DVDBeaver Newsletter - June 30th, 2008
Mbote na nge! - A solid 20 new DVD reviews this week - a overwhelming 11 of which are Blu-rays (as we had some time to catch up with screen grabs ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc in new reviews and comparisons). In addition, we have two new articles, calendar updates, a fresh contest and more...
An Introduction to Antonioni's Identification of a Woman by Bruce Winstein
My Dozen Favorite Non-Region-1 Box Sets by Jonathan Rosenbaum
JUNE 30th CONTEST - identify the lines of dialogue preceding this hi-definition Capture to win brand new sealed Criterion Classe Tous Risques! Best of luck all!
DVDBeaver Exclusive: One of Masters of Cinema's September 2008 releases will be Maurice Pialat's debut feature: L'ENFANCE-NUE [NAKED-CHILDHOOD] (1968) -- it will be covered in a 2-disc set... and in October - another 2-disc set - L'ARGENT (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928). . Check our Masters of Cinema webpage HERE.
LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):
Salo, Or The 120 Days Of Sodom [Blu-ray] [Pasolini, 1975] RB UK BFI
Iron Man [Blu-ray] (Special Collector's Edition) (Jon Favreau, 2008) Paramount
An American in Paris (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Vincente Minnelli, 1951) Warner Home Video
Gigi (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Vincente Minnelli, 1958) Warner Home Video
The Counterfeiters (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2007) Sony Pictures
The Counterfeiters [Blu-ray] (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2007) Sony Pictures
The Mummy (Universal Legacy Series) (Karl W. Freund, 1932) Universal Studios
Batman - Gotham Knight (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Yasuhiro Aoki, Shojiro Nishimi, 2008) Warner Home Video
Batman - Gotham Knight [Blu-ray] (Yasuhiro Aoki, Shojiro Nishimi, 2008) Warner Home Video
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The Complete Series (Eddie Saeta, James Goldstone, 1964) Warner Home Video
Street Kings (David Ayer, 2008) 20th Century Fox
Street Kings [Blu-ray] (David Ayer, 2008) 20th Century Fox
Mission Impossible: Fifth TV Season - Paramount
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Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.
ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): To get the obvious out of the way first - 2001: A Space Odyssey BR, The Shining BR, and The Seventh Seal BR are all must-own discs for any serious cinephile DVD library. We hope our newly posted screen grabs help support that conclusion. Staying on the new format front for a moment - I though In the Line of Fire BR was a strong thriller with an excellent 1080 transfer. Perhaps less so on the movie front, but more so on the picture quality was Vantage Point BR. Point Break BR was a better film than you might expect but the image didn't have enough 'Wows' for moi. I really enjoyed The Spiderwick Chronicles BR (watched it twice) and the transfer was decent - but strong enough? - you decide. Concluding our Blu-ray summation - we aren't endorsing a 1080 for Batman: the Movie BR - should be SD territory and full-fledged passes on both 10,000 BC BR and Sleepwalking BR. Looking to SD this week - some may find it difficult to embrace but I enjoyed Belle Toujours. Sunflower was marvelous. Man of a Thousand Faces looks better than ever before. Depends how 'desperate' one is for Mann's marvelous 'Desperate.' I really enjoyed Only the Valiant but let's not support transfers like that from a company that has the resources and knowledge to do better. Legend's Girl on the Bridge was a pitiful transfer - we recommend the UK disc. Eric has his usual crop of the hidden gems of the horror genre. He's our go-to guy these days.
10,000 BC BR
- 10,000 B.C. takes place entirely in the imagination of Emmerich and its
author, Harald Kloser. Unlike
Apocalypto, which had a sense of primeval reality
from the get-go, 10,000 B.C. - no matter what we think we know or don't know
about our species' recent pre-history' stretches believability to the breaking
point and beyond. Blu-ray Release date: June
2001: A Space Odyssey BR - Director Stanley Kubrick's heralded masterpiece '2001: A Space Odyssey' immediately informs the viewers of its grandeur with a realistically derived vision of human evolution. The first segment entitled "The Dawn of Man" documents our ancestors maintaining sustenance through clan support, and food foraging. The story, based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel, naturally includes a strong fictional element proposing a single event that initiated the turning point of the ascension of humankind. Blu-ray ripped captures added to the comparison!
