DVDBeaver Newsletter - February 18th, 2008

Czolem! - getting old - 12 new reviews (a whopping 8 of which are Blu-rays, Criterion, Nicholas Ray, Godard, Ang Lee). Some new releases available from this week's Calendar, Contest with 2 great prizes!, and more. Facebook-er?: join DVDBeaver-ite's Facebook group HERE. We can communicate video clips, film news etc.


Personal NOTE:  I'll continue to do my best but can't see keeping up the pace of the past few years any longer. I still view many DVDs but extensive reviewing is taking its toll on my family time and energy. I may start to include short bits of DVDs/Films I've seen (a paragraph) here in the newsletter. This may evolve into a blog of sorts. I'll continue reviewing most Criterion, BFI, MoC, Second Run, NY'er, many Warner, all Noir and those DVDs of films that we deem by 'important' directors. We hope you continue to support us.

I should also note that Sean Penn's Into the Wild will probably be our last HD DVD review. I concur with a friend in that it may be the best film I saw from 2007. After that we should be continue to cover SDs as well as Blu-rays with myself, Leonard and Luiz.   


New Format News: Wal-Mart Backs Blu-ray and Toshiba to Give Up on HD DVD, End Format War: Source


DVDBeaver opens 2 new A-Stores: Blu-ray Players and Best in Blu-ray DVDs!




NOTE: To see quicker Clips join DVDBeaver-ite's Facebook group HERE (under 'Videos)

The CLIP to identify is HERE!

THIS WEEK's PRIZES: TWO PRIZES - A SEALED COPY OF Criterion's Pierrot le Fou and  another sealed copy of Joan Crawford Collection Volume 2! To enter the draw you must be subscribed to our Free Weekly Newsletter and email the correct answer to contest@DVDBeaver.com (the 3 winners will be drawn from all correct answers sent)

LAST WEEK's Winners (ONLY 8 correct answers!) - identifying the clips of Kobayashi's Kwaidan (1964), Dreyer's Ordet (1955) and Bresson's L'argent (1983) - were Matthias Heinrichs winning a brand new copy of Eclipse Series 8 - Lubitsch Musicals.
Bryan Stephens and Adam Dahlén each winning brand new
Joan Crawford Collection Volume 2).


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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!).

La Chinoise (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) KOCH Lorber Films

Gai savoir (Jean-Luc Godard, 1969) KOCH Lorber Films

The Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly Collection (On the Town / Anchors Aweigh / Take Me out to the Ball Game) Warner Home Video

Frank Sinatra - The Golden Years Collection (Some Came Running / The Man with the Golden Arm / The Tender Trap / None but the Brave / Marriage on the Rocks) Warner Home Video

Frank Sinatra - The Early Years Collection (It Happened in Brooklyn / Step Lively / The Kissing Bandit / Double Dynamite / Higher and Higher) Warner Home Video

FORGOTTEN NOIR : Collectors Set Vol 3: (David Harding, Counterspy; Danger Zone, The Big Chase; Mr. District Attorney, Ringside; Hi-Jacked; Scotland Yard Inspector; Pier 23; The Case of the Baby) - VCI Entertainment

FORGOTTEN NOIR: Vol 7: (David Harding, Counterspy; Danger Zone; The Big Chase) - VCI Entertainment

FORGOTTEN NOIR: Vol 8: (Mr. District Attorney (1947); Ringside; Hi-Jacked) - VCI Entertainment

FORGOTTEN NOIR: Vol 9: (Scotland Yard Inspector, Pier 23, The Case of the Baby-Sitter) - VCI Entertainment

Brick Lane (Sarah Gavron, 2007) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

National Treasure [Blu-ray] (Jon Turteltaub, 2004) Walt Disney Video

Sleeping Beauty (Two-Disc Platinum Edition) (Les Clark, 1959) Walt Disney Video

Sleeping Beauty [Blu-ray] (Les Clark, 1959) Walt Disney Video

Finishing the Game: The Search for a New Bruce Lee (Justin Lin, 2007) Genius Products

Dirty Carnival (Ha Yu, 2006) Genius Products

The Dove's Lost Necklace (Nacer Khemir, 1990) Typecast Releasing

Wanderers of the Desert (Nacer Khemir, 1985) Typecast Releasing

The Films Of Hamid Rahmanian & Melissa Hibbard: Shahrbanoo & Sir Alfred Of Charles De Gaulle Airport (2008) Arab Film Distribution

