Twelve-year-old Bazarbai is unlike other Nomad boys his age. He dreams of leaving behind the green pastures of his native Western Mongolian province, lured instead by the call of the urban jungle: Ulan Bator. But Bazarbai's...
I'd loved to give this movie a better rating. Although the plot seems familiar, this one is out of the ordinary, because of the outstanding mongolian scenery, the native characters, and an uncommon pet, in this case, an eagle. The main story developes as a coming-of age/road movie, in which the main character learns that a better life in the city is just an illusion, while he establishes a bond with his father's pet eagle, which he learns to love and respect.
At first, this could have been like a Disney movie, but for the most part is free from any artificiality. There's an additional and special charm in this foreign style of life that this movie allows us to get a look at. We can only feel awe and respect for such a simple way of living. I used the term "pet" to refer to he eagle, but it's something more than that. It's a mystic link that THEY feel, but may be hard for US to understand.
So what's the problem? Well, some key elements in the narrative are handled rather clumsily. The movie works extremely well while the main character is still on the road, on his way the city, trying to find his brother. Once he reaches the city, the way the situations are resolved get so simple, that only undemanding 10 year olds wouldn't question. The ending for me needed a little more attention too. The way the movie ends feels extremely cold.
It's a shame, because for the most part this is a family themed movie, but if at some points it is reduced to a show for only children to enjoy, the fact that it's in mongolian with only english subtitles won't help.
Nothing wrong with the disc. Image quality is the best that you can ask for (the movie was filmed with digital cameras and believe me, it shows). As Mr. Svet Atanasov states, the surround activity is limited, but serves perfectly to enhance the beautiful score, which is an asset.
I don' t intend to discourage you to watch this movie. The narrative may be TOO simple at some points, but this is far from being a waste of time. This is one of those occasions in which cinema allows you to peek at far away cultures that live their relatively simple lives in seemingly mythical lands, and to which nature and tradition still mean a lot.
As intense as DOG POUND is, I think it doesn't offer nothing strictly original. Also, it feels a little episodic, and one dimensional. While it's depiction of the rivalry between factions formed within the jail is one of the main focus, the movie forgets to reflect a little MORE of the camaraderie and friendship among cell mates. You can deduce it, but without it, some of the human aspect that could have awaken a little more compassion from the spectator is absent.
Nevertheless, the movie feels terrifically real, and in that sense is an update of everything you may have watched before on this same topic. And it' made even more believable by the uniformly good performances. Adam Butcher (what a name!) has the appropriate expression of somebody who encapsulates lot of pain and anger, and could explode any moment. But his sad eyes also ask for sympathy and help.
The message of the movie gets home. What kind of help this type of incarceration can provide, if you put the would-be rotten apples together with the terminally rotten? Although as I said, this message may not be new, it's still suggestive, and invites reflection about what can be done (if something) to make reformation better. More than ever, these are valid questions.
With little outdoor scenes, it is hard to really appreciate the picture quality. Although because of this same reason, in the end it isn't reference, I think it's very good. Details and contrast are there and are constant. The lack of light in some scenes never render a faded picture.
It's excellent. Dialogues are clear. Punches and hits are enhanced to a point in which you will flinch with their authenticity.
Warner Bros. | 1981 | 141 min | Rated R | Region free
| Mar 08, 2011
When a bold young squire slips the enchanted sword, Excalibur, from the stone where it was embedded, the
golden age of chivalry and the Knights of the Round Table are born. But the magical kingdom of Camelot
This quote should give you an idea of how the movie originally looked in theaters. The BD reproduces such cinematography faithfully, so if you expect a quality on par with other movies that look sharper, you will be disappointed.
So bear in mind what was the intended cinematography and filming conditions, before you consider the soft appearance of Excalibur’s image as a flaw. As for me, the way the movie looks is very adequate to the story, enhancing its characteristic of fantasy film. (By the way, I had the same impression from Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves, another fantasy for adults. Coincidentally, Neil Jordan worked as creative associate in Excalibur).
Audio is acceptable, bearing in mind its limitations, being a movie made in 1981.
The only extra included (apart from the trailer) is director John Boorman’s commentary. As interesting as that extra may be, a movie like Excalibur begs for a better treatment in this department, so hopefully there will be a Deluxe Edition sometime in the future with more extras.
Elle France editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who, in 1995 at the age of 43, suffered a stroke that paralyzed his entire body, except his left eye. Using that eye to blink out his memoir, Bauby eloquently described the aspects of his...
From time to time, we are lucky to read a book or watch a movie that gives us an experience like never before. “The diving bell and the butterfly” is such kind of story/movie.
For those who don’t know the background, on December 8, 1995, Jean Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle magazine, suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma. He awoke days later, mentally aware of his surroundings but physically paralyzed with the exception of some movement in his left eye. He was literally a mind trapped within his own body. It looks like a science fiction story, but it was a scary reality.
He was able to “dictate” his story and his feelings through this experience, and finish a book called “The diving bell and the butterfly”. How he did that, and what went through his mind, is nothing short of incredible and inspirational. In spite of some liberties that the script took when depicting Bauby’s private life, I think his strong will and struggle, thus the main message, are well represented. And that without trying to depict Bauby as a marthyr of the cause, just as a human being who wanted to go on living.
The movie takes the path of innovation, and defies the audience, when the decision was made to tell the story from the perspective of the main character. In the first minutes, we feel confused, overwhelmed, claustrophobic… After a while though, you accept this point of view in a way that you are almost tempted to ask how were they able to put a camera inside an actor? Now, this is a movie that really uses the medium to make you believe something that is not real !.
No doubt, the movie could have chosen a more conventional way to tell the story, buy it wouldn’t have been the same. After all, the movie wanted to reflect the book, and the book was written in first person, through accounts that could only be represented from the main character’s perspective. It may have seem an impossible challenge for the film makers at the time, but they took the risk and it paid off.
All in all, this is more than just a movie, is an unforgettable cinematic experience, as well as a lesson about living a life to your potential, no matter the circumstances.
This BD shows a noticeable improvement over the american standard DVD release. Picture is clearer and colors (most of all, skin tones) are truer. The problem is that most of the intended cinematography is not something that will test the potential of you HD set. Apart from the obvious limitations, like the scenes that were filmed from the perspective of the main character, that sometimes look blurry or unfocused, tha majority of scenes are not particulary bright and full of contrast. My guess is that this kind of look was used by the director to remark that all that we see are memories and imaginary settings. Even a scene on a beach doesn't look normal. The background is dimmer than usual, as a reminder that even a happy memory is tainted by the gravity of the situation that the protagonist is going through. Fine detail is totally absent in open shots, and I guess that's what most people will miss.
So, I don't grant a great qualification to the picture because of Blu Ray expected standards, but I really feel that this is the best that this movie will ever look. (Unfortunatelly, I haven't watched the australian release, and see if I am mistaken).
The only track included is French DTS Master Audio (optional english subtitles are provided). The audio is nothing impressive, and it was transfered at a low level, so you have to turn the volume up more than usual. Normally, when you have to do that, you know that the sound won't be robust and full. That's exactly what happens with this particular release, although that is tolerable because the film is mostly dialogues.
For a change, this Canadian Alliance release is not bare bones. As I said, it has optional english subtitles, a menu and the following extras (which are exactly the same included in the american standard dvd release):
• Audio commentary with director Julian Schnabel
• "Submerged" The making of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
• "A Cinematic Vision" photo gallery
• Charlie Rose interview with Julian Schnabel
Sony Pictures | 2010 | 421 min | Not rated | Region A, B (locked) | Nov 23, 2010
The Pillars of the Earth is set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles which tears lives and families apart. In that time, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against the backdrop,...
“The Pillars of the earth” is a fictional story around the construction of the Kingsbridge Cathedral, (12th century, England), and the odds that the characters and people involved had to face, due to politics and struggle of power within the state and within the church. As with many “historical” novels, it takes a real life setting (Kingsbridge Cathedral is fictional too, but it was inspired by at least 2 real cathedrals in England), some real facts (the story is set in the middle of the 12th century, during the Anarchy), and constructs a detailed storyline that could have happened, but that of course, only existed in the mind of the writer (Ken Follett, in this case). Some love stories are thrown in for good measure.
Not without red in my face, I have to confess that I knew nothing about the novel until I watched the blu ray, since I am not a good reader (and by the way, I didn’t know anything about the miniseries and the BD until it was released and read the main review in this site). Somehow that gave me the advantage of not being "offended" by the adaptation, and the changes made to the original novel (reading people’s opinions on internet, the changes have provoked more negative opinions than positive, which I think is understandable).
I’m a defender of the idea that movie or TV adaptations should be judge by its own merits. In that regard, I recommend the mini series completely. It’s not without its flaws: there were many times in which I was shaking my head and saying “Uh huh…” (ironically, that is) when some things were rushed, not well explained or simply defied logic. But those kind of flaws and leaps of logic are expected in these kind of productions, many of them due to restraints in time. Nothing less than an eight part mini series was necessary to try and depict all the complexities and extension of the story, but even with that, it’s not enough (“8 part” is not a big deal: each chapter is over 47 minutes long, so it’s just a little more than 6 hours total). The story lacked depth in some instances, but never descending into soap opera style.
So for me it all comes down to some questions:
1) Was it worth it to watch it in Blu Ray? YOU BET. The production values are very high for the standards of mini series, and it’s a pleasure to watch its cinematography in high definition. Remember that Ridley Scott is behind the series as executive- producer (along with his brother, Tony) and formally the series has the look of a Ridley Scott film (think of “Kingdom of heaven” on a smaller scale).
The acting is very good overall. Edition and music are also a plus.
2) Was I interested in the story and the characters? Yes, I was. I was interested in what was going to happen to them. Once I began the first chapter, I couldn’t stop. The story never drags.
3) After all the flaws, was the end satisfactory? Yes. Specially, the last chapter closes the story in very appropriate way. It’s definitely thrilling.
Was there something that I really missed? Yes. For a movie that depicts years of conflicts and war, the battle scenes were very short, few and far in between. But that will be a flaw only if you forget that this is a TV mini series, not a high budgeted movie (and as I said, time constrained). What little battles are represented, I think they are well staged.
PICTURE AND AUDIO QUALITY
I must insist that formally, the movie reminded me a lot of “Kingdom of heaven”, because of the cinematography. It’s like Ridley Scott had directed it. So you should think of an excellent quality image, reproduced accordingly in high definition, with great contrast, colors and details. (It's when I revisited the main review here that I got to know that the image was 1080 i, not 1080 p. I didn't even noticed!)
The English DTS-HD Master Audio is on par with the image quality. No complaints in this department either.
I think you should watch this BD, whether you have read the novel or not. It’s a great looking BD that will be a great pleasure to watch no matter what.
Lionsgate Films | 2010 | 100 min | Rated R | Region A (locked) | Oct 26, 2010
Seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Challenging her outlaw kin's...
This is an excellent drama. As the main reviewer says "this is not so much a whodunit as it is one valiant girl's individual quest to assert her place in one of the most unusual societies ever caught on film". That's important to know, because many will expect some kind of exciting thriller, but this is not the case. The story is interesting, but it unfolds slowly.
