January 2007

 
 

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DVDs I bought or received in the month of January

  • Brokeback Mountain (R0 USA, HD DVD/SD DVD combo)
  • The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire (R0 Germany, SD DVD)
  • A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin: Remastered Edition (R1 USA, SD DVD)
  • The Mephisto Waltz (R2 Spain, SD DVD)
  • Waking the Dead: Series 4 (R2 UK, SD DVD)

DVD and HD DVD purchases this month were somewhat overshadowed by the ordering of a Playstation 3 and some Blu-ray discs to play on it. Look for impressions on these some time in early February.

 
Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 10:48 PM
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | HD DVD | TV | Waking the Dead
 

Feeling Blu

Panasonic DMP-BD10

My Playstation 3 and the three Blu-ray discs to play on it haven’t arrived yet, but this afternoon I got to experience Blu-ray in the comfort of my own home for the first time, thanks to the Panasonic DMP-BD10 that Lyris managed to snag for review. It’s a rather nicely-designed piece of equipment, and it certainly boots considerably quicker than our HD DVD player, but nothing that I’ve seen so far this afternoon has made me regret the decision to go with HD DVD way back in June.

We got three discs with the player: two demonstration reels, one from Panasonic and one from 20th Century Fox, and a copy of Fantastic 4 from Fox. Of the two demo discs, the Panasonic one, which features three music performances from different artists, encoded with MPEG4 AVC and featuring a variety of audio options, including uncompressed 7.1 LPCM and DTS 5.1, was the most visually impressive, with the only visible flaws seemingly being the result of the digital photography itself rather than the encoding. The same cannot be said about Fox’s MPEG2 demo disc, which featured clips and trailers from a variety of different films, ranging from striking (Walk the Line), to decent but soft-looking (Kingdom of Heaven), to completely unimpressive (X2: X-Men United). The latter description perfectly sums up Fantastic 4, which is one of the worst-looking high definition presentations I’ve seen so far. Virtually every artefact associated with a digital transfer is present here to some degree, from light edge enhancement to heavy-handed temporal noise reduction, which causes grain to clump and textures to drag when in movement. It also looks decidedly soft, much closer to, say, Studio Canal’s Basic Instinct HD DVD than I would have expected for such a recent, CGI-heavy blockbuster. Given that it is an MPEG2 encode on a 25GB disc, I’m slightly surprised that I didn’t find more compression artefacts than I did, but they’re definitely there, and the fact that most of the bonus materials have been tossed aside in order to cram the film on to the disc speaks volumes about how inefficient the codec is.

Oh, and the Java-powered menu system is an absolute nightmare. It’s slow and unresponsive, and makes me see just how much better a deal our HD DVD player is given that, despite its slow booting time, menu access is smooth and instantaneous.

Obviously I can’t evaluate an entire format based on one film and a couple of demo discs, but so far I’ve not seen anything to wow me. If I’d just spent £1,200 (which is what this player costs in the UK) on what I’d been promised was “the ultimate home theater [sic] experience”, I’d be a bit pissed.

PS. We have this player for a couple of weeks, so I intend to make the most of this by renting and reviewing as many Blu-ray titles as possible.

 
Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Music | Technology
 

Eternal format wars

HD DVD

Universal continued its somewhat tepid support of HD DVD today by announcing two new titles for release on April 24th: Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Eddie Murphy masterpiece The Nutty Professor. Given how much I enjoyed the former, I’ll definitely be picking up its high definition incarnation; as for the latter, well, let’s just say my life has already been “enriched” by that particular title, and it’s not an experience I feel compelled to repeat. Slightly more encouraging is the appearance of several highly regarded titles on the HD DVD Promotion Group’s Release List, including E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Psycho and The Shining. Obviously, without release dates, this can’t be taken as an official announcement, but it does imply that there is at least an intention to release these films on HD DVD at some point in the future.

HD DVD

In other news, I pre-ordered the upcoming Blu-ray release of Casino Royale (due out on March 13th). This will likely be my first ever Sony Blu-ray disc, given that they own very little worth bothering about (yes, believe it or not I’ll be passing on Little Man and Click), and, given the reports I’ve been hearing, I’m not expecting great things. Then again, they’re apparently going to switch from MPEG2 to MPEG4 AVC for this title, which means that it will hopefully not be the compression nightmare that many of their earlier titles were. I’ve also taken out a one-month subscription to LoveFilm, which means I will be able to rent the small number of region-free Blu-ray discs released in the UK in order to get a feel of what the format has to offer in terms of image quality. Obviously, this discounts all Fox titles, which are coded for Region B, as well as Sony’s releases of recent films (their policy is to make catalogue titles region-free).

