15 Blu Rays That Sold Me On High Def. Part 5 of 5   Leave a comment


I have a lot of friends that ask me about the deal with Blu-Ray and whether it is worth switching over formats or is it all a big money grab by the companies? Well let’s get one thing strait IT’S ALL A MONEY GRAB. But saying that, if you are a serious film enthusiast and are in search for the best looking, highest quality video media available then Blu-Ray is probably worth investing in starting now with new release movies or old stuff you’ve wanted to own. I’ve viewed over 400 Blu-Rays at this point and they are all superior quality to any DVD prints.

You still must be choosy as a consumer. Some studios have released Blu-Rays with 5 year old HD masters ( Ridley Scott’ s Gladiator is a serious offender in this category. it looks terrible and unlike the theater viewing of the film. Where the visuals were much more detailed) HD mastering has improved so much in the last 5 years. which is why companies are already “double dipping” ( putting out an early cheaper transferred version of a film with no extras for a low price, then a few years later releasing a upgraded new transferred extra special edition and putting a $30 price tag on it. Usually coinciding with release of a remake or sequel in the theater) sometime it’s worth it for me to spend $5 or $10 dollars on a barebones(no special features) Blu-Ray movie to be able to see it in the best format available ASAP, knowing full well I will most likely replace it when a better updated disc arrives. for most of you this is probably stupidity at its highest level. I totally agree.

The 15 Blu-Ray Discs on this list are all of superior quality and far surpass the view experience of any DVD versions or old theater prints (I’ve seen almost all of these multiple times on 35mm prints at midnight shows and I was blown away by the visual quality of the discs versus those viewings) . If you lucky enough you might catch a viewing of these on a new printed digitally cleaned 35mm or 70mm print, but that is probably unlikely unless you like in L.A. Or New York. Each Blu-Ray after viewing I had to immediately play again to soak up the viewing ecstasy of seeing some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction jump off the screen as if I was seeing it for the first time. I WAS SOLD. here’s #3-#1

  • #3 – The Shining (Director Stanley Kubrick) 1980- It’s come to my attention there are still people who have not seen The Shining. It is a Masterpiece by any standard and a must watch for all movie lovers. I have seen it projected At least 25 times and not to mention the 150+ or moire viewings on VHS and DVD. The first viewing on Blu-Ray was  extremely eye opening. The visuals Kubrick employes are always one another level from all other film makers. (there is no other director who had there first cover shot on a major publication at 16 and a staff photographers job at 17 for Look magazine). His photography knowledge is always for front for those in the know, for others it just blend in to the perfect mood for what ever his subject might be. This presentation of The Shining is like seeing it again for the first time visually, you will notice subtleties that you have never seen before. Kubrick’s care and borderline obsessive film making style will be missed. At least we have the film he has made on the best possible format for home use thus far. A must buy for any Blu-Ray owner. Not to mention that this is one of Nicholson’s  all time best “crazy Jack” type of performance.

  • The Third Man Criterion Collection (Director Carol Reed) 1949- For those of you who have never heard of this or have never seen this picture I would recommend highly that you either rent this or buy it immediately. This really is one of the real jewels of cinema.More so even than Casablanca or Citizen Kane. It plays more like a 1970’s thriller that a movie made in the late 1940’s. Brilliant characters, direction, cinematography, acting and just plain amazing story telling at it’s best. And the presentation of the Blu-Ray is superb. Criterion Always put very special attention into there transfers and source print clean up. I owed the previous DVD version and that was an amazing transfer. I didn’t think that the new print would be that much better but it blew the DVD out of the water. It is mind boggling that Criterion can create such a beautiful looking disc from such an old source material and still have it look like a perfect first generation film print. this is the ultimate medium to see what the film makers originally intended. A MUST SEE FOR EVERYONE.

