DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 7th, 2008

Chisáhmín! - Well it's 2008!! and we're getting back up to speed with a solid 18 new reviews this newsletter. But once again we are all over the place - a Kurosawa boxset, hi-def comedy, thriller and sci-fi's (four Blu-ray - one HD), Classic Altman, McCarey, Spike Lee, Norman Jewison, Ken Anger and (taking a breath) Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Modern western, Japanese love, some BIG DVD NEWS, important new Calendar Updates!, a new contest, DVD of the Month... and more.

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NEW FORMAT NEWS: Warner announces going exclusively Blu-ray SEE HERE

From our article HERE 'Warner may be the most important studio producing new formats and if they go with only one new format soon then I would say 'the war is over'."

Region coded Blu-ray appears to be on the verge of totally eclipsing HD with that January 4th announcement by, formally neutral, Warner. Most experts foresee a swift vacancy of the HD format by those still in that camp. Our opinion is that removing the conflict of the battle for consumers superseded the anguish of region coding (we feel confident it will be broken at some point regardless). So is it over for HD? We strongly suspect so. Warner saw the writing on the wall and didn't delay their, inevitable, decision. To Warner's credit - their swiftness is beneficial for confused consumers. Let's move forward with important films in 1080P resolution!


FEATURE DVD OF THE MONTH (JANUARY 08') - The late twentieth century’s defining anxiety – nuclear catastrophe –inspired film masterworks in a variety of genres, from noir (‘Kiss Me Deadly’) to essay (Hiroshima, Mon Amour’), faux documentary (‘The War Game’) to horror (‘Godzilla’). But it found possibly its greatest cinematic expression in Ingmar Bergman’s doom-laden medieval allegory, a film that re-imagines a previous period of existential angst and primal fear: the plague-ridden thirteenth century. - Excerpt from TimeOut HERE    Blu-ray DVD of Bergman's The Seventh Seal is REVIEWED HERE  PURCHASABLE HERE


Deserves repeating -

NEW ARTICLE: "Ten Underappreciated John Ford Films" by Jonathan Rosenbaum

We proudly present the DVD of the Year 2007 results HERE




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The CLIP to identify is HERE!

THIS WEEK's PRIZE Warner's 3-disc Deluxe Edition of The Jazz Singer!

and you must be subscribed to our Free Weekly Newsletter and email the answer to contest@DVDBeaver.com

LAST WEEK's Winner identifying this CLIP! (Marathon Man - 1976). was P. Saulnier of Saint Peter. (Wins 5-disc Complete Collector's Edition of Blade Runner in HD!) Congrats Paul!

STILL ON - KOREAN DRAMA CONTEST in Leonard's review of Snow Queen 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!).

Her Name Is Sabine (Sandrine Bonnaire, 2007) Film Movement

Kaos (Taviani bros., 1984) Koch

Fiorile (Taviani bros., 1993) Koch

Dan in Real Life [Blu-ray] (Peter Hedges, 2007) Touchstone / Disney

Dazed and Confused [HD DVD] (Richard Linklater, 1993) Universal

PU-239 (Scott Z. Burns, 2006) HBO

Unbreakable [Blu-ray] (M. Night Shyamalan, 2000) Buena Vista

Hidalgo [Blu-ray] (Joe Johnston, 2004) Buena Vista

The Night of the Shooting Stars (Taviani bros., 1982) Koch

Stanley Kramer Film Collection (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner / Ship of Fools / The Member of the Wedding / The Wild One / The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T) Sony Pictures

30 Days of Night (David Slade, 2007) Sony Pictures

30 Days of Night [Blu-ray]  (David Slade, 2007) Sony Pictures

Slipstream (Anthony Hopkins, 2007) Sony Pictures

Sleuth (Kenneth Branagh, 2007) Sony Pictures

Sleuth [Blu-ray] (Kenneth Branagh, 2007) Sony Pictures

Gattaca [Blu-ray] (Andrew Niccol, 1997) Sony Pictures

The Invasion (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007) - Warner

The Invasion (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) [HD DVD] (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007) - Warner

The Invasion [Blu-ray] (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007) - Warner


Quick opinions:

STRONG VALUE: Postwar Kurosawa, 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Personal Best, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. 2 and In the Heat of the Night

GOOD FILM - INEFFECTUAL DVD: She's Gotta Have It and Syndromes and a Century

HAVEN'T SEEN (BUT SOUND GOOD): Avalon Blu-ray, Su-Ki-Da and The Magical Worlds of Joseph Cornell

WORTH A VISIT: King of California, Man on Fire Blu-ray and Zodiac (Director's Cut) HD


New Reviews:

