DVDBeaver Newsletter - June 11th, 2007


Buna ziua! - We have 22 new reviews (11 of the which are the new formats, 2 Criterions, MoC, Pasolini, Chabrol, Shaw Bros. Louise Brooks, Zhang Yimou! - yes, 'eclectic' sure suits us this week) - plus our continued calendar updates, news and a contest.


Some may notice that this past week that we dove headfirst into reviewing some of the new format DVDs (HD + Blu-ray). I wanted to wait till I, personally, had some sort of comparative basis - and I guess that number is one dozen. I own an HD player, Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded), and although I still have no idea whether these formats will survive beyond techno-geek fascination, I am suitably impressed to consider it yet another (expanding) niche to add to our community. Yunda Eddie Feng will be joining me in covering HD releases and Leonard Norwitz will look after Blu-ray. I'll dedicate some space each week to any significant news I come across. Today:

Looks like Walmart may soon be offering a bunch of Toshiba HD players for less than $300 ($299 actually). Reputedly a deal was made involving over 2 million HD players (A2). Amazon 3rd parties already have them as cheap now. And the war wages on...


CONTEST: Win a free DVD! - just go to our review of Days of Glory and follow the directions. You only need an email address to enter. Less than a dozen have responded so far so odds are good!


BIG THANKS!: DVDBeaver would not exist without the support of many patrons - those who generously donate, and especially those who use our Amazon and YesAsia links. That's it. When you go to Amazon - PLEASE use one of our links to get there (they are on every page - top and bottom - and we have 5000 webpages). It costs you absolutely nothing and we get a small commission on items you purchase. This helps pay our bills - in fact it's the only thing that pays our bills.

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!




Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.


Some great deals (new prices!) at Amazon UK sales (all from our TOP 100 LIST!):

Last Year At Marienbad [1961] 70% OFF!, The Naked Island (Kaneto Shindô, 1960) 45% OFF!, Chungking Express [Wong, 1995] 38% OFF!, Metropolis [Lang, 1927] 40% OFF!, Stalker [Tarkovsky, 1979] 29% OFF!, STILL: Max Ophuls' DVDs of Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), The Reckless Moment (1949), Le Plaisir (1952) and Madame De...   are now 65% OFF HERE

Brighton Rock [1947] 41% OFF!, Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary [1967] 70% OFF!, Europa Europa [1992] 70% OFF!, Vera Drake [2004] 65% OFF!, L'Enfer (2005) 85% OFF!, Détective (1985) 70% OFF!, The Tree of Wooden Clogs [1978] 55% OFF!, Pepi, Luci, Bom [1981] 67% OFF!, The Man Without A Past [2003] 70% OFF!, Goodbye Lenin! [2002] 75% OFF!, A Matter Of Life And Death [1946] 55% OFF!, Wuthering Heights [1939] 63% OFF!, The Deadly Affair [1966] 63% OFF!, The Way Ahead [1944] 35% OFF!, The Red Shoes - Plus Documentary [1948] 19% OFF!, Tiger Bay [1959] 42% OFF!, City Lights [1931] 57% OFF!, The Blue Lamp [1950] 54% OFF!


LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):

NOTEWORTHY... or how to make a cineophile broke (more broke?):

SHAW GOLD: Whether you are a fan or not - the appeal exists - and Weinstein Co. (I've seen two already) are doing wonders with some Shaw Bros. masterworks. Included are 36th Chamber of Shaolin, King Boxer (aka 'Five Fingers Of Death'), The One-Armed Swordsman, and My Young Auntie. These are addictive folks.

PROBABLY BETTER THAN EXISTING: Upcoming The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray), Blue (Jarman), and Hard Boiled may eclipse current standard. I would expect so.

EUROPEAN HD: As HD is both standard and region free (unlike current Blu-ray), those coveting the new format can raid worldwide... including France where Mulholland Drive [HD DVD] is coming out in Sept. Already RAN [HD DVD], The Graduate [HD DVD], and 3 Days of the Condor [HD DVD] are now available (came out May 21st).

FINALLY in Region 1: North Americans have been waiting and Hens Tooth may do a decent job on Spaghetti western - They Call Me Trinity.

CURIOUS: Some strong reviews for Secret of the Cave - and I'm keen to see it.