 
Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 9:45 PM | Comments: 11 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

Even more HD DVD captures

kkbb

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is another really nice-looking disc: very smooth, rich colours, great compression, only a few minor signs of noise reduction slightly marring it. Okay, so it isn’t razor-sharp in the way that Serenity is, but few films are, and the smooth appearance is very appropriate for this film noir homage.

PS. Another problem with these captures that I’ve begun to notice is that, in addition to adding some softness that shouldn’t be there, colour banding is also appearing.

 
Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 8:46 PM
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

Digging up missing discs

DVD

This morning, I received check discs of the fourth series of Waking the Dead for review from 2 Entertain. Well, to be slightly more accurate, I received check discs last Friday, but, for some reason, the four discs included in the package contained only the first eight (out of a total of twelve) episodes. To make matters doubly baffling, the press release that came with the discs referred to this being a three-disc set…? The problem was rectified this morning, however, with the arrival of another package, this one containing six discs, which means that all the episodes are now accounted for. Presumably this means that the commercially available package will be comprised of three dual-sided DVDs. That’s the only reason I can come up with for this bizarre discrepancy.

 
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 11:35 PM
Categories: DVD | TV | Waking the Dead
 

Yet more HD DVD captures

corpse

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These shots are from Corpse Bride, which has emerged as one of the strongest-looking high definition discs. As before, these screen captures simply don’t do the transfer justice, and, until I can get to the bottom of this softening that seems to be going on, I’m going to have to warn against taking these as being indicative of the actual quality of HD DVD.

 
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 6:34 PM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Animation | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

More HD DVD screen captures

unleashed

unleashed

unleashed

unleashed

unleashed

unleashed

These are from Unleashed. It’s not quite as good-looking as Serenity (a little softer and some very mild signs of temporal noise reduction), but still an absolute beauty to behold - especially when you consider that the file for the film itself, including audio, is a mere 12.8 GB. It’s because of transfers like this that I struggle to believe the mantra espoused by many Blu-ray supporters that 30 GB is not enough. This film comes on a single-layer (15 GB) HD DVD/DVD combo disc and looks amazing!

 
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 5:22 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

Warner saves Europe

HD DVD

Source: AV Science Forum

DVDRama has just unveiled a rather impressive-looking line-up of titles to be released on HD DVD throughout this year in France. As a nice bonus to HD DVD-only people, this includes titles distributed by Blu-ray studios in the US but owned by Warner in Europe, including The Prestige and The Island. Even more interestingly, though, a roster of titles featuring the In-Movie Experience are listed here as HD DVD exclusives (in other words, not coming to Blu-ray). The reason for this is clear: the Blu-ray camp has yet to get their interactive BD-Java technology working properly, and many of the first generation players will probably never be able to fully support it. As a result, Warner has been holding back many IME HD DVDs in the US to keep the playing field level, as it were. Such generous but moronic ideals are clearly not operating in Europe, though, with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire already available to buy in the UK. Whatever you think of the films in question, the titles with the “HD DVD only” tag attached should warm the cockles of any HD DVD supporter’s heart:

April 25

  • The Island

May

  • The Prestige

June

  • The Prestige
  • Natural Born Killers
  • The Matrix (IME) (HD DVD only)

July

  • Mad Max 2
  • The Matrix Reloaded (IME) (HD DVD only)

August

  • The Goonies
  • The Matrix Revolutions (IME) (HD DVD only)
  • Letters from Iwo Jima

September

  • L.A. Confidential
  • Blade Runner
  • Poltergeist
  • 300 (IME) (HD DVD only)
  • Blood Diamond (HD DVD only)
  • Zodiac

October

  • Dirty Harry
  • The Enforcer
  • Sudden Impact
  • Magnum force
  • The Dead Pool
  • Music and Lyrics
  • The Reaping

November

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (IME) (HD DVD only)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (IME) (HD DVD only)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (IME) (HD DVD only)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (IME) (HD DVD only)

December

  • 2001 A Space Odyssey
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Ocean’s eleven (1960)
  • Ocean’s eleven (2001)
  • Ocean’s twelve
  • The Shining
  • The Wizard of Oz

Note: the full list actually also includes several titles already available in the US, which explains why the first few months, as presented here, appear to be so sparse.

