DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 14th, 2008
Taniku! - A respectable 15 new DVD reviews this week. As Summer melts our desires for in-home theater experiences, so the calendar reflects this distraction with fewer new releases. We've decided to take this opportunity to improve and expand upon our Blu-ray coverage with new screen captures in postings of old reviews and some updated comparisons. In addition, we note a continued sale, 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 14th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to two win brand new sealed comedies - So I Married an Axe Murderer (Deluxe Edition) and Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd out of Control (I know, I know) - Best of luck all!
Korean Drama contest still running in Leonard's Palace review HERE.
LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!):
L.A. Confidential [Blu-ray] (Curtis Hanson, 1997) Warner
Roger Corman Collection (Five Guns West, Gunslinger, Haunted Palace, Premature Burial, The Masque Of The Red Death and Wild Angels) R2 UK - Optimum
Run for the Sun (Roy Boulting, 1956) R2 UK - Optimum
(Jia Zhang Ke, 2006) New Yorker
Les Demoiselles De Rochefort
(Jacques Demy, 1967) R2
(David Mamet, 2008) Sony Pictures
(David Mamet, 2008) Sony Pictures
La Ilusion Viaja en Tranvia/Nazarin
(Luis Buñuel) Lionsgate
The Wizard of Gore
(Jeremy Kasten, 2007) Genius
(Mark Steven Johnson, 2003) 20th Century Fox
Pete Kelly's Blues
(1955, Jack Webb) Warner Home Video
Blues in the Night
(Anatole Litvak, 1941) Warner Home Video
The New World - The Extended Cut
(Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line
(Tarsem Singh, 2006) Sony
(Tarsem Singh, 2006) Sony
(Jon Avnet, 2007) Sony
(Jon Avnet, 2007) Sony
(David Anspaugh, 1993) Sony
(Marcel Langenegger, 2008) 20th Century Fox
The Jewel of the Nile
(Lewis Teague, 1985) 20th Century Fox
Romancing the Stone [Blu-ray] (Robert Zemeckis, 1984) 20th Century Fox
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BLU-RAY STORE HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS
Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.
ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Let's tackle the new stuff first - Shotgun Stories deserves an audience. Period. Desert Fury is wonderful and the DVD looks superb. The Bank Job is a pretty decent modern thriller/bank-heist flick. Learn about a great historical figure with Monsieur Vincent - also a very good film! With Help Me Eros make sure the kiddies are in bed - the pornography is layered on, ummm..., 'thick'. Never meant to have striking visuals - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest BR looks better than it ever has before on DVD. Maybe people's expectations were too high but I, personally, enjoyed Seinfeld's imperfect Bee Movie BR and have watched it three times now - a relaxed comedy with an amazing animated image. Maybe I'm too easily satisfied.
I've always thought Gattaca BR was one of the better modern science-fiction films... still do. The Blu-ray looks tremendous. A favorite western; The Cowboys BR - borders on an essential high-def disc IMHO. Blood Diamond BR is a solid film - DiCaprio is exceptional. The Professionals BR - Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin and Claudia Cardinale - together in Blu-ray? Forget about it. Peckinpah's unforgettable The Wild Bunch BR is magnificent in 1080P.
Pass on The Pied Piper - good, but not great - lackluster DVD. The Blu-ray didn't improve my appreciation of The Dirty Dozen BR. That's just me though.
The Cowboys BR - After Wil Anderson (played by 60 year old John Wayne) loses his cowhands to Gold Rush fever, the gruff rancher is forced to hire 11 schoolboys to help him on a 400-mile cattle run. Joining them is a philosophical black cook (Roscoe Lee Browne) who is another strong representation of a father figure. The boys are put to the test... they learn, mature and eventually seek vengeance on a bitter ex-con (Bruce Dern) who is out to rustle the herd.