36th Chamber of Shaolin (Chia-Liang Liu, 1978) Weinstein Company

King Boxer (aka 'Five Fingers Of Death') (Cheng Chang Ho, 1972) Weinstein Company

My Young Auntie (Chia-Liang Liu, 1981) Weinstein Company

The One-Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh, 1967) Weinstein Company

Secret of the Cave (Zach C. Gray, 2006) First Look Pictures

They Call Me Trinity (Enzo Barboni, 1970) Hens Tooth

Aaltra (Gustave de Kervern, Benoît Delépine - 2004) Film Movement

51 Birch Street (Doug Block, 2005) Image Entertainment

Brigitte Bardot 5-Film Collection (Naughty Girl (1956), Come Dance with Me (1959), Love on a Pillow (1962), Two Weeks in September (1967), The Vixen (1969) - Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Hard Boiled (Two-Disc Ultimate Edition) (John Woo, 1992) Dragon Dynasty

Mulholland Drive [HD DVD] (David Lynch, 2001) UK Optimum Home Entertainment NOTE: There is no region or standard coding for HD DVDs - this should play on any HD player!

Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray, 1977) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Family Friend (Paolo Sorrentino, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Blue (Derek Jarman, 1993) R2 UK Artificial Eye


RECOMMENDATIONS: Again the caveat - this is just my opinion (Gary Tooze) and I only reviewed a little over half of this weeks list, But -

WHAT I LIKED: It had been 3 years since I had seen it last, but none of the luster of the simple charisma has faded for The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Although I was a little indifferent to Sweet Movie, I did get a lot out of WR: Mysteries of the Organism.

A good friend rates Diary of a Lost Girl as one of the more important works of cinema... ever. I have no argument against!

IT'S JUST ME: I love stuff like The Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection. But nostalgia value far outweighs anything else.

ON THE HD FRONT: I've always loved the film and the HD DVD gives a superlative presentation for The Cowboys (HD). Pretty much ditto for Born on the Fourth of July (HD).

OTHERS SAY: Per-Olaf has never steered me wrong and I'm also a Chabrolian (?!?). So I've ordered Comedy of Power. Amazon may have read his review of Violette - as it is now removed from the etailor's shelf!

Eddie's review of Black Snake Moan (HD) has me keen. Great image and an interesting film - a God-fearing bluesman (Samuel L. Jackson) takes to a wild young woman (Christina Ricci) who, as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, looks everywhere for love, never quite finding it. Hmmmm... sold!


New Reviews:


Superman - the Movie (BR) - Kryptonites, it would seem, are not all that much different from present day Earthlings, which permits an ease of identification with Jor-El, father of the baby Superman-to-be, and the environmental politics of sanity vs. pride. In the hands of director, Richard Donner; writer, Mario Puzo (Yes, that Mario Puzo!); and producer Ilya Salkind, Jor-El is proposed as an unabashedly God-like creature with a messianic complex. In case you have any doubts that the Christian reference isn't massively important in a movie where the protagonist literally raises the dead to life...


The Road Warrior (BR) - I remember my first thought after I saw The Road Warrior in 1982: "There are no stunts!" These guys are simply crashing cars and trucks and motorcycles into one another, and George Miller is picking up the hospital and funeral costs. I had never seen anything like it – and not really, since. Even then, I could see how just the right amount of slow motion and keeping the camera close to the ground contributed to the effect, but I chose to ignore technique in favor of the result. The Road Warrior is the Mel Gibson I want to remember him by, just as did the Feral Kid. DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007


Born on the Fourth of July (HD) - Broadening the sweep of Platoon, this is a more ambitious, accomplished film about Vietnam, but not because it treads the now familiar path from innocence to enlightenment. Rather, its strength stems from the intense depiction of a man stripped of dignity and sexuality as a result of appalling injuries. DVD Release Date: June 12th, 2007

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin - Released in Hong Kong on February 2, 1978, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Commonly known as Master Killer) is the work of legendary martial arts director Lau Kar Leung. With a breakout role from Lau Chia Hui (Gordon Liu) and a villainous performance by the great Lo Lieh, the film is one of the most beloved in the history of Hong Kong action cinema. DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007

WR: Mysteries of the Organism - What does the energy harnessed through orgasm have to do with the state of communist Yugoslavia circa 1971? Only counterculture filmmaker extraordinaire Dušan Makavejev has the answers (or the questions). His surreal documentary-fiction collision WR: Mysteries of the Organism begins as an investigation into the life and work of controversial psychologist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich and then explodes into a free-form narrative of a beautiful young Slavic girl’s sexual liberation. Banned upon its release in the director’s homeland, the art-house smash WR is both whimsical and bold in its blending of politics and sexuality. DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007

