DVDBeaver Newsletter - June 25th, 2007
God Dag! - We have 18 new reviews this week as energy levels return. Curious HD-DVD stuff (Kurosawa and Ford), plus Lang, Hawks, Minnelli, Leone, Wise, Kim Ki Duk, NOIR, Shaw Bros. and classic courtroom TV! extensive calendar updates, news and our recommendations.
HD + Blu-ray NOTES: DVD sales eroding thanks to HD DVD / Blu-ray emergence? Hmmmm.... ARTICLE HERE
WHAT'S UP WITH THIS 'REGION 99'?: An attempt to counter region-free players? Stay tuned after some trials in 'the lab'.
TWO SALES: Amazon.com's BIG DVD Sale has 100's of DVDs up to 62% OFF and 60 of them for as little as $5.49 US ! HERE
4500 UK DVDs UNDER £5 HERE - Up to 70% OFF!
PLAYER? : Recommendation by a member:
The DVD players made by OPPO digital are high end products. The top of the line product DV-981HD features HDMI outputs, 1080p upscaling, PAL and NTSC playback AND conversion, and it can be made region-free by a simple remote control code. The picture quality is 1st rate and OPPO products were in the Absolute Sound’s product of the year list last year (a real accomplishment in a magazine that regularly reviews $30000 systems). It also has user-upgradeable firmware via downloadable .iso images. The 971 series product has DVI and component outputs for older sets. OPPO Players SEE HERE
Screen grabs from the German DVD of Berlin Alexanderplatz HERE. (Thanks Felix!)
September Criterions Announced - The Threepenny Opera (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1931), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Byron Haskin, 1964) Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984), Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) and Martha Graham: Dance on Film - A delightful mix!
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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!):
NOTEWORTHY... or how to make a cineophile broke (more broke?):
Some releases I will be buying (and most likely reviewing or comparing) - Aside from the obvious Criterions ( The Threepenny Opera (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1931), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Byron Haskin, 1964), Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984), Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) and Martha Graham: Dance on Film)... I loved Friedkin's Cruising many moons ago. With so many lauded comments we'll have to give The Big Bad Swim a spin. Ditto for Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures. Curiosity for The Ogre - if nothing more. And finally Visconti's Senso(fingers crossed for a decent transfer) and doesn't this sound like a lark; Chalkdust Memories: Classic Classroom Films... and my boys will like The Jungle Book.
The Threepenny Opera (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1931) Criterion
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (Byron Haskin, 1964) Criterion
Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 1984) Criterion
Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991) Criterion
Martha Graham: Dance on Film - Criterion
Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988) R2 UK BFI
The Jungle Book (Two-Disc 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition) (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1967) Walt Disney Video
Cruising (Deluxe Edition) (William Friedkin, 1980) 20th Century Fox
Immortal Beloved [Blu-ray] (Bernard Rose, 1994) Sony Pictures
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006) Typecast Releasing
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 1962) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Angels One Five (George More O'Ferrall, 1952) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (Philip Kaufman, 1972) Universal Studios
Chalkdust Memories: Classic Classroom Films - Passport
The Emmanuelle Beart Collection (A Heart In Winter / The Story Of Marie and Julien / Nathalie) Koch Lorber Films
The Ogre (Volker Schlöndorff, 1996) Lionsgate
Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (Marcelo Gomes, 2005) First Run Features
The Big Bad Swim (Ishai Setton, 2006) Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Suspense: The Lost Episodes Collection, Vol. 1 (4-disc) Infinity Ent
Cashback (Sean Ellis, 2006) Magnolia
The Contract (Bruce Beresford, 2006) First Look Pictures
Shadow Puppets (Michael Winnick, 2007) Anchor Bay
The Host [HD DVD] (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Magnolia
The Host [Blu-ray] (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Magnolia
Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri ,1987) MGM
Senso (Luchino Visconti, 1954) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Count Dracula (Philip Saville, 1977) BBC Warner
RECOMMENDATIONS: I've owned the French DVD of Lang's Moonfleet for a while but it took David's review to remind me how glad I am to have it in my possession. If we had a DVD of the Week award it would go to Cult Camp Classics 4 - Historical Epics... and although Cult Camp Classics 2 is less of a package, be sure to get Caged. I know I seem to be the only one, but I like Nature's Colors (HD Combo) and my digital photography is improving for reviews (check it out!)
