DVDBeaver Newsletter - March 17th, 2008

Mysh bzi! - 19 new reviews this week - 7 of which are comparisons! Some tidbits, four Blu-ray, films by Sembene, Wiseman, Shyamalan, Preminger, Antonioni, Jancsó, Siodmak, Sam Fuller, Kusturica, Jarman, the Coens... wow indeed. There are some interesting additions to this week's Calendar, (more Satyajit Ray, Mizoguchi, Majidi, Eisenstein etc.) Another difficult contest and more. Facebook-er?: join DVDBeaver-ite's Facebook group HERE. We can communicate video clips, film news etc.

• Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus to come to Blu-ray and many other announced/rumored on our New Format page HERE.

US Blu-ray's up to 50% OFF HERE!



THIS WEEK's PRIZE: a brand new Criterion DVD of Gus Van Sant's Mala Noche.  

• Individuals have started selling Cinéart's wonderful The Chantal Akerman Collection (Hôtel Monterey,Je, tu, il, elle,Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,Briefe von zu Haus,Les Rendez-vous d'Anna) at Amazon.com HERE

• Criterion's June releases announced: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985), Patriotism (Domoto Masaki & Yukio Mishima, 1966), Classe tous risques (Claude Sautet, 1960), The Furies (Anthony Mann, 1950) and Before the Rain (Milcho Manchevski, 1994)

• On Criterion’s unofficial slate are the quintessential Noir Cry Of The City (1948), Wes Anderson’s first effort, Bottle Rocket, Dillinger Is Dead (Marco Ferreri), Stephen Frears’ The Hit, Nicolas Roeg’s fun Insignificance, David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Louis Malle’s My Dinner With Andre, Antonioni’s La Notte, John Huston’s Wise Blood, Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa, and Sam Fuller’s much anticipated White Dog.


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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!).

The Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.2 (3 Discs - Kapurush / Mahapurush / Joi Baba Felunath) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Edge Of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Morning Departure (Roy Ward Baker, 1950) United Artists

The List (Gary Wheeler, 2007) Fox Home Entertainment

Noriko's Dinner Table (Sion Sono, 2005) Facets

Shallow Grave [Blu-ray] (Danny Boyle, 1994) [Special Edition] - RB UK MGM

Man with the Gun (Richard Wilson, 1955) United Artists

The Secret Invasion (Roger Corman, 1964) United Artists

The Horse Thief (Zhuangzhuang Tian, 1986) Xi'an Film Studio

The Air I Breathe (Jieho Lee, 2007) Velocity / Thinkfilm

The Air I Breathe [Blu-ray] (Jieho Lee, 2007) Velocity / Thinkfilm

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade - Special Edition [Blu-ray] (Ten Shimoyama, 2005) Funimation

Ugetsu Monogatari / Oyu-Sama (2 films by Keni Mizoguchi) - R2 UK - Eureka Masters of Cinema

Akasen Chitai/Yokihi (2 films by Keni Mizoguchi) - R2 UK - Eureka Masters of Cinema

Lost in Beijing (Yu Li, 2007) New Yorker

Carve Her Name with Pride (Lewis Gilbert, 1958) United Artists

Macon County Line (Richard Compton, 1974) Warner Home Video

Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007) MGM

Charlie Wilson's War (Mike Nichols, 2007) Universal

"Holocaust" (Marvin J. Chomsky, 1978) (3-disc mini-series) Paramount

Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007) New Line Home Video

Orphanage [Blu-ray] (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007) New Line Home Video

The Dario Argento Box Set (Tenebre: Special Edition, Phenomena: Special Edition, Trauma, The Card Player, Do You Like Hitchcock?) - Starz / Anchor Bay

The Lather Effect (Sarah Kelly, 2006) Anchor Bay

The Willow Tree (Majid Majidi, 2005) New Yorker

Eisenstein Collection Vol.2 (Bezhin Meadow / Alexander Nevsky / Ivan, The Terrible / Ivan, The Terrible Part 2: The Boyars Plot) - R2 UK – Tartan

Inglorious Bastards (Enzo G. Castellari,1978),

Inglorious Bastards Special Edition (Enzo G. Castellari,1978)


To give you my take - I give my strongest recommendation to Joe Wright's Atonement. A undeniable and brilliant masterpiece. I wasn't as high on No Country For Old Men, but suppose it should be seen. Cry of the City is one of my favorite film noirs but it may be prudent to wait for the rumored Criterion. Films you may want to see - Moolaadé, Blue, The Round-Up, A Royal Scandal, Bamako, It's Winter, Titicut Follies, and Summer Palace all have high 'Beaver appeal'. 

