DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 19th, 2008

Habaari! - 21 new reviews this week - Masters of Cinema, Bergman, Noir, Preminger, Ichikawa, some Blu-ray vs. DVD comparisons - new Calendar Releases! and a super CONTEST prize. Things are happening fast and furious these days... let's slow down a bit.

We still love our DVD (and Blu-ray) of the Year 2008 POLL RESULTS HERE.

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JANUARY 19th CONTEST - identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win a brand Criterion DVD of The Taking of Power by Louis XIV  - Best of luck all!

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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!):

Goldfinger [Blu-ray] (Guy Hamilton, 1964) MGM

Quantum of Solace [Blu-ray] (Marc Forster, 2008) MGM

Disney Animation Collection 1: Mickey & Beanstalk - Disney Video

Disney Animation Collection 2: Three Little Pigs - Disney Video

The World Is Not Enough [Blu-ray] (Michael Apted, 1999) MGM

Moonraker [Blu-ray] (Lewis Gilbert, 1979) MGM

Bricktown [Blu-ray] (Michael D. Kelber, 2008) Celebrity Video Distribution

Five (Arch Oboler, 1951) Sony Pictures

Hannibal [Blu-ray] (Ridley Scott, 2001) 101 Distribution

Rounders [Blu-ray] (John Dahl, 1998) MiraMax

On The Waterfront [Blu-ray] (Elia Kazan - 1954) R'B' Sony Pictures

Peter Sellers Collection (I’m All Right, Jack!, The Smallest Show on Earth, Carlton-Browne of the F.O., Two-Way Stretch and Heavens Above) Lionsgate

Inside Moves (Richard Donner, 1980) Lionsgate

Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008) BFI

Of Time and the City [Blu-ray] (Terence Davies, 2008) BFI

Alice Et Martin (André Téchiné, 1998) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Monsters, Inc. [Blu-ray]  (Pete Docter, 2001) R'B' Walt Disney Studios

Monty Python And The Holy Grail [Blu-ray] (Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones - 1974) R'B' Sony Pictures



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Some good - some bad ... and some ugly this week. I was quite smitten with Antwone Fisher  - a wonderful human portrait. For a great spy drama - The Ipcress File looks pretty sweet in hi-def. If you are not particularly sensitive to DNR - then Fanny and Alexander BR can be a very special experience. Kokoro is an easy decision (thanks Henry!). Downfall BR is even more riveting in 1080P. A couple of entries in Forgotten Noir Vol. 4 had me hankering for solid 'black cinema' (new DVD releases dried up?). Enjoyed Vicky Cristina Barcelona but am disappointed in both Blu-ray and DVD transfers. Lyne's Unfaithful BR is not without its 'entertainment' appeal - and, ummm, Diane Lane appeal. Either you love THEM! - or you don't know what you are missing. From now on when I think of cute Brazilian sex-comedies - Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands will always spring to mind. Humboldt County surely deserves a larger audience.

I suggest passing on - Baroque Motion Vol. 1 (what the heck was this?), the emptiness of Max Payne BR, and for all Mirrors BR potential - it doesn't deliver.


New Reviews

Max Payne BR - Max Payne (Wahlberg) is a detective whose wife and child were murdered during a home burglary attempt, about ten minutes before he arrived home to find and kill two of the assailants while a third escaped. The film picks up as Payne, working in the cold cases department, is still trying to track down his wife and child's murderer. Office drone by day, hunter by night, Payne finds himself at an informant's house party, wherein he meets the attractive, and drug addicted, Natasha (Kurylenko), who goes home with him and, within minutes of getting into his apartment, offends him and is sent out into the cold alone. And then the "mystery" begins. Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona BR and DVD - 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. Blu-ray and DVD Release date: January 27th, 2009

