Newsletter - FOR THE WEEK

OF January 20th, 2014

  This Week's Highlights

Kiniga kuri ase? - Another splendid week with Criterion, Hammer, Sam Peckinpah, Richard Fleischer, Stanley Kramer, Woody Allen, Paul Schrader, Dario Argento all on Blu-ray. The Release Calendar has Criterion April Calendar listings including films by Don Siegel, Lars von Trier, François Truffaut, Carl Th. Dreyer, Dino Risi etc. January's FEATURE Blu-ray and DVD of the MONTH is posted and there is a new CONTEST posted with a new Blu-ray prize - best of luck!

OUR Blu-ray and DVD of the year 2013 Poll is posted HERE (Thanks to all the participants!)

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FEATURE Blu-ray and DVD of the MONTH selected for JANUARY !



(Week of) January 20th CONTEST  identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win Criterion Blu-ray of Thief  

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The Big Red One [Blu-ray] (Samuel Fuller, 1980) Warner

Mademoiselle C [Blu-ray] (Fabien Constant, 2013) Cohen Media

Riot in Cell Block 11 [Blu-ray] (Don Siegel, 1954) Criterion Collection

Breaking the Waves [Blu-ray] (Lars von Trier, 1996) Criterion Collection

The 400 Blows [Blu-ray] (François Truffaut, 1959) Criterion Collection

Master of the House [Blu-ray] (Carl Th. Dreyer, 1925) Criterion Collection

Il sorpasso [Blu-ray] (Dino Risi, 1962) Criterion Collection

The Sheltering Sky [Blu-ray] (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1990) RB FR BAC Films

Nosferatu the Vampyre [Blu-ray] (Werner Herzog, 1979) Shout! Factory

The Swimmer [Blu-ray] (Frank Perry, Sydney Pollack, 1968) Grindhouse Releasing

A Touch of Sin [Blu-ray] (Zhangke Jia, 2013) Kino Lorber

The Book Thief [Blu-ray] (Brian Percival, 2013) 20th Century Fox

Sorcerer [Blu-ray] (William Friedkin, 1977) Universal Pictures

The Missing Picture [Blu-ray] (Rithy Panh, 2013) RB UK New Wave Films

Funny Face [Blu-ray] (Stanley Donen, 1957) Paramount

Get Carter [Blu-ray] (Mike Hodges, 1971) Warner Home Video

Wadjda [Blu-ray] (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2013) Sony

Mysterious Skin [Blu-ray] (Gregg Araki, 2004) Strand Releasing

You Will Be My Son [Blu-ray] (Gilles Legrand, 2011) Cohen Media

Beyond Outrage [Blu-ray] (Takeshi Kitano, 2012) Magnolia

The Artist and the Model [Blu-ray] (Fernando Trueba, 2012) Cohen Media

Sophie's Choice [Blu-ray] (Alan J. Pakula, 1982) Shout! Factory

Somewhere in Time [Blu-ray] (Jeannot Szwarc, 1980) Universal Studios

Far and Away [Blu-ray] (Ron Howard, 1992) Universal Studios

Boiler Room [Blu-ray] (Ben Younger, 2000) New Line Video

Boardwalk [Blu-ray] (Stephen Verona, 1979) MVD Visual

Conspiracy Theory [Blu-ray] (Richard Donner, 1997) Warner Home Video

Vanilla Sky [Blu-ray] (Cameron Crowe, 2001) Paramount

A Field in England [Blu-ray] (Ben Wheatley, 2013) New Video Group

Thor: The Dark World [Blu-ray] (Alan Taylor, 2013) Walt Disney

Reasonable Doubt [Blu-ray] (Peter P. Croudins, 2014) Lions Gate

The War Around Us [Blu-ray] (Abdallah Omeish, 2014) MPI

Persona [Blu-ray] (Ingmar Bergman, 1966) Criterion Collection

The Great Beauty [Blu-ray] (Paolo Sorrentino, 2013) Criterion Collection

The Freshman [Blu-ray] (Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1925) Criterion Collection

