The Shelf Space Awards: June 2013
A modest little assemblage of Shelf Space Awards for June. I reviewed a lot in full, including The Clint Eastwood 20 Film Collection, The Last Exorcism: Part II, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Snitch and one I’m including again here. Here are awards for a few more Blu-rays that deserve some space on your shelf and I don’t want them to slip through the cracks for June.
The Details Award
Stoker is all about the little details, in extreme closeup, and the Blu-ray brings those details into the sharpest focus possible. A nasty foot blister, fragments of egg shell cracking on the table, hair dissolving into a grass field and more are highlighted in high definition on the Blu-ray. The entire transfer is sharp and clean but it always maintains a film look. This isn’t real life, it is the heightened look that director Park Chan-wook intended. The Blu-ray preserves that while using the color and clarity to highlight the world on Stoker.
The “Made You Look” Award
What can I say, the raunchfest that is Movie 43 looks spectacular on Blu-ray. Shot on the Red camera, the digital picture is perfect for every comedy short. That means you can see all the pubes and veins on Hugh Jackman’s neck balls and it only gets grosser from there. The Alternate Cut the Blu-ray promises just uses a different wraparound segment than the studio executive pitch. The new version has kids downloading all the shorts online and it’s not even a little funny, so whatever problems I had with the Greg Kinnear/Dennis Quaid bit, it was an improvement.
The Face Time Award
If you’re going to watch a movie about Halle Berry’s face, then you should watch it on Blu-ray. The Call is better than the last Halle Berry’s face movie, Perfect Stranger. Remember, she was online dating and we were always watching her look at the computer screen? I should be fair, Abigail Breslin’s face is lovely too, but she’s still a minor and I don’t want to be inappropriate. Though the psychological thriller is set in a 911 call center and the trunk of a car, director Brad Anderson gives you something to look at. The shots are dynamic and sharp on Blu-ray. I noticed a bit of a white haze, like brightness cranked too high, perhaps to compensate for some of the darkness in the trunk. It still looks a lot better than Brake, the Stephen Dorff trapped in a trunk movie, so The Call wins.
The VHS Award
No, the film about marketing the 1988 Chilean election, is actually shot in the U-matic video format of the era. It’s kind of amazing to watch a VHS looking film in HD on Blu-ray. With the 1.33:1 ratio, the pictures is just fuzzy enough and just green tinted enough to look like a video documentary without being obnoxious. Everyone has those greenish lines outlining their faces and bodies. I wonder if they used the 3/4” tape that professional networks would use even though it still looked just as crappy as 1/2” home videocameras. Maybe camcorder tape wouldn’t have made the transition to HD as well so it’s a good thing they still had U-matic.
The New Standard Award
I gave Oz the Great and Powerful a full review but I stand by my assertion that it is the new home theater demo movie for bright fantasy colors. I really think the land of Oz looks exemplary in high definition. I guess we’re past the point where people come over and ask, “So what’s so special about Blu-ray?” and you put in a movie to show them, but if that still happened, you could show the daisy meadow or bubble sequences and have your party guests go, “Whoa!”
Early July Award:
The "Old College Try" Award
Admission comes out July 9 and while it’s not a visual spectacle, it is a damn solid Blu-ray. Set on the campus of Princeton and an alternative farming collective, the comedy remains perfectly sharp in the institution halls and earthy on the farm. For these unspectacular comedies to look so good is the real triumph of Blu-ray. We know they’ll go all out for the big movies, but we also get to watch the middle ones in top quality too.