  • 2001:A Space Odyssey (Director Stanley Kubrick) 1968- There is some much about 2001 that makes it a revolutionary film. The effects, the story or lack of one as some may think, are all part of a real movie experience. I think many people look at this film to logically. This is defiantly one of those movies you’ve just got to let go and experience. It’s all about the experience. Being like no other studio movie ever made, Kubrick brings us through the dawn of man to the future/present onto the rebirth of man into a true energy being. Extremely esoteric story backed with amazing technical prowess behind the camera.There is no dialogue in the first 25 minutes of the movie (ending when a stewardess speaks at 25:38), nor in the last 23 minutes (excluding end credits). With these two lengthy sections and other shorter ones, there are around 88 dialogue-free minutes in the movie. The entire film contains only 205 special effects shots, compared to 350 in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope  (1977) and over 2,200 such shots in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005). All of the special effects footage had to be printed on the original negatives. Kubrick thought using copies of the negatives would harm the visual quality of effects shots. This is why he had shot on/unexposed film in the fridge for up to a year before reputing it into the camera to get another component of his optical effects so he could expose the negative only once. Which achieved an almost seamless effect, still unable to tell where the effect plates are in the some shots. The Blu-Ray is so crisp  it slightly gives it self away with some of the effects if you know where  to look. One must also remember that the film was shot one hundred percent optically (in front of the the camera) .  Originally Kubrick had planned to shoot the film in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. After consultant Robert Gaffney convinced the director that Super Panavision (aspect ratio 2.20:1) was a more visceral experience, Kubrick agreed and got MGM to pay for the photographic process. Since shooting a 70mm space film with monaural sound was frowned upon, Kubrick decided to mix the soundtrack in stereo sound. He also decided to use the Sinar Front Projection system for the desert backdrops during the animal/ape scenes. This method was selected because rear projection of the desert scenes would have proved too murky for Super Panavision. The use of the Sinar system explains why in the scene where the leopard is sitting next to the dead zebra (in reality a painted dead horse) the leopard’s eyes glow a bright color. The Sinar system used glass transparencies as backdrops; however, the projectors necessary for this system were so hot that a draft or a breath could crack the glass. As a result, crew members were required to wear face masks, which started a long-persistent rumor that Kubrick had a paranoia of catching infections.  The entire centrifuge section of the Discovery spacecraft was constructed as a single set. It was designed to rotate for shots such as the sequence in which Frank went jogging so that the actor remained on the bottom. That Set was built by aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrong inside a 12-meter by two-meter drum designed to rotate at five km per hour. It cost $750,000. After seeing a documentary called To the Moon and Beyond at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Stanley hired one of its special effects technicians, Douglas Trumbull to work on this film. Trumbull developed a process called Slitscan photography to create the wild, kaleidoscopic images Bowman experiences going through the Stargate. It involved moving the camera rapidly past different pieces of lighted artwork, with the camera shutter held open to allow for a streaking effect. The overall effect gave the audience the sense of plunging into the infinite. According to Trumbull, the total footage shot was some 200 times the final length of the film.  Trumbull was also the effect supervisor on Blade Runner in the early 1980’s.  Early viewers of the movie wondered where Kubrick obtained such well-trained apes. It was later joked that “2001” lost the Best Makeup Academy Award to John Chambers for Planet of the Apes (1968) because the judges didn’t realize the 2001 apes were really people, but there was no nomination list at all, as the award was not created until 1981–Chambers’ award was merely honorary.  I’ve seen 2001 projected on 35mm 6 times and have owed all the DVD versions, I can easily say this is the first time I feel I get the full intention of Kubrick’s visuals. This print looks beyond amazing in 1080p being filmed in Super Panavision the colouring is lush and rich along with the starkness of the blacks of space. The film pops off the screen. I figure the only better version I would be able to see would be the 70mm prints of it, but not likely in Vancouver. This is one of my favorite movies and when I saw it on Blu-Ray I knew I had made the right decision in my purchase of my player as well as the disc.

Thanks for reading. Till next time.



Posted July 9, 2010 by JMC in On The Couch

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