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September 21, 2009


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Robert Merk

I'm sorry this is completely off topic, but when you have a chance Glenn you may want to take a peek over at Blu-ray.com. They just posted their review and (more importantly) screen shots from the new UK Blu Ray release of F.W. Murnau's "Sunrise”.

Simply stunning.

Glenn Kenny

Oh, I know all about it, Robert. Every day I check my mailbox, foaming at the mouth. Not here yet.

Ryan Kelly

For your information, and for the information of all who read you, "The Wizard of Oz" is being re-released in 500 or so movie theaters around the country this Wednesday, one night only. I've never seen it on the big screen before, so I can't wait.

Pete Apruzzese

Ryan -

Unfortunately, that Oz showing is merely a consumer-level high definition showing of the film, fed in via satellite and played on the pre-show advertising projector and is not on 35mm film or even using the D-Cinema projector for a digital source. Having seen a few of those Fathom Events (the company sponsoring the shows), the quality does not do justice to a film as it's being blown up far too large for its source. Put it this way, from any typical seating distance you'll see not only compression artifacts in the source but the "screen door" effect of the video projector.

Ryan Kelly

Pete, that's a real travesty, and a real disappointment. When I read it was a high-def showing I assumed it was digital projection. What you write here is most discouraging, and is enough to make me want to skip it. Naturally, the one time they actually revive a classic for the multiplex crowd, they half-ass it to the point that it's not worth it.

If I Do get out of work Wednesday, as I had planned to in order to attend "Oz", I may just go see "Manhattan" at Cedar Lane. Glad there are some people out there who actually care about revival film.

Thanks for the heads-up, Pete.

Pete Apruzzese

Ryan - sorry to be the bearer of the bad news regarding Oz, but as much as I want people to see classic films in theatres, blowing up a 1080p image to 35 feet wide via a low-end video projector ain't the way to do it. We'd be running Oz this fall in Suffern (last time we ran it up there it was a sellout with over 900 people coming) or Teaneck, but it's currently not available for repertory bookings due to the video release and this Fathom event. This being usual Warner policy, strange as that may seem.

I am looking forward to renting the Blu-ray of Oz and eventually picking up the set once they release it in a less expensive edition without the tsotchkes.

Dan Coyle

I hear Oz-Fest and I think of Lee Tergesen getting raped. Something is very wrong with me.

Tony Dayoub

"At the end of his second post Wells notes that Harris advised him 'that I might want to turn down the sharpness level on my 42-inch plasma.' Wells recounts a shrug, and then avers I adore the sharpness level, and that pretty much every Blu-ray I've watched on it looks fantastic so why should I futz around with it just so The Wizard of Oz looks less grainy?'"

What a dickhead! So should everyone have a custom-made DVD ready just for Wells because he's so technologically inept he can't program some presets on his plasma TV?


Whoa, wait a second. Not to derail the thread, but you and Wells both have plasmas? I've been shopping for an LCD forever. Are you telling me I should be changing my approach?

Robert Merk

Mark VH,

I can only speak for myself, but last year when I had decided to make the jump to high definition a close friend directed me towards LCDs instead of Plasmas. I had the LCD for roughly 3 days before it was repackaged up and sent back to the manufacturer. While in my possession I had the opportunity to view both “The Getaway” and “Memoirs of a Geisha” on Blu Ray and hated both experiences. Everything appeared flat (no depth of field). They no longer looked like film, more like sharp cable broadcast. Also the image refresh rate was not to my liking (I have real trouble with any type of image blur). Anyway, within a month I had my Panasonic Plasma and couldn’t be happier. Yes, the image appears sharper on LSDs. However, when it comes to recreating a closer (and truer) film image, plasma wins hands down.

Stephen Bowie

I bought my first non-CRT in February, and came to the same conclusion as Robert Merk. LCDs may be OK for video games and sports but are not particularly compatible for movies. I too ended up getting a Panasonic plasma, mainly because the Pannys rated highest on getting the blacks black (as opposed to a murky gray). Conversely, the biggest weakness of the Panasonics was edge enhancement, which usually does necessitate keeping the sharpness level very low, but this was a minor issue. Initially I missed the sharpness of the CRT, but indeed, the plasma has come to strike me as a more film-like experience. And of course it has the size advantage.

Sad thing is that, back in February, what I was reading on-line suggested that LCDs seemed to be winning in the marketplace and that plasmas were on their way out, or at least towards being a specialty item for high-end (i.e., wallet-busting) entertainment systems. Not sure if I totally have that right or if it's still true, but I hope not. I'd hate to see the plasma burn out in a few years and only have LCDs as an an alternative, unless the technology improves.

By the way, sharper image on "the LSDs" is the Freudian typo of the year!

