DVDBeaver Newsletter - February 12th, 2007
Hey there! - Another strong week - 12 new reviews (3 Criterion) this week - five of which are comparisons. Films by Hitchcock, Naruse, Powell and Pressburger, Fellini, De Sica, Roeg and more... Enjoy!
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LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):
No Man of Her Own (Wesley Ruggles, 1932) Universal Studios
Tout va bien (Jean-Luc Godard, 1972) R2 UK - Arrow Films
Pier Paolo Pasolini Vol.2 - Hawks and Sparrows (1966), Oedipus Rex (1967), Pigsty (1968) - R2 UK Tartan
Bigas Luna Collection - The Ages of Lulu (1990), Jamón Jamón (1992), Golden Balls (1993) and The Tit and The Moon (1994) - R2 UK Tartan
Julie Christie Screen Icons Collection (The Go-Between, Billy Liar, Darling and Far From the Madding Crowd) - R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment
Catherine Deneuve Screen Icons Collection (Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour, Donkey Skin, Manon 70 and Ma Saison Préférée) - R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment
My Country My Country (Laura Poitras, 2005) Zeitgeist Films
Scarface (Universal Cinema Classics) (Howard Hawks, 1932) Universal Studios
So Proudly We Hail! (Universal Cinema Classics) (Mark Sandrich , 1943) Universal Studios
Unconquered (Cecil B. De Mille, 1947) Universal Studios
Tex Avery's Droopy - The Complete Theatrical Collection - Warner Home Video
Tonight We Raid Calais (John Brahm, 1943) 20th Century Fox
The Purple Heart (Lewis Milestone, 1944) 20th Century Fox
Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1944) 20th Century Fox
Anna Karenina (Julien Duvivier, 1948) 20th Century Fox
Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006) Kino Video
RECOMMENDATIONS: I am often asked how I see so many films in a week. Firstly, there are other contributors to DVDBeaver's review section than just myself. But I, personally, try to watch one DVD in the day and one in the evening if possible. Commentaries are usually done immediately following feature viewing, but I don't stay still while listening. In fact I don't even have time to review all the DVDs that I see. I often choose the recently released or better ones if I have the option.
This was a particularly strong week with Criterion's Bicycle Thieves as the zenith. Second billing goes to When a Woman Ascends the Stairs another strong DVD release and also a film I love to pieces - 49th Parallel. Criterion rules the roost again.
Second tier, but still quite worthy purchases are Warner's NTSC of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Performance and The Butcher Boy.
THUMBS SIDEWAYS - Ginger and Fred didn't sit as well with me the second time around and I say wait for the Optimum (9-disc) to see Hitch's The Manxman.
GUILTY!: I've become a huge Mr. Moto fan and am only sorry there are no more in the series for me to escape to - so I endorse The Mr. Moto Collection, Vol. 2. I can't watch heavy stuff all the time and love to get back to basics with the 50's genre films - so Terror in the Haunted House really fulfilled an itchy craving.
Terror in the Haunted House - As far as a
film goes "Terror in the Haunted House" works because of its storyline and
performances. After a whirlwind romance a newlywed bride is escorted by her
husband for a Florida vacation to recover from nightmares, only to discover that
their rented house is the very one she's been dreaming of. The weaknesses are
the production limitations (only 5 cast players and no special effects).
