DVD

Where Did The Week Go…

///

It’s a Thursday night and I’m trying to find an alternative to the Duck game. It’s 43-7 at halftime and I’m just not in the mood for yet another blowout. Scanning through the channels I come across FX. The Social Network, one of my favorite movies of the last few years, recently debuted on the network and they’re showing it again.

Now I could just get up off the couch, walk into my room and grab the Blu-ray I own and watch it from the beginning, but that would be too much work. The movie, which is two hours long, is scheduled from 7:30-10pm. Okay so I only have to deal with a half-hour’s worth of commercials. That’s perfectly acceptable.

Remember when we used to do this?

After pondering this seemingly innocuous (and pointless event in my life), I came to the conclusion that perhaps I was joining the masses of people choosing to view their home entertainment strictly through the television. I’ve been reading for a number of years how physical DVDs and Blu-rays are becoming more obsolete in a world of digital downloads, video on demand (VOD) and streaming, but after doing some research, it appears people are taking in their home entertainment however they can get it.

According to The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), digital spending is up 50 percent with more and more consumers purchasing streaming devices and choosing services like VOD. That’s no surprise. But what is surprising is that annual spending on Blu-ray discs jumped 20 percent with total revenue hitting $2 billion for the first time in 2011.

Of course this number specifically references Blu-ray only, which makes sense considering it’s an HD format that’s only been around for six years, but the big increase still feels significant and an indication that perhaps any form of physical discs might last longer than we think.

But let’s get back to my original thought about the idea of choosing to stay parked on my couch instead of viewing the disc I bought. That perfectly encapsulates the shift from disc to digital. It’s a matter of convenience. After the television was invented, we discovered that having to get up every time we wanted to change the channel was just too hard so we came up with the remote control.

This was the first step toward our desire to feel completely satisfied while being entertained. The advent of the Internet allowed us to view any information we desired so leaving the house to go to the library wasn’t necessary anymore. Then came music, then books and now movies. Of course the one thing movies have that music and books don’t is the option of going to the movie theater any day of the week.

Movies will always have that in their hip pocket, but it will be interesting to see how long discs last. The sea of DVDs and Blu-rays on my wall might just feel nostalgic in another five years. Call me old-fashioned, but I like looking at something and holding it in my hand. When others see my collection, they can quickly get a sense of what my tastes are. Now picture this same scenario in 10 years. People won’t have anything to show off except a list on a screen.

That’s not a personal collection, just a queue on your computer.

Netflix Instant Pick: The Relic

I’m starting to get into horror-movie mode with Halloween coming up. Horror is my least favorite genre because the majority of the time, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, scare me. But I do like to carve out one month for scary movies. I usually begin with my personal favorite, Alien, but after that it usually varies from year to year.

For my pick this week I’ve chosen the underrated 1997 film, The Relic. Perhaps it’s underrated because it stars Tom Sizemore, a really good actor whose career was derailed after drug and alcohol problems, and Penelope Ann Miller, an actress who hasn’t appeared in a major film (with the exception of The Artist) for more than a decade.

A monster movie both thrilling and gory.

But in the late ’90s, they were supporting actors given the keys to a major Hollywood monster movie and for the most part, they capably carry the film.

Sizemore plays Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, a superstitious cop investigating a murder at Chicago’s Natural History Museum. The gruesome crime scene appears to be connected to another crime scene at a cargo ship carrying crates intended to go to the museum. Miller plays Dr. Margo Green, a scientist at the museum who becomes interested in the contents of the crates. What they don’t know is that a large creature was part of the cargo and is now roaming the museum killing people.

For a monster movie, The Relic has high production value. Directed by veteran filmmaker Peter Hyams, the film features great creature effects from Stan Winston, good special effects that hold up and thrilling set pieces. The final 15 minutes in particular showcase all of these elements quite memorably.

They also throw in some decent scares that arrive when people are at their most vulnerable (bathroom stalls, office cubicles and murky sewer systems). I’d classify this film as more of a thriller than a horror film, but there’s still enough scares to fill the running time.

