Films of 2008
€1 = $1.30641

I only saw 2 films on the silver screen in 2008. That's a personal (low) record. Did I miss any future classics? Possibly. Time will tell.

1. The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, that was sadly snubbed by the Academy. Eight nominations, but mostly in the technical categories. Here's hoping for the "Art Direction" statuette. Full review here.

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Loathed by many (e.g. The Digital Bits, Focus Knack, High Def Digest), but I enjoyed this fourth Indiana Jones adventure. Sure, it's no match for Raiders or Crusade, but it's still a fun romp - even after a second viewing. Full review here.

I rented 1 film in 2008.

Keep an eye on that Jason Reitman - he's Hollywood's new golden boy. Let's hope he doesn't squander his talent on mediocre movies. Full review here.

I borrowed three LaserDisc films from a collector.

1. Batman
The 1989 Tim Burton effort, which had somehow escaped my eye all this time. Not as good as I expected it to be, but still a very enjoyable piece of pellicule. Full review here.

2. Amsterdamned
Hilarious, cool Dutch movie from 1987, about an aquatic assassin roaming the canals of Amsterdam. Best line : "They were attacked while they were taking water samples" / "Looks like the water monster took them out!". Not funny, you say? Well, in Dutch, "monster" means both "sample" and "monster".

3. Always
An underrated Spielberg film, about a pilot returning to earth after he died to help his sobbing girlfriend find a new love. Always features the last performance of the great Audrey Hepburn.

We saw a fair share of movies in Sweden. My co-students in Sweden were an illegal bunch however. The following movies were downloaded on their hard disks. I refused to watch these illegal flicks, but eventually relented.

The Last Legion [crap]
I Am Legend [quite good]
Shaun Of The Dead [funny]
Evan Almighty [mediocre]
Bee Movie [quite good]
Good Luck Chuck [crap]

Luckily, some students had legal movies at their disposal. Each one turned out to be enjoyable. Coincidence?

Rain Man [excellent]
The Shining [very good]
Donnie Darko [very good]
Jackie Brown [very good]

I bought a lot of movies in 2008. Unfortunately, my favourite high definition format, HD DVD, conceded defeat in February 2008. The good news? The major retailers began clearing out their stock at irresistible prices., especially, lopped off a lot of pounds. At €5.49, buying a movie (let alone a high definition movie) was never cheaper. [in buying order]


1. Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition
This is how all special editions should be done! Brilliant audio and video quality, terrific extras (including a 3 hour documentary), all 5 versions of the movie & some cool paraphernalia (e.g. sketches, a plastic unicorn). Normally priced at $99.99, but only $76 on, which is a mere €63 including shipping and taxes.

2. Stardust
My favourite movie of 2007. Also via, but very expensive. Extras include a solid documentary, sadly without any interviews with the cast's big names. Full review here. (€34.24)

3. Unforgiven
The Clint Eastwood classic, with great extras (a full episode of Maverick!). HD DVD was also dying in Sweden, so Media Market lowered the price of their discs. Funny title in Swedish, too : De Skoningslφsa ("The Merciless"). (€10.40)

4. Ocean's Eleven
Fun, hip, cool, slick and (add your own adjective). Steven Soderbergh at the top of his game, a great cast that's cleary having a good time, a jazzy soundtrack and a snappy screenplay. Bought in Finland (we visited Helsinki for two days), which explains the super hilarious title : Korkeat Panokset. No, I don't have a clue. (€10)

5. Planet Earth
David Attenborough's stunning masterpiece made for the BBC. A beautiful 5-disc set at an incredible price, thanks to The Blu-ray costs at least three times more. (€20.99)

6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Johnny Depp + Tim Burton = classy movie. Basic math, right? (€5.49)

7. Corpse Bride
Johnny Depp + Tim Burton = classy movie. Basic math, right? Full review here. (€5.49)

8. Batman Begins
The perfect appetizer for The Dark Knight. I had not yet seen Batman Begins, but the praise is deserved. Gorgeous audio and video, too. (€5.49)

9. DTS Demo Disc
A free demo disc, courtesy of the friendly chaps at Cinedream. (€0)

10. American Gangster
Josh Brolin steals the show in this Ridley Scott directed gangster drama. Not quite up to The Godfather standards, but impressive nonetheless. Full review here. (€5.49)

11. Atonement
Loved by some (movie magazine EMPIRE), hated by some (Belgian journalist Wenke Mast), Atonement is a mixed bag to say the least. It drags a bit, but its stunning cinematography and convincing actors lift it above the "average" mark. Director Joe Wright may be a showoff (dixit Pim Verhulst), but he knows how to direct a movie. Plus, it's infinitely better than his previous effort, the rather dull Pride And Prejudice. (€5.49)

12-16. Harry Potter 1-5
Birthday present for my father. Only €27.45 for the entire collection!