Accepting those lack-of-attributes and you have a decent film. The subliminal
inputs are obvious and because of this it elevates the film's camp value to a
desirable level. I think this is a lot of nostalgic fun and I recommend! DVD
Release Date: August 14th, 2001
The Butcher Boy - Set in an Irish town in the early '60s, Jordan's film of Patrick McCabe's novel centres on troubled teen Francie Brady (Owens), a lippy lad who withdraws from family strife - dad (Rea) is almost permanently drunk, mum (O'Sullivan) sliding towards insanity - into fantasies inspired by comics, sci-fi movies and TV shows, and into blood brother pacts with best pal Joe (Boyle). His renown as an ill-mannered hothead, however, is such that he's denied access to his friend. Moreover, after a spell in a church-run remand home, he returns to find his family in tatters. This consistently surprising, even shocking work moves from sly social comedy to something more darkly disturbing as Francie's sense of control begins to crumble. Though the movie sometimes looks as if the authentic Irish wit, colour and blarney has been filtered through the sensibility of a Buñuel or Polanski, Jordan never allows the surreal/expressionist aspects to dominate. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2007
Performance - Roeg's debut as a director is a virtuoso juggling act which manipulates its visual and verbal imagery so cunningly that the borderline between reality and fantasy is gradually eliminated. The first half-hour is straight thriller enough to suggest a Kray Bros documentary as Fox, enforcer for a London protection racket, goes about his work with such relish that he involves the gang in a murder and has to hide from retribution in a Notting Hill basement. There, waiting to escape abroad, he becomes involved with a fading pop star (Jagger) brooding in exile over the loss of his powers of incantation. In what might be described (to borrow from Kenneth Anger) as an invocation to his demon brother, the pop star recognizes his lost power lurking in the blind impulse to violence of his visitor, and so teases and torments him with drug-induced psychedelics that the latter responds in the only way he knows how: by rewarding one mind-blowing with another, at gunpoint. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2007
Immoral Women - Walerian Borowczyk's anthology follow-up to his Immoral Tales features three stories set in different time periods. In Renaissance Italy, Margherita (stunning Borowczyk regular Marina Pierro) the baker's daughter uses sex for profit as the simultaneous lover of Vatican artist Raffaelo (François Guétary) and grotesque banker Bini. This first story is the longest and certainly the best. The other two pale in comparison. In Belle Epoque France, Marcelline's (Gaelle Legrand) parents resent her too-close relationship with her pet rabbit and plan a special dinner for her. Last (and certainly least), in modern Paris Marie (Pascale Christophe) is kidnapped and held for ransom and her husband would rather invest that money in an expensive painting. Luckily, Marie's amorous pet Doberman is on the scent. DVD Release Date: January 30th, 2007
Private Collections - Producer Pierre Braumberger brought three top directors of erotica known to the French (Just Jaeckin had directed Emanuelle and Story of O, Borowczyk had done Immoral Tales and The Beast; and Shuji Terayama had directed producer Anatole Dauman's Story of O follow-up Fruits of Passion) to produce the three short films that make up Private Collections. Just Jaeckin's tale of a shipwrecked sailor encountering an island of beautiful, sensual women with unsual apetites is the weakest but sports stunning photography (Jaeckin makes Laura Gemser look even more gorgeous and golden than she does in Joe D'Amato's Black Emanuelle films) and a score by Pierre Bachelet who scored the aforementioned Jaeckin films. Terayama's segment "The Glass Labyrinthe" is the longest and most aggressively erotic and horrific and worth the price of the disc alone. DVD Release Date: January 30th, 2007
The Manxman - Hitchcock's final silent film is the story of two friends on the Isle of Man, lawyer Phillip (Keen) and fisherman Pete (Brisson), who both fall in love with the daughter of the local landlord, Kate (Ondra). When Pete asks the girl to marry him, her father will not hear of it until he can support her, so he sets off from the island to earn some money and prove himself, asking his friend to look out for his sweetheart. Inevitable consequences lead to the birth of an illegitimate baby, suicide attempts and final pleas for happiness. DVD Release Date: February 6th, 2007
The Mr. Moto Collection, Vol. 2 - In the realm of filmdom, Mr. Moto is no ordinary detective. He is short, relatively unattractive, and has a personal interest in the business of importing rare goods. His drink of choice is far removed from James Bond’s preference for martinis--Moto frequently chooses to imbibe a tall glass of milk. Still, behind the quiet demeanor and gentlemanly manners lies a quick-thinking spy with ninja-like agility and a flair for hand-to-hand combat. Even the guilt of murder has very little weight in his mind. Moto is a master of disguise and can cleverly manipulate even the most intelligent persons. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2007
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs - When a Woman Ascends the Stairs might be Japanese filmmaker Mikio Naruse's finest hour--a delicate, devastating study of a woman, Keiko (played heartbreakingly by Hideko Takamine), who works as a bar hostess in Tokyo's very modern postwar Ginza district, who entertains businessmen after work. Sly, resourceful, but trapped, Keiko comes to embody the conflicts and struggles of a woman trying to establish her independence in a male-dominated society. When a Woman Ascends the Stairs shows the largely unsung yet widely beloved master Naruse at his most socially exacting and profoundly emotional. DVD Release Date: February 20th, 2007
