Newsletter - FOR THE WEEK

OF January 4th, 2010


This Week's Highlights

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LATEST ADDITIONS to the Calendar: (PRE-ORDER & save!):

You the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007) Tartan Video

Mother [Blu-ray] (Joon-ho Bong, 2009) (Limited Edition) - CJ Entertainment

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Jack Clayton, 1987) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

The Films of Amos Gitai: Six Films From Israel (KADOSH / KIPPUR / KEDMA / ALILA / DEVARIM / YOM YOM) - Kino

Deadly Duo [Blu-ray] (Cheh Chang, 1971) Tokyo Shock

Alice [Blu-ray] (Nick Willing, 2009) Lions Gate

Alice in Wonderland (Norman Z. McLeod, 1933) Universal Studios

Fallen Angels [Blu-ray] (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995) Kino International

Humanoids From The Deep [Roger Corman Cult Classics] Shout! Factory

Up From The Depths / Demon Of Paradise [Roger Corman Cult Classics] Shout! Factory

Piranha (Joe Dante, 1978) (Roger Corman Cult Classics) Shout! Factory

Piranha  [Blu-ray] (Joe Dante, 1978) (Roger Corman Cult Classics) Shout! Factory

The Crazies [Blu-ray] (George A. Romero, 1973) Blue Underground

Vampyres [Blu-ray] (José Ramón Larraz, 1974) Blue Underground

Troma's War (Tromasterpiece Edition) (Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, 1988) - Troma

The Damned United [Blu-ray] (Tom Hooper, 2009) Sony Pictures Entertainment

Wonderful World [Blu-ray] (Joshua Goldin, 2010) Magnolia Pictures

Astro Boy [Blu-ray] (David Bowers, 2009) Summit Entertainment

The Prisoner (Miniseries) - Warner Home Video

The Constance Talmadge Double Feature: Her Night of Romance (1924) / Her Sister From Paris (1925) - Kino

The Norma Talmadge Double Feature: Kiki (1926) / Within the Law (1923) - Kino

Le silence de la Mer [Blu-ray] (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949) RB FR Paramount Home Entertainment

Danton [Blu-ray] (Andrzej Wajda, 1983) RB FR Paramount Home Entertainment


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ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey):  Aside from our DVD and Blu-ray of the Year 2009 it's a slow beginning to the new decade. I don't have too much to impart this far Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy - is the release of the very young year. Paris, Texas on Blu-ray is magnificence. For all of historical significance Che (parts 1 + 2) deserves it audience. I'm keen on Familia Rodante after Brian's coverage. Ditto for Leonard's review of City of Life and Death BD. Next week promises a lot more - stay tuned.


Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy - Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema. With their stripped-down aesthetic, largely nonprofessional casts, and unorthodox approaches to storytelling, these intensely emotional works were international sensations and came to define the neorealist movement. Shot in battle-ravaged Italy and Germany, these three films are some of our most lasting, humane documents of devastated postwar Europe, containing universal images of both tragedy and hope. DVD Release Date: January 26th, 2010

Jennifer's Body BD - Jennifer's Body isn't really a bad film. It just doesn't deliver much for our time and money. My main complaint is that the serial killings are antagonistic, rather than, say, counterpoint, to what I take to be the main theme of the story: "sisters" - their loyalties and jealousies. Both lead actresses acquit themselves well, Amanda being the more accomplished actress with much more on her plate in terms of character development. She also turns out to be a very good narrator – a task at which many a good actor (think Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach) fails miserably. The cinematography is sometimes seductive but the effects are generally, perhaps intentionally (how can we know?), ludicrous - I’m thinking here of Jennifer’s projectile puking scenes, which are not so disgusting, which might have been OK, as they are pointless. My feeling is that a poorly done effect doesn't make it satire. Blu-ray Release date: December 29th, 2009

