August 29, 2008

September Song

Just a heads-up that I've begun posting my capsule coverage of this year's TIFF; the plan is to keep updating it throughout the long-weekend so check back periodically for new reviews. Feeling a little rusty, but hopefully by the time I've burned through this stack of screeners from the kind folks at VK the gears will be good and oiled.

As an aside, the Kill Bill Blu-rays docked at FFC HQ today, and good news: they look great.

13 comments:

jacksommersby said...

Bill,

Since you're the king of the home-video review (and no I'm not just saying that, for I brag about you all the time at my website efilmcritic.com) can you explain why Blu-Ray DVDs aren't boasting the quality of picture one would expect of a format supposedly superior to plain-Jane Dvd? I mean, "Kill Bill" Blu-ray got a fine "A-" rating in the video department, but I've been reading a lot of reviews where the Blu-Ray just isn't that much of an improvement.

Thoughts?

Bill C said...

King? More like the court jester, Jack.

The answer to your question is a little complicated. For starters, just about every Blu-ray Disc (BD) I've encountered offers some measure of improvement over its standard-def counterpart, but I tend to tone down my enthusiasm to keep things relative and also to discourage complacency within the studios.

The truth is, for any *new* film, 9.5 times out of 10 the DVD-BD leap will be fairly significant. Doing an A/B compare on DISTURBIA, the first Blu-ray I ever spun, was like switching from monochrome to three-strip Technicolor. It made me angry that I'd already watched the film on DVD. Unfortunately, for older titles, too often the studio is going back to old masters on the premise that they were done in HD and were therefore future-proofed. But standards and consumer tastes continually evolve, and the state of the art is fleeting. Whoever did the telecine on GANGS OF NEW YORK, for instance, didn't envision a world of 70" plasma displays, and unfortunately what looks electronically processed in analog is still going to look electronically processed in HiDef. You really need a solid base coat before the benefits of Blu-ray become clear.

(Of course, some studios HAVE taken it upon themselves to strike fresh masters of catalogue releases, only to introduce Digital Video Noise Reduction into the image in the belief that Blu-ray owners hate grain. That's why I wish more film lovers would adopt the format, before that gearhead mentality becomes commonplace. With Blu-ray, we finally have a medium capable of doing justice to celluloid's organic qualities and a buying public that would just as soon throw the baby out with the bathwater.)

I will say that my eyes have adjusted to the format such that I take it for granted on a regular basis now. But every once in a while, a reference-quality disc of something I've seen a million times on various formats--2001, say, or BLADE RUNNER, or HALLOWEEN (ironically, 3 titles I never reviewed!)--will come along and suddenly I'm born again.

Dan said...

Blade Runner is still the visual HD benchmark for me. I'm disappointed when movies from the same era aren't anywhere near as good (like RoboCop). Pirates 2 was pretty remarkable, too. The CGI on that "hammerhead" shipmate absolutely stunning. 1080p clarity really brought it to life. Consequently, I'm very excited about LOTR's eventual release on the format. But yes, I've also adjusted to the format now, so most titles don't "wow" me. It helps to put in a DVD every so often to realize the difference again :)

Anonymous said...

Walter doesn't seem to be around much, either doing reviews or posting to this blog - what's he up to nowadays? Still doing talks? Still doing any radio?

Bill C said...

Walter's blog presence may be slightly diminished, but he's published reviews of 9 titles in the last month (and written 3 more I haven't posted yet). I'm not sure what more you want; he's not a goat.

theoldboy said...

You heard it here first, kids.

Walter Chaw is not a goat.

Anonymous said...

Yes, ok, but I am genuinely interested as to what else the lad is up to, fanboy and all...

James Allen said...

Walter Chaw is not a goat

Hey, my pet goat is good for at least 14 reviews a month. Unfortunately, he thinks all the films are baaaaaad. [ducking]

permazorch said...

Blu-Ray is killing me. I've been the manager of an indie video-store (that opened in 1986) since 2004, and over the last few years I replicated most of our world-class VHS collection, as well as gaining new titles (the usual big boys as well as cult/indie/international stuff).
We still rent out VHS cassettes (about 14 or so a day), believe it or not.

The idea of starting from zero, again, leaves me in deep malaise. There's no support (If only they made a huge vinyl window logo sticker, I'd think there was hope.) for it, no guarantees it will be a viable rental product (DVDs really are not, they're way too fragile a medium).

Yep. I'm gonna have to quit my job.

Dan said...

permazorch: Your store's DVD collect will be relevant for many years, and also a playable medium for blu-ray adopters (unlike the situation with VHS-to-DVD evolution.) Good luck when physical media becomes obsolete and we're all hooked up for super-fast video-on-demand, though ;)

permazorch said...

Good luck when physical media becomes obsolete and we're all hooked up for super-fast video-on-demand

dan, that is what gets me the most angst-ridden. I'm constantly thinking, "Is this trip really necessary?"
It seems so transparently profit-driven, like Sony/Disney, et al. are saying, "How can we wring a last $5,000 out of every household in the western world before everything is downloadable?"
It reminds me of quadraphonic sound, and 8-track tapes.
It reminds me of the more recent laserdiscs, and how my sweet, little video-store carried 'prestige' titles in that format, and what a waste of space, money and time that was, finally.

I just want to poop these movies out on flash-drives, anymore. But, that would be illegal.

It's hard out here for a bottomfeeder.

davea said...

Any thoughts on the premiere of True Blood? The previews looked terrible, Slant doesn't really like it, either, but I guess I will watch it b/c of Anna Paquin alone when it's out on DVD.

DaveA said...

Forgive me, I thought it premiered yesterday, while in fact it starts today... so please, maybe someone can enlighten me tomorrow... :-)