In the Heat of the Night - Shot in the small towns of Dyersburg, Tennessee and Freeburg, Belleville, and Sparta, Illinois, In The Heat of the Night had the perfect atmosphere of a stifling rural town in the South, the type of place where every newcomer is eyed with suspicion. Quincy Jones' rootsy, innovative score mingled elements of country blues, bluegrass and rock to evoke the languid tension of the town perfectly. The Anniversary DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

Avalon Blu-ray - The film is set in a bleak future, where the population is hooked on an immersive virtual reality video game called Avalon. Despite its popularity the game can be deadly, leaving players' bodies catatonic in the real world. One player of the game, Ash (played by Polish actress Małgorzata Foremniak), hears of a secret level hidden within Avalon. The film follows her quest to find the level. The Blu-ray DVD Release Date was September 25th, 2007

McCabe and Mrs. Miller - "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" is beautifully, overwhelmingly sad, the sort of romantic sadness you can fold around you like the bearskin coat McCabe envelops himself in. The melancholy is there even when you're laughing at the conversations Beatty (who gives the sort of performance that makes you fall in love with an actor) conducts with himself; when McCabe is assuaging his longing for Mrs. Miller by paying $5 for a night with her; even when hired guns come to town to force him to sell his interest.

The Magical Worlds of Joseph Cornell - Cornell's images are all very real. Even when they are taken from other movies, as in Rose Hobart, they seem to gain the quality of reality. The Hollywood unreality is transported into Cornellian unreality, which is very, very real. Here is an evidence of the power of the artist to transform reality by choosing, by picking out only those details which correspond to some subtle inner movement or vision, or dream. No matter what he takes, be it a totally "artificial" reality, or bits of "actual" reality, he transforms them, bit by bit, into new unities, new things, boxes, collages, movies, with no other thing on earth resembling them.

She's Gotta Have It - Inspired and driven by what he saw as Hollywood patronizing black issues (eg The Color Purple) and the desire to see a world he recognized on screen, he got family and friends involved, came up with $175,000 and made this wonderful film. This is seat-of-the-pants, guerilla film-making, and the look of the film reflects that but hides none of its ambition or invention. The Region 1 DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

Sunshine Blu-ray - A crew of 8 astronauts and scientists are on a mission to save our planet from a frozen future. It seems that our Sun has lost some of its heat and the Icarus II is on a several year voyage in a last ditch attempt to kick start the star into behaving like its old self again. Icarus I met with a fate unknown somewhere in the vicinity of Mercury, beyond the point where communication with Earth was no longer possible. As the film begins, Icarus II is about to enter the same zone. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2008

King of California Blu-ray - Bizarre Indie-like feature King Of California introduces us to a new-ish Michael Douglas character - Charlie is a wild-eyed, mop-haired zealot with a salt-and-pepper beard spreading antiestablishment positive-ness but seemingly cognoscente of his weaknesses... yet he chooses to do nothing about them. He is happy to be himself - there is no pretension. Truly a character that we can embrace - warts and all. After two years he is released from a mental institution and reunites with his young daughter Miranda (Evan Rachel Wood ) - who is a survivor living a meager life and having all the maturity absent in her father's persona. Okay the stage is set - is this going to be another heartwarming coupling of the two extremes? Not on your life - we have a journey of compulsion, historical fantasy and seeking buried treasure. Blu-ray and HD DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2008

An Affair to Remember - Handsome playboy Nicky Ferrante and beautiful night club singer Terry McKay have a romance while on a cruise from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, both agree to reunite at the top of the Empire State Building in six months. However, an unfortunate accident keeps Terry from the reunion, and Nicky fears that she has married or does not love him anymore. Will he discover the truth behind her absence and reunite with his one true love, or has fate and destiny passed them by? DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

The Films of Kenneth Anger, Vol. 2 - Offering a description of himself for the program of a 1966 screening, Kenneth Anger stated his 'lifework' as being Magick and his 'magical weapon' the cinematograph. A follower of Aleister Crowley's teachings, Anger is a high level practitioner of occult magic who regards the projection of his films as ceremonies capable of invoking spiritual forces. Cinema, he claims, is an evil force. Its point is to exert control over people and events and his filmmaking is carried out with precisely that intention. (Rated the #2 DVD of the Year 2007 in our poll HERE)

