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

 

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Liar Liar HD-DVD

(Tom Shadyac, 1997)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
87 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: audio commentary by director Tom Shadyac; “Bridging the Comedy Chasm”; deleted scene; outtakes; trailer; My Scenes
Released: 12 June 2007
HD-DVD case
16 chapters

As someone who thinks that The Truman Show handles its premise without a shred of credibility (the nature of the marital relationship between Jim Carrey and Laura Linney alone doesn’t hold any water), I feel that Liar Liar may be Jim Carrey’s best movie. Unlike his other vehicles, which let him run amok, this one places limitations on him. His character, a lawyer, can’t lie after his son makes a magical birthday wish. Because he’s given boundaries, Carrey’s physical struggles and facial muggings have a reason to exist; he’s not contorting just to get a laugh. Oddly for movie that was made just to solicit mindless laughter, Liar Liar creates a genuine moral situation--what would life be like if we could only tell the truth? This bit of soul-searching gives Carrey’s relationships with his son and ex-wife (a wonderful Maura Tierney) welcome heart.

Video:
The cover artwork indicates that this is an HD-15 instead of Universal’s usual HD-30, though the video quality does not seem to have suffered as a result of Universal using the 15-gig configuration. Liar Liar isn’t a visually complicated production and runs for less than 90 minutes, so it probably didn’t need 30 gigs of breathing room. The 1.85:1 1080p picture has naturalistic colors (save for Jennifer Tilly’s costumes) but is generally undistinguished.

 

Audio:
This is a simple comedy piece, so the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track exhibits to-be-expected sonics--plenty of dialogue from the center channel, a few music zingers in the front mains, and very little surround channel activity. The audio is bright and clear, but there’s nothing special here.

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

Extras:
Tom Shadyac has lots of nice things to say about Jim Carrey and the cast in his audio commentary, but Liar Liar isn’t an innovative movie. Therefore, your mileage from listening to this yak track will depend on how much (or how little) you know about moviemaking in general.


Bridging the Comedy Chasm” is a brief promotional featurette. You also get a deleted scene, outtakes, and a theatrical trailer.

Finally, you can bookmark your favorite moments with “My Scenes”.

--Miscellaneous--
An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.

 

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