Thursday, August 14, 2008

A vast me be pirates

Movie Piracy reportedly costs studios hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Apparently it is more popular than ever; with more than one in five U.S citizens having a pirated movie on their computer (So says Solutions Research Group). Why do the studios suppose this is? Now lets be honest, there is piracy and there is piracy. Downloading a popular movie that has been around for years on DVD vs Recording a Theatrical Release and flogging it at the markets for $10 a pop. Apparently both of those are just as illegal?!! Go figure. For the purposes of this little argument I will choose a middle of the road "pirate". Lets say that this one legged, eye patch wearing no good deeder has just downloaded a copy of The Bank Job for their own personal viewing pleasure. I am using The Bank Job, because here in Australia this film has only just started playing theatrically, yet it has been available on DVD in the United Kingdom since the 30th of June and is available in the U.S on DVD and has been since the 15th of July. Well, it is now August and on the 7th, Australian audiences got to go to their nearest cinema and pay $14.50 to see The Bank Job. Heres something interesting for you...the current exchange rate between the U.S and Australia is nearly dollar for dollar...Amazon has The Bank Job listed for $14.99, so for 50cents more than the cost of seeing the movie at the cinema, I could own it on DVD day and date with its Australian Theatrical release. Ah but those pesky studios don't want that sort of thing happening and thus Region Coding on DVD was invented (although I should point out here that Australia turns a blind eye to Region Coding as it is seen as a violation of the consumers rights and so it IS!) Of course being available on DVD in other countries also means that there are DVD quality rips floating around on P2P networks. The average rip being 700mbish would take a consumer on 512K broadband just over an hour to lets recap...studios complain about losing profits from pirates and yet expect consumers to pay the same price as owning the title to see it in theatres almost a year after its first international theatrical date??!! Knowing full well that it will be available for download having released a domestic version on DVD. There are 2 countries in which the studios seem to have some idea about how stupid this kind of thing is. Russia & China. Both of these countries get what the "industry" is calling R5 releases. These are unmastered studio produced telecine transfers on DVD that you can buy for a few dollars. They usually contain dialog only for the country of origin (so Russian & Chinese only). The idea behind them is to combat pirated copies of movies by releasing these cheaper versions to market before the so called "official" release. (They are usually released when screeners become available).

Now at the end of the day the I am aware that the studios spend millions of dollars on movies and that they have every right to release them how they want, but they are also solely responsible for creating the demand for movies before release dates simply by having such staggered release schedules. I also can't believe the amount of money they spend to advertise piracy! If I spend $30 on a DVD I expect to be able to watch the film whenever and however and on whatever I like. I do not wish to be forced to sit through anti-piracy adds which frankly I find offensive being placed on a title for which I have just paid good money!!!

My suggestion would be that the sooner the studios stop blaming "Pirates" and start blaming themselves for creating this "bootleg" market, the sooner they can make more money off the demand for these films, be it closer regional theatrical release dates, faster Theatrical to Home market releasing, digital downloads, the end of the day the studios have the power to stop piracy dead in its tracks...they always have... stop looking to find someone else to blame and just accept your responsibility!

** side note: I do not condone piracy. I have a bought and paid for collection of over 700 DVD's and I am currently building up my Blu Ray Collection. The subject of piracy angers me given how much power the studios have and how little of it they put to the actual prevention of piracy. Most of their attempts to thwart piracy actually hurt the very individual who would never consider piracy simply by forcing them to sit through ads, or register inferior digital download copies with awful and completely unnecessary digital rights restrictions.**

Monday, August 11, 2008

I wanna know about these strangers...

There are so many movies about pointless and indiscriminate violence that claim to be based on true stories that you could create a new genre just for them. The Strangers offers nothing new, it simply wanders from horror movie cliche to cliche.."you stay here, I'm going to the barn because there is an old radio there". Every action of the lead characters distracts you simply by how stupid they are. This kind of scary has been done to death, no pun previous post for more insight.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The horror....the horror

Violence in movies is not new. I am a huge fan of horror films, I own plenty of them and I throughly enjoy them. I have however noticed a trend occurring in Hollywood that is starting to repulse me and leave me questioning where the horror film industry is going. I am talking about the so called GorePorn. The likes of Hostel, Wolf Creek, Chaos and the new Uwe Boll movie Seed.

