It's easy to get obsessed with quality. Everyone wants the best. At least that's what we think we want. A lot of times getting the best ends up being more trouble than it's worth. When we say we want the best, what we're actually saying is that we want the best value. Value sits at the intersection between quality and affordability. While quality is typically objectively measurable, affordability is always variable...and not just in monetary terms. Affordability can be qualified via many perspectives such as time, convenience, level-of-effort, etc. So the value of something will always vary between individuals. One man's trash will always be another man's treasure.
Home video, particularly movies, has always been plagued by the quality question. The first instinct is to compare the home viewing experience to the experience of watching a film in theaters. The comparison is apt. The theater historically has been the first stop for new movies and new technologies for film and film exhibition. For this reason the theater will in the short term continue to be the best place to watch movies. In the long term that likely won't be the case as technology and businesses adapt to people abandoning theaters for mobile and home entertainment.
The question of quality also comes up for home video when comparing Blu-ray to streaming. 4K Blu-ray, the successor to BluRay which was the successor to DVD which was the successor to VHS, is the current physical distribution vector for movies. Unlike its ancestors, it looks spectacular - theater quality - from a picture and sound quality standpoint. Without a doubt, with the exception of having the actual DCP of the film, a well mastered 4K Blu-ray offers the best picture and sound quality for a movie. But does it offer the best value? I would argue it does not.
Streaming video has so changed the landscape of film distribution that I scarcely see a future for physical media except as collectors items. Physical media is simply not affordable anymore. Now, I don't mean affordability in terms of cost. While new 4K Blu-rays can cost $30+ to purchase, a Redbox rental of a 4K Blu-ray only cost about $2.50 per night. Still, Blu-rays are unaffordable because the convenience and quality of modern streaming video has decimated its value proposition. Yes, I could pickup or have delivered that 4K Blu-ray OR I could do a few remote button presses to Netflix, HBO Max, or Prime Video and instantly get 4K HDR streaming video with surround sound. Most people can't tell the difference. 5 minutes into any movie, I know I can't.
Unless you want to end up like me, a victim of the Blu-ray/HD-DVD war with a giant pile of discs with no device to play them on, my advice would be to stay away from the physical media even at the expense of some picture and sound quality. Truthfully, even if I did have something to play those discs on, I'd probably just find the movie on streaming and watch it that way anyway because at the end of the day laziness trumps all.
Here are the best new streaming movies to watch this week.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021)
Available Friday, February 26 on Hulu
IMDB Description: (The story) follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.
Best new streaming international movies to watch this week
Crazy About Her (2021)
Available Friday, February 26 on Netflix
Genre: Romance Comedy
IMDB Description: After a magical night together, Adri voluntarily turns himself into the psychiatric institution where Carla lives.
Other movies available this week
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) on HBO Max
Tom & Jerry (2021) on HBO Max
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) on Hulu
Lupe (2019) on HBO Max
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) on HBO Max
Captain Fantastic (2016) on Netflix
The Girl on the Train (2021) on Netflix
The Informer (2019) on Prime Video
Our Idiot Brother (2011) on Netflix
The Conjuring (2013) on Netflix
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