DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 16th, 2007
Zdravstvuyte! - We have 16 new reviews this week. Two Criterion DVDs, more Noir, musicals, Godard, Lang, Cocteau, Welles etc., four HD and a four Blu-ray. Calendar updates and more...
CONTEST: We have a new contest with some great prizes - new DVDs of Criterion's Teshingahara set (first place) and the Marker pairing (La Jetee and Sans Soleil) for second and if you come in third - a nice starter for any HD library - Rio Bravo. We have a short Windows Media Video on our homepage that contains 5 clips from films. You identify them (email to contest@DVDBeaver.com) - and qualify. NOTE: One is very tough so I may provide clues; clip four is the hard one (judging by guesses so far) and I'll just say that I love the film - its Japanese director will (hopefully) celebrate his 76th birthday later this year.
HD + Blu-ray NOTES: I'm more convinced than ever that one, or both, or these new formats are here to stay. I'm getting sold myself on both Leonard (now graphic) and Eddie's reviews.
Masters of Cinema DVD releases are still on sale at Amazon.UK!
Le Silence de la mer (25% OFF!), Scandal (45% OFF!), Assassination (45% OFF!), Pitfall (45% OFF!), Humanity & Paper Balloons (45% OFF!), Kuroneko (45% OFF!), Kwaidan (35% 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!)
and 4500 UK DVDs UNDER £5 HERE - Up to 70% 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?):
OOOPS: For a day we had some incorrect information regarding Quo Vadis- its the mini-series not the classic film - but still quite lauded! I know there were a lot of complaints about the Criterion so I'll compare with the R2 UK Summertime. I *think* all three are already out but together the price of Deadly Dames-Film Noir Collectors Set may be enticing enough for a purchase. If it wasn't Facets I'd buy Who the Hell Is Juliette? (Quien Diablos es Juliette?) right away - now I'll have to see. I understand Funny Face (50th Anniversary Edition) will be the restored print! I haven't seen and may take a chance on Splinter. Ditto fro 10 Canoes.
Quo Vadis Mini Series (Franco Rossi, 1985) - 2-disc - R2 UK Liberation Entertainment
Major Barbara (Gabriel Pascal, 1941) R2 UK Second Sight Films Ltd.
Summertime (David Lean, 1955) R2 UK Second Sight Films Ltd.
Deadly Dames-Film Noir Collectors Set (Naked Kiss, Slightly Scarlet, Blonde Ice) VCI
Who the Hell Is Juliette? (Quien Diablos es Juliette?) (Carlos Marcovich, 1997) Facets Video
Spray of Plum Blossoms (Wancang Bu, 1931) /Two Stars in the Milky Way (Tomsie Sze, 1931) - Cinema Epoch
Alibi (Roland West, 1929) Kino International
Werner Herzog 2 Pack - Genius Products
Galapagos [Blu-ray] BBC Warner
A Room with a View [HD DVD] (James Ivory, 1986) BBC Warner
A Room with a View [Blu-ray] (James Ivory, 1986) BBC Warner
Pedro Almodovar 2 Pack - Genius Products
Michael Haneke Collection (7pc) Kino
Scene of the Crime (André Téchiné, 1986) Kino Video
Splinter (Michael D. Olmos,2006) Image Entertainment
Francois Ozon: A Curtain Raiser & Other Shorts - Kino International
Jean-Luc Godard Pack (4-disc - unknown films) - Genius Products
Funny Face (50th Anniversary Edition) (Stanley Donen, 1957) Paramount Home Video
10 Canoes (Rolf de Heer, 2006) Palm Pictures / Umvd
Flashdance (Special Collector's Edition) (Adrian Lyne, 1983) Paramount Home Video
Cujo (25th Anniversary Edition) (Lewis Teague. 1983) Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Saturday Night Fever (30th Anniversary Special Collector's Edition) (John Badham, 1977) Paramount Home Video
Griffin & Phoenix (Ed Stone, 2006) 20th Century Fox
RECOMMENDATIONS: Just me:
I SAY: Ace in the Hole (great DVD - great film), Godardians have reason for Pierrot le Fou (thanks David). See for yourself if Criterion has improved in enough areas with their Les Enfants Terribles. As Leonard says, if you like the film (and have Blu-ray) then: Infernal Affairs. I've always loved The Stranger although Welles didn't - glad I have the new MGM.
