Doug Pratt's DVDLaser newsletter - is it gone?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by kevin_y, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been checking http://www.dvdlaser.com (the website for Doug Pratt's DVDLaser newsletter) regularly and all the links on that site have been broken for years - the subscribe link, back issues link, and the "email Doug" link (email will bounce).


    Is Doug retired?? He can't be, because I know people are still getting his newsletter.


    Why has he left the website unfixed for years? Hasn't he noticed there were suddenly no new subscribers?


    Anyone can tell me how I can subscribe? I have no way to contact him.


    To those who are subscribing, do you still get it PDF format?
     
  2. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    Didn't know anything about a PDF version. Such a great resource, and there are still plenty of times when I'd like to look something up. I'd probably be seeking out more laserdiscs, right now, if it were available. I have a few years' worth of the hard copy issues, but once you've gotten used to doing a quick online lookup, it's a real chore paging through very many of those to take a stab at locating something. The ads are great, though!
     
  3. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    On the home page there is a "back issues" link where you download PDFs of past issues, or at least you used to be able to do that, because the link is dead now. Here is a PDF I have downloaded in the past.


    I subscribed it in the early 90s when the newsletter's depth and content was second to none in home video reviewing. I want to subscribe it again to see if Doug still got it. I know video reviews can be had for free anywhere on the web, but in many cases the content and writing skills just don't satisfy me.
     
  4. Charles Smith

    Charles Smith Extremely Talented Member
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    He had a way of getting right to what you needed to know. He didn't waste words.
     
  5. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Loved his newsletter back in the laserdisc days. I subscribed for several years.


    Unfortunately, I had to unsubscribe when DVD and the internet took off. It was a bit too expensive. In the laser days it was fine, as it was around the cost of a single laserdisc and one of the few sources for information. But with DVDs being cheaper, and plenty of online reviews, I couldn't justify the expense.
     
  6. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    My hard copy still comes once a month, but I find that there's less and less within its pages that interests me. I think it may be more my fault than his, as the old stuff that interests me is either already out there or has been marginalized by the evolving culture. He does review a handful of the archive titles though. I keep subscribing out of nostalgia for the old laserdisc days, but I don't know how much longer I will continue.


    You can subscribe at this address:

    DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter
    PO Box 420
    East Rockaway, NY
    11518-0420
     
  7. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Rob_Ray, I'll send him a letter.


    Jon Martin, I also had to unsubscribe due to cost, but now I want to go back to it. I want to read something professional again. I haven't subscribed any home video or HT publications in ages although I buy a lot of home video.


    Online reviews are convenient but they are just not always good. And some (I would say more and more) of them are so bad they are hilarious.

    E.g. this DVDTalk reviewer wrote, "it was on Oscar night that I realized [Andrej Wajda's] name is pronounced An-dray Vi-da, when I'd been wrongly calling him Wadge-da for twenty years. Oops."


    And DVDFile's "My Neighbor Totoro" review has this absolutely indispensible insight: "When you start the movie, a 1-minute Introduction by John Lasseter plays to tell you just how super the movie you're about to watch is, giving American viewers a reassuring Caucasian face before leading them into the crazy Japanese stuff that follows. It is entirely useless and potentially insulting."


    DVDBeaver is also getting subpar at times. There are quite a few times when the reviewer said, oh sorry, didn't have time to review this and that and hope to do it later - which he never does. His spelling and grammar have gone to crap. This site used to be a lot better when the reviewer didn't review so many titles. And it has been pointed out that his blu-ray screen captures often look too red.
     
  8. Dick

    Dick Producer
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    I bought Mr. Pratt's rather expensive book The Laser Disc Companion back in 1992 and found exactly the opposite to be true. Where a single sentence would have sufficed, the author went on for an entire paragraph (or more... his book could have been 1/3 its length and more concise, therefore cheaper). Also, the author insisted upon referring to himself as "we," which I thought was off-putting and pretty pretentious considering this was not a compendium of opinions such as the Matlin guide, but rather the reviews of one man.


    That was my reaction, having spent $25.00 for his book, but I do concede that he has generally provided an important service to those who were laser disc buyers. His newsletter did alert the fan base to disc information and he obviously dedicated most of his waking hours to acquiring and sharing information about laser releases, which no one else was bothering to do. I only wish he had written with less verbosity and with better grammar, but as I did not attempt to improve upon his work in this field with a book of my own, I have little to complain about. I still have his book and refer to it for basic information about disc format and features.
     
  9. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    The DVD-laserdisc newsletter is still going strong, and still the go-to resource for reviews of non-mainstream titles (as well as the major blockbusters). In the latest issue the email is given as dpratt@DVDLaser.com.


    I've been a subscriber since the early nineties, and still read every issue from cover to cover. What amazes me is the variety of releases covered, everything from Roland Emmerichs's latest to concert releases, public domain titles, documentaries, short film compilations, Warner Archive discs, softcore porn and educational programs. You name it, Doug's reviewed it. And most of the time he has something insightful to say about this stuff as well. Doug's reviews always give me a sense of what a film is like, and lets me decide for myself if it is something I would be interested in. I've blind-bought many titles, movies I had never heard of before, based on his descripitions alone, and never been disappointed. While the news-section of a printed publication can never equal that of an online resource, I find his film critique second to none.


