DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 7th, 2008

Lay ho! - I think this is one of our absolute best ever 7-days-worth of DVD reviews...  We just keep roll'in along with 20 new this week - an immense 13 of which are comparisons, 4 Criterions, 8 Blu-rays. It's all good - let's see - Dreyer, Tati, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Lean, Antonioni, Powell + Pressburger, Welles and Peter Weir - good grief, what a dinner party! In addition, we have a sale to announce, contests, calendar updates, and more...

- CD Japan has a 70% OFF Clearance sale on DVDs  HERE

- Details of BFI's upcoming Salò or The 120 Days of Sodom on REGION-FREE Blu-ray HERE

- JULY 7th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win brand new sealed Criterion Mon Oncle Antoine! Best of luck all! NOTE: past winners listed on our CONTEST PAGE HERE. Also new Korean Drama contest in Leonard's Palace review HERE.

- On September 23rd, Paramount Home Entertainment will release the newly restored classic THE GODFATHER COLLECTION: THE COPPOLA RESTORATION on DVD and Blu-ray!! PRE-Order Blu-ray HERE

- A note about our Blu-ray screen capture process HERE.

- Sadly, XpolitedCinema are winding down operations - see HERE

- FEATURE DVD OF THE MONTH chosen for July...

An Introduction to Antonioni's Identification of a Woman by Bruce Winstein
My Dozen Favorite Non-Region-1 Box Sets by Jonathan Rosenbaum


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

Police (Maurice Pialat, 1985) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

L'Enfance-nue (Maurice Pialat, 1968) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2007) Koch Lorber

Risky Business [Blu-ray] (Paul Brickman, 1983) Warner

Don Quixote (Orson Welles, Jesús Franco, 1992) Image Entertainment

The Adventures of Robin Hood [Blu-ray] (Micheal Curtiz, 1938) Warner Home Video

Kiss of the Spider Woman (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Hector Babenco, 1985) - City Lights Pictures

Kiss of the Spider Woman [Blu-ray] (Collector's Edition) (Hector Babenco, 1985) - City Lights Pictures

Satantango (Béla Tarr, 1994) Facets

Europa Europa (Agnieszka Holland, 1990) R2 UK Arrow films – has Holland commentary!

Kings of the Road (In the Course of Time) (Wim Wenders, 1975) R2 UK Axiom Films

The Godfather Collection - Four-Disc Coppola Restoration [Blu-ray] (The Godfather / The Godfather Part II / The Godfather Part III) – Paramount

Kill Bill - Volume 1 [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 2003) Disney

Kill Bill - Volume 2 [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 2004) Disney

Kill Bill - Volumes 1 & 2 [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 2003-2004) Disney

The Sixth Sense [Blu-ray] (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999) – Disney

The Final Countdown [Blu-ray] (Don Taylor, 1980) - Blue Underground

Sweeney Todd [Blu-ray] (Tim Burton, 2007) - Dreamworks Video,

Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique (The Public Woman, 1984) Special UNCUT Edition - Mondo Vision

Andrzej Zulawski's La Femme Publique (The Public Woman, 1984) Premium UNCUT Edition - Mondo Vision