What is the purpose of these movies?

When I saw Hostel at the cinema I was disgusted, you may claim that this was the intent of the director, and you would be somewhat correct in that assumption. This movie takes gore to a whole new level and not one I feel it should be proud of, Eli Roth explains " I wanted to make a Takashi Miike-style horror film, like 'Audition.'" Well, I own Audition, it is a very uncomfortable film to watch, but it has style and merit and a very clear purpose (this is despite Miike vehemently denying that Audition is meant as social criticism. He denies the existence of any kind of artistic pretense in any of his films) The fact that the movie can be interpreted as a social
criticism in itself gives the movie merit. Hostel has no other value than to state quite clearly that it is a horror film purely created to be as disgusting as possible.

I also had the misfortune of sitting through Wolf Creek at the cinema. I am Australian, This film is Australian, it also claims to be based on "Real Events". Well, the events in question are the Ivan Milat Backpacker Murders. To claim the film is based on these events does a diservice to
all of the families and victims of those murdered by Milat, not least because the moniker is there to create further "buzz". I have never walked out of a movie, but this is one film where I constantly wish I had. Wolf Creek has no purpose, the images on screen are disgusting and have no merit to them whatsoever. They are unjustified and simply potrayed because the director can. Wolf Creek is a celebration of pain and cruelty and one that should be avoided.

What happened to the days of intelligent horror films, movies with purpose? I appreciate graphic violence and so called exploitation films, many of them are great. Last House on the Left is a movie that changed me forever. It was a sick, violent and agonizing film to watch, but it was so well crafted and keeps you under unbearable tension for its entire duration. The film was banned in many country's and received cuts in all, but the difference between this film and the current round of so called exploitation films is the non-glorification of violence. Not one scene in Last House of the Left could be considered titillating or thrilling. This is evil plain and simple and it is a demonstration of the violence that people are willing to inflict on one another. Last House on the Left has a purpose, it shows humanity being stripped away; first the humanity of the murderers for the violence inflicted on the girls, then of the parents who seek revenge for it. This gives context and a "why" factor to the violence we are being shown.

Movies like Hostel and Wolf Creek do not share this view, they simply aim for violent thrills and gore without justification or provocation. The amount of money that gets spent (read wasted) on films like this could be better spent helping the countless victims of violent crime that will eventuate thanks to the glorification of violence that these films represent....of course whether or not violence in the cinema affects violence in society is an entirely different argument.

What's My Name Again?

I thought today I would talk a little about my screen name and why I have chosen the name I have for my blog.

Anamnesis - A recalling to memory; recollection. (The remembrance of things past)

Quite a few years ago I was watching a show called "Millennium" on TV. It was one of a handful of shows that I would go out of my way to see. Way ahead of its time and unlike anything aired prior. During the second season an episode aired that did not feature the main character. Not only was this unusual, but to my surprise it ended up being one of my favourite episodes. It was titled Anamnesis. I won't go over the plot line in detail suffice to say that it was about recalling something from the past (or having the past thrust upon you) Two or so years later, I had forgotten about Millennium (the show having been canceled to my dismay) and I suddenly found myself caught up in a Japanese Anime turmoil. I had never much cared for anime, except maybe the odd Astroboy cartoon, but I received a promotional disc containing 6 various first episodes of some new anime series. With a few hours to spare, I placed the disc in my player and gave it a spin. The first series was called Full Metal Panic, and I did not care for it one bit....almost to the point of turning it off. I did not however, and the next series would change my view of anime forever. Not to mention put a massive dent into my savings account.

The series in question was called Noir. It starts with a character being invited to take a journey into her past and turns into a journey of incredible power, emotion and thought. I bought the entire series the day after watching this episode. I watched the whole thing in less than a week. I was amazed. How could something animated have such a profound effect on me. This was like nothing I had experienced before and I wanted more...I quickly turned to other Anime series...Haibane Renmei, Madlax, Kiddy Grade, Tsukuyomi Moon lust for these was unquenchable. Then an interesting thing occurred to me. All of these series had a common thread...all had to do with people who could not remember their pasts or where running from it.

