Friday, September 20, 2002

I've always been a late adopter of technology. I'm a natural sceptic. But by 1991, some of my favourite albums were no longer being released on vinyl, so I realised I'd have to give in and buy a CD player. My Philips portable player convinced me. OK, it was clunky, and took four batteries, which lasted just one hour. But hey, it was groovy and it was, you know, the future. In an attempt to win over more converts, artists would include an track on the CD that wasn't on the album. Admittedly, these extra tracks were usually crap, but they were, you know, extra.

I've always felt the same way about DVD. Firstly, I've never seen much point buying movies - how many times do you really want to watch American Pie 2? Secondly, I'd seen too many formats fall by the wayside - laser discs, betamax, CDi. What was the guarantee that DVDs were going to last?

Fortunately, I didn't have to buy one, because Jonathan gave me a PlayStation 2 for my birthday. I must admit that for six months, it has sat neglected, forlorn, on top of the video. But last night I plunged into the world of DVD, and bought Amelie and Memento [£20 for two at Virgin] and Bjork's Volumen.

The Bjork collection is astonishing. The videos directed by Michel Gondry have a dream-like surreal logic: Bjork is driving a massive truck bigger than most buildings; she pulls over and goes to the dentist who turns out to be a gorilla; the gorilla pulls a diamond out of her mouth; Bjork grabs the diamond and runs out into the desert carrying it; it gets bigger and bigger till she is struggling to carry it; she opens the hood of the trunk and throws the gem into the engine - which is actually a set of silver teeth; then she runs into a museum, chasing herself through the corridors till she comes across an exhibition - a beautiful man lies in a deep sleep, perhaps dead; Bjork runs back to the truck and gets a timebomb; she sets it by the sleeping beauty and runs outside; the museum blows up; the sleeping beauty awakes and is united with Bjork.

Fantastic stuff, and when you get to the seen-it-a-million-times Spike Jonze promo for "It's Oh So Quiet", you can just press 'Next". How clever.

Just as in the early days of CD, most films on DVD advertise 'special features'. What's so special? So you get to hear the director and the art director chatting over the movie: "Remember, this is the bit where we shot her coming down the stairs?" "yeah, took ages." "Hmmm... turned out well, though." "Yeah." "Hmmm."

Shut it!

Memento is perhaps the perfect film to watch on DVD. If you've seen the film, you'll know that it starts at the end, then works it way back to the beginning. The DVD contains the 'Memento Mori' special feature, enabling you to watch a reconstructed version of the film in chronological order, starting with the end credits. Genius!

Call me a convert.

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