A Few Words About A few words about...™ Inside Man -- in Standard Definition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I learned something extremely important by viewing Universal's Inside Man.

    1. This a quality film, which I recommend. It's great to share an alma mater with Mr. Lee.

    2. Having been viewing essentially high definition software for the past couple of weeks with few exceptions, watching Inside Man in SD has proven that there are more differences between the two formats than expected.

    Let's begin with the film. This is all around fine filmmaking from Mr. Lee. This latest joint to hit DVD is great fun.

    That said, and not to cause rumbles within the community, but this is also a film that will be quite different in HD. Not simply with better color tonalities, black levels, shadow detail and overall resolution.

    There are films that go well beyond that -- into the details in the frame.

    There are some films in which HD hits on a visceral level. Much like 70mm and other large formats, the technology affects the performances. This is a known. It always occurs. Sometimes to the detriment of the performances. In this case, it will benefit them, as Mr. Washington, Mr. Owen, Ms. Foster, Mr. Plummer, looking especially dapper playing a man close to 90, as well as those supporting them are superb.

    This is one of the films affected by technology and the quality of playback.

    As entertained as I was, there was never a moment when I wasn't reminded that I was viewing video and not film.

    And it is this visceral addition that is going to bring HD to the fore well in advance of expectations.

    When the format arrived several months ago, there were prognostications that it would be an elitist format, much like laserdisc.

    There were discussions that there might not be 75 titles out by the end of the year.

    I currently have around 40 in my library.

    There are another 40 already announced for release before December, with release dates being held very close to initial announcements.

    After seeing the SD of Inside Man, I'm betting that the HD format in general, and I'm not being specific about either HD or BD, will be a major proportion of sales within 18 -24 months.

    It's going to happen.

    The point of all this is that once you experience HD, there is no going back. Everything else looks like video.

    That said, until the HD of Inside Man arrives, the SD will do very nicely.

    What an entertaining film!

    I recommend it Highly!

    RAH
     
  2. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Sadly I think Inside Man is Spike Lee's weakest film since Clockers (1995). Lee's brilliantly experimental films like Bamboozled and She Hate Me were completely ignored, so his only way of staying in the game is to make a heist thriller with three big stars.

    As soon as he goes big budget, he isn't making a 'Spike Lee film', because he needs to craft a film that appeals to the people who wouldn't dare see Bamboozled at a cinema, and who reliably walk past it in the video store.

    As a result, Inside Man features rediculous cliches, for example, to make the bank robber sympathetic, he is forced to make the bank owner a Nazi sympathiser! Rule one of commercial cinema, everyone knows that Nazis, and their fellow travellers, are the real bad guys.

    Bamboozled is a much more sophisticated film, because it features a much more daring examination of race and commerce. But since it was such a controversial script, Lee was forced to shoot most of the film using consumer digital video cameras. So even though it is a vastly superior film to Inside Man, don't expect a HD release anytime soon.

    From memory She Hate Me was shot on Super 16mm, because the production couldn't afford to shoot on 35mm. But for some reason working on those tight budgets brings out the best in Lee, and gives him the freedom to investigate interesting issues. For me, Inside Man was just Lee on auto-pilot.

    One Lee film I am looking forward to seeing is his documentary on Hurricaine Katrina When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Hopefully it gets a speedy DVD release.

    I personally don't think HD will take off until the average person can 1) buy a cheap (under $250) combo player that plays both HD-DVD and BluRay discs, and 2) can afford to buy a display with a gigantic screen to actually make use of HD resolution.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    RAH,

    As always, thanks for your thoughts.

    Unfortunately, most of us with HD-DVD equipment are refusing
    to purchase Inside Man until the studio releases it to
    the superior format. It greatly surprises me that Universal opted
    not to release an HD-DVD version on the same day.

    Having seen this film theatrically, I agree that it's a well-made
    film, though it should have ended 10 minutes sooner than it did.

    I'm really looking forward to owning this film, but absolutely
    refuse to double-dip on a title just because Universal is witholding
    it from HD-DVD release.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Simon,
    I added spoilers to your post out of respect to those that haven't seen this film yet.

    Also, I totally disagree with you about "Inside Man", but that's a discussion for another time for me.

    RAH,
    Like Ron, I decided to wait for the HD DVD release and when that happens I will definitely pick up this very fine film.