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - A deaf mute (Arkin), left alone when his only friend (similarly afflicted) is committed to an asylum, moves to a new town, waiting expectantly. This being the Deep South, assorted misfits soon gather round him: an alcoholic drifter (Keach), a gawkily unhappy teenage girl (Locke), a black doctor with an outsize chip on his shoulder (Rodriguez). All of them pour out their troubles in his silent, sympathetic presence, feeling that their lives are richer for the shared relationship. Yet suddenly, for reasons they know nothing about, the deaf mute commits suicide (he has learned of the death of his friend), and they are left to reflect bitterly on how much they took, how little they gave. The theme is sentimental, of course, but as directed by Miller in a series of oblique, self-contained scenes - with excellent performances all round and superb camerawork from James Wong Howe - the film has much the same haunting, poetic quality as the Carson McCullers novel (her first) on which it is based. DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Personal Best - It is a movie containing the spontaneity of life. It's about living, breathing, changeable people and because their relationships seems to be so deeply felt, so important to them, we're fascinated by what may happen next. The movie stars Mariel Hemingway and Patrice Donnelly as the two women track stars, Scott Glenn as their coach, and Kenny Moore as the Olympic swimmer who falls in love with Hemingway late in the film. These four people are so right for the roles it's almost scary; it makes us sense the difference between performances that are technically excellent and other performances, like these, that may sometimes be technically rough but always find the correct emotional note. DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Syndromes and a Century - A film in two parts which sometimes echo each other. The two central characters are inspired by the filmmaker's parents, in the years before they became lovers. The first part focuses on a woman doctor, and is set in a space reminiscent of the world in which the filmmaker was born and raised. The second part focuses on a male doctor, and is set in a more contemporary space much like the world in which the filmmaker presently lives. Pearls of wisdom, descriptions of syndromes and fragments of time crystallize in luminous atmospheres and dot the modern architecture of the film, creating a charming, quiet incantation. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2007

Collateral - Director Michael Mann’s “Collateral” has an intoxicating vibe, which is reinforced by ambiance, a somber score by James Newton Howard and the use of high definition cameras by Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron. And not unlike “Lost in Translation,” “Collateral” succeeds because of its keen attention to the intricate nuances of its characters and the incoherent world they inhabit.

3:10 to Yuma (2007) - The classic western holds as one of my favorite genres and I was all fired up and ready to dump all over this new adaptation 50 years (and a few months) hence the Glenn Ford/Van Heflin classic helmed by stalwart Delmer Daves - a stellar example if ever there was one. How dare they tread on this hallowed ground? Well, they did... and I'll get re-fitted for my fire-retardant suit to say it's the superior grandson of the original. DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Su-Ki-Da - The film opens to a black screen, and suddenly a person’s voice is overheard, they say, “Hey Yosuke… Do you remember? I remember…” and thus begins the beautiful film that is Su-Ki-Da (Japanese for “I Love You”). When I heard about this film a couple of months ago, and was fortunate to be able to view the trailer, I was instantly enthralled by the beautiful visuals that were presented in the trailer. I was finally able to obtain a copy of the movie (which has been recently released on DVD), and I can tell you this, I wasn’t prepared for what the film had in store, visually as well as emotionally.

Man on Fire Blu-ray - The film takes place in Mexico City, where kidnappings are apparently a daily occurrence. Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a burned out ex-CIA assassin who accepts a job as a bodyguard to Pita (Dakota Fanning), the nine year old daughter of an wealthy industrialist (Marc Antony) and his wife (Radha Mitchell). Initially, Creasy is more interested in drinking himself into oblivion, but pesky little Pita keeps chipping away at his hard-as-nails exterior until some humanity starts to shine through again and in no time at all, he’s become her friend and swimming coach. Then it all goes horribly wrong and Pita gets kidnapped after all – d’oh! - sending Creasy on the time-honored rip-roaring rampage of revenge… Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Zodiac (Director's Cut) HD - Odds are, of course, that you're not already familiar with every detail of the Zodiac case. Never fear—after seeing this movie, you will be. Adapted from two books by editorial cartoonist-turned-amateur sleuth Robert Graysmith, Zodiac features a handful of ostensible characters: Graysmith himself, who worked at the San Francisco Chronicle during the period when the Zodiac was sending letters there, is played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and we also spend significant face time with star Chronicle reporter Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and legendary SFPD detective Dave Toschi (Mark Ruffalo). But none of these three men, nor anything that you could credibly call human drama, amounts to much more than a ripple in Zodiac's endless, raging sea of investigative minutiae. HD DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2007

Postwar Kurosawa - Akira Kurosawa came into his own as a filmmaker directly following World War II, delving into the state of his devastated nation with a series of pensive, topical dramas. Amid Japan’s economic collapse and U.S. occupation, Kurosawa managed to find humor and redemption existing alongside despair and anxiety. In these five early films, which range from political epic to Capraesque whimsy to courtroom potboiler, Kurosawa revealed the artistic range and social acuity that would mark his career and make him the most popular Japanese director in the world. the Eclipse boxset includes No Regrets for Our Youth (1946), One Wonderful Sunday (1947), Scandal (1950), The Idiot (1951) and I Live in Fear (1955). DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of January 7th, 2008

3:10 to Yuma (James Mangold, 2007) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

3:10 to Yuma [Blu-ray] (James Mangold, 2007) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Accident (Joseph Losey, 1967) R2 UK Optimum

