DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 14th, 2008

Oluku mi! - I'm quite proud - we have already reviewed EVERY ONE of the new releases available from this week's Calendar. 17 new reviews and we continue to revel in being all over the board - Agnes Varda, Fox animated TV, Lindsay Anderson and Ray Harryhausen to mention a few. Important new Calendar Updates!, a new contest, and a new winner.

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LAST WEEK's Winner identifying this CLIP! (Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending). was O. Besner of Montreal. (Wins Warner's 3-disc Deluxe Edition of The Jazz Singer)

Snow Queen Korean Drama Contest Winner Announced HERE


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LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!). There are some gems here - stay tuned for reviews on these classics: Death at a Funeral, She Done Him Wrong, The Major and the Minor (Billy Wilder, 1942) and Midnight. The rest:

Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) Universal

Magic Blade: Shaw Brothers (Yuen Chor, 1976) Image Entertainment

Battlestar Galactica - Season Three - Universal

The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones Vol 3 - Paramount

I, Robot [Blu-ray] (Alex Proyas, 2004) Fox Home Entertainment

Billy Wilder Gift Set (The Apartment / The Fortune Cookie / Some Like it Hot / Kiss Me Stupid) Universal, Canvas (Joseph Greco, 2006) Universal

Bonnie and Clyde [Blu-ray] (Arthur Penn, 1967) Warner

When Night Is Falling (Patricia Rozema, 1995) Wolfe Video

Predator [Blu-ray] (John McTiernan, 1987) Fox Home Entertainment

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) R2 UK Pathe Distribution

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Death at a Funeral (Frank Oz, 2007) MGM

She Done Him Wrong (Lowell Sherman, 1933) Universal

The Major and the Minor (Billy Wilder, 1942) Universal

Midnight (Mitchell Leisen, 1939) Universal

Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937) Universal

Steep [Blu-rayy] (Mark Obenhaus, 2007) Sony Pictures

Perry Mason 50th Anniversary Edition - Paramount

The Brave One (Widescreen Edition) (Neil Jordan, 2007) Warner

The Brave One (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Neil Jordan, 2007) Warner

The Brave One [Blu-ray] (Neil Jordan, 2007) Warner

The Witness (André Téchiné, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991) Homevision

Murder in Mississippi (Roger Young, 1990) Warner Home Video


Quick opinions:

STRONG VALUE: 4 By Agnes Varda This Sporting Life, 'Breaker' Morant and The Naked Prey

BETTER THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT: 3:10 to Yuma and The Invasion

GUILTY PLEASURE DEPT: The Rock BR and Family Guy - Blue Harvest

HAVEN'T SEEN (BUT SOUND GOOD): Iblard Jikan and The Comfort of Strangers

PASS: He Was a Quiet Man, Con Air BR, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, Murder in Mississippi and Flash Point BR


New Reviews:

Murder in Mississippi -Made for television, Murder in Mississippi covers the same historical ground that was fictionalized in the theatrical film Mississippi Burning (89). The film recounts the murders by the Ku Klux Klan of three civil rights workers in 1964. Rather than detail the subsequent FBI investigation, the plotline follows the life of one of the white murder victims, Mickey Schwerner (Tom Hulce), who gave up a comfortable lifestyle in the North to struggle alongside African-American freedom fighters in the South. Jennifer Grey portrays Schwerner's wife, while Josh Charles and Blair Underwood portray the other two martyred activists, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008


The Rock BR - One thing you've got to admit about movies like The Rock is how seriously the producers take the premise, no matter how outrageous, yet somehow manage to engage an audience - for over two hours on this outing. This isn't science fiction, after all. In fact, there is even room for a little political discussion. For example, The motivation of General Hummel, the bad guy in this story, is not without some merit, but his solution is just the sort of thing that attracts a certain breed of men with even crazier ideas. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2008

Con Air
BR - Nicholas Cage followed his new action hero status created the previous year in The Rock with this popular menagerie that, for all its hard-hitting action, seems to me to a thinly disguised comedy, and best appreciated as such. Drama or Comedy – and I know this will strike many as heresy –the film's greatest weakness is the casting of John Malkovich. Just because he struts around like a petulant eight-year old uttering pseudo ironies doesn't make him tough or even believable. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2008


