DVDBeaver Newsletter - April 13th, 2009
Aiah ban twon! - 15 new reviews this past week. In uncovering every stone we can on the DVD playground we have some Criterion (2 DVDs, 2 Blu-rays), another masterpiece by the Dardennes, Noir, Oshima, Silents, The X-Men, animation features... it's a full week's worth! There are some more Calendar Updates, a new contest and more....
NOTE: If there are DVD titles you'd like us to cover - please feel free to recommend!
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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!):
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [Blu-ray] (David Hand, 1937) Disney
M*A*S*H [Blu-ray] (Robert Altman, 1970) Twentieth Century Fox
Do the Right Thing [Blu-ray] (Spike Lee, 1989) Universal Studios
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2-disc - English Subtitles) (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008) - R2 JP Pony Canyon
The Graduate [Blu-ray] (Mike Nichols, 1967) MGM
The Strange One (Jack Garfein, 1957) Sony Pictures
The Three Stooges Collection, Vol. 6: 1949-1951 - Sony Pictures
Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008) Sony Pictures Classics
Waltz With Bashir [Blu-ray] (Ari Folman, 2008) Sony Pictures Classics
Taken [Blu-ray] (Pierre Morel, 2008) 20th Century Fox
The Towering Inferno [Blu-ray] (John Guillermin + Irwin Allen, 1974) 20th Century Fox
No Way Back [Blu-ray] (Frank A. Cappello, 1995) Sony Pictures
Ghost Busters [Blu-ray] (Ivan Reitman, 1984) Sony Pictures
To Live and Die in L.A. [Blu-ray] (William Friedkin, 1985) MGM
Out of Time [Blu-ray] (Carl Franklin, 2003) MGM
True Blood: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] – Warner
The International [Blu-ray] (Tom Tykwer, 2009) Sony Pictures
ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): My pick of the week is not a perfect transfer, from Drakes Avenue, but the Dardenne's The Silence of Lorna is as a deeply memorable as any of their other features - which is saying a mouthful. Many other titles this week also have merit though - I was keen on Criterion's lower tiered priced The Hit by Stephen Frears. Criterion's 1080P efforts always seem to excel and both In the Realm of the Senses BR and The Wages of Fear BR are no exception. The Reader is an excellent film that will undoubtedly benefit from the upcoming Blu-ray treatment. Stay tuned. Silent film enthusiasts will no doubt revel at another David Shepard project - Under Full Sail. Possibly the best of the avalanche of super-hero films in the past few years - X2 BR continues to tackle sub-themes of prejudice, tolerance and bigotry. Thanks to Sean Greenwood, we've been given a taste of a probable Criterion release of Götz Spielmann's Revanche. Although a great noir, we can't condone the horrendous digital treatment available, by Glass Key or Alpha Video, for Woman on the Run. The rap Opera, 8 Mile BR, has some merit and I may be one of the few who got something out of The Day the Earth Stood Still - 2008 BR (Go Keanu!). The positive message of Yes Man BR is one of the few attributes of a viewing.