Kokoro - Brimful with brooding psychological torment, Kokoro is vintage Kon Ichikawa (An Actor's Revenge, The Burmese Harp, Tokyo Olympiad). Based on a novel by celebrated Japanese author Natsume Soseki, the director foregrounds its themes of individual isolation and social estrangement, most notably in a central protagonist stricken by existential demons and stranded by changing times. Why does Nobuchi (Masayuki Mori) visit the grave of his old friend Kaji (Tatsuya Mihashi)? Why is he so secretive with his wife Shizu (Michiyo Aratama)? And how does Nobuchi's friendship with the young student Hioki (Shoji Yasui) – for whom the older man acts as reluctant sensei – relate to his time with Kaji? As the Meiji Era draws to a close with the emperor's death and the suicide of General Nogi, a fateful tale of tainted love, failed friendship, and redemptive honour unravels with tragic consequences. DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2009

Friday the 13th BR - If you've ever been to summer camp, you'll remember the obligatory scary story around the campfire. There's something about that flickering light across our faces, the blackness beyond the ring of campers, the soft-spoken, cold-blooded delivery of the counselor telling the story – usually a tale about a prior evil that threatens to return and snatch naive children as they walk back to their cabins or tremble under their covers. Such stories are a kind of rite of passage, and waking up the next morning unharmed was enough to shake one's belief in Santa Claus. Blu-ray Release date: February 3rd, 2009

Antwone Fisher BR - I do not cry easily at the movies; years can go past without tears. I have noticed that when I am deeply affected emotionally, it is not by sadness so much as by goodness. Antwone Fisher has a confrontation with his past, and a speech to the mother who abandoned him, and a reunion with his family, that create great, heartbreaking, joyous moments. Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th, 2009

Unfaithful BR - Martel is your average Calvin Klein model as a bibliophile. He has the Spanish looks, the French accent, the permanent three-day beard, and the strength to suspend a woman indefinitely in any position while making love. He is also cool in his seduction methods. Instead of making a crude pass, he asks her to accept a book as a gift from him, and directs her down an aisle to the last book on the end of the second shelf from the top, where he tells her what page to turn to, and then joins her in reciting the words there: Be happy for this moment, for this moment is your life. Blu-ray Release Date: January 20th, 2009

The Express - The Ernie Davis Story BR - The Express is not just a football story, it's front and center about racism in the early years of the American civil rights movement. It's a story of how young Ernie, his college coach, his school and his mostly white teammates dealt with it and moved beyond it. Stereotypes are less in evidence than we might expect. On the other hand, if the behavior of the fans and opposing teams that Fleder shows us is even half true, then things must have been pretty scary. Jackie Robinson had already cracked professional baseball ten years earlier (though major league baseball didn't play in the South back then), but college athletics were a pretty sorry state in regards integration. The image of a continuous volley of cans and bottles thrown from the stands as Ernie and his team enter the field in West Virginia is likely to stick with you for a long time to come. Blu-ray Release date: January 20th, 2009

Mirrors BR - Attempting to pick up the shattered pieces of his life, a disgraced former cop (Sutherland) takes a routine security job guarding the charred ruins of the once-famous Mayflower department store in New York. But the terrifying ominous images he sees in the building’s ornate mirrors will send him on a pulse-pounding mission to unravel the secrets of the store’s past...before they destroy his entire family! Blu-ray Release date: January 13th, 2009

Fanny and Alexander BR - Through the eyes of ten-year-old Alexander (Bertil Guve), we witness the great delights and conflicts of the Ekdahl family—a sprawling, convivial bourgeois clan living in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Intended as Ingmar Bergman’s swan song, Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander) is the legendary filmmaker’s warmest and most autobiographical film, a triumph that combines his trademark melancholy and emotional rigor with immense joyfulness and sensuality. Blu-ray Release Date: December 3rd, 2008

