DVDBeaver Newsletter - May 4th, 2009

Haai! - 15 new reviews this past week. 2 each of Criterion and Masters of Cinema, Tourneur, Huston, Godard, Minghella, Leone, Fincher, Pialat - some good and bad Blu-rays, Feature discs for May, a meager Calendar Update, a new contest (great prize) and more....

If there are DVD titles you'd like us to cover - please feel free to recommend!

FEATURE DVD and Blu-ray OF THE MONTH chosen for MAY 2009

SALE ON SOME CRITERIONs at AMAZON (Blu, Pre-order and others): - El Norte [Blu-ray] (37% OFF!), The 400 Blows [Blu-ray] (45% OFF!), The Last Emperor [Blu-ray] (37% OFF!), The Man Who Fell to Earth [Blu-ray] (37% OFF!), Ace in the Hole (37% OFF!), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (35% OFF!), Last Year at Marienbad [Blu-ray] (32% OFF!), Wages of Fear [Blu-ray] (32% OFF!), The Seventh Seal [Blu-ray] (32% OFF!), Drunken Angel (32% OFF!), Alexander Korda's Private Lives (25% OFF!), The Third Man [Blu-ray] (37% OFF!), Chungking Express [Blu-ray] (37% OFF!), The Last Metro [Blu-ray] (32% OFF!), Bottle Rocket [Blu-ray] (35% OFF!), Empire of Passion (27% OFF!)

Momitsu BDP-899 - Region FREE Blu-ray Player - advertised as the World's first truly region free Blu-ray and DVD player. See the Beaver scoop on this new product.


SALES: US Blu-ray up to 53% OFF        UK Blu-ray 2 for 3 SALE      Amazon France Blu-ray SALE (BUY 1 get 1 FREE!)

WE'VE ADDED MORE NEW BUTTONS TO THE DVDBeaver Toolbar! (you spoke - we listened!) - THE 'DVDBeaver Toolbar'! recently added another Asian e-tailor (HKFlix), The Auteurs’ Notebook (under Cinephilia,) a Blu-ray site dedicated to region coding and our Masters of Cinema coverage (under Beaver links). Please give it a whirl and tell us your opinion - we can suite to please - 'DVDBeaver Toolbar'!

MAY 4th CONTEST - identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win brand new sealed Silence of the Lambs on Blu-ray


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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!):

Lonely Are the Brave (David Miller, 1962) Universal Studios

Une Femme Mariee (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) Koch Lorber Films

Glory [Blu-ray] (Edward Zwick, 1989) Sony Pictures

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon / Curse of the Golden Flower / House of Flying Daggers Trilogy [Blu-ray] - Sony Pictures

Midnight Express [Blu-ray] (Alan Parker, 1978) Sony Pictures

Green Lantern: First Flight (DC Universe) [Blu-ray] (Lauren Montgomery, 2009) Warner

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] - Universal Studios

The Beast - Special Extended Version [Blu-ray] -(Jeff Bleckner, 1996) Timeless Media Group

Mad Men: Season Two [Blu-ray] - Lions Gate

À l'aventure (Jean-Claude Brisseau, 2009) R2 UK Axiom Films

The Hal Hartley Collection (Trust / Henry Fool / The Girl From Monday) R2 UK Artificial Eye


ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Masters of Cinema's La Gueule Ouverte may get top honors this week - an incredible package. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button BR is starting to grow on me after 3 viewings - I doubt I'll have the same 'obsession' I had with Fincher's Zodiac, but there is definitely something alluring. I've always settled fro the inferior DVD of Godard's Une femme mariée - but now Masters of Cinema's deft transfer have made the experience even more appealing. I've got to tell you - the dark and depressing Saturday Night Fever BR seems tailor-made for HD video and audio. I've already professed how I got a big kick out of Taken BR. One of the mainstays of the western genre, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly BR, gives us the best presentation for your home theater. John Huston's Wise Blood is a film that you will probably never forget - as weird as it is wonderful. We are grateful to Gregory for covering more of the Warner Archive releases this week - namely Brainstorm and Jacques Tourneur's Wichita. It's a shame that Alliance Canada are the first to release The English Patient BR, although it is still the best AV available - despite being 1080i. I think , after reading Leonard's take on Dexter Season Two BR, I'll give it a try. You could do worse in revisiting a couple of 80's comedies in hi-def - BIG BR and Ferris Bueller's Day Off BR but don't be afraid to give a pass to Sandler's Bedtime Stories BR.

