DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 9th, 2007
Barev Ches! - We have another 17 new reviews this week (5 of which are comparisons). 3 multi-film boxsets, two Criterion DVDs, great Noir, a gentle Asian gem, an under-rated courtroom drama, a dark modern murder(er) story, a couple of HD and a couple of Blu-ray. We have a new article by Jonathan R. and films by Tarkovsky, Fritz Lang, Coppola, Teshigahara...
NEW ARTICLE: "18 Thrillers You Might Have Missed" by Jonathan Rosenbaum
HD + Blu-ray NOTES: I now have an equal number of new format DVDs and will be able to do a few A vs. B comparisons if I'm ever given some time. Stay tuned!
Masters of Cinema DVD releases are between 40-54% OFF at Amazon.UK!
Le Silence de la mer (40% OFF!), Scandal (45% OFF!), Assassination (45% OFF!), Pitfall (45% OFF!), Humanity & Paper Balloons (45% OFF!), Kuroneko (45% OFF!), Kwaidan (40% OFF!), Faust (54% OFF!), Asphalt (45% OFF!), The Idiot (45% OFF!), The Face of Another (45% OFF!), Shoeshine (45% OFF!), Twenty-four Eyes (45% OFF!), The Naked Island (45% OFF!), Prisoner of Shark Island (45% OFF!), Vengeance is Mine (45% OFF!), Metropolis (45% OFF!), Francesco Giullare di Dio (45% OFF!), The Holy Mountain (54% OFF!), Sunrise (45% OFF!), Funeral Parade of Roses (45% OFF!)
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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?):
Aside from some of the new format stuff (We haven't confirmed that UK Blu-rays will play in North America - unlike region-free HD, Blu-ray presently has 3 regions - see HERE) - I'll be getting: Panahi's Offside, The Fallen , The Seventh Seal [Special Edition] that we understand is also coming out in Blu-ray in the UK. She (Deluxe Two Disc Edition), Blueprint For Murder / Man In the Attic (2-disc), Fun stuff; Chosen Survivors / The Earth Dies Screaming (2-disc), The Lives of Others, Private Property and Snow Cake.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 2003) R2 UK Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Kill Bill Vol. 2 [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 2004) R2 UK Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Gangs Of New York [Blu-ray] (Martin Scorsese, 2002) R2 UK Entertainment in Video
Cars [Blu-ray] (Disney, 2006) R2 UK Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Pulp Fiction [Blu-ray] (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) R2 UK Buena Vista Home Entertainment
María Candelaria (Emilio Fernández, 1944) Grupo Nuevo Imagen
Private Property (Joachim Lafosse, 2006) New Yorker Films
Like Killing Flies (Matt Mahurin, 2004) New Video Group
The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) Sony Pictures
The Lives of Others [Blu-ray] (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) Sony Pictures
Few Days in September (Santiago Amigorena, 2006) Koch International
On the Silver Globe (Andrzej Zulawski, 1988) Polart
Halloween - (Restored) (John Carpenter, 1978) Starz / Anchor Bay
Offside (Jafar Panahi, 2006) Sony Pictures
The Fallen (Ari Taub, 2004) R2 UK Scanbox Entertainmen
The Seventh Seal [Special Edition] (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) R2 UK Tartan
She (Deluxe Two Disc Edition) (Irving Pichel, 1935) Kino Video
Blueprint For Murder / Man In the Attic (2-disc) - Fox Home Entertainment
Chosen Survivors / The Earth Dies Screaming (2-disc) - Fox Home Entertainment
Snow Cake (Marc Evans, 2006) Ifc
Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969) Synapse Films
Top Gun [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 1986) Paramount
300 (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition) (Zack Snyder, 2007) Warner
300 (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) [HD DVD] (Zack Snyder, 2007) Warner
300 [Blu-ray] (Zack Snyder, 2007) Warner
RECOMMENDATIONS: Just me:
STUFF I STRONGLY RECOMMEND: Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara, (of the three boxsest its the only one I feel strongly about), Ivan's Childhood, The Rainmaker, Noir essentials - The Woman in the Window and Kansas City Confidential.
FILMS I ALSO LIKED BUT AM SO-SO ON THE DVD: Hana and Alice
REVIEWED ON BEAVER BUT NOT SEEN (by me): Catch Us If You Can, Perfume - The Story of a Murderer, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (BR).
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
(BR) - Enter: Johny Depp as Captain Jack
Sparrow, about whose character the worst that might be said is that he seems to
be making it up as he goes along. Of course, it is that very ambiguity – or, if
you're so inclined to see it that way, aimlessness - that either fascinates or
drives you crazy: in either case, we are never quite sure of Sparrow’s
motivation, though we are (at least in the first movie) always intrigued by
where he will go next. In Captain Jack, Depp has created one of the most
original and endearing characters to appear on screen in a very long time,
rightfully receiving an Oscar nomination for The Black Pearl.