Glenn Kenny

As promised, Mark VH: I shopped pretty carefully for a flat-screen display. I wanted one that would resolve MOVIES well, because that's the main thing I use it for. I brought with me the Warner Blu-ray of "The Wild Bunch," which had been highly touted by DVD Beaver. I looked at it on several sets at Manhattan's J&R Music World. The LCD sets all rendered the film as a high-def, 3-D soap opera cum football game.

Looking at the disc on the Hitachi plasma I eventually bought, I could see the way I could gin the image to a cinematic near-ideal. I was right. (As was the individual from whom I got the recommendation, who's now purveying his knowledge for a small fee at this site:


)And since buying it, I've had nothing but near-epiphanic experiences in both High-Def and Standard Definition discs. Seriously: LCD is for football fans. You want your movies to look great, go plasma, look at Panasonic and Hitachi particularly. And football will still look great on such sets, if you're into both.

Nathaniel R

I love grain.

why wouldn't we want grain if it's their in the original image?

Like CABARET for instance. That film looks filthy with grain and Bob Fosse is too smart to do things accidentally.


I am choking on the irony of you all mocking Wells for his ignorant ranting over film grain vs. the apparent ignorance displayed here regarding high-definition displays (forgive the pun). I completely agree that Wells' preferences regarding grain are uninformed, backwards, and without merit for anyone claiming to be a true fan of cinema, but publishing stills from your display set to factory-standard modes implies an equal amount of foolishness.

I trust you've properly calibrated those presets yourself, Glenn, or had a qualified technician or friend do so for you with a calibration disk? Running any display in factory preset modes without careful tweaking to calibration images and claiming any authority on picture quality is just wrong wrong wrong. Those preset modes are designed as the most basic settings for the most basic end user and are rarely even close to accurate for "film-like" reproduction. If you have not already, do yourself a favor and drop $25 on a calibration blu-ray at Amazon stat.

And as far as plasmas go, it's widely-held by gearheads and home theater buffs alike that Pioneer's Kuros models are hands down the best plasmas on the market. Panasonic runs a respectable second, Hitachi is alright, but Pioneer is the best bang for your buck. However, there are affordable LCDs that beat the pants off many plasmas on the market when properly calibrated. It's all personal preference, but LCDs have come a long way in the last 2 years. Plus the new OLED displays outperform current plasmas and LCDs, although they're far too expensive right now.

Saying LCDs are for "football and video games" is as asinine as Jeff Wells lamenting the grain in a restored Blu-ray.


On the other hand, plasmas are less environmentally friendly than LCDs, since they use more power[1] (though I think they are getting better in that regard). Also, they reportedly generate more heat, and the color supposedly fades with time (didn't I hear something about plasmas having to be serviced every 3 years to prevent this?)

[1] Of course, one could also make the argument that we're talking about film buffs, who buy already staggering amounts of discs made of plastic and manufactured using lots of non-renewable energy, not to mention all the high-tech materials and processes involved in the players themselves, and that, in this context, worrying about a flatscreen TV that uses 15% less power is like buying a SUV... but taking a lot of care to ensure that it's an hybrid. But I just wanted to add this into the debate, so that people can judge/weight/debunk by themselves. Or maybe it's just that I bought a LCD and am just trying to get rid of my cognitive dissonance.


I own a 42-inch Panasonic plasma, and do prefer it to any previous LCD screens (Sharp, Samsung) I've owned. But I do have one major pet peeve with the technology, and it's not prolonged image retention (I broke it in for the first 200 hours with an image filling the screen on repeat, etc.). It's phosphor lag. Flashes of yellow that occasionally appear when dark images cross over high-contrast (whites, like street lights) parts of the image. It can be a real issue with stark black-and-white (as opposed to the more muted grays found in some 30s Hollywood comedies, etc) films, and makes movies like Persepolis, Sin City and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, a bit less enjoable to watch, as a result. I'm told some folks' eyes are more sensitive to phosphor lag/trails than others, but I really hope plasma manufacturers are able to resolve this issue with the future sets, as I've heard even the (now discontinued, apparently) high-end Pioneer Kuro Elites suffer from it to some degree.

You watch a lot of black-and-white movies, Glenn...surely you've encountered this?

Glenn Kenny

JC: I don't know if it's the build on my Hitachi or my settings, but...man, JC, I'm very glad that I've never seen this particular artifact! But I'll be sure to have my eye on it from hereon in, and let you know (honest!) if it turns up!


I apologize in advance if you suddenly become aware of it on your set...'tis a nuisance.

This flaw in the technology isn't just limited to the image conditions mentioned above. In addition, if there's a high contrast section of the image, and your eyes dart about the screen quite a bit (during subtitled films, in particular), or you move your head a lot, the yellow flashes appear as well...but in that case, it's in your retina. Like I said, some folks are more susceptible to seeing it than others, and you should count yourself lucky if you don't see the odd yellow flash/trail, especially during fast-moving images (black-and-white shaky cam...ugh).


Thanks a lot, for this blog post.

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