I don't think that we have here an "unusual society". There's no denying the people depicted here have their particular features, but in general, the story could be set in any place populated by crime, and obscure characters. What's important is the story of a young girl who, moved by love and the need of protection for her family, must penetrate this kind of underworld, even if it means risking her life. Everything that happens stays within a frame of credibility. There's no phony note in this story.
All this is helped by Jennifer Lawrece, the standout in a cast that's unifomily good. Without her great performance, the movie would have been less interesting.
Although this is a 25 GB disc, the picture quality is excellent. Audio is also very crisp, but there's no extraordinary sounds, just basically dialogue.
Come oscar time, this movie will be mentioned every now and then, so take your time and give it a try.
One negative note: the translation in the spanish subtitles is wrong in verbs conjugation in many instances. It has been obviously made by a non native spanish speaker or somebody without the required knowledge of the language. Please, take note, Lionsgate. (This is just an observation, and on my part it hasn't affected the score that I've granted to the BD in each department).
Artificial Eye | 2009 | 128 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region free
| Sep 13, 2010
The movie relates the tragic story of Ida Dalser, who fell for the future Italian Fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, supported him while he was unemployed in the early 1910s, and married him, presumably around 1914. She bore...
"Vincere” is the story of a woman who couldn’t bear to be just "the" mistress, but insisted that she was the legitimate wife, and her son was the first born of her husband. The normal topic of soap opera is something else, when it’s based in true events, the woman in question was Ida Dalser (relatively unknown until recently), her lover was Benito Mussolini, and their son was, well, Benito Albino Mussolini.
It was in the mid 2000’s that the name Ida Dalser came into prominence when a documentary (Mussolini’s Secret) was televised in Italy. Until then, efforts from Benito Mussolini and his agents, since their rise to power (in the 1920's and 30's), to bury this shameful chapter had been more or less efective.
It’s been said that Ida not only hollered openly about her relationship with IL DUCE and that she and her son had been neglected by him, but at some point she also threatened with revealing that he had accepted bribes to influence the involvement of Italy in the first world war. This fact is somehow overlooked by the movie, and without it, I think it’s not very clear why Mussolini was” forced” to chase this woman away, and hide her from the world, committing her to a mad house.
The movie doesn't waste a single moment trying to show Mussolini as even a caring and decent lover. From the beginning, it is clear that he was only using Ida, and somehow this works against the likability of the main characters. Of course, you're not expected to have any sympathy for Mussolini, but is also hard to care for somebody who should have known what she was getting into. Still, as the movie progresses, you begin to feel more and more for her. After all, it was not just about whatever feelings she had for Benito, and the recognition she wanted, but about her love for her son.
The topic is also elevated by an expert cinematic treatment in all aspects. There are some unforgettable, beautifully shot scenes here. The acting is top notch, specially by Giovanna Mezzogiorno, who has been working for a decade in Italy, and no doubt by watching only this movie, she deserves more attention.
Picture quality is very good, just a little soft in some instances, and some mild noise in dark scenes, but nothing out of the ordinary. Audio (DTS HD Master) is excellent.
The movie is in Italian, has removable English subtitles and is region free.
Masters of Cinema
Eureka Entertainment | 1937 | 92 min | Rated BBFC: U | Region B (locked) | Oct 25, 2010
At a family reunion, the Cooper clan find that their parents' home is being foreclosed. "Temporarily," Ma moves in with son George's family, Pa with daughter Cora. But the parents are like sand in the gears of their middle-aged...
Have you ever watched a movie in which you sympathize so much with the main characters, you feel genuinely bad because you feel somebody should do something to rescue them from their fate?
“Make way for tomorrow” surprised me because it felt like a very mature movie. The topic is not treated as you would expect, being a movie from 1937 (it’s far from corny, and let me mention also the “open” ending… I wonder how surprising and dissapointing it should have been for audiences back then). For me it’s funny that a movie made so long ago, with a topic that still resonates today, could only have been made back then. I have a feeling that the film would be made very melodramatic today, endangering all sense of reality. “Make way for tomorrow” says a lot with in a restraint way. You can say it’s an honest movie.
I think Mr Svet Atanasov said exactly what needed to be said about this movie in his main review on this site. Not knowing anything about this movie, once I read his recommendation, I checked IMDB and found out that it has an 8.1 qualification. That’s a rarity these days: a movie so highly rated, yet little seen (at least from my perspective). I thank blu-ray and blu-ray.com for giving me the chance of discovering such a great movie.
PICTURE AND SOUND QUALITY
They are very good, for a movie this old. It’s not something that will make your jaw drop, but they are very adequate and allow a very enjoyable experience. Don’t expect an extreme work of restoration either, but rest assured that scratches and other issues are minor and won't ruin the movie.
I’m glad Eureka has included two specials (short, but interesting) that were already included in the Criterion Collection dvd. That is a hint that if Criterion ever releases the BD in USA (and therefore, Region A playable) Eureka’s will be a good match.
Love's a Bitch
Optimum Home Entertainment | 2000 | 154 min | Rated BBFC: 18 | Region B (locked) | Oct 18, 2010
Three interconnected stories about the different strata of life in Mexico City all resolve with a fatal car accident. Octavio is trying to raise enough money to run away with his sister-in-law, and decides to enter his dog Cofi...
When I first saw “Amores Perros” 10 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised. Up to that moment, I had the impression that good movies from latin america had a lot of heart, but not great production values or expertise. “Amores perros” changed all that: it could have been made in Hollywood or Europe. And don’t get me wrong, this is a movie that didn’t need to spend in special effects or expensive sets. But it needed a sure hand to direct it, and of course a skillful editing. The next 2 parts of director González Iñarritu’s trilogy (“21 grams” and “Babel”) were made in greater scale, in english, but keeping the same style. No surprise about that.
“Amores perros” (translated as “Love’s a bitch” but more exactly something as “Bad loves” or “Loves gone wrong”) deals with themes of unfulfilled, incomplete or interested love. And there they are, the omnipresent dogs in all the three stories that compose this work, as a reminder of the love and faithfulness that they easyly express to their owners, and their owners to them, but that is harder to find between the human characters. Of course there is more to this story than this simbolism. What makes “Amores perros” a powerful movie is that far from being cartoonish or the stuff of soap-opera, reflects a lot of what we really are. It never sounds phony.
Very good, but you have to take into account the intended look. The great news is that the movie keeps its filming quality intact. Detail is good, contrast adequate, and colors correct. The street scenes have a somehow washed out look, and grain is more evident in those. But along with the hand held camera device, they only add to the intended impression of reality. If we are not familiar with the look of the movie, how do we know that the BD picture is faithful to it and of the highest possible quality? Well, if you pay attention to the second story (Daniel and Valeria) you will notice that it looks different. It develops in a more elegant and glamorous enviroment (I’m talking about the formal appearances, not the more obscure feelings going on) and accordingly, it looks more vibant and brighter that the other stories. So don’t worry, what you see is the way you are supposed to be seeing it.
The DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (Spanish) is excellent. The rear channels are scarcely used, but that’s not something that affects what is essentialy a movie heavy in dialogues. The only other thing that you will need a strong sound for, is the car crash. Don’t worry ‘bout that either. The sound of the impact will make you jump everytime.
The other track included is Stereo (Spanish), which is good, but can’t compete.
There are only English subtitles, and they are removable.
A bunch of extras (all in standard definition) are included, and they are relatively interesting. A “Behind the scenes” featurette is good, but is too short (only 8 minutes). There are some deleted scenes, but they don’t feel that necessary (at 2 hours 30 minutes, you can say that the film is long enough). There are 3 musical videos (3 songs included in the soundtrack and videos directed by the movie’s director) despisingly named only as “Music video 1” “2” and “3”. They are “Me van a matar” by Julieta Venegas, “Avientame” by Café Tacuba, and “Perros amores” by Control Machete.
Overall, they don’t compete with the amount of extras that have been included on different dvd versions.
The first part of Alejandro González Iñarritu’s trilogy gets a worthy release by Optimun. The only thing that will leave you wanting is the amount of extras included. If you can live without bonus materials, and you can play the disc (remember, it’s region B locked), you should get it.
BFI Video | 1961 | 100 min | Rated BBFC: 12 | Region B (locked) | Aug 23, 2010
Miss Giddens, an emotionally repressed vicar’s daughter, becomes the guardian of two, apparently angelic, orphans at a secluded stately home. When the apparitions of a late governess and her sadistic lover manifest themselves to...
An old horror movie, in black and white?. Yes, and very good !
The movie is Region B LOCKED. (Ouch!)
Once again, the BFI has given us an excellent update of a classic movie, in this case, The Innocents, based on the story “The turn of the screw” by Henry James.
From the back of the BD: "Deborah Kerr plays Miss Giddens, guardian of two angelic orphans. When ghostly disturbances made themselves felt, she protects her charges".
The movie has been always catalogued in the horror genre, and there are indeed themes of ghosts, haunting and evil possession. But of course younger audiences have had a very different concept of horror and what you need to see on the screen to experience it. You must see it. It seems that the art of provocking the same effect only through suggestion is long gone.
But anyway, we have seen so much that what used to be scary many years ago, may not be anymore (it’s still a subjective thing though). But The Innocents retains a great deal of effective psychological horror and mature drama that makes it very interesting, after 50 years. And there’s also the formal elements: the acting is very good (even from the two child actors), Deborak Kerr was always a reliable actress (and here she appears as beautiful as ever) and the cinematography is incredible. And the movie is also worth watching for the haunted house as a character: everybody involved in the design did a wonderful job of presenting the place, the house itself, its open fields and its gardens as something quiet and peaceful, but at the same time, so big, lonely and obscure, that it can keep past secrets or hold not so dead things. That ambiguity plays a pivotal role in the main character’s mind.
The drama (and suspense) keeps us going back and forth, left to right, about what the main character’s real intentions and motivations are. What she thinks is happening, may or may not be real, may be only in her mind. And also, the WAY she thinks is fed by the strict rules of her social and educational background. She's presented to us as having a very lively mind, with hints of a repressed sexuality. There’s also the theme of what kind of relationship she wants to have with the children, specially with the male, Miles. But that’s the whole point: what may or may not be going on there is for you to decide. Maybe the innocents are not who you think they are at first.
There's also this quality of Miles, as performed by young Martin Stephens. He's so young, 11 or 12, but when you hear him speaking, it's like hearing someone older. Even some of his manners are not typical for his age. Something to add to the confusion.
(It’s worth mentioning that the only other movie version of the novel that I’ve watched, this time with the same title, was spanish, and didn’t leave anything to the imagination in that regard: the child was older -17 years old, I’d say- and the caretaker younger -27 or so-. The twist was that the caretaker was a young man, so there was a gay context in the story. It may have seem like an interesting change for some, but the point is that with no important age difference, the aformentioned ambiguity was practically absent).
I fear some will disregard this movie because it’s an old “horror” movie, and because it’s in black and white. They don’t know what they’re missing.
The movie is presented in all its glorious widescreen aspect ratio (2:35:1), and of course, in black and white. I can't imagine this movie being as effective if it were in colour.
Everytime I’ve watched the standard DVD, I wanted to get more detail and contrast out of the incredible exterior scenery and beautiful gardens. The BFI blu ray did this and even more. In comparison, it provided more stability to the interior and darker takes.
