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Newsletter - FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 11th, 2009
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This Week's Highlights

Walama! - 18 new reviews/comparisons this past week. 2 more Criterion, Antonioni, Imamura, Film Noir, Pixar animation, John Ford, The Coens on Blu-ray and more.... some keen Calendar Update, a new contest (great prize) and more.....
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• 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!)


• 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!)


ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): The biggest news this week is the 2:35 ratio,16X9 DVD of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point. However Criterion's Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura adds up to an essential as well. Highly appealing are both The Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy BR and Fargo BR. I loved the Noir-ish vessel He Ran All the Way. Looking absolutely pristine is A Bug's Life BR. Celebrating Robert Mitchum's career with a viewing of The Friends of Eddie Coyle seems perfectly appropriate. While not the most beneficial of moves to hi-def - The Illusionist BR has the distinction of a rare Alliance efficient transfer to 1080P. I'm somewhat feeling guilty of my entertainment of True Romance BR, Passenger BR, and Falling Down BR. There is much to offer in the Valkyrie Blu-ray beyond the feature film. Gregory has generously covered some more Warner Archive releases - The Big House, Boetticher's Westbound, and The Money Trap. A classic western with all the DVD-trimmings is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and certainly brimming with value at the price offered. Finally, there is a definite subversive enticement to Deadly Sweet - as covered by Eric.


The Star Trek Motion Picture Trilogy BR - Prepare to embark on an epic three-part adventure starring the legendary crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise as they sacrifice their lives, ship and freedom to save the universe from imminent destruction. Spanning across three motion pictures, the Star Trek: Motion Picture Trilogy is the ultimate story of heroism, duty and friendship that will thrill old and new fans alike. The films have been digitally remastered and The Wrath of Khan has been fully restored in high definition with brilliant picture quality and 7.1 Dolby TrueHD. Blu-ray Release Date: May 12th, 2009


Valkyrie BR - There are no discernibly nasty Nazis in “Valkyrie,” though Hitler and Goebbels skulk about in a few scenes, shooting dark, ominous looks at the heroic German Army officer played by Tom Cruise. Perhaps they’re wondering what this Hollywood megastar is doing in their midst, a sentiment that you may come to share while watching Mr. Cruise — who gives a fine, typically energetic performance in a film that requires nothing more of him than a profile and vigor — strut about as one of history’s more enigmatic players. Blu-ray Release date: May 19th, 2009

A Bug's Life BR - The story, a parody of Seven Samurai, goes like this: A colony of ants gathers food for themselves, but also leaves a sizable portion of their best leavings for the grasshoppers who visit seasonally, eat their fill and move on. Not this year. Flik is an accident-prone inventor ant who inadvertently releases the entire hoard of goodies into the pond moments before the grasshoppers arrive. The grasshoppers make it clear that bad things will happen to the ants if they don't pull their weight, foodwise, next time. Blu-ray Release date: May 19th, 2009

Falling Down BR - On the morning the film begins, he is stuck in traffic on the freeway. Nothing is moving. Exhaust fumes rise all around him. The director, Joel Schumacher, deliberately shoots this scene as a homage to the famous opening of Fellini's "8 1/2," but instead of finding himself floating up into the sky, like Fellini's hero, the man gets out of his car, slams the door, and goes walking alone across Los Angeles. This is not always a safe thing for a crew-cut white man, wearing a shirt and a tie. Blu-ray Release date: May 26th, 2009

The Money Trap - Walter Bernstein's adaptation of a Lionel White novel has the kernel of a good drama about a contemporary problem, that of an underpaid gumshoe dazzled into dishonesty by the riches of the criminals whom he encounters. Nearly all interest in this angle is snuffed out by extraneous, unbelievable subplots. Specifically, Glenn Ford is the cop, husband of Elke Sommer. They live in a splashy pad made possible by her father's will and stocks. When the latter pass a divvy, hard times loom. Wife's idea to economize: fire the servants. DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2009

Westbound - As the Civil War spills our nation’s blood, Capt. John Hayes (Randolph Scott) fights on a vital but little-known battlefront. He aims to ship gold to Union banks through a small Colorado town, defying Southern sympathizers who aim to stop him. At any cost. As chiseled and bone-lean as its star, Westbound is the sixth of seven Westerns Scott made with director Budd Boetticher, films that – along with the James Stewart-Anthony Mann Westerns – helped remake the genre in the 50s, substituting grit and veracity for white-hat heroics. DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2009

True Romance BR - There are few objections to "True Romance" that I haven't thought of, and I dismiss them all with a wave of the hand. This is the kind of movie that creates its own universe, and glories in it. The universe in question could best be located inside the in flamed fantasies of an adolescent male mind - and not any adolescent, but the kind of teenage boy who goes to martial arts movies and fantasizes about guns and girls with great big garbanzos. It is the kind of film that will make the best 10 lists of such supporters of the decline of civilization as Joe Bob Briggs. Blu-ray Release Date: May 26th, 2009