1. Spider-Man 3
Vastly inferior to parts 1 & 2, but still enjoyable. The Sandman sequence is a CGI treat and the disc boasts a great cast commentary. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, though : my first Blu-ray ever was a present from Sony. (€0)

2. Ratatouille
Ah, my dear dear Pixar. Will you ever let us down? The answer seems to point to "no". Ratatouille is vintage cinema : wonderful, inspiring, funny and heartwarming. Walt Disney would have been proud. (a present)

3. Blood Diamond
Impressive Edward Zwick effort. Djimon Hounsou is brilliant and Leonardo DiCaprio, while hilarious with his South African accent, holds up very well. This Blu-ray came free with the purchase of a Samsung Blu-ray player. Not too shabby! Full review here. (a present)

4. 300
The most testosterone filled flick I have ever seen! It rocks the crowd, but lacks the substance. I originally saw it with a bunch of Italians in Sweden. With an Italian audio track, God forbid! Those sneaky P2P bastards provide the real deal (a DVD rip), but remove any additional audio tracks to reduce the file size. Humbug! This Blu-ray was a present from Samsung as well.

5. DTS Demo Disc
The same demo disc, albeit on Blu-ray, courtesy of the friendly chaps at Cinedream. (€0)

6. Cars
More Pixar mastery. As stated before, Cars isn't their best work, but it's still brimful of excellence. Cars actually improves with every viewing. (a present)

7. Sleeping Beauty
The Disney classic, remastered for the Blu-ray generation. Malifecent is one of the greatest villains ever and the Cinemascope format elevates the movie from mere cartoon to masterpiece. (a present)

8. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
A heap of interesting bonus materials accompagny the good-but-not-great movie. Now bring on the original trilogy! (a present)

9. Juno
The movie begged to be bought. It even works as a "background application" : just put it on and let its great dialogues and music wash over you while you work. The commentary by director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody is hilarious. (a present)

10. Wall-E
And Wall-E makes three! Pixar's latest further moved the goalposts. Be afraid, Dreamworks. Go home, BlueSky. Wall-E is an instant classic. (€26.90)


1. Back To The Future
My favourite film of all time, on LaserDisc. Too bad it's the PAL version. As you may know, PAL LaserDiscs are inferior to their NTSC counterparts. Luckily, this is a UK pressing from Pioneer, which guarantees a top transfer with a beautiful picture. The Dutch Philips pressing on the other hand is horrendous and should be avoided at all costs. One complaint : no chapter selection!? What were they thinking? (€3)

2. Back To The Future part II
Worse than the original, but filled with enough wondrous imagery and ideas to thrill. (€3)

3. Back To The Future part III
Part III improves on part II by adding a great location (1880's Hill Valley), fun characters (the old cowboys, ZZ Top) and a love interest. (€3)

4. The Pagemaster
Flopped Macaulay Culkin movie that's certainly worth a look. Read the book and play the video game as well! (€5)

5. Aladdin
The best NTSC presentation this brilliant Disney movie got in the United States. The Japanese edition is even better, but far more rare and expensive. The cover art is supreme, but the picture quality could be better (especially the colour red is butt ugly on this particular LaserDisc). (€5)

6. The Little Mermaid
Yep, I already bought this one last year. But that was the CLV LaserDisc. This one's CAV. I'm not going to explain the difference, because it's too difficult and too geeky. It comes down to this : CLV offers 60 minutes of playing time on one side of the disc, CAV only 30 minutes. Which should result in better picture quality. Wikipedia has a more profound explanation. Full review here. (€5)

7. Daens
The Belgian blockbuster on LaserDisc? Wow, must be rare. Good movie, too. (€3)

8. Fun And Fancy Free
The vintage Disney compilation, including Mickey and the Beanstalk. Fully restored for its (then) 50th anniversary. (€15)


Blues Brothers 2000
Cans of Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite (etc.) are worth something in Sweden! 0.50SEK (half a crown) to be exact. Empty cans can be brought to the local supermarket and exchanged for money, which can be spent again. How nice. So, after 4 months and a half, I had amassed 80 cans. Or enough to buy a 40SEK DVD. This sequel is hated by fans of the 1980 original, but - bash me if you want to - I like it. (€4)


Black Rain
The Michael Douglas action fest on CD-I, yet another fascinating flopped format. (€1)

Julian, 29 January 2008