'Breaker' Morant - Three lieutenants (Woodward, Brown, Fitz-Gerald), members of an Australian platoon fighting in the Boer War, are court-martialled for murdering Boer prisoners and a German missionary, and Jack Thompson steps in to try to prove their innocence. It's a Paths of Glory situation, complete with righteous anger at the expedient conniving authorities, distinguished by some strong courtroom scenes and an overwhelming pessimism. If it hardly breaks any new ground either formally or politically, it's nevertheless a moving and highly professional affair, in which Brown and Thompson give particularly good performances. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

It Came From Beneath the Sea - Good to see supporting stalwart Tobey get a lead for once, even if it is in this minor entry in the '50s cycle of radiation-paranoia sci-fi pics (effects by Ray Harryhausen). Our man is a sailor whose submarine is almost sunk by an unidentified object in the Pacific. Before long San Francisco itself is threatened by the mystery marauder, an octopus mutated to giant dimensions by nuclear tests. (The budget allowed for a creature with only six tentacles. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2007

The Invasion - "Help me," the young woman screams. "They're coming, they're among us." No one on screen is paying attention, but we know what it means. That's right, the body snatchers are once again on the prowl. "The Invasion," starring the upscale duo of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, is the third remake of what was once a humble B picture, 1956's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Still effectively creepy and surprisingly unnerving despite the occasional misstep and rumors of a troubled production, the new film illustrates why and how the power of the original story remains undiminished more than half a century after its creation. DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2008

Flash Point BR - Pre-1997, a hero's story. Detective Sergeant Jun Ma's lifelong nemeses are a triad gang of three brothers. In order to fight them from within, Jun has planted a mole, Wilson, who has managed to gain the complete trust of the gang. But over the years Wilson has become more and more unhappy with Jun's impulsive and unruly style. In a heated battle Wilson's dual role is exposed and one of the gang members is arrested. In order to escape any convictions, other gang members decide to destroy all the evidence and kill all witnesses to their crimes, including Wilson. Jun would pay any price to save his partner...

3:10 to Yuma BR - 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 overachieving kin, the grandson standing on his patriarch's shoulders, of the original. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 8th, 2008

4 By Agnes Varda - Agnès Varda used the skills she honed early in her career as a photographer to create some of the most nuanced, thought-provoking films of the past fifty years. She is widely believed to have presaged the French new wave with her first film, La Pointe Courte, long before creating one of the movement's benchmarks, Cléo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7). Later, with Le bonheur and Vagabond (Sans toi ni loi), Varda further shook up art-house audiences, challenging bourgeois codes with her inscrutable characters and offering effortlessly beautiful compositions and editing. Now working largely as a documentarian, Varda remains one of the essential cinematic poets of our time and a true visionary. Criterion's package contains La Pointe-courte (1956), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1961), Le Bonheur (1965) and Sans toit ni loi aka Vagabond (1985). DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008

Patlabor 2 - The Movie BR - Patlabor 2 - The Movie is a controversial work that incorporated many domestic and international issues that Japan was facing at the time of the film's creation. Director Mamoru Oshii's unique sense of concern over Japan is apparent all through the film in both the nature of the story's political backdrop, and in how realism is stressed within the animation itself. The overall Japanese animation landscape took a decidedly different turn as a result of this film, and transformed radically as the 1990s progressed.

Earth vs. The Flying Saucers - Androids in flying saucers give the Earth sixty days in which to surrender. Scientist Hugh Marlowe sets about devising a sonic gun which will show 'em who's boss. Despite a mundane script, this works quite effectively by adopting a dry, documentary tone and splurging the budget on Ray Harryhausen's spectacular special effects. Check out the wholesale destruction of Washington, DC's most famous landmarks. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