Sign me up for The Matrix (thank god I don’t have to buy it in a box set with the shoddy sequels), Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, and possibly a couple of others depending on my finances and what titles are being released by other studios at around the same time.

 
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 4:05 PM | Comments: 4 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

HD DVD screen captures

Ha! They told me it couldn’t be done. In fact, the studios did everything in their power to make things impossible, but the old adage applies: if it can be encrypted, it can be decrypted. The images below are from the UK version of Serenity, and, as far as I can tell, there is no downscaling going on, although I’m still not 100% certain, as there is a certain sheen of softness to these images that isn’t present when watching them on a TV. (It may be that the software decoding of PowerDVD isn’t as effective as it could be.) Anyway, click the thumbnails below for larger versions.

Serenity

Serenity

Serenity

Serenity

Serenity

Serenity

Obtaining these screen captures is a rather long and tedious process that I won’t go into here for fear of swarms of Hollywood dragoons descending on me, but, suffice to say, it would appear that the impossible is in fact possible.

 
Posted: Monday, January 29, 2007 at 10:18 AM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

The best-looking HD title?

HD DVD

King Kong is considered by many people to be the best-looking high definition disc out there. I’ve not viewed it myself, but, based on these screenshots, I think I can see why it’s so highly-regarded:

https://david2k.orcon.net.nz/kk12.jpg
https://david2k.orcon.net.nz/kk25.jpg

More at https://david2k.orcon.net.nz.

PS. Judging by these shots, it is actually possible to get full 1920x1080 screen captures of HD DVD titles from a PC. The process apparently involves getting hold of the disc’s volume key by exploiting a loophole in WinDVD HD, then decrypting the disc, then running the decrypted files in PowerDVD 6.5. In other words, much harder than with a standard definition DVD, but definitely possible.

 
Posted: Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 10:51 PM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology
 

DVD review: The Mephisto Waltz

DVD
There’s nothing particularly unique about The Mephisto Waltz that can’t be found in the countless other Rosemary’s Baby-inspired horror films from the same period. Then again, the book itself was unremarkable despite being an enjoyable pulpy read, so it’s difficult to feel too surprised that the film turned out to be equally pedestrian. It’s an enjoyable enough way to kill a couple of hours, though, especially on a cold winter’s night, and that inimitable air of 70s kitsch makes it considerably more appealing than most of its more recent ilk.

A forgotten horror gem or just another Rosemary’s Baby rip-off? I’ve reviewed the R2 Spanish release of The Mephisto Waltz, which bears the distinction of being the only film 20th Century Fox produced in 1970.

 
Posted: Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Reviews
 

Updated HD DVD image quality rankings

HD DVD

Lyris’ recent purchase of a 40” 1080p-capable display has caused me to re-evaluate a few titles. By and large, not much has changed, although Corpse Bride has emerged as the closest to being technically “perfect” (personally, I prefer the grainy aesthetic of Serenity, though).

10/10

  • Corpse Bride (Warner, USA)
  • Serenity (Universal, UK)
  • Serenity (Universal, USA)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Warner, UK)

9/10

  • The Bourne Supremacy (Universal, USA)
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner, USA)
  • Miami Vice (Universal, USA)
  • Unleashed (Universal, USA)
  • Casablanca (Warner, USA)
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Warner, UK)

8/10

  • Red Dragon (Universal, USA)
  • Constantine (Warner, USA)
  • Land of the Dead (Universal, USA)
  • V for Vendetta (Warner, USA)
  • The Machinist (Toshiba, Japan)
  • Sleepy Hollow (Paramount, USA)
  • Million Dollar Baby (Warner, USA)

7/10

  • Wolf Creek (The Weinstein Company, USA)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Universal, USA)
  • The Mummy Returns (Universal, USA)
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Warner, USA)

6/10

  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (Paramount, USA)
  • An American Werewolf in London (Universal, USA)
  • Brokeback Mountain (Universal, USA)
  • Basic Instinct (Studio Canal, France)

I’ll continue to post this list, with updates, at regular intervals (probably around once a month). Also, expect Blu-ray titles to begin to be added starting with the next major update.

 
Posted: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 8:25 PM
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD
 

Book bonanza

There are few gifts more annoying to me than book tokens. To me, they always seem like money with strings attached: you can buy what you want, but the gift-giver is implying, in a not so subtle manner, what they think you should get, and restricting your choice to the goods sold in a certain type of shop. I tend to find this particularly frustrating because I almost always shop online, often buying from stores outside the UK, in which case book tokens aren’t even any use for buying books. I’m not a voracious reader - books, for me, tend to be what you occupy yourself with to send yourself to sleep at night, or to pass time on the train/bus or when seated on the porcelain throne. As such, most books last me for absolutely ages, with even one that I’m particularly gripped by generally keeping me going for at least a week (probably closer to a fortnight if it’s more than 300 pages). Still, after Christmas, I found myself with £20 of book money to spend, so today I headed into town to see if I could get rid of it.

