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Discussion in 'DVD' started by Adam_Reiter, Sep 17, 2003.
The Dancer Upstairs
Sorry Adam, but this is another reason why many amateur online reviewers should not attempt to provide a critical analysis of a film; just stick to opinions of the AV quality. "The directing was clearly at fault" Why? Because Mr Malkovich didn't make a film that can be appreciated by sleepy reviewers with a personal preference for more commercial fare?
I know that the HTF is not a professional site, but it often brags about how it has the ear of the industry. I think the industry will stop listening if there are many more reviews of this poor calibre. Ship the arthouse discs to me if this is the best the HTF can do.
Basic spelling errors don't help either.
Was that necessary?
Sorry Ron, but this is a poor review and not up to the standard previously set by HTF reviews.
I'm sure Adam can accept my uninformed criticism of his uninformed criticism.
I would have to agree with Simon. The problem I see with the HTF reviews, is that the reviewers are assigned by studio. This may be practical when distributing the DVDs amongst the various reviewer, but in my opinion, they should be done rather but genre, based on reviewers' sensitivity, taste and expertise.
This is obviously an art house film, so you can't expect in an amateur environment, to have somebody reviewing "American Pie" and "Fanny and Alexander", and have a consistent feel.
Well, I'm certainly glad we have you two gentlemen here to let the masses know how to feel about a film. I was worried that these "amateur reviewers" would be allowed to continue to freely express their own opinions when reviewing a film. Wouldn't want that at all, would we?
Let's see whether we can bring this thread back on topic.
I haven't seen the DVD, but I did see the film in theaters. Judging from the screen captures, it looks to me like the disc successfully captures the look of the film as I remember it. While one can certainly find fault with that look (I don't; see below), I would argue that we can't ask more from a disc than accurately reproducing its source.
Given his low budget, I think Malkovich did what a lot of other inventive filmmakers have done -- he made a virtue of necessity. The Dancer Upstairs is one of the most vivid evocations I've ever seen of a world in which any pretense of the ordered, civilized society most of us take for granted has been abandoned. (Another great example, in an entirely different style, is Our Lady of the Assassins.) It's a grimy, unkempt, man-made wilderness, and the film's look matches that subject matter. The sole point of clarity, and the real focus of the plot, is Javier Bardem's Rejas.
I tend to agree with Adam that the ostensible plot (the hunt for a terrorist leader) gets fairly scant attention -- it's almost background. I think that's because the real plot is the drama inside Rejas as he tries, against all odds, to carve out a small area of decency and integrity in which he and his family can live. Will Rejas solve his country's problems by catching a terrorist? No, but the search gives his life meaning, order and a purpose. He pays a price for it too (to say more would be a spoiler). With an actor of lesser caliber than Bardem, I don't think the story would have worked. He's the center of the film and IMO the number one reason to see it.
There's no question that this film requires an effort to watch. But I do think it repays the effort. Just keep your eyes on Bardem.
One further note: When I saw the film, it struck me that it would probably suffer in the home environment. It was shot for theaters -- not in the sense of a being a widescreen epic, but in its demand that the audience detach themselves from their daily activities, sit down in a theater, and surrender to the filmmakers' vision for a few hours. That's harder for anyone to do at home; I know it is for me -- which is why I still go to the theater as often as possible.
Ricardo, as I'm sure you know, having read our posts, neither of us are telling anybody how to feel about the film.
In Adam's review I do not see an opinion about the film, just a reviewer who didn't understand it and concludes that it must therefore be badly directed. He can tell us nothing about the film, but is happy to fill several paragraphs with an ersatz comedy routine.
His comments about Malkovich's annoying vocal tick meaning he couldn't listen to the whole commentary compound a poor review from somebody who shouldn't be reviewing this type of film. How the man speaks is irrelevant, what he says is important, or not important, but you have to listen to him first.
Frankly, if the oft-quoted (and derided around here) Joe Six-Pack were to pen a review of an arthouse film, this is how I would expect it to read.
Whilst I don't work for a studio, I'm pretty certain that they send out free review copies for a considered opinion, which this was not. If this is going to be the standard of critical opinion, how long will they continue?
