Monday, September 10, 2007

HD DVD Review- Out of Sight and 12 Monkeys

Out of Sight

We start with the better transfer of the two titles mentioned. Steven Soderbergh's nouvelle-vague like noir, released in 1998, became an instant favorite of mine. I loved the sexy performance of Jennifer Lopez (than a relative unknown outside of "Selena" fans) and her chemistry with George Clooney, I loved the little freeze-frames that Soderbergh used to Godardian proportions, and I loved the film's shifts between humor and violence. It all felt so vivid. And the HD transfer enhances that experience. While "Out of Sight" isn't the absolute best HD print I've seen so far, it does convey a sense of picture upgrade that's interesting. Perhaps Soderbergh's style- that desaturated, hand held look that feels passe by now- limits some of its upgrade potential, but the warm colors of Miami juxtaposed against the whites of winter Detroit do feel much more expressed in this HD-DVD. But perhaps the strength of the transfer lies in the finale, when the shades of light, dark and color really impress. For those who know, the film's denouement takes place during a robbery of a large mansion (owned by an almost unrecognizable Albert Brooks). The warm interiors of the house jump out with clarity. I certainly don't remember noticing this in the original version. The film's lost none of its initial charm, and the high defness only reminds me how great of a movie this is.

12 Monkeys

I wrote earlier on this blog that it'd been awhile since I'd seen "12 Monkeys" and remember 'flipping for it'. I'm not sure why I flipped so much, because this was a chore to get through. Perhaps I hadn't seen Chris Marker's "La Jetee" yet, which is why I found something special and mind-blowing in Terry Gilliam's post modern make-over of Marker's sublime sci-fi classic. Well, I've seen the original and while that film holds so much beauty and emotion (in still images, no less), Gilliam's film is...maddening. Gilliam is a director I never understood. His films profit in cluttered settings, obnoxious characters, and a stream-of-conscious dialogue that makes me nauseous. I've yet to make it through "Brazil" (and tried about 3-4 times), couldn't finish "Tideland" and almost walked out of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". His films just don't appeal to me. Then you have "12 Monkeys", a film that features all of the characteristics above and makes me even hate Madeline Stowe for inhabiting a character who yells almost every one of her lines. Then there's Brad Pitt, playing a mental patient who almost drove me nuts by his blathering and showy performance. Honestly, I usually have a good barometer on the films I see, and how I once praised "12 Monkeys" is beyond me. Now, for the HD transfer itself? Equally as shitty. There's very little upgrade in the picture quality, at times looking worn and smudged. I wondered if there was something wrong with my player until I went online and read some HD DVD excerpts on this film. It's not my player, but just a generally lazy transfer that has no redeeming HD qualities. Skip this one for that (and so many other) reasons.

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