My only problem with Perry Mason Season 2 Vol. 1 was I wish there was more episodes!
We were late off the mark (apologies) but The Searchers HD is simply stunning (regardless of the color scheme disputes). I can't say enough... really.
Minnelli and Noir fans may be curious for a taste of Undercurrent. But you'll need to spring for the entire Kate Hepburn Anniversary set... and that is not such a bad thing at all.
SHAW JUNKIE: I was only so-so on My Young Auntie, but King Boxer is perfect. Yes... perfect.
FINALLY: The Sand Pebbles is a damn fine film and great DVD.
AVOID: RAN (HD) - Hey Studio Canal - pull up your socks!
Moonfleet - There is a pronounced thematic and formal circularity in Moonfleet harking back to the “enchanted Glade” of Siegfried and forward to the labyrinthine architecture of the Palace in Indian Tomb and Tiger of Eschnapur. Eisenschitz talks about the “tests” that Lang’s protagonists are obliged to undertake, through linear and temporal space, to reach some sort of knowledge of life and recognition of their destinies. Moonfleet joins other great Langs as a beautiful illustration of that lifelong theme in his work.
Cult Camp Classics 4 - Historical
Epics - The Colossus of Rhodes (1961), Land of the Pharaohs (1955) and
Prodigal (1955). Sounds like the deal of the year! - 3 separate film/DVDs, 2 by
renowned directors (Leone and Hawks) - all are progressive and anamorphic in
impressive widescreen ratios - and each has a commentary to boot! It's about $20 !
$7/DVD! SOLD! DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007
Nature's Colors (HD Combo) - I'm really wrote this review in response to some mediocre ones that I have read on the web in regards to this product. I couple of years ago I stated how much I enjoyed a Japanese DVD called 'Beautiful Nature with Bach', reviewed HERE. Nature's Colors has actually replaced it as, probably, the most played DVD in my household. So there!
RAN (HD) - Kurosawa established himself as the best cinematic interpreter of Shakespeare with his recasting of Macbeth as a samurai warlord in Throne of Blood. That he should in his later years turn to King Lear is appropriate, and the results are all that one could possibly dream of. Ran proposes a great warlord (Nakadai), in a less than serene old age, dividing his kingdoms up between his three sons. Studio Canal's region free- code free HD-DVD disappoints on a few fronts. HD-DVD Released: May 21st, 2007
The Big Street - Adapted from a story by Damon Runyon ('Little Pinks'), this captures much of his low-life spirit and colourful vernacular, but occasionally spoils it all by wallowing in unnecessary sentimentality. Busboy Fonda idolises nightclub chanteuse Ball so much that when she's crippled by her gangster friend, he devotes himself to her well-being, even to the extent of pushing her wheelchair to Florida. Most appealing are the performances by the likes of Pallette, Collins and Levene, although Ball, in a rare straight role, is stunning as the hard-as-nails, embittered exploiter of Fonda's affections. Also available in The Lucille Ball Film Collection which includes Dance Girl Dance / The Big Street / Du Barry Was a Lady / Critic's Choice and Mame. DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007
Perry Mason Season 2 Vol. 1 - Classic TV! - Perry Mason is an attorney who specializes in defending seemingly indefensible cases. With the aid of his secretary Della Street and investigator Paul Drake, he often finds that by digging deep, startling facts can be revealed. Often relying on his outstanding courtroom skills, he often tricks or traps people into unwittingly admitting their guilt. DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2007
Liar Liar (HD) - As someone who thinks that The Truman Show handles its premise without a shred of credibility (the nature of the marital relationship between Jim Carrey and Laura Linney alone doesn’t hold any water), I feel that Liar Liar may be Jim Carrey’s best movie. Unlike his other vehicles, which let him run amok, this one places limitations on him. His character, a lawyer, can’t lie after his son makes a magical birthday wish. Because he’s given boundaries, Carrey’s physical struggles and facial muggings have a reason to exist; he’s not contorting just to get a laugh. Oddly for movie that was made just to solicit mindless laughter, Liar Liar creates a genuine moral situation--what would life be like if we could only tell the truth? This bit of soul-searching gives Carrey’s relationships with his son and ex-wife (a wonderful Maura Tierney) welcome heart. HD-DVD Release Date: 12 June 2007
