DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 5th, 2008

Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu (Japanese, I think, for wishing you a Happy New Year)! - 12 new reviews this week - 4 of which are comparisons. Criterion, Jia Zhangke, Hong Sang-soo, Truffaut, Rossellini, Powell and Pressburger, Woody...  The biggest news, though, is the DVD (and Blu-ray) of the Year POLL RESULTS HERE. The rest is standard fare - getting somewhat gently back into the swing of things. Last January my resolution was not to make any more resolutions - I've stuck to it!

THE 'DVDBeaver Toolbar'!
Give it a test drive! I've created a very simple toolbar for Film-Fans/DVD-o-philes/cinephiles. It embeds effortlessly within Internet Explorer 5.0+ (Windows Vista/XP/2000) and Firefox 1.0.1+ (Windows, Mac, Linux). It offers quick links to Searching both the Net (via Google) and DVDBeaver directly, Amazons, Forums (Criterion, Home Theater, AVS, Rotten Tomatoes, Film Noir), IMdb, DVDBasen, Beaver links, Cinephile Blogs/Journals (Rosenbaum, Kehr, Acquarello etc.). What do you think?
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JANUARY 5th CONTEST - identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win a brand DVD package of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - Best of luck all!

Amazon and Sony are offering incredible values on high definition products such as Blu-ray players and movies, as well as PlayStation 3 consoles, games, and accessories. HERE


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Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.

LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER and save!):

Our Man in Havana (Carol Reed, 1959) Sony

Rachel Getting Married (Jonathan Demme, 2008) Sony Pictures Classics

Rachel Getting Married [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Demme, 2008) Sony Pictures Classics

Cabaret [Blu-ray] (Bob Fosse, 1972) R'B' Fremantle Home Entertainment



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): The New Yorker edition of Hong Sang-soo’s Woman on the Beach seems solid. Warner's The 400 Blows BR bodes very well for the upcoming Criterion release. We may never hear the end of the weak Technicolor representation but Sony's A Matter of Life and Death gratefully excels in other areas. Once again Woody has a bare bones release, but in 1080P, with Vicky Cristina Barcelona BR. Leonard and I agreed that Friday Night Lights BR is definitely worthy of a spin. More Rossellini is always welcome - and The Taking of Power by Louis the XIV is another Criterion gem. My expectations were low - but bountifully exceeded with Opium and the Kung Fu Master BR - a Shaw classic. For, debatably, the best 'Arnult' - Terminator 2 - Judgment Day BR Japanese Premium is the champion digital release.

TAKE A CHANCE: Ghost Town BR is better than you might expect.

PASS: Start making some decent decisions Nicolas - Bangkok Dangerous BR is a thumbs down.


New Reviews:

Friday Night Lights BR - Taken from "Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream" a 1990 non-fiction book written by H. G. Bissinger. The book follows the story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team from Odessa as they made a run towards the Texas state championship. While originally intended to be a Hoosiers-type chronicle of high school sports holding a small town together, the final book ended up being critical about life in the town of Odessa, Texas, complete with portraits of what Bissinger called "the ugliest racism" he has ever witnessed, as well as misplaced priorities, where football conquered most aspects of the town and academics were ignored for the sake of championships. Blu-ray Release date: January 6th, 2009


Opium and the Kung Fu Master BR - Tang Chia is considered one of the greatest kung-fu choreographers ever, but he only directed three movies of his own. This, his last, is not only his greatest but one of the greatest ever, as the leader of the Ten Kwangtung Tigers falls victim to drug addiction. The tragedies and drama that ensue are as stunning as the kung-fu, created by a superlative team of six martial artists. A legitimate masterpiece and one of the finest, most effecting martial arts movies Shaw Brothers ever produced. Blu-ray Release date: January 6th, 2009


