DVDBeaver Newsletter - February 9th, 2008

Dzaanh nezoonh! - 21 new reviews this week - more Hitchcock, Stone, Lean, Scorsese, Cronenberg, Wong Kar-Wai, plenty of Blu-ray, a few new Calendar Releases!, some continued SALES, and another new CONTEST. Surely a superior week to previous...


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DVD (and Blu-ray) of the Year 2008 POLL RESULTS HERE.


US Blu-ray BUY 3 for the PRICE of 2        UK Blu-ray 2 for 3 SALE


Amazon France Blu-ray SALE (BUY 1 get 1 FREE!)

FEBRUARY 9th CONTEST - identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win a brand Blu-ray of Dr. No - 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!):

Enchanted April (Mike Newell, 1992) Miramax

Happily Ever After (Yukihiko Tsutsumi, 2007) Viz Video

Sin City [Blu-ray] (Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, 2005) Dimension

Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Muriel, Ou Le Temps D'un Retour (Alain Resnais, 1963) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Flesh and Fury (Joseph Pevney, 1952) R2 UK Eureka

Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008) R2 UK Pathe Video

Nighthawks/Strip Jack Naked - Nighthawks 2 [Blu-ray] (1978) - R'B' BFI

Falling Down [Blu-ray] (Joel Schumacher, 1993) Warner

Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960's Vol. 1 – Warner

Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970's Vol. 1 – Warner

Big [Blu-ray] (Penny Marshall, 1988) 20th Century Fox

Dog Days of Summer (Mark Freiburger, 2007) Starz / Anchor Bay

Thirteenth Floor [Blu-ray] (Josef Rusnak, 1999) Sony Pictures



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): This week I was blown away by Frozen River and we give it our highest recommendation. Happy Together has a definitive DVD transfer champ in the new AE.  Per-Olof is right and Import Export is very worthy. Hitch's classic The Lodger (1927) is essential and for a lesser, modern thriller you may want to give The Lodger (2009) a chance.  I see something new in Scorsese's Raging Bull BR every time I watch it. Not a typical Oliver Stone epic W. BR still deserves a spin. Despite some transfer weakness, Leonard still give a strong recommendation to Pride and Prejudice BR. Speaking of Blu-ray - there are a few interesting titles covered this week - from the Wachowski's  heavily atmospheric Bound BR to McQueen at his best as Bullitt BR - Akira BR to Little Miss Sunshine BR - Donnie Darko BR to A History of Violence BR and, despite LionsGate's weak transfers, for film value Peter Sellers Collection is super enjoyable fun.


New Reviews:

Pride and Prejudice BR - From the same people who gave us the remarkable Planet Earth series on Blu-ray, comes an important historical drama. It is important not only because it is an example of a well-produced period drama – and arguably the best adaptation of this most popular Jane Austen novel – but because it signals possibilities in restoration that we had always longed for but thought was not possible. For those of us who appreciate the kind of fine drama that was produced for television over the previous couple of decades, and particularly those series produced for the BBC and found their way to North America on Masterpiece Theatre or the A&E Network, this Blu-ray of Pride and Prejudice will astonish and delight. Blu-ray release date: January 20th, 2009


Frozen River BR - The most profound compliment I can give this film is that it most closely resembled my all-time favorite work of cinema - The Dardenne brother's Rosetta. Our human-condition struggles may seem divergent but, in essence, Frozen River reminds us that they are really all the same - no matter our economic circumstance. The hardships are so unendurable at times it is almost humorous. I give credit to the editing of this film as it exported a lot of power to the narrative. Blu-ray Release Date: February 10th, 2009

Peter Sellers Collection - Five strong UK comedies starring peter Sellers made in the late 50's and early 60's. The films are great fun and I was very impressed with my viewings. Four of the five of them are absolute classics (The Smallest Show on Earth, I'm All Right Jack, Two Way Stretch and Heavens Above!). If you weren't lucky enough to own the AB set this seems a convenient stop-gap replacement and the titles alone should be worth the price for many. DVD Release Date: February 3rd, 2009

The Pelican Brief BR - Another John Grisham legal thriller comes to the screen, pairing Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in a film directed by Alan J. Pakula, who is known for dark-hued suspense pictures such as Klute, The Parallax View, All the President's Men, and Presumed Innocent. The Pelican Brief isn't up to the level of those films, but it is a perfectly entertaining movie about a law student (Roberts) whose life is endangered when she discovers evidence of a conspiracy behind the killings of two Supreme Court justices. She enlists the help of an investigative reporter (Washington) and the two become fugitives. Blu-ray Release Date: February 10th, 2009