Sneakers (HD) - Caper flicks are rare these days, and the ones that do show up in movie theaters are usually hybrids with other genres, like comedy (Ocean’s Eleven), romance (The Thomas Crown Affair), or action (Mission: Impossible). However, 1992’s Sneakers is a genuine caper flick in the tradition of Rififi and Bob le flambeur. Sneakers immerses the viewer in the world of nuts-and-bolts thievery instead of showcasing self-impressed/self-important actors standing around looking like they’re cool. What’s more, although Sneakers is fronted by Robert Redford and Sidney Poitier, the script makes extensive use of each member of a team. This characteristic enhances the plausibility of the premise and increases the tension since no one team member can fail without the entire enterprise floundering. In this regard, Sneakers respects its audience’s intelligence, charms through wit and invention, and avoids wearing out its welcome. HD-DVD Release Date: 12 June 2007
Daylight (HD) - Daylight is the latest Rob-Cohen project to hit HD-DVD. Disaster flicks based on realistic scenarios aren’t really imaginable in the post-9/11 world, but we got a smattering of them during the 1990s. Heck, we got two volcano movies (Dante’s Peak and Volcano) and two falling-heavenly-objects movies (Deep Impact and Armageddon). Daylight’s contribution is a workman-like hustle through a collapsing tunnel without exits. The moviemakers managed to create some intense action sequences, but the by-the-numbers script has too many clichés and dead moments. Do we really need another hero who redeems himself after falling from grace? Sylvester Stallone...that formula works really only with Rocky. HD-DVD Release Date: 12 June 2007
The Bow - In Kim Ki Duk's twelfth feature film it starts quite promising - a story involving love and jealousy between two very different people living together in near isolation. A sixty year old man (Jeong Seong Hwan, from Ogu) has been raising a young girl (played by Han Yeo Reum, from Kim Ki Duk's Samaritan Girl) since she was 6 years old. He is neither her father nor a relative and it later appears that he abducted her. The two live on a boat in the middle of the sea, yet despite the barren conditions, the girl appears to be extremely pleasant and content. Totally charmed by her beauty and innocence, the elderly man desperately hopes to marry her once she is of legal age, which he marks on the calendar patiently awaiting the day that they can wed. The film itself is beautiful, but for me it lacked any real substance and in the end - any cohesive narrative it held seemed to fall through the cracks. It's a funny thing, as I recommend the film if only to establish your own opinion about it. The Tartan Region 1 DVD Release Date: June 12th, 2007
The Searchers (Warner HD-DVD) - It’s not what is said and done in John Ford’s The Searchers that makes it such an effective film. It is what is not said and done—the actions that are implied but never seen, and the dialogue that is thought but never spoken. It is about two men’s five-year search for a girl kidnapped by Comanche Indians, but it is more interested in why they are searching than who they are searching for.
Cult Camp Classics 2 - Women in Peril - The Big Cube (1969), Caged (1950) and Trog (1970) - Second in a series of four box sets, Cult Camp Classics 2: Women In Peril includes three films in which victimized female protagonists provide the viewer hours of entertainment. Watching Caged, Trog, and The Big Cube consecutively provides lots of laughs, but also makes one wonder what exactly satisfies about this archetype while ladies struggle through run-ins with drug dealers, hardened prison matrons, and a hairy cave-dwelling monster, in these cases. Each indicative of the decades in which they were made, these films reiterate how cinematic narratives have long capitalized on the viewer's hope that woman will either escape or get revenge. DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007
Good Night, and Good Luck (BR) - A must-see movie, not only for the sake of the political issues raised and dealt with coolly and relentlessly - though not without detachment - but also for the excellence of Clooney's direction of actors and his seamless interweaving of documentary footage and his memorable cinematic replica of a certain milieu, a rampant insanity, in post-war America.
