DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 21st, 2008

Yehyek tunal! - 14 new reviews (or comparisons) this week - some keen new releases available from this week's Calendar, a new contest, and more. Enjoy!

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April Criterions announced:
Death of a Cyclist (Bardem, 1955)
Blast of Silence (Allen Baron, 1961)
The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 1956)
The White Mane (Albert Lamorisse, 1953)
Paddle to the Sea (Bill Mason, 1966)
Eclipse 10 - Silent Ozu (I Was Born But..., Passing Fancy, Tokyo Chorus)




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THIS WEEK's PRIZE: Criterion's DVD of Alf Sjöberg's Miss Julie! To enter the draw you must be subscribed to our Free Weekly Newsletter and email the correct answer to contest@DVDBeaver.com (the winner will be drawn from all correct answers sent)

LAST WEEK's (with ONLY 5 CORRECT ANSWERS!) Winner (identifying clip of Edward Dmytryk 1949 'Christ in Concrete' - aka Give Us This Day) was P. Terranova of NJ. (Wins a sealed copy of Orson Welles' The Stranger (Focus Films DVD)! Congrats Paul!)


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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!). Essential here is Bette Davis Collection Vol 3. and Bette Davis Centenary with new inclusions. But there are some other interesting additions as well; The Dragon Painter, Dam Street, Fine Dead Girls, - Giallo fans may indulge in The Case of the Bloody Iris. I don't get out much so I have some minor interest in Beowulf, Dedication, Rendition and Gone Baby Gone. What about The Last Supper? Hmmm...


Bette Davis Collection Vol 3 - In This Our Life (1942), The Old Maid (1939), All This, and Heaven Too (1940), The Great Lie (1941), Deception (1946) and Watch on the Rhine (1943) - Warner Home Video

The Legend of the Black Scorpion (2-disc) (Zhang Ziyi, 2006) Weinstein Company

Dedication (Justin Theroux, 2007) Weinstein Company

Rashômon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

Coup de torchon (Bertrand Tavernier, 1981) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

Angels One Five (George More O'Ferrall, 1952) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

The Case of the Bloody Iris (Giuliano Carmineo, 1972) Blue Underground

Fine Dead Girls (Dalibor Matanic, 2002) First Run

Dam Street (Li Yu, 2005) First Run

The Last Supper (Tomas Gutierrez Alea, 1976) New Yorker Films

The Dragon Painter (William Worthington, 1919) Milestone

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) New Yorker Films

The Final Inquiry (Giulio Base, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) Paramount

Beowulf (Director's Cut) (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) Paramount

Beowulf [HD DVD] (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) Paramount

Royal Tramp 1 and 2 (1992) - Weinstein

Phone Call from a Stranger (Jean Negulesco, 1952) - Fox Home Entertainment

The Nanny (Seth Holt, 1965) - Fox Home Entertainment

The Virgin Queen (Henry Koster, 1955) - Fox Home Entertainment

Bette Davis Centenary Celebration Collection (All About Eve / Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte / The Virgin Queen / Phone Call from a Stranger / The Nanny) - Fox Home Entertainment

Eye in the Sky (Nai-Hoi Yau, 2007) Tai Seng

Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton - The Man in the Shadows (Kent Jones, 2007) – Warner

Rendition (Gavin Hood, 2007) - New Line Home Video

Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007) Miramax

Gone Baby Gone [Blu-ray] (Ben Affleck, 2007) Miramax

Yella (Christian Petzold, 2007) R2 UK - Artificial Eye


Quick opinions:

STRONG VALUE: Funny Face, El Cid and Miss Julie

GOOD CONTENT / WEAK DVD: The Train and Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows

GUILTY PLEASURE DEPT: The Invasion (Blu-ray)

HAVEN'T SEEN (BUT SOUND GOOD): Noroit/Duelle (but need English subs!)


New Reviews:

Identity (Blu-ray) - There are things to enjoy. Cusack is all nuts and bolts professionalism, as he delivers screeds of deftly disguised exposition. Spirited direction milks the isolated tumbledown setting for copper-bottomed suspense and almost masks the mechanical aspect of one inventively grisly demise following another. The scheming narrative ably marshals teasing red herrings and diversionary ruses before hitting us with a doozy of a reversal..