The Bill Douglas Trilogy (1972) – Facets

The Man On The Eiffel Tower (Burgess Meredith, 1949) Kino

Day Watch [Blu-ray] (Timur Bekmambetov, 2006) - 20th Century Fox

Night Watch [Blu-ray] (Timur Bekmambetov, 2004) - 20th Century Fox

Taxi To the Dark Side (Alex Gibney, 2007) - Velocity / Thinkfilm


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



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Two of my favorite DVD releases of the year, to date, were covered this week: Criterion's Vampyr and ITV's, region free, Black Narcissus BR. But there is so much 'good' this week - I got to visit an Antonioni film (Identification of a Woman), see a favorite Kurosawa, looking marvelous, (High and Low) and got to finally watch the longer theatrical cut of another masterpiece that I adore (Picnic at Hanging Rock). I re-watched 3 other films - looking their absolute best on DVD - Mon Oncle Antoine, Great Expectations BR and Eyes Wide Shut BR. I saw a guilty pleasure (The Boys From Brazil BR) - in as pristine condition as I could have ever hoped. We also did some testing for SD vs. Blu-ray in more modern films; Batman Begins BR and an animated feature; Batman - Gotham Knight BR. I enjoyed City of Men much more than City of God. Although not a favorite Tati film, the Criterion package of Trafic offers so very much. We have an outright dismissal - the Legend release of The Girl on the Bridge. Leonard treats us to a new Korean Drama review and two, ummm, un-Beaver-like Blu-rays. Eric continues to soldier on with his mastery of the abstruse horror genre. A fabulous week in DVD!


New Reviews:

Macbeth - A borderline horror flick, Welles's expressionist and magical MACBETH (1948), unlike most screen versions of Shakespeare, is pure cinema. It was but three weeks in production at low-budget horse-opera mill Republic studio, stunningly shot by cameraman John L. Russell (who later shot Psycho).


Vampyr - With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer's brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result—concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris—is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema's great nightmares. Criterion DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

Trafic - In Jacques Tati's Trafic, the bumbling Monsieur Hulot, outfitted as always with tan raincoat, beaten brown hat, and umbrella, takes to Paris's highways and byways. For this, his final outing, Hulot is employed as an auto company’s director of design, and accompanies his new vehicle (a camper tricked out with absurd gadgetry) to an auto show in Amsterdam. Naturally, the road is paved with modern-age mishaps. This late-career delight is a masterful demonstration of the comic genius’s expert timing and sidesplitting visual gags, and a bemused last look at technology run amok. Criterion DVD Release Date: July 15th, 2008

Batman - Gotham Knight BR - Acclaimed screenwriters including David Goyer (Batman Begins) Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and Alan Burnett (Batman The Animated Series) join forces with revered animation filmmakers on six spellbinding chapters chronicling Batman s transition from novice crimefighter to Dark Knight. These globe-spanning adventures pit Batman against the fearsome Scarecrow the freakish Killer Croc and the unerring marksman Deadshot. Using an arsenal of high-tech gadgetry from Wayne Industries Batman s ethical boundaries exist only where he chooses to place them leaving some fearful of his power. The sharp storytelling complemented by stylish art from some of the world s most visionary animators masterfully depicts the blurred lines of Batman as man myth and legend. Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2008

High and Low - Toshiro Mifune is unforgettable as Kingo Gondo, a wealthy industrialist whose family becomes the target of a cold-blooded kidnapper in Akira Kurosawa’s highly influential High and Low (Tengoko to jigoku). Adapting Ed McBain's detective novel King's Ransom, Kurosawa moves effortlessly from compelling race-against-time thriller to exacting social commentary, creating a penetrating portrait of contemporary Japanese society. Criterion DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

Batman Begins BR - "Batman Begins" at last penetrates to the dark and troubled depths of the Batman legend, creating a superhero who, if not plausible, is at least persuasive as a man driven to dress like a bat and become a vigilante. The movie doesn't simply supply Batman's beginnings in the tradition of a comic book origin story, but explores the tortured path that led Bruce Wayne from a parentless childhood to a friendless adult existence. The movie is not realistic, because how could it be, but it acts as if it is. Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut BR - Most reviews of every Kubrick picture since 2001 have been mired in misapprehensions and underestimations—many of which are corrected years later without apology, one reason he apparently gave up on critics about 30 years ago. This doesn't necessarily mean he was always ahead of his time: one of the best things about Eyes Wide Shut—evident in such artisanal qualities as the old-fashioned sound track, the grainy photography, and the exquisite color balances ...—is that it isn't a film of the 90s in most respects but something closer to what movies at their best used to be. ... This is personal filmmaking as well as dream poetry of the kind most movie commerce has ground underfoot, and if a better studio release comes along this year I'll be flabbergasted. A Masterpiece.

