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Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Frumaster
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Re: 712 Scanners

#26 Post by Frumaster » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:57 pm

This movie was basically a big set up for the ending, which had the feel of something from P.K.D. (this is a good thing). It's almost like the writers envisioned the final scenario first, and then created the necessary plot devices that lead to it. Unfortunately, Lack's performance was almost unbearable, even considering his character's back story.

Movie-Brat
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Re: 712 Scanners

#27 Post by Movie-Brat » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:33 pm

Frumaster wrote:This movie was basically a big set up for the ending, which had the feel of something from P.K.D. (this is a good thing). It's almost like the writers envisioned the final scenario first, and then created the necessary plot devices that lead to it.
If that's the case, it's common. James Cameron envisioned the climax of The Terminator first, specifically the moment the T-800 rises from the fire and wrote it backwards.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#28 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:33 am

Blu-ray.com

Very different colour timing to the international releases available. Though I believe only this one is director approved.

Stereo is in full 1080p.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#29 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:20 pm

Further to the above:

Image

criterion10
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Re: 712 Scanners

#30 Post by criterion10 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:54 pm

I'm sorry, but the Criterion just doesn't look right. Either Cronenberg had no idea what he was doing when he approved the transfer, or he wanted to revise the color of the film, a la Friedkin and the first Blu-Ray of The French Connection. That's my guess, at least.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#31 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:02 pm

That is the most extreme example, with the green tint being specific for that scene (indicating a deliberate choice?). This one doesn't look as bad.

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mfunk9786
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Re: 712 Scanners

#32 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:22 pm

criterion10 wrote:I'm sorry, but the Criterion just doesn't look right. Either Cronenberg had no idea what he was doing when he approved the transfer,
No offense, man, but I'm gonna lean toward the legendary, visionary director over criterion10 from criterionforum.org on this one.

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JamesF
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Re: 712 Scanners

#33 Post by JamesF » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:34 pm

Scanners is far from my favourite Cronenberg film, but I always saw myself getting the Criterion whenever it appeared (mainly as I'd hoped they'd be the ones to get Cronenberg to do a commentary). That said, criterion10 isn't alone in his uneasiness over those screengrabs. If Stereo turns up on the Arrow edition of Shivers, then I may well get the Second Sight version of Scanners after all.

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swo17
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Re: 712 Scanners

#34 Post by swo17 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:54 pm

Clearly something has changed significantly with the one pictured screencap (with the logical explanation being that Cronenberg wanted it that way), but if you look at all the other caps from the review in isolation, they look fine (better than fine, actually).

If I had a nickel for every time someone wrote off a release based on a single screencap, **head explodes**

criterion10
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Re: 712 Scanners

#35 Post by criterion10 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:37 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
criterion10 wrote:I'm sorry, but the Criterion just doesn't look right. Either Cronenberg had no idea what he was doing when he approved the transfer,
No offense, man, but I'm gonna lean toward the legendary, visionary director over criterion10 from criterionforum.org on this one.
Look, I understand where you're coming from, but as I think I put it best in my initial comment, a director approved release doesn't always mean the film will be presented as the director initially intended upon the film's first release.

Case in Point: The original Blu-Ray of The French Connection, which Friedkin did approve of, but also felt it necessary to scrub out all the color of the film. Or even Criterion's new Blu-Ray of Breaking the Waves, which doesn't appear to have the "video" look of prior video releases and theatrical run (I'm not complaining here though, since judging by screen caps, Criterion's color scheme is far superior). Or even the controversial Twilight Time Blu-Ray of Night of the Living Dead, deeply tinted to blue, though still approved of by Tom Savini. Even Shout! has claimed that Herzog approved of their recent screwed up Nosferatu transfer.

Nine times out of ten, a director-approved release is a surefire guarantee that the film in question is receiving a transfer close to its original theatrical exhibition. But, not always. I have no idea what went on in Criterion's office behind closed doors, but it's totally possible that, like many other past examples, he sought to give the film a different look than its original run.
swo17 wrote:Clearly something has changed significantly with the one pictured screencap (with the logical explanation being that Cronenberg wanted it that way), but if you look at all the other caps from the review in isolation, they look fine (better than fine, actually).
The other screen caps don't look nearly as significantly altered.