Blu-ray DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (BR) - The sequel, Dead Man's Chest, could only be worse, I assured myself. It was, but not all that much, nor hardly to the point of distraction. In fact, my second viewing was much more satisfactory – at least I was prepared for some of the scenes I had thought went on too long. (Most critics felt that the second sequel, At World's End, went on even longer, so I was again prepared. Let's hear it for low expectations! While not nearly up the standards of the first movie, it was not a difficult experience, and quite possibly seeing on video will be even less so.) My main criticism of Dead Man’s Chest was not so much its length or the length of its action sequences, as it’s relative lack of anything that so grabbed my visual, dramatic and emotional attention as the walking dead in The Black Pearl, who would turn in and out of skeletons as they entered and left a beam of the full moon. Blu-ray DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
Esther Williams Vol. 1 - Warner brings us five films of 'the million dollar mermaid' Esther Williams. Laughs, romance, music--just add water! Get into the swim of Hollywood's Golden Era with musical number outtakes, classic shorts, cartoons, and more. Bathing Beauty: a big splash in her first starring role: Williams is a teacher at a women's college--and wacky Red Skelton enrolls to be near her. An astonishing flames-and-fountains aquatic finale. Easy to Wed: A spiffy remake of the screwball classic Libeled Lady, with Esther as the lady libeled. Van Johnson, Keenan Wynn, and Lucille Ball round out a funny four-sided love triangle. On An Island With You: Paradise for musical-comedy fans! Esther (in a series of swimsuits and sarongs) plays a film star on a tropical location shoot. With Ricardo Montalban, Cyd Charisse, and Jimmy Durante. Neptune's Daughter: The polo team's in town and so is the fun for Esther, Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton, and Betty Garrett. Includes Frank Loesser songs and one of Esther's greatest splash-happy finales. Dangerous When Wet: Cartoon legends Tom and Jerry join Esther in the light-hearted extravaganza about a girl who swims the English Channel--and meets a dashing Frenchman (Fernando Lamas). DVD Release Date: July 17th, 2007
Catch Us If You Can - Despite it being a “pop musical” starring the Dave Clark Five, John Boorman’s debut feature, ‘Catch Us If You Can’ (1965), shares Kerouac’s disillusionment and joins him in slamming the door on 60s youth culture. That decade’s hipsters are dismissed as the “products of affluence,” and their rebellion is as superficial as the studding on those leather jackets. Indeed, an early scene in the film's breezy, Godardian(2) first act shows the coolly-beautiful couple – Steve (Dave Clark) and Dinah (Barbara Ferris) – tearing through the streets of London in an E-Type Jaguar, whilst shouting at pedestrians through a megaphone, “Change your way of life!”. DVD Release Date: June 4th, 2007
The Joan Collins Superstar Collection - Well before Joan Collins played scheming 'super-bitch' Alexis Carrington on TV's Dynasty (1981-89) she appeared in some low-budget British movies. But in 1951, she caught the attention of Hollywood when she appeared in the Howard Hawks epic Land of the Pharaohs (1955). Primarily cast as a sultry, brunette siren, she was in several films in the late '50s and early '60s, including The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) and Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (both included this boxset). In the '60s and '70s she worked in many low-budget horror films and in some television (she was the guest star in 1967's "City on the Edge of Forever" one of the most celebrated episodes of the original Star Trek series). She is often referred to as "The British Open" because of her permissive sexual lifestyle although claims to have turned down Frank Sinatra, Robert F. Kennedy, Darryl F. Zanuck and Dean Martin. Collins has also written some salacious novels, books on beauty tips and a scathing autobiography. Twentieth Century Fox has chosen to celebrate some of her early work with a 5 disc boxset of her film from the late 1950's including The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955), Sea Wife (1957), Stopover Tokyo (1957), Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! (1958) and Seven Thieves (1960). DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Kansas City Confidential - An action-packed film noir directed by Phil Karlson with a flare for showing off how violent it can be, but it's hardly a credible story. It's filmed in a semi-documentary style, as it opens when three masked men successfully rob a Kansas City bank of over a million dollars. They use a florist' van to make their escape, where they meet the fourth member of the gang in another vehicle--the Mr. Big who set up the heist. He gives the three spending money and half of the king card to identify themselves when they will meet a month later to split up the loot. The only one who knows all their identities is Mr. Big, therefore no one can squeal. Mr. Big sends each of the three to a foreign country to await a wire which will inform them where to meet for the split. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Hana and Alice - The beauty of Iwai's films are all the things that are not said. We gather so much subtle information about the characters (especially Alice) that, in a typical non-verbal, passive, Asian way - we are deeply drawn to her life growth and struggle. The friendship aspect of the film is more in regards to one friends outgoing nature persuading the other to pursue her dreams. This is a beautiful film, filled with brilliant camera work of obtuse angles and capturing emotionally clandestine moments. It is modestly paced, but it seems this is the only way to express this films narrative. It has Iwai's marketed female understanding signature written all over it. What a gorgeous viewing experience. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Ivan's Childhood - The debut feature from the great Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood is an evocative, poetic journey through the shadows and shards of one boy’s war-torn youth. Moving back and forth between the traumatic realities of WWII and the serene moments of family life before the conflict began, Tarkovsky’s film remains one of the most jarring and unforgettable depictions of the impact of violence on children in wartime. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2007
The Rainmaker - This competent, anonymous legal drama (scripted by Michael Herr) is the best John Grisham adaptation yet. We're back in ingénue Southern lawyer territory, following law school grad Rudy Baylor (Damon) through his inaugural case to a mercurial triumph against the odds. So far, so insipid; thankfully, the story is less the usual addled potboiler than a diary of civil litigation - centering on Rudy's pursuit of a giant insurance company accused of stalling on health claims arising from policies marketed to the poor and unrepresented, such as his client Donny Ray Black (Whitworth). Rudy describes the dilemma of his calling in voice-over, musing over ideals and corruptions, compromises and lawyer jokes. His pilgrim's progress leads us through an entertaining gallery of lawyerly archetypes. There's the cynic, Rudy's long sold-out adversary Leo F Drummond (Voight); the corrupt, his low-life employer Bruiser Stone (Rourke); and the merely ignoble, his 'paralawyer' assistant Deck Schifflet (DeVito). There's a wider perspective on the legal action, too, counterpointing Rudy's 'rainmaking' lawsuit with both a damp squib of another case, and a subplot involving Danes' abused wife which suggests the limitations of the law. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2007
Dark Circle - “Dark Circle,” directed by Judy Irving (“The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” and Chris Beaver (no relationship to this website), arrives on DVD from era of “Damnation Alley” and “The Day After” as welcome reminder of the greatest threat to world peace. The documentary focuses initially on the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant in Colorado, where plutonium triggers for bombs are manufactured. The plant executives and government officials assure the citizens that the plant is completely safe and that there is no possible risk to anyone working there or living nearby: nothing to see here, move along. Strange then that Rocky Flats was initially built in secret in 1952 and the first public evidence of its existence came from an accident which send a billowing cloud of thick smoke (no risk to the public, of course) into the air.
Perfume - The Story of a Murderer - This is a dark, dark, dark film, focused on an obsession so complete and lonely it shuts out all other human experience. You may not savor it, but you will not stop watching it, in horror and fascination. Whishaw succeeds in giving us no hint of his character save a deep savage need. And Dustin Hoffman produces a quirky old master whose life is also governed by perfume, if more positively. Hoffman reminds us here again, as in Stranger than Fiction, what a detailed and fascinating character actor he is, able to bring to the story of Grenouille precisely what humor and humanity it needs, and then tactfully leaving it at that. Even his exit is nicely timed. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2007
China - Century of Revolution - These documentaries cover much of China during the 20th Century, beginning with the overthrowing of the Qing Dynasty by Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary forces around 1911 and ending during the mid-1990s when rapid economic development introduced de-stabilizaing elements into society. China in Revolution is the first and perhaps most-remarkable of the three documentaries--remarkable because it offers rare footage of historical figures such as Chiang Kai-shek before he was the most powerful man in China. China in Revolution covers the ground between 1911 and 1949, the year of the Nationalists’ withdrawal to Taiwan. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
The Woman in the Window - A classic noir thriller with Robinson in top form as the likeable professor of criminal psychology who finds his most vivid fantasies and fears fulfilled when his wife and kids take a vacation and leave him alone to cope with the evils of the big city. Meeting up (innocently, it seems) with the woman of his dreams - the subject of a painting in a gallery window he passes regularly - he becomes involved first in the violent killing of a man, then in blackmail. Meanwhile his DA pal (Massey) keeps him in touch with the police's search for the killer. With Bennett and Duryea superb as the eponymous heroine and the blackmailer, and atmospheric camerawork by Milton Krasner, it's not merely a dazzling piece of suspense, but also a characteristically stark demonstration of Lang's belief in the inevitability of fate: Robinson, basically a good man, makes one small slip in a moment of relaxation, and he's doomed. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
