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April 30, 2010

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R.M.

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

(Just foolin')

Owain Wilson

I moved to London in 2002 and began writing reviews for a magazine called What DVD. It was very exciting. I began with one-paragraph reviews of new back catalogue titles, eventually working my way up to my very first two page review of a major new release: The Princess Diaries.

Then the magazine folded. Brilliant!

Mark Slutsky

So many films nowadays are never making it to theatrical, it kinda only makes sense for reviewers to treat DVD/Blu-Ray the way they would first-run.

Lou Lumenick

As long as we're talking ancient history, in 1979, I wrote a front-page article in the Bergen Record predicting that laserdiscs would soon replace VHS.

Dave Kehr

You wuz robbed, Glenn!

bemo

"A little blustery at times, for sure, but you know, he owns his bluster, much as I own my...raging dickheadedness?"

Glenn! You're the only solitary movie blogger (sorry for the clumsy wording but I do keep up with one of themz group-effort movie blogz) I follow. I'm great people, and I like you!

Glenn Kenny

Aw, you guys!

Nick Ramsey

I'm not an expert in this subject, just a very keen amateur, but I find there is so much misinformation or general apathy regarding DVDs and especially Blu-rays because of their newness. (See Richard Brody's post for a recent example: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2010/04/restoration-comedy.html .) And when people complain about transfers, it's often for the wrong reasons--system isn't properly set up, lack understanding of format's capabilities, no frame of reference to theatrical version.

Dave Kehr's column is great but it's a weekly, and he can't possibly cover everything or even non-region 1/region A discs). And DVDBeaver, while indispensable, has a few shortcomings, some of which Glenn mentioned.

The bottom line is there aren't enough people who care AND know their stuff writing about DVDs/Blu-rays in an intelligent way for an informed general audience. I look forward to each of your reviews, Glenn.

Account Deleted

You were robbed Glenn! I fondly remember reading your Premiere DVD reviews, I knew if you gave a title the thumbs-up it would be worth tracking down. Your finest moment for me was when you revisited A.I. - after months of being brutally abused by friends for championing the film I took great delight in shoving Premiere in their faces with a valedicatory flourish. Cheers for that!

Richard Brody

The most important thing about a DVD is its availability; even at its best, it's a faute de mieux simulacrum of the movie-going experience, and to obsess about the quality of a transfer without discussing the film that's being transferred--what its significance is, or why readers should even bother caring that it's available on DVD--is a kind of technical fetishism that's skew to movie-love. (So many of us have seen so many movies we love on TV, cut by commercials, in the wrong aspect ratio, or on low-fi 16mm. prints, or in theatres that did dreamlike-bleary rear-screen projection, and, though it matters, it doesn't matter as much as does the film itself.)

Glenn Kenny

@ Richard: While I certainly nod in agreement with certain of your individual points, and think of Geoffrey O'Brien's "The Phantom Empire" as I do so, I can't agree with you entirely. But maybe that's because, my hyperbole aside, I do find that a good number of DVD reviewers out there are better at tech-fetishism than movie assessment. (And yes, I know your argument here is more with one of my commenters than with me.) One thing I love, and aspire to emulate, about Dave's work in the Times is the balance it strikes between movie love and tech savvy, AND the reasons and ways in which the two interconnect.

Incidentally, I note that I either have the least lubricious readership in all of webdom, or the most (in the case that it already knows the answer to the unposed question); nobody's evinced the slightest curiosity about the Blu-ray derived image at the top of the post!

Doug Pratt

hrmph

Glenn Kenny

Ha! My apologies, Doug. You are in fact the Chuck Berry of laser/DVD reviewing—inventor of the art/craft. Chuck is sometimes taken for granted too!

Everybody else, check out Doug's work here: http://www.dvdlaser.com/

Tom Russell

I assume, given the Vivid.com logo on the screen, that it's from a pornographic film of some description. On Blu-Ray. Huh.

PaulJBis

Years ago, I read on Usenet an hilarious parody review of "Citizen Kane" written in the style of those fanboy DVD review sites Glenn is talking about. Things like "the plot, as you can see, is stolen from the Gary Oldman Beethoven movie 'Inmortal beloved'", or "whoever did the sound mix on this should be fired; my 5.1 subwoofer was silent during the whole film!!". Wish I could find it again.

Glenn Kenny

@ Tom: Yea, verily. And yet no one has asked the question, "Who's that girl?" For anyone's information, it is the delightfully insouciant Sunny Leone.

Nick Ramsey

Distributors often can't be trusted to release their own materials for home video in a respectful manner. Pan and scanning, cropping, PAL to NTSC transfers, colorization, dubious sound remixes, such issues still occur with major releases, such as Lionsgate's "The Dead" or MGM's original Bergman set, even though DVD technology is over a decade old. Internet sites with screen captures and writers who include technical information in their reviews help, on some level, to hold the distributors accountable and to educate consumers about what matters. In order to do this properly, I think a certain level of technical facility is necessary.

Also, there are the plethora of non-region 1 discs. How to choose? I couldn't justify plunking down the money on Gaumont's “Histoire(s) du cinema” without first reading reviews. Is it subtitled in English? And just how good are the subtitles of such a complicated text?

If studios were willing to release everything in their holdings with relatively decent, unadorned transfers--the proverbial celestial cinematheque--then there would be less need for worry. In my most optimistic moments, I have hope that proper home video releases will create a wider, savvier audience for repertory screenings. It worked on me.

JC

"...I rather developed a horror of DVD reviews that functioned as de facto late critiques of contemporary pictures."

This...drives me mad. It's like, "throw out all of the thoughtful, detailed reviews about a film during its theatrical run, because this single paragraph (if that) blurb offers the final word on a recent release." Entertainment Weekly is one of the worst publications, in that regard...beyond their reviewers' bloody fickleness, that is.

Peter Rinaldi

Check out James Quandt's answers to Cineaste's questions regarding the future of repertory film programming. (forgive me if this is old news)
http://www.cineaste.com/articles/repertory-film-programming-a-critical-symposium
I have a lot to say about what he writes here, especially now after reading your post, Glenn. I am forming my thoughts and would love to know what you and others think about it.

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