FILMS I ALSO LIKED BUT THUMBS DOWN ON THE DVD: Ministry of Fear (Italian edition may be superior - stay tuned)
REVIEWED ON BEAVER BUT NOT SEEN (by me): Despite the mediocre review I may indulge in Fincher's Zodiac. and Leonard's Blu-ray visuals give fond remembrances of The Terminator and Terminator 2 - Judgment Day.
The Pirate - A dazzling Caribbean
cod-swashbuckler of a musical, with acting as its very theme and the imaginative
projection of illusionism its self-referential life-blood. Strolling player
(Kelly) woos sheltered but romantic girl (Garland) in the guise of the notorious
pirate Macoco, while her dull fiancé (Slezak) desperately hangs on to his own
concealed identity. Cole Porter songs, a choreographed camera, vivacious
performances, and Minnelli's customarily camp colour scheme and decor are
wonderfully seductive vehicles for the themes that run obsessively through
almost all the director's films, be they musicals, comedies or melodramas.
DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2007
The Terminator (Blu-ray) - The Terminator, for all its sci-fi underpinnings, is a story with fairly easy to understand characters: One wants to kill, another wants to stay alive, yet another wants to keep the second from being killed. The time travel element keeps the sci-fi nerds interested; Schwarzenegger's relentless Terminator appeals to the latency age boy in all of us; and the affair between Sarah and her protector works well for the romantics – all woven together in a consistent narrative style.
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (Blu-ray) - The technicals in T2 were, in its day, jaw-dropping, with its near-seamless transformation of physical states from one character to another, and from the inanimate to the animate, as in when the T-1000, in its signature move, absorbs and recomposes bits of itself into the mercurial metal that is himself. The movie's longer length works in more threads, more characters and massive amounts of effects, woven into the story without waste. There is more varied vehicular action in the sequel. They are well choreographed – both in terms of thrills and to support certain elements of the story: namely the growing trust between Arnold and the boy and Sarah, and to demonstrate additional capabilities of the T-1000.
Courage Under Fire (Blu-ray) - During the first Iraq war, a medivac helicopter is shot down during an attempted rescue and, even though the crew's actions lead to the saving of lives, questions of motivation and cowardice arise. The story is told in a Rashomon-like narrative in which the various surviving crew members offer conflicting accounts of events to Serling. Meg Ryan, in an uncharacteristic and generally underappreciated performance, plays Karen Walden, the captain of the UH-1 Huey helicopter. Matt Damon, in his first important role, plays one of her crew; Lou Diamond Phillips, another. Damon and Phillips are both riveting, especially in their re-telling of events. They are also physical opposites: Damon, having lost considerable weight for the part, is strung out on dope; Phillips looks after his body like a temple. Their souls are another matter. Serling is passionately and intelligently underplayed by Denzel Washington.
Infernal Affairs (Blu-ray) - Infernal Affairs almost single-handedly revived the Hong Kong gangster film back in 2002. The idea behind the title is the concept of "continuous hell" – a place from which you can't escape and where moral clarity is absent. Compared Martin Scorsese's, The Departed, Infernal Affairs stays on track with the question of good and evil as it applies to the two moles because its focus is sharper, less concerned with the texture of supporting characters and situations. DVD Release Date: July 4, 2007
Pierrot le Fou - "I wanted to tell the story of the last romantic couple," Jean-Luc Godard said of this brilliant, all-over-the-place adventure and meditation about two lovers on the run (Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina). Made in 1965, this film, with its ravishing colors and beautiful 'Scope camerawork by Raoul Coutard, still looks as iconoclastic and fresh as it did when it belatedly opened in the U.S. Godard's misogynistic view of women as the ultimate betrayers is integral to the romanticism in much of his 60s work--and perhaps never more so than here--but Karina's charisma makes this pretty easy to ignore most of the time. DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2007 (resissue)
Ministry of Fear - Lang had himself wanted to purchase the film rights for Ministry of Fear, as a long time admirer of Grahame Greene. As it turned out Paramount trumped him but asked him to direct from a screenplay adaptation by Seton Miller. As a consequence Lang continued to play down the value of this movie to whoever would listen. But it is in fact something of a "missing in action" gem. Nowhere does Lang so wonderfully set up a linear and compulsive atmosphere of unnerving paranoia in the opening sequences, save perhaps for the incredible opening of Testament of Dr Mabuse. And the movie forces the viewer to constantly take on Milland's POV in comprehending the succession of action and mistrust which advance the narrative. Although Lang may have been right about the casting of, say Marjorie Reynolds and Carl Hilfe as the German couple, these characters are more than amply compensated for by splendid bits from Allan Napier and Hillary Brooke as the "Mentalist". And Milland is perfect. DVD Release Date: July 4th, 2007