I must acknowledge that the quality is not the best I've seen in Blu Ray. In well defined and lit scenes, the contrast is incredible, but the rest have a rather soft quality. Also, thare are a few scenes that are full of scratches, making obvious that there was no "painful" restoration process á la Criterion.
Still, the movie looks very good, and it should please fans and first time watchers. Anyway, I must congratulate once again the BFI for not using DNR, and so keep the original detail and natural look of the film.
Note about the image: many scenes have obscured edges, and they are more evident in blu ray. This is not a flaw in the transfer, but an artificial effect that was made with filters. Also, you may notice that in some close ups, the image seems to stretch a little in the middle, and it may give you a false impression that the aspect ratio has been tampered with. Since there are only a few scenes like that (which I think many won't even notice) we must conclude that they are a consequence of the lenses used, and, again, not a flaw in the transfer.
The only audio track is PCM mono. All things considered, is very good for what the movie needs: clear dialogues and some ambient sounds. The music included is also clear, but it's rather scarce. Its absence serves to punctuate the eerie atmosphere of the movie.
First of all, there's a full lenght commentary by professor Christopher Frayling.
Then, the same profesor presents a "Video introduction". This one is very informative, and it's kind of a brief of what is presented in the full lenght commentary. But, unless you are not watching the movie for the first time, I would not reccomend to watch this "introduction" before the movie. I guess it will prejudice your own appreciation of the film. And also, its lenght it's 25 minutes. So much for an introduction.
Also of interest, there are two other short films by the director Jack Clayton: The Bespoke Overcoat (37 minutes), a tender and sad story, very simple but touching, and very well made. This is no ordinary bonus, as it will have repeat value for some (it does for me!). The other is "Naples is Battlefield", a 14 minute documentary about the destruction of Naples in WW2, and subsequent reconstruction.
Finaly, there's a 14 minute special with costume designes of the movie, trailers, and the usual entertaining booklet with essays on the movie, the director and the bonus material included.
On planet Ygam, the Draags (an alien race of blue giants) keep the human-like Oms as domesticated. An Om called Terr manages to escape enslavement from a Draag learning device used to educate the savage Oms — and begins to...
“Le planete sauvage” is a very original and captivating sci-fi movie, with beautiful animation. It’s an imaginative representation of a written work (Stefan Wul’s “Oms en série”), which have some symbols that make the main topic the object of various interpretations.
For the casual viewer, the story may seem superficial, with little character development, and more interest in depicting weird things that happen in this “fantastic planet” and that don’t seem to contribute to the story. You can even say that the animation doesn’t seem to flow properly (the motions are basic, even by early 1970’s standards) and the dialogues and narration feel stiff and monotone.
No matter. This is a classic in its own right, and it invites repeat viewings to really understand the topic and the style. But you have to be prepared for concept, visuals and music as elegant and beautiful as psychedelic and trippy.
When I watched this movie in BD, I thought that maybe, just maybe, a remake would be in order, to develop the story a little more. And how about making it with real actors, and of course, a lot of help of CGI?. But when I think of the FORM and the STYLE of the would-be remake, I find obligatory to use every frame of the original movie as a blueprint for the remake’s production design. It’s then when I realize that there can be no remake: there’s no CGI that will help you transmit the idea better than the original animation. That’s how this strange place should be depicted, from backgrounds to living beings.
In a few words, this is an obligatory movie for all those interested in animation and science fiction.
It's very good. But take into account that this is no Disney movie, and I’m talking about the old hand drawn classics. There are no delicate lines, detailed forms and vivid colors enhanced by high definition. The animation is a little rough, and there are almost no reds, oranges or any other kind of bright colors, so the look of the movie is rather opaque. Nonetheless, it's elegant and original. And that’s the way the movie was made, so it has to be appreciated as it is.
Of course, those familiar with the DVD will find the Blu Ray experience more rewarding, since in truth the movie looks better than ever.
The original French audio is pretty clear, and through it you can hear very well not only the dialogues but the music, which is one of the highest points in this work (so much so that the soundtrack alone is included as a bonus in the BD).
I for one, don’t like the dubbed tracks. But I must acknowledge that the alternative english track, although of lesser sound quality, is very adequate and even more “animated” if you pardon the word (as I said, some may find the french dialogues a little stiff; the english one is more natural –but some would say, that’s against the intended style of the movie).
Please, remember that the disc is REGION B locked.
Benjamin Esposito, a retired criminal court employee, decides to write a novel. He draws on his own past as a civil servant for a true story in which he was once very directly involved. In 1974, his court was assigned an...
El secreto de sus ojos (The secret in their eyes) is the winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Movie. A very well deserved award.
Benjamin Esposito (Ricardo Darin), an assistant in a criminal court, gets involved in the investigation of a murder case almost accidentally. For 25 years his personal and professional life will be affected by the case, with an intensity that rivals the victim’s husband own feelings and reactions. It specially leaves its mark on his relationship with his boss, Irene Menéndez (Soledad Villamil).
This is a great study of human nature, how passions can be ignited from unexpected places, and how the relentless and obsessive pursue of an objective and need for closure become unhealthy and an obstacle for what’s really important: the reality that life should go on.
Be aware that this is mainly a love story, not strictly a police thriller. It’s just that the criminal aspect of the story has equal importance in the narration.
This is a very well made movie, with production values up to Hollywood or European standards in all departments.
Performances are excellent all around, specially since the cast has to express a lot, well, with their eyes. Ricardo Darin is a very reliable actor with a great range, and he slowly has become the Argentinean “Gerald Depardieu” in the sense that he seems to be in every recent movie from Argentina. Soledad Villamil does a great job too. But no doubt Guillermo Francella, as Esposito’s right hand and friend, almost steals the spotlight everytime he appears.
And yes, the movie has an added element worth watching: a continuous take that lasts for 5 minutes, that in the words of Roger Ebert “I have no idea how it could have been filmed, special effects or not”.
Picture quality is very good, up to the expected blu ray standards. And this is something positive for a movie that has many scenes in dark or dimmed places. There’s no grain, stains or any kind of inconsistency in any of them.
Maybe the only “negative thing” is that in some instances the clarity of blu ray reveals the artificiality of the make up in the older versions of the characters. But that is a minor flaw, and I’m sure most of the people won’t mind.
Maybe this is the only department in which the BD will leave you wanting, since it doesn’t include a lossless track. The only one included is Dolby Digital 5.1. For that reason alone, I rate the sound with 3.5, but the truth is that I can’t complain about the quality and clarity of a movie that is mostly heavy on dialogues.
The main feature is subtitled in English (and it has Spanish subtitles too). The rest of the material is not subtitled.
First of all, there’s a commentary by the director, Juan Jose Campanella. Then, there’s the customary array of extra material (all in standard 576i definition, NOT NTSC compatible): Behind the scenes (2 features), Interviews with the crew, The Casting, Presentation of the movie in San Sebastián festival, Soundtrack, Posters.
All in all, this is a very commendable BD for an excellent movie. Only problems (apart from being Region B locked): the absence of an audio track of the highest quality, and the absence of English subtitles in the extras. Hopefully, other versions (American or English) in the future will improve on that, and hopefully they will include AT LEAST the amount of extras that can be found in this Spanish version.
Starz / Anchor Bay | 2008 | 101 min | Rated R | Region free
| Jul 08, 2008
Jolene Reedy (Charlize Theron) is a disillusioned single mother prone to bad men and reckless
behavior. Her younger brother James (Nick Stahl) is a weak-willed underachiever who can’t
hold a job. When Jolene abandons her...
I was hesitant to watch this movie. The reviews and votes, from critics to general public, wasn't encouraging.
By reading some of those reviews, I got the impression that the movie was not popular because of its downbeat topic and pessimistic tone. Not being a person affected by such things -in movies, that is-, I decided to give it a try.
To be honest with you, I thought the movie was better than expected, considering the aforementioned background. And I don't think it was really tragic and sad. After all is said and done, some good things happen, at least hope remains for some. Yes, the situations are very hard and painful. The main characters are not bad persons, but they are involved in situations way beyond their control. They suffer without deserve it. But such is life sometimes. Not everything in life is "feel-good", and I don't suscribe to the notion that all movies have to be "feel good".
That being said, I was glad to see that the main review here in blu-ray.com has a positive opinion about the movie (and the disc in general). I only want to add:
a) Performances in general are very good, but I was pleasantly surprised with Nick Stahl. I haven't seen much of his movies, but I clearly remember him doing a good job as a dominating prick in "Bully". His work in Sleepwalking is a reversal of roles if you will, and he does an equally convincing job. His character is a good soul, that tries to find a way out for him and his niece in spite of the odds and his mild temper. You really get to feel for him...
b) I think one of the low points of the movie is the character portrayed by Dennis Hopper. Not his fault, it's just that I felt he was one dimensional. I think a little more development to try and get to understand his behaviour some more wouldn't have hurt.
Finally, as the main review states, picture and audio quality are very good, and will definitely enhance the experience.
I'm not necesarilly recommending this movie to own, because it's evident that it's not of everybody's liking. But if you have a chance, you should give a try, and not dismiss it just because of poor reviews. This might be one of those cases in which mainstream is wrong.
20th Century Fox | 2009 | 127 min | Region B (locked) | Sep 30, 2011
A historical drama set in Roman Egypt, concerning a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous female philosophy professor and...
Alexandria, Egypt, fourth century AD. Hypathia, a Greek scholar (mathematician, philosopher and astronomer) is caught between the political and religious turmoil that rises from the coexistence of pagans, jews and christians, the latter by now so strong as to pose as something more influential, and to some, dangerous.
The main focus of this movie is then the interaction of religion, politics and scientific knowledge. The summary in this site , that this is about “a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hopes of pursuing freedom while also falling in love with his master” misses the point, although the story of the slave is the SECOND most important subplot here. This is NOT a love story, at least in the traditional sense. It's more a human drama with all the characteristics of a greek tragedy.
AGORA is one of those movies that should be labeled “Handle with care”, because:
a) It’s obviously bound to touch the religious feelings of Christians, since those Christians portrayed here are not put in a positive light (generally). The fact that the director is a confesed atheist, will not make things easier.
b) It presents “facts” that are not completely historically proven.
About point a), I don’t think this movie is anti-christian per se. The behavior of fanatical Christians, as portrayed in this movie, is something completely conceivable not only for Christianity, but for any religion, and not only for THAT specific time, but anytime. For me, the real Christian should admit that possibility, and be always aware not to make religion an excuse for acts that are completely in contradiction with what you really believe in or even teach.
About point b), if you want to learn history, read a book or watch a documentary. You should appreciate a movie for its entertaining value, not as a literal teaching lesson (although there are some exceptions to that rule of course). It will be a very good thing if the movie arouses your interest and make you look for information on the matter. For me, AGORA was valuable in that sense too.
This is movie made with a huge amount of technical resources and great expertise in production. Nothing less than a good picture quality would be asked to appreciate the final product, and we have it here. Picture quality is reference for blu ray.
An equally strong DTS MASTER AUDIO is included, both for the original English track and for the Spanish dubbed track.
There’s a great amout of extras, specially an extended documentary regarding the usual takes on the production steps, from the concept of the story until the edition, with interviews with cast and crew (and of course Alejandro Amenabar, the director).
There's also an interview with the director, with references to all of his movies.