The Invasion (Blu-ray) - I found it a rather interesting re-telling of the 'old tale'; the corollary-inducing novel by Jack Finney. I thought director Oliver Hirschbiegel's juxtaposing of non-linear timelines and events was quite intelligently presented. Daniel Craig is relegated to a minor one-dimensional role and Kidman is, as usual, wonderfully feminine and visually expressive. The Invasion hints at current events being politically representational (background audio news clips are frequently present) - but not in a preachy, annoying manner. The storyline has enough differences to make the connection to the original as more an 'homage' than an obvious duplication. Anyway, the narrative base is becoming iconic in our culture whether reflected in new age ideologies, founded (or unfounded) terrorist fears, biotechnology or apocalyptic anxiety. As Kissinger stated - 'Even paranoids have enemies'. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2008


Funny Face - The musical that dares to rhyme Sartre with Montmartre, Funny Face - surprisingly from Paramount rather than MGM - knocks most other musicals off the screen for its visual beauty, its witty panache, and its totally uncalculating charm. The beauty is most irresistible in the sylvan scene, shimmering through gauze, when Astaire and Hepburn find they 'empathise', to use the film's joke. The panache is most sustained in the 'Clap Yo' Hands' number, in which Astaire and Thompson shuffle on as a couple of beats and develop a dazzlingly inventive send-up. The charm is everywhere. Love triumphs over capitalist exploitation, joyless intellectualisation, and all things phony; and the thesis persuades because of the commitment and skill of the team and the lightness of the underrated Donen's touch. NOTE: We've added the old release for comparison to the newer 50th Anniversary edition.


Martin Scorsese Present's Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows - This new Turner Classic television documentary - "Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton: Man in the Shadows" is available from Warner Home Video individually on DVD (reviewed below) and is also in a new release of The Val Lewton Horror Collection. which contain the exact same impressive titles as the previously released Val Lewton set - 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.. DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2008

The Train - One obsession runs headlong into another as a French railway inspector (Lancaster), once unwillingly started out in opposition, finds he cannot stop, and must go on finding new ways and means of delaying the train for an hour here, a day there. In Frankenheimer's hands, the whole paraphernalia of trains, tracks and shunting yards acquires an almost hypnotic fascination as the screen becomes a giant chessboard on which huge metallic pawns are manoeuvred, probing for some fatal weakness but seemingly engaged in some deadly primeval struggle.

Miss Julie - Sjöberg was head honcho in the post-war revival of Swedish cinema before Ingmar Bergman emerged. He began as a stage director, and his adaptation of August Strindberg's classic became his most admired film, sharing the Best Film Award at Cannes (with De Sica's Miracle in Milan) in 1951. The title role is magnificently played by Björk, and despite a slight opening-up of the play, the intensity never lets up. Miss Julie's humiliation of the valet Jean (Palme) and her oblique seduction of the underling, leading to tragedy, remain as the powerful central images from a drama about sexual repression and class. DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008

El Cid - One of the very finest epics produced by Samuel Bronston, equally impressive in terms of script (by Philip Yordan, who mercifully steers clear of florid archaisms) and spectacle. Heston is aptly heroic as the 11th-century patriot destined to die in the fight for a Moor-less Spain, Mann's direction is stately and thrilling, and Miklos Rosza's superb score perfectly complements the crisp and simple widescreen images. Sobriety and restraint, in fact, are perhaps the keynotes of the film's success, with the result that a potentially risible finale (in which Cid's corpse is borne into the realm of legend, strapped to his horse as it leads his men to battle) becomes genuinely stirring. DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2003

The Young Savages - Based on the novel A Matter of Conviction by Evan Hunter, The Young Savages (1961) was the first collaboration between director John Frankenheimer and actor Burt Lancaster (they would go on to make four more films together including Birdman of Alcatraz, 1962). Like other powerful social dramas of the late fifties/early sixties (12 Angry Men (1957), the TV series, East Side, West Side), The Young Savages addressed issues which undoubtedly appealed to the liberal Democrat in Frankenheimer and Lancaster yet the film was not a labor of love. The John Frankenheimer Collection DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2008

L'Eclisse - The conclusion of Michelangelo Antonioni’s informal trilogy on modern malaise, which began with L’avventura, L’eclisse (The Eclipse) tells the story of a young woman (Monica Vitti) who leaves one lover (Francisco Rabal) only to drift into a relationship with another (Alain Delon). Using the architecture of Rome as a backdrop for the couple’s doomed affair, Antonioni reaches the apotheosis of his modernist style, returning to his favorite themes: alienation and the difficulty of finding connections in an increasingly mechanized world.