49th Parallel - At once a compelling piece of anti-isolationist propaganda and a quick-witted wartime thriller, 49th Parallel is a classic early work from the inimitable British filmmaking team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. When a Nazi U-boat crew, headed by the ruthless Eric Portman, is stranded in Canada during the thick of World War II, the men evade capture by hiding out in a series of rural communities, before trying to cross the border into the still-neutral United States. Both soul-stirring and delightfully entertaining, 49th Parallel features a colorful cast of characters played by larger-than-life actors Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, Anton Walbrook, and Leslie Howard. DVD Release Date: February 20th, 2007
Ginger and Fred - It is hard not to be won over by Giulietta Masina at her best. This tiny, expressive actress had an air of Chaplin's tramp about her, and the requisite ability to simultaneously break and lift hearts. Federico Fellini cast Masina, his wife and his muse, in a number of roles where her innocent clowning was used to great effect, La Strada being the most obvious and most beloved of her pictures. In Ginger And Fred, Fellini pairs her with another great icon of Italian cinema, Marcello Mastroianni. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2007
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Colin (Tom Courtenay) has no intention of living the stultifying, backbreaking, blue-collar existence that's expected of him, an existence that sapped the life of his miner father. His rebelliousness lands him in Borstal reform school, where his abilities as a long distance runner endear him to the school's headmaster (Michael Redgrave), who pins his hopes of winning a race against a prestigious public school on Colin. This leads to conflict with Colin's friends, who come to doubt his contempt of the establishment. He himself is torn about this predicament. Should he continue what may be a futile fight, or trade his self-respect for some small measure of acceptance? This outstanding drama has been unfairly maligned over the years as being too derivative of the French New Wave, yet if the same film had been made by Truffaut or another Frenchman, it would be hailed today as a masterpiece. The camerawork and performances are top-notch. DVD Release Date: February 7th, 2007
Bicycle Thieves - Hailed around the world as one of the greatest movies ever made, Vittorio De Sica's Academy Award-winning Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette) defined an era in cinema. In postwar, poverty-stricken Rome, a man, hoping to support his desperate family with a new job, loses his bicycle, his main means of transportation for work. With his wide-eyed young son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. Simple in construction and dazzlingly rich in human insight, Bicycle Thieves embodied all the greatest strengths of the neorealist film movement in Italy: emotional clarity, social righteousness, and brutal honesty. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2007
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of February 12th, 2007
Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) Criterion Collection
The Big Steal (Don Siegel, 1949) R2 UK - Universal Pictures Video
The Blue Dahlia (George Marshall, 1946) R2 UK
Butcher Boy (Neil Jordan, 1998) Warner Home Video
Curse of the Golden Flower (Yimou Zhang, 2006) R3 - Edko Films Ltd.
The Departed (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition) (Martin Scorsese, 2006) Warner Home Video
Gandhi (25th Anniversary Collector's Edition) (Richard Attenborough, 1982) Sony Pictures
Ginger and Fred (Federico Fellini, 1986) Warner Home Video
The Glass Key (Stuart Heisler, 1942) R2 UK Universal Pictures Video
Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliat, 1946) Criterion Collection
Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck, 2006) Sony Pictures
Infamous (Douglas McGrath, 2006) Warner Home Video
The Killers (Robert Siodmak , 1946) R2 UK -Universal Pictures Video
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962) Warner Home Video
Marie Antoinette (Sofia Coppola, 2006) Sony Pictures
Mr. Moto Collection - Vol. 2 (Mr. Moto's Gamble / Mr. Moto in Danger Island / Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation / Mr. Moto's Last Warning / The Return of Mr. Moto) - 20th Century Fox
Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947) R2 UK - Universal Pictures Video
This Gun for Hire (Frank Tuttle, 1942) R2 UK - Universal Pictures Video
Paul Robeson: Portraits of the Artist (The Emperor Jones / Body and Soul / Borderline / Sanders of the River / Jericho / The Proud Valley / Native Land / Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist) - Criterion Collection
Performance (Nicolas Roeg, 1970) Warner Home Video
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006) R2 UK - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Week of February 19th, 2007
49th Parallel (Michael Powell , Emeric Pressburger - 1941) Criterion Collection
A Man for All Seasons - Special Edition (Fred Zinnemann, 1966) Sony Pictures
The Alice Faye Collection (That Night in Rio / Lillian Russell / On the Avenue / The Gang's All Here) - 20th Century Fox
Flesh and Fantasy aka Obsession (Julien Duvivier, 1943) FR PAL - Universal
A Gorgeous Bird Like Me (François Truffaut, 1972) Cinema Club
The Prestige (Christopher Nolan, 2006) Touchstone / Disney
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985) R2 UK - Eureka Masters of Cinema
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (Mikio Naruse, 1960) Criterion Collection
OUR CURRENT 'A" STORES:
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SOME OF THE BEST JAPANESE CINEMA ON REGION 1 DVD
54 DVDs TO CONSIDER WHILE SHOPPING AT AMAZON FRANCE (PAL)
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'BEST OF WORLD CINEMA' on UK (PAL) DVD
BEST OF ITALIAN CINEMA
(on NTSC DVD)
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P.S. DVD of the Year - 2006 still remains a popular place to peruse.