Also of importance, some 5 deleted scenes.
The movie itself is obviously english friendly, since it was filmed in english.
The only subtitles included for the main feature are in Spanish.
There are brief texts that contribute to the story, placed at the beginning, in the middle and in the end, that in the screen are in spanish. There are english subtitles available indeed, just for that text (only thing, at least in my blu ray player, they had to be turned on directly from the remote; as far as I could tell, they couldn't be activated in the disc menu).
As for the extras, they are in spanish and NOT subtitled. The documentaries (Making of, if you will) have the cast speaking in english, but most of the crew speaks in spanish.
The only extra with no problems obviuosly are the deleted scenes.
This is a very commendable Blu Ray, specially for those in Europe that are still waiting for the movie to be released theatrically. As for America, the Spanish release won’t be of any contribution, unless you have a multi region player.
The pastor says to his children: "When you were little, your mother sometimes tied a ribbon in your hair or around your arm. Its white colour was to remind you of innocence and purity. I thought you were now well-mannered enough to get by without such reminders... Tomorrow...your mother will retie a ribbon on you, and you will wear it until we can trust you again".
What can be the use of a reminder of innocence when you are innocent no more?
What we have here is a study of human nature, through the experience of a town that looses its state of innocence. They used to live in peace, but not anymore. Suspicion, hate, mistrust and more disgraces begin to appear, when events beyond the routine breaks the harmony. Things won’t be the same anymore. The town could use a white ribbon, but as a reminder of what will never be again.
In that sense, the movie reflects our own modern culture, that have gone through some changes that not always have been good.
It's been said that the theme of this movie is the origin of nazism. I think that is somehow wrong. Not only it would be unfair to the movie (it has more universal meaning) but also not accurate to the concept (some causes are hinted, but nazism in Germany had deeper and extended origins).
The first conclusion that I got when I finished watching the movie, was that it’s like a tale well told. Now, whatever you can make out of this tale, is another thing. Some people will find it pointless, uneventful.
Certainly, there are many things that happen here, in the town and inside people’s minds. But the director has chosen NOT to show graphically what happens. This is a movie that could have been bloody and gory. But the director was not interested, even though the impact would have been softened by the black and white cinematography anyway. But with that, the director invites us to put our attention somewhere else: the changes in atmosphere, changes in people. Even how they look.
The pace, the importance of behaviour, and of course the cinematography, reminded me most of all of some Ingmar Bergman’s movies. I can clearly see why critics loved this one. And as with most of Bergman’s movies, this is a film that invites more than one viewing to really appreciate it.
By the way, dit it deserve the Oscar? Of course. But “El Secreto de sus ojos” deserved it too, and maybe “A prophet” and the rest (I haven’t watched them) also. It’s a good thing that they were nominated because they were put in the spotlight. But that’s the end of it. To say one deserved more than the other it’s a big mistake: White Ribbon is very different from El Secreto, and aside from the fact that they are good, they hold few similarities. So to put them in competition and elect a winner is simply ridiculous.
Just watch a movie because it’s good, not because it won an oscar.
The VIDEO quality is outstanding. This is a beautiful black and white film, a reference for those who wonder if Blu Ray is for B&W cinematography. Not only it helps to evoke a time gone by, but also helps the director's intent to not put our attention in formal details (but of course, this is Blu Ray, you can't help but marvel at such details). By the way, the movie was filmed in colour, and afterwards, digitally the color was drained. The result left no sign of digital processing, and one could say that it was filmed with B&W stock all the same.
Subtitles are removable.
The AUDIO is of the highest level too. A worthy companion of the video quality.
Extras included: "Making of" documentary, "Portrait of Michael Henecke" documentary, Interview with Michael Hanecke, Cannes Film Festival featurette, Theatrical Trailer.
Revolver Entertainment | 2009 | 96 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region B (locked) | Jan 25, 2010
Sayra, a teenager living in Honduras, hungers for a brighter future. A reunion with her long-
estranged father gives Sayra her only real option--emigrating with her father and her uncle
into Mexico and then the United States,...
The story in SIN NOMBRE ("Nameless" in english) is kinda simple, and even predictable. What makes it very interesting is the setting. We can take a look at the lifes of illegal immigrants (trying to make it to the USA) and specially the members of the “maras” (Central American and Mexican gangs) .
The strangest thing is the surreal tone that the movie gets. The story seems to take place in a world that is not ours, here and now. One may think it’s just another post-apocalyptic setting, in which groups have created their own rituals of identification in order to survive a violent world, and others, in a more pacific way, just try to make it to a better place. Their journey on a train through an empoverished country side, sometimes helped, but other times attacked, by local people along the way, only enhance that dystopic notion.
Regretfully, the life of the "maras" it’s a very real phenomenom that exists in Central America (specially Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala), Mexico and even the United States, and is strikingly represented in the movie. Their ways, their customs, their codes. You might think that you may know all about gangs. Well, not so, if you haven’t heard about gangs that seem to come from hell.
Simply put: it’s reference for Blu Ray. If all the Blu Ray movies look like this, we’ll all be happy.
And as Mr Svet Atanasov writes in the main review, the visual are astonishing. This, folks, is pure cinema.
A strong Dolby True HD Spanish audio is the main source. Nothing bad about it either. (The other option is the same spanish audio in stereo).
The problem here is of another kind. The slang used by the maras, and the way they speak, will be hard to understand in some instances for Spanish speaking audiences. If that’s the case, if you know English, to activate the English subtitles (the only ones included) will be of great help. That of course is a natural consequence of the authenticity of the customs here represented, not a flaw.
NOTE ABOUT THE REGION OF THE DISC: I was able to play the disc on an American (region A) Panasonic BD 10 A. The player began by recognizing the disc, displaying the opening anti-copy “warning” sign, but then, when the menu was on, an “unsupported signal” warning was displayed on my TV set. Even so, it was obvious that the player was running the menu, so I pressed “enter” and the movie began with no problem. Once the movie was playing, I could activate audio and subtitle options through the pop up menu. This would mean that the menu is PAL encoded, but the player was able to bypass it. If you have experimented before, and know for a fact that your Region A player can bypass PAL material, then maybe you will be able to play this movie. I must add that deleted scenes (extras) were also bypassed by the Panasonic, but not displayed properly.
The Fall of the Roman Empire is too much talk and little action. That is allright, if you are prepared. Otherwise, you’ll be bored as hell.
The movie does a good job of hinting at the possible causes of the title event, but of course in real life they took hundred of years, and most of them were of the political (corruption of power) and social kind. Hence the “too much talk”. The focus is interesting nonetheless. It’s possible that the movie awakens your curiosity and make you look for more information on the subject. That’s a good thing.
For sheer spectacle alone, this is a movie to watch. It’s one of those hollywood epics (one of the last, if not the last of the trend that began in the 50’s) in which you can see that great amount of money was well spent (in sets, costumes and extras). Unfortunelly, the movie flopped, and loses were great.
Some of the performances are very good, like James Mason’s and Christopher Plummer’s. Alec Guiness, as expected, shows great command and naturality. And Sophia Loren is as beautiful as ever.
By the way, if you happen to read or hear somebody saying that this is the “original” version of Gladiator, take into account that the central HISTORICAL characters are the same (Marcus Aurelius, Commodus and Lucilla). The main character –Maximus in Gladiator and Livius in The Fall – are different, and so the approach to the story is different.
The first impression that I had was that picture quality was heavily manipulated. If I had the chance to apply noise reduction, almost to the max, and even apply contrast enhancement, the picture on “The Fall…” would be the result.
This is “picture heaven” for those who hate grain, becase it’s absolutely absent. For me, who rather have grain, and so no sacrifice of detail and film-like quality, it’s not a good thing. I can’t help but notice that faces show little detail in close-ups, and textures in general look wax-like in open shots.
This is specially problematic with the opening scenes, which take place in a cold winter environment, very dim and sometimes even snowy. It seems to me that noise reduction and contrast enhancement were applied without discrimination, when you needed different degrees for different scenes.
But a funny thing is that as the film progresses, things get better, and I could even rate the second part even higher.
Anyway, if you think that this looks bad, you should check the US “Miriam Collection” dvd and compare. The source for that DVD and the BD seems to be the same (some specs appear in the same places in both versions), but while the dvd shows the same great amout of DNR, it doesn’t have the clarity and color of the BD.
The BD really excells in the audio department. The English DTS Master Audio multi-channel track is clear and strong, specially for the music. This could be problematic for some people, because in some instances music takes first place over the dialogues and other sounds. It’s not that the dialogues are “drowned” by the music, it’s just that you cannot stop noticing HOW GOOD the music sounds.
Although the track is multi-channel, dialogues, assorted sounds and music are concentrated on the central and front speakers, and the rear channels are used exclusively for the sorround effect in the music.
A good amount of extras, related to the movie production and historical references, are included in a second disc, which is a DVD. (It's basically the disc 2 of the US dvd version):
The rise and fall of an epic production: the making of the film
The rise and fall of an empire: an historical look at the real Roman Empire
Hollywood vs. history: an historical analysis
Dimitri Tiomkin: Scoring the Roman Empire
Biography and Filmography
Also, a “copy to go” is included on a third disc.
The commentary included on the US dvd by Bill Bronston (son of producer Samuel Bronston) and Mel Martin (biographer of Samuel Bronston) is also included in the German BD.
I would like to have witnessed a little more respect for the film-like quality of this epic. As it is, the final result could create mixed reactions. I’d say, if I hate noise reduction, and even so, think that the picture quality was acceptable, anyone can rate it at least as acceptable.
The main problem though, is that this BD is Region B “locked”, so tough break for those fans of the movie outside Europe. My guess is that sooner or later, the same company that released this title and El Cid (also in the “Miriam Collection) on DVD in the US, will release the Region A Blu Ray of both titles.
In the summer of 1900, a thirteen-year-old boy who is staying with a wealthy classmate
becomes involved in delivering the messages exchanged between the boy's older, engaged
sister and a handsome neighbor.
The disc is REGION B "LOCKED", so tested on a Momitsu Blu Ray player.
Audio: English (DTS Master Audio Mono), German and Spanish Castillian. Subtitles: English, German, Spanish (Castillian).
Aspect ratio 1:85:1
For those not familiar with the movie, the story takes place in early 1900s England. A young boy -a child- almost 13 years old lends himself as a messenger between two lovers, an experience that will mark him for the rest of his life.
This is a very good movie, that recreates a old world with so many details, that it makes one really feel in another time and place.
It's not a movie for everyone though. It's slow, deliberate. To enjoy it, you have to able to put yourself in the young messenger's place, innocently trapped in a world that he has to discover and undesrtand as it unfolds before him, and it depends also in undertanding the the class-ridden and prohibitive world in which the love he came to witness (and serve) takes place.
Although the casting was made so two stars can take first bill (Julie Christie and Alan Bates do a very good job), it's Dominic Guard's subdued and tender performance the one that carries the film, an oustanding acting debut. It's worth mentioning too that Margareth Leighton was nominated for an Oscar.
Picture quality is hard to judge. Is it better that DVD? I must say YES (my reference for comparison is the copy of the collection "Screen Icons" that the UK's Sunday Telgraph included as a giveaway some 4 years ago). Colors are truer, images clearer. The copy is in pristine condition, without stains or scratches or any other sign of deterioration. Grain is slightly present, and there's no evident manipulation like noise reduction or things like that. In general, details are more enhanced.
