Getting More Immersed with Indiewire

  The Penske Media purchase of Indiewire has resulted in an expansion of my role as crafts and awards season contributor.  Beginning this week, I begin Emmy coverage of below-the-line contenders along with my usual Oscar season crafts reporting, working closely

Immersed in Blu-ray: Hitchcock and Bogart

The WB Archive Collection gets Hitch and Bogie on Blu-ray and they've never looked better for home viewing. In Kent Jones' indispensable doc, Hitchcock/Truffaut, he reminds us that Truffaut was on a mission to correct misconceptions about Hitch as a lightweight

Immersed in Books: Farber on Film

For the first time, the complete writings of film critic Manny Farber is available from Library of America, edited by Robert Polito (Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson). Manny Farber (1917-2008) was the first modernist film critic to write like a modernist.


Immersed in Blu-ray: ¡Alambrista!

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Trailers | Leave a comment

I had the privilege of having dinner recently with director Bob Young and his two talented sons, Nick and Zack, who restored and expanded their father’s William Kurelek’s The Maze. Young reminisced about ¡Alambrista!, his landmark 1977 indie about undocumented migrant workers (his first foray into fiction), which is now available on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. Read more

Immersed in Blu-ray: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Books, Cinematography, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Production Design, Tech, Trailers, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows came out this week on Blu-ray (Warner Home Video), and guess what? It’s better than the first film. Read more

Immersed in Blu-Ray: John Carter

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Blu-ray, Books, Clips, Movies, performance capture, previs, Production Design, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production | Leave a comment

The notorious John Carter gets a new lease on life on Blu-ray and DVD (Walt Disney Home Ent.). Andrew Stanton took a big financial and creative risk, but I, for one, took the leap of faith with him. Read more

E.T. Coming to Blu-ray in October

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Home Entertainment, Movies, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment












Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial debuts on Blu-ray in October from Universal Home Ent., digitally remastered with brand new 7.1 surround sound in honor of its 30th anniversary. As Spielberg promised, it’s the original 1982 theatrical cut, which means the guns are back and gone is the CG version of the beloved character designed by Carlo Rambaldi. Read more

Immersed in Blu-ray: Arrietty

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Animation, Blu-ray, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Trailers | Leave a comment


Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty (with the English dub directed by Pixar’s Gary Rydstrom) arrived on Blu-ray/DVD from Disney Home Ent. Read more

Bond 50 Blu-ray Set for Sept. 25

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Home Entertainment, James Bond, Movies, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

MGM and Fox announced the Sept. 25th release of the Bond 50 Blu-ray set was (featuring nine new 007 titles to the HD format: You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, GoldenEye, and Tomorrow Never Dies). Read more

Immersed in Blu-ray: Lean Directs Coward

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Blu-ray, Cinematography, Movies, Tech | Leave a comment

Criterion’s indispensable new David Lean Directs Noel Coward Blu-ray box set allows us to revisit their great wartime collaboration in HD: In Which We Serve, This Happy Breed, Blithe Spirit, and Brief Encounter. What a revelation!

First of all, the BFI National Archive’s restorations (in association with ITV Global Studios Ent. and StudioCanal) return their visual luster in both black and white and Technicolor, allowing us to experience these very precious and intimate movies in all their glory. The cinematography of Ronald Neame and Robert Krasker (Brief Encounter) can now be better enjoyed and appreciated.

But more than that, the combination of Lean and Coward captures the anxieties and fears, hopes and regrets of Britain in the ’40s in a very different way than, say, Powell and Pressburger. Understandably, there is a restless sense of urgency and individual expression at odds with the need for family and stability — a fascinating tug of war. Lean was learning the craft of direction; Coward was at the top of his game as a writer and actor. There is something very noble and timeless about these four movies.

Immersed in Blu-ray: War Horse

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Clips, Home Entertainment, Movies, Oscar, Tech, VFX | Leave a comment

Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is now on Blu-ray (Disney Home Ent.), where it absolutely shines in HD for its old-fashioned virtues, combining elements of John Ford with Gone with the Wind and Paths of Glory. Spielberg’s joyous experience making The Adventures of Tintin seems to have carried over to this love story about a boy and his horse in the trenches of World War I.

“The reason I made the movie, beyond the fact that the play moved me so deeply when I saw it in the West End of London, was that here we have an animal that brings human beings together,” Spielberg told me last year,  “at least in a détente of sorts, and the idea that an animal has the power to be able to bring these two warring sides together for a brief respite. And I also felt that it was very, very important to show the lengths to which a young man will travel in order to retrieve an animal that has meant so much to him and his family, that has basically saved the lives of his family by saving their farm, and that there had to be a happy conclusion.”

War Horse even brought out a warm, sentimental side to cinematographer Janusz Kaminski. His imagery has never been so elegiac, as in the early Quiet Man-like moments. Even the détente-like moment with the barbed wire in “No Man’s Land” is memorable for its transcendent humanity.