As luck would have it, Borders had a “3 for 2” sale on, though, as usual, I could only find two books I was genuinely interested in. I picked up Casino Royale by Ian Fleming and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (both due to the Baron’s recommendations, so he shall be held personally responsible in the event that I don’t like them), and, not seeing anything else in the sale worth grabbing, settled on Restless by William Boyd, a spy thriller whose synopsis at least sounds mildly engaging. With only 15 of the £20 spent, I also threw in a copy of The Odessa File by Frederick Forsythe (I’m currently half-way through his The Day of the Jackal and finding it to be a decidedly gripping read).

 
Posted: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 7:38 PM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Books
 

Ban this filth!

HD DVD

Two new HD DVDs entered the house today: Lyris picked up a copy of the deliriously awful The Mummy Returns, while I received a review copy of Brokeback Mountain, the movie once referred to by my charming grandfather (who struggles with the concept of multi-racial relationships, let alone same-sex ones) as “the poofter cowboy film”. Unfortunately, neither are particularly impressive examples of the format: both look somewhat soft and slightly edge enhanced, with Brokeback Mountain faring the worst, especially in the first half (the detail levels seem to improve at around the half-way point). Indeed, it’s probably the only high definition title I’ve seen so far where at times I found myself thinking “This almost looks like a really good standard definition DVD.”

But what of the film itself? It garnered three Oscars, including Best Director, and a plethora of adulation. As is so often the case, the answer is good, but not as good as the praise would lead you to believe. However, first and foremost I think something should be cleared up: in this so-called “gay cowboy movie”, neither one of the two main characters is gay, and they herd sheep, not cows. However, “bisexual sheepboy movie” doesn’t have quite the same zing to it, so I can see why the less factually correct pseudonym became the generally accepted one. When it was initially released, many viewers and critics remarked, with both surprise and admiration, that, despite featuring a relationship between two men, this wasn’t a “gay” movie. I think I know what they mean: it doesn’t treat the gender of the pair as particularly remarkable (although that’s not to say that the social stigma attached to it is never an issue). “It could just as well have been a man and a woman,” many people said. And that, for me, is both the film’s strength and its weakness. Yes, it’s impressive to see a Hollywood movie treat this sort of subject matter with respect, but at the same time, make one of the two cowboys a woman and I strongly doubt that it would have attracted nearly as much attention (although the scene in which they beat each other up might have raised some eyebrows). This is a rather conventional tale of forbidden love, and the characters, despite offering some insight into the personas they construct for themselves in order to fit into a conservative society, are really not massively interesting. It’s all quite nicely shot and competently acted, but I don’t see this as a masterpiece by any means; on the contrary, it has a lot in common with those daytime made-for-TV “dramedies” (to borrow a word I detest) that Channel 5 shows most afternoons.

 
Posted: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 7:00 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD
 

Slaughter Hotel

Slaughter Hotel

Italy: Fernando Di Leo, 1971

A hooded assassin armed with an axe is trawling the corridors of a mental asylum for troubled (not to mention oversexed) women located somewhere in the countryside. It’s the sort of asylum that’s run by the shifty-eyed Klaus Kinski and stocked will all manner of medieval weaponry. The sort of asylum where the curvaceous inmates sleep in the nude with their bedroom doors wide open and the lights on full blast - in other words, the usual kind. Who could it be? (Hint: it’s not Klaus Kinski.)

There are some interesting colour-tinted opening titles which introduce the key cast members. These remind me somewhat od the opening titles for Zimmer 13, and manage to be quite atmospheric, suggesting that the film which follows them will be of a similar standard. Unfortunately, Slaughter Hotel turns out to be a flatly shot and annoyingly ludicrous affair, combining elements of the giallo with soft-core (and even, at times, borderline hard-core) pornography, neither to good effect. With its theme of insanity and its attempts to marry the modernism of the giallo with a gothic aesthetic, it recalls Emilio Miraglia’s considerably more effective (although still deeply flawed) The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, but here any attempts to develop an engaging plot fail miserably and are jettisoned in favour of scene after scene of sex and/or bloodletting.