New Reviews:

The Rookie BR - "Based on the true story of Jim Morris", we follow his life from boyhood in small Texas town, through a shoulder injury, his marriage and coaching years for a local high school and that team's own interdependent aspirations, to Morris' eventual tryouts for the majors. John Lee Hancock skillfully blends the fixtures, rituals and rhythms of the game into a family drama about dreams lost and recaptured. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: March 4th, 2008


Eugenie de Sade - Jess Franco's EUGENIE is his more personal follow-up to the long-unavailable (until Blue Underground's 2002 release) of his scope PHILOSOPHY IN THE BOUDOIR adaptation EUGENIE... THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION. Soledad Miranda (billed as Susan Korday - a variation on her Susan Korda pseudonym used in roles requiring nudity) plays Eugenie who begins an incestuous and sadistic affair with her stepfather Paul Radeck, a writer whose work has not met with the success it deserved. DVD Release Date: January 29th, 2008

Initial D BR - The "D" of the title refers to the art of Drifting which is an auto racing technique permitting high speeds through turns. The idea was neatly demonstrated by veteran racer, Doc Hudson, to disbelieving rookie, Lightning McQueen, in Pixar's Cars. You'll remember how Doc turns the wheel counterintuitively in the opposite direction so to glide through in a controlled skid. The maneuver not only takes nerve, it takes communication between brain, muscle, engine, wheel and road. Correctly executed, it's a joy to behold. And that's exactly what directors Andre Lau and Alan Mak do for a good deal of their movie.

I Am Legend BR - I Am Legend has loftier goals than to merely scare you into never leaving your home or from taking another antibiotic. The screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich is a study of loneliness and what it means to be human – at least in its first hour or so. It also takes a moment, less successfully I thought, to consider God’s Plan. Lofty or no, I Am Legend cannot escape the shortcomings of it own logic. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: March 18th, 2008

Titicut Follies - Trained as a lawyer, Wiseman has chosen as his ever-evolving cinematic subject the American social contract, and how the machinery of the state upholds or shreds it. His first film is a hellish descent into a Massachusetts institution for the criminally insane where, it would seem, the lunatics have taken over the asylum. The editing often purposefully blurs the distinction between patient (some irretrievably deranged, some desperately lucid) and doctor. Wiseman fixes his steady, steely gaze on abuse, neglect, medical ineptitude, and appalling conditions; one horrifyingly expressionist segment, rare in Wiseman's work, cross-cuts between the force feeding of a patient and the later preparation of the same man's corpse. The film is often extremely difficult to watch and was, for a long time, nearly impossible to see. The Massachusetts authorities suppressed Titicut for a quarter century, arguing that it violated the privacy of the inmates - a risible claim, as it's painfully clear that these men had no rights at all.

Lady in the Water BR - I've always been befuddled by the tides that shift public opinion - the ones that herd the collective mentality around with such invisible purpose. Regardless of the mass critical disdain and limited perspicacity regarding anything Shyamalan has created since his breakthrough film, The Sixth Sense - Lady in the Water is another truly marvelous piece of work. Yes, it is heavy fantasy... but with so many veins and threads of interpretation that it encompasses you, forces you to think, yet still uses the purest power of the medium to enrich and spread the old-fashioned celluloid warmth that is so absent in today's bitterly cold and sour entertainment. I don't know... I loved it and can't wait to watch it again. Such is my puny world.

The Round-Up - Set in a detention camp in Hungary 1869, at a time of guerrilla campaigns against the ruling Austrians, Jancsó deliberately avoids conventional heroics to focus on the persecution and dehumanization manifest in a time of conflict. Filmed in Hungary’s desolate and burning landscape, Jancsó uses his formidable technique to create a remarkable and terrifying picture of war and the abuse of power that still speaks to audiences today. DVD Release Date: March 17th, 2008