So then, what's the problem?. I must quote INFREG, who,on amazon.co.uk, writes as follows (regarding an old dvd edition):
"Yes, it is a pity that the movie is not presented in its intended theatrical aspect ratio 1.85... The movie is presented in its original open matte format, which means it was shot in conventional 1.33 to fit TV screens. For theatrical release the picture was then cropped at the top and the bottom, a common practice since the Fifties. So the picture is nothing missing here as the other reviewers suggest. Instead, it shows more information at the top and the bottom than the theatrical release. Just for the record". (http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R2E67CMNPX7OFZ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm)
That's the DVD. The Blu Ray DOES present an 1:85:1 aspect ratio, meaning that it fills completely the 16 x 9 screen. Meaning that it discards the original film format and presents the movie the way INFREG says it was intended to be exhibited in theaters. Is INFREG right? I guess he is. Nothing in the movie, as included in the Blu Ray, appears as if out of frame or focus. All the contrary.
There's a similar case with the Blu Ray release of "Herostratus" by the BFI. It presents the movie as it was supposed to be shown (16 x 9). But unlike The Go-Between, Herostratus BD includes the original film version (4 x 3) as an extra.
The problem is that if you work with the original 4 x 3 version, but you have to "zoom it in" to fill the 16 x 9 screen, then inevitably you will lose detail. In other words, The Go-Between BD show better detail compared to the standard DVD, but it could have been better. That's the only explanation (not, let's say, some other defect in the transfer) that I find to explain the picture quality that I saw. I think Studio-Canal should have included the original format AS AN EXTRA, as BFI did with Herostratus.
Another problem is that in some scenes the frame shakes slightly and repeatedly from side to side. As far as I could compare, this is a problem shared by the very same scenes on the dvd (so they seem to be inherent to the original film). At first, the issue is annoying, but afterwards they feel few and far between, not enough to ruin the experience.
The original english audio track, decoded as DTS- Master Audio Stereo, but actually monophonic, is generally plain, as you would expect from a 1971 movie. Since it is expected, is not a flaw really. Being a movie dependent on dialogues, the most important thing is clarity, and you have it. And the music is pretty clear too. I must add that in comparison, german audio is not as good, and spanish audio is very poor. Those are also decoded as DTS Master Audio stereo (mono), but of lesser quality, evidently recorded when the movie was first released.
Extras consist mainly on individual interviews, in some cases with people linked only indirectly with the director or the production. There are two important ones: with Gerry Fisher, cinematographer, and John Heyman, producer. There's also a short audio interview with director Joseph Losey, but from some 3 years after the movie and not specifically refered to the movie.
FINAL WORDS. This BD is a must have for fans of the movie, and for those who have afinity with (and patience for) period dramas. Generally speaking, is not a reference Blu Ray, but I was satisfied with the presentation and I doubt that it can look better (except if they include the film in its original format, something that I don't think will happen).
My greatest regret though is that this release is REGION B "locked", and so they have limited the possiblities for Blu Ray users (outside Europe) to get to know or collect this classic.
20th Century Fox | 1987 | 126 min | Rated R | Region A (locked) | Feb 05, 2008
In this riveting behind-the-scenes look at big business in the 1980's, an ambitious young stockbroker is lured into the illegal, lucrative world of corporate espionage when he is seduced by the power, status and financial...
I hate to grant this BLU-RAY an overall qualification of 3. I'd never watched the movie before, and I found it fairly entertaining, although a little predictable. Michael Douglas is enjoyable in a role that secured him an oscar win. Performances in general are very good (Daryll Hanna was nominated for a "razzie" that year for her participation in this movie, which I consider unfair, to say the least).
There are 2 minuses:
The terribly outdated 80's style soundtrack. The inclusion of a particular song by Talking Heads is nice, but the music mostly done by keyboards and electric drums is simply annoying. More traditional music would have helped aged this movie a little better.
The picture quality is below blu-ray standards. In some scenes it looks good (not excellent). But mostly, it looks like the laziest upgrade they could have done from the dvd. The picture is opaque, and in dark scenes the details are lost, not only in the background. Maybe, just maybe, this is due to the way the movie was filmed, not the transfer's fault. But I'm not an expert to point exactly the problem, and the truth remains, blu-ray was not invented to get only this minor upgrade in movies.
a) Aspect ratio is 1:66:1 which respects the original width. This more narrow aspect ratio will be displayed properly with small black bars on the sides of your video display (but smaller than, let's say, full frame).
b) This is the THEATRICAL VERSION. If you haven't watched the movie, it's a good place to start, because this version is preferred by many over the "Director's Cut", which added more than half an hour of story and completely changes the final focus of the movie. But I guess including both versions in the same disc/package would have been a good thing.
c) Picture quality is very good. Only, there are instances in which the high quality image alternates with scenes of lesser quality (that look almost standard definition). I'm not an expert, so I can pinpoint exactly what's going on here. It's as if they had to reconstruct the movie with scenes from another print, not in the same level of quality. Also, in daylight scenes, skin color look more reddish than it should be. It could be the originally intended cinematography, though. But overall, I was impressed with the clarity, contrast and detail.
English subtitles are imposed, but not printed in the film.
d) Audio: very good, but don't expect the ultimate quality. The source is very limited, mostly flat, with good treble and low bass (remember that this movie, as many italian movies, used a post-recorded soundtrack, which means that anyway the sound won't be natural or rich in details, cause it was recorded afterwards). Even so, the DTS master audio is a big improvement over the optional LPCM stereo track included. Take into account that although the DTS is displayed as 5.1, it's practically stereo, and you won't hear much on sorruound speakers (certainly, nothing exclusive for these speakers).
Dialogues and sounds are pretty clear, and Ennio Morricone's score (which elevates any movie) is well enhanced.
e) Precisely, you can also hear the score independently as an extra, not "isolated" with all the movie, but continuosly (almost an hour long) with photographs of the movie and the production. In this case, the sound is only stereo.
A couple of documentaries are included "A Bear and a Mouse in Paradise" and "The Kissing sequence" in which the director speaks in lenght about the inspiration behind the movie and many other interesting aspects.
FINAL WORD: This is a very professional product, worthy of Blu Ray standars.
BEWARE: ALTHOUGH THE MOVIE IS PLAYABLE ON U.S. PLAYERS, THE EXTRAS ARE NOT NTSC FRIENDLY (maybe with the exception of "Ennio Morricone's score" the only one that my US native Panasonic BD 10 A could play smoothly, but not sure if that applies to all the US players).
Universal Music | 2009 | 132 min | Not rated | Region free
| Dec 14, 2009
Recorded at the Arènes de Nîmes in France on 7th July 2009 during the World Magnetic Tour. Français pour une nuit is unique in that not only was it filmed in France, but all aspects of the project are French. The concert was...
Harvester of sorrow
Fade to black
Broken, beat and scarred
Sad but true
All nightmare long
The day that never comes
Master of Puppets
Nothing else matters
Stone cold crazy
Seek and destroy
This concert was released specially for the french market. It was filmed in "Arenes de Nimes" (Arena of Nimes), a Roman amphitheater built around 70A.D., and remodeled in 1863 to serve as a bullring.
This historical place provides a very special backgroung for a great concert in which the group shows that they still have the energy and skill that have distinguised them.
Picture quality is very good, but being a night time concert, far details are lost in the dark.
Camera work is very good. I had an initial complaint with the "dolly" camera, which vibrates a lot with the sound of the drums. After a while, not only I got used to it, but I felt it provided another element to the force that the concert has.
A stronger point (from the Bd perspective) is a very good DTS Master Audio Track, which let every instrument be heard clearly and well defined.
As a bonus there's a 37 minute interview with all the band, in which they speak about the usual stuff (what they think of their new album, their induction into the hall of fame, Guitar Hero, etc). This interview is NOT in high definition, but it is widescreen, unlike what is stated in the package. It's in English, with Spanish, Italian, French and German subtitles (and English for the questions, which are dubbed in french).
The other extra consists on 5 videos made with hand held cameras by 5 "lucky" fans. Of about 3 minutes each one, they show different angles of the band playing and takes of the fans. This feature is Full Frame.
The Blu Ray is totally Region Free, and even the extras are NTSC friendly.
Universal Studios | 2009 | 129 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region free
| Sep 07, 2009
In Britain 1966 recently expelled student, Carl has been sent by his mother to find some
direction in life by visiting his godfather, Quentin. However, Quentin is the boss of Radio
Rock, a pirate radio station in the middle...
A good homage to 60's pirate radio...and its fans.
If you’re in the right mood, you’ll have a pleasant experience with this movie. Basically, it’s not a great movie, but it’s good. It’s not terrificaly hilarious, but it has its moments (I never thought that I’d be laughing or smiling while hearing “A whiter shade of pale” or “Father and son” during a movie).
The most interesting part is the TRUE story part, that is, the fact that Pirate Radio had to exist in the UK because BBC only allowed pop music to be broadcasted for a few minutes a day. And it was constatly under attack by conservatives. That ridiculous policy (that went through the 60’s) seems totally unthinkable for younger people today, but that’s how it was. Such is the inspiration for the completely fictional story depicted in this movie.
I honestly think that the movie is not completely succesful as such. The story seems fragmented and episodic (you can argue that this is precisely the point: it’s how life on a pirate radio boat should have been). But apart from that, I think the movie was a little longer that it should (15 or 20 minutes LESS wouldn’t have hurt), there are spans that feel a little uneventful or slow (more noticeable for a COMEDY), the last act was not very convincing, and the climax was extended too much and with that hollywood-esque feeling that it’s not positive.
The acting is very good, and everybody handles its character distinctibly, depicting with precision the multi-facetic ensamble of the radio station.
In the end, I must say that I enjoyed this movie, basically because of its light tone. Obviously those who were fans of pirate radio in the 60's (or just plainly listened to radio back in those days) will get a great kick out of it. As for me, it made me remember the time in which radio was THE source for music, and DJ's were your good friends (even though you didn't even know their faces).
Picture quality is very good.
I expected an impressive DTS MA track, but was a little disappointed. Still, it’s good enough.
When a powerful warlord in medieval Japan dies, a poor thief recruited to impersonate him finds difficulty living up to his role and clashes with the spirit of the warlord during turbulent times in the kingdom
When I watched this BD, I watched the movie for the first time. Certainly, I'm glad I waited for the blu-ray, because it's the WAY to enjoy the movie (that is, if you didn't watch it in the big screen when first released).
When you get to know that Kurosawa was planning this movie for years, making a lot of paintings that reflected what some particular scenes would look like when the movie was made (or, at the time, if it ever was made), you realize that this can only be the work of an artist. Those paintings are in the majority of cases faithfully rendered on film, put in motion, if you like. There's a lot to admire in almost every scene, specially colour and composition.
The only problem that I had with the movie, was that I found it slow (maybe because I expected something like RAN, which is richer in themes). That's no surprise at 3 hours lenght. BUT I was always fascinated by the way the movie looked, from start to finish, which prevented me from being bored (so this is one instance in which "slow" doesn't equate "boring"). And I think the movie left me with a good impression in the end. I know I'm going to be thinking about it a lot in the future, and watch it many more times. Like RAN, I know that I'll find it more interesting with each viewing. It will grow on me.
