Newsletter - FOR THE WEEK OF August 24th, 2009


This Week's Highlights

G'day! - 17 Blu-rays covered this newsletter. Two Best Picture Winners in stunning Blu-ray, and 2 BFI 'Flipside releases, Van Sant, Altman, Tony Gilroy, sales and another easy new contest and more.....
TOOLBAR - NEW BUTTONS ADDED! (you spoke - we listened) - THE 'DVDBeaver Toolbar'! Give it a test drive! I've created a very simple toolbar for Film-Fans/DVD-o-philes/cinephiles. It embeds effortlessly within Internet Explorer 5.0+ (Windows Vista/XP/2000) and Firefox 1.0.1+ (Windows, Mac, Linux). It offers quick links to Searching both the Net (via Google) and DVDBeaver directly, Amazons, Asian etailors, Forums (Criterion, Home Theater, AVS, Rotten Tomatoes, Film Noir), IMdb, DVDBasen, Beaver links, Blu-ray information, Cinephile Blogs/Journals (Rosenbaum, Kehr, Acquarello etc.). What do you think? FOR MORE INFORMATION / AVAILABLE HERE *** (We can adjust this to suit popular opinion - on-the-fly - no re-install required!)
August 24th CONTEST - identify the clip on the CONTEST PAGE to win a brand new Blu-ray of Green Lantern -  Best of luck all!
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If there are DVD titles you'd like us to cover - please feel free to recommend!

Gary at 2ze dot com


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ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey):  This week Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning 1995 Braveheart gets the biggest nod for a Blu-ray package. It looks like the apex of the format's visual capabilities. Gladiator would get similar accolades if not for some digital manipulations most visible to those who project. It's still a strong release with an amazing audio track and bountiful extras. Altman's unforgettable classic M*A*S*H remains a masterpiece and this smoky, imperfectly looking Blu-ray image and cloudy, tinny dialogue suit the presentation to an artistic 'T'. Warmly recommended. Region FREE Blu-rays from the UK that we fully endorse are the Nazi-assassinating spy adventure Flame and Citron and the bold, rarely seen, avant-garde Herostratus. Thumbs up to both! While Pete Walker's Man of Violence in 1080P may be style over substance it's still a very cool, if confusing, ride. The Good, The Bad, The Weird get the nod as well but this disc is region-locked to 'B'. Like A.O. Scott - our own Leonard Norwitz gives Fighting a very positive fist up! State of Play and Duplicity may be worth a spin depending on your mood but The Informers can be easily missed without regret. I think Adventureland as well is a decent slice of life period piece residing in the 80's - yes, worthy indeed. I find Kassovitz' La Haine, the modern noir Brick and Van Sant's Elephant - great films... but imperfect, bare-bones Blu-rays. Only the latter should be considered at this time.


Herostratus BR - When Max, a young poet (played by the iconic Michael Gothard) hires a marketing company to turn his suicide-by-jumping into a mass-media spectacle, he finds that his subversive intentions are quickly diluted into a reactionary gesture, and his motivations are revealed as a desperate attempt to seek attention through celebrity. Unseen since its limited release in 1967, this audacious and prescient - yet criminally overlooked - work by experimental filmmaker Don Levy left a profound mark on the landscape of late-1960s British cinema, with echoes of its visual style evident in the more celebrated work of such notable directors as Stanley Kubrick, Nicolas Roeg and Michael Winner. Blu-ray Release date: August 24th, 2009

BR - One of the world's most acclaimed comedies, M*A*S*H focuses on three Korean War Army surgeons brilliantly brought to life by Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt and Elliott Gould. Though highly skilled and deeply dedicated, they adopt a hilarious, lunatic lifestyle as an antidote to the tragedies of their Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and in the process infuriate Army bureaucrats. Robert Duvall, Gary Burghoff and Sally Kellerman co-star as a sanctimonious Major, an other-worldly corporal, and a self-righteous yet lusty nurse. Blu-ray Release date: September 1st, 2009

BR - Welcome to Adventureland, where the worst job imaginable is about to inadvertently turn into the summer that changes everything. Adventureland, a self-professedly "funtastic" Pennsylvania amusement park, appears to be the bane of recent college graduate's James Brennan's existence. He previously had big plans to spend the summer on a life-altering trek through Europe that would initiate him into real adult life. But when his family suffers an economic downturn in the middle of the Reagan 80s, James' only summer trip is straight to a minimum wage job manning a game booth so existentially bankrupt, no one is even allowed to win the giant stuffed panda. Blu-ray Release date: August 25th, 2009

La Haine
BR - When he was just twenty-nine years old, Mathieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saďd (Saďd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their social marginalization slowly simmering until they reach a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis. Blu-ray Release Date: August 17th, 2009

BR - Mel Gibson's Oscar-winning 1995 Braveheart is an impassioned epic about William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish leader of a popular revolt against England's tyrannical Edward I (Patrick McGoohan). Gibson cannily plays Wallace as a man trying to stay out of history's way until events force his hand, an attribute that instantly resonates with several of the actor's best-known roles, especially Mad Max. The subsequent camaraderie and courage Wallace shares in the field with fellow warriors is pure enough and inspiring enough to bring envy to a viewer, and even as things go wrong for Wallace in the second half, the film does not easily cave in to a somber tone. One of the most impressive elements is the originality with which Gibson films battle scenes, featuring hundreds of extras wielding medieval weapons. After Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, Orson Welles's Chimes at Midnight, and even Kenneth Branagh's Henry V, you might think there is little new that could be done in creating scenes of ancient combat; yet Gibson does it. Blu-ray Release date: September 1st, 2009

BR - Gladiator is the kind of movie upon which Hollywood once built its reputation but rarely produces anymore: the spectacle. Filled with larger-than-life characters, gorgeous scenery, impressive set design, and epic storytelling, Gladiator is designed not just to entertain, but to enthrall. It draws audiences in and immerses them in a reality that is not their own. A boisterous reaction is expected every time the protagonist defies the odds and wins a conflict, or changes the tide of battle in his favor. This is filmmaking on a grand scale. Blu-ray Release date: September 1st, 2009

Children of the Corn
BR - It's a peaceful, parched Sunday morning of late summer in the tiny Nebraska farming community of Gatlin. It's that lazy hour between the end of church services and the start of Sunday dinner when most kids feel at loose ends - but not this morning. The Gatlin children, at the direction of pint-sized Isaac, who looks like the demon seed of John Brown, rise up and with cool dispatch murder everyone in Gatlin over the age of 19. They use butcher knives, hatchets, sickles and whatever else is handy. All of this takes place in the swift, efficient, blood-splattered precredit sequence that begins ''Children of the Corn,'' another horror film from what must be the busiest word processor in the fiction business, the one belonging to Stephen King (''Carrie,'' ''The Shining,'' ''Christine'' and others ). Blu-ray Release date: August 25th, 2009

The Informers
BR - "The Informers" is about dread, despair and doom, and its characters are almost all about to be hit with more reasons for dread and despair, and a shared doom. It takes place in the Los Angeles show-biz drug subculture of 1983, when AIDS didn't have a name and cocaine looked like the answer to something. It demonstrates the eerie ways that music and movies connect people from vastly different lives in a subterranean way where desire is the common currency. Blu-ray Release date: August 25th, 2009

State of Play
BR - The movie opens like a blast from a shotgun: A man races on foot through streets and stores at night. He gets hit by a car but careens on to happen on a hideout among the trash bins. Alas, to no avail - his pursuer appears the moment our hapless victim sticks his head out. Death is just two shots away. The same fate is in store for a passing cyclist. Seemingly unrelated, a young woman meets her death at a subway platform. As news of the woman’s death reaches Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), he is overcome with unexpected grief just as the media has him on camera. While scruffy veteran journalist Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) chases down the story of the shootings he begins to make connections to the woman by way of Collins, his erstwhile college roommate. Blu-ray Release date: September 1st, 2009

