Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ran (1985) - Akira Kurosawa (25th anniversay print at E-Street Cinemas)

Ran (1985)
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Akira Kurosawa (Screenplay), Hideo Oguni (Screenplay), Masato Ide (Screenplay), William Shakespeare (original "King Lear" play)
Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke RyĆ», Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Hisashi Igawa, Masayuki Yui

Last Wednesday (that would be June 09, 2010) I celebrated my 29th birthday. Now, by "celebrate" I mean that I took the day off work and sat at home and watched crappy movies. I'm hardcore like that. However, later in the evening Shaw Girl and I went over to E-Street Cinemas to see the new 25th anniversary print of Akira Kurosawa's Ran (1985). Personally I think it was very nice of E-Street to show one of my favorite movies on my birthday. Did I forget to mention that Shaw Girl got me an awesome Ran 25th anniversary poster as well? Because she did and she is getting it professionally framed now. How cool is that?

Now when I say that Ran is one of my favorite movies, I mean that I enjoy the movie so much that I have always had a hard time trying to review it without sounding like a rambling lunatic. I had seen Ran on the big screen once before but I was really looking forward to getting a chance to see this restored print. I am happy to be able to tell you that this print was amazing. There were still a few scratches here and there but the movie is 25 years old, you can't expect any film print to be perfect. This is probably the best looking that I have ever seen the movie though. It was simply gorgeous and I loved getting a chance to see it on the big screen again. I was also quite excited about sharing the experience with Shaw Girl. I don't think she loved the movie as much as I do but she enjoyed it... and really, who is going to love this movie as much as me?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Third Man (1949) - Carol Reed - Criterion Blu-ray

The Third Man (1949)
Director: Carol Reed
Writers: Graham Greene, Alexander Korda
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee

Last year I finally broke down and bought a Blu-ray player and I must say that so far I am loving it. There are so many movies that simply look amazing in high definition. One of the things that has surprised me is just how great a lot of older movies can look on Blu-ray. When properly restored, older movies can look just as great in HD as newer movies can. In fact I have seen The Third Man (1949) in a theater and on Blu-ray and I'd say the picture looked better on the Blu-ray. With the restored blu-ray print you don't get any cracks or dirt on the picture like you do with a print that has been making its way through the theaters.

Criterion's The Third Man (1949) Blu-ray is the perfect example of just how great an older film can look on Blu-ray. Carol Reed's extensive use of contrasting light and shadow are perfectly showcased on this Blu-ray. Criterion is known for putting a lot of effort into restoring movie for release and this is no exception.

Since the movie is in black and white there are no colors for the HD picture of work with but all of the contrast between light and shadow in the film is extremely enhanced. Carol Reed has a great understanding of how to use light and shadow to set the mood in a film and the lighting scheme in The Third Man is used to its full advantage. There is a crispness to the contrast between the dark and the light in this film that isn't shown to its full extent when watching in standard definition.