Forgotten Noir Vol. 4 - COUNTERSPY MEETS SCOTLAND YARD: When enemy agents obtain leaked secrets about a guided missile reservation, the chief of America's counterspy division and Scotland Yard's top sleuth (Ron Randell) get on an investigative trail which quickly leads to a reservation secretary. RADAR SECRET SERVICE: It's science versus crime when agents of a foreign power working with local gangsters steal a truck loaded with secret atomic materials, and the members of the Secret Service's new "radar unit" use the “latest technology” to run down the lawbreakers. MOTOR PATROL: Roaring down America's highways in the pursuit of justice, motorcycle policemen put the heat on a car theft ringleader who uses a legitimate garage as a front. MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY (1941): When Harvard Law School graduate P. Cadwallader Jones (Dennis O'Keefe) bungles his first assignment in the D.A.'s office, he is next assigned the make-work job of reviewing the closed case of a crooked city official (Peter Lorre) who vanished with a stolen $100,000. WESTERN PACIFIC AGENT: The railroad assigns its top agent Kent Taylor to investigate a payroll robbery and the murder of a paymaster. HIGHWAY 13: It's murder on wheels when a trucking company loses several vehicles in a series of mysterious crashes--and a company honcho dies in a road accident that is equally inexplicable. TREASURE OF MONTE CRISTO: A web of death, intrigue and daring love entwines merchant seaman Glenn Langan, a descendent of the Count of Monte Cristo, as he searches modern-day San Francisco for the fortune in long-missing jewels to which he is the rightful heir. ROARING CITY: Private eye Dennis O'Brien (Hugh Beaumont) will do anything for a dame or a dollar, tackling two more assignments filled with pistol-point suspense. SKY LINER: It's GRAND HOTEL in the air as the usual wild assortment of travelers board a LaGuardia Airport flight, unaware that other passengers might be spies and counter-spies, complete with secret documents, poison and elaborate plans to engage in international espionage! DVD Release Date: November 18th, 2008

The Grand Chef Vol. 2 - The basic thrust of the drama right through to the final episode, all against the background of more than you could ever want to know about cooking and Korean cuisine in particular, is the resolution of the break between Sung Chan, his brother and his adoptive father. In Vol. 1 (episodes 1-12), a series of cooking contests served to determine the winner who would direct Unamjung's future. In Vol. 2 (episodes 13-24) Chef Oh's natural (and older) son, Bong Joo, continues his obsessive resolve to expand his father's business to the rest of the world, though it means (as it usually does) cutting back on quality.

Amok Train - Although known as AMOK TRAIN in European territories, the film was released as BEYOND THE DOOR III in America (to cash in on the decades old success of BEYOND THE DOOR also produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis). The R-rated US tape and laserdisc releases were virtually scrubbed clean of several surprisingly gory special effects that were seen in international prints. The story itself is not only derivative but has an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink mentality yet the execution is admirable. Cinematographer Adolfo Bartoli makes the most of the misty Yugoslavian landscapes and filters (and manages some elegant sequences) and the pyrotechnic special effects are quite ambitious for a low budget production (even if the model laughable). Some nifty production design helps balance elements of the disaster genre and gothic horror. Eighties Italian horror mainstay Carlo Maria Cordio's keyboard score is effective in places but typically bombastic in others.

THEM! - By far the best of the '50s cycle of 'creature features', Them! and its story of a nest of giant radioactive ants (the result of an atomic test in the New Mexico desert) retains a good part of its power today. All the prime ingredients of the total mobilisation movie are here: massed darkened troops move through the eerie storm drains of Los Angeles, biblical prophecy is intermixed with gloomy speculation about the effect of radioactivity. Almost semi-documentary in approach, the formula is handled with more subtlety than usual, and the special effects are frequently superb.

The Eagle Has Landed BR - The storyline of The Eagle Has Landed follows Caine as Colonel Kurt Steiner, the commander of a group of German soldiers under orders from Himmler (Donald Pleasence, doing his stock Teutonic villain role). Col. Steiner is ordered to parachute into England with the intention of assassinating Winston Churchill. Like the similar The Day of the Jackal (1973), which followed a plot to murder French President Charles DeGaulle, the story had the disadvantage of trying to maintain suspense when the audience knew full well that Churchill was never killed by Germans or anyone else. Jackal got around the problem by following the intricacies of the plot with almost excruciating detail. Eagle’s ace in the hole was provided by Sturges’s handling of the action sequences, a quality he brought to the historically foregone conclusions of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and The Great Escape. Blu-ray Release Date: October 29th, 2008