Slaughter Hotel

What’s surprising is that all of this could have been pretty entertaining in a “so bad it’s good way”, but the film kills any potential for this by moving at a snail’s pace and generally dragging out each scene well after its limited potential has been exhausted. There’s nothing particularly appealing about an ineptly-staged lesbian scene between two uncomfortable-looking actresses going on for minute after minute. The characters themselves are not particularly interesting, although the various “cures” suggested for the inmates’ “ailments” should raise an eyebrow or two - Rosalba Neri’s character, committed, it would seem, because she likes having sex, is immediately ordered to take a shower, an act which has the effect of causing her to writhe about orgasmically and rub herself against the walls (this particular act is set to some amusingly sinister music courtesy of Silvano Spadaccino, whose score is, for the most part, dull and uninteresting).

This is ultimately the sort of giallo that makes Strip Nude For Your Killer look well-made and intelligently scripted. As a murder mystery it fails to work, and as a slice of cult sleaze it’s hardly any more effective. I’m just slightly surprised that such a sexually explicit giallo was made as early as 1971 - I’d previously assumed that this particular trend didn’t emerge until closer to the middle of the decade. In the end, it’s all very silly but also rather boring. Deep Red this ain’t. 2/10

 
Posted: Saturday, January 27, 2007 at 12:48 AM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Cinema | DVD | Gialli | Reviews
 

Footprints on the Moon

Italy: Luigi Bazzoni, 1975

Some films are so completely nutty that the only way of understanding just how nutty they are is to see them for yourself. This is certainly the case with Footprints on the Moon, which also goes by the names of Primal Impulse or just Footprints (its original Italian title is Le Orme, which translates as “the tracks”, i.e. footprints). This 1975 piece was made by Luigi Bazzoni and his regular cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who in 1971 had collaborated on a giallo called The Fifth Cord, which was very impressive to look at but rather inremarkable in the script department. Footprints on the Moon is generally referred to as Bazzoni’s “other giallo”, but in truth I think that label is somewhat tenuous. The word “giallo” conjures up different things for different people, but I think it’s fairly self-evident that anyone expecting the usual black-gloved serial killer affair, as popularised by Dario Argento, will be slightly disappointed by this film. Likewise, even those whose definition of the giallo is broader will probably find the content of the film a bit surprising. The nearest point of comparison I can think of is The Perfume of the Lady in Black, another Italian thriller from the same period which dealt with the similar subject matter of a woman whose sanity is crumbling.

Florinda Bolkan (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) stars as Alice, a translator being haunted by nightmares of a rather creepy black and white sci-fi film starring Klaus Kinski as the sinister Blackmann. She believes she remembers seeing the film once, but the dreams are incredibly vivid and seem almost real. Following one of these dreams, Alice awakens to discover that she has forgotten the events of the past three days. Initially led to believe that she has actually been asleep for this duration of time, she becomes suspicious when various clues lead her to the Turkish island of Garma, where various locals clearly remember her having visited only a few days ago - an event of which Alice has no recollection. Even more strangely, they all address her as Nicole.

Footprints on the Moon is considerably more avant-garde than its predecessor. While The Fifth Cord was essentially the work of an experimental crew saddled with a conventional script, this one makes absolutely no attempt to be “normal”. Right from the start something seems to be off: there is a sense of distance and artificiality, conveyed by the careful camerawork and set dressing. The washed-out pan and scan transfer of my copy makes it difficult to appreciate the cinematography, but even so Bazzoni and Storaro’s fascinating use of angles and geometric architecture is readily evident. Likewise, there use of primary colours recalls their work on The Fifth Cord, with night scenes where the entire screen is bathed in blue and a slow motion climax with pumped contrasts and heavy colour tinting. As befits a film in which the protagonist’s mental faculties are being called into question, we’re never quite sure whether what we’re seeing or hearing is real or all in her head.

There’s a sense at times that the imagery is just a little too crazy to be entirely successful: the use of the aforementioned sci-fi movie is, to an extent, explained at the end, but it doesn’t exactly fit the tone of the rest of the film, and much of it tends to be a little on the cheesy side. I’m also not sure I’d call the film as good as The Fifth Cord - its narrative is certainly considerably more imaginative, but it does at times overstep the mark and end up simply being weird for the sake of weirdness. In balance, The Fifth Cord was more successful because it was less ambitious in its intentions. Still, Footprints on the Moon is a unique, atmospheric, and visually arresting film that really needs a legitimate DVD release so that these qualities can be fully appreciated. 8/10

 
Posted: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 5:19 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Cinema | Gialli | Reviews
 

Universal pledges 100 HD DVDs in 2007; still says no to Blu-ray

HD DVD

Source: High-Def Digest

After much fretting by HD DVD supporters, Universal have finally made an announcement regarding their plans for the format. Once again they have reiterated that they have no plans to support Blu-ray, and indeed they have promised an aggressive slate of 100 new titles for 2007, all of which will, naturally, be HD DVD exclusives.

