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PlayStation 4 details, Promised Land & more announcements, plus Donald Richie RIP

February 21, 2013 - 1:15 pm   |   By 

There’s a bit of release news to talk about today, but first some other business…

Here at the site today, our own Jeff Kleist has written a new 3rd Dimension column about the conversion of Tony Scott’s Top Gun into 3D for IMAX 3D and Blu-ray 3D release.  It’s well worth a look, so do check it out.  Don’t forget you can read Jeff’s review of the Blu-ray 3D here.

Also today, as expected Sony held their big PlayStation 4 unveiling last night.  The unit is expected to be released in time for the holidays in the U.S. and Japan.  Strangely, they didn’t show the actual console, but did reveal images of the controllers and many games in the works for the platform.

So what did we learn last night? Here are the official system specs:

Main Processor

  • Single-chip custom processor
  • CPU : x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores
  • GPU : 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine

Memory

  • GDDR5 8GB

Hard Disk Drive

  • Built-in

Optical Drive (read only)

  • BD 6xCAV
  • DVD 8xCAV

I/O

  • Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0),  AUX
  • Communication Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
  • IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth® 2.1 (EDR)

 AV output

  • HDMI
  • Analog-AV out
  • Digital Output (optical)

Just as we expected, the PS4 will include 1080p Blu-ray playback capability and it will also play 4K movie content – presumably via Sony’s own streaming service as we’ve expected (that’s yet to be announced) – but not 4K games (this per Sony’s Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida).   It will, however, be capable of playing games in full 1080p 3D.  It also will apparently NOT block used games, so there’s that.  There are many other details available from last night’s event (viewable in re-streams here and you can read more here at ars technica) that will surely be of interest to gamers, but that covers the PS4’s utility as a movie playback device for now.

Now… in announcement news today, Universal has set Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land (written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski) for Blu-ray Combo and DVD release on 4/23.  Extras will include an extended scene and The Making of Promised Land featurette.

CBS and Paramount are re-issuing all 7 seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation on DVD individually on 4/16.  These are the original DVDs as previously released – not SD versions of the new HD re-masters.  Just FYI.

20th Century Fox is re-issuing The Sandlot as a new 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Combo on 3/26.

Amazon is taking pre-orders on Disney and ABC’s Once Upon a Time: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray and DVD – no street date is yet announced.

And New Video Group will release the documentary Chasing Ice on Blu-ray and DVD on 9/10.

Finally today, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of acclaimed film historian Donald Richie, who passed away on Tuesday in Tokyo at the age of 88.  Richie was one of America’s foremost experts on Japanese cinema and almost single-handedly (at least in the early days, until his converts began making their own contributions to the effort) introduced English audiences to the masters and classics of Japanese film.  Tuesday’s New York Times describes one of Richie’s earliest visits to a Japanese movie studio:

In his memoir, The Japan Journals, 1947-2004, Mr. Richie recounted how in the late 1940s he paid his first visit to a Japanese studio, where he met a director in a white floppy hat and “someone I guessed was a star” wearing “a loose Hawaii-shirt.”  Thus began Mr. Richie’s enduring acquaintance with two of the giants of Japanese cinema, the director Akira Kurosawa and the actor Toshiro Mifune.

Can you imagine not only meeting but starting a long friendship with both Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune in their filmmaking prime?  That’s Ritchie on the left in the photo below and Kurosawa in the center.

Donald Richie (left) with Akira Kurosawa (center)

Richie’s 1959 book (co-written with film critic Joseph L. Anderson) The Japanese Film: Art and Industry remains a landmark text on the subject.  And my own battered copy of his comprehensive The Films of Akira Kurosawa has become indispensible to me.  I know I speak for my fellow Japanese cinephile Todd Doogan (and others on the Bits staff) when I say that Donald Richie’s work has enriched our enjoyment and appreciation Japanese film immensely.  Would I have discovered Kurosawa or... say... the Zatoichi films of Shintaro Katsu on my own, without Richie’s having opened the door for us so many years before?  Probably not and – speaking personally – what a great tragedy that would have been.

Donald… we thank you.

Donald Richie

Donald Richie (1924-2013)

That’s all for now.  Stay tuned…

- Bill Hunt

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