Saturday, May 06, 2006

Do you have a problem? I do

Sometimes... you do. Case in point, I bought Casshern, a lovely little film I'll give my full attention to sometime later. I bought the Region 3 Hong Kong version in Chinatown a few days ago. And before I had even watched the damned thing I was comparing the various editions around the world to decide which version was worth upgrading to.

Japanese DVD: Contains 3 DVD's. Packaged in a tripple keepcase. $60

Disk 1: The film (Anamorphic NTSC, DTS, Dolby Digital)
Disk 2: The Making of Casshern, Interviews, Trailers/TV Spots
Disk 3: Deleted Scenes, Art Gallery, Photo Gallery, Image of Casshern (whatever that is)

UK DVD: Contains 2 DVD's. Packaged in a metal "Steel Pack". $35

Disk 1: The film (Anamorphic PAL, Dolby Digital)*
Disk 2: Deleted Scenes, 'Extra Footage', Interviews, Trailers
(*The transfer is NTSC-PAL. In plain english instead of making a new progressive PAL video they did a conversion which means lots of softness, ghosting and jerkiness, even on a PAL TV which I don't have. No thanks.)

Korean DVD: Contains 3 DVD's. Packaged in who knows what. $20

Disk 1: The film (Anamorphic NTSC, DTS, Dolby Digital)
Disk 2: The Making of Casshern, Interviews, Trailers/TV Spots
Disk 3: Deleted Scenes, Art Gallery, Photo Gallery, Image of Casshern (whatever that is)
(Yes. It's basically the Japanese DVD with Korean subtitles on the extras. Huh. Real friggin' hard choice between those two editions, isn't it?)

I haven't even brought up the Taiwanese release, since the Korean version kicks it's ass to the curb, even if I like it's cover art. So, with these three tantalizing Special Editions at my disposal I could easily upgrade form my Hong Kong version, which although it has a DTS track and comes in a sexy silver slip-case only has a photo gallery and star filmographies as an extra, right?

Here's the problem: I already own the movie. The Region 3 (Hong Kong) DVD looks and sounds great. I'd like more extras, and I'm a filthy slut for cool special edition packages. Andreas Bethmaan and his Hardbox packages be damned. But seriously, I either spend a fortune on a Japanese import which has hours of interviews and NO SUBTITLES, or I buy a semi-extrified version with an awesome box but with a video and sound that's not half as good as the one I got for cheap. Or get the cheap Korean clone of the former. Now with my stilted knowledge of the Japanese language, the raw extras would do me... a little bit of good anyway, but the UK version? That's strictly to show off the oh so cool box and feel like I've got options in how I watch my beloved films.

This isn't about extras. This isn't about ultimate editon packages. This isn't even about Casshern. This is about me being a consumer whore who has to have every aspect of a film imaginable and see the titles I like a few times over on my shelf. Sure, extras are nice. Certainly, some movies should be bought again if a notably better edition surfaces. But don't we watch these films because we like the films themselves? Not to show off our 50" wide and 7 speaker ready AV setups or to learn exactly what some 22 year old actor thinks of his badly written character? Was it so long ago that we bought pan-scan VHS tapes because we just wanted to see the film we loved in the theatre or on TV so much again?

Yes. But that's still not acknowledging the fact that I have a problem. I've yet to give handjobs in the streets for special edition DVD's, but I swear to God it's just a matter of time.

I don't want to be a whore. Not that being a whore is a bad thing, per se. But as it stands I spent $15 on the film once. That was really enough, extras or no. To buy it again is just a sickness, a demented illusion I wrap myself in to fill the voids in my life with stuff I like. Everybody does it to some degree. It's not a horrible thing. I just can't friggin' afford to. I really should be buying new, never before seen by myself films instead of the same movie over and over again in the hopes that I'll have it forever and never need to hear about extras I can't have or a slightly better transfer or bad 5.1 upmix that might not suck quite as hard.

I'm actually waiting for the day when the films that I buy, not the usual Hollywood hits but anime, horror and cult movies, will be released in High Definition, via either HD-DVD or BLU-RAY (or both with the stupid format war going on). Less so that I can show off the films at 1920x1080, and more because once I've bought it in HD I can finally give the hell up. So what if a slightly less cropped edition comes out in France 6 months later? Short of it looking a hundred times better we should all be pretty happy with whatever the HD-DVD and BLU-RAY transfers give us. With 6 times the resolution of a DVD, uncompressed audio and the extras stored at comparitively miniscule sizes, surely an HD/BD will have to look perfect... right?

People also told us that MP3's sounded as good as CD's. People also told us that DVD's were perfect. People told us if you upconvert a standard definition signal to HD resolution it'll look just as good as a real HD signal. And this is all a load of crap. We'll have extra-less High Definiton releases and decked out Special Editions later on. We'll probably even have "Megabit" releases which use less compression than the first HD release. And yes, some movies will have a dozen releases around the world, one with a cooler transfer, one with more extras, and one with a neat tin package.

I should just stop buying DVD's all together and start upgrading the damned HD formats. I still have this problem, and chances are I will until I can buy 35mm prints. But at least this way I'm cutting out the DVD middle man for a while. If I could just afford the HD players, TV's and recievers...

Ha. And crack heads think their hobby is expensive.

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