Help Me Eros - Like his mentor Tsai
Ming-Liang (acting as executive producer and art designer here), Lee Kang-Sheng
uses many long static shots to show his story. While Lee’s compositions are
maybe not quite as masterful as Tsai’s, Lee’s seem more daring and the result is
very pleasing to the eye. The movie looks insanely good on occasion. DVD
Release Date: July 22nd, 2008
The Pied Piper - Though ostensibly marketed to family audiences with a G rating, The Pied Piper is an uncharacteristically grim and brutal offering from Goodtimes Enterprises, a UK-based production company during the 1970s whose films like Performance, Lisztomania, and That’ll Be the Day were largely conceived as star vehicles for music performers. The big name in this particular film is Donovan, a Scottish folk-pop singer best known for 1960s standards like “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Atlantis,” and “Sunshine Superman.” His presence in the film is something of a sticking point for many modern viewers, but in fact the small numbers of spare, haunting ditties he performs in the film work well with the period setting, and while he’ll never be confused with a master thespian, he acquits himself well enough with his one-dimensional role. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
Shutter BR - Shutter is based on a 2004 Thai movie of the same name, and is produced by the same folks that brought us the American versions of the Japanese horror films, "The Ring" and "The Grudge." I thought the western translation of "The Ring" to be better than adequate. The Grudge and Shutter I don't know in their original states. I think back to the sci-fi horror movies of the 1950s and our obsessive fascination with how the technical world would lead us to our demise, starting with the A-Bomb or, later, the computer. Blu-ray Release date: July 15th, 2008
The Dirty Dozen BR - The Dirty Dozen (1967) has been continually popular since it first exploded in 1967 as one of that year's biggest hits. Four Oscar nominations (with one win for Best Sound Effects by John Poyner) certainly didn't hurt and it's so critically respected that the film has even been shown at the Museum of Modern Art. In fact it's captured imaginations across the world: there's even a Hong Kong remake starring Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields, 1984) and Samo Hung! One reason for the success is that despite its superficial appearance as yet another film about soldiers sent on a desperate mission behind enemy lines, The Dirty Dozen strikes the perfect balance between taut action and artistic integrity. Director Robert Aldrich said of this film, "The nature of war is dehumanizing. There's no such thing as a nice war."
Bee Movie BR - It’s been nearly a decade since Jerry Seinfeld ended his era-defining namesake show. Since then we’ve barely seen him, apart from the odd commercial, YouTube short or documentary on stand-up (if you have region 1 DVD). Many mistook the public ‘retiring’ of his show for retirement altogether, but the comic did still want to work. Never a fan of his own acting, Seinfeld wanted to a) perform new material, and b) not do it in front of a camera. The answer became obvious, and here we are, with a new animated effort from Dreamworks. Blu-ray released: June 3rd, 2008
The Professionals BR - Director Richard Brooks' contribution to this fin de siecle genre is The Professionals, a rip-snorting adventure with a talented ensemble cast headed up by perennial favorites Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode, and Robert Ryan. Each of the cowboys is a specialist; a dynamiter, weapons expert, commando expert, and horse expert. The combined ability of these four make them very comparable to a US Special Forces team nowadays but this is set in the second decade of the twentieth century - the teens.
Desert Fury - Everything is a little bent about this film (pun indented)... to a degree that, with the exception of Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour (1945), Desert Fury is a singular anti-social statement unlike practically anything the American screen produced in the 40s. Take the central character for example. It's a woman - an anomaly in film noir - and the woman, in the guise of Lizabeth Scott's barely legal horniness, is the one driving this Technicolor narrative, which the archetype femme-fatale has been replaced by John Hodiak's male-fatale (there is a long scene with him sunbathing with his shirt off, Barbara Stanwyck-like just in case you need a pointer). DVD Release Date: June, 2008
Shotgun Stories - This film has literally been saved by the festival circuit. After being rejected by major distributors, it found a home in smaller festivals, where word of mouth propelled it into its current wider release. It has qualities that may not come out in a trailer or in an ad but sink in when you have the experience of seeing it. Few films are so observant about how we relate with one another. Few are as sympathetic. DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2008
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest BR - The film version of Ken Kesey's novel, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, is perhaps the ultimate antihero movie of the 1970's. As R.P. McMurphy, Jack Nicholson delivers a performance as convincing as his character is irresistible. McMurphy is a merry trickster who does not adhere to anyone's rules but his own. He gets himself out of a penal work farm and into the easier pace of a mental institution by pretending to be crazy. When McMurphy challenges the authority of his ward's uberboss, Nurse Ratched, it is only a matter of time before he learns that the system is far more powerful than he or the audience imagined. Blu-ray Release Date: July 15th, 2008
Gattaca BR - Andrew Niccol was working as a commercials director in London when he wrote the script for Gattaca and was subsequently invited to direct. He later achieved critical acclaim for his work on The Truman Show but Gattaca entirely failed to meet with box-office success. This is a shame because it is probably the most intelligent and insightful science fiction film made in the 1990s. Like all the best serious science fiction it is really a study of the social consequences of a particular technological development, in this case instant automated DNA analysis. Since it appears that technology is developing very much along the lines predicted here, do not be surprised if this prophetic film achieves cult status in years to come. In the meanwhile, enjoy it for the languorous pace, the fine acting, the beautiful cinematography and the timeless 1950s look.