    In recent years, the emphasis has shifted from the A/V quality of discs to a detailed analysis of the movie itself, the supplements and what they add to the value of a release. Readers who have been away since the laserdisc years may find that surprising. As the newsletter enters into the Blu-Ray era, discussion of PQ and AQ seems to become more prevalent again.


    I've enclosed a scan of page 1 of the most recent issue, to give new readers a sample of his writing.


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    Just found this write-up of Doug from Rolling Stone Magazine:


    [​IMG]
     
  11. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    I finally got a hold of Doug and ordered a subscription ($29.95/year for PDF copies). The email address on his website was wrong, so I wasn't able to contact him. I had to email the host of the site to get it corrected. Regarding the broken links on his website (the subscribe link still doesn't work), Doug said there is nothing he can do as he doesn't run the site.


    Fritz, in the 90s he did review a lot of titles both in quantity and variety. But nowadays he only reviews about 30-40 titles per issue, only 10 titles or so blu-ray. In post #3, I uploaded an issue from 2001 and he reviewed about 80-90 titles then. He must have gotten a lot fewer subscribers than he used to so I understand the fewer reviews.


    His comments on A/V qualities, especially of BD, are just barely sufficient anymore, I'm afraid. Maybe they were good enough for DVD in the 90s, but they are not for BD today. We need to go to sites like HD Digest for that.


    As I said, I subscribed his newsletter mainly for his writing skills. Sites like HD Digest may have more technical info, but their reviews are almost always less polished and less professionally written than Doug's, especially in the portion that reviews the film itself.


    That Rolling Stone write-up was from around 1997, I believe (note the mention for Starship Troopers).
     
  12. Fritz Nilsen

    Fritz Nilsen Second Unit

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    Yes, I know. I was only trying to champion the Newsletter for the uninitiated.


    The reason his review frequency has gone down is that it takes a lot more time to wade through the ample supplemental material that is common on todays DVDs and Blu Rays. Back in the LD days there was the movie, and that was that. (The odd Criterion and Special Edition not withstanding).


    I've actually taken him to task (in e-mail) regarding his superficial description of the image quality of Blu Rays. Still, I can get that analysis online and remain a faithful subscriber for his wast knowledge of cinema, which seems to permeate his writing.


    Glad to hear you caught up with Mr. Pratt, finally. Enjoy the subscription.
     
  13. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    But even in 2002, well into the DVD era, he still reviewed about 80-90 titles per issue. All those free online DVD review sites must have made him lose subscribers, and he probably needed to find other means to supplement his income, hence less time to write reviews, leading to fewer reviews.
     
  14. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Have you tried reading the reviews at HTF?
     
  15. kevin_y

    kevin_y Stunt Coordinator

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    Of course. Also, DVD Beaver, Blu-ray.com, DVD Times UK, etc. In terms of writing skills, no one can touch Doug's. Roger Ebert was and is a big fan of his, too.
     
  16. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    The write-up couldn't be from earlier than mid-2001 due to the discussion of the "Dogma" SE...
     
  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    I bought his newsletter from Tower records way back then, finally subscribing to it years later, then canceled for this above same reason.





    I remember reading that issue and may have had a copy myself.


    doug's reviews where always my favorite read on Lasers and then dvds. I had no idea he was still publishing his neewsletter.


    Too bad in this age of internet that he can't get something going with that.
     
  18. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    I have to side with Michael. While you may not like the style of all of our reviewers as much as Doug's, between our excellent review staff and Robert Harris I think we do an outstanding job when it comes to reviewing the AV quality of titles, especially Blu-ray. I'll put the AV quality conclusions of our reviewers and RAH up against any site out there.


    Here are a list of our reviews:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/product.php?action=featured_reviews


    Here are a list of RAH's posts:

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/user/robert+harris
     
  19. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  20. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    I wouldn't subscribe to Doug Pratt's Newsletter if I were simply looking for good evaluations of a Blu-Ray's A/V quality. You can find far more detailed information on that here and on other sites throughout the net. I've been a subscriber since about 1992 and read his newsletter for his insightful observations about the films themselves. He almost never fails to give you a new way to look at an old film favorite.


    For instance, in the July newsletter, he offers this comment on "A Star is Born:"


    "The widescreen framing is meticulously composed and balanced, and colors and light intensities are strategically applied in support of the film's emotions and themes. The movie is a musical, but it is most importantly a love story, with the songs that Garland sings being offered as one method of expressing the feelings of the characters in a graspable abstraction. The other method of expressing their feelings comes from the performances of the two primary cast members, Garland as the upwardly meteoric movie star, and James Mason as the alcoholic star on the downswing of his career, who discovers and supports her success. Garland's performance is amazing -- not just her singing, which is always amazing anyway, but the depth and complexity she brings to her relationships. Mason, however, and overshadowed because he does not sing, is equally outstanding, and it is because the romantic scenes between the two seem so real and so anxious that the whole film sustains its spellbinding power from beginning to end."
     

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