Che (parts 1 + 2) BD - Far from a conventional biopic, Steven Soderbergh’s film about Che Guevara is a fascinating exploration of the revolutionary as icon. Daring in its refusal to make the socialist leader into an easy martyr or hero, Che paints a vivid, naturalistic portrait of the man himself (Benicio del Toro, in a stunning, Cannes-award-winning performance), from his overthrow of the Batista dictatorship to his 1964 United Nations trip to the end of his short life. Composed of two parts, the first a kaleidoscopic view of the Cuban Revolution and the second an all-action dramatization of Che’s failed campaign in Bolivia, Che is Soderbergh’s most epic vision. Blu-ray Release Date: January 19th, 2010

Police Story II BD - Jackie Chan has appeared in numerous noteworthy movies, but he seems to be in top form when playing policemen. In a career filled with high points, the Police Story and Project A series feature most of Chan’s greatest stunts and best acting. This is true even of the recent New Police Story (not connected to the other Police Story movies), which was a return to form for Chan even though he is no longer able to push his body to extreme limits. Chan is limited to playing a goof in the Rush Hour series and Shanghai Noon/Shanghai Knights, but he emotes mightily and credibly as a dedicated member of the Royal Hong Kong Police. Blu-ray Release date: December 12th, 2009

Familia Rodante - Trapero is that rarest kind of filmmaker, a minimalist with a huge heart. As this film's extended family travels clear across Argentina, from Buenos Aires to a remote town on the Brazilian border, in a motor home built atop a 1956 Chevy Viking pickup, conversation is sparse and images predominate. What you'll take away from "Rolling Family" are wordless scenes: a teen couple snogging in the cramped camper bathroom; a younger kid daydreaming with his head out the window as overhead wires twist past, a disgraced wife crying, an old woman sitting in silence, looking, literally and figuratively, toward the end of the road. DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2006

Cine Romand - Ciné-Romand is a mise-en-abyme of previous films of Francoise Romand. Spectators are invited to discover them at a happening that mixes fiction and reality as domestic theater. Voyeurs are not always who we think they are. Romand takes her inspiration from L’Arroseur arrosé (The Sprinkler Sprinkled), continuing the role of her great-grandfather from La Ciotat, the playful kid who bent the hose to stop the water. After filming the spectators and tenants of the apartments where documentary scenes were improvised, Romand integrated them fictionally into excerpts from previous films, reworked in the editing. Guests/spectators, hosts, angels-guides, actors and technicians - all become characters in this fiction-documentary where Alice’s looking glass reflects a mischievous fantasy with the roles reversed and complementing one another. DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009

Appelez-moi Madame - ...Call Me Madame (1986) is nonetheless a provocative and memorable work. It's a multifaceted portrait of Ovida Delect—a communist poet and novelist living near Rouen who's published close to 40 books. Tortured by the Gestapo at 17 as a member of the French underground and honored by Paul Eluard, she's a 60-year-old who had a sex-change operation at the age of 55. Formerly known as Jean-Pierre Voidies, she continues to live with her former wife and 20-year-old son, both of whom reveal some of the difficulties they've encountered living with such a singular and egocentric individual. As with Mix-up, Romand labels this film a “fictional documentary” because its subject and style relate to Delect's self-image as well as her objective reality. Indeed Delect controls Call Me Madame just as she controls her own persona, depriving the film of the free-ranging imagination of Romand's other two features. But it's still a subversive and subtle statement that you'll think about for days afterwards. DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009

Paris, Texas BD - New German Cinema pioneer Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire) brings his keen eye for landscape to the American Southwest in Paris, Texas, a profoundly moving character study written by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Sam Shepard. Paris, Texas follows the mysterious, nearly mute drifter Travis (a magnificent Harry Dean Stanton, whose face is a landscape all its own) as he tries to reconnect with his young son, living with his brother (Dean Stockwell) in Los Angeles, and his missing wife (Nastassja Kinski). From this simple setup, Wenders and Shepard produce a powerful statement on codes of masculinity and the myth of the American family, as well as an exquisite visual exploration of a vast, crumbling world of canyons and neon. Blu-ray Release Date: January 26th, 2010