Breaking Bread & Other Shorts (2008) Arab Film Distribution

Who Is Henry Jaglom? (Jeremy Workman, 1995) First Run Features

The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol 1 & 2 - The Mole People (1956), Tarantula (1955), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), The Monolith Monsters (1957), Monsters on Campus (1958), Cult of the Cobra (1955), Dr. Cyclops (1940), The Land Unknown (1957), The Deadly Mantis (1957), The Leech Woman (1960) - Universal


New Reviews:

A GREAT WEEK! with lots to recommend - Quick opinions:

STRONG VALUE: Pierrot le Fou, Across the Universe BR, Johnny Guitar, In the Valley of Elah BR and Lust, Caution

DARN GOOD...: Legend of the Black Scorpion, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid BR, Run Lola Run BR

HAVEN'T SEEN (This particular edition, BUT AM ENCOURAGED): Halloween BR


In the Valley of Elah BR - The title refers to the biblical story of David and Goliath that Tommy Lee Jones' character tells a child to help him deal with his nocturnal monsters. The boy needs to sleep with his bedroom door open and the hall light on; but as for Jones, one wonders how he can sleep at all after learning of his own son's brutal murder. There are echoes of A Soldier's Story and Missing as misdirection and cover-ups come into play. Jones is awesome and Oscar-worthy as a well-regulated, determined man, dealing with the loss of not just one, but two sons to the Army, a fact that their mother (Susan Sarandon) does not let him forget. Charlize Theron once again downplays her natural beauty in a role that I found quite believable; even through a near-clichéd morass of misogynist antagonisms threatens to throw the drama off-balance. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008

Halloween BR - “Halloween” is an absolutely merciless thriller, a movie so violent and scary that, yes, I would compare it to “Psycho.” It's a terrifying and creepy film about what one of the characters calls Evil Personified. Right. And that leads us to the one small piece of plot I'm going to describe. There's this six-year-old kid who commits a murder right at the beginning of the movie, and is sent away, and is described by his psychiatrist as someone he spent eight years trying to help, and then the next seven years trying to keep locked up. But the guy escapes. And he returns on Halloween to the same town and the same street where he committed his first murder. And while the local babysitters telephone their boyfriends and watch “The Thing” on television, he goes back into action.


Michael Clayton BR - Michael Clayton is an in-house "fixer" at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. A former criminal prosecutor, Clayton takes care of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen's dirtiest work at the behest of the firm's co-founder Marty Bach. Though burned out and hardly content with his job as a fixer, his divorce, a failed business venture and mounting debt have left Clayton inextricably tied to the firm. At U/North, meanwhile, the career of litigator Karen Crowder rests on the multi-million dollar settlement of a class action suit that Clayton's firm is leading to a seemingly successful conclusion. But when Kenner Bach's brilliant and guilt-ridden attorney Arthur Edens sabotages the U/North case, Clayton faces the biggest challenge of his career and his life. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid BR - Butch and Sundance is more than a Western: It's an iconic, American experience, a classic adventure tale, and a singular slice of late-'60s moviemaking that has never really been repeated. The story is a surprisingly, "mostly" accurate tale of two of history's best-known outlaws. The film comprises two major sequences: First, the duo robs a series of trains on the frontier, then spends a lengthy amount of time on the run from the hired guns the railroad is paying to hunt them down. The heat gets so severe that it leads them to the second sequence: Self-imposed exile to dingy Bolivia, where they rob banks instead, only to have the federales try to hunt them down. The final moments of the film are unforgettable. The Japanese Region A Blu-ray DVD was released January 18th, 2008

Run Lola Run BR - A thrilling post-MTV, roller-coaster ride, Run Lola Run is the internationally acclaimed sensation about two star-crossed lovers who have only minutes to change the course of their lives. Time is running out for Lola (Franka Potente). She's just received a frantic phone call from her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who's lost a small fortune belonging to his mobster boss. If Lola doesn't replace the money in twenty minutes, Manni will surely suffer severe consequences. Set to a throbbing techno score, "Lola's like a human stun gun!". Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008

Legend of the Black Scorpion - Even in an age where period martial-arts epics have been made by the likes of Ang Lee, Kaige Chen, and Zhang Yimou, "The Banquet" stands out as high-gloss. Much of the behind-the-scenes crew worked on "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", and they've built the largest set ever used for a Chinese film. Executive producer Yuen Woo-ping handles fight choreography, and there are five featured soloists and singers on Tan Dun's score. Director Feng Xiaogang is going all out. Such opulence demands a worthy story, and writers Qiu Gangjian and Sheng Heyu opt to transplant Hamlet to a particularly turbulent period of Chinese history. DVD Release Date: February 26th, 2008

