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DVD Talk review of 'Kontroll'

Old 08-28-05, 02:40 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'Kontroll'

I read Svet Atanasov's DVD review of Kontroll at http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=17395 and...I first want to say thanks for a great review. This one immediately got sent to the top of my Netflix queue. But I'm confused about how you decided to give this one a "Skip It" recommendation based solely on the technical specs, especially after giving the film itself a very favorable review. I can see that the technical qualities of the disc are obviously less than desirable, but it seems unfair to advise people to ignore this film just because of a dirty print and lack of a DTS track (don't get me started). So what's the deal?
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Old 08-28-05, 09:38 PM
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I will attempt to answer your question(s) as much as I can.


There is a very specific reason why I decided to give this “release” (please understand that I refer to the release and not the production itself) a SKIP IT mark.
Kontroll is a film that was expected by many on this forum and elsewhere, and the manner in which it has been presented to us is to say the least atrocious. I find it very disturbing that ThinkFilm have simply decided to add up chapter stops and a plastic case and call this mess a release. However, what is really annoying here is the fact that this is a film that most of Europe (major Cannes buzz) has been discussing for quite some time now and of course the US is the last to get it on the market. With this said- there was a dreadful UK release which ThinkFilm should have looked at AND there is a superb Hungarian 2DVD set to which I refer in my review. They could have put up quite a nice package because if this film is presented properly it will SELL!! On the contrary ThinkFilm have chosen the cheapest way possible-and I get the feeling that they did not even care as it is a foreign language film…and even worst, not French, Spanish, German, or Italian, but…Hungarian-so who cares- to market Kontroll. This is an attitude that lately I have been noticing in a number of foreign releases. In fact, let me go on record here and say that from nearly 11 releases that I have gotten through DVDTALK for the last 3-4 weeks (and I tend to review mostly European cinema as that is what I feel comfortable with) there are probably only 2 DVDs that had a slightly above-average presentations. I am not sure if this is a deliberate strategy or what…

With this said…you would probably manage to partially enjoy the film especially if you view it on a tube as opposed to a high-end TV set…but you would hardly appreciate the experience (let me say that the film is absolutely haunting…great soundtrack, great visuals, very unpredictable…almost surreal). In fact, I am willing to bet that you would be just as disappointed as I was. As a result if you look at the very bottom of my review I recommended that people import the 2DVD Hungarian set (which is English friendly, anamorphic, and with an extra short film also subtitled in English). So, as you could see I did not advise people to ignore the film, on the contrary I suggested that they go the extra mile and acquire the proper release. The film is worth it.
Furthermore, as I understand ThinkFilm are also going to release Ozon’s 5x2 in less than two months so hopefully this review will serve as a warning. Otherwise….we all will end up enjoying massive splendid editions of Electra.

Ciao,
Pro-B

Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 08-28-05 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 08-29-05, 08:00 AM
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I think you may be looking at this from the wrong perspective. Most of the site's readers are limited to R1 NTSC. They couldn't play that Hungarian disc if they wanted to. If there were a better R1 edition likely in the future, that might be worth taking into account, but unfortunately the odds of that are pretty much non-existant. What the "Skip It" review tells the reader is that the movie isn't worth their time and they should buy something else instead. I personally would have gone with a "Rent It", to say that the movie is worth seeing but the disc quality prevents it from being a keeper.
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Old 08-29-05, 11:40 AM
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For those of us that can play the Hungarian release, are there any sites
you'd recommend for purchasing it? I'd been looking forward to the Region 1
release, but not anymore.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:43 PM
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I first canceled my order for the UK R2, and now I just canceled my order for the R1.

So now I'd like to order the Hungrian dvd of it, but I have no idea from where...
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Old 08-29-05, 12:44 PM
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Pro-bassoonist, thank you for the great review. I will try to pick up the Hungarian version. It really burns me up when a lazy company trying to turn a quick buck messes up what should be a wonderul DVD experience. I am very disapointed to hear that they will be releasing Ozon's 5x2. We can't let these companies get away with such mediocre work, and they should not be incouraged to continue such deplorable practices.
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Old 08-29-05, 12:57 PM
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Here's thelink for the Hungarian 2DVD disc for those interested. It ships directly from Hungary:
http://www.numero7.com/store/commerc...t=Kontroll+DVD

Ciao,
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Old 08-29-05, 12:57 PM
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I tried this one (which is the Hungarian 2-disc set)
http://www.netpiac.hu/display/index....termek_id=5102

