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HD heist hyjinks


As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my brother’s site, his 1080p projector arrived yesterday. Currently, the screen on which it is intended to project its images is noticeably absent, so for the time being we are making do with a crumpled sheet that has been attached to the wall with drawing pins. It really isn’t anything like as bad as it sounds, although the fact that the image is split up by three long horizontal folds, and the image has a tendency to ripple and distort against the less than perfectly flat surface, is slightly distracting.

Anyway, tonight we had our first feature-length screening on the projector, and I’m happy to report that it was something better than Norbit. It was the HD DVD of Spike Lee’s Inside Man, which arrived the other day and which I was originally planning on keeping for a Christmas present. I slightly overspent, however, and decided to pay for this one myself (I’ll do a post on the other titles I ordered, which I will be saving for Christmas Day, at a later point).

I’m not much of a Lee scholar (actually, I know next to nothing about him), but I understand that this is one of his more conventional and easily accessible outings. It’s a solid, engaging and at times decidedly inventive heist movie that, like so many films these days, is a good 45 minutes longer than it needs to be, but, although I did find myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat towards the end, I had a blast for the most part, and found myself being reminded on several occasions of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, another New York-based thriller dealing with a gang of crooks holding a group of hostages to ransom. It must be admitted that Denzel Washington is not a patch on Walter Mathau,* nor is Clive Owen on Robert Shaw, but I enjoyed their performances thought that the film’s only major failings, apart from its length, were a handful of ham-fisted attempts at social commentary, focusing on racial prejudice and, in one laughable scene, violence and “gangsta” culture in video games.

Oh, and it looks as if this is yet another stellar HD release from Universal, who can really do great work when they put their minds to it (they’ve also churned out some absolute garbage, though, and are to date, to the best of my knowledge, the only studio who have had the audacity to put out a 480i upconvert and sell it as a full 1080p HD release). Of course, moving from a 40” LCD screen to a projected image of over 100” takes some getting used to (everything immediately looks considerably less detailed, unsurprisingly enough), and at the moment I don’t have much of a frame of reference for what a superb transfer looks like at this size compared with one that is merely very good, but I found the whole experience surprisingly cinematic and was never distracted by any unpleasant artefacts. I hope to do some screen captures before too long.

And I’m sorry, but I can’t not like a film that includes the line “You’re a magnificent cunt.”

* As I was typing this, I happened to take a look at IMDB, and was somewhat surprised to discover that Tony Scott is directing a remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, due for release in 2009. Guess who’s filling Walter Mathau’s shoes? That’s right: Denzel Washington.

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2007 at 9:58 PM
Categories: Cinema | HD DVD | Technology

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