If kottke.org had a movies and TV store, here’s what I’d be selling today:
If kottke.org had a movies and TV store, here’s what I’d be selling today:
Season five of The Wire on DVD is available for pre-order on Amazon. Release date is August 12, 2008. (thx, marshall)
Screencaps comparing the DVD and HD versions of LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring (roll over to toggle the images). Quite a difference. (thx, alex)
Ratatouille is due out on DVD on Nov 6. That was fast.
Amazon just sent me an email about my preorder of The Wire season 4 DVD. They say the shipping date has slipped a little, but the page still says it’ll be out on Dec 4. Anyway, they made me verify the “change”; if I hadn’t, they would have canceled the order, which seems a less-than-optimal solution to the problem. If you preordered, you might want to watch your inbox.
The long-term success of films isn’t always determined by how they did at the box office. Traffic made $124 million at the box office in 2000 while Requiem for a Dream made only $3.6 million ($9.50 of which was mine), but Requiem gets rented 33 percent more from Netflix than Traffic. ‘It’s almost impossible to go onto someone’s MySpace page now and not find a reference to [the Coen brothers’] “The Big Lebowski” or [Terry Gilliam’s] “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”’ - two movies that caused barely a ripple in the theaters.”
The review of the Criterion DVD of Rushmore I posted yesterday mentioned a NY Times article written by Wes Anderson about him screening Rushmore for legendary film critic Pauline Kael. The original is behind the Times paywall, but a Clusterflock commenter posted a copy. After reading it, I don’t get the hostility that other film critics directed at Anderson because of it.
Thoughtful review of the Criterion version of Rushmore. “Anderson also serves as a convenient target for people who don’t like people who like movies by Wes Anderson. […] When you get past the extraneous bullshit surrounding Anderson’s films, the crux of disagreements about him reminds me of disagreements over David Foster Wallace (or Dave Eggers, or Thomas Pynchon, or even Vladimir Nabokov). It comes down to this: Are Anderson’s stylistic tricks and distracting plot elements smoke and mirrors, or do they bring something unique to the stories he’s telling? In the case of Rushmore, I think the answer has to be the latter.” I get the feeling you could learn a lot about film by reading Matthew’s reviews of the Criterion Collection.
David Denby had a great piece in the New Yorker last week about the present and future of movies. I was surprised to learn that Hollywood hates the movie theater-going experience as much or more than the rest of us:
Consider the mall or the urban multiplex. The steady rain of contempt that I heard Hollywood executives direct at the theatres has been amplified, a dozen times over, by friends and strangers alike. The concession stands were wrathfully noted, with their “small” Cokes in which you could drown a rabbit, their candy bars the size of cow patties; add to that the pre-movie purgatory padded out to thirty minutes with ads, coming attractions, public-service announcements, theatre-chain logos, enticements for kitty-kat clubs and Ukrainian bakeries-anything to delay the movie and send you back to the concession stand, where the theatres make forty per cent of their profits. If you go to a thriller, you may sit through coming attractions for five or six action movies, with bodies bursting out of windows and flaming cars flipping through the air-a long stretch of convulsive imagery from what seems like a single terrible movie that you’ve seen before. At poorly run multiplexes, projector bulbs go dim, the prints develop scratches or turn yellow, the soles of your shoes stick to the floor, people jabber on cell phones, and rumbles and blasts bleed through the walls.
If we want to see something badly enough, we go, of course, and once everyone settles down we can still enjoy ourselves. But we go amid murmurs of discontent, and the discontent will only get louder as the theatre complexes age. Many of them were randomly and cheaply built in response to what George Lucas conclusively demonstrated with “Star Wars,” in 1977: that a pop movie heavily advertised on national television could open simultaneously in theatres across the country and attract enormous opening-weekend audiences. As these theatres age, the gold leaf doesn’t slowly peel off fluted columns. They rot, like disused industrial spaces. They have become the detritus of what seems, on a bad day, like a dying culture.