Roy Batty
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Re: 712 Scanners

#36 Post by Roy Batty » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:48 pm

Although we will have to wait until the disc it's actually released to be able to check how it plays at home, from the several screencap comparisons already available on the Internet there seems to be something off with Criterion's. It's not just the marked departure in color timing, but mostly the overall extreme dullness of the image.

Wih all the necessary cautions here about the difficulty to determine what's more accurate to the source film without a proper reference, I find it hard to believe that that represents the original artistic intent, rather than some mistake somewhere in the mastering process.

While, in my opinion, many —if not most— releases on BD, specially those for the USA market, show an excessive an unnecessary contrast boost to please the consumers who want their movies to "pop out", and I often welcome transfers with a better balanced, more film-like light adjustment, this is too extreme. For those of you familiar with digital post-processing of RAW photography, the image on Criterion's release looks like what happens to a photo when you are trying to fix some bloomed highlights and just go too far: light zones get the light sucked out of them, and whites turn to a kind of lifeless, silvery gray hue.

As for it bearing Cronemberg's seal of approval, we all know that can mean a lot of very different things, from him having granted it without not really paying to much attention, to him having an urge for revisionism, and everythin in between, including, of course, the possibility that this is indeed the way he wanted it to look.

Me, I must say I am puzzled and intrigued, for the discrepancies with previous international releases are much bigger than usual, and I can hardly fathom the reasons why.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#37 Post by EddieLarkin » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:08 pm

Jon Mulvaney wrote:Thanks for your email and interest in Criterion's SCANNERS release! To answer your color question, David Cronenberg hadn't had anything to do with the previous video color timing, but on this one, this has the color choices that he prefers now. Some shots happen to be very different while others are likely more of the same as he did not use a reference when approving the new color timing.

I hope this helps! Please feel free to write again should you have further questions. Thanks for supporting Criterion!

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Re: 712 Scanners

#38 Post by criterion10 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:21 pm

Jon Mulvaney wrote:Thanks for your email and interest in Criterion's SCANNERS release! To answer your color question, David Cronenberg hadn't had anything to do with the previous video color timing, but on this one, this has the color choices that he prefers now. Some shots happen to be very different while others are likely more of the same as he did not use a reference when approving the new color timing.
If I read this correctly, it seems as though exactly what I surmised yesterday (and was somewhat ridiculed for) is true -- that Cronenberg chose to revise the original color of the film to what he fancied now, as opposed to what it looked like upon its original release. This is fine, I suppose, although I personally prefer the more natural look of the German Blu-Ray. Hmm, decisions, decisions...

Roy Batty
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Re: 712 Scanners

#39 Post by Roy Batty » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:42 pm

I wonder if cinematographer Mark Irwin is just as happy as Cronemberg for having his original work altered.

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domino harvey
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Re: 712 Scanners

#40 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:43 pm

That's one way to read it. Another is "Now, he has the color he prefers"-- it may just be poor wording, ie now there's finally a home video release with the preferred color scheme, not this is the current color scheme he's into presently

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Re: 712 Scanners

#41 Post by criterion10 » Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:38 pm

Someone on the Blu-Ray.com forums posted a comparison between the screencaps found on the recent DVDBeaver review and those found on the German Subkultur release.

Ultimately, it definitely demonstrates that, with the exception of the green-tinted shot posted in this thread, the differences between the two transfers aren't that striking. The Criterion is definitely darker and, in my opinion, seems to lose a little bit of detail. On the plus side, it opens up the frame to 1.78:1, thus including more of the film's negative.

It almost seems as though the German Subkultur accurately represents the film's raw, 80s-looking cinematography, and that the new Criterion release was Cronenberg's attempt to make it look more modern and recent. At the end of the day, I still prefer the German Subkultur, though due to the extras and the fact that I don't feel like importing the film, I'll probably go with the Criterion.

Will be interesting to see how the eventual release of The Brood will be handled.

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bainbridgezu
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Re: 712 Scanners

#42 Post by bainbridgezu » Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:03 pm

DVDBeaver's comparion does make Criterion's rendition of the famous exploding head shot look especially glorious.

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#43 Post by EddieLarkin » Sat Jun 28, 2014 4:43 pm

Noise reduction on the Criterion:

German Blu-ray
Criterion Blu-ray

The two big chunks of skull on the lower left have almost been entirely wiped away. Many other smaller parts are gone completely.

