Poll of the Month-------
3/28/00 Two more releases to report - Isn't She Great (LBX,DD) due June 20 for $29.98 and The Talented Mr. Ripley (LBX) due June 27 for (surprise) $29.98.
On a more sobering note, if you scan the results to the Oscars:
Actor: Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty")
Actress: Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry")
Director: Sam Mendes ("American Beauty")
Sup. Actor: Michael Caine ("Cider House Rules")
Sup. Actress: Angelina Jolie ("Girl Interrupted")
Adapted Screenplay: "Cider House Rules"
Original Screenplay: "American Beauty"
Cinematography: "American Beauty"
Song: 'You'll Be in My Heart' ("Tarzan")
Film Editing: "The Matrix"
Costume Design: "Topsy-Turvy"
Sound (& Sound FX): "The Matrix"
Visual Effects: "The Matrix"
Original Score: "The Red Violin"
Foreign Language Film: "All About My Mother"
Art Direction: "Sleepy Hollow"
You will notice that only two Oscar winning movies are either released on Laserdisc (The Matrix) or scheduled to be released on Laserdisc (Sleepy Hollow).
Since Image Entertainment (which has the right to distribute most of these movies on Laserdisc) still hasn't officially announced the end of Laserdisc production, maybe you can get them to release a movie or two by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
3/24/00 Recently, I was reading an articles on both the Apex AD600A and the Sony Playstation 2. You know what both these machines have in common other than the ability to play DVDs? Regional coding in both machines can be disabled by punching in a special code into the remote. Macrovision and CSS are also disabled on the Apex AD600A. Oh, did I mention that the Apex can also play PAL discs and costs under $200? No wonder Curcuit City has a hard time keeping these players in stock. While Hollywood is freaking about websites posting DeCSS code so software DVD players can be made for Linux, hardware manufacturers are now making players that can easily bypass these "features." Note, unlike the "Region Free Players" you see sold on the Internet, these new players require no additional hardware and no additional modifications to work. That means that companies designed these players to bypass regional control, Macrovision and CSS right out of the box. Also, where do you think these codes come from? People just don't stumble upon them - someone in the companies leaked this information.
Now why did the hardware manufactueres do this? Is it because that's what the public wants? Are the hardware manufactuers tired of Hollywood's boneheaded demands (breaking the world up into "regions", denining consumers the ability to record anything, adding expensive, but utimately useless copy control features - in other words, scaring off customers)? Is it because that Macrovision and CSS cause problems and conficts with other equipment? In recent Panasonic DVD player manuals, they recommend that you hook the DVD player directly to the TV (i.e, don't loop it through a VCR or reciever because it causes too many problems). Another thing to consider, the Apex is made in China - the bootleg capital of the world. Of course, that doesn't explain the Playstation 2. Also, why isn't Hollywood suing Apex and Sony as quickly as they sued the DeCSS guys (I know the answer to this one - money).
Quite a different world than when Laserdisc was introduced. Just a little food for thought.
3/21/00 I was reading the online version of Widescreen Review and I noticed that Fox Home Video will be re-releasing Entrapment on DVD. Yeah, you read that right - a mediocre movie gets a re-release less than six months after the first release. Sure, the new DVD has some "extras" like a director's commentary, featurerette (gag) and anamorphic widescreen (a feature that actually degrades picture quality on most 4:3 screens) that might make it worth buying again. However, you have to wonder why they didn't include this stuff in the first place.
To me this illustrates one of the dark sides of Laserdisc collecting (only worse). Some movies, like the Star Wars Trilogy and Goldfinger have seen countless re-releases on Laserdisc. A few of those releases were marginal improvements over the predecessors, but some were just ways to separtate consumers from their money. However, in the future, is this practice going to reach a new high with DVD? Releasing a movie only disc, then releasing a "remastered special edition" disc (with questionable extras like featurerettes) a few scant months later in order to capitalize on people who have an uncontrollable urge to "upgrade?" Don't get me wrong. I don't mind remasters because mastering techniques improve over time, but to release multiple versions of a movie just a few months apart is disservice to a videophile. When I buy a DVD or (especially) a Laserdisc, I expect it to be the best version possible.
Lately, however, there have been multiple releases of titles on DVDs that follow each other less than a year (or two) apart. The Exorsist, Tomorrow Never Dies, Goldeneye, Entrapment, several Disney animated movies (the names escape me right now) . . . the list goes on. To me this practice is downright rotten and a cheap ploy to try to drum up video sales. Videophiles deserve better. They deserve best version possible, the first time around.
3/14/00 Pioneer's Laserdisc production continues to chug along with two more titles announced for release in May. Personally, I find these new titles to be more interesting than the last couple of titles announced (I mean who is really looking forward to Superstar or The Story of Us?). The two titles announced are Sleepy Hollow (directed by Tim Burton!) and the Oscar nominated (for best Cinematography) Snow Falling on Cedars. As usual with Pioneer, both titles will retail for $29.98 and will contain little or no extras. Ironically, Snow Falling on Cedars will contain a Dolby Digital soundtrack but Sleepy Hollow will contain a Dolby Surround soundtrack only (thanks to Paramount's baffling no Dolby Digital policy - email Eric_Doctorow@paramount.comto complain).
Image Entertainment's website went through a minor redesign recently. They kept the Laserdisc section (which is good) but their excellent title search engine no longer contains as many titles as it used to. It looks like they want to include covers in the search results so any title without a cover they haven't got around to scanning is no longer listed. This may be temporary as several recent DVDs were not listed as well. I hope they restore all the old information because their old search engine was indispensable.
3/11/00 Well, the reports of Laserdisc's demise has been greatly exaggerated. It should be obvious by now that Pioneer has not given up on Laserdisc just yet since another title has been announced for release (However, Image Entertainment is another matter although I hear rumors that Image still wants to release Laserdiscs if possible). Man on the Moon - Jim Carrey's pic about Andy Kaufman - is currently scheduled to be out on Laserdisc on May 30. It will be in widescreen and feature Dolby Digital sound (for a retail price of $29.98).
However, all is not rosy for Laserdisc. A few titles have been postponed. So far, The Best Man (1999,LBX,DD), The Story of Us (LBX,DD) and The Limey are in danger of being cancelled due to low preorders. Even The Bone Collector (which probably did better at the box office than the other three movies combined) was postponed for a few days although it is now scheduled for release on April 4.
If you want to see any of these movies on Laserdisc, please preorder them now. As usual, the release date for any pending title is listed on the Release Calendar.