DVDBeaver Newsletter - August 11th, 2008

Barka saato! - An erratic 17 new DVD reviews this week - still pounding away on the Blu-ray front - hoping to get a real handle on this before those anxiously-awaited Criterion 1080Ps surface their, hopefully, gorgeous heads... Calendar updates, contest etc - same old for a fairly busy Summer DVD season.

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

- AUGUST 11th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win. Prizes:

1st prize: Seven Days To Noon
2nd prize: Blu-ray of Top Gun

Best of luck all!

Korean Drama winner announced in Leonard's One Fine Day review HERE.


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

Iron Man [Blu-ray] (Ultimate 2-Disc Edition)(Jon Favreau, 2008) Paramount

The Clouded Yellow (Ralph Thomas, 1951) R2 UK Eureka Entertainment

Futurama: Bender's Game - 20th Century Fox

Futurama: Bender's Game [Blu-ray] - 20th Century Fox

The Happening (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008) 20th Century Fox

The Happening [Blu-ray] (M. Night Shyamalan, 2008) 20th Century Fox

The Mist [Blu-ray] (Frank Darabont, 2007) Weinstein

1408 [Blu-ray] (Mikael Hĺfström, 2007) Weinstein

Horton Hears a Who! (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition) (Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino, 2008) Fox Home Video

Horton Hears a Who! [Blu-ray] (Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino 2008) Fox Home Video

Caligula [Blu-ray] (Tinto Brass, 1979) Image Entertainment

Band of Brothers [Blu-ray] – HBO

Encounters at the End of the World [Blu-ray] (Werner Herzog, 2007) Image Entertainment

The Shawshank Redemption [Blu-ray] (Frank Darabont, 1994) RB UK ITV DVD

Six in Paris (Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer etc. - 1965) New Yorker Video

Edge of Heaven (Fatih Akin, 2007) Strand Releasing

JFK (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Oliver Stone, 1991) Warner Home Video

JFK [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1991) Warner Home Video


Hell Ride [Blu-ray] (Larry Bishop, 2008) Weinstein

Woman on The Beach (Sang-soo Hong, 2006) New Yorker Video

Capricorn One - Special Edition (Peter Hyams, 1978) Lions Gate

Before I Forget (Jacques Nolot, 2007) - Strand Releasing

Art of Travel (Thomas Whelan, 2007) First Look

Red (Trygve Allister Diesen, Lucky McKee - 2008) Magnolia

10 Years of Rialto Pictures 10 Discs Box Set - Army of Shadows (1969) , Au hasard Balthazar (1966) , Band of Outsiders (1964) , Billy Liar (1963) , The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Mafioso (1962), Murderous Maids (2000), Rififi (1955), The Third Man (1949) and Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) – Criterion

The Deputy (1959-1961)*only TV Series with Henry Fonda* - Edi Video

Dawn of the Dead [Blu-ray] (Zack Snyder, 2004) Universal

The Forbidden Kingdom (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Rob Minkoff, 2008) Lions Gate

The Forbidden Kingdom [Blu-ray] (Rob Minkoff, 2008) Lions Gate

BFI 75 10 DVD Box Set - European Cinema (Limited to 500 copies - Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) - La Kermesse Heroique , Les Dames Du Bois De Boulogne, Partie De Campagne, The Threepenny Opera, Regarde La Mer And Other Short Films, Le Cercle Rouge, Celine And Julie Go Boating, Tristana, Distant Voices Still Lives, The Innocents - Jack Clayton - R2 UK BFI

Hulk [Blu-ray] (Ang Lee, 2003) Universal

Hell Ride (Larry Bishop, 2008)



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Not as much to cheer about this week:

MUST: Henry explains his opinion on the differences between the Masters of Cinema Vampyr... compared to the Criterion. What a great world.

WELL, I LIKED... ANYWAY: The Small Back Room is not premium Powell + Pressburger but, heck, that's okay. Nixon BR kind of blew me away - I'm still reeling (love that scenes where he goes to the Lincoln memorial at 4:00 AM). The Life Before Her Eyes BR is another strong film by Vadim Perelman - this guy is great. Tristan + Isolde BR is also a very good film - if weak-ish hi-def transfer. CJ7 BR touched me. N'uff said.

