If you like movies, it’s time you made the upgrade to a 4K television. Prices are incredibly reasonable right now and, more importantly, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has now been released in the format. I was sent an early copy this week and (this is probably not a surprise) it’s absolutely gorgeous and one of those things where the whole time I couldn’t believe I was experiencing this movie, like this, inside my New York City apartment.
I’ll get back to the movie in a bit. But it’s still weird to me that 4K hasn’t entirely caught on inside the film lovers’ community. Every time a new Criterion is announced, people still go nuts. Look, I adore what Criterion does, but I’ve become a 4K snob and it’s now a little weird to spend the extra money those discs cost on what is a regular Blu-ray. And I still do buy them, but then something like the 2001: A Space Odyssey 4K comes along and I can’t understand why (a) it doesn’t get more attention and (b) why the premium services like Criterion don’t make the jump. The day Criterion starts releasing 4K discs is the day my bank account will be empty.
Strangely, I still think physical media is the future if you at all care about quality of picture. One problem with streaming is it always loses something in the transfer. Nothing will ever be able to beat a direct line from disc to your television. Look, of course I subscribe to streaming services. I’m not saying they are going away or won’t be incredibly important. But the bigger problem with streaming is that it’s just up to the whim of the service what will be provided. Netflix used to have a pretty good selection of classic films. Now they are focusing on their original content, which is bringing us a lot of great films like last year’s Mudbound and this year’s Roma. But it’s certainly not a place anymore to dig into cinematic history. (Oh, and as an aside, have you seen what regular Blu-rays cost now? There’s a bin at stores like Best Buy filled with great titles for $5.99. That just about what it costs to rent on iTunes.)
The place for that is/was Filmstruck. And I know how much the people who worked at Filmstruck cared about what they were doing before it was announced last week that the service would soon be ending. Filmstruck was a haven for the movie aficionado, but the problem with any streaming service if you’re just renting the movie library, and at any point the owner might decide they want it back. Looking at what happened to Filmstruck, streaming, as a source of film history, just doesn’t seem like a viable long-term solution (frankly, because it keeps going away). At least I know no one can knock on my door and tell me they want my 2001 4K disc back. At least I know its gorgeous presentation is always waiting there for me anytime I want to watch it. (Okay, yes, I suppose someone could show up at my door and demand the disc, but that would be a strange crime. The risk versus reward of doing something like that sure doesn’t make a lot of sense.)