Office Space BR - Office Space is now almost ten years old. There's a quote by Roger Ebert on the cover: "A smart, savage comedy." Perhaps the satire was fresh back then, but it seems now, while apt, old hat. That said, it's hard not to relate to life in a cubicle even if you've never worked in such an office. And yes, Mike Judge's portrait of middle and upper management is vicious with a core of truth, but I found just about every gag – with the exception of any scene with Stephen Root as the bug-eyed and relentlessly put-upon Milton - predictable and telegraphed for too long before it punched. I never could work up much enthusiasm for the antihero drudges or their plot to achieve early retirement. Blu-ray Release date: February 3, 2009

Napoleon Dynamite BR - Starting with a name that couldn't be further from what it portends, our antihero, in every sense, is about as clueless about entry-level social graces as is possible to be. We wonder how someone with so little going for him can afford an attitude, but it's all part of what makes him "dynamite" I suppose. Napoleon (John Heder) is not so much a klutz as he exists in an alternate reality, even more so than the typical adolescent of our time. He is helped in this by his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) who spends most of his time surfing the Net and in chat rooms looking the ideal soulmate, and his uncle Rico (Jon Gries), a borderline personality who complains that he wasn't given the chance to make it into the big leagues and instead comes up with truly zany selling schemes to make his fortune (You'd think that a town the size of Preston, Idaho, would have caught on.) Blu-ray Release date: February 3, 2009

W. BR - Oliver Stone's "W.," a biography of President Bush, is fascinating. No other word for it. I became absorbed in its story of a poor little rich kid's alcoholic youth and torturous adulthood. This is the tragedy of a victim of the Peter Principle. Wounded by his father's disapproval and preference for his brother Jeb, the movie argues, George W. Bush rose and rose until he was finally powerful enough to stain his family's legacy. Blu-ray Release date: February 10th, 2009

The Lodger (2009) - Is it just January, or is independent film so depleted that the excellent likes of Hope Davis, Alfred Molina, and Philip Baker Hall have to grind away at breathing life into a dreary L.A. noir do-over of a 1927 Alfred Hitchcock silent classic? David Ondaatje, a first-time writer-director (and nephew of novelist Michael Ondaatje) blessed with little technical skill and fewer ideas in his style-obsessed head, favors speeding clouds, speeding freeway cars, and opera on the soundtrack as filler, while a curved-blade slices through unhappy hookers in the exact manner of Jack the Ripper. In other news, across West Hollywood there dwells an unsatisfied housewife (Davis) whose unfeeling lummox of a husband (Donal Logue) keeps telling her to take her meds and keeps abandoning her for the ambiguous charms of their lodger (Simon Baker), who vants to be alone. DVD Release Date: February 10th, 2009

The Lodger (1927) - All of London is in an uproar due to recent attacks by a Jack the Ripper-style serial killer known as "The Avenger" who targets blonde women. During this time, a pale, hypersensitive stranger arrives at a family-owned boarding house to take up lodging. He becomes attracted to the proprietor's pretty blonde daughter Daisy, who is already engaged to a policeman. Daisy, in spite of her parents' objections, returns the lodger's overtures. When the trail of the killer leads to the same district in which the boarding house is located, the lodger's strange behavior places him under suspicion by the family. DVD Release Date: February 10th, 2009

Bound BR - Destined for cult status, this provocative thriller offers a grab bag of genres (gangster movie, comedy, sexy romance, crime caper) and tops it all off with steamy passion between lesbian ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) and a not-so-ditzy gun moll named Violet (Jennifer Tilly), who meets Corky and immediately tires of her mobster boyfriend (Joe Pantoliano). Desperate to break away from the Mob's influence and live happily ever after, the daring dames hatch a plot to steal $2 million of Mafia money. Their scheme runs into a series of escalating complications, until their very survival depends on split-second timing and criminal ingenuity. Simultaneously violent, funny, and suspenseful, Bound is sure to test your tolerance for bloodshed, but the film is crafted with such undeniable skill that several critics (including Roger Ebert) placed it on their top-ten lists for 1996... Blu-ray Release date: January 28th, 2009

Happy Together - There are plenty of interesting aspects to this epileptic fresco. There's the passionate treatment of gay sex and romance by a straight director, featuring two of the hottest stars of Hong Kong cinema (Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung, both of whom have worked with Wong before). There's the charged and ambiguous friendship between Lai (Leung) and Chang (Chang Chen, the 14-year-old hero of Edward Yang's 1991 film A Brighter Summer Day, who's since become a big pop star in Taiwan). There's an oblique but pungent response to the end of colonial rule in Hong Kong, a sense that the characters aren't sure where or who they are as they approach the uncertainty of millennial crossover with fretful wanderlust. DVD Release Date: January 26th, 2009

