DVDBeaver Newsletter - January 28th, 2008

Chào ban! - A shade slower this week - 13 new reviews (3 of which comparisons, 5 are Blu-rays) - some keen new releases available from this week's Calendar, a new contest, and more. ON DECK - The Films of Sergei Paradjanov.

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BEAVER CITING(s): A full page in this week's Macleans Magazine HERE, a paragraph or two in this month's FILM COMMENT HERE, Quoted below Susan Sontag to start The DVD Stack II HERE. I guess beer's on me...

NEW ARTICLE: Alain Resnais by David Ehrenstein

(Did you know we have 33 articles in our Articles Section?)

Any suggestions for Feature DVD of the Month (February)? gary@DVDBeaver.com




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THIS WEEK's PRIZE: a sealed copy of BFI's DVD Package of Quay Brothers - The Short Films 1979-2003! 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 Winner (identifying clip of Anh Hung Tran's 'The Scent of Green Papaya') was P. Lobczowski . (Wins Criterion's DVD of Alf Sjöberg's Miss Julie!)! Congrats Pete!)


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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!). Wow - I'm thrilled about La Notte and No Country for Old Men. I know fans of "The Invaders" have waited for years for this to come to Region 1. We can cross fingers that the Axioms PAL version of Tsai's The Wayward Cloud and I Don't Want To Sleep Alone will eclipse the mediocre/poor DeltaMac and Strand NTSC counterparts. Other intriguing stuff includes - Born And Bred, Summer Palace, My Kid Could Paint That, and Stowaway. And so bad it's good - The Car.


La Notte (Michelangelo Antonioni,1961) R2 UK - Eureka [Masters of Cinema]

The Car (Elliot Silverstein, 1977) Universal

Mission: Impossible The Fourth TV Season - Paramount Home Video

Wee Willie Winkie (John Ford, 1937) 20th Century Fox

Stowaway (William A. Seiter, 1936) 20th Century Fox

My Kid Could Paint That (Amir Bar-Lev, 2007) Sony Pictures

"Five Days" (Otto Bathurst / Simon Curtis2007) (mini series) HBO Home Video

Summer Palace (Lou Ye, 2006) Palm Pictures / Umvd

Enchanted (Kevin Lima, 2007) Walt Disney Video

Enchanted [Blu-ray] (Kevin Lima, 2007) Walt Disney Video

No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen, 2007) Miramax

No Country for Old Men [Blu-ray] (Ethan Coen, 2007) Miramax

"The Invaders" Season One (1967) Paramount

Michael Clayton [HD DVD + SD Combo] (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner

Bonnie and Clyde - Ultimate Collector's Edition (Arthur Penn, 1967) Warner

Born And Bred (Pablo Trapero, 2006) R2 - UK Axiom Films

The Wayward Cloud (Ming-Liang Tsai, 2004) R2 - UK Axiom Films

I Don't Want To Sleep Alone (Ming-Liang Tsai, 2006) R2 - UK Axiom Films

Bernard and Doris (Bob Balaban, 2007) Warner

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner

Yield to the Night (J. Lee Thompson, 1956) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

Payroll (Sidney Hayers, 1961) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

Houdini: The Movie Star (Three Disc Collection) The Master Mystery (1919) Terror Island (1920) The Man From Beyond (1922) Haldane Of The Secret Service (1923) The Grim Game (1919) – Kino

Jesse Stone: Sea Change (Robert Harmon, 2007) Sony Pictures


Quick opinions:

STRONG VALUE: Climates and Camille Claudel

POSSIBLES: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Brave One

GOOD CONTENT / WEAK DVD: I Don't Want To Sleep Alone

GUILTY PLEASURE DEPT: Night of the Werewolf / Vengeance of the Zombies and Sister Street Fighter I + II

HAVEN'T SEEN (BUT AM ENCOURAGED): Black Kiss and Sandglass

PASS: Wall Street BR


New Reviews:

The Draughtsman's Contract - ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract’ utilizes my favourite recurring theme in Greenaway’s films, which involves women doing away with the men in their lives. His stories are definitely unique and can be somewhat unsettling but once viewed they are seldom forgotten. The Zeitgeist DVD Release Date: February 12th, 2008

Me, Myself & Irene BR - Whatever we might think of the Farrelly Brothers in this film or elsewhere, Me, Myself & Irene is the perfect vehicle for the rubber-faced, multi-jointed Jim Carrey. He gets to play two characters in the same body, something along the lines of Steve Martin in All of Me. Renee Zellweger, too, is fine: avoiding, for the most part, her trademark pouting and squinting, she looks like a real person. The Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Climates - Ceylan casts himself as Isa , a college professor whose relationship with a somewhat younger woman named Bahar has exceeded its expiration date. Played by Ceylan's own wife, Ebru , the woman is an art director for a television show. When we meet them, they're on a summer jaunt to Kas , whose ruins Isa surveys for a future university lecture. From a distance, Bahar watches him stroll among the wreckage of a once-magnificent site, and the personal symbolism is unmistakable. Once, they were magnificent, too.

