Category Archives: Edinburgh Evening News

Read all about DVD extras

It was a dark day when I most recently succumbed to the mystical lure of the DVD Special Edition.

Though perfectly happy with my 2006 copy of The Third Man, Carol Reed’s Vienna-set post-war thriller, I decided to import a copy of the Criterion Collection DVD of the same film with its multiple commentaries, documentaries and radio plays.

I was excited – my favourite film now had something even more to hold my attention, something sparkly and new. But should I have been glad at the prospect or unhappy that the marketing men had seemingly sold me the same thing twice?

In days of old, when CGI was no more than a glint in the corner of a green screen monitor and Amazon was still just the name of a very famous river, VHS ruled OK. Apart from a minor VHS/Betamax battle of the formats in the early 1980s, it seemed that their dominance was assured in the face of their main competitor: the Laserdisc. Then came DVD.

Within a few years DVD became the format of choice for even the most casual of viewer thanks to their superior picture quality, sound…and extras.

In the video era, we were lucky to get a trailer tacked onto the start of a film, perhaps a short ‘Making of’ documentary if the film company felt generous. No we can all become armchair experts with facts, figures and previously unheard information that would otherwise have remained in the vaults.

With The Third Man I now know about things I never even knew I wanted to know, and no doubt another version will pop up in the next year or so.

DVD companies need to make money and the more ways we have to watch films – on TV, laptops or even mobile phones – means that there are more people to buy their wares than ever before.

But if all these archived gems are available to the producers, why not release them the first time around, rather than making the dedicated fan buy different versions each time? And now we have Blu-ray and streaming online versions…where does it all end?

While I ponder whether I should be buying a new film rather than searching for a revised version of one I already own, I think I’ll revisit the sewers of Vienna once again in a five minute short film from 1949. As you do…

Do you have a favourite DVD extra? Or do you just buy your shiny discs for the films themselves? Have your say below…

The rules of engagement

With Reel Time settling into its new home, it seems as good a time as any for us all to get to know each other better. In the spirit of openness I’m going to admit something: I’m a bit of a cinema snob.

Yes, I have a cinema-going routine which up till now I’ve kept to myself. Firstly, I hate the adverts. I always try to judge a film’s start time so that I miss all those ads for new cars (I take the bus), posh ice cream (you can’t beat a strawberry mivvy) or hair care products (just look at my photo to see how little I need pro-vitamins) but still manage to catch the trailers.

Next, I have to sit as close to the middle centre as possible, preferably with a seat free beside me and a couple of empty seats in front. Finally, if I treat myself to a popcorn I try to stop eating at the quiet bits of the film so as not to drown out the dialogue for myself or fellow audience members.

It’s a comprehensive list built up after years of practice and it usually goes to plan, give or take the odd mishap.

Recently, I arrived at a film a few minutes late to find that it was nearly sold out. Scanning the rows for a decent seat, I soon found myself wedged in between a rather large gent on my right and a girl on my left.

This would have been just about bearable, but the man’s girlfriend/wife to his right was soon delving into her bag to find sweets with wrappers so noisy they’re banned in many civilised nations, while he slumped down into his seat, sending his elbow knocking into mine so that he took full ownership of the armrest.

On the one hand he was well within his rights to make the most of the seat he’d paid for. On the other I was well within mine to accidentally spill my medium-sized coke into his lap, ice cubes and all.

Though my cinema rules didn’t help me on this occasion I still think they’re a good idea, perhaps vital in these days of dodgy adverts and lax sweetie unwrapping. I’m also sure I’m not alone in having them – am I?