New Reviews:

The English Patient BR - Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this award-winning adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel about a doomed and tragic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche). Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Dexter Season Two BR - As we learn in Season One, by day Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a blood-spatter forensic analyst for the Miami Metro Police. By night, he "takes out the trash" as he refers to his decade long obsession as a vigilante serial killer. Dexter's fascination with the processes of death and killing began early but he's found a way to live with his peculiarities. In one of Dexter's many flashbacks we find him in a close-up discussion with his adoptive father, a straight-arrow Miami cop (James Remar), about the morality of killing domestic animals and how such a propensity could lead to targets higher up the food chain if not checked. Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Wichita - Jacques Tourneur's first and best film in CinemaScope (1955) is also one of his strangest westerns, though the basic materials--from the Tex Ritter theme song to the Daniel B. Ullman script, in which Wyatt Earp (Joel McCrea) becomes the reluctant marshal of Wichita--are pretty standard, as is the secondary cast. What Tourneur brings to the story is both visual and metaphysical: distinctive compositions, sets, and interplay between background and foreground; shockingly abrupt and arbitrary violence from raucous cattlemen; an eerie sense of Earp as an angel of death who, like the villains he sets out to disarm, can't act otherwise or escape his destiny; and an interesting commentary on capitalism whereby the hero upsets the town's leaders by outlawing all firearms except his own, which is bad for business. DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly BR - Arguable one of the best Westerns ever made, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” is Leone’s first masterpiece. Having invented the spaghetti-western a few years prior by virtually copying Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo” frame by frame as “A Fistful of Dollars” to such a degree that Toho sued him, Leone used the spaghetti-western as a form to attack the, in Leone’s opinion, dominating morality of American Puritanism. Blu-ray Release date: May 12th, 2009

Taken BR - Neeson is just perfect in this one. I really enjoyed his controlled performance. It's fairly easy to guess how this less convincing film runs - and if you are at all in the mood - it should sate you to comfortably high standard. Just don't expect too much - it has many run-in-the-mill 'vengeance' conventions which is not always such a bad thing. I'll be getting the US Region 'A' Blu-ray and may compare the two although I don't expect a lot of difference in the transfer. If you are at all keen - accepting the violence and incongruities of the story - it can be a very memorable night in the home theater. I was really in the mood and, smiling throughout, I had a ball! DVD Release date May 12th, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button BR - “I was born under unusual circumstances . . .” Thus begins The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the Academy Award–winning film starring Brad Pitt as a man who is born in his eighties and ages backward, and Cate Blanchett as the woman he is destined to love forever. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a monumental journey—as unusual as it is epic—that follows Benjamin’s remarkable adventure of romance and redemption from the end of World War I through the twenty-first century. Directed by David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a powerful testament to life and death, love and loss. Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Ferris Bueller's Day Off BR - Ferris (Broderick) is a boy who gets anything he wants, screws over anyone who gets in his way, and gets patted on the back for doing so. Gathering his best friend (Ruck) and his best girlfriend (Sara), he skips school for the day out in Chicago. Hughes revels in Ferris' ingenuity, then neatly adds dimension after a ninety-minute parade of hubris and material wealth by telling us that people count more than their possessions. Ferris is an admittedly entertaining, at times delightful fellow. Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Une femme mariée - Long out-of-circulation and unavailable on home video, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 masterpiece Une femme mariée, fragments d’un film tourné en 1964 en noir et blanc [A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White] has, until now, represented the ostensibly ‘missing’ key work from the first, zeitgeist-defining phase of JLG’s filmography. The feature which bridges the gap between Bande à part and Alphaville, Une femme mariée is, nevertheless, a galaxy, or gallery, unto itself — a lucid, complex, profoundly funny series of portraits, etched with Godardian acids, of the wife that represents either a singular case, or a Masters of Cinema example, of “a”/”the” married woman, and the men in her orbit. DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009

Brainstorm - Actor William Conrad ("My Blood Runs Cold") directs the fright thriller Brainstorm. It is based on an unpublished story by Lawrence B. Marcus; the screenplay is by Mann Rubin. Brainstorm moves from romance to crime following the conventions of film noir, but ultimately distinguishes itself by the depth of its exploration of insanity. DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2009

Wise Blood - In this acclaimed adaptation of the first novel by legendary Southern writer Flannery O’Connor, John Huston vividly brings to life her poetic world of American eccentricity. Brad Dourif, in an impassioned performance, is Hazel Motes, who, fresh out of the army, attempts to open the first Church Without Christ in the small town of Taulkinham. Populated with inspired performances that seem to spring right from O’Connor’s pages, Huston’s Wise Blood is an incisive portrait of spirituality and Evangelicalism, and a faithful, loving evocation of a writer’s vision. DVD Release Date: April 6th, 2009

La Gueule Ouverte - Few filmmakers could rival Maurice Pialat’s facility for transforming autobiographical material into the stuff of Art, and his third feature-film, La Gueule ouverte (The Mouth Agape / The Slack-Jawed Mug), stands as one of the director’s most intensely personal — and most lacerating — works. It is a film about illness: a condition of the body, and a name for the capacity to injure the ones who love us most. DVD Release Date: April 20th, 2009

BIG BR - As written by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg and directed by Penny Marshall, ''Big'' also has a warmer, more engaging personality than its predecessors. Its success as a buoyant summer comedy will owe a lot to the cleverness with which the small details have been selected, from the opening shot of a video game (which tells the player he is in a cave surrounded by ''the carcasses of slain ice dwarfs,'' thus nicely encapsulating the 13-year-old's sense of adventure) to the means by which the newly transformed Josh makes his first appearance. Blu-ray Release date: May 12th, 2009

