Monday, January 09, 2006

Uncork This

Before I took my current post at the weekly entertainment magazine where I work, editing our film critics Bowen and Risa, and before I started (and then abandoned, like a really cute orphan) the comics coverage, I edited the DVD section. I took it over from the one-armed editor back in 2001. (I refer to him as such because it is the easiest way to refer to him. To ignore his one-armed-ness would be like choosing not to describe a person as Asian, even though it's probably one of the first things that would come to mind upon meeting him/her. Yet, I digress.)

Back then, we were still including laserdiscs in our coverage. It was on my watch that we started covering DVDs at all, and on my watch that we stopped covering VHS entirely. So I've got something of a familiarity with the DVD market. I watched it grow up, to a certain degree, watched as it became the revenue stream that Hollywood has leaned upon as the theatrical market start to slide. And now the meteoric growth of DVD has begun to plateau. Hollywood is scared. They must be, because only someone scared would think up something like Wedding Crashers: Uncorked Edition.

Eight and a half minutes of scenes that were rightfully deleted, that add nothing to the overall experience besides length. And this is the sort of thing that's plastered all over the add copy. This is what's supposed to get horny young men to rush out and pop their own corks. Nothing but a tease.

And it'd be okay, I suppose, except that filmmakers like James Cameron and Peter Jackson and Terry Gilliam have shown us the potential of DVD as a way to present alternate versions of films that carry weight in and of themselves. There is an opportunity for cinematic reinvention (provided that one, unlike George Lucas, also take the opportunity for cinematic archiving) unparalled in modern media.

Instead, the studios use it as a last grab for cash, a desperate attempt to squeeze more blood from a technology that they themselves are trying to kill by jumping too fast on the next ride coming down the innovation pike. (Better, more informed writers, like Bill Hunt over at The Digital Bits, can tell you why the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD format wars are threatening to strand consumers.)

And you and I are stuck with crap that just doesn't deliver, like a pizzeria on Christmas.


Ken Lowery said...

I am mildly baffled by DVDs that bring you "unrated" editions that do not allow you the option to play the regular, theatrical release as well... and do not give you the option to buy the theatrical version AT ALL.

For instance, I adore THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, but don't care so much for the added material that, yes, had a reason to hit the cutting room floor. Why the hell can't I just get the movie I saw and that compelled me to buy the DVD in the first place?

marc bernardin said...

I feel the same way: I'm fine with getting a fancy schmancy super-doo-dad long as they give me the plain old theatrical cut at the same time.

Part of my big problem with George Lucas' DVD initiative. Do whatever you want to your movies. I don't care. But just give me the one I remember, the one that I share with millions of other fans, while you're at it.

Don't steal my memories, you heartless bastard!

Jon Abrams said...

Holy Bat-shit, Marc.
Last night I find Adam, and today while reading on HIS blog I find yours too. I'm dropping a note to say hi and to check up on you guys. Long time...
What happened to R.I.S.K.?
Remember, Tropis Idaleum? (sp?)