The best films to watch on Blu-ray
If you’ve invested in a big fancy HD TV, Blu-ray really is the only way to watch movies. There’s no point having all the audio-visual power of high definition if you’re not going to use it. Some films, such as the deliberately lo-fi Paranormal Activity (Icon) ●●●● don’t really gain much from the upgrade. Given that it was filmed on an HD camcorder, there’s no full surround sound. The picture is sharper, but not that noticeably, (though that doesn’t stop it being a wonderfully restrained minimalist ghost story) however the extra storage space means there are two different cuts of the film available on the same disc and a whole host of extras and short films. The same goes for Universal Soldier: Regeneration (Optimum) ●●●, a surprisingly gritty sci-fi action sequel reuniting Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, however the film quality isn’t great and the extras are minimal.
Arthouse cinema benefits greatly – the first half of The Double Life of Veronique (Artificial Eye) ●●●● looks and sounds stunning. The music is such an integral part of the plot and this transfer really does justice to the cinematography of Slawomir Idziak. The period detail in Katyn (Artificial Eye) ●●●, which details a massacre of Polish army officers during WWII, also looks similarly amazing.
While gritty urban drama isn’t quite as impressive, Fish Tank (Artificial Eye) ●●● isn’t even in widescreen, which doesn’t detract from Andrea Arnold’s scarily realistic portrayal of modern high-rise living, and it’s nice to see Arnold’s 2003 short Wasp included, however the other extras are a bit sparse compared with many Blu-ray packages.
On the other hand Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Artificial Eye) ●●●●, which is as much an art piece as a documentary on revered French footballer Zinedine Zidane, gains a huge amount from the sharper detail on display, while Mogwai’s original score soars on Blu-ray. It’s the only way to really capture artist Douglas Gordon and director Philippe Parreno’s vision at home. Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror masterpiece, Suspiria (Nouveaux) ●●●●● is also a visual feast of colour, composition and violence that looks sumptuous in hi-def, and Goblin’s soundtrack is even more startling with the enhanced audio track (especially in surround sound). These are the kind of films Blu-ray was invented for.