The Life Unwired with Ben Combee (unwiredben) wrote,
The Life Unwired with Ben Combee

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Aspects of Henry Fool

The DVD geek side of my nature is driving this post. Earlier today, I got the brand new DVD releases of two of Hal Hartley's films: Amateur and Henry Fool. The Amateur disc is OK, looking like a straight port of the earlier laserdisc version. I saw some video artifacts, and the aspect ratio is a very odd 1.55:1. It looked like the screen was cropped on the sides during the title sequence, but in twenty minutes I spent looking over the film, I didn't see any scenes where the framing seemed bad. It does look and sound a bit better than the VHS version, and it has some documentary material about the making of the film.

The Henry Fool disc has a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which is actually wider than the 1.66:1 ratio in which the film was shot. The picture and sound look very good, but there's nothing else on the disc. A couple of years ago, I'd imported the Hong Kong release of the film, a region 0 disc, but I'd been disappointed that it was a full screen transfer with poor compression. Well, I did an A/B comparison, and I realized that the HK version was an open matte transfer, while the letterboxed one actually removes information. This is really noticeable in the first scene in the store; Warren is standing under a Budweiser sign, but on the US disc, the name is cut off by the black bar region.

With these releases, most of Hal Hartley's long-form films are out on DVD. Flirt and Trust are both missing in action, but Simple Men is coming at the end of January from Image. Surviving Desire, No Such Thing, The Unbelievable Truth, and The Book of Life have all been out for a while. I'd really like to see a DVD collection of his shorts and music videos; considering that Spike Jonez and Michel Gondry have similar collections out now, it seems to be a possibility.
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