Sleepwalking BR - The almost perversely gloomy miserablist drama Sleepwalkers belongs to a strange subset of American independent film about pathetic characters who begin a film with next to nothing, then proceed to lose even that. It's the kind of punishing arthouse fodder where a pair of kicked-around misfits seeking shelter from a cruel world willingly subject themselves to the cartoonish cruelty of a poisonous patriarch, played by Dennis Hopper as the even more transcendently evil identical twin of the arch-villain he played in Blue Velvet. Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2008
The Seventh Seal BR - The late twentieth century’s defining anxiety – nuclear catastrophe –inspired film masterworks in a variety of genres, from noir (‘Kiss Me Deadly’) to essay (‘Hiroshima, Mon Amour’), faux documentary (‘The War Game’) to horror (‘Godzilla’). But it found possibly its greatest cinematic expression in Ingmar Bergman’s doom-laden medieval allegory, a film that re-imagines a previous period of existential angst and primal fear: the plague-ridden thirteenth century. Blu-ray ripped captures added to the comparison! Blu-ray ripped captures added to the comparison!
Girl on the Bridge - Vanessa Paradis conveys the instinct and desire of the child woman with flirtatious innocence. To dismiss Adele as a nymphomaniac would completely miss the point. She likes to give, she enjoys the warmth, she expects truth. Her disappointments are legion and she blames herself. When luck is bad, it sticks like tar. Adele is a tar baby until she discovers in the knife thrower a conduit for hope. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
The Shining BR - King's book "The Shining" deals with, in his own words, "just a little story about writer's block". With collaboration by novelist Diane Johnson, Kubrick struck heavily upon themes of both communication and miscommunication as well as isolation. As was his penchant he used rich symbolic motifs. They repeat throughout the film as psychic ability or "Shining" as well as the major characters stymied authorship and spiral into madness. In a very poignant moment Jack destroys their only means of outside communication; a 2-way radio. Blu-ray ripped captures used in the review!
Hoosiers BR - Gene Hackman is at his most charismatic as the new coach - an outsider entering the small town community to take over the reigns of the much coveted, and puny, basketball team. The school in the movie is so small, in fact, that it can barely field a full squad, they do though - and the name: the 'Hickory Huskers'. David Anspaugh's film is filled with so much small town charm, passion, maturity, acceptance and the type male bonding accomplishments that we reflect on with timeless pride. Blu-ray ripped captures added to the comparison!
Desperate - It's hard to determine just what is the greatest scene in Anthony Mann's brilliant film noir Desperate (1947). Is it the scene where Raymond Burr slices himself a piece of turkey while he roughs up a pair of elderly country folk, or the brutal fight scene that occurs off screen while a swaying overhead light illuminates the sadistic faces of the killers in alternating black and white? Perhaps it's the superbly crafted montage which escalates with close-ups centered on an alarm clock as it counts down to an execution, or it could very well be the death of Pete, a slimy extortionist who sits down for a left-over meal but finds himself rubbed out in lightning fashion. There are other fantastic scenes too numerous to mention in this creatively directed, RKO B-picture which hasn't quite received its due as one of the best of its kind.
Batman: the Movie BR - Batman The Movie was different in that the screenplay was new, but much the same in that it might well have been little more than an expanded TV episode. The short-lived TV show had, by this time in 1967, already been on the air for one season (the show ran from January, 1966 - March, 1968). I reveled in Batman's fuzzy, non-linear logic as he and Robin sorted out the clues. And today, I appreciate all the more Adam West's way of reading a line with his characteristic luftpause before every revelation. Blu-ray and SD DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Boarding House - Although shot for video in "HorrorVision" (i.e. consumer quality video), Boarding House made it to theaters. Reportedly shot as a comedy, the filmmakers insist that the producer's made them edit it into a straightforward horror feature (this may be true since some of the victims' reactions must be more than bad acting). Despite the bad videography (sometimes the strobing is intentional, sometimes it seems to be the iris adjusting to the natural lighting), bad hair, and hilarious performances, there is something surprisingly endearing about the whole enterprise.
