Saturday, May 10, 2008

Consider Yourself Nudged

Pop over to my Bava book blog, won't you, where some important breaking news has been posted.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Criterion Goes Blu-ray in October

Today Criterion Collection Newsletter subscribers received the following message by e-mail:

Our first Blu-ray discs are coming! We’ve picked a little over a dozen titles from the collection for Blu-ray treatment, and we’ll begin rolling them out in October. These new editions will feature glorious high-definition picture and sound, all the supplemental content of the DVD releases, and they will be priced to match our standard-def editions.

Here’s what’s in the pipeline:
The Third Man
Bottle Rocket
Chungking Express
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Last Emperor
El Norte
The 400 Blows
Gimme Shelter
The Complete Monterey Pop
For All Mankind
The Wages of Fear

Alongside our DVD and Blu-ray box sets of The Last Emperor, we’ll also be putting out the theatrical version as a stand-alone release in both formats, priced at $39.95. Our Blu-ray release of Walkabout will be an all-new edition, featuring new supplements as well as a new transfer; we will also release an updated anamorphic DVD of Nicolas Roeg’s outback masterpiece at the same time.

Exciting news on the one hand, but alarming news on the other, as Criterion collectors will be compelled to double-dip on numerous titles. It seems a purely commercial step to add the likes of THE COMPLETE MONTEREY POP and GIMME SHELTER to a list of initial Blu-ray offerings, as both were originally shot in 16mm and are not likely to add much to their original issues in video quality. That said, Criterion should sell a bunch of them.

Signing up for Criterion's newsletter at their website will entitle you, as a subscriber, to the following special deal: $10 off any order of $60 or more placed at through Monday, May 26.

Thanks to VW's Sam Umland for the tip.

Postscript 5/8/08: Reader Aleck Bennett makes a couple of good points...

"Just a quick note on the CC BD offerings: while I agree that the COMPLETE MONTEREY POP and GIMME SHELTER 16mm elements probably wouldn't benefit tremendously from the higher resolution BD offers, I do think that they'll both show improvements in these releases. The higher storage capability, combined with much more efficient codecs (standard-def's MPEG-2 is a notoriously 'lossy' and inefficient codec) will allow for less noticeable compression, leading to a more pleasing viewing experience. Maybe not by *much*, given the 16mm origins, but I'm hoping it'll be noticeable... However, where I think the BD releases will surely shine is in the audio department, given BD's support of lossless audio formats. While the sound mixes used on the standard-def DVDs are pretty nifty, uncompressed versions of the 5.1 mixes should be a real treat. Assuming, of course, that they'll be offering uncompressed versions of the 5.1 mixes!"

Monday, May 05, 2008


My previous blog entry received a surprising amount of attention -- admittedly, mostly from fellow bloggers. I didn't intend for "The End of Blogging Days" to serve as my final posting but, as I later told a commiserating correspondent or two, if and when I do collect the best of my Video WatchBlog writings in book form, at least I know now that I've got a closing chapter.

I'm not going to shut Video WatchBlog down, but I am going to take a break and try to wean myself from it. This blog was conceived to fill the breach during the period when the Bava book was in production and forcing VW into an irregular schedule. We've been back on our monthly schedule for some time now, but I've continued to write this blog because I enjoy it. I still do; in fact, if it was financially feasible, I would probably stop VIDEO WATCHDOG tomorrow and write this blog full time. (Anyone who's ever paid a printer's bill will know what I mean.) But doing both -- at least the way I've been doing both -- is wearing me down.
When I say this, I'm not just talking about overwork, because blogging typically invigorates a writer's productivity; it has encouraged me to produce writing that I wouldn't have produced otherwise, for lack of an outlet or market -- but I wasn't paid for any of it. In the process, blogging's inviting ease of expression/publication has surreptitiously curbed me from seeking out new markets; I have written and published literally hundreds of pieces here, instantaneously, that I might have sold to other magazines or another (paying) blog site, had I slowed down long enough to recognize the value of what I was doing.

Thus, blogging has become a kind of pacifier for me (hence the illustration); a gratifying pantomime of achievement rather than achievement itself. What precisely has been worn down by this blog, as I have practiced it, is my sense of professional ambition. If I'm going to recover it, it is necessary for me to redefine my duties here, which means giving myself permission not to be here sometimes. More to the point, I need to find and commit to a new, creative side-project that can begin to fill the immense personal void that was left by the completion of the Bava book.

Never fear: Video WatchBlog will continue -- albeit in more realistic, less demanding form, as a place where I can address VIDEO WATCHDOG readers when necessary and post updates pertaining to my professional activities. Later this week, for example, I'll be unveiling the cover and contents of VW #140. In time, I may also surprise us both by posting an occasional bonus review, editorial or photo feature -- we'll see how it goes.

P.S. It may interest readers of "The End of Blogging Days" to know that Flickhead's Raymond Young, similarly disenchanted with toiling on behalf of the Ether Plan for Global Distraction, is currently in talks with us about becoming a contributor to VW. So, as time goes by, if you find yourself missing the kind of fun, in-depth writing about cult cinema that you used to find regularly on Video WatchBlog and Flickhead, you'll know where to find it.