These days, short of a trip to the local cinema, blu-rays are the best way to enjoy a film. Before the advent of this hi-definition format, dvds delivered but a paltry 720 x 576 pixel resolution, and is woefully inadequate to reproduce the superior quality of 35mm motion picture film that most older movies were shot on. Any movie that you’ve seen on dvd is a rather poor representation of what the filmmakers ( especially the director of photography ) had intended you to see, at least in terms of visual quality.
In a perfect world, all films that were previously released on dvd should get a blu-ray upgrade, allowing cinema lovers to finally see these films the way they were meant to be seen. But the sad fact is that only the more popular (read : profitable) titles get such a treatment, and many excellent films are still waiting for their turn to come, if ever.
And here is my wishlist of 10 films that I’m hoping will get some blu-ray attention very, very soon :
1) Tony Takitani (Ichikawa Jun)
This is easily one of my favourite Japanese films of all times. Adapted from a short story by Murakami Haruki, Toni Takitani scores top points in every discipline – a simple, yet engaging story; a fantastic cast that really capture the essence of the characters; a great score by Sakamoto Ryuichi; the photography by DP Hirokawa Taishi is beautiful, its technique ingenious, and displays a visual aesthetic that is uniquely Japanese.
In a time when South Korea is the powerhouse of film-making in Asia , Tony Takitani remains a rare gem that showcases the best of recent Japanese cinema.
2) Love Letter (Iwai Shunji)
IMHO, Iwai Shunji’s best film to date. There is a sweet innocence in the telling of the story that never descends into mawkish territory. Watching this film brings back very fond memories of my days as an animation student, back in the late 90s when it was first released. Listening to Remedios’ soundtrack makes my eyes water still.
*Update Jan 2013 – This film is now available on blu-ray. Wheeeee !*
3) Solaris (Steven Soderbergh)
This remake of Tarkovskiy’s original movie of the same name definitely isn’t Soderbergh’s most popular film, but I like it immensely. Maybe its a combination of the soothing music and the cool palette of the film that puts me in a peaceful mood every time I watch it. As with most of his other works, Soderbergh photographed the film himself under the pseudonym Peter Andrews.
4) Hackers (Ian Softley)
This was a such a fun film to watch, and it also had a kick-ass soundtrack that got me started on electronica music. Halcyon On !
5) Mononoke Hime (Miyazaki Hayao)
Miyazaki-san’s grand epic still remains my favourite Ghibli film of all time. Those sweeping vista shots and epic battle sequences, topped with rousing soundtrack by Joe Hisashi really deserves the blu-ray treatment. Pretty please, Ghibli !
6) Blade (Tsui Hark)
Blade was made I think, during the hey days of Tsui Hark when he was at the height of his powers. This visceral film is how I would imagine a live action version of Japanese manga artist Hiroaki Samura’s Blade Of The Immortal will look like, if ever made. Unfortunately, I don’t believe enough care is put into the archival and storage of past HongKong films, so even if a blu-ray of this film is released, I suspect the image quality would be mediocre at best. Pity !
7) 2046 (Wong Kar Wai)
Now that In The Mood For Love is on Criterion Blu-ray, 2046 will be next on the wishlist. Pretty, pretty photography by DP Christopher Doyle, and no one flaunts a figure hugging cheongsam better than Maggie Cheung.
8) Birth (Jonathan Glazer)
I’ve previously sung my praises for this amazing film in this post on Chiaroscuro.
9) Punch Drunk Love (PTA)
Has PTA ever made a bad film ? DP Robert Elswit serves up frame after frame of perfect composition and lighting in this one.
10) Girl With A Pearl Earring (Peter Webber)
An intriguing narrative behind one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings, shot by DP Eduardo Serra. The cinematography of the film pays big tribute to visual essence of the artist’s paintings and is truly delighting to watch.
A few other notable mentions include Heaven (Tom Tywker), The Dreamers (Bertolucci), The Taste Of Tea, Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Bright Star, Gohatto, Take Care Of My Cat, One Fine Spring Day and The Constant Gardener. ( the last 2 have since been released on blu-ray…yay !! )