Family Guy Something Something Something Dark Side BD - The title of the extended episode on this disc says it all: "Something, Something, Something Dark Side". I mean, if you find that funny you are going to love this series, and this episode in particular. You will also find the 50-minute table read smart and slyly anti-establishment, since the camera pretty much maintains a single position covering all 15 personnel at the table plus another 20 sitting and standing behind them for the entire segment. Are you laughing? If yes, buy this video and you will love it. Guaranteed. Blu-ray Release date: December 22nd, 2009

City of Life and Death BD - Chuan follows both the occupiers and the captives with equal sensitivity, for there are victims and villains on both sides, as the Japanese soldiers, some barely men, soon find that there is little justice in power. The film unfolds like a novel with chapters that are each book-ended by the acceptance of death, the price of living. The sadness of that structure is only that at each stage there is the loss of characters you've come to love. Truly a masterpiece in black and white and pain and bound to be among the foreign films that will be headed to the Academy Awards. Blu-ray Release date: October 30th, 2009

Connected BD - Louis Koo, as a responsible dad in the making, has this knack for finding a specific tone, face and posture for his character and sticking with it until the moment of crisis. He does much the same thing in his more recent film, Accident, but since that character’s unraveling takes longer, the technique is more effective. Liu Ye (City of Life & Death) is scary as hell as the bad guy, but his character is so one-dimensionally psychopathic we wonder how he could have risen to his position of authority – on the other hand, perhaps I’ve just answered my own question. Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2009

 Next 3 weeks on the Calendar

January 4th, 2010


50 Dead Men Walking [Blu-ray] (Kari Skogland, 2008) Phase 4 Films (BEAVER REVIEW)

Cinema Paradiso [Blu-ray] (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988) R'B' UK - Arrow Films

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs [Blu-ray] (Phil Lord + Chris Miller, 2009) Sony (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dogtown and Z-Boys [Blu-ray] (Stacy Peralta, 2001) Sony Pictures

The Green Berets [Blu-ray] (Ray Kellogg + John Wayne 1968) - Warner Home Video (BEAVER REVIEW)

Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre Dardenne + Luc Dardenne, 2008) Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)


January 11th, 2010


8 1/2 [Blu-ray] (Federico Fellini, 1963) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Antichrist [Blu-ray] (Lars von Trier, 2009) Artificial Eye

The Brothers Bloom [Blu-ray] (Rian Johnson, 2008) Summit Entertainment

The Burning Plain [Blu-ray] (Guillermo Arriaga, 2008) Magnolia

La Cucina [Blu-ray] (Allison R. Hebble + Zed Starkovich, 2007) Anthem Pictures

The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray] (Kathryn Bigelow, 2008) Summit Entertainment (BEAVER REVIEW)

I Come with the Rain [Blu-ray] (Anh Hung Tran, 2008) AVEX

In the Loop [Blu-ray] (Armando Iannucci, 2008) IFC

Moon [Blu-ray] (Duncan Jones, 2009) Sony Pictures

Post Grad [Blu-ray] (Vicky Jenson, 2009) 20th Century Fox

The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season [Blu-ray] 20th Century Fox


January 18th, 2009


According to Greta [Blu-ray] (Nancy Bardawil, 2009) Starz / Anchor Bay

Eclipse Series 19: Chantal Akerman in the Seventies - Criterion

Che (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Che [Blu-ray] (Steven Soderbergh, 2008) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Death in Love [Blu-ray] (Boaz Yakin, 2008) Screen Media

Deadly Duo [Blu-ray] (Cheh Chang, 1971) Tokyo Shock

Magnolia [Blu-ray] (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999) Turner

Pandorum [Blu-ray] (Christian Alvart, 2009) Starz / Anchor Bay

The Queen of Spades (Thorold Dickinson, 1949) R2 UK Optimum

The Red Balloon [Blu-ray] (Albert Lamorisse, 1956) R'B' UK Network

Red Cartoons: Animated Films from East Germany - First Run Features

The Secret People (Thorold Dickinson, 1952) R2 UK Optimum

Streamers (Robert Altman, 1983) Shout! Factory

Suspiria [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1977) RB UK - Nouveaux Pictures

Whiteout [Blu-ray] (Dominic Sena, 2009) Warner Home Video

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