Zabriskie Point - "Zabriskie Point" has not been favorably greeted by the American press. The reasons were obvious. Antonioni has been experimenting with film form ever since he started. Throughout his entire career he has been more interested in capturing moods and conveying emotions rather than tell classically constructed narratives. It should therefore not have been a surprise that "Zabriskie Point" mostly discarded a plot and concentrated on making the viewer experience a certain time and place. We don't get to find out much about Daria and Mark, the ostensible protagonists of "Zabriskie Point", but rather follow them on a trip through consciousness and 1960s iconography. It should also be noted that Mark and Daria were the actual names of the actors who played these characters (Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin), who function more as models for concepts and ideas than characters in the traditional sense (something that they share with the people in Bresson's films or Resnais' "Last Year at Marienbad"). DVD Release Date: May 26th, 2009

The Big House - Prison life on the half-shell is plainly exposed. The big wallop is the prison revolt, resulting in several deaths and an expose of how the officials deal with foolhardy prisoners. The hand grenades, barrages, stench bombs, tractor attacks and other means to conquer rebellious prisoners, with variations in the dungeon, etc, are all graphically dovetailed into the tense story. DVD Release Date: March 22nd, 2009

The Friends of Eddie Coyle - In one of the best performances of his legendary career, Robert Mitchum plays small-time gunrunner Eddie “Fingers” Coyle in Peter Yates’s adaptation of George V. Higgins’s acclaimed novel The Friends of Eddie Coyle. World-weary and living hand to mouth, Coyle works on the sidelines of the seedy Boston underworld just to make ends meet. But when he finds himself facing a second stretch of hard time, he’s forced to weigh loyalty to his criminal colleagues against snitching to stay free. Directed with a sharp eye for its gritty locales and an open heart for its less-than-heroic characters, this is one of the true treasures of 1970s Hollywood filmmaking—a suspenseful crime drama in stark, unforgiving daylight. DVD Release Date: May 19th, 2009

He Ran All the Way - Shortly before he was driven into exile by the Hollywood blacklist, the talented and neglected John Berry made this 1951 film, the last of John Garfield, who died of a heart attack at 39 (many believe because of pressures related to the blacklisting). It's a fitting and powerful testament to the actor's poignancy and power as a working-class punk. Here he plays a hoodlum fleeing a bungled robbery, falling for a young woman (Shelley Winters), and desperately holding her family hostage while oscillating wildly between mistrust and a desire to be part of this family circle. Enhanced by an effective script (Guy Endore and Hugh Butler adapted a Sam Ross novel), superb cinematography by James Wong Howe, and a keen sense of working-class manners, this is a highly affecting thriller that draws us relentlessly into its plangent moral tensions. DVD Release Date: May 4th, 2009

The Illusionist BR - Based on Steven Millhauser’s short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist,” Neil Burger's 2006 film, The Illusionist, is appropriately set in the turn-of-the-century Austro-Hungarian Empire with Van Dyke-bearded Edward Norton's penetrating stare and a haunting Philip Glass score as keen parts of its mysterious and alluring aura. The plot revolves around some potential political volatility with a young and masterful magician figuring in as an integral cog in the country's future. His, once, puppy-love with royal Sophie (Jessica Biel) surfaces as a less developed and uninteresting element in the intriguing and intentionally paced plot. Blu-ray Release Date: May 5th, 2009

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence - Western Film fans probably have this little gem in their coveted collections already. Well, 'little' may not be appropriate - John Ford directing and a star studded cast. Small-town heroism and inherent nobility and the driving force behind the narrative. Jimmy Stewart may be at his most hammy (which is rare), John Wayne is his usual strong defiant self. Andy Devine should also be recognized for his role as the feisty Marshal Link Appleyard. Another in a line of western masterpieces that we strongly recommend. DVD Release Date: May 19th, 2009

Passenger BR - Although it has elements relating to Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense - critics seemed disappointed in the lack of suspense and plot twists of Rodrigo García's Passengers. I had more reminiscences about Peter Weir's magnificent, and still unreleased on DVD, Fearless with Jeff Bridges portraying the unsteady emotions of being one of the few survivors of a major airline crash. The logistics around filming a plane disintegration from the interior perspective of the individuals who are stuck inside remains impressive in both films. So, while some enjoyed Passengers - many critics panned it with fury. No me - I rather liked it. Blu-ray Release date: May 12th, 2009

Pigs, Pimps, & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - In the 1960s, Japanese filmmakers responded to a stale studio system by looking for fresh ways to tell stories, and Shohei Imamura was one of the leading figures of this new wave. With the three films in this set—Pigs and Battleships, The Insect Woman, and Intentions of Murder—Imamura truly emerged as an auteur, bringing to his national cinema an anthropological eye and a previously unseen taste for the irreverent. Claiming his interests lay in “the relationship of the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure,” Imamura dotted the decade with earthy, juicy, idiosyncratic films featuring persevering, willful heroines. His remains a unique cinematic voice. DVD Release Date: May 19th, 2009