Denby also considers what happens to movies when the primary target audience (12-30 year-olds make up 50% of the movie-going population) may prefer to watch movies on DVD, their computers, or on iPods.
No exhibition method is innocent of aesthetic qualities. Platform agnosticism may flourish among kids, but platform neutrality doesn’t exist. Fifty years ago, the length of a pop single was influenced by what would fit on a forty-five-r.p.m. seven-inch disk. The length and the episodic structure of the Victorian novel — Dickens’s novels, especially — were at least partly created by writers and editors working on deadline for monthly periodicals. Television, for a variety of commercial and spatial reasons, developed the single-set or two-set sitcom. Format always affects form, and the exhibition space changes what’s exhibited.
As a fan of watching movies on the big screen of a theater, I hope that sort of movie making doesn’t go away anytime soon.
Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is out on DVD in early January. Hopefully this one will find an audience on DVD like Office Space did. The movie had a very limited release, possibly because Fox didn’t really want anyone to see it.
Futurama tidbit: “Groening’s series Futurama is back, thanks to strong DVD sales. Four Futurama DVD movies are scheduled for release and they will be chopped into episodes for broadcast on Comedy Central in 2008.”
Handbrake is an OS X application that will, among other things, rip DVD video to a files that will play on an iPod (how to). However, I’ve found that this takes an absurd amount of time…2.5 hours for a 1.5 hour-long movie (on a 1.67 Ghz Powerbook with 2 GB RAM). Are there faster options out there?
George Lucas, having run out of Star Wars movies he wants to make, continues to sell us the same movie we’ve seen 70 times in yet another format. Here’s the original theatrical version of Star Wars on DVD (in quaint Dolby 2.0!) so you can prove to your lesser nerd buddies that Han indeed shoots first. Empire and Jedi are also available.
Alright Star Wars nerds, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the original as-shown-in-the-theater versions of Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi are being released on DVD, at long last. Han shoots first!
Edward Jay Epstein examines where it all went wrong for Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster had an opportunity to have rental pricing for DVDs like they did with video, but they turned the deal down and the studios priced DVDs for retail instead and have been minting money with that scheme ever since.
Keeping up with all of the extras they include these days on DVDs is exhausting, to say nothing of watching all the movies themselves. But I made a point of listening to the director’s commentary for Primer and was not disappointed. If there’s a Shane Carruth fan club, sign me up. Case in point: for the single special effect in the film, he filmed a scene with a DV camera, uploaded the footage onto his computer, added the effect digitally, dumped the modified video onto tape, filmed the video playing on a camcorder screen with the film camera, and made the whole thing look like it was supposed to be done that way because he didn’t have the money to do it any other way. It’s all about constraints…which ties into the main message of the movie as well.
Also, Carruth confirmed my feeling that Primer really isn’t a sci-fi film…what’s happening with the characters emotionally is the focus of the film.
Season four of Six Feet Under is now available on DVD. Watch as Nate and George and David and, well, everyone really, goes nuts.
How the DVD is changing Hollywood and the movie business. “Most important, the new DVD audience is so diverse that companies can target niche markets and still sell millions of disks. Because specialized markets are more predictable, the risk of failure is much lower, and so small-to-mid-budget movies can be very profitable indeed.”
Now that our favorite movies and old TV shows are so easy to find, will we still enjoy them?. I’ve been watching some old favorites from the 80s…I should have kept them there.
Another take on why movie theater revenues are declining. The ads suck, the movies suck, ringing cell phones suck, and you can watch your Netflix at home on your widescreen TV. Again, no mention of piracy.
Jason Scott on why he decided to license his straight-to-DVD documentary under a Creative Commons license. “It was in some ways a tough decision, because you want to ‘protect’ yourself, but then you realize you’re not really ‘protecting’ anything; all you’re doing is being a paranoid twitch-bag. And once you realize this, then it becomes a little easier.”