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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
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.
The TRANSPORTER (has some bothersome edge enhancement)
COURAGE UNDER FIRE
* 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.