Wall Street BR - Remove the restless camera pyrotechnics and incomprehensible jargon, and you have a corny old melo: broker Charlie Sheen (green) perpetrates illegal practices to please surrogate poppa/company-trader Douglas (tough), a mega-villain mastermind who spits out absurdities like 'Lunch is for wimps' and longs to destroy his rival Stamp (lost). Soon Charlie's climbing the ladder in search of a fast buck and a flash fuck: Hannah (vacuous). Inevitably, he descends into a mire of insider-dealing, Faustian intrigue, and personal betrayal, culminating in his responsibility for Douglas' near-liquidation of the company where Sheen Sr (natch) is an Incorruptible Working Class Hero union rep. The Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Black Kiss - A cross between a Dario Argento thriller, an eighties giallo (like NOTHING UNDERNEATH) and SE7EN, the film is stunning to look at and the film is suspenseful and compelling up until the less-than-satisfying ending (motivated by the director wanting to defy serial killer film conventions). Though it compares poorly to the somewhat similarly-themed Korean thriller TELL ME SOMETHING, the film reflexively pokes at itself and other similar thrillers with remarks about how contrived and deliberately planned the seemingly random killings and series of red herrings really are.

Night of the Werewolf / Vengeance of the Zombies BR - BCI's package combines two single-layered Blu-ray discs - each with one film and its extras. Night of the Werewolf (Spanish title: El Retorno Del Hombre Lobo - U.S. title: The Craving) Filmed in the real castles of Spain, Night of the Werewolf is one of Naschy's most impressive films, a sumptuous Gothic feast that pits Naschy's werewolf, Waldemar Daninsky, against the Blood Countess herself, Elizabeth Bathory. Vengeance of the Zombies offers a triple threat performance by Naschy as a Hindu mystic, his evil brother and the Devil himself. Zombies, satanic voodoo rituals and gruesome killings combine to make Vengeance of the Zombies a bizarre ride in the best horror tradition, a film that defines the term "euro-cult" as few other films can. The Blu-ray DVD release date was January 8th, 2008

Sister Street Fighter I + II BR - This time BCI put both films on one single-layered Blu-ray disc - Well, you probably have some idea what you are in for here - a gal with deft karate skills (kung fu?) shows her stuff against some evil baddies usually in the form of ugly, grinning crime bosses or their equally lowlife henchman. The plot circles around her attempts to rescue her brother from drug dealers in this; the inaugural entry of the series. Joining her is one of the genre's iconic figures; Mr. Sonny Chiba. Actually, the better film is number II (not just because of the nudity... but it helps) as the vicious evil-doers, each with unique peculiarities and martial arts specialties, again face our little gal with her spinning kicks and expressive eyes. The Blu-ray DVD release date was January 8th, 2008

I Don't Want To Sleep Alone - Tsai’s latest movie was commissioned for the New Crowned Hope project – which has already brought us such gems as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Syndromes and a Century’ – which occasioned the Taiwanese filmmaker to take members of his long-term repertory company to film in his birth country, Malaysia. Here is regular actor Lee Kang-Sheng – some say Tsai’s cinematic alter-ego – playing two characters: the stroppy Kang, newcomer to Kuala Lumpur who annoys some street conmen and ends up in a bloody heap; and a doppelgänger who spends most of the movie in a coma being tended by a nurse (Chen Shiang-chyi, another Tsai faithful). Not too much should be made of Tsai’s change of locale, but in the re-focus of his empathetic eye on a new community of outsiders – the ethnically mixed generation of pan-Asian guest workers left high-and-dry by the burst bubble of Malaysia’s economic boom – many critics have detected a more explicit tendresse in his always elegant, though tough and challenging, formal examinations of unfulfilled or unfulfillable emotional need.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Given the funereal vibe and dusky imagery of Andrew Dominik’s gloriously depressive Western, it would be easy to just slap a revisionist-oater label on the movie without questioning what, exactly, is being revised. The concept of a filthy, immoral frontier is as clichéd as bad guys in black hats, and whatever heroic qualities were once attributed to Jesse James (Pitt) have long since been corrected. Then it becomes clear what’s being given a fresh perspective here: the reputation of one of history’s most infamous scaredy-cats. Watching the legendary train robber’s uncontrollably violent tendencies, you don’t think of Robert Ford (Affleck) as a yellow-belly, but as a man forced to put down a rabid dog. DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Sandglass (Korean Drama) - Sandglass is essential viewing experience if you want to learn about modern Korean history via a compelling dramatic vehicle instead of the History Channel. It was the most popular drama series of its day, starting off its 24 episode run with a 30% share and averaging an incredible 62% throughout its final ten episodes. Just as important, Sandglass is a fabulous, near faultless series: the story, screenplay (even in translation), direction and acting are all first rate. The only thing I can find wanting is the kind of highly textured production values we have become used to in American television over the last decade or two. But, given the epic sweep of the story, the level of acting and the seriousness of the screenplay, in that it pulls no political or dramatic punches, we scarcely miss it.

