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Are Home Vision/ Janus dvds similar in quality to Criterion?

Are Home Vision/ Janus dvds similar in quality to Criterion?

Old 10-10-03, 04:04 AM
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Are Home Vision/ Janus dvds similar in quality to Criterion?

I was in Borders and was reading the back of the dvd, 'Seance On a Wet Afternoon', and I noticed that it is a Home Vision release, and it had Janus logos on it as well. It looked like an interesting film, but the reviews on Amazon indicated the video is poor. So, how does it work with these companies? Is Home Vision the corporate owner of Criterion, but otherwise independent? Or is Home Vision nothing more than a distributor? And Janus, I know they are owners of many classic films, but other than ownership and licensing I am not clear on what their role is.

I have most of the Criterion films, but if these other Janus or Home Vision films are similar in quality, I might want to start picking those up.

p.s. I searched for 'Home Vision' in the past year, and found no similar threads.

p.p.s. does anyone have this film? What do you think of the quality?
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Old 10-10-03, 04:27 AM
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The relationship between Home Vision Entertainment (HVE) and Criterion is a bit complex. HVE is generally considered to be the chief distributor for the Criterion Collection. In the past, they mainly produced VHS versions of films from the Janus film collection (many of which ended up as Criterion releases on laserdisc, then DVD). Many of their early DVD releases were centered on art and artists (they still release VHS tapes and DVDs dealing with art).

More recently, they have been functioning as a sort of minor league team to Criterion's major league ballclub. They have been releasing lesser films of certain directors within the Criterion Collection (almost always barebones). While Criterion has collaborated with HVE on some releases (chiefly those of the Merchant-Ivory films), they are still distinctly separate companies.

My experience is that HVE generally has fairly high quality standards with their releases, but not Criterion-quality standards. That said, even Criterion puts out the occasional stinker, so I think it's always better to check a few reviews before plunking down the cash.

Other reviews of Seance on a Wet Afternoon:

DVD File DVD Movie Central DVD Talk DVD Verdict Digitally Obsessed

A film like this is unlikely to see a DVD re-release anytime soon. I don't know that I'd pay full price at Borders, though. I'd suggest a NetFlix rental if you can. Then if you really like it, snap it up online at a better price (it's $14.36 at Deep Discount DVD).

Info on Janus / Criterion / HVE

Last edited by FilmFanSea; 10-10-03 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 10-10-03, 12:44 PM
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I have to admit that I was impressed with the quality of The Day of the Dolphin, a HVE release, and I've heard good things about their Flaherty Louisiana Story and Man of Aran disks. Based on Day I ordered up The Cars that Ate Paris, due on Oct. 21st. If it's as good as Day I may order the Flaherty films, but they are a bit steep on price, and there's a lot of good stuff coming out...may need to budget.

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Old 10-10-03, 02:25 PM
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You're looking at the one Home Vision title which I've purchased: SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON. First off, let's say right off the bat, the film is terrific. A really atmospheric, thought-provoking, character-driven kidnapping film with two terrific lead performances. It holds its own among any of the Criterion releases.

HOWEVER, the quality of the transfer is a real mixed bag, which is my guess why this DVD was not released under the Criterion moniker. In fact, the first 10 minutes or so of the DVD look really poor. Dirt, scratches, tinny sound, the works. The transfer gets better as the film goes on, with only sporadic dirt, etc. popping up later.

So, I'd still recommend buying the DVD, if you're a fan of the film. But still, it's no Criterion in terms of A/V. Also, needless to say, there are no extras.
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Old 10-10-03, 06:26 PM
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thanks, all, for the great in-depth information. I almost feel guilty for the amount of info you included, FilmFanSea! I will definitely check this title out, then.

I don't generally buy from Borders (i was buying a couple out of print dvds, which they are good for since their prices are so high) but i find it is easier to check out titles I'd never heard of when you can examine them tactily rather than the more amorphous descriptions on websites.
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Old 10-10-03, 07:53 PM
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The HVE/Janus releases of the Zatoichi series all look quite good to me, considering the age of the films---nice, sharp anamorphic prints.
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