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Jingle bells


In case you didn’t notice, yesterday was Christmas. As luck would have it, the various presents I had ordered all showed up on Saturday, contrary to all expectation (Saturday being the last day for the postal service until the 27th), and I got one or two surprises in addition to those. Thanks must go especially to Lee for sending me a copy of Burton on Burton, which, as you can probably guess, is a book on director Tim Burton and his bizarre gothic fantasies. I’m sure I’ll enjoy getting stuck into it when I next have a spare moment.

Otherwise, there were no huge surprises. I got The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The Complete Recordings (what a mouthful!) on CD but haven’t had a chance to listen to anything but the first couple of tracks. And, in terms of DVDs, my collection now includes Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume 4, The Double Life of Véronique (Criterion), The Quiller Memorandum and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Ultimate Edition). I’ve not had the time to watch any of them, but I gave most of them a brief glance, and have collected my thoughts below.


  • The Double Life of Véronique: This release looks slightly better than the French MK2 release (repackaged in the UK under the Artificial Eye label), but it’s a close call. There is less noise reduction and the compression is better handled, giving the image a more eye-pleasing, filmlike appearance. However, I am once again annoyed that Criterion, who are (wrongly, in my opinion) frequently held up to be the pinnacle of DVD production companies, have chosen to assault the image with edge enhancement and brick-wall filtering. Especially following the advent of HD DVD, I am acutely aware that the vast majority of DVDs simply aren’t of an acceptable level of quality.

  • The Quiller Memorandum: Probably the worst transfer I’ve seen all year. This DVD was released only a month ago, and yet it looks almost like a LaserDisc master. The image is flat, detail is non-existent, and I once again find myself wondering how Fox, like Criterion, can garner so much praise for such feeble efforts.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: This restoration, undertaken by Synapse’s Don Mar Jr., has been praised to the high heavens on the Internet, and with good reason: the film has undoubtedly never looked better on a home video format, and the material May had to work with can’t have been in particularly good condition. All the more reason, then, for my to be annoyed by Dark Sky’s DVD, which is ineptly encoded, resulting in some of the most blatant macro-blocking I’ve seen in a long time. At times, the screen is such an array of compression blocks that it resembles a UK Freeview TV broadcast (which anyone who has witnessed this ingenious but flawed “digital TV through an antenna” solution will agree is capable of looking very bad indeed).

That’s all for now. Thoughts on the Looney Tunes discs will follow eventually.

Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 at 4:54 PM | Comments: 5
Categories: Cinema | DVD | General | HD DVD | Music | Technology



I agree with you about Criterion's massive overpraise but out of interest which company would you say does represent the pinnaccle of DVD production companies?
or do you think they are all too inconsistent?

Posted by: , December 26, 2006 8:05 PM


It’s hard to say really. I don’t think anyone’s even remotely consistent. Criterion are certainly among the best when it comes to extras and overall presentation, but as far as transfers are concerned they’re really not that impressive these days. I think Warner tend to do a much better job with their catalogue titles.

Posted by: Whiggles, December 26, 2006 8:35 PM


Most studios at one point have released a dud or two. Criterion dvds are always well produced, but i find them still massively overpriced.

Posted by: Phantom, December 27, 2006 2:06 AM


I've heard that Warner also does home video distribution for New Line? I would also rate New Line as relatively reliable in terms of good PQ.

Posted by: aw, December 27, 2006 4:53 AM


Yes, Warner distributes New Line’s material - both, after all, are owned by the same parent company, Time Warner.

As for New Line, they put out some good discs in the early days (Blade, Se7en), but since around 2001 they have released nothing but over-filtered, edge-enhanced mush. The Fellowship of the Ring (original or extended) looks awful, and Final Destination 3, released only a few months ago, has no detail to speak of.

Posted by: Whiggles, December 27, 2006 11:56 AM

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