Raphael Pour-Hashemi's Review Of 2001

Only now, at the end of 2001, does DVD actually appear to have finally found its feet on Region 2. Finally, we are no longer subjected to the land across the ocean rubbing our faces in their superior picture quality and better extras, and this has resulted in more Region 2 sales than ever before.

On that note, my first choice of 2001 is the Region 2 re-issue version of From Dusk Till Dawn. The enjoyable vampire romp matched the abundance of extras from the Region 1 version, including the excellent feature length 'Full Tilt Boogie' documentary, and also improved upon the NTSC release by being a gorgeous anamorphic PAL version. Compared to the bare-bones release version a couple of years ago, this new version is amazing.

2001 will also be seen as the year George Lucas finally gave in to the legions of fans storming the gates of his mansion over his refusal to grant the Star Wars legacy a DVD release until all six films have been made. However, Lucas partially backed down, by throwing the pigeons the scrap that was Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. Yes, the film's merits are highly debatable (I personally think it's an excellent opening chapter for a lengthy fantasy tale) but no one can argue over the extras that swamp this two disc release.

Steven Spielberg's personal Close Encounters Of The Third Kind received an excellent DVD release in the middle of the year, with each department, be it picture, sound or extras, receiving the utmost effort, despite the lack of a Spielberg commentary.

One of the greatest epic films ever made, Doctor Zhivago, was released with a DVD built on epic foundations. Take a day off work and devote the whole of it to this David Lean masterpiece, including the excellent extras.

Finally, on a more personal note, it's marvellous that The Graduate finally received an anamorphic transfer after being released by the third different distributor. Momentum pick up where MGM and BMG have failed, and despite the lesser amount of extras the Region 2 version is still the flagship version in the world.

Having spent more time in the cinema this year compared to every previous year, I am saddened that a record low amount of films have captured my imagination. I was very pleased with A.I. Artificial Intelligence, a film that seemed most like a hybrid of Spielberg and Kubrick. The Others was a genuinely gripping film; well-written and well-acted, it says something about the British Film Industry in that a Spanish crew and an Australian lead actress can make a better British wartime horror flick than we can. The Fellowship Of The Ring brought the most hype to the public and delivered the goods despite the heavy marketing. Currently at number 1 at www.imdb.com the film should but probably won't beat Moulin Rouge to the Best Picture Oscar in early 2002. As for the latter film, let's just say I cannot believe how well received it is, due to its complete celebration of pandering towards style over substance. The film only aims to work on an aesthetic level, and on that front alone it brings me out in violent rages whenever I see it. Hearing film fans claim that Moulin Rouge is an all-round ten out of ten film is like asking a so-called Beatles fan what his favourite album is by the Fab Four and being given a reply of The Beatles Number Ones.

And speaking of the Beatles, I was very saddened at the death of George Harrison, a genius songwriter and twenty five percent of the greatest band that will ever live. Obviously, the September 11th tragedy hit a chord amongst us that we had never heard before, and 2001 will sadly always be remembered primarily for that tragic day. On a happier note, at least Steps and Five have finally split up. That leaves Westlife, Blue, Hearsay, S Club 7, Stereophonics, Starsailor and Travis to split up, and soon I hope. Poor old Rat Pack members Sinatra, Martin and Davis must be turning in their graves after Robbie Williams got lost up his own bottom recording Swing When You're Winning. Burn your copy now and admit the marketing sucked you in! With regards to music that is actually good, many acts have impressed me. I think The Strokes were very good until the hype in NME magazine lifted them to god-like status. Even The White Stripes had their moments, although it actually looks like the band that will cause the most excitement are Swedish rockers The Hives. On a more chilled out note, Turin Brakes, Elbow, Kings Of Convenience, Goldfrapp and Radiohead produced world-class albums with apparently little effort.

So that's the round up of my 2001. It's been a long and hectic year and I hope 2002 is more relaxing.

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