Sure there’s some giant plot holes, like how no one notices this thing before it begins its rampage, or the entire evolution of the creature in the first place, but who cares about that stuff in a creature feature. Nothing is safe, including animals, old men in wheel chairs and security guards in this extremely violent but enjoyable B-movie.

NBA Attempting to Speed Up Games, But Not Actually During Games

Professional athletes are a superstitious group. Some of them eat the same meals before every game, some wear old college shorts under their pro uniforms and others take a specific number of shots before ending shoot arounds.

Another ritual players follow before every game is the pre-game introductions right before tip-off. Lebron James likes to throw talcum powder in the air, Kevin Durant  fist-bumps everyone on press row and Kevin Garnett takes out his pre-game aggression on the padding under the basket.

This is one ritual I’d like to see go away.

Apparently Commissioner David Stern feels these little idiosyncrasies are slowing the game down so he’s initiated a time limit where officials will give teams 90 seconds from the end of the pre-game player introductions to get in place for tip-off.

Teams that aren’t ready in time will be assessed a delay-of-game warning, which could affect the outcome of games as two delay-of-game calls results in a technical foul.

This feels to me like an old principal at a prep school setting a curfew for 10 pm. Except the difference is they’re immature kids and these are grown men. I’m all for speeding up the games, but shouldn’t any changes occur during the game?

If David Stern wants these games to go quicker, he needs to eliminate a T.V. time-out as well as the pointless coach’s interviews at the end of the first and third quarters. But that would mean losing television advertising so we know that’s not going to happen. Instead Stern managed to find an area where the NBA doesn’t make money; those few minutes before play begins. Now those few minutes have become 90 seconds. Is that enough time to get a fist bump from everyone?

Where Did The Week Go…

///

— Ryan Beltram, EDN

If you live in Oregon then you probably heard about what happened to Churchill High girls golfer Caroline Inglis this week. Following a dominant performance at the 2012 Oregon Scholastic Activities Association Class 5A state tournament in which Inglis won by nine shots with a 3-under 69, the senior simply had to check her scorecard to verify its accuracy, sign it and turn it in. After doing so however, Inglis was informed that she had made a costly mistake.

Inglis’ scorecard actually credited her with a 4-under 68 in the final round, one shot better than her actual score. The error was the result of Inglis’ playing partner crediting her with a par on the 18th hole when she actually scored a bogey, but by the time Inglis noticed her partner’s mistake, she had already signed her scorecard.

A day of celebration turned to disappointment

Because the state championship tournament was played under official USGA rules, which states that any player who signs an inaccurate scorecard to be disqualified, the OSAA officials had no choice but to strip Inglis of the title and award it to the runner-up who again finished nine shots behind Inglis.

The win would have given Inglis four consecutive state championships; a feat never accomplished on the men or women’s side.

The sport of golf has always been known as a “gentleman’s game.” You must wear the proper clothes, act in a mature manner and be honest and forthright when filling out your scorecard. Failure to do so can result in a severe penalty. But in the case of Caroline Inglis, the rule should be altered.

If someone deliberately alters their scorecard then kick them off the golf course. But if a mistake is made, (or in this case, their playing partner makes the mistake) then the player should just be given a two-stroke penalty. SHE WAS WINNING BY NINE SHOTS!

If I was the person who finished a distant second and that happened, I would just give Inglis the trophy. I didn’t earn anything. Just take it and forget any of this ever happened. It might not say it in the record books, but Caroline Inglis is a four-time state champion in my book.

Netflix Instant Pick: Drive

A crime movie with LA style

One of the most acclaimed films from last year and an Oscar snub, Drive is a cool, uneasy film that stays with you long after seeing it. Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks, this low-key crime drama follows a man known only as Driver (Gosling) who by day is a stuntman for movies and by night, a hired getaway driver for criminals.

Driver lives a quiet, somewhat lonely life until a new neighbor, Irene (Mulligan), moves in next door. It’s just her and her son as the father is still in prison. Driver and Irene become friends and possibly more. But when the father is released from prison, Driver becomes involved in a botched heist which he volunteered to be apart of. Now a hit has been put out on him and he must end this feud and protect Irene and her son.