It's one thing to change the colour, and I didn't feel one was more "correct" than the other anyway, but noise reduction from Criterion in 2014? Unacceptable.
Last edited by EddieLarkin on Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Oedipax
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Re: 712 Scanners

#44 Post by Oedipax » Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:59 pm

I don't think you can attribute that to noise reduction, especially because there's just as much grain visible in the Criterion cap (albeit it stands out slightly less, because of the overall lowered contrast). I would say it's more likely that for whatever reason, in the new grading, those pieces of skull fell off into the shadows more quickly than before - which in itself is a little confusing given that the contrast is lower overall, so you would expect more detail in the blacks, but that seems more plausible to me than noise reduction grabbing and removing a huge chunk of image like that.

Edit: To go a little more geeky, there could also be what's known as a power window (basically a targeted selection around a certain area of the image) that is affecting that area of the image, most likely a vignette around the head area that then darkens everything else outside it.

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Re: 712 Scanners

#45 Post by Erik Morton » Sun Jun 29, 2014 12:17 am

Anyone know if the UK Second Sight blu-ray had the same transfer as the German Koch Media disc?

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EddieLarkin
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Re: 712 Scanners

#46 Post by EddieLarkin » Sun Jun 29, 2014 4:25 am

I don't think it can be attributed to a change in gradation. If you look closely at the skull bits you can see they are only partly wiped away (leaving digital looking pointed edges), whilst the sections that are gone have left a ghostly image underneath.
Erik Morton wrote:Anyone know if the UK Second Sight blu-ray had the same transfer as the German Koch Media disc?
No. The Koch disc (seen in the Beaver caps) looks like an upscale. The Second Sight and German Subkultur (the "German" caps from Blu-ray.com) discs are from newer transfers similar to the Criterion.

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colinr0380
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Re: 712 Scanners

#47 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:44 pm

The extra features on this set are all very entertaining. The special effects piece is fascinating, with the cinematographer Mark Irwin getting the best moment in which he describes how to tell where the best place to stand during an explosion is! Great to see Chris Walas interviewed too about his role in the makeup effects (he would later go on to direct The Fly II).

EDIT: Gary Zeller, the special effects technician who gets a lot of time in the programme talking about the exploding head and the Zel-Jel he developed to allow people to be set on fire without burning themselves, has just died according to Michael Lennick and Tim Lucas in a Facebook post.

The Michael Ironside and Stephen Lack interviews are both fascinating as much as for all the rarely discussed movies and Canadian millieu going on around that time as they are for discussion of Scanners itself (such as the stills from Suzanne in the Ironside interview, although it would have been interesting to hear if he had any thoughts on working with Claude Jutra on Surfacing - perhaps if Criterion ever gets around to releasing another Jutra film they could go back to him. Hint, hint!; and the brief discussion of Lack's difficult experience on Head On just prior to Scanners). Lack (in the interview taken from the German disc) is in particularly feisty form and his hilarious description of actors at the end of the program feels like it could act as a trailer for Cronenberg's latest film, Maps To The Stars!

And hearing Ironside talk about the film as kind of an adolescent, outsider power film (albeit one in which everything takes place around a nefarious organisation dealing in developing new forms of weaponry. In that sense Revok is taking after his father!) made me think that Scanners in some ways might bear some comparison with the X-Men!

Kim Newman's booklet essay is excellent too. I particularly like the final paragraph situating Scanners as a kind of road not travelled for sci-fi films of the 80s that were about to retreat into Spielbergian/Lucasfilm family values and retro-nostalgia rather than techo-futurism! (Although it could be argued that the process was already well underway with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and that Tron could also perhaps have been an exception to that rule).

The CBC talk show wasn't particularly interesting for its discussion of Cronenberg's films up to that point, instead valuable just to have as a piece of footage from the period. While Cronenberg tries to develop some thoughts on his films this seems to be one of those chatshow situations where there is just no time being allowed for discussion, just for the host to set up a trailer clip and ask a question with the expectation of a pithy one-sentence answer before moving swiftly on. Not really the best way to introduce Cronenberg's films to a general audience, with just enough time allowed to disturb and frighten an audience with flashes of extreme imagery and let Cronenberg briefly say that "sexual violence" is a theme of Shivers (without being able to develop that point) before the interview is entirely over! No wonder general audiences sometimes have quite negative reactions to horror films if that kind of introduction is all they have to go on!

