DVDBeaver Newsletter - March 26th, 2007
Wiña jai! - 13 new reviews this week - 3 Criterions including the first ever Eclipse Series release, 2 X 5-film boxsets and 5 DVD comparisons. Another mass of Calendar UPDATES. Part of the reason for our TOP 100 DESERT ISLAND DVDs list was to help parse collections down (this is what I am trying to do) but with so much new stuff every week it is an ongoing battle to determine those worthy enough to keep 'in the library'. There are many contenders reviewed this week - Bergman, Dassin, Ulmer's best, del Toro, Zhang, Cuarón, Sang-soo Hong and more...
PUSHED BACK (uhhh ohh - here we go again): Godard's Histoire (s) du cinéma is pushed back to June 26th, 2007 (that's 3 more months!?!) and still has ENGLISH SUBS CONFIRMED!
BLU-RAY STORE HD-DVD STORE HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE
Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.
STRATEGIES: The best way to take full advantage of Amazon is to use PRE-ORDERs - lock in at the discount price by ORDERING - if perchance you decide against the purchase you have until the release date to cancel - at no charge.
AND if you will purchase more than 35 DVDs (or anything) in a 365 day period (and live in the Continental US) it makes excellent financial sense to subscribe to Amazon Prime! You will get Free 2-day shipping on your purchases!
LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):
EYE FOR: I'll probably be getting Forgotten Noir Collector's Set 2 as I have high hopes for FBI Girl, Tough Assignment and I'll Get You. Also the Cult Camp Classics make me drool with Sci-Fi Thrillers and Women in Peril - most notably. The Akerman boxset more than likely will NOT have English subtitles - but we'll keep you informed if we hear different. On the Riviera teams Danny Kaye and Gene Tierney (hubba hubba). Straight Time is another strong film that we will nab for review.
Waiting for Happiness (Abderrahman Sissako, 2002) New Yorker
Warrior of Light (Monika Treut, 2001) New Yorker
Free Zone (Amos Gitai, 2005) New Yorker
Eisenstein Collection Vol.1 [Battleship Potemkin, Strike And October] R2 UK Tartan Video
Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait (Barbet Schroeder, 1974) R2 UK MoC Eureka Entertainment Ltd
If.... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) R2 UK Paramount Home Entertainment (UK)
Alain Delon - The Screen Icons Collection (Un Flic, Plein Soleil, L'eclisse, Traitement De Choc) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Jean Renoir Collection (La Grande Illusion, Le Caporal Epingle, La Merseillaise, La Bete Humaine, Le Testamant Du Docteur Cordelier, Dejeuner Sur Herbe, Elena Et Les Hommes And Boudu Saved From Drowning) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Jean Paul Belmondo - The Screen Icons Collection (Le Professionel, A Bout De Souffle, Pierrot Le Fou, Stavisky And A Double Tour.) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Dirk Bogarde - The Screen Icons Collection (Accident, The Servant, The Blue Lamp, King And Country And The Sleeping) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
James Mason - The Screen Icons Collection (The Man Between, Five Fingers, Man In Grey And Odd Man Out) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Straight Time (Ulu Grosbard , 1978) Warner Home Video
On the Riviera (Walter Lang, 1951) 20th Century Fox
White Feather (Robert D. Webb, 1955) 20th Century Fox
Pan's Labyrinth (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) New Line Home Video
Forgotten Noir Collector's Set 2 (Man From Cairo / Mask of the Dragon / FBI Girl / Tough Assignment / I'll Get You / Fingerprints Don't Lie) - Vci Video
Cult Camp Classics 1 - Sci-Fi Thrillers (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman 1958 / Giant Behemoth / Queen of Outer Space) - Warner Home Video
Cult Camp Classics 2 - Women in Peril (The Big Cube / Caged / Trog) Warner Home Video
Cult Camp Classics 3 - Terrorized Travelers (Hot Rods to Hell / Skyjacked / Zero Hour!) Warner Home Video
Cult Camp Classics 4 - Historical Epics (The Colossus of Rhodes / Land of the Pharaohs / The Prodigal) Warner Home Video
Martin & Lewis Collection - Vol. 2 (You're Never Too Young / Artists and Models / Living It up / Pardners / Hollywood or Bust) - Paramount Home Video
Sabata (Gianfranco Parolini, 1969) MGM
The Return of Sabata (Gianfranco Parolini, 1971) MGM
The Hills Run Red (Carlo Lizzani, 1966) MGM
Casanova Brown (Sam Wood, 1944) MGM
The Adventures of Marco Polo (Archie Mayo, 1938) MGM
Coffret Chantal Akerman - possibly no Eng. subs (les années 70 : Hôtel Monterey / Je, tu, il, elle / Jeanne Dielman, / News from home / Les Rendez-vous d'Anna) - Carlotta Films
Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du commerce, 1080 Bruxelles - possibly no Eng. subs (Chantal Akerman, 1976) Carlotta Films
RECOMMENDATIONS: Although we don't recommend the new Paramount (FR) edition that we have added to our comparison - Detour, with all its flaws, is still, most probably, my favorite Noir film of all time. But not too far behind is Dassin and Hellinger's Brute Force. Criterion have, once again risen to the challenge with a stacked release chock-full of keen appreciation. Homo-erotic and anti-facist sentiments in full tow!