Midnight Run (HD) - Midnight Run...isn’t exactly a silk purse, but it contains two performances that are pure gold. Like most fine actors, Mr. De Niro has never given a good performance that wasn’t in some way illuminated by humor, which is not to be confused with laughs. Sometimes it is apparent in what appears to be the self-awareness of the character, as in Raging Bull and The Untouchables. Sometimes it can be seen in the actor’s awareness of - and comment on - the character, as in Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007

Frankenstein Conquers the World - During WWII, a human heart taken from a certain lab in Europe (Dr. Frankenstein's) is kept in a Japanese lab, when it gets exposed to the radiation of the bombing of Hiroshima. The heart grows in size, mutates and sprouts appendages, and eventually grows into a complete body and escapes. Later, a feral boy with a certain physical deformity (a large head with a flat top) is captured by scientists who refer to the boy as Frankenstein. The creature grows to the height of 20 feet, escapes again, fights police and army, and is practically indestructible. Later, a reptilian monster goes on a rampage. Eventually the Frankenstein creature and the reptile face off in a terrible battle. DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007

Dragonheart (HD) - As directed awkwardly by Rob Cohen and played by a cast wearing thickets of fake hair, Dragonheart remains unreasonably flat while trying every sure-fire gambit it can borrow. The dragon, expertly lip-synched, is Rodan with a T. Rex’s toothsomeness plus a sweet, silly grin. The screenplay throws in a cliché-loving poet (Pete Postlethwaite) and a pretty, feisty heroine (Dina Meyer). There are clanking swords and burning huts, not to mention a noisy and interminable battle scene. DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007

The Cowboys (HD) - I get quite fed up when I read lackluster reviews of films that I really enjoyed. This is a prime example. "The Cowboys" embodies all that makes westerns and young boys adventure stories enjoyable. It shows nobility, honor, despicable evil and pure innocence all wrapped up in a male-bonding road picture. In the short featurette included in the DVD Rydell has stated that making THE COWBOYS was one of the greatest experiences of his life and watching this film blossom on screen, just as the young cowboys did, I can see why - many consider it the last great western. I do. DVD Release Date: June 5th, 2007

Sweet Movie - Pushing his themes of sexual liberation to their boiling point, Yugoslavian art-house provocateur Dušan Makavejev followed his international sensation WR: Mysteries of the Organism with this full-throated shriek in the face of bourgeois complacency and movie watching. Sweet Movie tackles the limits of personal and political freedom with kaleidoscopic feverishness, shuttling viewers from a gynecological beauty pageant to a grotesque food orgy with scatological, taboo-shattering glee. With its lewd abandon and sketch-comedy perversity, Sweet Movie became both a cult staple and exemplar of the envelope pushing of 1970s cinema. DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007

Letter From Iwo Jima (HD) - Letters From Iwo Jima received four Oscar nominations--Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Sound Editing. It lost Picture and Director to The Departed, which is hugely disappointing considering how The Departed trashed excellent source material that was found in Infernal Affairs. The losses are all the more disappointing because I consider Letters From Iwo Jima to be Eastwood’s best directorial effort. DVD Release Date: May 22nd, 2007

Days of Glory - The movie follows four North-African soldiers in various campaigns, all the while wearing sandals issued to them by the French even in the middle of bitter winter. Some of the soldiers hope to gain parity with white Frenchmen if they prove themselves on the battlefield. Some of the soldiers take the opportunity to hone their skills for upcoming fights for independence from European domination. They all become disillusioned, for their leaders espouse republican ideals while treating non-French people with contempt. The French are proud people, but they should not be so proud considering what they have done throughout history. DVD Release Date: June 12th, 2007

Black Snake Moan (HD) - Like its predecessor, the Sundance hype-magnet Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer’s new film, Black Snake Moan, comes cloaked in lurid, pulpy atmospherics. His characters — pimps, prostitutes, nymphomaniacs — seem to have crawled off the drugstore paperback racks of the 1950s or the grind house lobby posters of a slightly later era. His stories are slick with the grease of old-style exploitation, promising the sleazy, easy pleasures of lust, wrath and other deadly sins. Don’t be fooled though. Underneath the surface of racial and sexual button pushing, behind the brandished guns and bared breasts, is a heart of pure, buttery cornpone. Like Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan joins a dubious stereotype of black manhood to an uplifting, sentimental fable. DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007

The Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection - This 4 films all starred Bonita Granville as Nancy Drew and Frankie Thomas as "Ted" (as opposed to "Ned" from the stories). Unlike her book counterpart Nancy and the entire filmic plots showed some humor but also produced a decent nostalgic value. This movies were often the second half of a double bill but were popular enough to produce three sequels from the original. I'll admit that I was entertained but I love the era as much as anything - the clothes, architecture and people's manners! DVD Release Date: June 12th, 2007

The River (HD) - From what I’ve read, The River was one of several “farm movies” that appeared in theaters during the span of a year. The movie lauds rural American values and the desire to stay close to one’s roots. Unfortunately, the story’s basic premise forces viewers to pledge sympathies with characters that behave irrationally and even irresponsibly. Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek play farmers who refuse to leave their farm even though a nearby river threatens to over-run their land. A wealthy landowner offers to buy several farms in the area, thereby helping these farmers climb out of debt. The farmers’ stubbornness is not really admirable in any way given the inevitability of the river’s triumph. DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007

Pier Paolo Pasolini Vol. 2 - In “Pier Paolo Pasolini volume 2”, Tartan has chosen three significant films by Pasolini, which show his approach to certain themes and motifs, here especially the use of medieval past and contemporary pretence as reflecting and elaborating qualities, and his progressive use of these. DVD Release Date: May 14, 2007

Diary of a Lost Girl - A masterwork of the German silent cinema whose reputation has only increased over time, Diary of a Lost Girl [Tagebuch einer Verlorenen] traces the journey of a young woman from the pit of despair to the moment of personal awakening. Directed with virtuoso flair by the great G. W. Pabst, Diary of a Lost Girl represents the final pairing of the filmmaker with screen icon Louise Brooks, mere months after their first collaboration in the now-legendary Pandora’s Box [Die Büchse der Pandora]. DVD Release Date: May 21st, 2007

52 Pick-Up - Harry Mitchell, an L.A. manufacturer with a fancy car, a nice house, and a wife running for city council, has his life overturned when three hooded blackmailers appear with a video tape of Harry and his young mistress. He's been set up, and they want $100,000. To protect his wife's political ambitions, Harry won't go to the police; instead, he shines them on and then doesn't pay. They up their demands, so he goes on the offensive, tracking them down and trying to turn one against the other. Their sociopathic leader, Alan, responds with violence toward the mistress and menace toward Harry's wife. Will Harry let up and pay off Alan or can he find some other solution? DVD Release Date: June 12th, 2007

The Frighteners (HD) - Peter Jackson’s early cult movies gained him a lot of fans, among them Robert Zemeckis. Zemeckis had directed a couple of hits for Universal, so he shepherded Jackson through the Kiwi’s first American studio film. Though the moviemakers and the studio wanted to release a PG-13 effects extravaganza, the MPAA gave The Frighteners an R rating. Some have blamed the R rating for limiting the movie’s audience, though that’s a flimsy argument considering that many R-rated flicks have grossed blockbuster money. At any rate, the movie’s tepid box-office performance branded Jackson box-office poison in Hollywood’s eyes, which explains why he couldn’t get financing for his The Lord of the Rings cycle for many, many years. (Ironically, Universal gave Jackson a blank check for a re-make of King Kong, and the studio was stuck with another under-performer from the New Zealander.) DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007

Comedy of Power - The latest thriller from French New Wave veteran Claude Chabrol opens with a tongue-in-cheek claim that it does not depict real events, even though it’s timely and provocative account of corporate and political corruption was inspired by a real-life scandal involving a French oil giant and several top-level politicians. The stunning and accomplished Isabelle Huppert stars as Jeanne, a tenacious magistrate known as “the piranha” of the judiciary system, who puts her personal life on the back burner to pursue white-collar criminals with their private hands in public pockets. After gaining fame for locking up an embezzling CEO, Jeanne pushes the limits of her intoxicating power further than ever and winds up isolated in a dangerous game of threats and intimidation. DVD Release Date: May 8, 2007

Violette - Isabelle Huppert (12-time César Award nominee for Best Actress) stars in an award-winning performance based on the true story of Violette Nozière. The daughter of a respectable middle-class couple, Violette leads a disreputable double life. Far from being the innocent young girl her parents mistake her for, she spends her nights with dissolute young men in the less than savory areas of Paris. To acquire money for her latest lover, Violette resolves to murder her parents so that she can inherit their wealth. DVD Release Date: June 21st, 2007

House of Flying Daggers (BR) - In a form of backwards progression, director Zhang Yimou appears to be moving further away from ‘Art House dramas’ again, towards a kind of superlative ‘Shaw Brothers-ish’ martial arts films. And he does so better than that particular genre has ever seen… ever. ‘Beautiful’ may be an understatement as I doubt I have ever seen anything of such visual splendor ever before. It is eye and ear candy that is still pleasurably ringing my senses.