The film is affectively unHollywood. It’s slow-paced and has a European vibe to it. The soundtrack is hypnotic and the shots of Los Angeles make it feel like a Michael Mann film. Some viewers may get turned off by its pace and the graphic violence that occurs in the second half of the film, but based on the performances and the cool soundtrack, fans of film noir, Miami Vice and Steve McQueen should check this out.

More DVD anti-piracy warnings

You know that FBI warning thing that always pops up on your television screen before getting to the movie? The font is always really small so you don’t bother to read it, but the background color is a bright blue. Or maybe it’s a menacing red I don’t know I usually fast forward through it.

A trifecta of warnings

Well it looks like there will be some more warning labels to fast forward through. Along with the FBI warning, a National Intellectual Property Rights label and a Homeland Security Investigations label will also be gracing your DVDs soon.

Since 2008 when Homeland Security has gained the power to do so, it has seized more than 750 sites allegedly engaged in piracy. The issue of movie and music piracy has been rampant for years, particularly overseas, so it makes sense that the government is going to brand every new DVD and Blu-ray with its warning labels. But do we really need three?

I’m pretty sure those who partake in the illegal download of films aren’t going to suddenly quit because that third warning really got to them. The government should think of a new and creative way of conveying that they really dislike movie piracy. Maybe hire an actual movie producer or director to make a cool short film portraying what happens when you steal movies. It might scare the piracy criminals but it will definitely entertain us regular folks who just buy or rent movies.

The ironic thing about the new trio of warning labels is that they rarely appear in digital movie downloads — the very format that is more regularly pirated these days.

 

Where Did The Week Go…

///

— Ryan Beltram, EDN

I was at work today when an elderly man came in to buy a DVD/VCR player. Despite his advanced age, the man recognized such a purchase seemed superfluous. But he still had a number of VHS tapes he watched and his last player kicked the bucket. For a number of years combo players have been a symbol of the past and present in home viewing; old technology and new technology for the nostalgic and the innovative.

But the number of combo players is dwindling faster and faster and it’s not because of VCRs, those went out of widespread use more than five years ago. It might be because standard DVDs are on the way out. With the speed that technology moves, the lifespan of a DVD player might be even shorter than the VCR. The advent of Blu-ray players which can play both Blu-ray and DVD discs, as well as enhance DVDs’ picture and sound quality, has become more popular over the last couple of years.

All these discs might be going away soon.

Beyond that, online streaming is advancing home entertainment further. Popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Streaming allow viewers the ability to watch their favorite television shows and movies right from their home using a computer or streaming device like a number of Blu-ray players.

As far as recording, people prefer a hard drive to record their favorite shows. The days of seeing a stack of VHS tapes or blank discs on your entertainment center are long gone. The DVR has revolutionized television recording and most units are provided by cable and satellite companies.

Eventually the electronics department at your local retail store will cease to carry anything besides televisions, cell phones and tablets. The VCR might seem archaic right now, but if you think about it, the DVD player is quickly following in the ever-revolving door of home entertainment.

Ducks Baseball Team walks onto the field in style

Bagpipes and Baseball

Now this is how you make an entrance! Besides being a relief pitcher for the Ducks, junior right hander David Wylie is also a talented bagpipe player. After watching the video, Wylie definitely has a future doing weddings, parades and other social events if the baseball thing doesn’t work out. In the meantime, Wylie and his fellow teammates are focused on the rest of the season.

The Ducks baseball team is riding high right now. With wins in six out of their last seven, a top-ten ranking in the country and number one in the PAC-12, Oregon has the right to feel a little cocky. While the football team gets most of the attention, (and rightfully so) it’s nice to see the recently resurrected baseball program having success.

After viewing a Yahoo sports blog on Monday on the bullpen’s unique player entrance, the baseball team appears to be relishing in their success as well as staying relaxed amidst the pressure. I was a little disappointed that the duck wasn’t among the relief pitchers wearing a kilt though. I mean what else is he doing right now?