X-Men 3 - The Last Stand BR - It's hard to convey the joy that loyal fans are experiencing seeing Marvels best comic books come to life on the screen. 25 years ago I was reading these little graphic wonders that the X-Men films are based upon.... from X-Men #94, the incarnation of what was known as 'The New X-Men' my buddies and I were enthralled. I still recall how dramatically the prices of these books rose in comparison to other titles. They were the most desirable comic books ever created - and like a good film - the strength was in the narrative. Blu-ray Release Date: April 21st, 2009
X2 BR - The original X-Men movie was well made, but perhaps its major flaw was its foreshadowing of a sequel. It was as if it was made solely with one in mind, and that detracted from the plot. However, the 2nd film 'X2' is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen all year. It encapsulated the important themes of the original Claremont/Byrne stories much better than the recent 'Hulk', 'Daredevil' or 'Spiderman' films, all three of which were pleasant ways to pass the time. X2 is in a totally different league. This is not due to the direction or acting... but the story and its central themes. Blu-ray Release Date: April 21st, 2009
The Hit - Terence Stamp is Willie, a gangster’s henchman turned “supergrass” (informer) trying to live in peaceful hiding in a remote Spanish village. Sun-dappled bliss turns to nerve-racking suspense, however, when two hit men—played by a soulless John Hurt and a youthful, loose-cannon Tim Roth—come a-calling to bring Willie back for execution. This stylish early gem from Stephen Frears boasts terrific performances from a roster of England’s best hard-boiled actors, music by Eric Clapton and virtuoso flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, and ravishing photography of its desolate Spanish locations—a splendid backdrop for a rather sordid story. DVD Release Date: April 28th, 2009
The Day the Earth Stood Still - 2008 BR - The production makes a deft switch in initially emphasizing Earth's destruction by a large object from space (more common-place as a plot device a few years back). It puts us on our heels. So, when the more socially conscious counterpoint is introduced - it becomes much more meaningful. There is some adept filmmaking going on here folks - despite the detractors - many of which who will bark before sampling. There is some enjoyment to be had - mostly by NOT comparing... Blu-ray Release date: April 7th, 2009
The Silence of Lorna - Lorna, a young Albanian woman living in Belgium, has her sights set on opening a snack bar with her boyfriend, Sokol. In order to do so, she becomes an accomplice in a diabolical plan devised by mobster Fabio. Fabio has set up a false marriage between Lorna and Claudy allowing Lorna to get her Belgian citizenship. However, she is then asked to marry a Russian mafioso who's ready to pay hard cash to also get his hands on those vital Belgian identity papers. Fabio intends to kill Claudy in order to speed up the second marriage. But will Lorna remain silent? DVD Release Date: April 6th, 2009
Woman on the Run - Frank Johnson, walking his dog alone on a dark and deserted San Francisco street, witnesses a gangland murder. The police ask him to testify to the Grand Jury, but instead he goes into hiding. Trailing him is Inspector Ferris and Johnson's wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), who thinks her husband is running away from their failing marriage. Newspaperman Danny Leggett (Dennis O'Keefe) joins in the hunt, promising to pay Eleanor $1,000 if she'll give him Frank's story when they find him. Glass Key DVD Release Date: April 6th, 2009
In the Realm of the Senses BR - Still censored in its own country, In the Realm of the Senses (Ai no corrida), by Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, remains one of the most controversial films of all time. A graphic portrayal of insatiable sexual desire, Oshima’s film, set in 1936 and based on a true incident, depicts a man and a woman (Tatsuya Fuji and Eiko Matsuda) consumed by a transcendent, destructive love while living in an era of ever escalating imperialism and governmental control. Less a work of pornography than of politics, In the Realm of the Senses is a brave, taboo-breaking milestone. Blu-ray and DVD Release Date: April 28th, 2009
The Wages of Fear BR - In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their explosive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves. The result is one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloid, a white-knuckle ride from France’s legendary master of suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot. Blu-ray Release Date: April 21st, 2009