The Brave One - It's hard not to cringe at the opening of Neil Jordan's moody, upscale revenge drama The Brave One; any drama that starts off this ecstatically happy is clearly just establishing a high-water mark so the inevitable plummet into misery will be even more striking. Jodie Foster begins the film as a successful radio host on the verge of marrying Lost veteran Naveen Andrews; their giggly, giddy relationship is so idealized that the weight of inevitable doom hangs over it even before a random act of violence ends it. After three weeks in a coma, Foster is left to contemplate a newly purchased gun and a shaky sense of resolve that leads her out into the streets, where she tries to become a predator hunting other predators. DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Camille Claudel - The troubled life of French sculptor Camille Claudel and her long relationship with legendary sculptor Auguste Rodin are portrayed in this passionate biographical drama, featuring an acclaimed performance by Isabelle Adjani.

Dinosaur BR - The breathtaking opening of Disney's computer-generated family entertainment - a swooping bird's eye view of Earth's fauna and flora 65 million years ago - knocks spots off earlier CGI movies, but must have eaten so much of the budget that the rest looks strangely pedestrian. That's a shame, because aurally and visually this creature feature is a treat, no matter that it's a palaeontological / climatalogical / geological pick 'n' mix. The script nods towards the meteorite theory of dinosaur extinction, but allows little iguanodon Aladar to survive among a cutesy lemur community. The dull plot concerns a cross-species dinosaur drive through the desert to fresh breeding grounds and sees ideological battle between nasty down-mouthed Kron and young Aladar.

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of January 28th, 2009

Born And Bred (Pablo Trapero, 2006) R2 - UK Axiom Films

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 [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

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

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

Yield to the Night (J. Lee Thompson, 1956) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment


Week of February 4th, 2008

2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy, 2007) 20th Century Fox

9 Star Hotel (Ido Haar, 2007) Koch Lorber Films

Across the Universe (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sony Pictures

Across the Universe [Blu-ray] (Julie Taymor, 2007) Sony Pictures

The Apartment (Collector's Edition) (Billy Wilder, 1960) MGM

Ashik Kerib (Special Edition) (1988) (Sergei Paradjanov, 1988) - Kino

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007) Warner Home Video

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [Blu-ray] (Andrew Dominik, 2007) Warner

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

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

Crimson Tide [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 1995) - Walt Disney Video

Elizabeth - The Golden Age (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Shekhar Kapur, 2007) Universal Studios

Feast of Love (Robert Benton, 2007) MGM

Fierce People (Griffin Dunne, 2005) Lionsgate

The Films of Sergei Paradjanov (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors/The Color of Pomegranates/The Legend of Suram Fortress/Ashik Kerib) - Kino

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

Jean-Luc Godard Boxset (Passion, First Name: Carmen, The Detective and Oh Woe Is Me) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

The Legend of Suram Fortress (Special Edition) (Sergei Parajanov, 1984) - Kino

Portrait in Black (Michael Gordon, 1960) & Madame X (David Lowell Rich, 1960) - Universal

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Special Edition) (Sergei Parajanov, 1964) Kino

Tammy Trilogy (Tammy and the Bachelor/Tammy and the Doctor/Tammy Tell Me True) - Universal Studios

Wall Street [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1987) Fox Home Entertainment

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


'Go away - Beverly is not here' - 'It's not Howard, Mr. Peck' (name the TV show)



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...