Friday, September 3, 2010

How to properly watch a DVD

There is no greater way to pass the time than watching movies. In that two hour span you can be taken to another world, taught something about humanity or given a chance to laugh. Those that know me personally are aware of my love of film and my habit of pushing certain films on other people. If you are a friend of mine than I have probably lent you a DVD at some point and bugged you to no end until you watched it. This has not always paid off because of people's irresponsibility with other people's things (I've had to replace my copy of Donnie Darko three different times). I love watching movies though and I love sharing that experience with other people. In order to fully enjoy your own movie experience in the way that I myself am accustomed to; I offer these rules for optimal enjoyment.

- Subtitles are key
Call me weird but I enjoy watching everything I can with subtitles or closed captioning. Even my television has closed captioning on most of the time. While I am slightly hard of hearing, my hearing is not bad enough to constantly require the words on the bottom of the screen. I find that reading the dialogue on the screen allows me to ingest it better. I have a better understanding of what is being said and better comprehension in what is going on. Also some films include scenes where characters are speaking so low that it is necessary. Also when an actor ends up using an accent that is not their own it sometimes makes it incomprehensible.

Brad Pitt in Snatch is a good example of this. Although to be fair he is suppose to be incomprehensible, kind of like Chewbacca (imagine a subtitle option that allows you to understand what Chewie is saying. That would be amazing).

People complain whenever I put subtitles on because they find it distracting but once you get use to them they are a godsend. Don't focus on the subtitles completely if you find yourself paying too much attention to the words and not the images on the screen. Not having ADD helps.

This rule is also a no brainer for foreign films. Dubbed versions of films are always horrible and never give you the full experience. Why watch a group of actors if you don't want to hear them act? Watching the film should in no way spoil the director's vision. Also when you are engrossed in the film enough, you actually end up reading the subtitles in the original actor's voice. When you watch 8 1/2 enough reading the English on the bottom of the screen sounds like it's Marcello Mastroianni's voice instead of your own inner voice. Whatever language barrier that occurs while watching and enjoying a foreign film is evaporated after half an hour.

-Use the original aspect ratio
Never buy DVDs with the word "fullscreen" at the top. There is no reason to ever buy a film in fullscreen. What fullscreen does is robs you of the original dimensions of the movie. In making it fullscreen, parts of the image are chopped off in order to fit into the dimensions. This compromises the director's vision of the film, which breaks a cardinal rule in film watching. I specify to keep the original aspect ratio because some films are already shot in fullscreen, so it all depends on what it was originally shot in. For a better explanation of the importance of widescreen please watch the video below.

-Don't ask questions.
A good film forces the audience to ask questions and have a dialogue about it after we are done watching it. The important part of this rule is the fact that these questions should come after the movie. Too many times have I had friends asking me about a plot point, only for the answer to reveal itself in the next scene. My usual answer to these questions is to tell them to "Watch the damn movie." If you have something to ask then wait, the movie will probably address this question later on. No movie has ever been made for the sole purpose of confusing it's audience.

The only exception to this rule being Eraserhead.

- Don't do anything to take people out of the movie.
Don't constantly talk, text, go to the bathroom or pause the movie. A big part of film watching is the immersion and if that is broken too much than the film will not be as enjoyable. Even if you don't like the film or are bored please refrain from making stupid comments. It doesn't make you sound smarter or funnier (unless you're a writer on Mystery Science Theater 3000).

-Buy Criterion Collection DVDs whenever you can
Some films are exceptional enough to have their DVD made buy the Criterion Collection. These products are the knighthood of home viewing. When you have a DVD made by them you know you have something special. This company respects the filmmakers and in no way compromises their vision. Their clean up and restorations are the best in the business. The aspect ratio is always right and the special features are premium. Although usually more expensive than other DVDs, Criterion Collection is still worth it. You'll be doing yourself a favor buy buying from this company

I'm betting their tote bags are also well made.

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