Thursday, August 13, 2009


Currently top of the rotation on The Playlist is a terrific overview of a column from DGA Quarterly’s “In My Opinion” feature in which Steven Soderbergh cuts a wide and scorching swath through the halls of HBO and AMC for their ghastly and inconsistent policy regarding providing their movies in the correct aspect ratio. The Playlist’s account of the article is good-humored itself and very thorough, which is all the more valuable because right now the links they provide to the actual piece reveal that DGA Quarterly is having server problems, and even a cache of the text-only version of the article is unavailable. Here’s a bit of what they had to say about the Wrath of Soderbergh:

“HBO, who Soderbergh describes as a ‘poster child for stupidity,’ scored a ‘D.’ Soderbergh himself once got someone with pull to call the cable channel on his behalf to ensure the Oceans films were not hacked. Awesome. But it's AMC that scored the lowest with an embarrassing ‘F-‘ for running ads for movies in letterbox format and then showing them panned and scanned. This is made even more baffling, as their own original series like Mad Men and Breaking Bad are shown letterboxed. So enraged by their hypocrisy, Soderbergh wishes to ‘expel the channel from the universe.’ Yikes.”

Check out the rest of The Playlist’s piece, and keep clicking those links—you never know when the DGA Quarterly piece might come back online. In the meantime, enjoy the righteous rant of one of America’s most prolific filmmakers—and the comments it has inspired—in defense of the viewer’s right to see the whole, big picture.

(Thanks to my wife Patty for pointing this wonderful aspect ratio geekfest to me, one of the aspect-ratio-geekiest.)



Bob Westal said...

If it weren't for the glory of "Mad Men," I'd be on precisely the same page as Soderbergh. (I haven't seen "Breaking Bad", so maybe there's that, too.) It was certainly expelled from my universe prior to "Mad Men."

AMC went from being the early version of what TCM is now to, basically, the old TV late show in a world where we no longer need it. Why that's a marketing strategy, or any kind of strategy, I'll never understand.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

"AMC went from being the early version of what TCM is now to, basically, the old TV late show in a world where we no longer need it."

That's exactly it, Bob. I remember checking the old "American Movie Classics" schedule (What's the acronym supposed to stand for now?) with much the same kind of anticipation that I rifle through TCM's today. That was back in the day when it wasn't even a 24-hour channel. But your late show comment is absolutely on the money-- why would we need one? Whenever you see AMC featuring something like Halloween II (a curious choice for a channel with even a discarded pedigree like this one) padded into a three-and-a-half hour time slot, well, if that's not a big-enough red flag, then by all means tune in and have fun! (Jesus, even the old CBS Friday Late Movie was never that shameless!)

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