The Wedding Date (HD) - With The Wedding Date, the cast is energetic, winsome, flirty, and “real”. They sold me on an improbable (and potentially unsavory) premise--he’s a professional fake boyfriend. The script throws in just the right amount of real-life unpleasantness to keep the characters grounded. These things all have happy endings, The Wedding Date made me believe that an unhappy ending was entirely possible. Against many odds, I actually enjoyed this little gem. DVD Released: July 10th, 2007
Star Trek Captain's Log Fan Collective - Here we have yet another Star Trek: Fan Collective, this one focusing on the captains. Frankly, since Star Trek has always been captain-centric, I don’t see the point of releasing a tribute to the captains. However, I’m sure that die-hards would beg to differ from me, and as someone who interned with StarTrek.com, I guess I shouldn’t complain either. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2007
Les Enfants Terribles - Writer Jean Cocteau and director Jean-Pierre Melville joined forces for this elegant adaptation of Cocteau’s immensely popular, wicked novel about the wholly unholy relationship between a brother and sister. Elisabeth (a remarkable Nicole Stéphane) and Paul (Edouard Dermithe) close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their lair—until romance and jealousy intrude. Melville’s operatic camera movements and Cocteau’s perverse, poetic approach to character merge in Les enfants terribles to create one of French cinema's greatest, and most surprising, meetings of the minds. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2004
Dante's Peak (HD) - Dante’s Peak, written by Leslie Bohem and directed by Roger Donaldson, follows the disaster formula so faithfully that if you walk in while the movie is in progress, you can estimate how long the story has to run. That it is skillful is a tribute to the filmmakers. Roger Donaldson is a good director who pays attention to the human elements even in a fiction machine like Dante’s Peak, and Gale Anne Hurd, the producer, is a specialist in action films. They orchestrate the special effects so that they look and feel real (mostly), and in Brosnan and Hamilton they have actors who play for realism and don’t go over the top--never screaming, not even when molten lava sets their truck tires on fire. The soundtrack is especially effective. DVD Release Date: July 10th 2007
The War (HD) - I remember The War’s theatrical release very well. Late in 1994, a friend of mine had a birthday party. Plans included going to the movie theatre. Since middle-aged parents and young children were in the group, we had two choices--The War or Star Trek: Generations. We ended watching Star Trek: Generations. Since that fateful day, every time I see The War in a store or in a TV listing, I think of it as “The Movie We Didn’t See”. I’m glad that I saw Star Trek: Generations on the big screen, of course, but now that I’ve finally seen The War for the first time, I kind of wish that I had seen it, too, on the big screen. Luckily, my first exposure to this fine coming-of-age drama was on HD-DVD. While watching a movie at home can’t approximate the majesty of watching a movie in a theatre, I was able to enjoy The War with pristine video and audio. DVD Release Date: July 10th 2007
The Untouchables (HD) - Time-honoured mayhem in the Windy City, and if there are few set-ups you haven't seen in previous Prohibition movies, it's perhaps because De Palma and scriptwriter David Mamet have settled for the bankability of enduring myth. And boy, it works like the 12-bar blues. The director's pyrotechnical urge is held in check and trusts the tale; the script doesn't dally overmuch on deep psychology; the acting is a treat. Connery's world-weary and pragmatic cop, Malone, steals the show because he's the only point of human identification between the monstrously evil Al Capone (De Niro) and the unloveably upright Eliot Ness (Costner), and when he dies the film has a rocky time recovering. DVD Release Date: July 3rd, 2007
The Stranger - The legendary story that hovers over Orson Welles's The Stranger is that he wanted Agnes Moorehead to star as the dogged Nazi hunter who trails a war criminal to a sleepy New England town. The part went to E.G. Robinson, who is marvelous, but it points out how many compromises Welles made on the film in an attempt to show Hollywood he could make a film on time, on budget, and on their own terms. He accomplished all three, turning out a stylish if unambitious film noir thriller, his only Hollywood film to turn a profit on its original release. MGM DVD Release Date: July 10th, 2007