Akira BR - Katsuhiro Otomoto's "Akira" is the most expensive animated feature ever made in Japan (over 1 billion yen) and it's easily the most impressive, as well. The two-hour film is adapted from Otomoto's popular biweekly comic and, in the manner of contemporary Japanese comics, it is super-colorful, explicitly violent, intellectually provocative and emotionally engaging with its Perils-of-Pauline pace. Otomoto has condensed the narrative sprawl of the comics to provide coherence, though there's a bit of "Back to the Future Part II" incompleteness to the story. That hardly matters, since the film moves with such kinetic energy that you'll be hanging on for dear life. Blu-ray Release Date: February 24th, 2009

Import Export - It’s cold and gray. Wintertime. People are freezing. That’s how it is here in Austria. That’s how it is there in the Ukraine. Two different worlds that are increasingly coming to resemble each other. The East looks like the West, the West like the East. In this atmosphere two stories take place that at first glance appear unrelated. One is an import story. It begins in the Ukraine and leads to Austria. The other is an export story; it begins in Austria and ends in the Ukraine. DVD Release Date: January 26th, 2009

Bullitt BR - Bullitt is a police drama complex enough to make it fresh on repeated viewings. Unlike Harry Callahan, Detective Frank Bullitt is a respected, no nonsense police officer with a great public image. He is handpicked by Walter Chalmers - a political hack, currently leading an investigation into organized crime - to protect his star witness. In due course, the witness gets whacked. Bullitt wants to know why. Chalmers just wants to shift the blame. McQueen's Bullitt is the personification of cool, like his Thomas Crown (the same year), with a gun and a Ford Mustang GT390. The Mustang's nemesis is a black Dodge Charger 440 R/T.

Brief Encounter BR - From Noël Coward’s play Still Life, legendary filmmaker David Lean deftly explores the thrill, pain, and tenderness of an illicit romance in the dour, gray Britain of 1945. From a chance meeting on a train platform, a middle-aged married doctor (Trevor Howard) and a suburban housewife (Celia Johnson) enter into a quietly passionate, ultimately doomed love affair, set to a swirling Rachmaninoff score. Blu-ray Release Date: February 2nd, 2009

Zack and Miri Make a Porno BR - Rogan has made a career out of his schelpshlub persona (now: Kevin Smith's alter ego, it would seem) who somehow manages to make it with babes (think: Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up). Zack and Miri, unlike Ben Stone and Alison Scott, seem to be equally matched for raunchy utterances, so the idea that they might give the thought of making a porno is not completely out of the Milky Way. Blu-ray Release date: February 3, 2009

Donnie Darko BR - "Pay close attention," warns the Web site for "Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut," because "You could miss something." Damn, I missed it. I'm no closer to being able to explain the film's events than I was after seeing the 2001 version, which was about 20 minutes shorter. The difference is, that doesn't bother me so much. The movie remains impenetrable to logical analysis, but now I ask myself: What logical analysis would explain the presence of 6-foot-tall rabbit with what looks like the head of a science-fiction insect? Blu-ray Release Date: February 3rd, 2009

Raging Bull BR - In one of the most famous fights in boxing history, "The St. Valentine's Day Massacre", their sixth fight, Sugar Ray Robinson beat Jake la Motta to a bloody pulp, landing 56 unanswered punches in the 13th round, before the referee stopped the fight and announced Robinson the new middleweight champion of the world. But the fight was fixed and notes upon the dark chapter in boxing history, when the mafia controlled who fought who and who would win. La Motta, a 3-1 favourite was ordered to throw the fight, and later before a congressional hearing would admit so, naming names. And while la Motta never regained the title, one thing has remained with him throughout his life. The fact, that Robinson never knocked him out, "You never got me down." Blu-ray Release Date: Feb 10th, 2009

Clerks II BR - The question that comes up for me with movies like Clerks, Zack and Miri, and Knocked Up is: what is the takeaway for the target audience? Do the people (mostly guys) that roll on the floor in nonstop laughter, respond to the romance as written, or do they interpret the outcome simply as: smutty shlub gets hot girl. Or, are these movies, intentionally or not, instructional: Do they introduce the notion of romance to guys who never gave it a thought and maybe even affect their thinking and behavior without their even being aware of it? Blu-ray Release date: February 3, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine BR - “Little Miss Sunshine” premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, where it became an outright audience favorite. Directed by music video veterans Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the film is equipped with a pleasant blend of wry comedy and touching drama set to the dynamics of a dysfunctional family who embark on a road trip to California. On the surface, their journey bears typical genre archetypes complete with self-discovery and bonding, but the nuances that the talented actors bring to their respective characters provide the film with warmth and meaning. Blu-ray Release Date: February 3rd, 2009