Margin for Error/A Royal Scandal - This two disc set from Otto Preminger brings together two of his 1940's titles. A Royal Scandal dwells upon a fictional incident in the life of Russia's Catherine the Great. The story of sexual shenanigans amongst royalty was classic Ernst Lubitsch material. Lubitsch intended to direct the film, however, after being taken ill offered the assignment to Otto Preminger who gave his cast room to manoeuvre and make the most of their epigrammatic dialogue. Tallulah Bankhead takes the lead with blue-blooded bawdiness in one of her all too rare screen appearances. Margin for Error - When Preminger was asked by William Goetz at Fox to reprise his stage role in Clare Booth Luce's anti-Nazi comedy Margin For Error for the screen, he also convinced Goetz to let him direct it. Preminger, unhappy with the original script, secretly hired a young Sam Fuller to re-work it - although he remains uncredited for it. DVD Release Date: March 31st, 2008

Moolaadé - Then to watch Ousmane Sembene’s “Moolaadé”, only made me realize how incredible powerful and political a film it really was. By itself, it is pure magic, so beautifully simple filmmaking, poetical with a strong sense of social commitment, but with the reality in mind, I sit back in awe of Sembene as filmmaker. The NY'er DVD came out February 19th, 2008

Cry of the City - Martin Rome (Richard Conte) drives the law crazy - he is a beautiful loser, defying death, the great charismatic anti-hero of Siodmak's masterpiece of law and disorder. Adapted from a novel by Henry Edward Helseth, Cry of the City tells the tale of a charismatic New York criminal and his nemesis, the dogged cop and one-time friend who chases him down with a neurotic possessiveness as though in pursuit of his own evil twin.

House of Bamboo - Manny Farber once described a Sam Fuller movie by saying “the film is sincere about inexplicable mush.” So it is with House of Bamboo, a crime thriller set in occupied Japan for purposes that we mortals may never know for sure. Reworking the far less interesting Street With No Name, it features furrow-browed Robert Stack as the cops’ inside man infiltrating a group of ex-G.I. criminals led by Robert Ryan. The complication this time is Shirley Yamaguchi, the Japanese girlfriend of one of Ryan’s victims, who falls for Stack only to be shunned by her gaijin-hating neighbours. There’s no mistaking Fuller’s sympathy for bi-racial couplings and flair for socko compositions; there’s also no divining what the hell it’s saying about the Japanese, Americans in Japan, or anything else having to do with the human race.

Eros - Eros is a three-part anthology film about eroticism by a trio of world cinema's outstanding directors: Wong Kar Wai, Steven Soderbergh and Michelangelo Antonioni. The three vignettes in Eros may seem totally unrelated on surface, but underneath the different stories lies a common theme about erotic desires. Each episode explores erotic desires at a different level, from physical to psychological to spiritual. It also serves as an homage by two younger directors, Wong and Soderbergh, to the Italian master Antonioni who has informed and inspired their work.

Blue - If the 1990s was largely defined by the mainstreaming of AIDS, Blue is a key film from that decade. Like Wim Wenders' Lightning Over Water, about the dying of Nicholas Ray, Blue is a naked portrait of a dying artist, although it is perhaps more intimate in that it originates from within. Blue goes further toward demystifying AIDS than straightforward documentary content has done, and Jarman is not nor was ever shy about retaining his sexual identity in spite of the stigma of his disease, the politics of which he address here with frank combativeness.

When Father Was Away On Business - Mesha, returning by train with his mistress from one of his many business trips, carelessly remarks on a political cartoon in the newspaper. The mistress denounces Mesha out of jealousy to his brother, who is highly involved and devoted to the Communist Party and also seeing the same mistress, who arranges to have him sent to a prison where he is forced to work in a mine. His wife and children, who believe the father is on a prolonged business trip, are forced to cope for years with the void left by their father. When he is finally set free, the family must move away from Sarajevo in order to be "socially reconditioned".

Bamako - Melé is a bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up… In the courtyard of the house they share with other families, a trial court has been set up. African civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF whom they blame for Africa's woes… midst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard. Chaka does not seem to be concerned by Africa's novel desire to fight for its rights…

It's Winter - A man is fired from his job. Having no more options, he decides to go find work abroad, leaving behind his wife and daughter. Months pass and his family hear no word from him. A stranger, a mechanic, arrives in town in search of work. His eyes wander to the beautiful young woman whom he hears no longer has a husband.