The Bank Job - The workmanlike title “The Bank Job” is a nice fit for this wham-bam caper flick. Efficiently directed by Roger Donaldson from a busy script by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, it fancifully revisits the mysterious whos and speculative hows of a 1971 London vault cleanout on Baker Street labeled the walkie-talkie robbery. (The thieves squawked on the airwaves like crows.) It was headline news and, then, with a wave of the official wand, it was hush-hush. DVD Release Date: July 15th, 2008
Monsieur Vincent - Monsieur Vincent, director Maurice Cloche’s beautifully crafted, award-winning biopic of St. Vincent de Paul, celebrates the saint’s single-minded devotion to the poor without romanticizing the objects of his devotion and recipients of his charity. Vincent himself (Pierre Fresnay in a moving performance), though he urges his followers to regard the poor as their masters, admits frankly that they are "masters who are terribly insensitive and demanding… dirty and ugly… unjust and foul-mouthed." Yet he is adamant that, the harder they are to serve, "the more you will have to love them." DVD Release Date: July 15th, 2008
The Wild Bunch BR - Violence comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Twenty-six years ago, when Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch was first released, it caused a stir because of its gritty, uncompromising style. The deaths in this film are neither sterile nor heroic. When a gun is fired, the result is inevitably messy. In many ways, especially in its determination not to glorify bloodshed, The Wild Bunch shares key themes with Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven -- only this film came twenty-three years earlier. A classic in its original theatrical cut, The Wild Bunch is nevertheless improved with eleven minutes of footage restored.
Blood Diamond BR - Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) - an ex Mercenary from Zimbabwe - and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have.
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
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[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
Run for the Sun(Roy Boulting, 1956) 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
Week of July 21st
21(Robert Luketic, 2008) Sony Pictures
21[Blu-ray] (Robert Luketic, 2008) Sony Pictures
Andre Techine Boxset(Wild Reeds, I Don't Kiss, Hotel America and My Favorite Season) - Lionsgate
Big Dreams Little Tokyo(Dave Boyle, 2006) Echo Bridge
Blues in the Night(Anatole Litvak, 1941) Warner Home Video
Dirty Money(aka Un Flic) (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972) - Lionsgate
Europa Europa(Agnieszka Holland, 1990) R2 UK Arrow films
The Exorcism of Emily Rose[Blu-ray] (Scott Derrickson, 2005) Sony
Help Me Eros(Lee Kang-Sheng, 2007) Strand
High and Low(Kurosawa, 1963) Criterion
Kiss of the Spider Woman(Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (Hector Babenco, 1985) - City Lights Pictures
The Mummy[Blu-ray] (Stephen Sommers, 1999) Universal
The Patrice Leconte Collection- Hairdresser's Husband, Ridicule, Monsieur Hire, Le Parfum D'Yvonne, Tango - R2 UK Second Sight Films
The Perfect Storm[Blu-ray] (Wolfgang Petersen, 2000) Warner
Pete Kelly's Blues(1955, Jack Webb) Warner Home Video
Satantango(Béla Tarr, 1994) Facets
Vampyr(Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932) Criterion
La vie de Jesus(Bruno Dumont, 1997) R2 UK Eureka MoC
"Nature is a labyrinth in which the very haste you move with will make you
lose your way." - Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)