Un Flic - Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve are both very good in their roles, exhibiting a type of icy calm throughout. Their roles are much more restricted than most of their other work, in part due to the lack of dialogue, but also because of the film's nature. The film is hit-and-miss, and is not as consistent as Le Samourai or Le Cercle Rouge, but it's worth seeing nonetheless if you're a Melville or a noir fan.

Gregory's Girl - This enchanting comedy, made in Scotland and only the second feature to be written and directed by Mr. Forsyth, who is 33 years old, is one of the cheeriest unsentimental reports on the human condition since Francois Truffaut's ''Small Change,'' which it recalls because it, too, is almost entirely concerned with teen-agers and their juniors.

Noroit/Duelle - The strangest by far of Jacques Rivette's films (1976), and perhaps the last gasp of the modernist strain that infused his work from L'amour fou to Out 1 to Celine and Julie Go Boating, this is a violent and unsettling fusion of a female pirate adventure (filmed on some of the same locations used for The Vikings and inspired in part by Lang's Moonfleet, but set in no particular place or period), mythological fantasy, Jacobean tragedy (with many lines borrowed from Tourneur's Revenger's Tragedy), experimental dance film (with live improvised music from a talented trio of musicians), and personal psychodrama.

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control - Morris weaves their dreams together with music and images, into a meditation. To watch the movie is to reflect that no matter how hard we work, our lives are but a passing show. Maybe Rodney Brooks, the robot scientist from MIT, has the right idea: We should develop intelligent robots that can repair themselves and send them out into the universe as our proxies. Instead of a few incredibly expensive manned space missions, why not send up thousands of robots that are fast, cheap and out of control--and trust that some of them will work?

Good Will Hunting - The film works so well because of being grounded in the streets of Boston. This is effectively done with accurate accents and shooting on location. Also, the accompaniment of acoustic songs by Elliott Smith with Danny Elfman’s beautiful score really adds a somber tone to the picture. Elfman's score is also comparable to Jerry Goldsmith's score to "Rudy," not necessarily in execution but certainly in approach to similar material, with regards to the inspirational story that both films have. Finally, the standout performances of Damon and Williams really suck the audience into this world. Both actors have an immediate chemistry, a give and take between teacher and pupil, therapist and client, and finally “father” and “son.”

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


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


Week of January 28th, 2009

Canvas (Joseph Greco, 2006) Universal

Daratt (Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, 2006) R2 UK Soda Pictures

El Cid - 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition (Anthony Mann, 1961) - Miriam Collection

El Cid - 2-Disc Deluxe Edition (Anthony Mann, 1961) - Miriam Collection

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

King of California (Mike Cahill, 2007) First Look

King of California [HD DVD] (Mike Cahill, 2007) First Look

King of California [Blu-ray] (Mike Cahill, 2007) First Look

Love On The Ground (Jacques Rivette, 1984) R2 UK - Bluebell Films

Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton - The Man in the Shadows (Kent Jones, 2007) - Warner

Opera Jawa (Garin Nugroho, 2006) R2 UK - Yume Pictures

Tales From Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, 2006) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Trade (Marco Kreuzpaintner, 2007) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

The Val Lewton Horror Collection with Martin Scorses Presents Val Lewton Documentary (Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People / I Walked with a Zombie ... / The Seventh Victim / Shadows in the Dark) - Warner

Wuthering Heights (Jacques Rivette, 1985) R2 UK - Bluebell Films

Yella (Christian Petzold, 2007) R2 UK - Artificial Eye


Carpe diem,



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 (All About Eve / Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte / The Virgin Queen / Phone Call from a Stranger / The Nanny), 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...