Monday, April 09, 2007

An Embarrassing Train Journey!

I decided to take advantage of the long, slow train journey to Southampton by taking my laptop so that I could watch a couple of DVDs en route.

First up was This Film Is Not Yet Rated, due in stores tomorrow. This is a documentary on the American equivalent of our board of film censors, and has received very good reviews from the critics. Advertised as being 4:3 ratio it seemed like a good choice for viewing on a laptop rather than on a big widescreen plasma where too much space would be wasted on black side-bars.

The first thing I need to say about it is DO NOT BUY THIS DVD!!!! It's the first one I've purchased in many a year that I am sending back as 'Not fit for purpose'. The wretched thing is actually a widescreen movie presented in 4:3 ratio, which means that when viewed on a widescreen TV you get big thick black bars around all four sides of the picture. This sort of cheap, shoddy release may have been acceptable ten years ago when owners of DVD players were desperate to get hold of anything on DVD, but in this day and age it's inexcusable. What you're getting is a very low resolution copy of the film just because someone at the film company was too lazy to do the transfer properly! And the only way film companies are going to learn that charging close to £15 for this sort of crap is totally unacceptable is by hitting them where it hurts - deluging them with returns and demands for refunds.

However my main reason for mentioning the film now, rather than in a review over on my DVD review blog, is a warning about the opening pre-title sequence. This features a LOT of almost pornographic 'sex' scenes as a lead-in to a discussion of how inconsistent the film board are in terms of what they regard as acceptable vs what they regard as unacceptable. Admittedly the makers have judiciously used big black bars to hide any of the 'naughty bits' of the main actors, but when you're sat on a train next to the parents of a toddler and a young baby you're going to get some very odd looks of disgust when they glance over to your screen and notice what appears to be playing!

It is at such times that PC DVD software will invariably refuse to acknowledge the 'STOP' command or eject the disc. In my case this meant a very red face on my part, as a frozen, extremely indelicate image on the PC refused to budge no matter how many times I stabbed at the Stop and Eject buttons! It was all very embarrassing, and I suppose I should have noticed the '18' certificate on the DVD case BEFORE I started playing it on a train that seemed to be carrying every mother who'd recently given birth in the London area.

When I eventually got over the embarrasment of the frozen screen and managed a reboot that enabled the wretched disc to be removed, I started watching the excellent new digital transfer of The Thing From Another World instead, which was much more fun and, arguably, better than the more famous John Carpenter remake which came out many years later.

As a result of my trip away, and a backlog of work I need to catch up on today, I'm a day behind with my DVD reviews. The promised review of The Devil's Backbone has only just been posted - a day later than intended - but I suspect there will be other days this week where there's nothing new posted on this blog because of the work situation.

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