International PAL AND OTHER-REGION DVD ANNOUNCEMENTS & REVIEWS

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Dick, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    Optimum's Western Union is OK, just. I'm not sure any of its releases are especially noteworthy though. I *think* the German disc is slightly better, but I'd have to watch it again to say for sure.
    Backlash looks fine to me, and it's an excellent little movie too.
     
  2. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    I haven't seen it mentioned and it may be of interest, Tomahawk is being released in Germany on April 6.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    IMO, Backlash had a nice transfer so I'm very happy with it. I'll be watching Western Union this morning sometime.
    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    I've checked out a bunch of new (to me) PAL/region 2 DVD's and a few Blu-rays from the UK. I will not pretend to compete with Gary Tooze over the DVD Beaver, who writes remarkable reviews and provides in-depth version comparisons. These are just a few quick notes on each, in no particular order:
     
  5. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Heads UP!
    The Blu-ray of the Band of Brothers HBO mini-series is now available at Amazon-UK to US buyers for 14.89 ($22.75) after VAT is subtracted. I've never seen this series, but jumped on this deal immediately. Btw, It's region-free and identical to the US release. I also picked up the blu-ray of Andrew Wadja's Katyn for 7.65 ($12.00) after VAT is subtracted. Act quickly, because the Godfather trilogy was priced like Band of Brothers, but the price on that one had gone up (doubled) when I last checked.
    Btw, Katyn is region-free and contains no PAL content. Here's a review:
    http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Katyn-Blu-ray-Review/8664/
     
  6. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    PART TWO
    MATILDA. Sony Entertainment UK. Anamorphic 2.35:1, 5.1, PAL, R2. Obviously Sony decided that the U.S. is far less discriminating in their home viewing preferences than Europe, because they gave us a pan and scan thing over here, even while taking away the widescreen sides of dual-format DVD's when they reissued them in the U.S. This Danny DeVito film looks as it's supposed to in the UK, and is a very film-like experience. Highly recommended.
    ICEMAN. Arrow Films. Anamorphic 2.35:1, 2.0 Stereo, PAL, R2. If you like this movie and are pissed at Universal for giving the U.S. a crumby pan and scan rip-off, this one looks so good it's worth purchasing an all-region, PAL/NTSC player (like this Sherwood 5400) just to watch it. Great-looking image. And that John Lone performance, rarely mentioned, should have been nominated for an Oscar. Should have won, actually. Highly recommended.

    COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. Medium Rare Entertainment. Anamorphic 2.35:1, Mono, PAL, R2. Speaking of Universal ripping us off with pan and scan sci-fi films, their treatment of this film in the U.S. really riled people up (not least of all me). The widescreen frame is used so judiciously by the director Joseph Sargent that cropping it renders the movie close to incomprehensible. So, here you get the whole frame. Problem: lots of aliasing. All those computer boards and blinking lights and horizontal lines really suffer when there is any vertical panning. Sharpness is not great, but isn't a crucial problem. Color is acceptable. This disc does, however, include a commentary from director Joseph Sargent. If anyone has a better-looking transfer of this from another company/country, please post info here.
    FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO. Suevia Films. PAL, R2. This B&W classic from Billy Wilder has thus far been ignored by Universal in the U.S. I got tired of waiting, and ordered this Spanish DVD, "Cinco tumblas al Cairo." Nothing special about the transfer, except that this is the only game in town for this title that I could find. Some aliasing, but generally acceptable sharpness, grain level, contrast. Removable English subs. Recommended with reservations.
    DON'T LOOK NOW (SPECIAL EDITION). Optimum label. Anamorphic1.85:1, mono. PAL, R2.
    The Paramount DVD available in this country isn't unwatchable. This would be a prime candidate for Blu-ray treatment, and that could happen in the UK. For now, there are several editions put out by different companies that each has unique problems and advantages. This edition contains a trailer, full-length Roeg commentary, and a 20-minute "Looking Back" featurette with Nicolas Roeg, cinematographer Anthony Richmond and, the person I most wanted to hear from, editor Graeme Clifford. Online reviews of this edition uniformly praised the extras while condemning the tinny, shrill sound quality of the DVD. Those reviews go back years, and I am assuming Optimum finally corrected this, because the sound is no better or worse to my ears than that on the domestic release, and is perfectly acceptable. Highly recommended.
    THREADS. BBC Video. Made-for British TV, 1.33:1, mono. PAL, R2. This film was eclipsed in our country by THE DAY AFTER, made at roughly the same time. The reverse was apparently true in England. THREADS is really quite superior to its U.S. counterpart doomsday thriller in almost every respect: it is actually grimmer, better-acted, better-scripted, and far scarier than THE DAY AFTER in spite of the latter's becoming the most popular t.v. movie in history. Picture quality and sound are pretty decent for a t.v. movie transfer. Recommended.
    THE GREEN MAN. BBC Video. Made for British TV, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo. PAL, R2. Outstanding mini-series starring the inimitable Albert Finney in his prime. This is a multi-part presentation with a play-all option. Image and sound quality are quite fine. If you didn't catch this on its U.S. run on PBS, check it out -- it's a wonderful ghost story that is pretty scary at times, but always interesting, with thick countryside atmosphere within and without an inn/restaurant. 2 1/2 hours running time. Some of the effects (woods coming alive) will remind you of THE EVIL DEAD.