Ace in the Hole - One of the most scathing indictments of American culture ever produced by a Hollywood filmmaker, Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole is legendary for both its cutting social critique and its status as a hard-to-find cult classic. Kirk Douglas gives the fiercest performance of his career as Chuck Tatum, an amoral newspaper reporter caught in dead-end Albuquerque who happens upon the story of a lifetime—and will do anything to ensure he gets the scoop. Wilder’s follow-up to Sunset Boulevard is an even darker vision, a no-holds-barred exposé that anticipated the rise of the American media circus. DVD Release Date: July 17th, 2007
Zodiac - Zodiac returns to the serial-killer territory mined by Se7en, though this one is based on a real-life murderer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s and 1970s. The movie’s first half follows at least seven policemen and newspaper employees as they attempt to track down the Zodiac, whose killings are not necessarily bizarre but whose letters to area newspapers create an appreciable sense of panic among the public. As the leads grow cold, fewer and fewer people continue to track the Zodiac until only one--cartoonist Robert Graysmith (played by Jake Gyllenhaal)--begins writing a book about the entire ordeal. Graysmith gets closer to discovering the Zodiac’s real identity than anyone else, but since he’s not a law-enforcement officer, his options are limited. DVD Release Date: July 24th, 2004
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
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
Week of July 23rd, 2007
10:30 P.M. Summer (Jules Dassin, 1966) MGM
A World Without Thieves (Xiaogang Feng, 2004) Genius Products
Avant-Garde 2: Experimental Cinema 1928-1954 (Films by Brakhage, Markopoulos, Mitry, Vogel, Broughton, Isou, Maas, Menken, Watson, Webber, Leni, Peterson, Kirsanof) Kino Video
The Big Bad Swim (Ishai Setton, 2006) Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Blue (Derek Jarman, 1993) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Cashback (Sean Ellis, 2006) Magnolia
Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures (Marcelo Gomes, 2005) First Run Features
Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory, Vol. 2 - 5-disc (The Pirate/Words and Music/That's Dancing/The Belle of New York & Royal Wedding/That Midnight Kiss & The Toast of New Orleans (5pc) - Warner Home Video
Companeros (Sergio Corbucci, 1970) Blue Underground
The Contract (Bruce Beresford, 2006) First Look Pictures
Creature From the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954) Universal Studios
Les Enfants Terribles (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1950) Criterion Collection
The Family Friend (Paolo Sorrentino, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye
Five Dedicated to Ozu (Abbas Kiarostami, 2003) Kino Video
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man / House of Frankenstein (Erle C. Kenton, 1943) Universal Studios
Hard Boiled (Two-Disc Ultimate Edition) (John Woo, 1992) Dragon Dynasty
Hedda Gabler (Alex Segal, 1963) BBC Warner
Henry V (Kenneth Branagh, 1989) MGM
The Host (Collector's Edition) (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Magnolia Pictures
The Host [HD DVD] (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Magnolia
The Host [Blu-ray] (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) Magnolia
Iphigenia (Mihalis Kakogiannis, 1977) MGM
Ivan's Childhood (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962) Criterion Collection
Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri ,1987) MGM
Land of the Giants - Full Series (The Giant Collection) - 20th Century Fox
Malpertuis (Harry Kümel, 1971) Barrel
The Monster Squad (Two-Disc 20th Anniversary Edition) (Fred Dekker, 1987) Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Perfume - The Story Of A Murderer (Tom Tykwer, 2006) Paramount Home Video
The Pirate (Vincente Minnelli,1948) Warner Home Video
The Rainmaker - Special Edition (Francis Ford Coppola, 1997) Paramount Home Video
Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991) MGM
Renaissance (Christian Volckman, 2006) Miramax
Roads to Koktebel (Boris Khlebnikov, Aleksei Popogrebsky - 2003) Film Movement
Scent of a Woman [HD DVD] (Martin Brest, 1992) Universal Studios
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon Complete Collection - Infinity Resources, Inc
Shadow Puppets (Michael Winnick, 2007) Anchor Bay
Streets of Fire [HD DVD] (Walter Hill, 1984) Universal Studios
Suspense: The Lost Episodes Collection, Vol. 1 (4-disc) Infinity Ent
That Midnight Kiss / The Toast of New Orleans (Norman Taurog, 1950) Warner Home Video
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Ken Loach, 2006) Genius Products
Woody Woodpecker & Friends Classic Collection - Universal Studios
Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount Home Video
Look out for the other guy! (maybe he'll do the same for you one day),