GUILTY PLEASURE... AS CHARGED: Your honor - yes, I liked the Michael Bay film The Island BR. I throw myself on the mercy of the court.

LAZY INDIFFERENCE: Enjoyed both Carmen and The Doors BR but not enough to run around the block screaming it to the neighbors (well.. except that one neighbor who's dog craps on my lawn).

NOIRISH APPEAL:  Diana Dors? as the sexy vamp? hmmmm - Tread Softly Stranger

SAY NO: You can't only blame the elements Mr. Image Entertainment - your Don Quixote is a transfer worthy of PD bargain-basement-Walmart-bin sales. Brass Monkey - well the Odeon R2 UK edition anyway should be coastered (new Beaver word). Leonard says 'no' to Wild China BR and he's had plenty of digital dim sum.

WHAT UP?: Seven Days to Noon  - Great film - wrong aspect ratio (?!?!?!!?). The Search For John Gissing is very funny, but what the heck is up with the letterboxed transfer? - Janeane Garofalo is still funny (but less so) with a big black border around her.


New Reviews:

Prison Break Season Three BR - By now it should be well known that Fox has decided to release Prison Break Season 3 with "no plans to release Season 2 on Blu-ray at this time." Perhaps sales of the SD were not as brisk as hoped. Perhaps the Bonus Features never came to together as planned. Perhaps. Perhaps. At this writing, all that is known for sure is that we have Season One and will have Season 3 by the time you read this . . . which leads me to a quandary of sorts: How much, if anything, to divulge of the set-up for Season 3? Blu-ray Release date: August 12, 2008

Wild China BR - Capitalizing on its phenomenal success with Planet Earth in all video formats, the BBC has just released its new series on China in time to coincide with the Beijing Olympic Games. Curiously titled "Wild China" this six-part series ventures into just many aspects of life in China today: wild and civil. In fact, contrary to the thrust of Planet Earth, there is considerable footage here of the extraordinary variety of racial subgroups that share the country with its wildlife in a kind of harmony all but forgotten in the West. Blu-ray Release date: August 5, 2008


Don Quixote - Perhaps the most fascinating component of the films directed by Orson Welles was the masterpiece he never lived to complete. Beginning in 1957 and continuing on-and-off for the next 15 years, Welles self-financed and directed an audacious film version of Cervantes' "Don Quixote" which brought the legendary knight and his rotund aide Sancho Panza out of 16th century Andalusia and into the world of (then-) modern Spain. But despite his genius behind the camera, Welles was remarkably neglectful in maintaining and preserving the footage he created and much of his work was considered lost...and the footage that remained was not properly stored! DVD Release Date: August 19th, 2008

Vampyr (COMPARISON) - 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. The Masters of Cinema DVD Release Date: August 25th, 2008

Nixon BR - Oliver Stone's "Nixon" gives us a brooding, brilliant, tortured man, sinking into the gloom of a White House under siege, haunted by the ghosts of his past. Thoughts of Hamlet, Macbeth and King Lear come to mind; here, again, is a ruler destroyed by his fatal flaws. There's something almost majestic about the process: As Nixon goes down in this film, there is no gloating, but a watery sigh, as of a great ship sinking. Blu-ray Release date: August 19th, 2008

The Life Before Her Eyes BR - Technically, the movie is impressive. Cinematographer Pawel Edelman has composed a series of memorable insert shots that show the details of everyday life we often don't notice. If nothing else, it can be said that The Life Before Her Eyes offers variety for the eyes. Even the most mundane scenes are set up with a sense of confidence and James Horner's score is one of the most subtle and least intrusive he has composed in some time. Perelman understands the importance of technical aptitude; his previous feature, House of Sand and Fog, exhibited strong photographic and musical components. Blu-ray Release date: August 19th, 2008