Undercurrent (from Katherine Hepburn 100th Anniversary Collection) - Although best known for his marvellous MGM musicals, Minnelli also directed several superbly stylish melodramas (The Bad and the Beautiful, Some Came Running). This early example is a sombre, faintly noir-ish romantic thriller, with Hepburn marrying the handsome, wealthy, but cruel Taylor, and finding help when she needs it from his mysterious brother (Mitchum). Echoes of Rebecca, Gaslight, etc, but in its quiet understatement it becomes less of a full-blown weepie, more a haunting and subtle study of malevolence and gullibility. Surprisingly, it finally impresses by the very absence of those memorably hysterical, stylistically baroque touches that make Minnelli's musicals and later dramas so wonderful. DVD Release Date: May 29th, 2007
King Boxer - Well, I’ve been staring at this open word document for far too long now, not sure where to start when talking about the Shaw Brothers’ seminal King Boxer. I don’t know where to start because there are simply so many things to say about it. Do I introduce this piece by discussing just how ground breaking King Boxer was, as the first Kung Fu film to be a hit in the west? Released in spring 1973 with the exploitation-tastic title of Five Fingers of Death, it created the Kung Fu phenomenon which continued throughout the 70s, breaking ground for the likes of Bruce Lee and the many Shaw Brother’s productions that followed. DVD Release Date: 19th June 2007
My Young Auntie - Set sometime in the early twentieth century, My Young Auntie tells the story of Jing Dai-Nan (the luminous Kara Hui Ying-Hung), a loyal student who marries her elderly master as a favor to him. Why? Well, for plot purposes, it’s important for Dai-Nan to take control of her master’s assets when he croaks (and he does) and keep them away from the dastardly Yu Wing-Sang (consummate Shaw baddie Johnny Wang Lung-Wei). Now newly widowed, it’s up to Dai-Nan to rightfully bestow her master’s property upon his most deserving, yet slightly meek nephew, Yu Jing-Chuen (Lau Kar-Leung). Thanks to Chinese custom, the fact that she’s the wife of a family elder--hasty as the marriage was--makes her a “senior” in the family hierarchy, a distinction she uses to her full advantage. DVD Release Date: 19th June 2007
Infernal Affairs - Enter Infernal Affairs, starring some of Hong Kong’s biggest names like Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Anthony Wong, and Eric Tsang. Like many other national cinemas, Hong Kong has high-brow and low-brow fare. Yet, Hong Kong is one of the rare places in which high-brow and low-brow can be mixed into one concoction without any sense of schizophrenia. Lau, Leung, Wong, and Tsang have all acted in extremely silly comedies, but their impressive range reveals sinister shadings in this riveting police procedural.