Downfall BR - Hirschbiegel’s intentions was to show, what he calls “the collective loss of reason”, which Junge in her autobiography calls “the blind angle”, the fact, that one should have known better but for some reason never acted upon what took place. His platform is chaos. The Russian army is only a few hundred meters from Berlin, the Reich is collapsing and with it its internal power structure. Hitler himself is old and severely affected by Alzheimer, without any sense of reality, constantly giving impossible orders and going into a frenzy when they aren’t followed. Blu-ray Release Date: December 15th, 2008

The Ipcress File BR - Bowing in the same year Bond was saving the world from total destruction in Thunderball, bespectacled Harry, more modestly engaged in slowing the brain drain of British scientists, immediately endeared himself to average blokes. Harry Palmer is forever enshrined as the credible everyman alternative to Bond. In conception and in Caine's performance he was a fantasy figure for guys who wear glasses, people living in anonymous flats, driving unglamorous, functional cars and shopping for groceries after work. You can relate to Harry Palmer. He's capable and crafty. He's sexy. And he can cook. Blu-ray Release Date: November 10th, 2008

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands - A generally effective sex comedy, distinguished by its origins (Brazil) and the considerable appeal of its star, Sonia Braga. Widowed when her carousing husband dies under the strain of excess debauchery, Flor marries a staid pharmacist. But her memories of the wild life conjure her first husband back from the beyond, and he takes up where he left off. Bruno Barreto's direction is somewhat poky, but he handles the fantasy element with an interesting matter-of-factness. DVD Release Date: December 30th, 2008

Humboldt County - In a perfect world, childhood friends and Humboldt County co-directors/writers Grodsky and Jacobs would be at the forefront of a cinematic revolution that would blast wide the doors of onscreen unself-consciousness and herald the return of some seriously deep, green, sticky-sweet American introspective filmmaking. Alas, the world is ever more imperfect, and of late we've seen everything from Zach Braff's smart heartache Garden State to the Duplass Brothers' paranoiac love song Baghead attempt to define what it means to be young and free in a world that seems, day by day, moment by moment, increasingly old and shackled and utterly, irreversibly mad. Certainly no one has graduated to within striking distance of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, much less Hal Ashby or even Roger Corman's countercultural biker broadsides. DVD Release Date: January 13th, 2009

Baroque Motion Vol. 1 BR - In the beginning of the 17th century, European culture generated a new artistic style, known as the Baroque. Now, for the first time ever you will be able to see the motifs of the old world come to life in slow motion. Experience how a brawl suddenly starts in the Goldsmiths' Guild and how the fish and lobster come to life in a still life painting. Gaze in awe at how a prominent scientist becomes surprised at the lack of gravity and at the fright of a lady due to a ghastly movement through the painting. Blu-ray Release date: February 24th, 2009

The Fan - After many years abroad, Mrs Erlynne returns to a London much changed by the ravages of war. Whilst at an auction she recognizes an attractive fan which once belonged to her - but before she can claim it she must find another party to vouch for her. Seeking out Lord Darlington, her only acquaintance left remaining in London, the pair soon begin a journey of memory, love, loss and sacrifice. Featuring George Sanders, Madeleine Carroll and Jeanne Crain and co-adapted by the legendary Dorothy Parker, Otto Preminger's 1949 version of Oscar Wildes Lady Windermere's Fan is a classic comedy of manners that sparkles with wit as befitting the great playwright.

The Wedding Director - Sergio Castellitto, the star of “The Wedding Director,” is not what you would call a comedian. His glowering ferocity is currently on display in “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” in which he plays the principal villain with Shakespearean relish. Over the last decade his anxious, melancholy countenance — the difference between mild concern and existential agony can be measured in the angle of his frown — has lent intelligence and gravity to films directed by Jacques Rivette, Marco Bellocchio and Mr. Castellitto himself. DVD Release Date: December 16th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of January 19th, 2009

AmericanEast (Hesham Issawi, 2007) MGM

Antwone Fisher [Blu-ray] (Denzel Washington, 2002) 20th Century Fox

The Children of Huang Shi (Roger Spottiswoode, 2008) Sony

City of Ember (Gil Kenan, 2008) 20th Century Fox

Domino [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 2005) New Line

El Norte (Gregory Nava, 1983) - Criterion
El Norte [
Blu-ray] (Gregory Nava, 1983) - Criterion