Basic Instinct BR - Nick Curran (Douglas) is a cop on the edge. Investigated for an over-zealous approach to his work, saddled with a drink and relationships problem, he becomes slowly embroiled with the case, then with the suspect, when a former rock star is found murdered at the climax of some bondage-style sex. Catherine Tramell (Stone), an ultra-clever, ultra-rich author and bisexual free spirit, is at the core of all the basic instinct paraded in the film. One scene in which she teases and bosses a roomful of hard law enforcement men is probably the best illustration of post-feminism in action that Hollywood has offered. Yet the film's depiction of not one but several bisexual women with murky, murderous pasts has angered activists, and does illustrate that sensitivity is not always the strong suit of Verhoeven or scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas. But if you like things unrestrained, hard, adult and off-the-rails, then Douglas and Stone are superb, and George Dzundza (as sidekick Gus) delivers another classic hard-boiled cameo.

Johnny Guitar - Somewhat unique for the western genre, this centers on two women conflicting in similar male-dominated gunslinger-type roles. Joan Crawford, is a saloon keeper fighting to keep her establishment alive against the wishes of the local land baron and chief manipulator (Emma Small) who remains her bitter enemy and who will seemingly stop at nothing to have Vienna (Crawford) condemned and forced out of town or better yet hanged for every unsolved misdemeanor in the books. In steps the old lover Johnny (Hayden) and the machismo sparks start to fly before the eventual catfight can ensue. Powerful genre and gender bending make for a pure classic of the screen. The improved Paramount came out November of last year.

Pierrot le Fou - "I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, this film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work--and perhaps never more so than here--but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. The movie's frequent shifts in style, emotion, and narrative are both challenging and intoxicating: American director Samuel Fuller turns up at a party scene to offer his definition of cinema, Karina performs two memorable songs in musical-comedy fashion, Belmondo's character quotes copiously from his reading, and a fair number of red and blue cars are stolen and destroyed. DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008

Independence Day BR - Act I is an Anarchists' Ball. Massive metal spaceships loom over the cities of the world. The destruction of the White House is just for starters. Annihilation of the human race is on the agenda. US President Pullman, a wimp ex-fighter jock, listens to communications expert Goldblum (only in a Rupert Murdoch film could a TV exec save the world!). Act II, the survivors regroup at a secret military base in New Mexico to organise Act III, the fightback. Emmerich's globe-buster is an index of American populist fantasy. Forget subtext. This scrappy, spectacular, juvenile remake of War of the Worlds and 101 other sci-fi movies can be taken at face value. It's not about Them, it's about US: At least this America is strongly pluralist; it's black (Smith as the heroic top gun); it's Jewish (Goldblum and Hirsch as comic relief); it's even a little bit feminine - though Fierstein, Margaret Colin, et al, are really just emotional punctuation marks. The Japanese Region A Blu-ray DVD was released October 24th, 2007

Across the Universe BR - Julie Taymor's highly ambitious musical received reactions across the board from ecstatic joy to finger-pointing disapproval. I am definitely in the former camp and the DVD has become my favorite so far this year - in fact it took me 5 hours to complete my viewing as I was continually repeating/replaying chapters (songs). Taymor seems to revel in her own fearlessness as evidenced by taking on Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus in her 1999's Titus (to the chagrin of Bard purists). It is also there that she showed her ability to infuse the frame with an incredibly ravishing color palette. I watched this with pretty much no idea what to expect and was initially overwhelmed by the visual and aural candy on display. After the first 25 minutes into the SD, I hit the pause button, and ordered the Blu-ray online. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: February 5th, 2008

Lust, Caution - Lust, Caution—do any two words define the central dichotomy of human existence more succinctly? No mere movie, perhaps, could live up to such a richly evocative title, and Variety’s review of Ang Lee’s new espionage melodrama—which won the top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival, just two years after Lee’s Brokeback Mountain nabbed the same award—was only the first of many to complain that the film’s caution-to-lust ratio is less than favorable. Far too much has been made, hype-wise, of its explicit, few-holds-barred, NC-17 sex scenes, which Lee unleashes only after roughly two hours of minutely observed PG parrying; clearly, early viewers anticipated more heedless thrusting and fewer close-ups of mah-jongg tiles. Nor does it help that the film’s sleeping-with-the-enemy plot is nearly identical to that of Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book, which is comparatively stupid but much more trashy, lurid fun. Still, if you can adjust your expectations a bit, and look at Lust, Caution as the Asian equivalent of a first-rate Merchant-Ivory picture—literate, resolutely old-fashioned, maybe a tad stodgy—you’ll find that its emotional power sneaks stealthily up on you. DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of February 18th, 2008

