DVDBeaver Newsletter - July 21st, 2008

Ohayo-sama! - A healthy 22 new DVD reviews this week - more than half are probing away at the new Blu-ray format... plus in SD; Jean-Pierre Melville, Satyajit Ray, Béla Tarr, André Téchiné, Roy Andersson, a wonderful gem from Anatole Litvak and more...  In addition, we have our usual - a continued sale (and a new sale), contests, some colossal calendar updates, etc...

- Thanks to the Herculean efforts of Gregory Meshman (thanks Irina too!) - we present the definitive and updated Film Noir (on DVD) resource...  HERE!

- BACK: Buy 2, Get 1 Free Blu-ray Sale HERE till July 27th - 109 titles to choose!

- JULY 21st CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win a brand new sealed Blu-ray of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Best of luck all!

- 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

- Criterion's October releases announced and ready for Pre-Order below!


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

Warner Bros. Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 (All Mine to Give, Holiday Affair and It Happened on 5th Avenue, Blossoms in the Dust) Warner

British Cinema: Classic B Film Collection Volume 1 (Siege Of Sidney, Frightened Man, Crimes At The Dark House, Hooded Terror, Girl In The News, Tread Softly Stranger) - VCI Entertainment

Never Love a Stranger (Robert Stevens, 1958) Republic Pictures

Eclipse Series 13 Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women 4DVD set (Naniwa erejî, 1936 - Gion no shimai, 1936 - Akasen chitai, 1956 - Yoru no onnatachi, 1948) Criterion

Missing (Costa-Gavras, 1982) Criterion

Le Deuxieme Souffle (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1966) Criterion

Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962) Criterion

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (John Cassavetes, 1976) Criterion

A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974) Criterion

Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 6 - Warner Home Video

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (3 Disc Unrated Collector's Edition) (Nick Stoller, 2008) Universal Studios

Forgetting Sarah Marshall [Blu-ray] (Nick Stoller, 2008) Universal Studios

The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chris Marker, 2004) Icarus Films

Remembrance of Things to Come (Chris Marker, Yannick Bellon) - Icarus Films

The Sixth Side of the Pentagon / The Embassy (Chris Marker) - Icarus Films

The Last Laugh (Restored Deluxe Edition) (F.W. Murnau, 1924) Kino

Psycho - Special Ed. 2-disc - new transfers/extras (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) Universal Studios

Rear Window - Special Ed. 2-disc - new transfers/extras (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954 ) Universal Studios

Touch of Evil - 50th Anniversary 2-disc (1958, Orson Welles) Universal Studios

Vertigo - Special Ed. 2-disc - new transfers/extras (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) Universal Studios

Ludwig (Luchino Visconti, 1972) Koch Lorber

Revenge of a Kabuki Actor (Kon Ichikawa, 1963) Animeigo

The Last Bolshevik / Happiness (Chris Marker; Alexander Medvedkin) Icarus Films

The Takashi Miike Omnibus (8-Disc) (1997) Arts Magic, Shadow (Jerzy Kawalerowicz , 1956) Polart

The Wolves (Hideo Gosha, 1972) Animeigo

Privilege (Peter Watkins, 1967) New Yorker


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



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): I enjoyed a few films-on-DVD this week. Despite its imperfections we strongly endorse AE's The Satyajit Ray Collection - Vol. 1. I was very taken with Blues in the Night - wowser. Per-Olaf was sure right about You, The Living - pretty much a must-see. Dirty Money (Un Flic) has the DVD back in circulation and the Lions Gate edition is very reasonably priced. Speaking of strong deals - you won't find better value this week than the André Téchiné Collection. In other news - Under the Bombs is certainly worthy of the descriptive 'magnificent'! I continue to highly tout Fincher's Zodiac and the new format Blu-ray looks extremely impressive. And more on the 1080P front - The Bank Job BR may be the best image I've yet seen... with The Mummy BR not far behind. Where the heck are those Criterion Blu-rays anyway??? I'm convinced the format is very viable - now how about some important films! Although I didn't rise to Ebert's admiration for the film - I did see something more in the Director's Cut (in high-def) of Dark City BR. Leonard endorses two new Korean Blu-rays; Welcome to Dongmakgol and Taegukgi. Finally, Irina Palm is pretty cool - and extremely amusing and honest.

Pass on Facets cheapo edition of Satantango... when there is a better release already available. Behind the Yellow Line BR is really only for big fans of the cast.