Notorious BR - The movie, produced by Biggie's mom and his business associates, is not trying to tell Biggie's "true story" or even a balanced one, nor does it try to resolve the mystery of his murder. But the film can't help but show its bias. The movie's epitaph pretty much sums up the intention: Christopher Wallace did not live to see the release of his second album, "Life After Death," which sold 10 million copies worldwide. With his life, he proved that no dream is too big. Blu-ray Release date: April 21st, 2009

Bedtime Stories BR - While not as inane as some of Adam Sandler's material of late (Little Nicky, Deuce Bigalow), Bedtime Stories, which has an imaginative premise, bogs down with unnecessary and implausible plot turns, and by the end I want to throw up my hands in astonishment that such an asset has been so squandered. Anyhow, the point here doesn't seem to be that we accept the reality created by the movie so much as that we indulge the faith required to accept it. Blu-ray Release date: April 5th, 2009

Saturday Night Fever BR - "Saturday Night Fever" is an especially hard-edged case and a very good movie. It's about a bunch of Brooklyn kids who aren't exactly delinquents but are fearsomely tough and cynical and raise a lot of hell on Saturday nights. They live for Saturday night, in fact: They hang their gold chains around their necks and put on the new shirts they bought with their Friday paychecks, and they head for a place called 2001 Odyssey, and they take pills and drink and, as Leo Sayer put it, dance the night away. Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of May 4th, 2009

Amazon [Blu-ray] (Kieth Merrill, 1997) Image Entertainment

Bleak House - TV mini-series [Blu-ray] (2005) BBC Warner

"Bleak House" [Blu-ray] TV - 2005 - BBC Video

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (David Fincher, 2008) Paramount
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button [
Blu-ray] (David Fincher, 2008) Paramount

Dexter: Season 2 [Blu-ray] - Paramount

Enchanted April (Mike Newell, 1992) Miramax

The English Patient [Blu-ray] (Anthony Minghella, 1996) Alliance Atlantis

He Ran All the Way (John Berry, 1951) R2 UK Optimum

Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Blu-ray] (John Hughes, 1986) Paramount Home Video

From a Place of Darkness [Blu-ray] (Douglas A. Raine, 2008) Celebrity Video Distribution

Incendiary (Sharon Maguire, 2008) Thinkflims

Incendiary [Blu-ray] (Sharon Maguire, 2008) Thinkflims

Last Chance Harvey [Blu-ray] (Joel Hopkins, 2008) Anchor Bay

Saturday Night Fever [Blu-ray] (John Badham, 1977) Paramount Home Video

Trainspotting: Ultimate Collector's Edition [Blu-ray] (Danny Boyle, 1995) R'B' UK 4DVD

Under The Bombs (Philippe Aractingi, 2007) Film Movement


Week of May 11th, 2009

Backlash (John Sturges, 1956) R2 UK Optimum

Big [Blu-ray] (Penny Marshall, 1988) 20th Century Fox

Bullet for a Badman (R.G. Springsteen, 1964) R2 UK Optimum

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Season One [Blu-ray] - Paramount

Eclipse Series 16: Alexander Korda's Private Lives - The Private Life of Henry VIII (Alexander Korda, 1933), The Rise of Catherine the Great (Paul Czinner, 1934), The Private Life of Don Juan (Alexander Korda, 1934) and Rembrandt (Alexander Korda, 1936) - Criterion

Fargo [Blu-ray] (Coen Bros. ,1996) MGM

Force 10 from Navarone [Blu-ray] (Guy Hamilton, 1978) MGM

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly [Blu-ray] (Sergio Leone, 1966) MGM

Happily Ever After (Yukihiko Tsutsumi, 2007) Viz Video

The King and Four Queens (Raoul Walsh, 1956) MGM

Licence to Kill [Blu-ray] (John Glen, 1989) MGM

Life Is A Long Quiet River (Étienne Chatiliez, 1988) - R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Man with the Golden Gun [Blu-ray] (Guy Hamilton, 1974) MGM

North West Frontier (J. Lee Thompson, 1959) MGM

Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008) Strand Releasing

Passengers (Rodrigo García, 2008) Sony Pictures

Passengers [Blu-ray] (Rodrigo García, 2008) Sony Pictures

Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy [Blu-ray] (Star Trek II, III and IV) - Paramount

Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection [Blu-ray] (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Bonus Disc) - Paramount

Time Limit (Karl Malden, 1957) MGM

Ultimate Sci-Fi Collection 20-disc (Escape From NY, Mad Max SE, Rollerball, Abyss, Alien, Alien 2, Day The Earth Stood Still, Fantastic Voyage, The Fly, Independence Day, Journey To Center of the Earth, The Neptune Factor, The Planet Of The Apes , The Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea etc.) 20th Century Fox

Ultimate Western Collection 20-disc (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Big Trail, The Comancheros, Broken Arrow, The Magnificent Seven, Dances with Wolves, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Hang 'em High, Red River, The Westerner and The Missouri Breaks) MGM

Wise Blood (John Huston, 1979) Criterion

"He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees." - Benjamin Franklin
Live long.... and prosper!