A Brief History of Time [Blu-ray] (Errol Morris, 1991) Criterion Collection

George Washington [Blu-ray] (David Gordon Green, 2000) Criterion Collection

The Hidden Fortress [Blu-ray] (Akira Kurosawa, 1958) Criterion Collection

Sleep, My Love [Blu-ray] (Douglas Sirk, 1948) Olive Films

Men in War [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1957) Olive Films

Sabrina [Blu-ray] (Billy Wilder, 1954) Paramount

The Pawnbroker [Blu-ray] (Sidney Lumet, 1964) - Olive Films

Samson and Delilah [Blu-ray] (Cecil B. DeMille, 1949) Paramount

Stranger on the Prowl [Blu-ray] (Joseph Losey, 1952) Olive Films

Breaking the Waves [Blu-ray] (Lars von Trier, 1996) RB UK Artificial Eye



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Criterion have put so much into their It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World Blu-ray and DVD package, it would seem unjust not to give it top spot this week - but there are many worthy films that we reviewed. We should make note of Richard Fleischer's Violent Saturday on Blu-ray from Carlotta out of France. This is a premium heist/crime-thriller with some desirable Noir proclivities and it looks fabulous in 1080P. I was very impressed with Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine - perhaps his best work in a few years. The new Blu-ray offers a memorable viewing experience. Robin Hardy's haunting The Wicker Man has been restored and the 'Final Cut' is now available in the new format on both sides of the pond. Death Wish is the godfather of the modern vigilante film and its appealing transfer to Blu-ray certainly advances beyond the older SDs. I've always had a soft spot for Paul Schrader's Cat People - an erotic remake of the 1942 horror classic that looks vastly improved via Blu-ray. Peckinpah's The Killer Elite with Caan and Duvall has some positives and also advances quite substantially in the new format. I'm a huge sucker for 50's creature-features and the Shout! Factory double bill Blu-ray of The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man may qualify. They are both imperfect efforts that still hold valuable nostalgic charm. Hammer Studios fans ears should perk up when we have a title like Frankenstein Created Woman with Peter Cushing. Playboy bunny Susan Denberg shouldn't be a detraction. The French actioner The Prey has a heavy prison venue and works as an intense crime thriller. Certainly worth a spin. John Cassavetes daughter's, sexy vampire, Kiss of the Damned get a UK Blu-ray release that mirrors the US one. It has some splendid visuals. Greengrass' Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks suffers from dragging on unnecessarily, IMO, but many will enjoy the suspense. Argento's Dracula leaves us without much of the director's signature style and a rehashed telling of the Bram Stoker story. On DVD we covered a Noir Essential but, unfortunately, The Pretender has a poor digital rendering. Only devout fans of the Dark Cinema should bother considering. Cheers to a the forthcoming year and another chance for us to try to get it right!


Argento's Dracula BD - Which is to say that Argento's Dracula 3D isn't so dispiriting because it's a bad movie, though it is, but because there's virtually no sign of the filmmaker in it, nor of any novel motivation to mount yet another version of an oft-told tale. Sure, there are fleeting moments of erotic kink courtesy of the occasionally heaving bare bosom, or of the subtexts that remain of the novel itself, but the film nearly plays as a low-rent adaptation you'd expect from the Syfy channel: The plotting is traditional and plodding, the blocking is flat, the editing poorly timed, the atmosphere flimsy and cobbled together, and the score too consciously flippant in an unsuccessful bid for self-aware cheekiness. Blu-ray Release date: January 28th, 2014

The Beast of Hollow Mountain / The Neanderthal Man BD - The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956): An American cowboy living in Mexico discovers his cattle is being eaten by a giant prehistoric dinosaur. The Neanderthal Man (1953) A mad scientist transforms himself into a prehistoric caveman, his cat into a saber-toothed tiger, and his housekeeper into an ape person - which does not enhance his popularity. Blu-ray Release date: January 28th, 2014