New Reviews:

Welcome to Dongmakgol BR - Dongmakgol is, like Brigadoon, a village that time forgot – until someone unexpectedly visits as the veil is accidentally parted. In this case, the visitors are not a pair of lost American hunters, but two small groups of Korean soldiers from the Korean War of the early 1950s, separated from their respective units on both sides of the equation, trying to find their way back. Each comes upon the odd villager some distance from home, who leads them back to Dongmakgol for temporary shelter – once there, only to find the enemy staring them in the face. For the moment, neither side is aware that their enemy has already run out of bullets. Blu-ray release date: June 20, 2008

Taegukgi BR - If Americans think of the Korean War at all, it's often as a kind of half-forgotten placeholder between World War II and Vietnam, two armed struggles with much more active and vocal constituencies. In Korea itself, obviously, the view is very different. Blu-ray release date: June 20, 2008


Under the Bombs - Emotionally engaging, impressively directed and superbly acted drama that uses authentic Lebanon locations to devastating effect. Directed by Philippe Aractingi, Under the Bombs stars Nada Abou Farhat as Zeina, a Shiite Muslim woman who sends her young son to live with her sister in southern Lebanon while she goes through a messy divorce back home in Dubai. However, after a round of bombings from Israel, Zeina loses touch with her sister and her son, so she travels to Beirut, hoping to find a taxi driver to take her south. DVD Release Date: July 28th, 2008

Irina Palm - Faithfull’s grit, humor and appreciation of irony also surface in her role as Maggie, a mousy London suburbanite whose son and daughter-in-law can’t afford an overseas medical trip for their gravely ill little boy. Literally taking matters into her own hands, Maggie secures a job as a penile masseuse in a Soho sex parlor owned by wily émigré Miki (Manojlovic). Her success is explosive, and soon the queue of satisfied customers is so long that a rival businessman comes calling, but Maggie has eyes only for her boss. DVD Release Date: August 12th, 2008

Behind the Yellow Line BR - The Chinese title for this entertaining romantic drama is "Destiny," which is fitting because it features remarkable new talent whose destiny was to become some of Hong Kong's most important filmmakers. There's then 20-year-old Miss Hong Kong pageant first runner-up Maggie Cheung. There's Leslie Cheung, before he became an award-winning singer/actor icon. There's Anita Mui, who won the Hong Kong Film Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance. And there's co-scripter Gordon Chan, Destined to become a top writer/director. The Blu-ray was released: April 1st, 2008

Dark City BR - "Dark City'' by Alex Proyas is a great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like ``Metropolis'' and ``2001: A Space Odyssey.'' If it is true, as the German director Werner Herzog believes, that we live in an age starved of new images, then ``Dark City'' is a film to nourish us. Not a story so much as an experience, it is a triumph of art direction, set design, cinematography, special effects--and imagination. The Blu-ray will be released: July 29th, 2008

King of New York BR - Quite easily the most violent, foul-mouthed and truly nasty of current gangster movies. It might be charitable to say that Ferrara, who made the reasonably decent Cat Chaser, is doing a Scarface by pointing up the designer nature of modern urban crime, its brutality and ethnic mixture, and its attempts to infiltrate the mainstream. Certainly, in the person of Walken, spare, elegant, slightly spaced and lording it over a black/hispanic gang, the film has an impressively charismatic central character: the kind of powerbroker who does favours for the poor and makes love on subway trains, but still manages the right burst of psychosis when dealing with racist rivals, Chinese nasties, or treacherous black brothers.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose BR - If director and co-screenwriter Scott Derrickson makes one great decision in his execution of this strange legal-horror hybrid, it’s to never come down on a definitive side of the central argument that his movie presents: was Emily Rose, based on a real-life girl, really possessed by demons, or was her terrifying behaviour the result of a serious medical condition? We see relatively little of the actual story of Emily (ferociously played by newcomer Carpenter, with a hell of a set of lungs), instead reliving her story through the court case that followed when police decided Emily’s death was down to Father Moore’s negligence in not seeking medical help for his charge. The Blu-ray Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

Country Princess - In the middle of the night a man brings home to his wife - herself about to give birth - a dangerously ill woman, also pregnant. The mysterious woman dies in childbirth and, after a fruitless attempt to locate her family these are rural, impoverished people, after all the new parents decide to raise the two girls as twins.