Ghost in the Shell 2.0 BR - So what's up with Ghost in the Shell 2.0? (an unfortunate title considering the existence of Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, which was better off without the "2" in the first place.) The promotional materials declare: This is not a remake. This is not a remix. This is another "G.I.S." It's a "2.0" I, for one, am not convinced. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating experiment, one that time and repeated viewings will offer the perspective needed to judge. Blu-ray Release date: December 19, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona BR - As Woody's narrator (Christopher Evan Welch) makes clear from the start, Vicky and Christina are best friends on summer holiday in Spain. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) studies Catalan culture and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) has recently finished directing her first film, a 12-minute piece that she now hates. Vicky is organized in all things, including her love life. She is happily engaged to be married to Doug (Chris Messina), a predictable, nice enough fellow with all the judgments about gender roles that often accompany a successful yuppie. Doug's polar opposite is Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), infamously married and divorced from Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz). Cristina is what you might call an "incurable romantic" – she is attracted to whatever is at the edge of risk-taking about love. Blu-ray Release date: January 27th, 2009

The Taking of Power by Louis the XIV - Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal. DVD Release Date: January 13th, 2009

Terminator 2 - Judgment Day BR - The Terminator is back, and he's almost human. His mission is protect the now adolescent John Connor from an even more indestructible Terminator - played by Robert Patrick with relentless intensity, though little of Arnold's menace. If it weren't for the bodies he indiscriminately leaves in his wake, Patrick's T-1000 would have more in common with Malkovich's Mitch Leary from In the Line of Fire than with Schwarzenegger's Terminator. But that's just one of the many ways Cameron made sure the audience would not come to feel that the sequel was merely a warmed over version of the original. Sarah Connor (again played by Linda Hamilton, now buff and brooding) is in a prison hospital for the criminally insane. Premium Edition Blu-ray Release Date: December 5th, 2008

A Matter of Life and Death - May 1945: Peter Carter (David Niven) is flying back to England from a bombing raid, but the crew are bailed-out with parachutes or dead and the damaged plane will imminently crash. With what he knows as his final voice he converses with June (Kim Hunter), a young American radio operator working for the RAF. Preferring a watery grave than the fireball of a crashing plane, Peter jumps into the English Channel (no parachutes left) leaving June with his final wishes and desire to meet her... one day. The universal tumblers have jammed and Peter not only survives but the first girl he meets on the beach is June. Their initial kiss supersedes life itself. DVD Release Date: January 6th, 2009

The 400 Blows BR - François Truffaut’s first feature, The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups), is also his most personal. Told through the eyes of Truffaut’s life-long cinematic counterpart, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), The 400 Blows sensitively re-creates the trials of Truffaut’s own difficult childhood, unsentimentally portraying aloof parents, oppressive teachers, petty crime, and a friendship that would last a lifetime. The film marks Truffaut’s passage from leading critic of the French New Wave to his emergence as one of Europe’s most brilliant auteurs. Warner Blu-ray Release Date: October 24th, 2007

Bangkok Dangerous BR - Heavy on the spice and cheap on the meat, "Bangkok Dangerous" adds plenty of Thai seasoning to the Hollywood lone-assassin recipe, but the result is only mildly pungent. Rehashing certain elements -- including striking location shooting -- that marked their much grittier 1999 feature of the same title, Hong Kong's Pang brothers increase the decibel level of the gunshots and the schmaltz level of the scenario, but such embellishments, not to mention a Nicolas Cage doused with Clairol, make this hefty remake seem less dangerous than incongruous. Low September B.O. body count should be surpassed by acceptable ancillary returns. Blu-ray Release date: January 6th, 2009

Ghost Town BR - "Ghost Town" is a lightweight rom-com elevated by its performances. It is a reminder that the funniest people are often not comedians, but actors playing straight in funny roles. Consider Cary Grant in "Topper" (1937), the obvious inspiration for David Koepp, who directed and co-wrote "Ghost Town" with John Kamps. Because both Gervais and Kinnear seem so urgent in their desires, and because Tea Leoni has a seemingly effortless humor and grace, this material becomes for a while sort of enchanting. Blu-ray Release date: December 27th, 2008