I couldn't believe it. I had somehow latched onto this theme without even realizing it. I started to look at other things in my collection and found the theme ran deep. How could I not have seen this?

I followed the theme right back to what I can only percieve as the original source...Anamnesis. This episode of Millennium. I am not sure how or why, but this episode appears to have steered my mind to look at things with respect to my past or seek out comfort in products, shows and others for whom the past is elusive or something to be remembered. I don't pretend that it is some amazing event, I am not religious so I don't read any "life Affirming" meaning. It is just something I noticed and decided to embrace about myself. It still amazes me to discover things I did not know about myself, that obviously my subconcious is controlling my choices and directing my actions I wonder what else I don't know??

Thursday, August 7, 2008

To Read, Or Not to Read?

So I love movies, a lot of people say that. I am open to almost any kind of film, but I mainly concern myself with watching so called "foreign" or "arthouse" movies. I have (what I feel) is quite an extensive range of aim was to get a collection that the average person would look at and maybe recognize only a handful of titles. This appears to have worked. What I suddenly became aware of though, was a complete disinterest from people who do not like to read subtitles. Trying to introduce friends to movies that are completely original and (in my opinion) compulsory viewing for so called "movie-buffs" only to be met with "If I wanted to read I would read a book" as an opposition to watching a subtitled film. Or, worse yet, they inquire about an English dub. I am not sure where this negativity comes from. Some of the best cinema ever laid on celluloid comes from countries for whom English is not a compulsory language. This is evident by the current trend in Hollywood to remake such films. Interestingly few of these remakes do justice to their original source and those that do gain acclaim (such as The Departed, originally Infernal Affairs) only help to emphasize how good the original is, but that is another post.... Dubbing of movies has occurred for years, the advent of DVD into the home has allowed for multiple tracks of audio goodness for many a viewer. I don't understand dubbing! The performance of a voice artist laid over that of the original actors very rarely maintains the original inflection or intent. I was unfortunate enough to see the dubbed version of House of Flying Daggers, when watching the subtitles over the dub...whole sentences of dialog get tossed aside because they don't fit the lip sync and this is aside from the fact that correct formation of sentences is thrown to the side simply to maintain this lip syncing. In short, it is not the same film. If you have watched a dubbed movie, you have not seen (or rather heard) the original artists intent. In some cases you may not even be getting the whole story! I feel it is such a shame to see so many great films go unrecognized by mainstream cinema goers, and then to have a remake of such films get critical acclaim for originality only makes me feel more depressed. I liked The Departed, it was a brilliantly crafted film, but it was not original. Sure it wasn't a shot for shot remake, but Infernal Affairs was a masterpiece by comparison and yet for the most part I would wager most cinema audiences would never have heard of it....let alone taken the time to read it.

Well I have quite a number of pet peeves regarding motion pictures and the way they are perceived or viewed. I will be sharing some of these thoughts as they come about.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Across the Universe

Amongst the stars we are few, and insignificant. Our so called bold attempts to traverse space and discover new planets and lifeforms only highlights our weakness and complete lack of knowledge of whats out there....

This is not what my blog is about, but with Mars currently undergoing Human scrutiny I thought I would voice an opinion...

so what will my blog be about? Honestly I have no idea, I will sit here and write what comes into my head. I do not expect that anyone will be reading it, but thats okay, I am writing for no other reason than I have nothing better to do.

So anyway, today I had one of those days you just know was going to be bad from the second you opened your eyes. I'm sure you know the ones. That immediate sense that something just isn't right. Later in the day the phrase "I should never have gotten out of bed" gets uttered...alas it is almost over and another day will inevitably dawn. The highlight was my purchase of Juno on Blu ray, but then finding the time to watch it will no doubt mean it will remain sealed in the collection for awhile to come yet....

anyways......lets see where the drifting takes me