I guess my suggestion wasn't effective. So I'll make it more than a suggestion:
Please take this debate elsewhere, preferably private. The criticisms of the review are noted, and it's up to the reviewer whether or not to respond to them. Debates with each other about what is and isn't appropriate commentary are not productive. The thread is supposed to be about a film and a DVD, and so far only Adam Reiter and I have said anything about either.
Simon, you are not understanding something here. We were not hired to nessesarily review the film. I do not get paid to review these DVD's. I am not a "professional" movie reviewer. I leave that to Roger Ebert. Our JOB here at HTF, is to review the quality of the picture, sound, and extras, which I have done. I am not able to give my opinion on the commentary?
To me, the movie sucked. It dragged on, and didn't compell me. So I chose not to put much effort into the movie review portion. There are many reviews here put up by the other reviewers that slam their movies that they review. I don't see you slamming them in their threads. Just because you may have like this movie and don't agree with me, that is your opinion.
BTW, I ALWAYS put my reviews through Microsoft Word 2002 spell checker. I am sorry if it didn't catch the mistakes. I will paste in back in and try it again.
edit: Spelling mistakes were additions I made after the initial "spell-checked" posting. I apologize.
Thank you for your comments Michael. Reading the review, and considering the film's cinematographer; I was pondering the question of the accuracy of the transfer in terms of faithfully replicating the theatrical presentation, with regard to the color pallette of the DVD.
The color pallette in the screen grabs looks about right. Adam's observations about video noise do concern me, but I remember it being a fairly grainy film; so that may be the issue.
Michael, I have come to the conclusion that most of the problems that I had seen with the picture quality, must have come from the film itself. I just do not see it being the purely the DVD transfer that introduced the problems.
The main thing I wonder about, is the very active and "squiggly" noise. Does anyone know what might be causing that? Keep in mind, I only saw that type of noise on my computer, not on my TV. Like I said in my review, my TV/DVD player were very forgiving, so I wonder if it would should up on front projection?
Adam, I always see more video noise on my PC than I do on a standard TV set. I've been given a range of explanations for this:
-The monitor is more revealing than a TV, so any flaws in the transfer become more visible (But that doesn't explain why the picture appears to be rendered with less than the full spectrum of colors)
-The video card is to blame. Get a GeForce (HA! I have a GeForce)
-Uh... Get a Radeon, then.
The truth is, I've never been entirely happy with the video quality my PC gives me. Sure, my monitor is a much less forgiving display than the average TV, but if I can't see these flaws in a high-end HDTV, then perhaps there is indeed something wrong with my HTPC setup.
If you ever figure out a way to get better PQ out of the PC, please let me know, because I'm about to give up on mine.
It's not my intention to "fart" in this thread, but just for comparison sake (I always look for several reviews of movies or DVDs before I decide on my purchase), check Mike Restaino's review at DVD File. He actually gives a good grades not only to the movie (which it is a completely subjective matter, so while I respect Adam's opinion, I do not agree with his take... But this is his podium after all, not mine) but also good marks to the video transfer.
Based on my own experiences, I'd say it's likely the PC's to blame. Adam, if you can take a look at the disc on an HDTV, give it a go, you might see the video noise goes away for the most part. To see what I mean, watch The Phantom Menace on a TV set and study the artifacts. Then watch it on the PC and see how downright hideous the film looks (if your setup is anything like mine, I mean).
Maybe I DO need a Radeon 9600...
WHAT??? You got to be kidding me!! He must have a different version, or my copy is bunk!! What he has described, is not what I see. Compared to how excellent X-Men 2 looked, "TDU" looks really bad! I completely disagree with his comments.
I watched it on my HDTV! Like I said, many of the problems go away, but the noise it still horrible, IMO. I would say its partly the PC's fault as well, however, every DVD I review gets watched 1 or 2 times on my HDTV, and sometimes once or twice on the PC. My work machine is a very nice machine, P2 2ghz, 512MB Ram, GeForece 32MB video. In each instance, the film looks generally the same on the pc as it did the HDTV. This disk is not that way. Its really, really bad on the PC, and still not very good on the HDTV.