INAUGURAL: Eclipse Series 1 is even better than one might anticipate from their mission statement. Early Bergman shows that Criterion's second tier is superior to most DVD companies top shelf. It is a fabulous deal and highly recommended !
COMPLETE PACKAGE: Criterion's (new director commentary and 2-disc SE) La Haine is possibly the most complete DVD package of the year to date.
ALL WE WERE EXPECTING...: del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is quite a ride. One that fans of its fairy-tale-fantasy elements will surely relish.
REGION ONE WINS THIS BATTLE: With all the extras and at the best price - the NTSC edition of Children of Men is the one to purchase.
DOWN A NOTCH: Although perhaps not at the level of the first Volume, The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. 2 still has some gems at a lesser price point. Fans of the silver screen's most formidable swashbuckler/adventurer should find some contentment.
DRAW PARDNER!: I often crave a good old-fashioned western - Jesse James with Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda and Randolph Scott sated me completely.
THIRD OF THREE: Although not reaching the heights of Hero or House of Flying Daggers - Curse of the Golden Flower still retains some of the grandeur of Zhang Yimou's initial spectacles. Gong Li too!
IMPROVEMENT RECOGNIZED: Ny'er have excelled in the area of supplements and the extras put out in Woman is the Future of Man on are very much appreciated! Great job Cindi, Brian and co.!
Woman is the Future of Man - The title of Hong's comedy of manners and
mores, taken from a Louis Aragon poem, is gently misleading: the woman here,
bar-owner Sun-Hwa (Sung), is actually a figure from the pasts of the two men,
aspiring film-maker Kim (Kim) and university lecturer Lee (Yu). As usual, Hong
loads the film with neat symmetries and patterns of repetition/variation, but
there's less formalist play with narrative structures than before. (Maybe the
French co-producer's demand for cuts forced him to axe some of his ideas this
time?) Still, it's funny, wry and emotionally acute. DVD Release Date: March
La Haine - When he was just twenty-nine years old, Mathieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their social marginalization slowly simmering until they reach a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis. DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2007
Brute Force - As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was the first of Jules Dassin’s forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama that takes a critical look at American society as well. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins’s dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey’s chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows the lengths men will go to when fighting for their freedom. DVD Release Date: April 17th, 2007
Detour - The kind of film (made in six days, almost entirely in a Poverty Row studio, its extensive road scenes shot with back projection) that would be impossible to make today, even as a TV movie. Now it would require 100% locations (the 'art' of studio shooting having been discredited and thus lost), and the minimal narrative would never justify a go-ahead (pianist Neal is bumming from New York to rejoin his girl in California until tripped by hostile fate and the literally amazing femme fatale Savage). Neither pure thriller nor pure melodrama (though it has its true complement of doomed lovers, dead bodies, and a cruel sexual undertow), on an emotional level it most resembles the wonderful purple-pulp fiction of David Goodis. Passion joins with folly to produce termite art par excellence.