This Sporting Life - One of the finest British films ever made, this benchmark of "kitchen-sink realism" follows the self-defeating professional and romantic pursuits of a miner turned rugby player eking out an existence in drab Yorkshire. With an astonishing, raging performance by a young Richard Harris, an equally blistering turn by fellow Oscar nominee Rachel Roberts as the widow with whom he lodges, and electrifying direction by Lindsay Anderson, in his feature-film debut following years of documentary work, This Sporting Life remains a dramatic powerhouse. DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008

The Naked Prey - Glamorous leading man turned idiosyncratic auteur Cornel Wilde created in the sixties and seventies a handful of gritty, violent explorations of the nature of man, none more memorable than The Naked Prey. In the early nineteenth century, after an ivory-hunting safari offends an African tribe, the colonialists are captured and hideously tortured. Only Wilde's marksman is released, without clothes or weapons, to be hunted for sport, and he embarks on a harrowing journey through savanna and jungle, back to a primitive state. Distinguished by vivid widescreen camera work and the unflinching depiction of savagery, The Naked Prey is both a propulsive, stripped-to-the-bone narrative and a meditation on the notion of civilization. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

Iblard Jikan - This short animated feature explores the fabulous surrealistic works of the distinguished Japanese artist and professor Naohisa Inoue through small segments each telling a short and minimal story. Studio Ghibli introduces delicate animations into the original paintings giving them life and a more resonant feeling. Melodic and melancholic, but sometimes vivid and joyful, instrumental music soundtrack with electronic touches, composed by Kiyonori Matsuo, fills the world of Iblard Jikan and portrays the mood of each connected, but unique, animated sequences.

Family Guy - Blue Harvest - "Blue Harvest" was the season premiere of the Sixth season of the FOX series Family Guy, which originally aired on September 23rd, 2007. The episode was a retelling of Star Wars, recasting the show's characters into Star Wars roles. For this purpose, and for the first time in the history of Family Guy, this episode was an hour long (with commercials). It was also made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

He Was a Quiet Man - Giving a creepy fantasist everything he has ever dreamed of is the intriguing set-up squandered by this odd and aimless film. When the office punchbag, Bob Maconel (Christian Slater sporting giant specs and a receding hairline), decides to murder his co-workers, he not only fumbles loading the gun, but finds himself beaten to it by the man who sits on the next desk. Maconel then sees his office crush (Elisha Cuthbert) hit the floor, kills the man and is hailed a hero. He even gets the (now paraplegic) girl. The only glitch is that he is still the same psychopathic loner. Slater does well to soften the lines of his no-hoper caricature, but writer-director Cappello steers his film to nowhere particularly memorable. DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2008

The Comfort of Strangers - The relationship of divorced Mary (Natasha Richardson) and her boyfriend Colin (Rupert Everett) has gone stale. Even away from her children in Venice, the two wander oblivious to the sights and pick at each other (some wonderful exchanges courtesy of Harold Pinter; the novel just gives us the gist of their situation at the opening) over meals at outside cafes. One evening, they get up too late to have dinner and get lost in the labyrinthine alleys of the city looking for a cafe and run into dapper, white-suited Robert (Christopher Walken) - who, unbeknownst to them has been following and photographing them - who leads them to a bar. Over breadsticks and wine, he amuses and terrifies them with an anecdote from his childhood (the subject of a recurring monologue narrated by Walken throughout the film).

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


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 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

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

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


Week of January 21st, 2008

4 x Varda (Cleo from 5 to 7, Le Bonhuer, Vagabond and, La Pointe Courte) Criterion

Frau im Mond (aka Woman in the Moon) (Fritz Lang, 1929) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Hello, Dolly! (Gene Kelly, 1969) - 20th Century Fox

John Frankenheimer Gift Set (The Young Savages (1961), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Train (1964) and Ronin.(1998)) - MGM

Der letzte Mann (aka The Last Laugh) (F.W. Murnau , 1924) - R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Miss Julie (Alf Sjöberg, 1951) Criterion

Molière (Laurent Tirard, 2007) Sony Pictures

Partition (Ken McMullen, 1987) R2 UK - Second Run

Saved From The Flames - 54 Rare and Restored Films 1896 - 1944 - Flicker Alley

This Sporting Life (Lindsay Anderson, 1963) Criterion


Miracles never cease,



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...