Picnic at Hanging Rock - Twenty years after it swept Australia into the international film spotlight, Peter Weir's stunning 1975 masterpiece remains as ineffable as the unanswerable mystery at its core. A Valentine's Day picnic at an ancient volcanic outcropping turns to disaster for the residents of Mrs. Appleyard's school when a few young girls inexplicably vanish on Hanging Rock. A lyrical, meditative film charged with suppressed longings. DVD Release Date: June 30th, 2008

Identification of a Woman - Antonioni is of course best known for such films as "Blow Up", "L'avventura", "The Red Desert", and "The Passenger"." I have been asked the question: "Isn't this one of Antonioni's minor works?" The purpose of this brief article is to argue the contrary and urge lovers of his films to take this one very seriously. It is incredibly rich and not in any way second class in comparison to his other great works. DVD Release Date: June 30th, 2008

Mon Oncle Antoine - Claude Jutra's evocative portrait of a boy's coming of age in wintry 1940s rural Quebec has been consistently cited by critics and scholars as the greatest Canadian film of all time. Delicate, naturalistic, and tinged with a striking mix of nostalgia and menace, Mon oncle Antoine follows Benoit, as he first encounters the twin terrors of sex and death, and his fellow villagers, who are living under the thumb of the local asbestos mine owner. Set during one ominous Christmas, Mon oncle Antoine is a holiday film unlike any other, and an authentically detailed illustration of childhood’s twilight. DVD Release Date: July 8th, 2008

Great Expectations BR - One of the great translations of literature into film, David Lean's Great Expectations brings Charles Dickens's masterpiece to robust onscreen life. Pip, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Estella populate Lean's magnificent miniature, beautifully photographed by Guy Green and designed by John Bryan. Blu-ray Release Date: June 23rd, 2008

Werewolf Shadow - Naschy's most successful werewolf film at home and abroad, LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS was a surprise hit even though Naschy had doubts about director Klimovsky's style. Naschy virtually remade the film as both star and director (this time with more nubile college students wearing less clothing) as RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO (NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF - SD comparison HERE and BluRay review HERE). DVD Release Date: 10 June 2008

Curse of the Devil - Sporting a better script and special effects than its predecessor LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS, CURSE OF THE DEVIL is also better photographed, at times evoking the imagery of Hammer Films with Francisco Sanchez's fluid tracking shots, mannered compositions, and more control over the location photography despite intermittently effective library music cues (used to better effect in later Naschy films such as NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF - review HERE) and - in the case of the English version - some poorly chosen dubbing voices (particularly for Naschy). DVD Release Date: 10 June 2008

The Girl on the Bridge - Daniel Auteuil replaces his natural charm with a world weary acceptance of age as a chasm between possibility and defeat. More than anything, the knife thrower is an artist, a man who has spent his life perfecting skills that lose their novelty and curb expectation. In his eyes, you see fear with every throw of the blade. "After 40, you get erratic." DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008

The Boys From Brazil BR - Based on Ira Levin's best-selling novel, The Boys from Brazil concerns itself with the fictional post-War activities of Mengele, who in real life was alive and hiding in Sao Paolo, Brazil when the film was produced. Mengele, of course, was the sadistic physician who performed unfathomably hideous experiments on thousands of unwilling subjects who were under his "care" at Auschwitz. (In one of the 20th century's cruelest twists of fate, The Angel of Death was never captured and tried for his horrendous crimes.) Blu-ray Release Date: June 23rd, 2008

Black Narcissus BR - The story: five Protestant missionary nuns embark on the task of establishing a school/health center and residence for their future convent in the desolate Himalayan mountains. The dwelling is a deserted sultans palace surrounded by the grandeur of the snowcapped peaks of Kanchenjunga. Obstacles confront them at every turn with a community of superstitious natives and a jaded and rugged British intermediary named Mr. Dean (David Farrar). Adding to these hurdles are their own emotional frailties, culture shock and previously unearthed worldly passions with the inherent creeping jealousies and desires. The project proves a daunting test for the ambitious Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), given her first taste of authority and her strong determination to succeed as she counters the continuous roadblocks. Blu-ray Release Date: June 23rd, 2008