Vantage Point BR - "Vantage Point" shows us an assassination attempt and explosion in a crowded Spanish square, and then repeats those events from eight points of view - including those of a Secret Service man (Quaid), the U.S. President (William Hurt), a sharp-eyed tourist (Forest Whitaker) armed with a camcorder, and some of the terrorists responsible. First-time screenwriter Barry Levy has taken that relatively simple idea and turned out an almost perfectly constructed puzzle, with each retelling of the events adding detail that ultimately creates a clear picture of a complex conspiracy. Blu-ray Release Date: July 1st, 2008
In the Line of Fire BR - Thrillers are as good as their villains, and "In the Line of Fire" has a great one - a clever, slimy creep who insidiously burrows his way into the psyche of the hero, a veteran Secret Service agent named Horrigan (Clint Eastwood). The creep, who likes to play mind games with his opponents, makes a series of phone calls threatening to assassinate the president. He chooses Horrigan because he knows the agent still feels guilty about failing to save the life of John F. Kennedy 30 years ago. Blu-ray Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Point Break BR - Bigelow and her crew are also gifted filmmakers. There's a footchase through the streets, yards, alleys and living rooms of Santa Monica; two skydiving sequences with virtuoso photography, powerful chemistry between the good and evil characters, and an ominous, brooding score by Mark Isham that underlines the mood. The plot of "Point Blank," summarized, invites parody (rookie agent goes undercover as surfer to catch bank robbers). The result is surprisingly effective. Blu-ray Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Only the Valiant - In this surprisingly astringent frontier tale, the Fordian motif of the stern commander gradually winning the respect of a motley Cavalry troop (boozy Irishman Bond among them) almost elides into the anti-authoritarian dynamic of The Dirty Dozen. When a vital fort guarding a mountain pass is threatened by gathering Indians, Peck's stone-faced captain picks the most disposable bunch of malcontents and psychos to hold out until reinforcements arrive, whereupon various personal animosities bring them closer to killing him than the enemy. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Sunflower - Sunflower is the story of the Zhang family in Beijing father, mother and son across three decades, centering on the tensions and misunderstandings between father and son. Nine-year-old Xiangyang is having the time of his life, free of adult supervision until the day he meets the father he can hardly remember. Having spent years away, he returns with strong ideas about his son learning to draw. But Xiangyang chafes under his father's constant rules and soon stages his own revolution against the lessons enforced. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Devil Times Five - A bus overturns in the snow with the only survivors being the five child passengers (Leif Garret, Tierre Turner, Dawn Lyn, Tia Thompson, and Gail Smale) en route to an asylum. They are unwittingly taken in by a collection of back-stabbing and inebriated wealthy vacationers in an isolated cabin. When the dead bodies start turning up, the remaining adults must face off with the pint-sized maniacs (who come up with some creative ways of killing off the adults like a bath full of piranhas). DVD Release Date: May 6th, 2008
The Spiderwick Chronicles BR - Based on a well-known series of books, the movie involves a soon-to-be divorced mom and her three children who come to live in a creepy old mansion. This is Spiderwick, named after her grandfather Arthur Spiderwick, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The house itself is one of the stars of the movie, looking Victorian/Gothic with countless nooks and crannies and shadows and scary sounds. Is it haunted? Nothing that comforting. It's ... inhabited. Blu-ray Release Date: June 24th, 2008
