We gotta hand it to Oscilloscope Laboratories. Founded by Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, it could so easily have become a vanity DVD label without much influence or clout, but it has quickly risen to be strong independent player both theatrically and on home video. Their roster has accomodated a wide variety of strong films from "Bellflower," "Meek's Cutoff," "The Messenger," "Exit Through The Giftshop," "Dear Zachary" and much more. They have accommodated the arthouse and foreign films equally, and now are making a big stride into tackling classic films and directors.
Today the label announced they've obtained the North American rights to legendary director Nicholas Ray’s final film, “We Can’t Go Home Again.” The divisive, experimental work was devised by Ray in collaboration with his students at SUNY Binghamton, and bowed at Cannes in 1973, but Ray continued to tinker with the edit until his death in 1979. As the press release notes: "In the film, we observe Ray undertaking the bold experiment of teaching collaboration and filmmaking to a novice crew while making a feature film. The film also aims to document the history, progress, manners, morals, and mores of everyday life at a critical moment in American history, through an expressionistic use of multiple image."
Announced earlier this year to be playing at both the Venice Film Festival and New York Film Festival in a new digitally restored print that includes narration by the director and an improved soundtrack, those of us unable to make to the Lido or NYC will have plenty of opportunities to see the final work from Ray. And not only that, there will be big amount of supplementary content. Accompanying the film, Oscilloscope will also release a new documentary, "Don't Expect Too Much" (talk about an ominous title), never-before-seen footage and audio from the Ray archive and interviews to explain the vision behind "We Can't Go Home Again," as well explore the director's latter day career and life.
The films will play the aforementioned festivals and screen on Turner Classic Movies in October. From there it will do the arthouse rounds, playing various universities and special engagements, before finally arriving on DVD in 2012. It's a big move for Oscilloscope, one that finds them reaching a different kind of audience than they have before. While it's not their first classic title to be released -- that honor goes to Jules Dassin's "The Law" -- it's certainly the biggest undertaking they've had for such a film and frankly it's the kind of thing we would've expected from The Criterion Collection. But regardless of who puts it out, it's on its way and in a safe pair of hands to deliver it.
Photo of Nicholas Ray by Mark Goldstein