It Comes Down to a Simple Choice

Bienvenue a l'enfer!Either I relay my shock and horror at receiving a two-disc Blu-ray edition of “Celine Dion: Live in Las Vegas” yesterday — because you can’t really say you’ve heard Celine until you’ve had her screech at you in uncompressed 96kHz/24-bit PCM stereo — or link to the geekiest thing on the intertubes this week.

Well, that was easy.

6 thoughts on “It Comes Down to a Simple Choice”

  1. I used to enjoy when someone took a shot at Celine Deon. Then I read Carl Wilson’s “Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste” and had to reassess why I like anything.

    Now Celine is the nice woman who encouraged Elliot Smith when he played the Oscars and I have to admit that “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” is fun.

    But then, I own this piece of vinyl…

  2. I’m reading Wilson’s book myself, and just got to the Elliot Smith bit — and yeah, I’ll concede that point. Dion can’t possibly be the hideous plastic entertainment monster she comes across as being in her English-language performances.

    On the other hand, “Celine: The Blu-ray Experience” is very nearly the worst thing in the high-def world right now, placing second only to that HDNet show where some creepy bald guy goes around leering at hot chicks on spring break.

  3. Maybe HD disks should come with a low res (VHS?) option to protect our eyes…

    I actually worry about what HD is going to do to existing movies.

    When Criterion issued their update of Seven Samurai last year, I was blown away by how good it looked. Then I noticed how bad some of the bald wigs were on the actors. The same bad makeup was in previous versions, but now it was really taking me out of the movie.

    So if a regular DVD release can do that, is HD going to show brush strokes on actors makeup? Will soundstage set movies look even more fake? I say this as someone who has not made the HD jump.

  4. Yeah, but those same imperfections are brought into relief by a good 35mm print, which is how the classics were meant to be seen in the first place. It’s only because of the years our brains have spent being dumbed-down by VHS and substandard TV signals that things like this are even an issue. Besides which, suspending disbelief when the seams show is part of the moviegoer’s contract, no? To suggest inferior video is superior because it disguises imperfections is akin to saying we should post-date the title of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY because the whole thing’s become a giant anachronism.

  5. Agreed. And let’s update 1984 while we’re at it, cuz Orwell totally got Big Brother wrong.

    My point wasn’t so much about returning to some distant, fuzzy, low res past. It was more about maintaining the integrity of the images as they were shot.

    In a few years, are we going to be complaining about high def versions of older films like people complain about horribly mastered CDs of classic 60’s music? (Beatles, anyone?)

    You would hope that when these films are transferred to a new medium, it’s not just a technical exercise, but an archival one and perhaps even an artistic one?

  6. True, that. But what’s the line between archival and artistic when it’s a case of something like poor makeup, which presumably everybody noticed on the big screen–35mm still has a resolution higher than that of consumer HD–once upon a time? (Except we were more forgiving or some might say less sophisticated.) Do you intentionally degrade the image at that point, and if so, who are you protecting? The film or filmmaker from ignorant audiences, I guess–but every film has so many aspects that date themselves that it seems kind of futile. That’s all I’m sayin’ really.

    I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when and if you switch to HD, though. Hyper-clarity is not necessarily the rule of the day.

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