Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Rental Quick Takes

by Brian
First things first, Blockbuster is officially On Notice. I signed up for their online subscription a couple weeks ago, and things were running along smoothly until Werner Herzog's Stroszek came along. I noticed before I even put the disc in that it had a weird crack on the side of it, but it wasn't that big, and it was close to the edge, so I thought maybe everything would be OK.

Well, it wasn't, and with about 10 minutes left, the movie froze up, and I couldn't get it to play any further. I thought, what the hell, these things happen, and reported the disc as unplayable and sent it back. Three days later, I get Stroszek back in the mail and ... it's the exact same disc. Still cracked. Still doesn't play.

I sent them an email, and am awaiting a response. Better be good, guys.


Sex, Lies, and Videotape: Fun movie, in the sense that it's not really very good but knows how to push buttons and screw with your expectations. It's like Soderbergh's career all makes sense to me now.

Brief Encounter: As (almost) always, I was impressed with the efforts of the Criterion Collection for this movie, but honestly, the movie felt rooted in outdated attitudes and acting styles. I tried to put myself in the position of a conservative 1940s viewer but I couldn't really get there.

Reds: Here's one that was easy for me to put myself in the mindset of the contemporary viewer. This is because, despite the events in the world during the past 20 years, Communist paranoia is still alive and well in the fever swamps of American right-wing politics. This movie must have caused quite the stir back in 1981, but I thought it was a good reminder of just how great Warren Beatty can be. Also, interesting to watch Diane Keaton play someone I didn't hate.

Donnie Darko: Finally got around to seeing it (I rented the director's cut). I loved the first two hours of it, but felt cheated a bit by the last ten minutes. Incidentally, I really enjoyed this essay on the film buy's Jim Emerson, although it didn't really help me with the last ten minutes.

The Princess and the Warrior: Enjoyed it as much as I could, but I have to chastise Sony for their DVD. It seemed that it wasn't encoded for progressive scan, so there was an incredible amount of of digital artifacts, scan lines, etc. I fought through it the best I could, but it probably made the movie seemed longer, slower, and uglier than it actually was.

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Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

I first saw 'Brief Encounter' around 10 years ago when I was at university and doing a film course on British films. I absolutely loved it then, thought it was as good as any film I'd seen.

But the funny thing is that over the years my enthusiasm for the film has dimmed a lot. Perhaps because I've become aware of the inherent snobbish in the film (i.e. the contrasting way the romance between the two working-class types at the train station is treated) and how 'proper' and restrained the two central characters are.

2/08/2007 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I loved Sex, Lies and Videotape. Only saw it the one time when it came out, though. Was my favorite film of 1989.

2/08/2007 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

From what I've read the Donnie Darko Director's Cut supposedly makes the film worse than the original. Both explains too much, and overcomplicates what was somewhat understandable to begin with.

I'd recommend the original cut, which to me was a very good film.

2/08/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Geez, everyone knows you have to write it sex, lies, and videotape, right? I liked that a lot when it came out, because it seemed pretty well put-together for something that seemed to be shot on a shoestring budget. We kinda take stuff like that for granted now. I've had the DVD for a while (to complete my Soderbergh commentary collection), but strangely I have yet to watch it.

I don't recall Reds causing much of a stir except it looked like Beatty was graduating to being a director of epic films ala Sir Richard Attenborough, but then nothing came of that.

2/08/2007 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Almost forgot: progressive scan and DVDs can cause so many headaches. A while back a friend was having problems with Apocalypse Now and I discovered this page (you can scroll about 3/4 of the way down to What Can Go Wrong). It all made our heads hurt. I curse the buggy MPEG encoders....

2/09/2007 12:06:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for that link, jaydro. To me it kind of enforced what I originally thought: that DVD was encoded without the proper progressive flag. It looked a lot like 3-4 DVDs did that I watched after I bought my HDTV, before I realized that I actually had to turn the progressive scan ON. One of my prouder moments, no doubt.

Anyway, this is the player I use, which fortunately seems to have done OK in their tests. Before Princess, I hadn't really had any problems like this with the progressive scan.

2/12/2007 04:54:00 PM  

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