I have to remark that the AUDIO quality was also a pleasant surprise. I didn't expect a movie this old to sound this good. Once again, CRITERION have done a wonderlful job in all aspects of this release.
With 'Ran', legendary director Akira Kurosawa reimagines Shakespeare’s King Lear as a singular
historical epic set in sixteenth-century Japan. Majestic in scope, the film is Kurosawa’s late-life
masterpiece, a profound...
Surprisingly, this release is US friendly (and I'm surprised because Criterion had the rights for the dvd in the USA, so I was expecting the same for the BD). Even the EXTRAS will play with no problem (they're not PAL encoded). But the good news end just there.
The first impression that I got from watching this BD was that the PQ looked just like dvd. And if that's the first impression that a High Definition movie gives you, you're in trouble.
Now, to be fair, I did a little comparison with the Criterion dvd. And, for the first time I noticed that the Criterion dvd is not one of the best picture quality they have released. Which makes me wonder: is there a limitation inherent to the original cinematography that won't allow a decent transfer for Blu Ray standards?
Of course the only way to prove this wrong is if someone else (Criterion?) releases a blu ray of the movie with a more noticeable improvement. But the most probable thing is that Studio Channel did an upgrade of the dvd master, not the original print.
I can say that the Studio Canal Blu Ray release offers more image estability, vivid colors and improve the detail somehow, when compared to the dvd. But the fine detail that distinguishes high definition is completely absent. And that's what most people will resent (myself included). The improvement over the dvd is there, but if it's justified for you to do the upgrade, will depend on personal judment, and definitely is not an objective fact.
"Art of the samurai". Interview with a japanese art of war expert.
Portrait of Akira Kurosawa by japanese cinema expert Catherine Cadou.
"The epic and the intimate". Documentary on the director.
"A.K.". Documentary from director Chris Marker (in french, english subtitled). (This was also included in the Criterion dvd, in english).
"The samurai" Documentary on Samurai art.
TVA Films | 2006 | 91 min | Rated R | Region A (B, C untested) | Oct 07, 2008
Welcome to Willard, a small town lost in the idyllic world of the 50s, where the sun shines
every day, everybody knows their neighbor, and rotting zombies deliver the mail. Years
ago, the earth passed through a cloud of space...
This is a good movie to watch in Blu Ray. The recreation of the postcard american suburbs of the 50's is completed with great colors that look much more alive in Blu Ray.
The great problem is that Sony couldn't leave the image alone. When will studios understand that if you apply noise reduction, they're only sacrificing one of the reasons why the blu ray exists, that is, fine detail?
I know, noise reduction is intended to eliminate grain. Now, grain is not the most unnatural thing in a movie. There always has been there. Why try to eliminate one of the historic characteristics of film?
As a result, the image has been upgraded from a normal dvd, and colors are vibrant. But just don't look too close for the little details, because they have been erased.
The movie itself deserves 4 stars. Very entertaining, funny (black humor, that is) and even tender. And don't believe whatever comparison people are making with "Shaun of the dead" because they're very different in approach.
ASPECT RATIO 2:35:1
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH (Dolby True HD 5.1. and Dolby Digital 5.1) and FRENCH (Dolby Digital 2.0)
SUBTITLES: None (not even french!)
EXTRAS: Audio Commentary with director, producer and actress - Art Galleries - Deleted scenes with commentary - "Night of the living" short -
BFI Video | 1967 | 143 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region free
| Aug 24, 2009
Disillusioned poet Max decides to commit suicide, but rather than making it a quiet affair, Max
contacts the local media so that, he hopes, his name will live on. On the appointed day,
however, Max suddenly has a change of...
When Max (Michael Gothard) decides that he’s going to commit suicide, he won’t just go. He visits Farson (Peter Stephens) the head of an advertising company and convinces him of the marketing potential of this event. Clio (Gabriella Licudi) gets involved in the process (even unwillingly), just because she’s the secretary-assistant to Farson. What is Max looking for? Maybe a last moment of popularity he always longed for, but never had. Maybe the feeling of knowing that for at least a moment, many people will care for him. It’s just about the ego: the ego that inspires all human action, the ego that could make the head of an advertising company and all the people that work there plan every detail for the suicide as if it was business as usual, because it’s going to make good money or bring great reputation to whomever launches a successful marketing campaing around such an event. The ego that, ultimately, is bringing society to his demise…
HEROSTRATUS is a very interesting movie, but one that I find hard to recommend, since is not for all tastes. Main reasons:
-It’s one of the most pessimistic movies I’ve ever watched.
-It’s hard to have some kind of care (ironically) for the main character. That changes in the third act (I’m single-handedly dividing the story in 3 more or less identifiable parts) but by then it might be too late for some.
-Although the story is not strictly linear, by the end you may be able to put everything together (more or less). But meanwhile, you will be invaded with brief but numerous intercuts of scenes that sometimes represent a part of the story that is going to happen later or already happened, representations of thoughts or dreams, documentary material that at first seem to be completely unrelated to the story or unnecessary, etc. Around ten minutes before the first hour mark, and for periods that last some minutes, that documentary material goes on and on, and it may become too distracting or boring for mainstream audiences.
(It's funny that some sequences of intercuts look like a music video, obviously made long before this format was formally conceived.
If you are into original movies, and think you can stand these issues, then you’re in for a rewarding cinematic experience.
One thing is for sure: although the movie is not structured conventionally, its intention is not to throw an abstract idea or ideas subjected to the interpretation of the spectator. As revealed in an interview with the director (included as a bonus), his intention is to give a direct message, and try to transmit to the spectators the feelings of the main character, and make them a part of the whole process. Obviously, the director had a pessimistic view of the society, and wanted to nail it to as many persons as possible.
Two things impressed me the most:
a)If there’s only one good reason to watch this movie, it’s the superb acting from the main 3 actors, but specially from Michael Gothard. How he didn’t have a good acting career with that impressive show, will remain forever a mystery.
The appeal of the acting goes beyond. It’s evident how behind the performances there was a controlling director trying to get the best results he could get out of them, in order to represent his ideas. The reactions are natural, and very convincing when pain, anger and frustration are expressed. And one can’t help but be amazed, once you know that all the people involved worked almost for free, just for the love of the project. This kind of dedication and its results are pure art.
The camera sometimes functions like if it’s inside an actor’s studio, filming a rehearsal. It’s part of the “experimental” feeling that the movie has in some instances (in other instances there are fantastic camera shots and composition of scenes that also show great mastery of the medium). There are two major scenes, with the participation of the three main actors, that could have easily been filmed in a stage performance in a theater. And in direct contrast with the fast intercuts presented in some parts of the movie, in other occasions the camera remains fixed on an actor, while he/she’s having a conversation. This technique allows us to appreciate even better the work of the actors, their expressions and reactions
b) This is the first time this movie has been released commercially. This fate is unfair, taking into account what Amnon Buchbinder writes in the first essay that comes in the included booklet: “Herostratus must certainly rank among the most influential of unknown films”.
Free from any prejudice that this statement may create (since I didn’t read it beforehand) I only have to agree. There’s no way somebody can watch Herostratus and not be reminded of movies like Stanley Kubrick’s “A clockwork orange” or Alan Parker’s The Wall. In the case of the former, at least in one more way than just visual or conceptual: There’s a scene in which the main character Max is eating a breakfast served by Farson. It’s at this moment (if not before) that it becomes clear that his expressions and his manners, must have been a direct influence on Malcom McDowell’s Alex. And of course, without movies like Herostratus, directors like David Lynch would have never existed.
PICTURE QUALITY: Amazing, for a movie this old. But enemies of the grain, beware: there are lots of it, since (thankfully) the restoration didn’t include the hateful noise reduction, which allows the movie to retain a very cinematic look, full of detail.
In this regard, one thing is important: disc 2, as an extra, includes the movie in its original aspect ratio of 1.33.1, what is normally called “full frame”. The main feature in disc one is 1.78.1, intended to fill the whole widescreen tv set. The explanation for this is that although the movie was filmed in a different aspect ratio, it was intended (by the director) to be showed in widescreen, so instructions were given to project it that way.
So, if you watch disc one, you are watching the movie as it’s supposed to be watched, except that since it was filmed differently, it had to be zoomed in. In this way, some issues completely natural for a movie this old, and less noticeable in the original full frame transfer, become more evident in the widescreen presentation, namely the normal grain of the movie and heavy noise in dark scenes. So, unless you think you’re not going to be distracted by these things, go ahead and watch the movie in disc one. But I highly recommend to watch it in its original aspect ratio.
And I also recommend this: watch the movie, and then hear the 38 minutes interview with the director. It will enhance your appreciation and understanding of the movie, and probably will make you want to watch it again as soon as possible.
Don't like ballet? Well, I didn't, but that's not an obstacle to enjoy this classic. The story has universal meaning, that anybody can understand and identify with. It just happens around the world of ballet.
What a marvelous movie !. Just like "Reduman" says it here, I was not prepared for what I watched. I was expecting a classic hollywood drama with some dance sequences on it. The movie somehow could be reduced to it if you want to define it, but it would be unfair. Moreover, there's only a "dance sequence" strictly talking. But what a sequence !.
The colors, the edition, the storytelling...everything is perfect.
The story is not complicated, and in fact many people have said it's soap-opera-esque. It drawed my attention from start to finish all the same, and I think it's because the movie is elevated by the quality of the performances and the fact that there are no corny moments. But most of all, there's this mystery of the character of Boris Lermontov. I defy anybody to watch the movie and not find this character a worthy subject of deep analysis and discussion.
The biggest surprise of all, is that when we get to the part of the Red Shoes ballet, the sequence turns to fantasy filmmaking. The sequency is good not only for it's value as ballet dancing, but for the many filming techniques it uses. And although this part puts a hold to the story for about 15 minutes, it never feels intruding or unnecesary. On the contrary, the movie wouldn't be the classic it deserves to be without the incertion of this sequence.
This blu-ray representes the miracle of restoration at its best. My only regret is that some of the fans of this movie never got to watch it with these clarity of detail and vivid colours. It's strange to think that I got the chance to watch this movie for the first time in better conditions than some people in their entire lifetime. But it's the way to be watched, and to be discovered and appreciated by more people.
In the final days of Marcus Aurelius' reign, the aging emperor angers his son Commodus by
making it known that he wants Maximus, a fearsome and respected Roman general, to be his
successor. Power-hungry Commodus kills his...
I just like to confirm that the UK "Steel Book" version of the movie is REGION FREE, which was expected, since the movie was released in America and UK almost simultaneously, so no big reason to restrict its distribution.
Good news also that the second disc (EXTRAS) is also region free, and encoded 1080p and 480 i/p SD. So it will play also on American BD players.
Apart from the fact that this edition gives you a nice touch with the metallic package, the set comes with four postcards. I don't know if they are all the same for every edition, but at least mine came with 1. A close shot of Maximus wearing his helmet (the same helmet that appears on the cover). 2. The photograph that appeared on the cover of the original dvd. 3. A shot of Maximus in the woods, holding a blood-stained sword. 4. A picture of Maxumus in the arena, facing a gladiator and a tiger.
This BD contains the same 2 discs of the regular version.