L'Amore In Citta (Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini etc., 1953) R2 UK - Optimum

American Gangster (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Ridley Scott, 2007) - Universal Studios

American Gangster [HD DVD]  (Ridley Scott, 2007) - Universal Studios

Breaking Bread & Other Shorts (2008) Arab Film Distribution

Casanova '70 (Mario Monicelli, 1965) R2 UK - Optimum

Chinese Film Classics Collection: Dream of the Red Chamber/Empress Wu Zetian - Cinema Epoch

Era notte a Roma (Roberto Rossellini, 1960) R2 UK Optimum

Excellent Cadavers (Ricky Tognazzi, 1999) First Run Features

The Films Of Hamid Rahmanian & Melissa Hibbard: Shahrbanoo & Sir Alfred Of Charles De Gaulle Airport (2008) Arab Film Distribution

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

German Expressionism Collection (The Hands of Orlac / The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari / Secrets of a Soul / Warning Shadows) Kino

The Hands of Orlac (Robert Wiene, 1924) Kino

I Want to Go Home (Alain Resnais, 1989) Kino

In the Valley of Elah (Paul Haggis, 2007) Warner Home Video

In the Valley of Elah [Blu-ray] (Paul Haggis, 2007) Warner Home Video

The Invasion (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Oliver Hirschbiegel, 2007) - Warner

Life Is a Bed of Roses (Alain Resnais, 1983) Kino

Lust, Caution (Widescreen NC-17 Edition) (Ang Lee, 2007) Universal

Lust, Caution (Widescreen, R-Rated Edition) (Ang Lee, 2007) Universal

Love Unto Death (Alain Resnais, 1984) Kino

Melo (Alain Resnais, 1986) Kino

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner

Michael Clayton [Blu-ray] (Tony Gilroy, 2007) Warner

Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy, 2007) R2 UK Pathe Distribution

Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965) Criterion

Poor Boy's Game (Clément Virgo, 2007) Thinkfilm

Redacted (Brian De Palma, 2007) Magnolia

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

Run Lola Run  [Blu-ray] (Tom Tykwer, 1998) Sony Pictures

Secrets of a Soul (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1926) Kino

Walker (Alex Cox, 1987) Criterion

Zebraman (Takashi Miike, 2004) Tokyo Shock


Week of February 25th, 2008

30 Days of Night (David Slade, 2007) Sony Pictures

30 Days of Night [Blu-ray]  (David Slade, 2007) Sony Pictures

All My Good Countrymen (Vojtech Jasný, 1968) Facets

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Andrew Dominik, 2007) Warner

Beowulf (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) Paramount

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

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

The Bloodstained Shadow (Antonio Bido, 1978) Blue Underground

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

The Brave One (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) (Neil Jordan, 2007) Warner

Chikamatsu Monogatari/ Uwasa no Onna (Kenji Mizoguchi , 1954) - R2 - UK - Masters of Cinema

The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, 2007) 20th Century Fox

Day Zero (Bryan Gunnar Cole, 2007) First Look Pictures

Death at a Funeral (Frank Oz, 2007) MGM

The Fugitive - Season One, Volume Two (David Janssen) Paramount

Gang Of Four (Jacques Rivette,1988) R2 UK - Bluebell Films

Goya's Ghosts (Milos Forman, 2006) Sony Pictures

Hitchcock - The British Years - The Pleasure Garden (1925), The Lodger, Downhill, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Secret Agent, Sabotage, Young And Innocent, The Lady Vanishes (1938), and Jamaica Inn. - R2 UK Network

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

The Last Emperor - 4-disc (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987) Criterion

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

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (2-Disc Special Edition) (Jorge Grau, 1974)  Blue Underground

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

Naked Youth (Nagisa Oshima, 1960) R2 UK - Yume Pictures
Newhart: The Complete First Season - 20th Century Fox

Rain In The Mountains (Joel Metlen, 2006) Vanguard International Cinema

Resurrecting the Champ (Rod Lurie, 2006) 20th Century Fox

Rocco and his Brothers (Luchino Visconti , 1960) - R2 - UK - Masters of Cinema

Short Night of Glass Dolls (Aldo Lado, 1971) Blue Underground

Slipstream (Anthony Hopkins, 2007) Sony Pictures

State of Play (David Yates, 2003) BBC Warner

Who Saw Her Die? (Aldo Lado, 1972) Blue Underground

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


“Life is very short and there's no time, for fussing and fighting my friend...."



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 Centenary Celebration Collection (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...