The Reader - The Reader, set in post-WWII Germany, follows teenager Michael Berg as he engages in a passionate but secretive affair with an older woman named Hanna. Eight years after Hanna s disappearance, Michael is stunned to discover her again as she stands on trial for Nazi war crimes. The Reader is a haunting story about truth and reconciliation and how one generation comes to terms with the crimes of another. Kate Winslet won and Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance. DVD Release Date: April 14th 2008
The Tale of Despereaux BR - So right off the bat The Tale of Despereaux has two problems: the casting of Dustin Hoffman (who is otherwise terrific, by the way) in a part that starts off the movie and the listing such a list of luminaries before the movie begins. Of the first 14 names in the credits I can imagine the voices of 11 of them without a prompt. This does not auger well for a fairy tale experience. Blu-ray Release date: April 7th, 2009
Under Full Sail - Discover a time when the truest adventure had the wind at your back and an infinite horizon all around. UNDER FULL SAIL: SILENT CINEMA ON THE HIGH SEAS proudly collects five breathtaking films that preserve the romance, grandeur and allure of windjammers sailing open waters, exquisitely photographed in the style of the time. DVD Release Date: April 14th, 2009
Yes Man BR - I'm not sure why yet, but I think of this movie as a sort of deranged sequel to The Truman Show, where Truman gets the girl but loses her because he's had life handed to him to such extent that he collapsed into a spore once things didn't go right. Of course, the idea would never have occurred to me if it weren't for Jim Carrey. As Truman Burbank and here as Carl Allen, Carrey's character is afraid to reach outside himself. In Peter Weir's movie, what was outside was carefully, even cynically manipulated to make certain he would remain locked inside his universe. In Yes Man, Carl circumscribes his life so that he can be available to the phone in case his ex-wife calls. This is serious pining. The man needs a hard kick in the nether regions. Blu-ray Release date: April 7th, 2008
The Rainbow - In this prequel to WOMEN IN LOVE (filmed by Ken Russell in 1969), Ursula Brangwen (Sammi Davis playing the character Jennie Linden played in the first film) wants something more out of life than her gender and middle-class country existence have carved out for her. Her stern mother Anna (Glenda Jackson playing the mother of her character in WOMEN IN LOVE) and her good-natured father Will (Christopher Gable, THE BOYFRIEND) do not understand why she wants to work when they have worked so hard to give their children a privileged existence (in the opening sequence with Ursula as a toddler, her father saves her from drowning in the river while she is chasing a rainbow). DVD Release Date: Sep 24th, 2007
Revanche - Two couples -- one from the city, the other from the countryside -- are bound together by fate in Austrian writer-director Goetz Spielmann's taut thriller "Revanche." Elegantly spinning primal elements of guilt, revenge, faith and redemption, helmer's gripping fifth feature is prime fest material that's likely to rate Euro arthouse exposure, with further viewers in ancillary...
8 Mile BR - If you've an eye for these things, you aren't likely to miss the flash of Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life that flickers in passing across the TV screen. It's a film about coming to terms with one's true identity in racial terms, a proper backdrop for Curtis Hanson's pop movie about a white boy in a black man's world, whose only gift is his ability to rap. Enimen, the actor, renders a joyless rendering of his character, Jimmy Rabbit, who hasn't much joy in his life to console him. Blu-ray Release date: April 14th, 2008
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of April 13th, 2009
8 Mile[Blu-ray] (Curtis Hanson, 2002) Universal Studios
Cranford[Blu-ray] (Sue Birtwistle, Susie Conklin - 2007) Warner
Dark Matter(Shi-Zheng Chen, 2007) Universal Studios
The Reader(Stephen Daldry, 2008) Weinstein
Thirteenth Floor[Blu-ray] (Josef Rusnak, 1999) Sony Pictures
Under Full Sail: Silent Cinema on the High Seas(The Yankee Clipper / Around the Horn / The Square Rigger / Ship Ahoy / Down to the Sea in Ships) - Flicker Alley
Week of April 20th, 2009
Dog Days of Summer(Mark Freiburger, 2007) Starz / Anchor Bay
Une femme mariée: Suite de fragments d'un film tourné en 1964(Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) R2 UK Masters of Cinema
Frost/Nixon(Ron Howard, 2008) Universal Studios
La Gueule ouverte(Maurice Pialat, 1974) R2 UK Masters of Cinema
Science Is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Painlevé- Criterion
Sin City[Blu-ray] (Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, 2005) Dimension
The Wages of Fear[Blu-ray] (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953) Criterion
The Wrestler(Darren Aronofsky, 2008) Fox Searchlight
X-Men[Blu-ray] (Bryan Singer, 2000) 20th Century Fox
X-Men: Trilogy [Blu-ray] 20th Century Fox
make prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it." -
Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC)