Mulholland Drive D-Theater review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 11-02-2003, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
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NOTE: I wrote this review in Word then cut & pasted here. Unfortunately, it formatted all whacked out, so apologies for the odd word wrapping.

As many of you are well aware, D-Theater releases are
becoming a strange phenomena. They seem to come out,
sort of, and then disappear for weeks or months. Many
pre-orders are not even met due to low print runs. It's
just beyond belief the format cannot even be supported
by the studios and JVC to fill existing orders.

After going crazy trying to find the supposedly just released
MULHOLLAND DRIVE D-Theater (because DVDempire said they
couldn't fill my pre-order) and calling everyone that sells
D-Theater tapes, Widescreen Review ended up coming to my
rescue, as the high price of $50 shipped. Ouch. That kind of
price reminds me of the Laserdisc days. Good thing I'm happy
with the product!

Cutting right to the chase... The DVD for this superb film is
certainly high in quality. Boasting a terrific 5.1 sound mix and
a solid B+/A- level transfer, it has been played in my system
a dozen times. My only real complaint has been the presence
of compression artifacts, particularly in the reds of flesh tones.

D-Theater High Definition does away with that and adds quite
a bit of detail, making this a clear example of where 1080i beats
480p, even on a "small" set like my 47 inch Panasonic 47WX49.

Originally shot for television, the 1.85:1 framing from the
1.33:1 35mm negative is actually quite comfortable and
does not appear "cropped," likely due to David Lynch's
theatrical eye.

The cinematography does not look flat, like most television jobs.
Instead it has numerous scenes of extreme darkness, rough reds
and magical blues. All are presented here with a high level of clarity
and absolutely no compression artifacts.

Close-ups of the shockingly gorgeous Laura Harring no longer
have that slightly digital look to them. The reds in her cheek
are smooth instead of broken. Exterior daylight scenes look
exceptional, with gobs of detail.

While not U-571 D-Theater reference, this transfer ranks among
the nicer1080i pictures I have had the pleasure of viewing.
Perhaps my love of the film is coloring my opinion, but then
again, perhaps not.

Opinions are like *******s, as the saying goes. But all I know
is that I am happy with how this tape looks.

Black Level is a problem for D-Theater since the component
outputs of the JVC30000U clip black shadow detail. For example,
if an actor is wearing a black coat in darkened room, the coat
may appear as a black blob, instead of having actual visible
detail in the fabric.

Some of this alleviated in my setup by using the Firewire output
of the JVC, hooked up to my Samsung SIR-T165 and using that
unit's component outputs. I get blacks that are slightly more
detailed this way and the blacks in MULHOLLAND DRIVE have
plenty of detail to give. The problem with this setup is the
Samsung refuses to play the DD5.1 track and only passes
through the pro logic. :mad:

Digital Video Noise Reduction (DVNR) is a plague of the home
viewing format and thankfully, there is no evidence of its use
here. Those of you with front projection screens may be able
to find differently.

You may also see some Edge Enhancement where I saw none.
EE on DVD's is easy to spot and I've seen it on high def transfers
like The TRANSPORTER and KISS OF THE DRAGON, but I did not
see it here.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is presented with a higher bit-rate
than the DVD, but I could not honestly tell the difference. I would
likely need to spend more time comparing to draw any conclusions.
But I won't bother, since I have no complaints about the sound mix.

MULHOLLAND DRIVE is one of the few works by David Lynch that I
fully endorse. Unlike the unsatisfying disaster DUNE, the too strange
for words LOST HIGHWAY, the shockingly uneven WILD AT HEART or
the God Awful FIRE WALK WITH ME (and I do mean awful), MULHOLLAND
DRIVE can stand alongside THE ELEPHANT MAN, the TWIN PEAKS series
and STRAIGHT STORY as a work of art that achieves exactly what Lynch
wanted, but without pissing off half (or more) of its audience. Heck,
even the Oscar nominated BLUE VELVET couldn't do that (a film that
has grown on me).

While many people are confused by MULHOLLAND DRIVE, few
have reason to hate it and in fact, end up watching again and
again, trying to figure it out. That's a compliment. And by the
way, the story can be figured out.

My final score for MULHOLLAND DRIVE will not have a number or
letter. Instead, I will rank the D-Theater tapes I have seen, the
best at the top, then on down. I have not seen them all, so don't
think I'm nuts for not including a title you like.

U-571
X-MEN
DAREDEVIL
The TRANSPORTER (has some bothersome edge enhancement)
The MUMMY
FIGHT CLUB
COURAGE UNDER FIRE
ID4
MULHOLLAND DRIVE
BACKDRAFT
DIE HARD*
T2*
The PEACEMAKER*

* These titles are interchangeable and nowhere near as good
as the others listed, due to the inherent softness in the way the
films were photographed.

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post #2 of 8 Old 11-03-2003, 03:16 PM
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Thanks for the review Matt. I'll probably wait until we have company to view my copy but certainly look forward to the D-Theater transfer. We did watch The Emperor's Club last night (I ordered it since everyone at my wife's work said it was wonderful... some how I sort of knew I wouldn't agree).

The transfer itself was fine though I noticed they used a very narrow field of focus as if to direct you through the story. At first this led me to believe the transfer was soft but I quickly saw this wasn't the case.