    Here's a weird one:
    QUATERMASS II. Anchor Bay. I bought this at Amazon UK like all the titles above, but when this arrived, it was obviously a DVD-R. It has the official A.B. logo, and was designated as part of the "Hammer Collection," a title we did not get as a pressed disc in the U.S. There is no indication that this is a UK release. Rather, it is a region-free, NTSC disc, and looks quite fine. 1.33:1, mono, B&W. I was unaware that Anchor Bay was doing VOD's. Anyone have more info? I didn't spent much for this disc (as opposed to THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT Anchor Bay Hammer series DVD, which cost me big time. More on that later...)
    THERE IS MORE. I WILL ADD TO THIS POST AFTER I'VE VIEWED THE NEWEST ARRIVALS.
     
  7. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    There is an
     
  8. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the reviews Dick!
    There are 2 DVDs of this film for sale on Amazon UK. A more expensive one with a red banner on top (that I know includes an audio commentary), and a lower price one without the red banner. I have no idea if they have the same transfer or extra features. Which one did you buy?
     
  9. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    My review is for the one with the red "Widescreen Edition" banner at the top, which includes the Joseph Sargent commentary. Doesn't look great, as I said. I am hoping someone will report a better-looking edition somewhere. The version without the red banner appears, from the reviews I've read, to be a pan and scan edition, much like Universal's USA release.
     
  10. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    Thanks Dick. A member here was nice enough to transfer my widescreen laserdisc to DVD so I think I will hold on to that.
     
  11. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    There are a number of Warner titles getting a release in Spain on May 18. I think, although I'm not sure at this point, that they're exclusive to El Corte Ingles for now. Some of these are currently only available through the Archive at present. Titles:
    The Badlanders
    Carson City
    Close to My Heart
    Northwest Passage
    A Lion Is in the Streets
     
  12. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    You sure this is an official disc? I wasn't aware Anchor Bay had some soft of manufactured on demand program. I know there are a lot of bootlegs out there of titles that are now out-of-print. Did you buy this direct from Amazon.co.uk or some third party?


     
  13. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    And I took this transfer, adjusted it back to the proper 24fps, and edited back the opening and closing credits for BURN WITCH BURN (there is a different ending tag on the US release) and put in the prologue - AND edited the commentary in on an alternate audio track. I anamorphisized the brief Laserdisc footage I used, and I have to say MINE is the best version never released. :) I have this great software that takes the 25fps PAL original, slows it down to the proper 24fps and re-encodes it beautifully and progressive - and then I use another program to pitch-correct the sound. NO MORE PAL SPEED-UP! :)



     
  14. JohnPM

    JohnPM Second Unit

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    "I have this great software that takes the 25fps PAL original, slows it down to the proper 24fps and re-encodes it beautifully and progressive - and then I use another program to pitch-correct the sound. NO MORE PAL SPEED-UP! :)"

    Can you please supply a link or info as to where we can obtain this software?
     
  15. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Well, it's only for Mac, and there are several other steps in the process as the software puts the sound at the proper speed but somehow keeps the pitch at the INCORRECT pitch (I use another program to conquer that). I don't think in depth discussion of any kind of reverse engineering is allowed on here, though, so I don't think I can post any more about the details. But mark my words, it can be done, and the result can look as good as a decent studio release.
     
  16. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    Koch Media in Germany have Jack Arnold's Man in the Shadow (Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles) coming on June 25. According to Amazon.de, it's in anamorphic scope.
     
  17. Marcel H.

    Marcel H. Supporting Actor

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    It is. It's a repack that was originally released as part of the Jack Arnold Western Collection along with Red Sundown and No Name on the Bullet.
     
  18. Livius

    Livius Second Unit

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    Thanks, I didn't know that. It would be nice to see Red Sundown get its own stand alone release too.
     
  19. Marcel H.

    Marcel H. Supporting Actor

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    In July/August (no exact date yet) there'll be a bargain box of three already released westerns by Koch. It's called Classic Western Collection Box Vol. 1 and features Horizons West, Chief Crazy Horse and The Appaloosa. SRP € 20.
     
  20. speedspin

    speedspin Agent

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    I have just noticed that Six Black Horses has been released in Holland. I'm very fond of this one. I thought, previously, that it had only appeared in France...in the range of Westerns which all contain non-removable subtitles. I was wondering if it's safe to assume that the Dutch release is OK in that regard? Most Dutch releases I've seen do have removable subs but I don't want to buy this one only to find that it's the exception to the rule! Anyone picked it up? Link below:-

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Six-Black-Horses-Dutch-CategoryClassicFilms/dp/B002PP2WXG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1275321762&sr=1-1

    (I haven't worked out how to abbreviate my links here yet)
     

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