Woman on the Beach - Where Hong Sang-soo’s dramas differ from Eric Rohmer’s, other than all the ways that come with being Korean not French, is notably in the egotism mitigated by irony of having one the main characters in his movies often happen to be a handsome, hunky famous director. In this one it’s a “Director Kim,” as he’s respectfully addressed (Kim Joong-rae, played by Kim Seung-woo) who goes to the somewhat sterile environment of the semi-deserted Shinduri beach resort on Korea’s west coast with his production designer, Won Chang-wook (Kim Tae-woo) in hopes of ending a creative block and penning the treatment for his next film. DVD Release Date: December 30th, 2008

Still Life - Mainland Chinese director Jia Zhangke's Still Life (aka Sanxia Haoren), a last minute entry into the 2006 Venice Film Festival, eventually won the Golden Lion award thanks to its top-notch cinematography and wonderful storytelling. Still Life interweaves the story of a miner (Han Sanming) who travels thousands of miles to a town near the Yangtze River to look for his ex-wife and a nurse fetching her husband who has been working at the river without sending a single word home. While the film does not let these two characters cross paths, together they reflect changes in people's lives brought by the Three Gorges Dam, which flooded villages near the Yangtze River and led to the emergence of some new settlements. DVD Release Date: November 8th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of January 5th, 2009

Bangkok Dangerous [Blu-ray] (Danny Pang, 2008) Lions Gate

Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 - Universal Studios

Blind Mountain (Li Yang, 2007) Kino

Days and Clouds (Silvio Soldini, 2007) Film Movement

Eden Lake [Blu-ray] (James Watkins, 2008) Weinstein

The Flock [Blu-ray] (Wai-keung Lau, 2007) 101 DISTRIBUTION

Friday Night Lights [Blu-ray] (Peter Berg + Josh Pate, 2004) Universal Studios

The Grocer's Son (Eric Guirado, 2007) Film Movement

Inheritance (James Moll, 2006) Docurama

Jim Jarmusch Collection Vol.2 - Mystery Train, Night On Earth and Dead Man - R2 UK Optimum

The Last Emperor [Blu-ray] (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987) Criterion

The Last Legion [Blu-ray] (Doug Lefler, 2007) 101 DISTRIBUTION

Life Gamble [Blu-ray] (Chang Cheh, 1979) Navarre

Michael Powell Double Feature (A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Age of Consent (1969) - Sony Pictures
Opium and the Kung Fu Master [
Blu-ray] (Tang Chia, 1984) Navarre

Pineapple Express (David Gordon Green, 2008) - Sony Pictures

Pineapple Express [Blu-ray] (David Gordon Green, 2008) - Sony Pictures

Righteous Kill [Blu-ray] (Jon Avnet, 2008) Anchor Bay

The Wackness (Jonathan Levine, 2008) Sony Pictures
The Wackness [
Blu-ray] (Jonathan Levine, 2008) Sony Pictures


Week of January 12th, 2009

Alexandra (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Appaloosa (Ed Harris, 2008) Warner Home Video
Appaloosa [Blu-ray] (Ed Harris, 2008) Warner Home Video

Breakfast At Tiffany's - Paramount Centennial Collection (Blake Edwards, 1961) Paramount

Funny Face - Paramount Centennial Collection (Stanley Donen, 1957) Paramount

Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini’s History Films Renaissance and Enlightenment (The Age of the Medici, 1973 - Blaise Pascal, 1972 - Cartesius, 1974)- Criterion

Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 2: Innocence [Blu-ray] (Mamoru Oshii, 2004) Bandai

The Honey Pot (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1967) - R2 UK Optimum

Humboldt County (Darren Grodsky, 2008) Magnolia

The Quare Fellow (Arthur Dreifuss, 1962) VM Inc.

The Romance Of Astrea And Celadon (Eric Rohmer, 2007) R2 Artificial Eye

Somers Town (Shane Meadows, 2008) - R2 UK Optimum
Somers Town [
Blu-ray] (Shane Meadows, 2008) - R2 UK Optimum

Sunday Bloody Sunday (John Schlesinger, 1971) - R2 UK Optimum

Supercop (Stanley Tong, 1992) Dragon Dynasty

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966) - Criterion

Taxi Blues (Pavel Lungin, 1990) Koch Lorber

"To understand Caesar you don't have to be Caesar...."
Dang - a whole new year in front of us...