Frankenstein Created Woman BD - Hammer Studios followed up Evil of Frankenstein with this entertaining sequel, again starring Peter Cushing as the quintessential mad scientist obsessed with the reanimation of dead bodies and the creation of superhuman creatures. His latest project involves transferring the mind of a wrongly-executed man into the body of his lover (former Playboy centerfold Susan Denberg), whose own suicide left her horribly disfigured. After restoring her beauty, the Doctor performs the mind-transference, which comes off without a hitch... until the lust for revenge against his executioners begins to surface. He/she then pursues this vendetta by seducing and murdering those who wronged him. Hammer stalwart Terence Fisher directs this quirky entry with his usual flair -- aided considerably by a decent budget -- and spices things up with a fair share of titillation (courtesy of Ms. Denberg). Blu-ray Release date: January 28th, 2014

The Killer Elite BD - After a brilliantly cryptic opening, The Killer Elite settles into Peckinpah's most apparently straightforward action film since The Getaway. Built around the internal politics of a San Francisco company which sidelines in dirty work that even the CIA won't touch, it concentrates on the painful recovery of an agent (Caan), wounded in knee and elbow in a double-cross, and his search for revenge. During Caan's lengthy recuperation, Peckinpah contemplates the old themes of betrayal, trust and humiliation. And through the action of the second half, Caan (like other Peckinpah heroes) comes to some sort of understanding. The set pieces (a Chinatown shoot-out, a dockland siege, the superb ships' graveyard climax) are excellent, as are so many secondary scenes. There are echoes here of Point Blank, and behind the deceits and manipulations both are essentially simple films. Unmistakable Peckinpah - not a masterpiece, but enough to be going on with. Blu-ray Release date: February 6th, 2013

Violent Saturday BD - In the unique marriage of heist caper and overheated melodrama, Violent Saturday (1955), a trio of bandits enter the quiet small Arizona mining town of Bradenville led by criminal mastermind Harper (Stephen McNally) who is masquerading as a costume jewelry salesman. Joined by Dill (Lee Marvin) and Chapman (J. Carrol Naish), Harper and his gang hole up in the Bradenville Hotel where they plot their robbery of the local bank. But in many ways, the heist is secondary. For director Richard Fleischer and screenwriter Sydney Boehm, far more interesting is their depiction of life in Bradenville, an on-the-surface peaceful small town which in fact harbors a number of feverish, sordid personal stories. At the top of the scandal ladder are the local aristocrats Boyd (Richard Egan) and Emily Fairchild (Margaret Hayes). Blu-ray Release Date: April 3rd, 2013

The Prey BD - The Prey is a trim and exciting beach-read of a movie—silly and formulaic, but executed with so much confidence that you can't help but applaud the filmmakers' moxie. It's essentially a neo-noir about a wrong man on the run from the police to clear his name, overstuffed with incidents and asides from seemingly every subgenre under the crime-film umbrella. The film should be a hopelessly convoluted slog, but director Eric Valette has a gift for maintaining a pop-narrative momentum that draws you in, and there are dashes of legitimate wit and perversity on display. Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2014

Kiss of the Damned BD - Writer-director Xan Cassavetes, daughter of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, shifts gears from documentary to feature work with this offbeat horror opus, overtly inspired by the work of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and others of the same ilk. Set in New England, it tells the story of two sisters. Both are French vampires - one evil, the other benevolent. Milo Ventimiglia plays a screenwriter who falls hard for the good sibling (Joséphine de la Baume) which incites the anger of the other sister (Roxane Mesquida). That young woman then decides to unleash fury on the local town. Blu-ray Release date: January 27th, 2014

The Wicker Man BD - When a young girl mysteriously vanishes, Police Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) travels to a remote Scottish island to investigate. But the seemingly quiet community is not as it appears, as the detective uncovers a secretive pagan society led by the strange Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). While the townsfolk tempt and threaten him with bizarre rituals and wanton lust, Howie must race to discover the truth behind the girl's disappearance before his clash with Lord Summerisle builds to a terrifying conclusion - one that has cemented this cult shocker as a modern horror masterpiece. Blu-ray Release date: January 7th, 2014

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World BD - Stanley Kramer followed his Oscar-winning Judgment at Nuremberg with this sobering investigation of American greed. Ah, who are we kidding? It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, about a group of strangers fighting tooth and nail over buried treasure, is the most grandly harebrained movie ever made, a pileup of slapstick and borscht-belt-y one-liners performed by a nonpareil cast, including Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Spencer Tracy, Jonathan Winters, and a boatload of other playing-to-the-rafters comedy legends. For sheer scale of silliness, Kramer’s wildly uncharacteristic film is unlike any other, an exhilarating epic of tomfoolery. Criterion Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2014