Summer Palace - A sublime coming of age drama from the director of Suzhou River and Purple Butterfly. Yu Hong (Cui) leaves her rural village to attend Beijing University in 1987. Touched by the political fallout of the Tianamen Square massacre two years later, the latter half of the story follows Yu Hong and her friends as they come to terms with adulthood. Brimming with sensuality, this film will resonate with many viewers who experienced their own sexual and political awakening at university. DVD Release Date: March 11th, 2008

No Country For Old Men - No Country for Old Men premiered at Cannes in May and was widely heralded as the festival’s most sensational entry. When I saw it for the first time at the Toronto film festival in September, the only movie that gave it any competition in the popularity contest was Lars and the Real Girl. Adapted from what is generally considered a minor Cormac McCarthy novel, No Country for Old Men is a very well-made genre exercise, but I can’t understand why it’s been accorded so much importance, unless it’s because it strokes some ideological impulse. DVD Release Date: March 11th, 2008

Atonement - The hat trick of Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel, Atonement, was spinning a typical English country-estate melodrama while simultaneously deconstructing trad Brit lit and equating the writing process with divine providence. Successfully translating these ideas to the screen, however, seemed as likely as Heathcliff coming to a happy ending. Which makes Joe Wright’s big-screen version all the more impressive: He’s produced a gripping, romantic yarn without sacrificing the source’s meta-examination of fiction’s power. Not even the director’s swooning take on Pride & Prejudice (2005) could have prepared folks for this. DVD Release Date: March 18th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of March 17th, 2008

Antonio Gaudí (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1984) Criterion

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [HD DVD] (Andrew Dominik, 2007) Warner

Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007) - Universal Studios

Atonement [HD DVD combo] (Joe Wright, 2007) - Universal Studios

Conspiracy (Adam Marcus, 2008) Sony

The Dragon Painter (William Worthington, 1919) New Yorker Films

Enchanted (Kevin Lima, 2007) Walt Disney Video

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

I Am Legend (Widescreen Edition) (Francis Lawrence, 2007) Warner Home Video

I Am Legend (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Francis Lawrence, 2007) Warner Home Video

I Am Legend [Blu-ray] (Francis Lawrence, 2007) Warner Home Video
Ice Storm (Ang Lee, 1997) Criterion
(Alberto Lattuada, 1962) Criterion

The Round Up (Miklós Jancsó, 1966) R2 UK - Second Run

Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2006) - Sony Pictures

Steep (Mark Obenhaus, 2007) Sony Pictures

Steep [Blu-ray] (Mark Obenhaus, 2007) Sony Pictures


Week of March 24th, 2008

The Alain Delon Collection - The Widow Couderc (1971; Pierre Granier-Deferre), Diabolically Yours (1967; Julien Duvivier), La Piscine (1969; Jacques Deray), Le Gitan (1975; Jose Giovanni) and Notre Histoire (1984; Bertrand Blier) - Lionsgate

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) New Yorker Films

Battlestar Galactica - Season Three - Universal

Bonnie and Clyde (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Arthur Penn, 1967) Warner

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

Bonnie and Clyde [HD DVD] (Arthur Penn, 1967) Warner

Ça commence aujourd'hui (Bertrand Tavernier, 1999) R2 UK Optimum

Control (Anton Corbijn, 2007) Weinstein

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

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

Gangsters Collection, Vol. 1 (The Public Enemy / White Heat / Angels with Dirty Faces / Little Caesar / The Petrified Forest / The Roaring Twenties) - Warner

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

Horloger De Saint-Paul (The Clockmaker) (Bertrand Tavernier, 1974) R2 UK Optimum

The Jack Ryan Collection [HD DVD] (The Hunt For Red October/Patriot Games/Clear and Present Danger/The Sum of All Fears) - Paramount Home Entertainment

Kings of the Sun (J. Lee Thompson, 1963) MGM

The Kite Runner (Marc Forster, 2007) Dreamworks Video

Le Juge et l'assassin (Bertrand Tavernier, 1976) R2 UK Optimum

L.627 (Bertrand Tavernier, 1992) R2 UK Optimum

Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1997) Universal Studios

The Mist (Frank Darabont, 2007) Genius Products (Weinstein)

The Mist (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Frank Darabont, 2007) Genius Products (Weinstein)

Mr. Wong, Detective - The Complete Collection (Mr. Wong, Detective / The Mystery of Mr. Wong / Mr. Wong in Chinatown / The Fatal Hour / Doomed to Die / Phantom of Chinatown) - VCI Entertainment

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

PU-239 (Scott Z. Burns, 2006) HBO

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

Solomon & Sheba (King Vidor, 1959) MGM

Taras Bulba (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) MGM

Les Vampires (Louis Feuillade, 1915) R2 UK - Artificial Eye

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

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

"All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." - MLK