The Boutique Labels: Plain Archive

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Yesterday I briefly mentioned hearing the guys from the Criterion Close-Up podcast discussing Plain Archive, the South Korean boutique Blu-ray company. If you’re not familiar with the terms “boutique label” or “boutique company,” no worries. Such companies are those that produce independent and/or specialty, genre, or niche DVD/Blu-ray editions of films.

Although it’s huge in comparison to most DVD/Blu-ray companies, I suppose you could call Criterion a boutique label. Although a few of their films can certainly be considered mainstream, many of their releases can be classified as independent, avant garde, fringe, or whatever term you’d like to use for non-mainstream films. Yet you can find many other boutique DVD/Blu-ray companies such as Kino, Flicker Alley, Twilight Time, Shout Factory, Arrow, Olive, Artificial Eye, Vinegar Syndrome, and several others. I hope to devote a post to each of the boutique labels/companies I’ve purchased from, but today I’d like to dig a little deeper into the company Mark and Aaron spoke about yesterday, Plain Archive.

As Mark and Aaron mentioned, Plain Archive is a relatively new Blu-ray company based in South Korea. Now you might immediately think that Blu-rays from South Korea won’t work for you, but apparently all of Plain Archive’s releases are either region free or Region A, which will play in the U.S. The main draw for these releases? Their superior packaging and design.

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I invite you to look at some of their products. Right now Plain Archive doesn’t have a huge selection of titles, but take look at the gorgeous packaging and design work. Just click on a title and explore… I’m seriously thinking about buying this edition of Ida, a movie I watched last year and fell in love with instantly.

I’m a little hesitant to order for a few reasons, but price is not one of them. The price in U.S. dollars for this edition is currently $33.69. Although that seems like a lot, remember that Criterion Blu-rays usually list for $39.95 and sell on Amazon for around $28. (Of course, most of us wait for the 50% off sales, dropping the price for most discs down to $20.) Shipping from South Korea is probably going to run me, I’m guessing at least $10-$15, maybe more. That’s okay, too.

I’m also eager to pick up this disc because most of the other Blu-ray editions of Ida are sadly lacking in supplements. The Plain Archive edition includes the following supplements:

Audio Commentary : Film Critic Lee Dongjin

Q&A With Director Pawel Pawlikowski (1080p / 21min)

On the Set of Ida (1080p / 11min)

Pawel Pawlikowski Interview (1080p / 7min)

Theatrical Trailer (1080p / 2min)

Although I’m very excited that this edition includes an audio commentary, I don’t know if this particular one is in Korean or English. The booklet is in Korean and English, so I’m hopeful that the commentary is also in English. The other extras (all in 1080p) look good. Also consider that you’re getting:

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◦ Delicate wave patterned gold foil hot-stamping letterpress on full slip case 

◦ High quality Scanavo’s 14mm keep case

◦ 40p Booklet (support both Korean and English)

◦ Folded A3 poster & 2 Movie trading cards(+Classy Envelope with Handmade Beeswax Sealing Button)

◦ Plain Archive’s exclusive removable sticker for only Ida : Design B (Embossing laurel shaped pattern paper / Gold PA logo)

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Pretty fancy stuff, huh? But the most important things for me are:

How does the film look?

How does the film sound?

I’ve yet to find any online reviews of the Plain Archive disc itself. I don’t know what transfer they used, what improvements they made… I really don’t know anything, so if I bought this, I’d be rolling the dice somewhat. But if the quality of the package reflects the quality of the disc, I’m sure everything will be wonderful.

Plain Archive releases are all limited editions (1,500 in this case) and the number of discs that can be sold outside of South Korea is limited even further (500 for this disc). So if you want it, you’d better jump on it. Apparently, however, pre-orders for some titles sell out quickly and Plain Archive usually announces their pre-orders at 10am Korean time, which is 13 hours ahead of us in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, which isn’t too bad.

So… Who has purchased a Plain Archive disc that would like to comment? Please do!

 

 

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