Zodiac BR - If you're even slightly familiar with the case, it will dawn on you at the end of Zodiac's first hour that no additional murders are forthcoming—the Zodiac killed only five people that we know about for sure, all of them between December 1968 and October 1969—and that even the taunting letters and ciphers that made him infamous are about to cease without explanation. You also know that the Zodiac was never caught, and that you've signed on for a film that runs closer to three hours than two. Where can they possibly take this story? you will wonder. Only when you realize that the movie's pace is speeding up in inverse proportion to the killer's activity, however, will you understand that you're actually watching the most exhaustive portrait of obsessive-compulsive disorder ever seen onscreen. The Blu-ray was released: July 9th, 2008

Top Gun BR - Jingoism, beefcake, military hardware, and a Giorgio Moroder rock score reign supreme over taste and logic in this Tony Scott film about a maverick trainee pilot (Tom Cruise) who can't follow the rules at a Navy aviation training facility. The dogfight sequences between American and Soviet jets at the end are absolutely mechanical, though audiences loved it at the time. The Blu-ray will be released: July 29th, 2008

Patriot Games BR - Made between The Fugitive and Air Force One, Patriot Games was Harrison Ford at the peak of his post Star Wars/Indiana Jones popularity. As in those other two movies, Ford plays his patented "average family guy" caught up in something big and dangerous. Even though his character's only differences are their occupations, Ford's charm still draws you in and you still, of course, root for him to succeed. Both Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck have played the role of Jack Ryan, but Harrison Ford found the most success with it. The Blu-ray will be released: July 29th, 2008

The Satyajit Ray Collection - Vol. 1 - Satyajit Ray is internationally acknowledged as one of the great masters of world cinema. From his extraordinarily accomplished debut 'Pather Panchali', his films - many of them masterpieces - have won him legions of admirers, among them Akira Kurosawa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, V.S. Naipaul and Martin Scorsese. Mahanagar (The Big City): Set in the mid' 50s, Ray's often humorous story of conflicting social values in India's lower-middle class stars Madhabi Mukherjee as a housewife whose growing independence alarms her traditionalist family. Charulata (The Lonely Wife) Neglected by her ambitious journalist husband, the lonely Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee) befriends his cousin (Soumitra Chatterjee), a sensitive aspiring writer, and almost inevitably their feelings for each other begin to deepen. Adapted from a story by Rabindranath Tagore, Ray considered this sensitively realized drama one of his finest achievements. Nayak (The Hero) This beautifully observed character study was one of Ray's earliest original screenplays. En route to an award ceremony, a famous and egocentric Bengali movie star finds that he is compelled to re-evaluate his life after encountering a disapproving young journalist (Sharmila Tagore). DVD Release Date: July 28th, 2008

Blues in the Night - Among the films released by Warner Brothers in 1941, Blues in the Night was a bit of an anomaly. The story of some gifted itinerant jazz musicians and a female vocalist (Priscilla Lane) searching for their big break amidst an endless series of one-night stands, the movie is actually a pastiche of several movie genres. It's a musical; the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer score includes "This Time the Dream's on Me" and the haunting title song plus Jimmy Lunceford and his Band appear in one sequence. It's a drama; the various band members, all displaying different temperaments from the manic-depressive bandleader (Jack Carson) to the free spirited clarinettist (Elia Kazan), often clash while touring on the road. It's a film noir; an escaped convict joins the band and his relationship with femme fatale Kay Grant (Betty Field) spells doom for the group, paving the way for a tragic climax. Most importantly, however, Blues in the Night is unique for featuring two future directors in supporting roles. DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

You, The Living - Andersson takes his title from lines by Goethe: "Be pleased then, you, the living, in your delightfully warmed bed, before Lethe's ice-cold wave will lick your escaping foot." "Lethe" is the destination of a tram glimpsed in a typically enigmatic scene. Those lines have the gloomy compassion and northern European black humour that permeates Andersson's films. Are these people actually the "living"? Or the demi-zombie dead? Tragically, they cling to the scraps of life allowed to them in this wretched world. Artificial Eye DVD Release Date: July 14th, 2008

21 BR - Director Robert Luketic has helmed his first major motion picture and the result is a "winner, winner, chicken dinner", to quote a popular line in his film, "21". It's a goofy phrase among gamblers that has been around for quite some time. The tale is based on a true story about a group of undergraduate MIT students with extraordinary mathematical abilities that go to Vegas to bust the bank by counting cards in teams, under the guidance of an MIT professor. The Blu-ray Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

Satantango - For the last decade, the name Béla Tarr has surfaced once in a while, but once spoken out, the name lingers, even though one never is closer to Tarr than the sound of his name alone. The reason may well be, that his works are largely unseen. For the longest time, Tarr has only been viewable at institutions as MoMA. Few have seen Werckmeister Harmonies, fewer have seen Sátántangó, even fewer has seen the remaining works of Tarr. Most only know of his work thru the writings of esoteric cinephiles, who praise and hail, or by commented influence upon such directors as for instance Gus van Sant. That is until now, where his films are being released on DVD, which allows not only – finally – to get to know his work, but by repeated viewings to study and appreciate it. The Facets DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