Colors were deep and rich with the school's uniform jackets popping like the fall trees' leaves. Audio was subdued with the occasional deep bass flowing for the dramatic moments.

I have sixteen tapes so far but haven't gotten to them all and I would rate them in quality (subject to change based on my mood) from top down.

Snow Falling on Cedars
Ice Age
Daredevil
The Fast and Furious
From Hell
PHONEbooth
Courage Under Fire
The Emperor's Club

I have yet to get to (roughly in the order I prefer them)

Being John Malkovich
Mulholland Dr.
Glengary GlenRoss
Novocaine
Stir Of Echoes
K-PAX
Dr. T and The Women
Spy Game

Spoilers: My issues with The Emperor's Club were basically how Bell cheated. Both times it seemed rather hard to believe it would help never the less get away with. And finally, even after 25 years how could he have forgotten the answer to his losing question...

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post #3 of 8 Old 11-03-2003, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt_Stevens
[i]MULHOLLAND DRIVE is one of the few works by David Lynch that I
fully endorse. Unlike the unsatisfying disaster DUNE, the too strange
for words LOST HIGHWAY, the shockingly uneven WILD AT HEART or
the God Awful FIRE WALK WITH ME (and I do mean awful), MULHOLLAND
DRIVE can stand alongside THE ELEPHANT MAN, the TWIN PEAKS series
and STRAIGHT STORY as a work of art that achieves exactly what Lynch
wanted, but without pissing off half (or more) of its audience. Heck,
even the Oscar nominated BLUE VELVET couldn't do that (a film that
has grown on me).

While many people are confused by MULHOLLAND DRIVE, few
have reason to hate it and in fact, end up watching again and
again, trying to figure it out. That's a compliment. And by the
way, the story can be figured out.
Matt: Thanks for the review. It makes me wish I had a DVHS player. IMO your assessment of Lynch's work is deadly accurate. Mulholland is the only Lynch directed DVD I own. Watching it is like going on a magic carpet ride. One of the great mystery ( it can't really be put in a category) films of all time. And yes it can be figured out. Although, like "String Theory" there may be more than one possible solution.

The DVD looks very good so I'd love to see the D Theater version.
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post #4 of 8 Old 11-04-2003, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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After comparing the tape directly to some other D-Theater tapes on my list, I have revised where it ranks. Still completely satisfied.

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post #5 of 8 Old 11-04-2003, 05:06 PM
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Matt,

So you are saying that the quality is NOT as good as you originally thought?

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post #6 of 8 Old 11-04-2003, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Matt_Stevens
Originally shot for television, the 1.85:1 framing from the
1.33:1 35mm negative is actually quite comfortable and
does not appear "cropped," likely due to David Lynch's
theatrical eye.
The TV pilot portion of the film was shot with both 4:3 standard-def and 16:9 HD broadcasts in mind. The 4:3 version was to be a straight center-extraction, and the 16:9 had more picture on the sides. Since it was protected for both, either one is technically valid.

When he went back to shoot additional footage for the last 45 minutes of the movie, though, Lynch composed those sections exclusively with a theatrical release in mind.

So, overall, the movie is best watched in widescreen.

I think you should give Lost Highway another shot. Mulholland Drive is basically "Lost Highway for Dummies". Once you have a decent handle on the basic dramatic structure of Mulholland, go back and watch Lost Highway and it seems a lot less "weird".

I'll hold my tongue on your comments about Fire Walk With Me. Lynch's movies are not for everyone.

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post #7 of 8 Old 11-04-2003, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Tag, I am saying that in direct comparison to ID4, Mulholland Drive is not as sharp. I don't think it is any less sharp or clear than when I watched it over the weekend. I just found ID4 to be sharper than I had remembered, when doing a direct comparison.

Joshua, Lost Highway is a film that I found to be so strange and off the wall that I felt as though Lynch was trying to piss off his audience. I would never call Mulholland Drive "Lost Highway for dummies" (my wife is reading over my shoulder, laughing, and saying she's insulted because she likes Mulholland Drive, though not nearly as much as I). If LOST HIGHWAY was on DVD, I would rent it and give it another shot. I have only seen it once, years ago on Laserdisc.

Lynch films, each one, is a matter of taste. And sometimes you will watch one and hate it, then like it years later. That's what happened with me and BLUE VELVET.

Now FWWM is another story. After three viewings, I can say that I truly do hate it. And this is coming from a huge fan of the series. The film has a few outstanding moments, but that's all, in my opinion.

By the way, I have a rough bootleg copy of the original pilot for Mulholland Drive and it is interesting to see how little was changed during the course of the first 90 minutes. It's also interesting how suttle changes can make a scene so much more powerful. Almost every scene from the pilot is improved upon in some way in the theatrical version.

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post #8 of 8 Old 11-04-2003, 09:03 PM
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We're going to have to agree to disagree on just about everything you said in your last post. My thoughts on FWWM on are record in my DVDFile review and I don't feel like repeating myself here.

I also have a copy of the MD pilot. Frankly, I think that version is better than the theatrical version. It would have made a great TV series. Too bad he was making it for ABC and not HBO. The finished movie is more or less the same as the TV pilot with 45 minutes of Lost Highway outtakes grafted onto the end for no particular reason. I like the movie, but it's not Lynch's best work. He's recycling himself and that's rarely a good thing for an artist to do.

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