But I just couldn't navigate the site well enough to set up an account to be able to order from them...
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Old 08-29-05, 12:59 PM
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Pro-B once again I thank you, and in your defense, I did not see the Skip-It as saying that the film is not worth it, I guess one has to read the whole review to understand. As for what Josh Z says, people that come to this forum already show that they have a vast interest in DVDs and should understand that many would want the most bang for their buck, and the ability to compare releases from other regions to be able to get the most complete package is a great thing. I had the 1 disc Hungarian version of the film, and the DTS and 5.1 soundtrack were great, it had very good subtitles that for the same amount of money one can easily get it online. In comparison to getting a stero sound, not as great subtitles with sub-par image. So a "rent it" is understood, but a "skip it" is equally deserving also because ThnikFilms are doing a diservice to this film and fans of it. (if one reads the whole review) Pro-B is saying that if one cares enough to want to enjoy the film as much as possible one has to get the best package and sad to say the R1 is not it.
For those that are interested I picked up my 1 disc and later the 2 disc from www.numero7.com

Last edited by BuddhaWake; 08-29-05 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 08-29-05, 01:02 PM
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After reading the discussions some time back in the International forum, I tried without success to pick up the Hungarian 2-disc from the two sites - netpiac.hu and numero7.com - mentioned in the threads. I contacted netpiac.hu twice and was told they didn't - or at least no longer did - ship to the U.S. As far as numero7.com, I know a number of people were successful in obtaining it from them. However, by the time I tried, they seemed to have run in to some difficulty with their credit card payment system (they had utilized Ikobo) and there was no way for me to send them payment via credit card. Then they set up with Paypal but I was told there was no way for me to send them payment via Paypal. After all that, I kind of got cold feet in dealing with Numero7 (even though others dealt with them successfully, and I have not read any complaints about them). I don't know where things stand right now with Numero7. Later, I tried contacting some U.S.-based import sellers (as well as CD-WOW) but they told me that they could not find a supplier for the Hungarian release. I gave up after that (as the UK release was a poor substitute), and decided to put my faith in the R1 release. Well, now I too would like to find a way to go back to Plan A and try to obtain the Hungarian 2-discer.
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Old 08-29-05, 01:05 PM
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I ran into similar problems with paying with numero7.com because they had reached their limit for the month for incoming funds (much like paypal on personal accounts) once the date passed i got an email saying that i should be able to send the payment and it worked then. They didn't have it in stock at first but I was also emailed when they did since I emailed them asking if they would have it back. I had my 1 disk up for sale/trade for a while since I got the 2 disc but I just traded it yesterday.
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Old 08-29-05, 01:07 PM
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Well, they've reached their limit again it seems, as I get this message from PayPal:This recipient is not eligible to receive funds.

Why does everything have to be so difficult?
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Old 08-29-05, 01:07 PM
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you can always send a western union but that is really expensive. What does ikobo say?
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Old 08-29-05, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
What the "Skip It" review tells the reader is that the movie isn't worth their time and they should buy something else instead.

Josh:

Thank you for your note.

I think that you have a very valid argument but I also believe that you are being misled in your own judgment. The formula which Geoff has adopted for the site and the manner in which we are asked to review films is based on a balanced approach where both the film and the DVD must offer high quality in order to be recommended to the readers. As certain releases are often not easy to evaluate as a "whole package" Geoff has provided a separate ranking for the main feature and the audio/video specs.
So as you could see from my review I gave Kontroll nearly the highest rating possible (I think that this is an excellent film but not a masterpiece or a classic which i have reserved the 5-stars rating for).
I understand that casual readers might not be capable of viewing a PAL disc and in all fairness my review may not be suitable for them. But please do understand that many times people budget their monthly spending based entirely on a single review of a film[s] they might be interesting in. In this case the reason I gave it a SKIP it mark is based on two factors:

1. I hope someone at ThinkFilm reads this review (I know other companies occasionally do check these reviews-NO Shame, Kino, etc- and I hope this review gives them a good idea how their "product" will be treated).

2. There is a superb version out there and I made sure to recommend it in my review.

In fact, I think that I agree with what you point out above....people should buy something else.
I find it very strange that in a time when we are more and more excited about the introduction of the next format (HD-DVD) a few companies are trying to reverse the course of time and bring us back to the VHS-quality era.