Watching the film again, I'm always amused at that brief moment near the end of the film of the distracted doctor saying to his patient: "Will you wait a moment? Read something.", and the patient's reaction!

The additional film Stereo is a fascinating almost avant-garde film, silent except for an intermittent voice over detailing presumably surgical experiments in telepathy on a group of characters (making me think that the Japanese film Rubber's Lover is a good companion piece to it), presumably the group that we are watching who are wandering around an amazing Ballardian environment of an imposing beautifully deserted industrial park of concrete slabs punctuated by windows; meeting rooms and lecture halls; open air concourses and refectories.

The film did get a little wearing after a while - I think I might just have lost my tolerance for endlessly watching people smile and nod at each other all the time over some unheard joke or interaction, making out with anatomist's dolls while a topless blindfolded woman looks on, or circumcising baby pacifiers - and the film for all of its strangeness and polymorphic sexuality does seem to end up just falling into a cliched 1960s 'free love' sex orgy at the end. But the beautifully cold environments and the coolly clinical-yet-deranged scientific speak keep this film fascinating.
Last edited by colinr0380 on Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:20 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Adam Grikepelis
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Re: 712 Scanners

#48 Post by Adam Grikepelis » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:19 am

I seem to recall that Crimes of the Future was the more consistently interesting of Cronenberg's two short fetures, though it's been years since I've seen either.

I'm so very much looking forward to seeing CC's disc. With all the needless discussion over the image, no one seems to've brought up the potential improvements to the soundtrack that were vaguely referenced in the Blu-Ray.com review. It makes me think the sync issues in the latter part of Scanners may've finally been fixed. Did you notice anything in that regard, Colin?

It's nice to see this film finally getting the attention it deserves.

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colinr0380
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Re: 712 Scanners

#49 Post by colinr0380 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:40 am

I think that I'm going to have to visit the University of Toronto some time just because it looks so amazing from the footage in Stereo! (Although it is probably changed a lot over the decades) It looks like a place full of strange architectural spaces interacting with space in bizarre ways that feels incredibly Ballardian, although the other thing that came to mind whilst watching some of the scenes featuring couches placed in atriums or seemingly large hallways, was the Berton debriefing sequence from Tarkovsky's Solaris. Cold, but strangely compelling, environments sacrificing intimacy for communal observation.

I'm afraid that I'm not enough of an audiophile to really notice much difference in the soundtrack of Scanners, and I don't really have too much to compare it to considering I've made a big leap in upgrading directly to the Blu-ray from a 21-year old recorded from television VHS copy of the film!

I will say though that I played the film with the Hard of Hearing subtitles on, just for fun, and that finally clarified what Benajmin Pierce was saying in his squelchy electronically distorted telepathic voice at the end of his scene, which is surprisingly key to understanding Revok exerting control over "robotic armies of scanners". However I do have a couple of quibbles about which lines Criterion translates during the early babble of voices scene (capturing "Hey, he looks cute!", which I had not previously noted, but not the more sexualised statement of the obvious to oneself "He's been tied down"). Even more pedantically the way that all of the scanning scenes are described as "[high-pitched whine]" loses some of the nuances - it is technically correct but doesn't really capture the way that every character has their own personalised tone to their scanner powers, and a lot of the sound design is of these opposing 'high-pitched whines' battling each other for dominance, something which beautifully melds in with Howard Shore's atonal-to-lyrical-and-back-again score.

_shadow_
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Re: 712 Scanners

#50 Post by _shadow_ » Sun Jul 06, 2014 5:09 pm

It's odd to characterize the discussion of the dramatic color timing changes in this presentation of the film as "needless", since anyone looking to obtain an ideal version of this film would be impacted by this issue. It's disappointing that the most readily available BD to US viewers has an image that bears little resemblance to theatrical or home video presentations of the film. What is nice is that, whereas the current trend is for the same master to be replicated across international releases, so that if there are problems with the master there are no better alternatives, in this case viewers who prefer the alternate grading can seek out other BD releases sourced from different masters.

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