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












Sea of Love HD-DVD

(Harold Becker, 1989)


Universal (USA)

1.85:1 1080p

117 minutes

Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 2.0 French

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French

Extras: audio commentary by director Harold Becker; “The Creation of Sea of Love”; deleted scenes; theatrical trailer; My Scenes

Released: 31 July 2007

HD-DVD case

16 chapters


The Film:

Before Basic Instinct, there was Sea of Love.  The basics are all there--a strung-out cop, an icy blonde, steamy eroticism, and a serial killer.  I’m surprised that the people who made Sea of Love didn’t sue the makers of Basic Instinct.  Made at the end of the 1980s, Sea of Love is not as graphic as Basic Instinct, but what the movie lacks in outright flesh-baring it compensates with excellent performances from Al Pacino, Ellen Barkin, and John Goodman.




The 1.85:1 1080p image is faded and simply looks “tired”.  The movie has a grainy fašade, though this is probably both intentional and inescapable given the production’s time frame.  On the plus side, dark colors are fairly strong, and the reds that Ellen Barkin wears are never excessively bloomy.



The primary DD Plus 5.1 English track is flat and undistinguished.  Although the music score spreads to the front mains, the front center speaker is usually the only active channel.


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



Director Harold Becker contributed a low-key, so-so audio commentary.  Mostly, he reminisces about how some scenes were shot and provides a few anecdotes about what happened during production.


“The Creation of Sea of Love” is a retrospective featurette that lacks much substance.  There are also some deleted scenes and the movie’s theatrical trailer.



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


An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.








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