Pan's Labyrinth - The labyrinth has echoes of authentic atrocity: a pile of children’s shoes lies ominously near the banqueting table of a bald-bodied, blank-faced baby-eater. At least as evident, though, is del Toro’s own immersion in fantasy and horror cinema, with nods to ‘Don’t Look Now’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Shining’ among others (not to mention Goya and ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’). It’s as a filmmaker, rather than storyteller, that del Toro is most successful here: a disjunction remains between the story’s childlike form and its gruesome execution, but few directors are so adept at conveying both the uncanny in the real and the recognizable in the fantastic. DVD Release Date: March 12th, 2007
The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. 2 - Along with volume 1 of "The Errol Flynn Signature Collection" this entry makes for a pretty strong collection of the most formidable swashbuckler (inherited from Douglas Fairbanks) of the silver screen's quintessential performances with both "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and "The Adventures of Don Juan" being absolutely essential to the list. All five are helmed by high quality directors - Edmund Goulding, Raoul Walsh, Vincent Sherman and two by Michael Curtiz. These films represent a golden-age for Hollywood adventure epics. Films are The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), The Dawn Patrol (1938), Dive Bomber (1941), Gentleman Jim (1942) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948). DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007
Jesse James - The first film on the notorious James brothers that attempted historical authenticity led to dozens more on the subject. It sets out, in a rather sprawling manner, to prove that the outlaws were wronged. (Jesse's granddaughter is given a research credit.) According to this version, they were defenders of a rural Southern Arcadia against Northern capitalism, represented by banks and railways, becoming outlaws only after killing the man trying to force their mother off their land. There is some splendid Technicolor photography, and Power's and Fonda's performances as Jesse and Frank, and Scott as the sheriff, are superb. DVD Release Date: March 6th, 2007
Curse of the Golden Flower - The movie follows the destruction of the imperial family in the Tang Dynasty. In this world, everybody has secrets, but everybody knows everything. The transparency of formality and normalcy has to override all the double-crossing and personal agendas. The odd thing is that nobody would ever know about these secrets because even if revealed they would never leave the palace walls. The movie takes place completely inside the palace walls, save for one small sequence, where the emperor decides to tie some loose ends. What do you do when you want to keep secrets that, when exposed, wouldn’t change anything? The outer layer is a lot more important than the inside. DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
Children of Men - Set in 2027, Alfonso Cuarón's dystopian button-pusher Children of Men, adapted from a novel by P.D. James, posits a world in which women have mysteriously gone barren, so that the youngest human beings on the planet are now in their late teens. It is a world without hope, without vitality, without a future — and also, presumably, without anyone to man the cash registers at Taco Bell and the Gap. But so intent are Cuarón and his phalanx of screenwriters (five are credited) upon making glib visual reference to current events that they toss all logic aside, clumsily superimposing their own concerns onto James' blatant Christian allegory. And so we get nightmarish images of illegal aliens herded into cages, even though a moment's thought suggests that immigration would be the least of a depopulated society's worries. In this fashionable context, global infertility functions strictly as a plot device — a means of pushing various ill-defined characters through a bevy of contemporary sociopolitical bugaboos. DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007
Early Bergman - Before The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries established him as one of the great masters of cinema, Ingmar Bergman created a series of less well known, devastating psychological character studies, marked by intricate, layered narratives, gritty environments, and haunting visuals. These early films, which show the stirrings of the genius to come, remain the hidden treasures of a European cinema on the cusp of a golden age. Films included; Torment (1944), Crisis (1946), Port of Call (1948), Thirst (1949) and To Joy (1949). DVD Release Date: March 27th, 2007
OT: Our Town - The documentary about inner-city kids performing a play has become a distinct sub-genre of its own in recent years (“Colors Straight Up” and “The Hobart Shakespeareans” are two examples) and Kennedy’s movie hews to the emerging formula: initial enthusiasm fades into chaos and near disaster but everyone eventually unites to surmount all obstacles and deliver a triumphant performance that pleases the parents even if it doesn’t send Hollywood talent scouts scurrying to the phones.
School For Scoundrels - School for Scoundrels is yet another primitive-idiots movie from Todd Phillips, the man responsible for Old School. (I guess Mr. Phillips likes educational settings.) In School for Scoundrels, Jon Heder plays a loser who takes secret classes from a con artist played by Billy Bob Thornton. In the classes, Thornton instructs his pupils on how to “act like men” and “take what they want”. This ultimately involves--what else?--getting a woman into bed.