The Bank Job BR - 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. That’s one story, anyway. The Blu-ray was released: July 15th, 2008

André Téchiné Collection - Lions Gate reasonably packages 4 of the director's better efforts in one, pragmatic, package; Hôtel des Amériques (1981), J'embrasse pas - I Don't Kiss (1991), Ma saison préférée - My Favorite Season (1993) and Les Roseaux sauvages - Wild Reeds (1994). DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

The Mummy BR - This 1999 mummy does indeed mumble something about his feelings for Evelyn, who may be descended from the pharaoh's mistress on her mother's side. But the bass on his voice synthesizer was set to "rumble," and so I was not quite sure what he said. It sounded vaguely affectionate, in the way that a pit bull growling over a T-bone sounds affectionate, but how can Imhotep focus on rekindling a 3,000-year-old romance when he has 10 plagues to unleash?
Look, art this isn't. Great trash, it isn't. Good trash, it is. Blu-ray Release Date: June 22nd, 2008

Dirty Money (Un Flic) - Jean-Pierre Melville's last film is far from his best, but it still presents some wonderfully executed noir (or should I say blue) moments. The opening heist scene is beautifully shot and executed, like all Melville heist scenes. The production budget was clearly quite restricted, with some very obvious studio backdrops in certain scenes. The second heist scene is a nail-biting twenty minutes of cineatic fun. They have twenty minutes to execute it, and Melville shoots it in real time, heightening the sense of anxiety. The helicopter and train are clearly miniatures in many shots, but the primitive special effects do not distract from the tension in the scene. The new Lions Gate DVD Release Date: July 22nd, 2008

First Blood BR - Although probably one of the most cliché'-ridden action franchises in history, the initial tale of Ex-green beret John Rambo is a decent story. A very strong physical presence onscreen Sylvester Stallone, who was already a big star after the first three Rockys, played the part exceedingly well and eventually Rambo established his genre-stature to even a higher positioning. The film, like the sequels to all his movies suffer from 'not quitting while you are ahead'. 4/5 of First Blood has excellent loner (stranger in a strange land) and survival elements with the common premise of a disillusioned war-hero returning to find his 'home' unacceptable with bigotry and social displacement.

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

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

The Chaser (Hong-jin Na, 2008) R3 Premier Entertainment

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
Kiss of the Spider Woman [
Blu-ray] (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


Week of July 28th, 2008

Beowulf Director's Cut [Blu-ray] (Robert Zemeckis, 2007) Paramount

Challenge of The Masters (Chia-Liang Liu, 1976) Tokyo Shock

Classic British Thrillers (The Phantom Light / Red Ensign / The Upturned Glass) MPI

Clear and Present Danger [Blu-ray] (Phillip Noyce, 1994) Paramount

Dark City [Blu-ray] (Alex Proyas, 1998) - Warner

Les Demoiselles De Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967) R2 UK BFI

Doomsday [Blu-ray] (Neil Marshall, 2008) Universal Studios

The Hunt for Red October [Blu-ray] (John McTiernan, 1990) Paramount

Inglorious Bastards (Enzo G. Castellari,1978)
Inglorious Bastards Special Edition (Enzo G. Castellari,1978)

The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992) R2 UK BFI

Patriot Games [Blu-ray] (Patriot Games (1992) Paramount

Perhaps Love (Peter Chan, 2005) Tai Seng

Perhaps Love [Blu-ray] (Peter Chan, 2005) Tai Seng

Privilege (Peter Watkins, 1967) New Yorker

Satyajit Ray Collection Vol.1 (Mahanagar, Charulata and Nayak) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Sum of All Fears [Blu-ray] (Phil Alden Robinson, 2002) Paramount

Tai-Chi Master (Yuen Woo Ping, 1993) - Dragon Dynasty

The Terence Davies Trilogy - Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983) - R2 UK BFI

Top Gun [Blu-ray] (Tony Scott, 1986) Paramount

Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004) - R2 UK Second Run

Tyrone Power Matinee Idol Collection, 10-film (Girls Dormitory, Love is News, Second Honeymoon, Cafe Metropole, Daytime Wife, Johnny Apollo, This Above All, The Luck of the Irish, That Wonderful Urge, I'll Never Forget You) 20th Century Fox

Under the Bombs (Philippe Aractingi, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Violence at High Noon (Nagisa Oshima, 1966) R2 UK Yume

"I am not bound to please thee with my answers." - William Shakespeare.
Smile more this week than last,