A Bullet For Joey - With fear of communism running rampant, Hollywood scripts of the 1950s often dealt with Soviet plots to undermine the American way of life. One example is United Artists' A Bullet for Joey (1955), starring Edward G. Robinson as a police inspector on the trail of a spy who plots to kidnap an important American atomic scientist. George Raft co-stars as the gangster who is hired to carry out the abduction - but balks when he learns what is at stake and helps the G-man keep the world safe for democracy. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara - One of the most acclaimed Japanese directors of all time, Hiroshi Teshigahara distinguished himself in the sixties with a series of sinuous, atmospheric, and daring films. Teshigahara found his spiritual partner in novelist and screenwriter Kobo Abe, with whom he collaborated on these Kafkaesque portraits of identities in peril, films that captivated mainstream audiences while also touching the edges of the Japanese avant-garde. The existential ghost story Pitfall (Otoshiana), the shocking, erotic fable Woman in the Dunes (Sunna no onna), and the sci-fi–tinged nightmare The Face of Another (Tanin no kao) are among cinema’s enduring enigmas and rarest pleasures. DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Being John Malkovich (HD) - The movie just keeps getting better. I don’t want to steal the surprises and punch lines. Even a Charlie Sheen cameo is inspired. At one point, Malkovich enters himself through his own portal, which is kind of like being pulled down into the black hole of your own personality, and that trip results in one of the most peculiar single scenes I’ve ever seen in the movies. Orchestrating all this, Cusack’s character stays cool; to enter another man’s mind is of course the ultimate puppeteering experience. HD DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007
American Me (HD) - Gut-wrenching, brutal, and powerful, American Me is not enjoyable in the conventional sense, but nevertheless stands out as one of the year's most impressive purely dramatic offerings. It's a story of violence and its dehumanizing consequences that, in some ways, is reminiscent of The Godfather, with characters that echo those from the Puzo/Ford-Coppola epic. Director Edward James Olmos fearlessly takes aim at the culture of machismo which has enveloped so many inner city youths. This is an unrelenting, unalloyed condemnation of that lifestyle, a portrait of the sort of brutality that violence begets. HD DVD Release Date: June 26th, 2007
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of July 9th, 2007
A Bullet for Joey (Lewis Allen, 1955) MGM
After the Wedding (Susanne Bier, 2006) Tartan Video
Angels One Five (George More O'Ferrall, 1952) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
The Astronaut Farmer (Michael Polish, 2007) Warner Home Video
L'Eclisse (Antonioni, 1962) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Francois Truffaut Collection - The Man Who Loved Women/The Wild Child/Mississippi Mermaid/The Story Of Adele H/The Bride Wore Black - R2 UK 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Frankie & Annette Collection (Beach Blanket Bingo / How to Stuff a Wild Bikini / Beach Party / Bikini Beach / Fireball 500 / Thunder Alley / Muscle Beach Party / Ski Party) MGM
Hana & Alice (Shunji Iwai, 2004) Homevision
Harold Lloyd Collection [10-disc] R2 UK - Optimum Home Entertainment
Iraq in Fragments (James Longley, 2006) Typecast Releasing
The Joan Collins Superstar Collection (The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing / Rally Around the Flag, Boys! / The Sea Wife / Seven Thieves / Stopover Tokyo) 20th Century Fox
Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952) MGM
Ken Russell Collection - Gothic/The Rainbow/Women In Love - R2 UK 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
The Page Turner (Denis Dercourt, 2006) Tartan Video
Police Beat (Robinson Devor, 2005) Homevision
Princess Raccoon (Seijun Suzuki, 2005) Geneon
Robert Altman Collection - Fool For Love/The Long Goodbye/M.A.S.H./O.C. And Stiggs/Thieves Like Us - R2 UK 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Senso (Luchino Visconti, 1954) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
The Stranger (Orson Welles, 1946) MGM
Sweet Land (Ali Selim, 2005) 20th Century Fox
Three Films By Hiroshi Teshigahara (Pitfall, Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another) Criterion Collection
The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang,1944) MGM
Week of July 16th, 2007
Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951) Criterion Collection
Avenue Montaigne (Danièle Thompson, 2006) Velocity / Thinkfilm
Chalkdust Memories: Classic Classroom Films - Passport
The Emmanuelle Beart Collection (A Heart In Winter / The Story Of Marie and Julien / Nathalie) Koch Lorber Films
Esther Williams Collection (Bathing Beauty/Easy to Wed/On an Island with You/Neptune's Daughter/Dangerous When Wet) - Warner Home Video
The Giant Gila Monster/The Killer Shrews - colorized - (1959) Legend Films/Genius
Kon Ichikawa's 47 Ronin (1994) - Koch International
The Ogre (Volker Schlöndorff, 1996) Lionsgate
Pinjar (Chandra Prakash Dwivedi, 2003) Eros Entertainment
Raymond Bernard - Eclipse Series 4 (Wooden Crosses and Les misérables) - Eclipse/Criterion
Spring River Flows East (Chusheng Cai, Junli Zheng - 1947) Cinema Epoch
Turning Gate (Hong Sang Soo, 2002) YA Entertainment
Enjoy your life,
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!