Roast of William Shatner - Cable channel Comedy Central saw fit to add Shatner to its list of roastees, and the Roast of William Shatner is a chance for Trekkies to see Shatner, Nichelle Nichols (Uhura), and George Takei (Sulu) together for possibly one last time. The three spew outrageous jokes about each other. Not meaning to sound politically-incorrect, I must admit that some of the program’s best jokes involve George Takei’s homosexuality. Unfortunately, most of the roast is rather boring and even downright lame. DVD Release Date: 20 March 2007
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of March 26th, 2007
Bigas Luna Collection - The Ages of Lulu (1990), Jamón Jamón (1992), Golden Balls (1993) and The Tit and The Moon (1994) - R2 UK Tartan
Bullet for the General (Damiano Damiani, 1966) Blue Underground
Candy (Neil Armfield, 2006) Velocity / Thinkfilm
The Charge of the Light Brigade (Michael Curtiz, 1936) Warner Home Video
Children of Men (Widescreen Edition) (Alfonso Cuarón, 2007) Universal Studios
Colour Me Kubrick: A True...ish Story (Brian W. Cook, 2005) Magnolia
The Commissar (Aleksandr Askoldov, 1967) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Curse of the Golden Flower (Yimou Zhang, 2006) Sony Pictures
Early Bergman (Torment / Crisis / Port of Call / Thirst / To Joy) Criterion Collection (Eclipse)
The Errol Flynn Signature Collection, Vol. 2 (The Charge of the Light Brigade / Gentleman Jim / The Adventures of Don Juan / The Dawn Patrol / Dive Bomber) - Warner Home Video
Gentleman Jim (Raoul Walsh, 1942) Warner Home Video
The Good Shepherd (Robert De Niro, 2006) Universal Studios
The Gospel According to St. Matthew - COLORIZED (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964) Legend
The Hill (Sidney Lumet, 1965) FR PAL - Warner Home Vidéo
Hot Blood (Nicholas Ray, 1956) R2 UK - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Jean-Luc Godard - The 60s Collection (Vivre Sa Vie, Masculin Feminin and Two Or Three Things I Know About Her) R2 UK - Nouveaux Pictures
Keoma (Enzo G. Castellari, 1976) Blue Underground
The Leos Carax Collection (Boy Meets Girl, The Night is Young and Pola X) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1998) Anchor Bay
The Page Turner (Denis Dercourt, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye
School for Scoundrels (Robert Hamer, 1960) Lions Gate
Tempest (Paul Mazursky, 1982) Sony Pictures
Texas, Adios (Ferdinando Baldi, 1966) Blue Underground
Wim Wenders Collection - The Scarlet Letter (1973), Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1975), The American Friend (1977), The Wrong Move (1979), Lightning Over Water (1980), Tokyo-Ga (1985), Room 666 (1985), Trick of the Light (1995), Wings of Desire (1987) - R2 UK - Anchor Bay Entertainment
Woman Is the Future of Man (Sang-soo Hong, 2006) New Yorker Video
Week of April 3rd, 2007
All That Jazz - Music Edition (Bob Fosse, 1979) 20th Century Fox
Backstage (Emmanuelle Bercot, 2005) Strand Releasing
Bedazzled (Stanley Donen, 1967) 20th Century Fox
Breaking and Entering (Anthony Minghella, 2006) R2 UK - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cobra Woman (Robert Siodmak, 1944) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films
Death of a President (Gabriel Range, 2006) Lions Gate
Godzilla Raids Again (Motoyoshi Oda, 1955) Genius Products
The Good Shepherd (Widescreen Edition) (Robert De Niro, 2006) Universal Studios
The Killers 2-disc SE (Robert Siodmak, 1946) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films
The Lost Room (2-disc - Mini-series 2006) Lions Gate
The Mario Bava Collection, Volume 1 (Black Sunday / Black Sabbath / The Girl Who Knew Too Much / Kill Baby Kill / Knives of the Avenger) Anchor Bay
Mothra Vs Godzilla (Ishirô Honda, 1964) Genius Products
The Natural - Director's Cut (Barry Levinson, 1984) Sony Pictures
The Natural [Blu-ray] - Director's Cut (Barry Levinson, 1984) Sony Pictures
Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak, 1944) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films
Robert Siodmak Collection (Cobra Woman, The Killers, and Phantom Lady) - R2 FR - Carlotta Films
Royal Flash (Richard Lester, 1975) 20th Century Fox
S*P*Y*S (Irvin Kershner, 1974) 20th Century Fox
The Silent Partner (Daryl Duke, 1978) Lions Gate
The Streets of San Francisco - Season 1, Vol. 1 (1972) - Paramount Home Video
Volver (Pedro Almodóvar, 2007) Sony Pictures
Volver [Blu-ray] (Pedro Almodóvar, 2006) Sony Pictures
OUR CURRENT 'A" STORES:
50 CLASSIC TV SHOWS ON DVD- best of vintage TV!
SOME REGION FREE DVD PLAYERS TO CONSIDER
SOME OF THE BEST JAPANESE CINEMA ON REGION 1 DVD
54 DVDs TO CONSIDER WHILE SHOPPING AT AMAZON FRANCE (PAL)
SOME OF THE BEST OF 'FRENCH LANGUAGE' CINEMA ON DVD (NTSC)
'BEST OF WORLD CINEMA' on UK (PAL) DVD
BEST OF ITALIAN CINEMA
(on NTSC DVD)
SEE OUR ESSENTIAL CRITERION STORE - Best of the Best!
SEE OUR ESSENTIAL FILM-NOIR STORE!
This will be a great week,
P.S. DVD of the Year - 2006 still remains a popular place to peruse.