City of Men - A companion piece to Fernando Meirelles’s souped-up (and lapped-up) 2002 urban crime drama, City of God, Paulo Morelli’s City of Men replaces that film’s hypnotic sadokineticism with something equally, if more quietly, audacious. By accentuating the humor and humanity of people stuck in desperate circumstances instead of fetishizing the violence that surrounds them, City of Men serves as a belated corrective to its predecessor. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008


Palace - The series begins with a disclaimer of sorts that what we are about to see, namely a story about the Korean monarchy in contemporary times, is a fantasy – or more correctly, an alternate reality - since there hasn't been a monarchy in Korea since the start of the Japanese occupation in 1911. There has always been a current to have the monarchy reinstated, though that is hardly the wish of this series. I thought it odd for the writers to state the obvious, since it's not for the sake of the casual westerner passerby. On the other hand, what more socially agreeable way to get the ball rolling than a marriage at the highest level between the royal family and a commoner!

Step Up 2 The Streets BR - While Step Up 2 The Streets unabashedly borrows from Fame, Flashdance, Streets of Fire, Dirty Dancing, and even Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, I felt it made them all its own. Strange as it may seem, I even became aware of how much this movie owed to the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals of the early 1940s. (Speaking of the eclectic, this aside: the title wants to both capitalize on the hip-hop world of deliberate misspellings and suggest its heritage as a sequel to the 2006 Step Up. Blu-ray Release date: July 15, 2008

College Road Trip BR - There's nothing actually offensive about Martin Lawrence's latest comedy, it simply lacks imagination. I blush when I write this, but the funniest thing in CRT is a pair of white folks - a father and daughter act (played by Donnie Osmond – God bless 'im and Molly Ephraim) that reminded me of – this is going to sound strange! - Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd as exchange students meeting on the train in Trading Places. Blu-ray Release date: July 15, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

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
Batman - Gotham Knight [
Blu-ray] (Yasuhiro Aoki, Shojiro Nishimi, 2008) Warner Home Video

Chop Shop (Ramin Bahrani, 2007) Koch Lorber

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


Week of July 14th, 2008

4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007) IFC

The Bank Job (Single-Disc Edition) (Roger Donaldson, 2008) Lionsgate
The Bank Job (2-disc) (Roger Donaldson, 2008) Lionsgate

The Bank Job [Blu-ray] (Roger Donaldson, 2008) Lionsgate

Jean-Luc Godard - The Ultimate Collection (Le Mepris, Alphaville, Passion, A Bout De Souffle, Made In Usa, Pierrot Le Fou, Une Femme Est Une Femme, La Chinoise, Le Petit Soldat, Detective, Notre Musique, Helas Pour Moi and Eloge De L'amour) - R2 UK Optimum

Kings of the Road (In the Course of Time) (Wim Wenders, 1975) R2 UK Axiom Films

Monsieur Vincent (Maurice Cloche, 1947) - Lionsgate

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest [Blu-ray] (Milos Forman, 1975) - Warner

Perils Of The New Land: Films of the Immigrant Experience - Traffic in Souls (1913) and The Italian (1915) - Flicker Alley

Richard Attenborough - Screen Icons Collection - The Ship That Died Of Shame, Brighton Rock, Dunkirk, The Man Upstairs and Angry Silence - R2 UK Optimum

The Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.2 (Kapurush, Mahapurush and Joi Baba Felunath) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Seven Days to Noon (Boulting bros.,1950) R2 UK Optimum

Trafic (Jacques Tati, 1971) Criterion

You the Living (Roy Andersson, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye


Great advice for the cinephile: "Sometimes it's good to contrast what you like with something else. It makes you appreciate it even more". - Darby Conley".
Have the best week of your life!