Tristan + Isolde BR - "Tristan and Isolde" is not all love; in fact, it features large chunks of professionally done action, including fierce attacks, clandestine ambushes and copious amounts of smiting enemies with mighty swords. And the convincing look of the film, the success of cinematographer Arthur Reinhart and production designer Mark Geraghty in making us feel we're in a reasonable fantasy facsimile of Britain circa AD 500 is also a plus. This Blu-ray was Released: July 23rd, 2008

The Small Back Room - After the lavish Technicolor spectacle of The Red Shoes, British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger retreated into the inward, shadowy recesses of this moody, crackling character study. Based on the acclaimed novel by Nigel Balchin, The Small Back Room details the professional and personal travails of troubled, alcoholic research scientist and military bomb-disposal expert Sammy Rice (David Farrar), who, while struggling with a complex relationship with secretary girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron), is hired by the government to advise on a dangerous new German weapon. Deftly mixing suspense and romance, The Small Back Room is an atmospheric, post–World War II gem. DVD Release Date: August 19th, 2008

Vampyr (R2 UK REVIEW) - The first sound-film by one of the greatest of all filmmakers, Vampyr offers a sensual immediacy that few, if any, works of cinema can claim to match. Legendary director Carl Theodor Dreyer leads the viewer, as though guided in a trance, through a realm akin to a waking-dream, a zone positioned somewhere between reality and the supernatural. DVD Release Date: August 25th, 2008

The Island BR - When you add up all the best things about The Island, you might just conclude that there's hope yet for Hollywood's most critically reviled hit-maker, Michael Bay. Recruited by Steven Spielberg to direct this lavish and often breathtaking sci-fi action thriller, Bay rises to the occasion with an ambitious production that is, by his standards (and compared to Bay's earlier hits like The Rock and Armageddon), surprisingly intelligent as it explores the repercussions of cloning in a sealed-off society where humans are cultivated for spare parts, surrogate parenthood, and full-body replacements for wealthy clientele. This Blu-ray was released: June 11th, 2008

The Doors BR - The Doors is a thrilling spectacle -- the King Kong of rock movies -- featuring a starmaking, ball-of-fire performance by Val Kilmer as Morrison. I can't recall a film that evokes the myth of the Sixties more potently. It's not all free love, psychedelic drugs and electric blues, either. The cruelty, delusion and self-destruction are included, along with the dopey hippie rhetoric. Stone goes to extremes -- the movie is too much of everything -- but the eerily alluring music of the Doors helps him capture the dark side of a decade. Blu-ray Released: August 12th, 2008

Carmen - Yes, another celluloid whirl for the hot-blooded Spanish seductress, but veteran director Aranda goes back to the story’s source in Prosper Merimée’s novella, before Bizet brought the character operatic immortality. More, he puts Merimée in the film, as a French writer who discovers the ‘real’ Carmen on his journeys through the Spain of 1830. From then on, however, it gets pretty familiar with Paz Vega (lithe siren of ‘Sex and Lucia’) baring teeth and all else as the titular cigar-factory girl whose irresistible animal presence drives soldier-boy José to his doom. DVD Release Date: August 5th, 2008

CJ7 BR - But for those who are struggling with the consequences of their seemingly uncontrollable emotions, "CJ7" presents an illustration of why you should never say things you don't mean, even when you lose your temper. This is a fable of forgiveness and regeneration, but it delves into a child's deepest, darkest fears. Fortunately, things turn out OK in the end. Blu-ray Released: August 12th, 2008

The Search For John Gissing - It’s nearing the end of the decade, and I can now safely say that “The Search For John Gissing” is one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen since the millennium began. Here is a movie that has its rough edges, but in a way that’s good because the film makes you laugh at the American Way versus the British Way and how a whole stack of interesting, fully developed characters bounce off one another. DVD Release Date: August 12th, 2008

