H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng


Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng







Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer, 2007)

Paramount (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Paramount (USA)
2.35:1 1080p
115 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 French
Subtitles: Optional English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Extras: audio commentary by director Craig Brewer; “Conflicted:
The Making of Black Snake Moan”; “Rooted in the Blues”;
“The Black Snake Moan”; trailer
Released: 26 June 2007
HD-DVD case
16 chapters

Film: Like its predecessor, the Sundance hype-magnet Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer’s new film, Black Snake Moan, comes cloaked in lurid, pulpy atmospherics. His characters — pimps, prostitutes, nymphomaniacs — seem to have crawled off the drugstore paperback racks of the 1950s or the grind house lobby posters of a slightly later era. His stories are slick with the grease of old-style exploitation, promising the sleazy, easy pleasures of lust, wrath and other deadly sins.

Don’t be fooled though. Underneath the surface of racial and sexual button pushing, behind the brandished guns and bared breasts, is a heart of pure, buttery cornpone. Like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan joins a dubious stereotype of black manhood to an uplifting, sentimental fable.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer’s first feature, had a very small budget and understandably looked rather rough and gritty. This time around, the subject material is still rough and gritty, but Brewer had the advantage of dealing with studio-grade materials. This movie is not even a year old, and it shows. The picture does not have any blemishes, and it boasts very vivid colors. This disc probably has the best video of any HD-DVD that I’ve seen so far.

The movie’s wall-to-wall music gives the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track a lot of oomph. Though most of the key sonic action is in the front half of the room, the surrounds are very active.

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 French dub. Optional English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles support the audio.

Director Craig Brewer contributed an audio commentary in which he explains the movie’s origins as well as addresses some of the controversy surrounding the subject matter.

Conflicted: The Making of Black Snake Moan” is a run-of-the-mill promotional featurette. “Rooted in the Blues” and “The Black Snake Moan” explain the sources of the movie’s music. The experience continues with five deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and the theatrical trailer in high-definition.

An insert advertises other Paramount HD-DVDs.


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