Chris Chiarella

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Chris Chiarella Posted: May 01, 2007 Published: Apr 01, 2007 0 comments
Ah, to be young again. As Finding Neverland taught us, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is really for the kids, but the overwhelming charm of this tale about an ageless boy’s carefree adventures makes it pretty much irresistible for the rest of us. That was true of the original stage production and of Walt Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation, with perhaps only its clichd Hollywood depiction of Native Americans looking the worse for wear these many years later.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 24, 2007 Published: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments
From the opening credits, to that crazy hitchhiker, to the ceremonial bones and feathers outside the old house, to the tooth (with filling) lying on the front porch, to the sudden, ugly killing of the first victim, we know that something ain’t quite right in Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. You can even feel a knot forming in your stomach during John Larroquette’s restrained narration that sets the stage for this road trip that’s about to take a tragic turn. I can’t even imagine how savagely this smart, brutal masterpiece of modern horror must have rocked moviegoers’ worlds back in a more innocent 1974. Dark Sky Films’ Ultimate Edition now transports us to those backwoods of the Lone Star State where it all began.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 13, 2007 Published: Mar 13, 2007 0 comments
Get Back
Would you believe that
Get Smart has returned on DVD? I don’t think we’ve ever reported on a TV title in the Reference Corner column before, and perhaps that’s because there are too few TV-on-DVD sets like this one.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Apr 13, 2007 Published: Jul 13, 2006 0 comments
Video: 3
Audio: 3
Extras: 4
OK now, I don’t say this very often, but this movie is messed up. It’s actually pretty good—don’t misunderstand—but this well-crafted tale of three impossibly obnoxious tourists on a budget takes many a dark twist, with lots of unapologetically graphic violence. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 29, 2007 0 comments
Shoot the robot dog. This is an HT gamer's new best friend.

It's just so beautiful. I realize that's a pretty shallow initial evaluation of Sony's much-hyped super-fun-happy-smile machine, the PlayStation 3. But the lines are so bold, the shape is so commanding, and it's all just so. . .shiny. Of course, it's what's inside that counts, and, in this case, that would be the imposing new Cell Broadband Engine, which Sony developed in collaboration with IBM and Toshiba. The Cell engine features a mind-blowing eight processors working in parallel—a main CPU, plus seven Synergistic Processing Units. It's 40 times as powerful as the PlayStation 2's processor, performing 208 billion floating-point calculations per second. This translates to highly detailed, highly interactive environments, complex effects, and bigger battles with a greater number of enemies. Backing this is the RSX graphics-processing unit, which is capable of 4X antialiasing. This can be a real boon in the large-format high-definition universe. The games themselves spin on the PS3's Blu-ray drive and arrive on high-capacity BD-ROM discs.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
The universe is still expanding.

People seem to love bashing the last great format war—SACD versus DVD-Audio—in which, of course, there was no real winner. My personal opinion has always been a little different. I consider it a unique pleasure to bask in the warm embrace of 5.1 high-resolution channels of some of the best popular music ever. I continue to do this, as I always have, by way of an affordable universal disc player, as one could fairly call it in the days before HD DVD and Blu-ray. I'm glad to see that manufacturers are still supporting the high-resolution audio formats, helping the consumer take advantage of all the great software currently available, much of it heavily discounted in the aftermath of the conflict.

Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Games and movies collide, again, this time in high-def.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD DVD player is targeted specifically at the owners of the Xbox 360 gaming console—or those on the fence about purchasing one. It's an affordable way to bring HD DVD into your existing multimedia system. This small disc spinner will not work by itself; rather, it will only operate in conjunction with one of the two available versions of the Xbox 360, or with a PC (sort of, as you'll see later). It's another box (which will of course take up more space), and it lacks the sleek approach of a single-chassis solution. But the easily replaceable USB cable that connects the HD DVD player to your Xbox does offer a bit of placement freedom. This in turn makes the drive's integrated USB hub potentially more versatile.

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Chris Chiarella Posted: Mar 20, 2007 0 comments
Bose recently invited us by their Columbus Circle store in Manhattan to give a listen to their in-ear headphones. While not a new product per se, they wanted to discuss some new and upcoming enhancements that I'll touch on in a moment, but this was my first chance to really evaluate the 'phones and, as someone whose been using earbuds extensively for a decade now, I was genuinely impressed by the sound. While not noise-canceling or sound-isolating, they incorporate the same Bose Tri-Port technology as in their QuietComfort line: small ports in the earpieces that help in bass reproduction without adding great size, so they're a handy accessory to iPods et. al.
Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 14, 2007 0 comments
It’s curious timing for a new PS2 accessory, but this one is a dandy. For those of you who just couldn’t wait for the debut of the PS3, or, more to the point, couldn’t afford to buy one of the scarce wonder boxes off of eBay, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy your favorite PlayStation titles in high definition right now, thanks to the Xploder HDTV Player for PlayStation 2 ($40).
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Chris Chiarella Posted: Feb 08, 2007 Published: Feb 09, 2007 0 comments
For prolific director Michael Apted, the Up series continues to be a lifelong labor of love.

Before he embarked on a distinguished career in feature films (Coal Miner's Daughter, Gorillas in the Mist, The World Is Not Enough, and many more), director Michael Apted was part of a revolutionary British-television documentary project. It was called Seven Up, and it profiled a group of children in 1964. Apted took over from director Paul Almond starting with the first follow-up, 7 Plus Seven. He rounded up the same subjects at age 14 and has gone on to shepherd the series through to the present day. The films have become increasingly powerful for their ever-expanding scope and their ability to effectively condense entire lives of everyday citizens in a matter of minutes. 49 Up is the most recent installment, on DVD from First Run Features. All of the previous iterations are also available in an extraordinary boxed set.

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