Tread Softly Stranger - Set in the North of England this atmospheric crime thriller stars Diana Dors as the sexy vamp Calico, who is the girlfriend of Dave (Terence Morgan). When Dave s better looking brother Johnny (George Baker) arrives from London to escape his gambling debts, the heat soon rises when Johnny and Calico are attracted to each other. She persuades the brothers to rob the wages safe where Dave works, but as they break in, a night watchman discovers them... DVD Release Date: May 26th, 2008

Seven Days to Noon - A scientist threatens to let off an atomic device in London unless the government stops its research into WMDs in this classic thriller from the Boulting brothers. Ten years before the Boulting brothers made Suspect, with its tale of biological research potentially being used for WMDs, they directed, produced and co-wrote this thematically related film, involving another potentially catastrophic branch of science: atomic research. The London of Seven Days To Noon might be long gone, but the film's debates aren't. DVD Release Date: July 14th, 2008

Brass Monkey - Based on an old British radio show, 'The Brass Monkey' is a fast-paced British mystery and comedy thriller. Caroll Levis stars as a radio personality who attempts to prevent a connoisseur of Buddhist artifacts from stealing the priceless Brass Monkey. The film is littered with stars such as Herbert Lom, Avril Angers and Terry-Thomas, but it is perhaps most famous for being the swansong of the beautiful Carole Landis. She committed suicide shortly after this film in a scandal that shook the world. DVD Release Date: January 22nd, 2007

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of August 11th, 2008

Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin, 2006) Criterion

Cj7 (Stephen Chow, 2008) - Sony
Cj7 [Blu-ray] (Stephen Chow, 2008) - Sony

Dirty Dancing (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] (Emile Ardolino, 1987) Lions Gate

The Doors [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1991) - Lions Gate

The Fog [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 1980) RB UK - Optimum Home Entertainment

Irina Palm (Sam Garbarski, 2007) Strand Releasing

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

Madeleine (David Lean, 1950) R2 UK ITV DVD

The Michael Caine Collection (The Fourth Protocol, Educating Rita, The Ipcress File, The Eagle Has Landed and Without A Clue) R2 UK ITV DVD

The Passionate Friends (David Lean, 1949) R2 UK ITV DVD

Eclipse Series 11: Larisa Shepitko - The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko, 1976), Wings (Larisa Shepitko, 1966) Criterion

The Search for John Gissing (Mike Binder, 2001) Starz / Anchor Bay

This Happy Breed (David Lean, 1944) R2 UK ITV DVD

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


Week of August 18th, 2008

Chronicle of an Escape (Adrián Caetano, 2005) IFC

Constantine's Sword (Oren Jacoby, 2008) First Run Features

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

The Life Before Her Eyes (Vadim Perelman, 2007) Magnolia

The Life Before Her Eyes [Blu-ray] (Vadim Perelman, 2007) Magnolia

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (Bharat Nalluri, 2008) - Universal

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

Nixon [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1995) - Walt Disney Video

Perry Mason: Season 3 V.1 - Paramount

The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005) First Look Pictures

The Proposition [Blu-ray] (John Hillcoat, 2005) First Look Pictures

Recount (Jay Roach, 2008) HBO Home Video

The Small Back Room (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1949) Criterion

Still Life (Zhang Ke Jia, 2006) R2 UK Bfi Video

Street Kings (David Ayer, 2008) 20th Century Fox
Street Kings [Blu-ray] (David Ayer, 2008) 20th Century Fox

Twenty-four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954) Criterion

The Wizard of Gore (Jeremy Kasten, 2007) Genius


"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." - Mark Twain
Cheers to a great upcoming week!


P.S. - STILL A SUBSTANTIAL SAVING The Ingmar Bergman Archives - Hardcover + DVD 16.2 x 11.8 in., 592 pages. Contains previously unseen images from Bergman's films, and selected unpublished images from the personal archives of many photographers, plus written a narrative that, for the first time, will combine all of Bergman's working life in film and theater. It's $74 cheaper than the Taschen website at Pre-Order at Amazon HERE or at Amazon.UK HERE includes a DVD full of rare and previously unseen material, and a film strip from Fanny and Alexander.