Death Wish BD - This drama about a man who takes the law into his own hands was wildly controversial upon first release, sparking much debate about the perceived pro-vigilante stance of the story, and established Charles Bronson as a major box office draw in the United States. Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) is a liberal architect living in New York City. One day, a group of drug-crazed thugs break into his apartment while he's gone, killing his wife Joanna (Hope Lange) and brutally raping his married daughter, leaving her comatose. When the police are unable to find the culprits, Kersey arms himself and begins patrolling the streets, killing muggers and thieves as he encounters them. While his obsessive search for street justice sickens him at first, in time Kersey begins to enjoy it and becomes a hunted man himself, as Police Detective Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia) tries to find the man who is doing the police's job for them, and a bit too well. Jeff Goldblum made his screen debut as one of the lunatics who attacks Joanna. Blu-ray Release date: February 3rd, 2014

Cat People BD - Beauty is the beast in Schrader's erotic update of RKO's 1942 horror classic. Kinski's ambivalently bewildered Irena, subject to feline metamorphosis when aroused, is the deadly composite of sex-kitten and femme fatale: the virgin who literally develops claws (and more) in bed. Caught between her similarly cursed brother's pleas for incest, and her zoo-keeper boy-friend's ostensibly more natural desires, she's ironically caged as much by current notions of psycho-sexual 'liberation' as by the bars which await her. The seductively exotic surface of this mythically underpinned fantasy might be offset for some by much graphic gore, but if you can buy the romantic metaphors for the primitivisms of sexual obsession, the film delivers down the line. Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2014

Blue Jasmine BD - When Cate Blanchett first cruises into Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” playing a Park Avenue matron fallen on hard times, she looks like a million bucks. She’s wearing pearls and a white Chanel jacket, with an Hermès bag as big as a Shetland pony hanging off one arm. It’s the sort of important accessory worn by women accustomed to being chauffeured around town. Soon after, though, as she stands with her monogrammed luggage on a nondescript San Francisco sidewalk, she looks frightened, alone — like someone who could benefit from some kindness. Instead, she waves off a stranger and, posing a question that’s as existential as it is practical, demands, “Where am I, exactly? Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2014

Captain Phillips BD - “Captain Phillips,” a movie that insistently closes the distance between us and them, has a vital moral immediacy. It was directed by Paul Greengrass, the British filmmaker who quickened the pulse of contemporary action cinema with the second and third installments in the Bourne franchise, features that proved yet again that big-screen thrills and thought need not be mutually exclusive. Kinetic action and intelligence are similarly the driving forces in “Captain Phillips,” which, like Mr. Greengrass’s Bourne movies, shakes you up first with its style and then with its ideas. Blu-ray Release date: January 21st, 2014

The Pretender - Albert Dekker plays a crooked investment agent who embezzles a large sum from an estate, hoping to cover his crime by marrying the estate's heiress (Catherine Craig). The girl is already engaged, so Dekker arranges to have the fiance killed. The hit man's only means of identifying the victim-to-be is his picture in the society columns. But the girl changes her mind and agrees to marry Dekker--meaning that it is his picture that will appear in the columns, thereby condemning him to death. Desperately trying to contact the hit man, Dekker discovers that the man is dead...but the assassin's successor is still at large. A cheap but tidy "hoist on his own petard" melodrama, The Pretender was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of the more famous (and frankly more talented) Billy Wilder. DVD Release Date: December 30th, 2013

 Next 4 weeks on the Calendar

January 20th, 2014


Blue Jasmine [Blu-ray] (Woody Allen, 2013) Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)

Captain Phillips [Blu-ray] (Paul Greengrass, 2013) Sony Pictures (BEAVER REVIEW)

Cat People [Blu-ray] (Paul Schrader, 1982) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

Charlie Countryman [Blu-ray] (Fredrik Bond, 2013) Millennium

Computer Chess [Blu-ray] (Andrew Bujalski, 2013) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)

