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Old 28-10-2011, 09:42   #1
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[Blu-Ray Review] Straw Dogs

Comments attached to the Blu-Ray Review 'Straw Dogs' on Home Cinema @ The Digital Fix

Classic Peckinpah on a far from classic Blu Ray....

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Old 28-10-2011, 09:42   #2
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Excellent review. And a big thanks too, as I was just about to purchase the UK Blu. Mortified to hear they've made a mess of the transfer. Luckily the US Blu is region free, so I'll pick that up instead.

By the way, I've just finished reading the novel 'Siege at Trencher's Farm' which Straw Dogs was based on. Well worth a read if you're a fan of the film.
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Old 28-10-2011, 09:55   #3
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The transfer is that bad? Shame. I was really looking forward to this. I just hold onto my old SE DVD then.

[quoteThe suggestion that this is simply saying that books are fine but real men have to be violent is, I think, fundamentally wrong.][/quote]

Thank you for saying that. I never understood why people claim that this is the point the film was making. Even many critics who praised the film claim it.

Also, regarding Seynor's cut of Pat Garrett, while I do prefer the TCM cut I don't hold any grudge towards Seynor for his cut. Pat Garrett is a film that wasn't finished the way Peckinpah intended so Seynor cut it the way he believed would work. I do believe he failed but I don't begrudge him in trying. I am personally annoyed with how Warner Bros decided to give Seynor's cut the full remaster while the TCM cut was just slapped onto the disc.
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Old 28-10-2011, 09:59   #4
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It would've been nice if MGM had included some extras on their blu-ray though but like you say AV comes first.
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Old 28-10-2011, 10:22   #5
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Shame about the transfer, i think i'll settle on the USA edition, i'm annoyed how they've neglected to include Mark Kermode's 'Mantrap' Documentary which aired on Channel Four a few years back.
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Old 28-10-2011, 11:17   #6
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I think the review is harsh. I think there is too much contrast in the picture, and it is certainly brighter than previous versions (the Fremantle DVD of 2002 was too dark: I think the Criterion was more comfortable, but I really do not know what the original might have looked like).

What I do like about the new version is the lack of digital noise reduction. It actually looks like a movie from 1971, grainy and filmic. But... . I don't have the home cinema reviewing chops to offer more than a personal opinion.

Anyway. Forumites might be interested to hear of a special screening of the film at the Barbican on Wed November 9th. The screening will be followed by a discussion and audience Q and A opportunity: it will be chaired by Julian Petley (some of you will know his work on censorship) and on the panel will be Katy Haber, Susan George and myself, as the author of a book about the film in the Controversies book series: the screening is in fact a launch event for the series. More details here

http://www.barbican.org.uk/film/even...l.asp?ID=12824

Book here

http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=493935

Controversies: Straw Dogs
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Old 28-10-2011, 12:24   #7
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1/10 for PQ. Ouch!

I've got the Criterion dvd - won it for around Ł16 - and the '02 Fremantle dvd. Both keepers now!

I've never seen Mantrap :(

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Old 28-10-2011, 12:53   #8
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The PQ really is that bad;some scenes were just about acceptable,but on the whole it is unwatchable.I turned off after 45 minutes,and ordered the region free from Movietyme.
The 'Before and After' restoration feature is hard to fathom.In every comparison the before is the better image.Great soundtrack from Jerry Fielding though...
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Old 28-10-2011, 20:14   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevie Simkin View Post
I think the review is harsh. I think there is too much contrast in the picture, and it is certainly brighter than previous versions (the Fremantle DVD of 2002 was too dark: I think the Criterion was more comfortable, but I really do not know what the original might have looked like).

What I do like about the new version is the lack of digital noise reduction. It actually looks like a movie from 1971, grainy and filmic. But... . I don't have the home cinema reviewing chops to offer more than a personal opinion.
Im with you here. Yes its bright and maybe the contrast is not right, but these were easily fixed on my TV using the contrast and brightness settings.
The aspect ratio is spot on, and as you say it looks like a film from the 70's with no digital noise reduction which is a big plus for.

All in all a disappointing transfer that's made a lot better with just a few minutes of adjusting settings on my TV and would rank it at around average transfer wise and certainly a lot higher than 1 out of 10.

Last edited by new; 28-10-2011 at 20:18.
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Old 28-10-2011, 21:14   #10
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Had Fremantle not informed us that this was remastered and restored, I might have been inclined to be more generous. But I think it's just horrible. The problem is clearly that it wasn't sourced from an interpositive like the Criterion disc and the US Blu Ray were. I've fiddled around with my brightness and contrast settings - which no-one should have to do in the first place frankly - and while the contrast improves, the level of detail remains poor and the colours are unnaturally faded, presumably due to degrading on the theatrical print which was used.
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Old 28-10-2011, 22:00   #11
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Thank you Mike; saved me a few bob...