Once again, no release dates are given, so it’s anyone’s guess whether we’ll see anything before April, but the studio did let slip on some of the titles we can expect to see:

Among the additional new titles to be released in 2007 are the Oscar-nominated Children of Men, the critically acclaimed epic drama The Good Shepherd, and the high-octane Smokin’ Aces. Also on deck for release this year are such highly-anticipated catalog favorites as Bruce Almighty, The Bourne Identity, Meet The Fockers, American Pie, Inside Man, Pride & Prejudice, The Big Lebowski, Liar Liar, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Brazil, Erin Brockovich, Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Slap Shot and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Universal also stated that more than 90% of these releases will be HD DVD/DVD combos - a move guaranteed to invoke anger and gratitude in equal measure.

 
Posted: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 11:48 AM | Comments: 1 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD
 

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something Blu

Blu-ray

Well, that’s it: the Playstation 3 is on its way. Lyris found one online from a US supplier at a price that, all things considered, seemed too good to refuse - especially given that, Sony being Sony and clamping down on exporter with an iron fist, it was a miracle that we found a US store that would ship one to the UK at all (and I’m not going to link to the store or even name them, because I know for a fact that Sony would do a Lik-Sang on their asses if they found out). The cute little rhyme I used for the title of this post is depressingly appropriate: I’m going to need to beg my parents to lend me some money when the bill comes in. As I’ve said before, hopefully I’ll have a job before too long and can afford to pay it off. I’m also selling a bunch of old DVDs on eBay, which I’m hoping will at least pay for the inevitable customs charge.

Oh, and because there’s not much point in owning a Crapstation and having nothing to play on it (what, you think I’d buy it for its looks?), I went over to DVD Pacific and ordered a few discs: Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut, Enemy of the State and The Descent. Unfortunately, these are all MPEG2 titles, and Kingdom of Heaven has had all of its extras stripped out so that the whole film could fit on to a single BD50 using that bloated relic of a codec, so I doubt that these will be the finest examples of the format. We all have to start somewhere, though, and I’d personally rather pick up films I like rather than buy discs featuring decent transfers but crap films (something that both formats apparently have more than their fair share of).

The discs and the Crapstation should both be arriving in about a week’s time, so I’ll have the full scoop for you soon. In the meantime, if anyone is feeling unnaturally altruistic, massive cash donations would be much appreciated.

 
Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 8:45 PM | Comments: 2 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology
 

The Razzies are in!

Forget the Oscars - the nominations for the real movie awards ceremony are in. A whole host of unfortunates are in line for these most esteemed of all awards this year, with an impressive seven Razzies going to both Basic Instrinct 2 and Little Man. Not to be outdone, Uwe Boll’s meisterwerk Bloodrayne netted six nominations, while the remake of The Wicker Man and Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause are tied with five each (the latter in the prestigious Worst Excuse for Family Entertainment category).

I wonder if anyone will show up to personally collect their trophies? Halle Berry graciously appeared in person to accept the Worst Actress award for Catwoman in 2005 (as did Paul Verhoeven in 1996 for Showgirls, among a handful of others), so, for all we know, this could be the start of a trend.

 
Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 5:24 PM
Categories: Cinema
 

Step away from the bike!

Many thanks must go to Graham for drawing attention to this one: a montage of the most unintentionally funny moments from the cringe-inducingly poor-looking remake of The Wicker Man. Coming soon to HD DVD and Blu-ray: Nicolas Cage steals a bicycle, punches and delivers karate kicks to various women, steals small childrens’ masks, disguises himself as a grizzly bear, and has a swarm of bees poured over his head, all the while screaming “Not the bees! Not the bees! Oh no, my eyes! My eeeeeeeeyeeeeeees!”

Yes, I think I’ve seen all I need to see of this film. It’s fairly clear they dumped the wrong one under the M3.

Update, January 25, 2007 04:28 PM: There’s another, even longer and even funnier, montage here.

 
Posted: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 4:16 PM | Comments: 3 (view)
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD
 
 

 
 
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