Ciao,
Pro-B

Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 08-29-05 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 08-29-05, 07:25 PM
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Pro-b, I respect your judgement but I still think a "Rent It" would have been more appropriate. To each their own.
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Old 08-29-05, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BuddhaWake
you can always send a western union but that is really expensive. What does ikobo say?
Yeah, I explored the Western Union option back then but as you say it was cost-prohibitive (even Numero7 told me it would be rather expensive). I don't know about now, but back when I tried I think Numero7 had just ceased being active as far as receiving payments via Ikobo. Ikobo told me that they (they being Ikobo) were phasing away from the retail (e-tail) portion of their business. Numero7 told me they were going to be active again with Ikobo in a few days but perhaps they weren't aware of the situation with Ikobo. Shortly after (and I think Numero7 might even have removed the Ikobo option), Numero7 added the Paypal option but then I was informed that they (they being Numero7) had misunderstood (or it was misrepresented to them) their capabilities via Paypal and they could not receive payments from the U.S. via Paypal. The option to send cash was offered to me but I wasn't comfortable with that choice. Numero7 was timely and seemingly open in their communication with me and if I were a betting man I'd say that they are okay (based too on others experiences). But like slop101 says it shouldn't be that difficult for me to part with my money (lord knows I tried with both "Kontroll" and the Norwegian film "Uno"). Hopefully, TLA does a better job with their coming R1 release of "Uno" (hope to see a review of this one too from Pro-B).

BuddhaWake, yeah I recall some time back that you informally called it to my attention that you had the 1-discer available for trade - in hindsight I should have taken you up on the offer back then, but at the time I was still hoping that I'd find a way to procure the 2-discer.

If anyone has any luck with either Netpiac or Numero7, please let the rest of us know.
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Old 08-29-05, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by flixtime
Hopefully, TLA does a better job with their coming R1 release of "Uno" (hope to see a review of this one too from Pro-B).
I have added it up for you!

Ciao,
Pro-B
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Old 08-29-05, 11:50 PM
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Just wanted to add my 2 cents to the mix. I saw Kontroll when it played the festival circuit, and I thought it was a weird, funny, kinda creepy, and entirely engaging movie. Dug it a whole lot, I did. So I'd absolutely recommend that the intrepid or adventurous movie fans give the R1 release a rental. I applaud bro-B's dedication towards films being presented properly, and I've no doubt his assessments of the R1 DVD are accurate, but the movie still deserves to be seen.

But if you do buy a copy of the R1, feel free to drop ThinkFilm a friendly letter and express your relative lack of enthusiasm for the picture quality and subtitle problems. If a movie's good enough to purchase for distribution, then it's damn well good enough to be presented the appropriate way.

Perhaps if there's a future re-issue, the company will rectify these shortcomings.
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Old 08-30-05, 09:39 AM
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According to this site, Jeff Sackman's email is [email protected]. As the President and CEO, I'm sure he would be interested to hear what his customers have to say.

http://www.everyonewhosanyone.com/tt/tipc2.html
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Old 08-30-05, 10:25 AM
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Thank's for the heads-up. I am going to contact him ASAP.

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Old 08-30-05, 10:53 AM
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letter removed!

See answer below.

Pro-B

Last edited by pro-bassoonist; 08-30-05 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 08-30-05, 03:06 PM
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I just received a reply to my complaint from Dave Hudakoc ([email protected]) ...

I received word of your disappointment of the Kontroll DVD from Jeff Sackman. We here at THINKFilm were also disappointed with the outcome of this DVD as we felt that such a great film deserved much more of a DVD to enjoy. Unfortunately, the Kontroll DVD was a victim of poor timing and an internal shuffle here at THINKFilm.

I am now in charge of DVD production here at THINKFilm and would like to assure you that you can expect to enjoy great DVDs going forward. It is unfortunate that Kontroll did not receive the attention it deserved, but you can expect that it won’t happen in the future. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Kindest regards,

Dave.
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Old 08-30-05, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by pro-bassoonist
I have added it up for you!

Ciao,
Pro-B
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Old 08-30-05, 07:22 PM
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They also gave "Bright Leaves" a lousy DVD release.

Edit: I checked again and that disc was actually First Run Features, not ThinkFilm.

Disregard.

Last edited by Josh Z; 09-01-05 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 09-13-05, 12:48 PM
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I too am extremely disappointed in the American release of Kontroll. I saw this one this summer in Budapest and was enthused about it, and foolishly opted not to buy the Hungarian release since it was coming out stateside in a few months and my DVD player wasn't region-free. Bad call, I guess. What amazes me is that it couldn't be much work to transfer the structure and extras they had on the Hungarian version (yes, I'm aware of PAL/NTSC differences, but I'm not sure to what extent they'd complicate such a process). Thinkfilm really dropped the ball here, probably enough to turn me off to their other releases.

Also, is it just me, or are the chapter stops -- the one thing they did add for this DVD release -- in really weird places? Is the Hungarian release any better divided?

Also, apropos Hungarian films, anyone have anything good or bad to say about DreamQuest Films? They seem pretty serious about the cause of preserving classic Hungarian cinema on DVD.
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