War Horse was also the latest in a personal journey for production designer Rick Carter, who’s made a series of war-themed films since 9/11 (mostly with Spielberg).  He calls it “the nature of conscience and the Goya-esque disasters of war.” According to Carter, “some of them are light and have a joyous, wish-fulfillment to them. But there’s also a darkness that has to be overcome and so [Spielberg's] touching quite a wide range of movies, and, as I get older, I admire that.”

Their latest journey into the nature of conscience is Lincoln. I can’t wait to delve into how they built a movie around the extraordinary Daniel Day Lewis.

Jaws Goes Blu Aug. 14

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Clips, Editing, Home Entertainment, Movies, Music, Oscar, Tech, Trailers | Leave a comment

Jaws makes its long-awaited Blu-ray debut Aug. 14 from Universal Home part of the studio’s 100th anniversary celebration, boasting full digital restoration and 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio. Steven Spielberg’s first commercial mega-hit ushered in the summer blockbuster, grabbing more than $470 million globally and earning three Academy Awards for editing, sound, and score.

Jaws is one of 13 classic Universal films to be digitally remastered and fully restored from 35mm original film elements for the studio’s centenary. Throughout the course of several months, skilled technicians at Universal Studios Digital Services meticulously balanced color, removed dirt and scratches, and repaired any damage to the film elements shot by shot and frame by frame. Following the picture restoration, Universal Studios Sound team up-mixed the iconic soundtrack from John Williams to 7.1 DTS-HD Master audio. The entire restoration process was conducted in conjunction with Spielberg and Amblin Ent.’s post-production team to ensure the integrity of the director’s original vision remained intact.

Blu-ray Bonus Features:

  • The Shark is Still Working: The Impact & Legacy of Jaws: All-new feature-length documentary featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with cast and crew including Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, and Roy Scheider.
  • Jaws: The Restoration: An all-new, in-depth look at the intricate process of restoring the movie.
  • The Making of Jaws: A two-hour documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.
  • From the Set: An insider’s look at life on the set of Jaws, featuring an interview with Steven Spielberg.
  • Deleted Scenes & Outtakes
  • Jaws Archives: Take a peek inside the Jaws archives, including storyboards, production photos and marketing materials, as well as a special segment on the Jaws phenomenon.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • UltraViolet: The new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and download and stream instantly to computers, tablets and smartphones. Currently available in the United States only.
  • Digital Copy: Viewers can redeem a digital version of the full-length movie from a choice of retail partners to watch on an array of electronic and portable devices.
  • pocket BLU App: The popular free pocket BLU app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad, Android(TM) tablets, PC, and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of the devices’ larger screens and high resolution displays.
  • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray player. Users can navigate through menus, playback, and BD-Live functions with ease.
  • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
  • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
  • Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
  • Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
  • BD-LIVE: Access the BD-Live Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content, and more!

DVD Bonus Features:

  • Spotlight on Location: The Making of Jaws: Highlights from the full-length documentary featuring interviews with key cast and crew.

Immersed in Blu-ray: A Night to Remember

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Festivals, Home Entertainment, Movies, Tech, Trailers | 1 Comment

Before James Cameron’s monumental Titanic (released theatrically this week in a costly and painstaking 3-D conversion), there was Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember (1958), which is currently out on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. Elegant, restrained, and gripping come to mind, and for many this remains the key movie to watch about the Titanic disaster. (Next Saturday, of course, marks the 100th anniversary and the TCM Classic Film Fest has the U.S. premiere of the restoration at the Chinese at 9:30 pm.) Scripted wonderfully by Eric Ambler, A Night to Remember (starring Kenneth More and featuring Honor Blackman and a very young David McCallum) is a study in “nobility under pressure,” as film critic Michael Sragow reminds us in his enlightening Criterion notes.

Geoffrey Unsworth’s black and white cinematography is sumptuous once again, thanks to the ITV Studios Global Ent. restoration (carried out at the Perivale Archive). Deluxe 142 partnered on the digital picture restoration, scanning the original 35 mm camera negative on an ARRI Laser Scanner at 2K resolution.

“On A Night to Remember, … there are two important features — both associated with the film’s maritime location – which needed to be taken into consideration, explains Deluxe 142′s David Collard. “First, dancing highlights on water meant that you couldn’t automate restoration on these sections of the film because the highlights might be identified as dust and removed. Second, use of the automated stabilization tools would be an issue on sections of the film featuring lifeboats because they would attempt to correct the natural rolling of the boats. Image Systems’ Relativity and Clarity were used to soften the grain build up, which you inevitably get when you go from first to third generation film stock.”

According to Fiona Maxwell, restoration project advisor, “Another challenge was to put the film back to its original full length, as there was a scene which was originally removed for the release. This was the scene where Kenneth More helps a survivor holding a baby out of the water. He checks to see if the baby is breathing but, sadly, the child is already dead. The shot of a child being lowered into the water by Kenneth More was absent from the original release negative.”

Trevor Brown, the colorist at Deluxe 142, explained: “ Due to the censor cut we had to reinsert the missing shot and to cover the nasty join on the cut negatives. We inserted a fade down and up in DI. We had to do a little bit of an edit on this because of some negative damage but it’s in the original film.”