Netflix Instant Pick: Deep Blue Sea

A businessman (Samuel L. Jackson) spends millions of dollars on a special project to help fight Alzheimer’s disease. Sounds like an up-lifting story full of triumph and probably some heartbreak. But there’s one extra little tidbit to this: Super smart sharks. Yeah, I said it.

The Second Best Shark Movie Ever Made!

Medical biologist Susan McAlester (the lovely Saffron Burrows) discovers a way to genetically enlarge shark brains, so that disease-battling enzymes can be harvested and used to treat Alzheimer’s patients. It sounds like a creative way to cure a terrible disease. But say that part about enlarging shark’s brains again? Of the few species on earth I wouldn’t want to be smarter, sharks would be near the top. But this is the movies so why not.

Following a successful trial run, danger must immediately follow and does as the team leader of the submersible structure is killed by one of the sharks. Now all of the sharks aim to escape their cages and return to the open sea. Trapped at sea and under water, a group of scientists must work together to make it to the surface and kill the sharks before they escape. This is genre filmmaking at its finest.

It sounds like I’m bashing this B-movie but I’m not. Deep Blue Sea is the second best shark movie every made. (seriously can you think of one other after Jaws that’s any good?) Besides Samuel L., the cast includes Thomas Jane as the main hero who’s doing his best stoic, Steve McQueen impression. Michael Rapaport as the slightly annoying, less handsome or athletic sidekick and LL Cool J as the cook (with a pet bird) who says lines like “Brothers never make it out of situations like this.”

Unlike Jaws where the mechanical shark never worked so you couldn’t see it, this movie was released in 1999. Back then the visual effects looked good. Today not so much. The murky water cannot camouflage the CGI sharks from looking cartoony but as I said earlier, this is a classic B-movie. The bad effects only heighten its status as a so-bad-it’s-good genre film.

Deep Blue Sea entertaining from beginning to end, characters are given funny one-liners and there’s an unexpected death halfway through it. This was Director Renny Harlin’s last great action movie (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) before he fell into the hole of straight-to-DVD mediocrity. If you want to fill 105 minutes one evening I would recommend Deep Blue Sea.

 

Toomb’s New Blu Rays (and DVDs)

//

What’s up Eugene? Human-Cent-i-Pad here, if you’re crashing from the few euphoric post-Osama weeks we’ve had, its been a fun run, but it’s probably time to check out a new Blu Ray. This week we’ve got some interesting picks.

The Mechanic is Jason Statham’s latest action vehicle, which pretty much runs on autopilot for the entire 93 minutes. Statham plays an assassin who takes on his former mentor’s son as a prodigy… while not telling him he killed his father. Ben Foster is one of my favorite actors around today, and he was great in an action role. Donald Sutherland is in there too, although looking older than a skeletal Santa Claus… it made me long for a little Body Snatchers. The Mechanic is rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity.

Next up is The Rite, an Anthony Hopkins/exorcism flick that works despite its sub-genre classification. Colin O’Donoghue plays a college student who just so happens to be getting his education from the seminary. Before he takes off (only joining for the education, not the faith) he gets sent to Italy for a course in exorcism. The cinematography is awesome, the acting is great, and the thrills? Yeah. It’s also rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material, violence, frightening images, and language including sexual references.

We’ve also getting our hands on a 2009 Natalie Portman movie called The Other Woman. I’d never heard of it until today, but I’m going to check it out asap, as I believe I’ve made myself clear about my obsession for Natalie Portman (not that good if she’s got a 3 year old movie I’ve never heard of). She plays a new step-mother who is having… alot of trouble with her new step son. The Other Woman is rated rated R for sexual content and language.

Lastly is the teen thriller The Roommate. Um… yeeaaahhh… College student Sara finds that her new roommate Rebecca has an obsession with her, which quickly turns violent. I’ll watch it on Lifetime someday. The Roommate is rated PG-13 (I think).

Have a great week guys!

Toomb’s New Blu Rays (DVDs too)

//

Hey out there Eugene! It’s that time of the week again. If you’re looking for some great home entertainment, then this week’s slew of new releases has your serious and your funny sides covered… and that Bieber kid too.