The Sand Pebbles - Splendid camerawork by Joseph MacDonald, otherwise a three-hour plod through a bestseller by Richard McKenna. Set in China in 1926, it deals with the trials and tribulations of an American gunboat crew who learn to love the natives while trying to save them from their own follies and the depredations of everybody else. Behind its timid criticism of imperialist attitudes, lies a much louder and heartfelt American cry - with China 1926 standing in for Vietnam 1966 - of 'Why doesn't everybody love us when we do our best for you?' To leaven the message, McQueen and Attenborough, as the two most humanitarian members of the crew of a ship run by coolie labour, both get romances: McQueen with Bergen's American mission teacher (hair in tight bun), Attenborough with Andriane's half-caste girl (highly cultured). There are also some well-staged battles. DVD Release Date: June 5th, 2007
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of June 25th, 2007
Alain Delon - The Screen Icons Collection (Un Flic, Plein Soleil, L'eclisse, Traitement De Choc) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
American Me [HD DVD] (Edward James Olmos, 1992) Universal Studios
Attack of the 50Ft. Woman (Nathan Juran, 1958) Warner Home Video
Bamako (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Being John Malkovich [HD DVD] (Spike Jonze, 1999) Universal Studios
The Big Lebowski [HD DVD] (Joel Coen, 1998) Universal Studios
Black Sabbath (Mario Bava, 1963) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Breakaway (Henry Cass, 1955) R2 UK Odeon Entertainment
Caged (John Cromwell, 1950) Warner Home Video
Cairo Road (David MacDonald, 1950) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray, 1977) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006) Zeitgeist Films
Cult Camp Classics 1 - Sci-Fi Thrillers
(Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman 1958 / Giant
Behemoth / Queen of Outer Space) - Warner Home
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
Girl in the Headlines (Michael Truman, 1963) R2 UK Odeon Entertainment
The Glass Mountain (Edoardo Anton, 1949) VCI
Going Under (Eric Werthman, 2004) Blue Underground
Hammer Film Noir Collector's Set 2: (Terror Street, Wing of Danger, Paid To Kill, The Glass Tomb, The Black Glove, The Deadly Game, The Unholy Four, A Race For Life) VCI Entertainment
Henri-Georges Clouzot Collection - Le Corbeau (1943), Quai des Orfevres (1947) and The Wages of Fear (1952) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Human Resources (Laurent Cantet, 1999) R2 UK Soda Pictures
Hustle and Flow [HD DVD] (Craig Brewer, 2004) Paramount
I, Monster (Stephen Weeks, 1971) R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment
Jan Svankmajer - The Complate Short Films - R2 UK - Bfi Video
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
La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962) / Sans soleil (Chris Marker, 1983) Criterion
Je t'aime moi non plus (Serge Gainsbourg, 1976) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
The Kon Ichikawa Story (Shunji Iwai, 2006) R2 JP (with Eng. subs)
Il Ladro di bambini (Gianni Amelio, 1992) R2 UK - Arrow Films
Olivier, Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, 1992) R2 UK - Bluebell Films
Queen of Outer Space (Edward Bernds, 1958) Warner Home Video
Le Silence de la Mer (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1949) - R2 UK Eureka - Masters of Cinema
Week of July 2nd, 2007
Beat Girl (Edmond T. Gréville, 1960) R2 UK Blackhorse Entertainment
The Bells Of Death: Shaw Bros Special Edition (Yueh Fung, 1968) Image Entertainment
In the Gloaming (Christopher Reeve, 1997) (TV) Hbo Home Video
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (Prakash Mehra, 1978) Eros Entertainment
The Shooting (Monte Hellman, 1967) R2 UK Cinema Club
Tales from Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, 2006) R2 JP (has English subs) Buena Vista Home Entertainment (JP)
The Taste of Tea (Katsuhito Ishii, 2003) VIZ Pictures
What the Peeper Saw (James Kelly, 1971) Televista
AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU SIR! (says Walter Sobchak),
P.S. Some great deals (new prices!) at Amazon UK sales (all from our TOP 100 LIST!):
Last Year At Marienbad  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  41% OFF!, Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary  70% OFF!, Europa Europa  70% OFF!, Vera Drake  65% OFF!, L'Enfer (2005) 85% OFF!, Détective (1985) 70% OFF!, The Tree of Wooden Clogs  55% OFF!, Pepi, Luci, Bom  67% OFF!, The Man Without A Past  70% OFF!, Goodbye Lenin!  75% OFF!, A Matter Of Life And Death  55% OFF!, Wuthering Heights  63% OFF!, The Deadly Affair  63% OFF!, The Way Ahead  35% OFF!, The Red Shoes - Plus Documentary  19% OFF!, Tiger Bay  42% OFF!, City Lights  57% OFF!, The Blue Lamp  54% OFF!