Quote:
Originally posted by bass88
Also, regarding Seynor's cut of Pat Garrett, while I do prefer the TCM cut I don't hold any grudge towards Seynor for his cut. Pat Garrett is a film that wasn't finished the way Peckinpah intended so Seynor cut it the way he believed would work. I do believe he failed but I don't begrudge him in trying. I am personally annoyed with how Warner Bros decided to give Seynor's cut the full remaster while the TCM cut was just slapped onto the disc.
I can agree with the latter sentiment; I was also bloody annoyed that when the film did the circuits in the US a while back, it was that Seydor cut that was shown. And actually, I *do* hold it against him. On first viewing I can remember clearly being a little gobsmacked, but no, this is Paul Seydor. He's a Peckinpah expert, a film editor, surely he knows what he's doing? And then, within a short space of time, I actually got a little angry.

And while I accept he *must* have done this with the very best intentions he did so essentially whilst groping in the dark, trying to second guess one of the great director/editors of the 20th century. He made editorial decisions which were plain baffling and IMHO, he emasculated - absolutely chopped the balls off - a great western. I'm not saying there aren't some good things, but I can't understand two things - how did Seydor imagine that this was a good idea from the get go? That his cut would essentially supplant Peckinpah's very nearly completed workprint? And I cannot believe the so-called 'Peckinpah Posse' go along with it with not one word of objection - particularly from David Weddle - to be heard on the accompanying commentary track. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.

Apologies for hijacking your fine review Mike.
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Last edited by John Hodson; 28-10-2011 at 22:05.
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Old 29-10-2011, 08:55   #12
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Somehow strange that after such a devastating review from Mike the Digital Fix still sees fit to actively promote this edition in their "Win Straw Dogs on BluRay" section...
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Old 29-10-2011, 09:50   #13
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Fiddling around with the contrast to make it watchable reminds me of the vhs bootleg days.
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Old 29-10-2011, 10:52   #14
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You shouldn't have to fiddle around with your TV! I'm sure many of us have had our displays professionally calibrated. It is up to producers to ensure their discs meet the standards, not for the viewer to tinker.
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Old 29-10-2011, 12:25   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Local Hero View Post
Somehow strange that after such a devastating review from Mike the Digital Fix still sees fit to actively promote this edition in their "Win Straw Dogs on BluRay" section...
Its Mike's copy

Last edited by new; 29-10-2011 at 12:25.
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Old 29-10-2011, 12:38   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Barlow View Post
You shouldn't have to fiddle around with your TV! I'm sure many of us have had our displays professionally calibrated. It is up to producers to ensure their discs meet the standards, not for the viewer to tinker.
I have a few different presets for different channels and a few options that I always try out when watching a Blu/DVD and for different times of the day (bright sunlight, overcast day, night, lights on/off etc). As someone who has to calibrate monitors to printing profiles at work, I can honestly say that you cant calibrate a monitor to be perfect for everything.
Artwork, scans, photos and Blus and DVDs will often have different profiles used depending on whose manufacturing them, not to mention different lighting conditions when viewing them.
After years of doing this a calibration device should be used to get you near, but then would need further tweaks depending on the above conditions (i.e. a TV screen calibrated in brilliant sun light, will give a different view when watched in the dark) and also your own personal preference and never believe you are watching the best picture you can get because a peace of software is telling you so, always be prepared to spend a minute or two with the TV settings to give you a more preference result.

Anyway I'm not saying this in defense of the Straw Dogs disappointing transfer, just that there is not a calibration software in the world that can perfectly calibrate a display device to exactly as things should be watched.

Last edited by new; 29-10-2011 at 12:38.
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Old 29-10-2011, 12:43   #17
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There is a standard though. Calibrators usually provide 'day' and 'night' settings to take into account different lighting conditions. If you can't precisely calibrate as you say, then how are ISF Calibrators making a living out there?

I'm not talking about television as I have no idea how reference levels work there but you should never need to touch your displays settings again once a proper professional calibration has been done on it.
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:03   #18
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The basic problem is that they used a theatrical print, and while there are several situations where this may be unavoidable (for instance, the latest BFI Flipside release, Voice Over, sourced from the only surviving complete 16mm print in existence), this categorically shouldn't be the case with something like Straw Dogs, where there should be plenty of alternative options.

Although it'll look fine when projected, the contrast range of a theatrical print is generally much too high for a decent video telecine, which is why low-contrast prints are usually struck for that purpose - either that, or the producer will go back to the original interpositive or even the camera negative.

So alarm bells started jangling even before I saw frame grabs - Fremantle seemed proud of the fact that they'd sourced a theatrical print in decent nick, and from Mike's description it sounds as though they barely touched the image after they'd telecined it. Which is sometimes a good thing, but if the source is compromised already, it needs a fair amount of work to get the picture to look acceptable.
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