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of June 11th, 2007


52 Pick-Up (John Frankenheimer, 1986) MGM

Ballad of Narayama (Imamura, 1983) R2 UK Tartan Video

Born on the Fourth of July [HD DVD] (Oliver Stone, 1989) Universal Studios

The Bow (Kim Ki-duk, 2005) Tartan Video

The Cecil B. Demille Classics Collection - 5-disc - (The Squaw Man/The Virginian/Carmen/The Cheat/Joan the Woman/The Romance of the Redwoods/The Little American/Old Wives for New/The Whispering Chorus/ Don’t Change Your Husband/Male and Female/Why Change Your Wife?/The Affairs of Anatol/Manslaughter/The Road to Yesterday/The Volga Boatman/Miss Lulu Bett) Koch Lorber

The Devil's Eye (Ingmar Bergman, 1960) R2 UK - Tartan

Frankenstein Conquers the World (Ishirô Honda, 1965) Tokyo Shock

The Hustler (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Robert Rossen, 1961) 20th Century Fox

If.... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) R2 UK Paramount Home Entertainment (UK)

James Stewart: Screen Legend Collection (Shenandoah / The Glenn Miller Story / Thunder Bay / You Gotta Stay Happy / Next Time, We Love) Universal Studios

John Wayne: Screen Legend Collection (Reap the Wild Wind / Rooster Cogburn / The Hellfighters / The War Wagon / The Spoilers) Universal Studios

Late Ozu (5pc) - Early Spring, Tokyo Twilight, Equinox Flower, Late Autumn and The End of Summer - Criterion/Eclipse

Masters of Horror: The Screwfly Solution (Joe Dante, 2006) Anchor Bay

The Original Nancy Drew Movie Mystery Collection (Detective / Reporter / Troubleshooter / Hidden Staircase) Warner Home Video

The Practice - volume one - 20th Century Fox

Sawdust and Tinsel (Ingmar Bergman, 1953) R2 UK - Tartan

The Stewart Granger Collection - Adam and Evelyne, Blanche Fury, Caesar And Cleopatra, Captain Boycott, Fanny By Gaslight, Lamp Still Burns, Love Story, Madonna of The Seven Moons, Magic Bow, Waterloo Road, Woman Hater and Caravan - R2 UK ITV DVD

Two of Us (Claude Berri, 1967) Criterion

Waiting for Happiness (Abderrahman Sissako, 2002) New Yorker

The Verdict (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Sidney Lumet, 1982) 20th Century Fox


Week of June 18th, 2007


36th Chamber of Shaolin (Chia-Liang Liu, 1978) Weinstein Company

The Big Street (Irving Reis, 1942) Turner Home Ent

Harrison's Flowers (Elie Chouraqui, 2000) Lionsgate

If.... (Lindsay Anderson, 1968) Criterion

King Boxer (aka 'Five Fingers Of Death') (Cheng Chang Ho, 1972) Weinstein Company

Lucille Ball Film Collection (Dance Girl Dance / The Big Street / Du Barry Was a Lady / Critic's Choice / Mame) Turner Home Ent

My Young Auntie (Chia-Liang Liu, 1981) Weinstein Company

Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, 1971) Criterion

The One-Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh, 1967) Weinstein Company

Perry Mason - Season 2, Vol. 1 - Paramount Home Video

The Sicilian Clan (Henri Verneuil, 1969) R2 UK - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Stolen Life (Li Shaohong, 2005) First Run Features

Sweet Movie (Dusan Makavejev, 1974) Criterion

Two-Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971) R2 UK Universal Pictures UK

Windom's Way (Ronald Neame, 1957) R2 UK Network


Cheers (Yeah... that's it - just 'Cheers'),



P.S. DVD of the Year - 2006 still remains a popular place to peruse.