Affair to Remember (2-disc - 50th Anniversary Ed) (Leo McCarey, 1957) - 20th Century Fox

Cary Grant Collection (Indiscreet, Operation Petticoat, That Touch of Mink, and The Grass Is Greener) - Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Con Air [Blu-ray] (Simon West, 1997) Touchstone / Disney

Dans Paris (Christophe Honoré, 2006) IFC

Death Sentence (Unrated Edition) (James Wan, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Go West (Ahmed Imamovic, 2005) Water Bearer

The Golden Door (Emanuele Crialese, 2006) Walt Disney Video

Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Robert Ellis Miller, 1968) Warner Home Video

Killing Machine / Shogun's Ninja (Double Feature) [Blu-ray] - Bci / Eclipse

Klimt (Raoul Ruiz, 2006) Koch Lorber Films

Man on Fire [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 2004) Fox Home Entertainment

Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton - Warner Home Video

Payday (Daryl Duke, 1973) Warner Home Video

Personal Best (Robert Towne, 1982) - Warner

The Pianist [HD DVD] (Roman Polanski, 2002) Universal Studios

The Rock [Blu-ray] (Michael Bay, 1996) Walt Disney Video

See How They Fall (Jacques Audiard, 1994) Synkronized USA

Sister Street Fighter / Sister Street Fighter II [Blu-ray] - Bci / Eclipse

Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Sunshine [Blu-ray] (Danny Boyle, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Val Lewton Collection (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie / The Body Snatcher / Isle of the Dead / Bedlam / The Leopard Man / The Ghost Ship / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark plus 6th disc of Scorsese documentary) - Warner

Zodiac - The Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition) - (David Fincher,2007) Paramount

Zodiac - The Director's Cut [HD DVD] (David Fincher,2007) Paramount


Week of January 14th, 2008

'Breaker' Morant (Bruce Beresford, 1980) Image Entertainment

'Breaker' Morant [Blu-ray] (Bruce Beresford, 1980) Image Entertainment

Earth vs. The Flying Saucer (2-Disc Special Edition colorized and new b/w) - Sony Pictures

Family Guy - Blue Harvest - 20th Century Fox

He Was a Quiet Man (Frank A. Cappello, 2007) Starz / Anchor Bay
It Came From Beneath the Sea (2-Disc Special Edition colorized and new b/w) - Sony Pictures

In the Heat of the Night - Anniversary Edition (Norman Jewison, 1967) United Artists

The Lawless [HD DVD] (Phillip Guzman, 2007) - Phoenix

The Naked Prey (Cornel Wilde, 1966) Criterion

Postwar Kurosawa (I Live in Fear, The Idiot, No Regrets for our Youth, One Wonderful Sunday and Scandal) - Eclipse/Criterion

Ray Harryhausen In Color Gift Set (Earth vs. The Flying Saucer + It Came From Beneath the Sea) - Sony Pictures

She's Gotta Have It (Spike Lee, 1986) MGM

Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006) Strand Releasing


Soup, soup, soup,



STAY TUNED FOR UPCOMING CLASSIC RELEASES: Forbidden Hollywood: Volume 2 (six films plus pre-Code documentary), Gangsters Collection, Vol. 2 (Bullets or Ballots / City for Conquest / Each Dawn I Die / G Men / San Quentin / A Slight Case of Murder) Warner, Gangsters Collection, Vol. 3 (Picture Snatcher, Lady Killer, Smart Money, Black Legion, Mayor of Hell and Brother Orchid.) Warner,, Joan Crawford Collection Volume 2 (Flamingo Road/Strange Cargo/Torch Song/others), The Lana Turner Collection, Lon Chaney Collection Volume 2 (The Unholy Three/The Unholy Three/Tell It to the Marines/He Who Gets Slapped/Tod Browning doc.), Night Nurse (Barbara Stanwyck), The Day the Earth Stood Still Special Edition (dir. Robert Wise, USA 1951), An Affair to Remember 50th Anniversary Edition (dir. Leo McCary, USA 1957), The Robe Special Edition (dir. Henry Koster, USA 1952), Daisy Kenyon (dir. Otto Preminger, USA 1947), Dangerous Crossing, (dir. Joseph Newman, USA 1953), Black Widow (dir. Nunnally Johnson, USA 1954), Boomerang! (dir. Elia Kazan, USA 1947), Charlie Chan Vol 4 (starring Sidney Toler), The Naked Prey (1966) Criterion. Bette Davis 100th Anniversary Set (titles TBD), Bette Davis Collections: Volume 3 (includes All This, And Heaven, Too/ Dangerous/In This Our Life/The Corn Is Green/Watch On The Rhine/more), David Lean Collection (Blithe Spirit/Brief Encounter/Great Expectations/In Which We Serve/Madeleine/Oliver Twist/Passionate Friends/This Happy Breed) and more...