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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Midnight Run (Martin Brest, 1988)

Universal (USA)
Review by Yunda Eddie Feng

Universal (USA)
1.85:1 1080p
127 minutes
Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 2.0 stereo French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French
Extras: The Making of Midnight Run; trailer; My Scenes
Released: 29 May 2007
HD-DVD case
20 chapters

Vincent Canby, The New York Times

Midnight Run wastes more talent and money than most movies ever hope to see. The surprise is that there is still plenty of both left on the screen. The movie was directed by Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop and its sequel) and written by George Gallo. They must be the luckiest manufacturers of sows’ ears in Hollywood.

Midnight Run...isn’t exactly a silk purse, but it contains two performances that are pure gold.
Like most fine actors, Mr. De Niro has never given a good performance that wasn’t in some way illuminated by humor, which is not to be confused with laughs. Sometimes it is apparent in what appears to be the self-awareness of the character, as in Raging Bull and The Untouchables. Sometimes it can be seen in the actor’s awareness of - and comment on - the character, as in Taxi Driver and King of Comedy.

The fact that humor has always been an aspect of Mr. De Niro’s intelligence as an actor should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers him in Brian De Palma’s Greetings and Hi, Mom, two sublimely funny underground artifacts of the late 1960s. Now, with Midnight Run, he has the opportunity to be blatantly funny in a big, expensive, groaningly elaborate Hollywood formula comedy.


Video:
On HD-DVD, Midnight Run looks its age even though it was released four years after The River. This is due in part to the dark lighting scheme favored by the moviemakers and due in part to the costumes. Nevertheless, this is an excellent transfer of a surprisingly clean print. There are a few specks here and there, but they are not as noticeable as with The River or with Lost in Translation.

 


Audio:
The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 English track is rather front-heavy. I’m guessing that the movie’s original mix was either in mono or in stereo. Dialogue and lively music are reproduced well, though bass response is better with music than it is with the Foley effects for gunfire.

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 2.0 stereo French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

Extras:
The HD-DVD has “The Making of Midnight Run” that was created around the time of the movie’s release and a theatrical trailer.

 

The “My Scenes” feature allows you to bookmark your favorite scenes.

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

 

 

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