No Strings Attached is a romantic comedy starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher. We had a chance to preview this movie and even I thought it was pretty dang funny, until the last act where it completely falls apart, and I mean completely… thus scuttling the entire flick. It’s your typical RomCom where she uses him for sex, he uses the chance to try and make her fall in love… it’s a story we’ve seen in reverse a hundred times. I’m sure not everyone will hate the ending as much as we did, but go ahead, see what happens. No Strings Attached is rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material.

Blue Valentine is another relationship tale, this time much, much more serious. We had a chance to catch this one too and I must say that this is one of the better movies I’ve seen this year. Starring Ryan Goseling and Michelle Williams it tells the story of a modern couple at two points in the relationship: the beginning and the end. Blue Valentine is one of the realest, most daring looks at relationships and their issues I’ve ever seen. Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance, this is an unflinchingly real story, the man knows what he’s writing. I don’t want to tell you anything except see this movie, it’s very, very good. (A note about the rating, the MPAA gave this movie an NC-17 because it depicts a married couple performing an act that married couples perform regularly, and yet that makes it somehow “worse” than the orgy of violence and blood that is Scream 4? I’m willing to bet that a scene involving two consensual adults is waaay more likely to have copycats than a ghostfaced killer… but that’s just a thought) Blue Valentine is rated NC-17 for a scene of explicit sexual content, language, and a beating.

There’s also the family “documentary” movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never which doesn’t deserve any more of my time than this. Enjoy girls!

See you all Friday the 13th!!!

 

 

Toomb’s New Blu Rays (and DVDs) – No Release Day Edition

//

Guess what?! There’s nothing new on Blu Ray or DVD this week, go figure? Well, there is a Criterion Collection Edition Blu Ray of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, along with a few minor releases like Human Planet, a documentary about the human species.

I don’t remember the last time there weren’t any new movies out on Tuesday, and I’ve been dumbstruck with what to give you guys as a replacement. How about a look at one of today’s best options when it comes to home entertainment? (and I was a hard convert, so take it from me when I say)

Netflix rules. It’s a simple sentence, and yet it means so much. As an avid disc-man from way back, I was a tough convert to Netflix, the online/mail-order DVD/Blu Ray service. In fact, back 10 years ago when Reed Hastings, the co-founder of Netflix, flew down to Texas and bravely told John Antioco (CEO of Blockbuster, the former great video chain) that they should work together to bring movies to people over the internet… he was literally laughed out of the office.

Netflix offers an online alternative to movie rental. It combines a giant movie library, a top-notch streaming application, and a “like” algorithm that suggests movies to you based on the ones you’ve watched already. Customers can pay well under $20 a month to get not only disc-rentals sent to your mailbox, but a virtually unlimited number of streaming movies, television shows, documentaries, and more to your home computer, mobile devices, or game consoles.

As a man who spent his entire 20s renting DVDs from Blockbuster Video (I swear when I was in college my roommates and I watched almost every movie in the West 11th store!), I too was a hard-sell on internet-based disc rentals. When Blockbuster offered their paltry Blockbuster Online in 2006, it was a horrible service. It took multiple days to get a movie, you never got the movie you wanted, and half the time it was the wrong disc in the sleeve! The only good thing about Blockbuster Online was you got to trade it in at the store for another free rental. With all of the money I pumped into Blockbuster Video from the year 2000 to 2010, it’s amazing to me that Blockbuster is now on the “chopping block” after filing for bankruptcy and closing half it’s stores.

In fact it was just announced this morning that Blockbuster has won the right to sell the rest of its assets (valued at somewhere around $250 million) to Dish. Dish, owner of the 2nd largest satellite tv network) will take on costs for the leases at over 3,300 video-rental stores across the U.S. while it decides whether to keep them open. A decision that affects somewhere around 29,000 jobs.