Election [Blu-ray] (Alexander Payne, 1999) Paramount

Elite Squad (José Padilha, 2007) - R2 UK Optimum
Elite Squad [
Blu-ray] (José Padilha, 2007) - R2 UK Optimum

The Express (Gary Fleder, 2008) Universal Studios
The Express [
Blu-ray] (Gary Fleder, 2008) Universal Studios

Henry Poole Is Here [Blu-ray] (Mark Pellington, 2008) Starz / Anchor Bay

Igor (Anthony Leondis, 2008) MGM
Igor [
Blu-ray] (Anthony Leondis, 2008) MGM

King Kong [Blu-ray] (Peter Jackson, 2005) Universal

Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk, 1954) - Criterion

Max Payne [Blu-ray] (John Moore, 2008) Fox Home Entertainment

The Notebook [Blu-ray] (Nick Cassavetes, 2004) NewLine Home Video

Unfaithful [Blu-ray] (Adrian Lyne, 2002) 20th Century Fox


Week of January 26th, 2009

Any Given Sunday [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1999) Warner

Ashes Of Time Redux [Blu-ray] (Wong Kar-wai, 2008) R'B' Artificial Eye

Ashes Of Time Redux (Wong Kar-wai, 2008) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Becoming Charley Chase (4-disc) - Facets

Bound [Blu-ray] (Wachowski bros., 1996) Wint

The Bourne Trilogy [Blu-ray] (The Bourne Identity | The Bourne Supremacy | The Bourne Ultimatum) - Universal Studios

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

Cannery Row (David S. Ward, 1982) Warner

Chungking Express [Blu-ray] (Wong Kar-wai, 1995) R 'B' Artificial Eye

The Dardenne Brothers Collection R2 UK Artificial Eye

Dead & Buried [Blu-ray] (Gary Sherman, 1981) Blue Underground

Divorce Iranian Style / Runaway (Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, 1998) R2 UK Second Run DVD

The Enforcer (Corey Yuen, 1995) Weinzstein - Dragon Dynasty

Erendira Ikikunari (Juan Mora Catlett, 2006) Facets

The Family Way (Roy Boulting, 1966) Wham! USA

Far from the Madding Crowd (John Schlesinger, 1967) Warner

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Herbert Ross, 1969) Warner Home Video

Groundhog Day [Blu-ray] (Harold Ramis, 1993) Sony Pictures

Holly (Guy Moshe, 2006) WEA

Hulk Vs. [Blu-ray] - LionsGate

The Invaders - The Second Season (1967) - Paramount

Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute, 2008) Sony
Lakeview Terrace [
Blu-ray] (Neil LaBute, 2008) Sony

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

The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger, 2008) Lions Gate

The Masterworks Of Rokuro Mochizuki - Artsmagic

Moses und Aron (Danièle Huillet + Jean-Marie Straub, 1975) New Yorker

Neil Young Archives Volume 1 [Blu-ray] (1963 - 1972)(10 Disc Blue-Ray) Reprise Records

The Pink Panther [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1963) MGM

Pride and Glory (Gavin O'Connor, 2008) New Line Home Video

Pride and Glory [Blu-ray] (Gavin O'Connor, 2008) New Line Home Video

RocknRolla [Blu-ray] (Guy Ritchie, 2008) Warner Bros.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008) Velocity / Thinkfilm

The Sidney Poitier Collection - Warner

Tell No One (Guillaume Canet, 2006) Music Box Films

Thunder Bay (Anthony Mann, 1953) - R2 UK Optimum

Vicky Cristina Barcelona [Blu-ray] (Woody Allen, 2008) Weinstein Company

Warner Bros. Romance Classics Collection (Palm Springs Weekend / Parrish / Rome Adventure / Susan Slade) - Warner

Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940) Warner

Who Killed Teddy Bear (Joseph Cates, 1965) R2 UK Network

The Yellow Rolls Royce (Anthony Asquith, 1965) Warner Home Video

Zodiac [Blu-ray] (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount

"Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is it - have the best week of your life!