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







Breach HD-DVD/SD-DVD combo

(Billy Ray, 2007)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
111 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD 5.1 Plus French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: U Control Picture-in-Picture; audio commentary by
writer/director Billy Ray and Eric O’Neill; eight deleted
scenes; two alternate scenes; Breaching the Truth; Anatomy
of a Character; “The Mole” from NBC’s Dateline;
My Scenes
Released: 12 June 2007
HD-DVD case
20 chapters

The Film: In the spring of 2002, an assistant director at the F.B.I. explained Mr. Hanssen’s success as a spy this way: “Succinctly put, security, other than physical security, was not inculcated into the culture as a priority that must be practiced, observed and improved upon every day.” No kidding. For many of the 25 years he worked at the F.B.I., he covertly thrived in that culture, like a stealth malignancy. On the February 2001 morning of his arrest, he attended Mass at a Roman Catholic church where the services were in Latin and many in the congregation belonged to Opus Dei. Later that day, he dropped a garbage bag stuffed with intelligence secrets in a Virginia park not far from his home.

One of the strengths of Breach, a thriller that manages to excite and unnerve despite our knowing the ending, is how well it captures the utter banality of this man and his world. Unlike Kim Philby, an aristocratic figure who swanned across the world while passing classified British and American information to the Soviets, Mr. Hanssen, played by the stellar Chris Cooper, comes across as a middle manager type, a drone in a suit. The real double agent practiced his tradecraft in Washington and New York, not Cairo and Istanbul, and delivered the goods — more than 6,000 pages — in garbage bags secured with tape. With his weekend casuals and Ford Taurus, he might have been just another suburban dad bagging leaves.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis review at The New York Times located HERE


Theatrical Release: 16 February 2007

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

The 1.85:1 1080p image is mostly dark due to the wintry D.C. settings. The grain in the film stock is very noticeable now compared to the SD-DVD (reviewed HERE), though with the SD-DVD, the grain looks more like video noise rather than actual film grain. The HD-DVD picture is much, much sharper and more detailed than the SD-DVD(s).


The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track is clean and fairly robust. Though not an action movie, gunfire can be startling.

You can watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio. (For Spanish subtitles, you have to watch the SD-DVD side.)

On the HD-DVD side, you can watch the movie with the U Control Picture-in-Picture feature. Here, U Control is a mix of video footage of director Billy Ray and Eric O’Neill recording their audio commentary and behind-the-scenes footage of the production.

If two layers of moving images is not your cup of tea, then you can listen to the audio commentary without the video fuss of U Control. Since Breach is based on O’Neill’s real-life events, he provides valuable insights into what the movie got right and the perils that he faced that were far more dangerous than what any movie could ever suggest.

Next up are eight deleted scenes and two alternate scenes. You can watch them with optional commentary by Billy Ray and editor Jeffrey Ford.

Breaching the Truth” is a promotional making-of featurette.

Anatomy of a Character” is a profile of Chris Cooper’s portrayal of Robert Hanssen.

The Mole” is a TV report about Robert Hanssen shown on NBC’s Dateline program back in 2001.

Finally, you can create your own bookmarks with My Scenes.

The SD-DVD side comes from the exact same authoring as the widescreen SD-DVD-only release. Therefore, it has the same extras as the HD-DVD side except for U Control Picture-in-Picture. (Upon loading, the DVD plays promos for other Universal products.)

An insert booklet advertises Universal’s HD-DVDs.



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