And do you know why Blockbuster is going the way of the CD store? Netflix baby. I never would have believed it to be possible, but what’s been called the “most successful online start-up in recent history,” has taken down Goliath. It’s stories like this that give us a EDN a warm feeling inside. David and Goliath is the most appropriate analogy when dealing with anything in our modern, corporate-driven, fast-food culture. Whether you’re talking about video rentals, the music industry, or the gradual decline of cable, the “little” guy taking out the big ‘uns are what we thrive on. It is, after all, the point of this website. To bring news that matters to the public on a local level… without a million dollar budget.

When I say that I watch Netflix everyday, I’m not exaggerating. They have everything from the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, to movies you can’t find anywhere else, to some of the greatest programming on television. While this all seem like mindless promotion, the trick is, I’m not. Go find out for yourself, Netflix has changed the way I watch movies. If you don’t like it, I think you can still find a Blockbuster somewhere…

Toomb’s New Blu Rays (and DVDs) Harry Potter Edition

//

Let’s talk Harry Potter. When author Joanne Rowling was walking to the corner cafe in Edinburgh, carrying her baby daughter in one arm and an old typewriter in the other, she had absolutely no idea the book she was writing (that she’d thought up on a delayed train ride) would one day make her a billionaire. In fact, did you know that Joanne (JK) Rowling is the only person to ever become a billionaire from writing? Her books have set sales records worldwide and her characters are household names, yet she was on government assistance when she started it all.

I have never read the books, however I’ve seen the movies. Harry Potter is Daniel Radcliffe, and unfortunately for Daniel Radcliffe, he will always be Harry Potter. I can think of worse things to be known as for the rest of my life- there’s got to be a royalty clause in his contract somewhere. As long as he doesn’t pick up a nasty heroin habit, I’m sure everything will work out for young Daniel. I’ve literally watched this boy grow up before my eyes, and despite having a unique hatred for the first few movies (ok the first 4, who am I kidding?), The Order of the Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and The Deathly Hallows have all been amazing movies… I know that they would not be as great if there wouldn’t have been four before them. I now appreciate the foundation all of the mythology, back story, and character development have provided. I’ve watched all of these kids grow up, and go through the most astounding things- in the most wonderful world a kid could dream of…. and that’s what it’s all about… even though Rowling has been aiming her books toward an adult audience since about Goblet of Fire (4).

This Tuesday marks the Blu Ray (I’m really not going to cut you DVDers any more slack, it’s 2011 already, adopt!) [haha] release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt1. This is the first part of the series’ finale that started 7 books and 6 movies ago, and as such, is the beginning of the end of an era. HP will go down in history and be remembered forever, possibly even remade one day, it’s that good… if you can get past all the godawful names. Seriously, when Harry Potter is the most normal name in an entire series, you’ve got to re-examine a few things. At certain points it just seems like JK Rowling is just messing with us with all of the “Humble-tee Bumble-tee, Bibbity-Spiffity.” There’s nothing more heroic than watching kids yell “Stupify!” whilst flicking wooden sticks toward each other.

In HP7, Harry, Ron, and Hermione must find the remaining Horcruxes in order to stop evil Lord Voldemort from subjugating the “muggles” as slaves and ruling the world… and before you ask- muggles are us, the non-magical humans. From the beginning of the film, which is quite terrifying as Lord Voldemort is a rather nasty snake (played superbly by Ralph Fiennes), the action never really stops. The race is on as Harry and Co. “apparate” (instantaneous travel) across the beautiful English countryside unraveling the mystery of the Deathly Hallows. This movie rocks. It’s a deeply personal movie for the characters, as friendships are tested and love is found… but isn’t that the core of the series? The importance of love in the face of evil? After all Harry Potter’s parents gave their lives to defeat Voldemort and save Harry when he was a baby… and those of us who can predict the ending know that ultimate sacrifice and that love is the key to defeating evil.

H arry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt1 is simply gorgeous in High Definition. The movie is as dark as can be (literally and figuratively), and wh ile often thought of as kids movies, they have not been in quite some time. The last one ended with the nice-guy wizard getting tossed off the tower for pity’s sake! The transfer on Blu Ray is immaculate and the sound mix is amazing. Do yourself a favor and pick this movie up and I’ll see you at the theater in July when the last one drops.