Die, Monster, Die! [Blu-ray] (Daniel Haller, 1965) Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World [Blu-ray] (Stanley Kramer, 1963) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Machete Kills [Blu-ray] (Robert Rodriguez, 2013) Universal Studios

Nostalghia [Blu-ray] (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1983) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Postman Always Rings Twice [Blu-ray] (Bob Rafelson, 1981) Warner (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Prey [Blu-ray] (Eric Valette, 2011) Cohen Media (BEAVER REVIEW)

Raise the Titanic [Blu-ray] (Jerry Jameson, 1980) Shout! Factory

The Returned [Blu-ray] (Frédéric Mermoud, 2012) Music Box Films

RoboCop 4K Remastered [Blu-ray] (Paul Verhoeven, 1987) MGM

La vie de bohème [Blu-ray] (Aki Kaurismäki, 1992) Criterion (BEAVER REVIEW)

Wadjda [Blu-ray] (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2013) RB UK Soda Pictures


January 27th, 2014


Beast Of Hollow Mountain (1956) / Neanderthan Man (1953) [Blu-ray] - Shout! Factory (BEAVER REVIEW)
The Cat [
Blu-ray] (Seung-wook Byeon, 2011) Well Go USA

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 [Blu-ray] (Kris Pearn, 2013) Sony

Demonic Toys [Blu-ray] (Peter Manoogian, 1992) MPI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [Blu-ray] (John S. Robertson, 1920) Kino (BEAVER REVIEW)

Dracula 3D [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 2012) MPI (BEAVER REVIEW)

Epic of Everest [Blu-ray] (J.B.L. Noel, 1924) RB UK BFI

Frankenstein Created Woman [Blu-ray] (Terence Fisher, 1967) Millennium (BEAVER REVIEW)

Hell Comes to Frogtown [Blu-ray] (Donald G. Jackson, R.J. Kizer, 1988) RB UK Arrow

Hellgate [Blu-ray] (William A. Levey, 1990) RB UK Arrow

Kiss of the Damned [Blu-ray] (Xan Cassavetes, 2012) RB UK Eureka (BEAVER REVIEW)

The Long Day Closes [Blu-ray] (Terence Davies, 1992) Criterion

The Selfish Giant [Blu-ray] (Clio Barnard, 2013) RB UK Artificial Eye

Wings [Blu-ray] (William A. Wellman, 1927) RB UK Masters of Cinema (BEAVER REVIEW)


February 3rd, 2014


City of Angels [Blu-ray] (Brad Silberling, 1998) Warner

Come Back, Africa - The Films of Lionel Rogosin, Volume 2 [Blu-ray] (1959) - Milestone

Death Wish [Blu-ray] (Michael Winner, 1974) Paramount (BEAVER REVIEW)

Filth [Blu-ray] (Jon S. Baird, 2013) RB UK Lions Gate Home Entertainment

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness [Blu-ray] (Mark Robson, 1958) 20th Century Fox

The Jacques Tati Collection [Blu-ray] - RB UK Studiocanal

Jules and Jim [Blu-ray] (François Truffaut, 1962) Criterion Collection

Mother of George [Blu-ray] (Andrew Dosunmu, 2013) Oscilloscope Laboratories

Night Of The Demons [Blu-ray] (Kevin Tenney, 1988) Shout! Factory

Stop-Loss [Blu-ray] (Kimberly Peirce, 2008) Paramount


February 10th, 2014


The Artist and the Model [Blu-ray] (Fernando Trueba, 2012) Cohen Media

Captain Phillips - Limited Edition Steelbook [Blu-ray] (Paul Greengrass, 2013) RB UK Sony

Frivolous Lola [Blu-ray] (Tinto Brass, 1998) RB UK Arrow

Robbe-Grillet: Trans-Europ-Express [Blu-ray] (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1967) Redemption

Robbe-Grillet: Successive Slidings of Pleasure [Blu-ray] (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1974) Redemption

The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg (50th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (Jacques Demy, 1964) RB UK Studiocanal

Wadjda [Blu-ray] (Haifaa Al-Mansour, 2013) Sony

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