is also a piece about Marco, Ray’s last short film that he made with students, which sheds some light on Ray’s approach to directing actors. Finally, the enclosed booklet features an essay by Susan Ray about Nick Ray’s legacy.


       

 

Recommendation: 8

There are reasons to recommend this release over and above the main feature, which is itself fascinating, if often exasperating.  Susan Ray’s documentary and the two interviews with Jarmusch and Eisenschitz, the Camera Three profile and the short film The Janitor are what are likely to remain the definitive story about Nicholas Ray on video for some time to come.

 


Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

October 27, 2012


Images from Don’t Expect Too Much

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

 

 

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Don’t Expect Too Much

Photography by Peter McCandless

Music by Tim Ray, Stormin’ Norman Zamcheck & Markus de Pretto

Edited by Tom Haneke

Produced by Nicholas Ray Foundation & Susan Ray

Written & Directed by Susan Ray

2011

 

Featuring:

Nicholas Ray

Helen Kaplan White

Richard Bock

Jim Jarmusch

Doug Cohen

Victor Erice

 

Production Studio:

Theatrical: The Nicholas Ray Foundation

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories

 

Video 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Feature Size: 16.63 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (6~7 Mbps)

Feature Runtime: 73 minutes

Chapters: 15

 

Audio

English Dolby Digital 2.0

 

Subtitles

Optional English

 

Extras (in SD):

• Extended Interview with Nick Ray Biographer Bernard Eisenschitz (19:20)

• Extended Interview with Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch (18:30)

• CBS Camera Three - Profile of Nicholas Ray (28:45)

The Janitor from the 1974 film Wet Dreams (12:05)

• About Marco with Actor Claudio Mazzatenta and Asst Director Gerry Bamman (9:35)

• Rushes from Ray’s Marco (28:30)

• 24-page booklet with essay by Susan Ray

 

Presentation:

Custom Paper Gatefold Blu-ray case

Release Date: November 13, 2012