Since everybody is talking about the picture quality, here's my take: it's not the tragedy some have said, but there's room for improvement. I resented the lack of detail in far or wide shots. The cinematography looks a lot like that of "Kingdom of heaven", another Riddley Scott picture on Blu Ray, but the high quality of the latter is absent from the Gladiator release. So it suffers by comparison. But I think it's still acceptable by Blu Ray standards.
I'm guessing this is the same picture quality of the american release, again since they are simultaneous releases. But, apart from that, and based on the information I have, it looks like there are more AUDIO and SUBTITLE options for the MAIN FEATURE in the UK version. Here's what it has:
AUDIO: English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and DTS Sorround 5.1 options of French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Spanish (Castilian and Latin American)
SUBTITLES: English, French, Italian, German, Danish, Finish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Traditional Mandarin and Spanish (Castilian and Latin American).
These SUBTITLES are also included in disc 2 (EXTRAS).
So maybe you are expecting a remastered version in the future. Well, in the meantime, the Steel Book limited version is a good excuse to buy the Blu Ray at once. There could be an improved version in the future, but maybe not in a package like this.
Optimum Home Entertainment | 2008 | 2 Movies | 257 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region B (locked) | Jun 29, 2009
On November 26, 1956, Fidel Castro sails to Cuba with eighty rebels. One of those rebels is
Ernesto "Che" Guevara (Benicio del Toro), an Argentine doctor who shares a common goal
with Fidel Castro - to overthrow the corrupt...
CHE (Parts 1 and 2) is very good, in what it presents.
I watched it expecting to know some more about Ernesto “Che” Guevara as a human being, and I was a little dissapointed. Sure, underneath everything there lies some flashes of his personality, and of course, his way of thinking, but the main stars are the campaigns in Cuba and Bolivia. In that regard, the movies succeed. The depiction of guerilla warfare is strong and convincing. But that doesn’t mean that it’s only action. In fact, for what could be categorized as a “war” movie, there’s too much talk and slow moments, but it’s all part of the guerilla life: how soldiers relate to one another, what was the direction and planning of the campaings, how discipline and justice was applied to the soldiers, etc.
Some days after watching CHE, I watched for the first time “The Motorcycle diaries”, a movie about an adventurous trek through south america made by Ernesto Guevara and a friend, when he was younger (see the reference here: http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/movies.php?id=4469). That was the kind of background that I wanted in the frist place. But since that was not the focus of CHE (which was an artistic decision, otherwise, the movie CHE would have been obviously much longer and even unfocused) I can only recommend anybody wanting to know a little more about "el Che”, to watch “Diaries” first. These movies (Motorcycle diaries + CHE parts 1 –The Argentine- and 2 –Guerilla-) work virtually as a trilogy. And since they all come from memories written directly by Ernesto Guevara (in the case of CHE, partially), it enhances the sense of unity. I watched CHE once again, after “Diaries”, and the effect was better.
One thing is for sure, background or not, the most probable thing is that CHE is not going to change what you think about Ernesto Guevara, as a soldier or revolutionary. In spite of its sources, I think CHE succeeds also in being impartial (I don't agree with user "penguin"), and whatever image that you have about him (positive or negative) may be enhanced or soften a bit, but not changed.
CHE should be regarded as educative material (for its historic info) not ideological.
PICTURE QUALITY: The outdoor scenes are of the best I’ve seen in a Blu Ray. Contrast, clarity and detail are simply amazing. But beware what the main reviewer in this site stated (about part 1): “the grain structure is quite wild… during the pseudo-documentary footage recreating Guevara’s trip to New York City. All of this, however, is intentional”. That “pseudo-documentary footage” I guess is 20 % of the first movie (or part 1).
SOUND QUALITY: DTS-HD Master Audio, the only one included, is excellent. Dialogues are clear, explosions and bullets make for good sorround and strong sound.
The movie is in Spanish with english subtitles. The scenes derived of the New York city visit are english “translated”, in fact you can hear Che speaking and somebody translating (and there are no subtitles –english or spanish- for those dialogues).
Alliance | 2006 | 110 min | Rated PG-13 | Region A (locked) | May 05, 2009
Eisenheim is a stage magician who amazes the audiences of turn-of-the-century Vienna, drawing the attention of Crown Prince Leopold. When the Prince's intended, Sophie von Teschen, assists the magician onstage, Eisenheim and...
The Picture Quality of this release is on the best I've watched, and this is no minor feat for a movie with great amount of nightime scenes or scenes in dark theaters, in which blacks are solid and no noise is noticeable.
The aspect ratio is 1:85:1, which is the original, as detailed on imdb.com.
The sound is robust (I heard the 5.1 DTS-HD master). Sounds are strong, dialogues are clear, and Phillip Glass' music is well enhanced.
Since it's a bare bones release, you can't escape the feeling that this is a "provisional" BD, something that you will have to replace with whatever edition they release in the United States or somewhere else. But if you're not a friend of extras and bonus materials, and don't even need subtitles of any kind, this is a good option.
"Flame" and "Citron" are code names of two resistance (or "freedom") fighters against the Nazi invaders, in WW2, Denmark.
Even though they are fighting for the "good" side, their acts are somehow questionable. And when things begin to get complicated and entangled, everything begins to get unclear even for them. There's also a grey area in war.
Quote: "(Director) Ole Christian Madsen, and co-scripter Lars K. Andersen, have given these two characters the strokes of heroes of legend, but far from representing a sanctifying biography, they have introduced some questions by establishing the thin line of shadow that separates the martyr from the monster incapable of stop killing, even though mentors and loved ones advise so" (translated excerpt, originally by Fernando Bejarano en "Cine para leer" - http://188.8.131.52:8080/cineparaleer/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=570&Itemid=26 -)
Based on real characters, this is a movie that manages to be thrilling and thought-provoking at the same time. It will catch your attention from beginning to end. And you will have to put some pieces together by yourself.
The acting is excellent. Thure Lindhart (although unrecognizable, maybe you can remember him in "Into the Wild" as the hippie dane by the river) presents "Flame" as a cold person, but also vulnerable. And what can you say about Mads Mikkelsen (the baddie of "Casino Royal", and also in "After the Wedding") who quietly has been showing that he is a great actor. His "Citron" is more dramatically demanding, and he is up to the task.
Picture quality is excellent. I gave it half point less because in some instances the image looks soft, but for the most part is very satisfactory. No complaints about the sound quality (Danish/German DTS-HD MA 5.1 is the only track included).
The disc is REGION FREE. The feature has FORCED english subtitles (the only ones included). The extras (interviews with the actors and director, and a feature about the Nazi occupation of Denmark) are very informative, but they are PAL encoded, so you will need a player capable of playing that format. But don't let this discourage you: you won't have any trouble watching the movie in a "Region A" player. It's really worthy.
좋은 놈, 나쁜 놈, 이상한 놈
Icon Home Entertainment | 2008 | 130 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region B (locked) | Jun 15, 2009
Set in 1930s Japanese occupied Manchuria, tells the story of three Joseon mounted bandits who get their hands on a treasure map, only to be pursued by the army of national independence, who believe that the outlaws have a map for...
I watched it after I read the main review here on blu-ray.com, and I think it does it justice in every aspect.
I only want to write a few things:
-This is action and fun. The strenght of the movie doesn't rely on plot, which is very simple. As some would say, it resembles those "saturday morning matinees". Which is very appropriate, since the movies more associated with that concept are the "Indiana Jones" series, and this one feels like one of them. So much so that on the back of the blu-ray, it reads "Everything that the latest Indiana Jones flick should have been" (MTV review... for once, I have to agree with MTV !!!). So you just have to relax and have fun.
-Acting is very good, but this is not drama. They are very good for the type of action characters they represent. I was very impressed with Song Kang-ho, whom was also the main actor in "The Host", so he's getting familiar with blu-ray followers. He is very funny.
-One of the things that stands out the most is the camera work. There are some pretty and amazing shots that enhanced the action. Some are quick and fast, but they never get confusing or herky-jerky (which has been the trend for some directors lately).
-Picture quality is tops. Audio is very good. You hear bullets and explosions clearly and all around you. By now, you must have more than 5 movies you would use to impress your friends with the quality of blu-ray. But you can count on this one to give them some fun while you're at it.
-This is Region B locked. It's a shame, since this becomes one more reason why this movie won't have an american audience. (There's a french version, but Amazon.fr states that it only has french subtitles, and probably it's also region locked).
The Dinner Game
Gaumont | 1998 | 80 min | Unrated | Region free
| Dec 04, 2008
Every Wednesday night, wealthy Paris publisher Pierre Brochant and his friends try to outdo one
another by bringing the most flagrantly idiotic person they can find to join them for dinner. He
who finds the biggest dope,...
If you want a good comedy that doesn't rely on toilet humor, you can still trust the french. At least you could by 1998, when this movie was firts released. :-)
Le Dîner de Cons (translated in the USA as "The Dinner Game", but more something like "The Dinner of idiots") is is a perfect example of how to make a good comedy without falling into vulgarity. You can say good comedy in movies is a lost art that you have to struggle to find.
The humor here is almost completely in the dialogues, and that's no surprise since it was originally a play written by Francis Veber, the director. Most of the action takes place in a single room.
For details about what this movie is about, you can read the main review. I only would want to say that one of the keys why this movie works is because it's only 1 hour and 20 minutes long. The pace never sags, and you can really feel that all secondary characters have their adequate allotment of time. Furthermore, the leads couldn't have been more perfectly cast: Jacques Villeret, as the "idiot" Francois Pignon, is not revealed as a despicable dimwit, but as a tender and naive person, so you really feel for him when you know he is going to be the unaware victim of the "game". And Thierry Lhermitte, as Pierre Brochant, presents a character that is mean-spirited, but not neccesarily a monster (think of how much you act like him every now and then).
Picture quality is very good. Some exterior scenes are of the best quality I have ever seen in a blu ray. Most of the interior scenes are not dissapointing, but some of them show a heavy amount of noise. Nothing to discredit the BD.
There are a lot of extras, but not subtitled, so I don't rate them. If you understand french, you'll have better luck. :-)
I highly recommend this movie for those who haven't been spoiled by the trend of recent mass comedies. In that sense, it's something very refreshing.
Remember, the main feature has english subtitles (and french also) and is REGION FREE.
EMI | 2008 | 215 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Region free
| May 25, 2009
Flight 666 documents the first leg of Iron Maiden's legendary Somewhere Back In Time world tour which took them 50,000 miles round the planet playing 23 concerts on 5 continents in just 45 days. Also included is the full live set...
It can be said that this disc consists of 2 versions of the same feature:
a) MAIN FEATURE:
FLIGHT 666, The film. For over 110 minutes, it chronicles the "Somewhere Back in Time" tour that took Iron Maiden to 5 continents in 45 days, (23 concerts) in their own "Ed Force One" Plane.
You can find the usual in these type of documentaries: what the band did in each place, how the fans react to them and they react to the fans, and you get to know each member a little more as a person, not only as a musician. Everything is enhanced by bits of humor here and there.