Belle Toujours - That indefatigable maestro of cinema, Manoel de Oliveira (he's 98!), has dedicated his latest treat, "Belle Toujours," to Luis Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere 's erotic classic, "Belle de Jour." Bunuel and Carriere's movie explored the kinky adventures of a bored housewife, whom Catherine Deneuve played with legendarily hot passivity. Oliveira's decidedly chaste follow-up centers on Henri Husson , the man who famously tortured Deneuve's dominatrix by whispering something into her paraplegic husband's ear toward the end of the picture. DVD Release Date: June 24th, 2008
Curse of the Devil - Legendary Spanish horror star Paul Naschy returns as Waldemar Daninsky marked for all eternity with the ancestral curse of the werewolf. But when Daninsky s arrogance triggers the wrath of a satanic coven they summon a nightmare of homicidal madmen and lusty maidens to plague the tormented nobleman. As the full moon rises and the horror takes hold is the rage of the werewolf any match for the damnations of the devil himself? Also known as RETURN OF THE WALPURGIS this 1973 shocker is filled with lush atmosphere copious nudity and graphic violence and is widely considered to be one of the goriest and sexiest horror films of Naschy's career. DVD Release Date: June 10th, 2008
Man of a Thousand Faces - Academy Award winner James Cagney gives an unforgettable performance as Lon Chaney in this fascinating true story that follows the life of one of the most iconic and mysterious stars in Hollywood history! Known as the "Man of a Thousand Faces" silent film star Lon Chaney captured the imagination of the world through his incredibly expressive and transformative roles such as Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Phantom from the original Phantom of the Opera. Behind the scenes however this long-suffering talented genius' life was filled with trials and tribulations that helped shape some of his most groundbreaking roles. The Academy Award -nominated Man of a Thousand Faces captures the dramatic private life of a humble vaudeville clown who rose to become one of the biggest stars the world has ever seen! DVD Release Date: June 24th, 2008
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of June 30th, 2008
Batman: The Movie(Leslie H. Martinson, 1966) 20th Century Fox
City of Men(Paulo Morelli, 2007) Miramax
Gangs of New York[Blu-ray] (Martin Scorsese, 2002) - Miramax
Girl on the Bridge(Patrice Leconte, 1999) Legend Films
Identification Of A Woman(Michelangelo Antonioni,1982) R2 UK Mr Bongo Films
In the Line of Fire[Blu-ray] (Wolfgang Petersen, 1993) - Sony
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters(Paul Schrader, 1985) Criterion
My Blueberry Nights(Wong Kar-Wai, 2007) - LionsGate
Odette(Herbert Wilcox, 1950) R2 UK Optimum
Only the Valiant(Gordon Douglas, 1951) Lions Gate
Patriotism(Yukio Mishima + Domoto Masaki, 1966) Criterion
Picnic At Hanging Rock 3-disc Deluxe Edition(Peter Weir, 1975) R2 UK Second Sight
The Pied Piper(Jacques Demy, 1972) Legend Films
Point Break[Blu-ray] (Kathryn Bigelow, 1991) 20th Century Fox
Sunflower(Yang Zhang, 2005) New Yorker
Vantage Point(Pete Travis, 2008) - Sony Pictures
Vantage Point[Blu-ray] (Pete Travis, 2008) - Sony Pictures
Week of July 7th, 2008
Batman Begins [Blu-ray] Christopher Nolan, 2005) Warner Home Video
Batman Begins [Blu-ray] (Limited Edition Gift Set) (Christopher Nolan, 2005) Warner Home Video
Batman - Gotham Knight(Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Yasuhiro Aoki, Shojiro Nishimi, 2008) Warner Home Video
Jet Li's Fearless - Director's Cut(Ronny Yu, 2006) - Universal
Mon oncle Antoine(Claude Jutra, 1971) Criterion
The Mummy(Universal Legacy Series) (Karl W. Freund, 1932) Universal Studios
Sleepwalking[Blu-ray] (Bill Maher, 2008) Anchor Bay
"The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose". - Hada Bejar
Enjoy your week to the fullest!