Deadly Sweet - Jean-Louis Trintignant plays Bernard, a French actor looking for work in London. When he finds his business contact dead at the feet of heiress Jane (Ewa Aulin of CANDY), instead of turning her in, they take to the London underworld in search of the real killers. The plot is slight (it is very loosely adapted from a novel by Sergio Donati published in English as THE PAPER TOMB) but the execution is delirious and eye-catching. Trintignant and Aulin seem to be enjoying themselves being chased throughout London (Aulin even cracks up as she and Trintignant run past the camera during the London Underground pursuit). DVD Release Date: April 28th, 2009

Un Chant D'amour - By the time Jean Genet made Un Chant D'Amour in 1950, he was already an infamous poet-pornographer whose novels and plays were banned internationally for their explicit descriptions of romping gay men and gorgeous criminals. Decades later, Genet maintained his antisocial image by writing reverentially about African-American radicals and the P.L.O. Transgression and eroticism remained forever tied in Genet's art, which shouldn't be surprising, since he came of age in an era when homosexuality was against the law, and for many, being a crook inevitably became a turn-on. Once Genet got access to a movie camera, he turned it on a group of rugged actors, playing imprisoned men who literally claw at the walls, overcome with thwarted desire. And when the stars of Un Chant D'Amour aren't scratching their palms against the plaster, they're unbuttoning their pants and stroking themselves. DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009

Fargo BR - Fargo is a 1996 American dark comedy film produced, directed and written by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. The film is about a car salesman who hires two men to kidnap his wife for $80,000. Small-town police chief Marge Gunderson investigates the crime, which sets off a chain of murders. The film stars Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare and Harve Presnell. Blu-ray Release Date: May 12th, 2009


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Next 2 weeks on the Calendar

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


Week of May 18th, 2009

A Bug's Life [Blu-ray] (John Lasseter, 1998) Disney

Batman 20th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] (Tim Burton, 1989) Warner

Catlow (Sam Wanamaker, 1971) Warner

Changing Lanes [Blu-ray] (Roger Michell, 2002) Paramount

Circle of Iron [Blu-ray] (Richard Moore, 1978) Blue Underground

El Dorado 2-disc SE (Howard Hawks, 1966) - Paramount

Electric Blanket (Assi Dayan, 1995) SISU Home Entertainment

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (Peter Yates, 1974) Criterion

Lions for Lambs [Blu-ray] (Robert Redford, 2007) United Artists

The Machinist [Blu-ray] (Brad Anderson, 2004) Paramount

Man Hunt (Fritz Lang, 1941) 20th Century Fox

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 2-disc SE (John Ford, 1962) - Paramount

Paycheck [Blu-ray] (John Woo, 2003) Paramount

Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura - Pigs and Battleships (Shohei Imamura, 1962), The Insect Woman (Shohei Imamura, 1963), Intentions of Murder (Shohei Imamura, 1964) - Criterion

The Prisoner [Blu-ray] (1967) - The Complete Series - R'B' UK Network

Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960's Vol. 1 - Warner
Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970's Vol. 1 - Warner

The Seventh Veil (Compton Bennett, 1945) R2 UK Odeon Entertainment

Spy Game [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 2001) Universal Home Video

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Skynet Edition) [Blu-ray] (James Cameron, 1991) Lions Gate Home Ent
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Complete Collector's Set
(for the Endoskull) [Blu-ray] (James Cameron, 1991) Lions Gate Home Ent

Three Days of the Condor [Blu-ray] (Sydney Pollack, 1975) Paramount

True Blood: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] - Warner

Valkyrie (Single-Disc Edition) (Bryan Singer, 2008) United Artists

Valkyrie (Two-Disc Special Edition + Digital Copy) (Bryan Singer, 2008) United Artists
Valkyrie [Blu-ray]
(Bryan Singer, 2008) United Artists

Yonkers Joe (Robert Celestino, 2008) Magnolia

NEW ADDITIONS to the Calendar: (PRE-ORDER & save!):

Film Noir Classics: The Collector's Choice (PRESUMABLY: The Sniper, The Big Heat, Five Against the House, The Lineup, and Murder by Contract) Sony

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Horror (House of Wax 1953 / The Haunting 1963 / Freaks / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1941) - Warner,

Ruby Blue (Jan Dunn, 2008) Cinequest, Japanese Miscellany (9 Souls, Bullet Ballet, Wild Life, Full Metal Yakuza, Young Thugs: Nostalgia, Onibi: The Fire Within, Mobsters' Confessions & an Obsession) Arts Magic

Inglorious Bastards [Blu-ray] (Enzo G. Castellari, 1978) Severin Films

The Window (Carlos Sorin, 2008) Film Movement

Frozen Land (Aku Louhimies, 2005) Olive Films

The 10th Victim (Elio Petri, 1965) Blue Underground

Devil in the Flesh (Marco Bellocchio, 1986) MYA Communications

Five Fingers (Laurence Malkin, 2006) Lions Gate

Big Trouble in Little China [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1986) 20th Century Fox

My Cousin Vinny [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Lynn, 1992) 20th Century Fox

Prison Break: The Final Break [Blu-ray] - 20th Century Fox

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