    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Add me to the list of those who would have like a concurrent HD release. Hopefully, it will be forthcoming shortly.

    Your collective thoughts are precisely why I feel that things will move quickly, with prices on both hardware and software falling rapidly.

    To take one admittedly higher end example: In the area of monitors, Sony's 2k rear projectors have dropped from their original high numbers to a point at which a 60" unit can be purchased for slightly over three thousand dollars. While I realize that for the majority of the public, this is not a pittance, many dealers are offering zero percent finanacing over long periods for a piece of equipment that is reasonably future-proof, and which will be amortized over a decade.

    RAH
     
  6. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Sorry, I didn't realise it was a spoiler considering it was revealed in the TV trailer I saw.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Please, don't get me started about TV trailers because they've been a bug up my "you know what" for years now.
     
  8. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I'm amazed at how much they do show. I saw one for Cellular which basically showed what happens in the entire film in chronological order.
     
  9. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

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    I didn't care that much for INSIDE MAN. It was OK, but not nearly as good as I had expected. I felt the same about FIREWALL, which had a similar plot.
    Both fell below expectations.
     
  10. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    I love Inside Man, but I still have my doubts about when HD-DVD sales will be bigger that SD DVD sales. I just don't see it happening in 2 years. It might take at least 5 to 10 years or more.
     
  11. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    I was surprized but I loved Inside Man. I would love to have an HD-DVD release of this.
     
  12. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    I liked Inside Man alot. I'll buy the HD release. This was a Spike Lee film that wasn't heavy on the Spike Lee stuff that usually annoys me.
     
  13. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    I enjoyed INSIDE MAN theatrically, but it isn't one that I can see myself watching multiple times, so I really don't have any plans on buying it.

    But I do want to address the comments about HD-DVD.

    Like many other HTFers, I'm still waiting out the format war. It looks like HD-DVD is in the lead, but until there is one format, I will hold off.

    But, to the non-HTFers, the Joe and Jane Six Pack who make up the majority of the market, who shop at Wal Mart and Costco, I don't see them making the switch anytime soon.

    You have to remember, it took a few years for DVD to really take off. And now, everyone loves the format. While many here can critique the quality of SD-DVDs, 95% of the public have no problem. They don't know about black levels and edge enhancement and all of that. And, they don't want to know. For 90 minutes, they just want to watch a movie for fun. And DVDs are the easiest way to do that.

    Even among DVD buyers, there is still a large portion that buy full screen instead of widescreen. They may know the difference between the two, but they "just don't like those annoying black bars".

    So, I really don't think any of this group of consumers will want to make the upgrade, buy a $500 machine, and have to spend $10 more per title than SD DVD to get the HD-DVDs for them when they are happy with what they have.

    Like laserdisc, which I loved, I don't think that the mainstream public wants the technology. They may be missing out, but I don't think they care enough about film to know what they are missing.

    Once the format war is over, the prices on the players drop down to the $100 and under range, and once HDTVs are more affordable (and they are getting that way), I can see them buying them. But, I don't see that happening in the next two years or so.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm not certain that my comments are being misread, but my meaning was not that HD would overtake SD in 18-24 months, but rather, that HD would have a real position in the marketplace.

    What that might be, I have no guess. 10 - 15% would be a nice piece of the pie, which would be huge by laserdisc standards.

    RAH
     
  15. Sten F

    Sten F Second Unit

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    @ Jon Martin

    I agree with your thoughts in your post. I was a big fan of the LaserDisc format as well so I welcome any new format that will improve the sound & image quality.

    However, I honestly don´t think the majority of consumers will upgrade to either HD-DVD & BluRay within several years despite the somewhat "small" advantages over SD-DVD. First, the format war being a major factor not to upgrade. Second, to upgrade to a big flatpanel or projector. Third, the price, of course. Besides, the hardware itself has to many faults at the moment, and needs to be capable to play all software formats. Finally, all the content on the new format needs to be in HD quality, and not just the movie itself. HD-DVD software needs to offer some material that one cannot get on SD-DVD.

    No doubt film lovers will upgrade sooner or later, but it´s the majority of the consumers the companies make their living of. As of know I´m skeptical how the new format will take on, and I think it´s going to be real tough. We can make all the asumptions we want, but we have to give it several years to see what happens. Who knows, there might come an even better format that will surpass HD-DVD and Bluray before we know it.
     

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