Saturday, January 31, 2004

Just a quick reminder on current films to catch.

House of Sand and Fog
Lost In Translation
21 Grams
Last Life In The Universe
A Good Lawyer's Wife
Torque ( just to enjoy the taosiao stunts, i'm no motor-siao )

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

D-mystifying the DVD

I wrote this blog in response to an article in today's Life section titled : "Disc Overdrive" , which attempted to cover some information regarding DVD pricing, censorship and quality in Singapore, but instead dished out some laughable hogwash and a gamut of loud, verbal responses from me. Herein subject notwithstanding it is noteworthy to mention here that this article is an excellent example of a coverage in a trusted print media providing false information and inaccuracies in reports because the interviewed party stood to gain from what they would be quoted on, as well as the reporting party's lack of knowledge in the field, which then makes one wonder : How much of what you hear or see on the news is actually accurate ?

Anyway. I quote " And there are hardcore buyers who BELIEVE there is a difference in quality between the different regions ". Well surprise surprse - there certainly is, and its not a matter of belief for sure. Let's quote point to point and try to do some damage control.

Quote : " While distributors say there is no variation in quality between DVDs of different regions... "
Fact : No difference my foot. These guys must be watching with their eyes closed. The local code 3 version of Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love had cropped titles, oversaturated and crushed colours, the altogether feeling of everything blending into everything else. In short, think VCD. Folks who are familiar with photoshop can liken it to a jpeg file saved over a thousand times and getting all details mixed up and "dirty". In comparison, the Criterion Edition of the same title, code 1, had crisp clean images, correct colours, and for once I could see the whole title in full frame. Bliss. The same problems reprise itself for Amenabar's The Others, as well as MIB. Then again, if the distributors had said there was a difference in quality, it wouldn't sound too good for sales would it ?

Question : Ok, so all code 3 dvds have crap quality.
: No no no. REGION CODING OF DVDS IS NOT AND NEVER AN INDICATION OF QUALITY. Rinse and repeat please. However, because local code 3 releases have so conscientiously churned out crap material that we have come to associate code 3 dvds with inferior quality. Korean dvds, all on code 3, have beautiful, outstanding visuals most of the time. On the contrary, a code 2 Japanese version ( Japanese dvds are the world's most expensive ) of Tsui Hark's Blade sucks, but that's because they started out with a bad print. THE MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA IN DETERMINING QUALITY OF ANY DVD IS THE ORIGINAL COPY ( on beta format , I believe ) BY WHICH IT IS MASTERED FROM, AND BY ITS MASTERING TECHNIQUES AND CARE TAKEN TO IT.

Question : So Why ? Why is it that Singaporean dvd makers can't get a good print ?
Answer :
Oh, because we chip chip Singaporeans want the same thing, i mean pseudo-same thing at 10-15 dollars cheaper ! Any discerning buyer should smell a rat when supposedly identical items on sale have a marked difference in price of as much as 30-40%. Something must be missing, for there is no free lunch when it comes to buying dvds. You can get good deals once in a while, but not all the time on all titles.

Question : You're just a nitpicker, that's what you are. A small difference in quality for a big difference in price, why not ?
Fact :
I am really particular when it comes to quality for my dvds. And the difference in price is definitely enticing. But the insiduous factor here is the small difference in quality. If you were to take a look at the code 1 version of MIB, then the code 3, you'll be able to tell : code 1, crisp images, code 3, almost crisp images. It is this ALMOST that is very important, because its like an image on screen that focuses and blurs on and off, and an entire movie of this will make your viewing experience very very frustrating. You're spending more for a quality product that you'll be enjoying for the rest of your life, so why compromise ? I certainly wouldn't, but hey, I'm a nitpicker.

Quote : " is a fact that dvds cannot be censored after they are produced "
Fact :
As far as I know this is quite right, unless they have some unknown encoding device that can burn out the parts to be censored. However, Singapore makes it even easier by not importing the titles that need censoring, so you get to watch nothing at all ! Nadda. Most RA films you get to watch in theatres here are almost guaranteed never to be found in dvd format here, titles like Schindler's List, Ryan, Fight Club, Se7en. Even seemingly decent PG titles are mysteriously absent here, stuff like Great Expectations, Road to Perdition and Minority Report. Wierd huh ?

Question : Ok, after all this banter, so where would be the best place to get dvds ?
: You don't really have to ask do you ? For chip chip code 3 dvds, everywhere. For your good quality code 1 releases not found here, Amazon would be your best bet, and for Korean/Asian and Japanese films, and respectively.

Friday, January 23, 2004

January 22, DJ Paul Van Dyk at the powerhouse. Music was good, and the laser strobing lights feeding me with the illusion that I can dance really well, with every girl looking real pretty as I groove to the heart pounding beats.

Head hurts now. Off to bed.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Mona Lisa Smile - beautiful photography, laudable performances, but somehow, *yawnz*.

For a film that advocated "free thinking", original thought, fighting tradition and being yourself, its production methods were anything but. This is your Hollywood vehicle at its most archetypal.