Two things stroke me the most: First, how these guys have matured to a level in which a tour like this is all about music, not about party and excess. I know, I know... that must have happended to them 20 years ago. But it's good to see that they're over all that and still having fun and performing to a level worthy of their status. Second, the huge, and I mean HUGE following and devotion that they have around the world. And it was not the Brazilian priest that teaches religion around Iron Maiden's verses that got the prize. No, for me it goes to the Colombian fan, in tears, completely transfixed after a concert, with a drummer's stick in his hands (presumably Nicko Mc Brain's). You CAN call that a religious experience !.
All of this is accompanied by a song that they played in the specific country. Only part of the performance of that particular song is included.
b) THE CONCERT:
ALL the songs for which they only included a piece in the film, are put togheter here in their entirety, creating the feeling of a concert, but filmed in 16 different countries. To enhance that feeling, the picture and sound quality of the performances is mostly even. (Since this is treated as an extra, I give it a well deserve 10 !).
Quote in the back of the box: "Both features were filmed digitally in Hi Def, with a stunning 5.1 sound track specially mixed by Kevin Shirley...and were filmed by Sam Dunn, Scott McFayden and the celebrated Banger Films team who were responsible for the award winning documentaries "Metal: A headbanger's story" and "Global Metal".
So there you have it: filmed in High Definition. You can catch every little detail, even in the darker parts of the shows (yes, there are parts in which the levels of picture noise are high, but that is natural, you can't expect a camera to do miracles and create light where is not, so this is far from being a flaw). But as for the main film, you can also enjoy incredible shots in daylight, and awsome aerial shots (announced in the very menu, in which you can watch the plane on air).
Sound is excellent and it meets the standars for modern filmed concerts. You won't have any complaint. 5.1 PCM sorround sound, 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and Dolby Digital Stereo are the options included.
In the future, this realease should be regarded as one of the milestones in Blu Ray rock documentaries/concerts.
Interpol Agent Louis Salinger and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman are
determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering myriad and
reprehensible illegal activities,...
I really enjoyed this movie, but while I watched it, I could tell that it won't be of great appeal for those used to action charged movies of the style. Normally movies with international agents trying to uncover illegal transnational activities give you high speed chases, shootings everywhere (no harm for the main character thogh) and all the pyrotechnics you can imagine.
With that reduced to the minumum (but with a very well staged shoot out in a museum), THE INTERNATIONAL still will hold your attention. It reminded me more of SYRIANNA than any other movie, although THE INTERNATIONAL is not that complex or intricate (in fact, since you can pay more attention to the story, some flaws will be more evident -but still, that won't diminish its interest).
But as I said, you still have one good reason to give this one a try. Picture Quality is reference. The movie uses great architecture buldings, that are beautifully enhanced in Blu Ray, e.g. the Volkswagen Autostadt in Germany, and many other modern places in Europe.
First Look Studios | 2005 | 104 min | Rated R | Region free
| Aug 19, 2008
Set in Australia in the 1880s, the film opens in the middle of a frenzied gunfight between the
police and a gang of outlaws. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his brother Mikey are captured by
Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone)....
...are the best words to describe the Western-type movie set in Australia. Not only those characteristics will make it hard for most to watch. The main problem is that NONE of the main characters deserve our sympathy.
The director that this movie reminded me of the most is Sam Peckinpah ("Wild Bunch" and "Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia" come to mind) but with all their brutality and crudeness, his movies still had characters with some redeeming qualities.
The Proposition? Captain Stanley, the local law enforcer, sets free the outlaw Charlie, and if he finds and kills his older brother (the leader of the clan), in exchange Charlie will have his pardon and that of his little brother's.
How the execution of the intended proposition unfolds, and takes unexpected turns, is what should hold your interest. At times, the movie turns slow, but it's still always fascinating.
Captain Staney (Ray Winstone), is somehow the "good" guy, because he represents the law. But the law here is that of the british invader, and Stanley is very aware of his instrumental role for the "civilization" of the land (even if it includes exterminate the natives).
And Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce), well, he's part of an outlaw band of brothers, robbers and rapists. How bad do they look? Well, think of them as a western version of the Charles Manson gang.
Although I found the story hard to swallow (precisely because of it unsympathetic leads), I really liked it in the end, because of its realism. Not everything in life is good and glamorous, and least in this forsaken land, so many years ago. So not all the movies have to be sweet and pleasent.
The acting is very good, and realism (and crudeness) have been enhanced by little details: the uniforms of the officers are ragged and dirty, noboby sports white shiny teeth, the faces look dry and dull, and there are flies... not one or two, but sometimes dozens at a time (something to see better in blu ray!). For this reason, Stanley's wife (Emily Watson), so beautiful, so clean, literally shines. She seems so out of place that is not hard to imagine how could she seem something like an otherwordly creature among the inhabitants of this land.
Picture quality is outstanding, which is helped by the fact that most of the movie takes place in exteriors. Many times, the tone of the scenes is yellow-ish, and one could think that this is a flaw. But is not: it's just how the color of the desert, the shining sun, permeates everything.
Audio is good, but there were times in which I though it should have been stronger, specifically when bullets are heard.
Immortel: Ad Vitam
First Look Studios | 2004 | 102 min | Rated R | Region A (C untested) | Dec 02, 2008
New York City, year 2095. A floating pyramid has emerged in the skies above, inhabited by
ancient Egyptian Gods. They have cast judgment down upon Horus (a falcon-headed god), one
of their own. With only seven days to...
Loosely adapted from a comic strip, IMMORTAL present our world 100 years in the future. Egyptian gods have appeared in New York City (in a pyramid, no less). Horus is about to be executed by its peers. But he needs to do something first.
Oh yes, those gods of old were very much alive. They even had time to learn how to play monopoly and chess !!!.
Then the story throws in the usual bleak look of the society and future cities (old architecture, though), the corrupt government, the corrupt company, plus a girl whose origins nobody knows –not even her-, and the leading man, a convicted man who has "escaped" from prison…
The story deserves A+ or “10” for originality, but maybe the lowest grade for coherence. And the value of entertainment will depend on your patience, and your scale of appreciation for something weird, just for weirdness’ sake. Because nothing is explained. What happens, happens just because, and in the end, it amounts to very little.
The visuals deserve a mention apart. They are an interesting mix of CGI (the majority of the sets, and many characters, either aliens, mutants or even humans) and live actors. Early techniques of substituting heads of real actors for CGI heads are used too (something that we have seen perfected in movies like “The curious cas of Benjamin Button"). Overall, the futuristic look and saturated cinematography is a good match for the story.
The filming process is illustrated in two short features included as supplements.
I for one, liked the movie just because of its weirdness, and of course for its visuals. But I felt it more like an experimental movie (expensive, though) with not much sense.
I agree with those complaining about the picture quality of the Blu Ray. It’s not reference at all. Details are absent in most of the scenes. Some scenes (close ups, for instance) present a closer blu-ray quality, but still one could think they are 720 p, 1080 I at the most. But I guess, MAYBE the cinematography is to blame, not the transfer. Anyway, with some exceptions, I never had the impression that I was watching just DVD picture quality.
REPEATING WHAT “SERETUR” HAVE SAID: Remember to turn on the ENGLISH SUBTITLES if you want to understand what the “gods” speak in “egyptian” (anyway their dialogues are short, and not knowing what they say is not a big deal). And a fair warning for Spanish speakers/readers: what the “gods” say, is not reproduced in the spanish subtitles (los subtítulos en español no reproducen el diálogo entre los “dioses”, como si lo hacen los subtítulos en ingles).
Weinstein Company | 2008 | 124 min | Rated R | Region free
| Apr 28, 2009
When he falls ill on his way home from school, 15 year-old Michael Berg is rescued by Hanna,
a woman twice his age. The two begin an unexpected and passionate affair only for Hanna to
suddenly and inexplicably disappear....
I agree with the main reviewer. I think the sex scenes in the first 45 minutes were too many. 10 minutes less of them, and still you'd get the point.
Overall, I found the movie very interesting, dealing with human nature and human emotions. How people would react under overwhelming circumstances... What were their motivations? Did they do the right thing? And most important of all, what would YOU have done?
If you get into it, this movie will make you think (a rare thing these days).
Performances are excellent. Kate Winslet is positively matched by young David Kross. Ralph Fiennes is very good (as usual) as the confused adult that resulted from the stormy first love relationship he had. And is always good to have so natural an actor as Bruno Ganz around, at least for a small part.
Picture quality is spotless, but a little soft in some interior scenes. Not disappointing overall.
Sony Pictures | 2007 | 133 min | Rated BBFC: 12 | Region free
| Feb 11, 2008
A love story set against the backdrop of the 1960s amid the turbulent years of anti-war protest, mind exploration and rock 'n roll, from the dockyards of Liverpool to the creative psychedelia of Greenwich Village, from the...
This is a very well made movie, directed by Julie Taymor, a theater director- turned movie director who showed great mastery of the medium in her first feature, TITUS, almost a decade ago. She is very good with this kind of adaptations. Although Across the Universe was not originally a play for theater, it had to be conceived as such, the only difference being that it was developed into a movie.
The music of the Beatles is much more appropiate for a more complex screenplay than, let's say, Mamma Mia, and it's fair to compare both since they are the most recent examples of movie musicals (apart from the "High School" thing). It looks like Mamma Mia had the kind of movie that it inspired: very simple. On the contrary, Across the Universe is a much more developed cinematic experience.
As usual, you should be a Beatles fan to enjoy this movie to the max. It's not neccesarily a condition, but I'm sure you will hate the movie if you don't like Beatles music.
The UK version of the Blu Ray is the same as the US version, but unlike the latter, it doesn't have Spanish subtitles. And the UK version is REGION FREE.
The picture quality is outstanding, for a movie this old. Colors are vibrant, details rich.
If you love this movie, you should watch it in Blu. It never looked this good. In fact, any fan of blu-ray should check this one out, to see how good and old movie can look.
The work of artists that through paintings extended or gave more depth to the sets is appreciated better. Some negative things are more noticeable though. In far shots, when you see a huge crowd, you can really notice that the technic to simulate movement are reduced to some black points escattered in the paint, that move simultaneously. In another scene, you can notice that the sky is a painted background, because you can really distinguish a straight line where the set was put togheter. In other instances, scenes made against a blue screen look even worst than what we are used to. However, things like these can be considered as a curiosity, and even natural for the time in which the movie was made.
Again, the only thing going against the PQ it is that the original aspect ratio is 1:33:1, so you may want to stretch the picture to fit your screen. Even so, details won't be hurt (as for me, I rather enjoy the original aspect).
Audio is monophonic, but is clear.
I have to disagree with the blu-ray.com main reviewer. It seems to me that he paid too much attention to the "romantic side" of the movie. And I agree that this part is not only formulaic but corny. But I don't think that it diminishes the dramatic impact of the other important topic: the plight of the first christians. I still think it's well represented, although maybe in a softer way. So people that are looking for a christian of inspirational message can still find it here. Without it, there may be nothing much left. Still, granting a 2 1/2 qualification to the movie seems a harsh decision.
So please, bear that in mind, if you haven't watched it ever, or want to give it another try.
Final note: the back of the box clumsily states that "there was Quo Vadis" before 300, Gladiator and Ben Hur. Maybe Ben Hur...but what does Quo Vadis has to do with Gladiator? Maybe the epic tone. Ok, maybe they could have include "Lawrence of Arabia" for the same reason. And 300? Ah Ok, there were guys with swords and sandals too...