A History of Violence BR - Though he avoids platitudes, David Cronenberg is a troubled moralist who lingers over cherished mythologies to find their dark residue: this masterpiece, an art film deftly masquerading as a thriller, seems to celebrate small-town pastoralism and critique big-city violence, but this position turns out to be double-edged. Josh Olson adapted his script from a graphic novel, yet the story develops with a subtlety that's entirely cinematic; two contrasting sex scenes between the hero (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife (Maria Bello), added by Cronenberg, are especially masterful. Blu-ray Release Date: February 10th, 2009

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

February 9th, 2008

A History of Violence [Blu-ray] (David Cronenberg, 2005) New Line Home Video

Amadeus [Blu-ray] (Milos Forman, 1984) Warner Home Video

Away With Words (Christopher Doyle, 1999) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Blindness (Fernando Meirelles, 2008) Miramax

The Boondock Saints [Blu-ray] (Troy Duffy, 2000) Fox/MGM

Chocolate [Blu-ray] (Prachya Pinkaew, 2008) Magnolia

Cross Creek (Martin Ritt, 1983) Lions Gate

Djinn [Blu-ray] (Sean Solimon, 2008) Giant Flick Films

Donnie Darko [Blu-ray] (Richard Kelly, 2001) 20th Century Fox

Eagle Shooting Heroes (Jeffrey Lau, 1993) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Enforcer (Corey Yuen, 1995) Dragon Dynasty

The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962) Criterion

Frozen River (Courtney Hunt, 2008) Sony Pictures

Frozen River [Blu-ray] (Courtney Hunt, 2008) Sony Pictures

Gomorrah (Matteo Garrone, 2008) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Gomorrah [
Blu-ray] (Matteo Garrone, 2008) R'B' UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) Criterion

Iowa (Matt Farnsworth, 2005) Koch Vision

Iraq in Fragments [Blu-ray] (James Longley, 2005) Typecast Releasing

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1943) Criterion

The Lodger (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927) MGM

The Lodger (David Ondaatje, 2009) Sony

Miracle at St. Anna (Spike Lee, 2008) Touchstone / Disney
Miracle at St. Anna [
Blu-ray] (Spike Lee, 2008) Touchstone / Disney

My Name Is Bruce [Blu-ray] (Bruce Campbell, 2007) Image Entertainment

Nights in Rodanthe (George C. Wolfe, 2008) Warner Home Video
Nights in Rodanthe [
Blu-ray] (George C. Wolfe, 2008) Warner Home Video

The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947) MGM

The Pelican Brief [Blu-ray] (Alan J. Pakula, 1993) Warner

Raging Bull [Blu-ray] (Martin Scorsese, 1980) Mgm Entertainment

The Rundown [Blu-ray] (Peter Berg, 2003) Universal Studios
Sabotage (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936) MGM

The Sea Inside (Alejandro Amenábar, 2004) New Line Home Video

Simon of the Desert (Luis Buñuel, 1965) Criterion

La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954) Criterion

Taken (Pierre Morel, 2008) R2 UK 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Taken [
Blu-ray] (Pierre Morel, 2008) R'B' UK 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A Time to Kill [Blu-ray] (Joel Schumacher, 1996) Warner
Young & Innocent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937) MGM

W. (Oliver Stone, 2008) Lions Gate Home Entertainment
W. [
Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 2008) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

What Just Happened? (Barry Levinson, 2008) Magnolia
What Just Happened? [
Blu-ray] (Barry Levinson, 2008) Magnolia


February 16th, 2009

Body of Lies (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy) (Ridley Scott, 2008) Warner Home Video

Body of Lies [Blu-ray] (Ridley Scott, 2008) Warner Home Video

Capote / In Cold Blood [Blu-ray] (Richard Brooks, 1967) Sony

Changeling (Clint Eastwood, 2008) Universal
Changeling [
Blu-ray] (Clint Eastwood, 2008) Universal

Choke (Clark Gregg, 2008) 20th Century Fox

Flash of Genius (Marc Abraham, 2008) Universal Studios

Gandhi [Blu-ray] (Richard Attenborough, 1982) Sony

Hard Country (David Greene, 1981) Lions Gate

The Helen Morgan Story (Michael Curtiz, 1957) Warner

Hobson's Choice (David Lean, 1954) Criterion

I Served the King of England (Jirí Menzel, 2006) Sony

Kramer vs. Kramer [Blu-ray] (Robert Benton, 1979) Sony Pictures

The Outrage (Martin Ritt, 1964) Warner

Quarantine (John Erick Dowdle, 2008) Sony
Quarantine [
Blu-ray] (John Erick Dowdle, 2008) Sony

Rachel, Rachel (Paul Newman, 1968) Warner

Religulous (Larry Charles, 2008) Lions Gate

The Sheltering Sky [Blu-ray] (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1990) R 'B' FR BAC

The Thief Of Paris (Louis Malle, 1967) R2 UK Optimum

"Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd." - Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964)
Have a warmer week,