Man of Violence
BR - In a world of gangs and villains, one man - Moon - will stop at nothing to get the girl and take the spoils. Pete Walker's affectionate low-budget homage to the gangster thriller is packed with sights and sounds from a Britain about to swing out of the Sixties and into a somewhat less optimistic decade. It offers not only rare glimpses of a world gone by, but also some unexpected twists on generic convention. The cast includes Hammer girls Luan Peters (Lust for a Vampire, Twins of Evil) and Virginia Wetherell (Doctor Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Demons of the Mind). Blu-ray Release date: August 24th, 2009

BR - Seeing Tony Gilroy's name as writer should be reassuring, his having given us the three Bourne movies and Michael Clayton. We should also credit the filmmakers for a spy movie without guns, car chases or explosions – unless we count explosions of temper and passion – of which Duplicity has many. Until the end, when, like Ben and Elaine at the back of the bus, all is spent. Meanwhile, this romantic, comedic thriller spins itself into quite the little cobweb of suspicion, plotting and thievery. Blu-ray Release date: August 25th, 2009

BR - My promo sheet contains a two word quote from A.O. Scott's review of the film: "A Winner!" OK, said I, I'll keep an open mind. I have always like Terrence Howard and those warm expressive eyes of his, and I saw Channing Tatum in Step Up and thought he had potential. Of the director, Dito Montiel, I knew nothing. Cutting right to the chase, I liked this movie – a lot. I liked his sense of character – both human and the neighborhood. I liked that I saw a glimmer of James Dean behind Tatum's hesitations and knowing/not-knowing glances. I liked that we just sort of drift into the fight scenes without orchestra swells or cheering audiences. Because I liked it, I felt kind of let down by the final fight, which wasn't staged as tightly as the earlier ones, and there are a couple moments where too much cutting within a dramatic talking scene loses track of the emotional pulse. Blu-ray Release date: August 25th, 2009

The Good, The Bad, The Weird
BR - The Good, The Bad, The Weird represents, along with Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), Shashank Ghosh's Quick Gun Murugan (2008) and Sadik Ahmed's The Last Thakur (2008), a new kind of genre: the "eastern", or Asian western. Where Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns may have borrowed a few ideas, or sometimes even an entire plot, from the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, this new film from Kim repays the debt in full, reimagining Leone's finest work The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966) transplanted to the lawless badlands of Japanese-occupied 1930s Manchuria, a desert landscape of ever-shifting boundaries where everyone is out to make their fortune, and everything is for sale. Here anything goes - and the same is true for this anarchic epic, as unbounded and pillage-happy as its three main characters. Blu-ray Release date: June 15th, 2009

Flame and Citron
BR - "Flame & Citron" is an old-fashioned vehicle beautifully restored and revitalized for the modern age. Its focus on the heroic behavior of a pair of Danish anti-Nazi resistance fighters may sound traditional, but the tone throughout is more nihilistic than idealistic, and that makes a considerable difference. Certainly, the ingredients of this Danish film, co-written and directed by Ole Christian Madsen and based on true events, are familiar. "Flame & Citron" is chock full of plot and incident, action and romance, loyalty and betrayal. Everyone has a jaunty nickname -- Flame is named for his bright red hair -- and the love of bravery and danger are in the air. Blu-ray Release date: June 29th, 2009

BR - Van Sant seems to believe there are no reasons for Columbine and no remedies to prevent senseless violence from happening again. Many viewers will leave this film as unsatisfied and angry as Variety's Todd McCarthy, who wrote after it won the Golden Palm at Cannes 2003 that it was "pointless at best and irresponsible at worst." I think its responsibility comes precisely in its refusal to provide a point. Blu-ray Release date: July 20th, 2009

BR - A detective story set around a California high school, BRICK dares to combine the teen and film noir genres. In mixing these two disparate worlds, Director Rian Johnson creates many comically jarring and ironic moments. When loner Brendan Frye (a barely recognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets a desperate-sounding call from his ex-love Emily (Emilie de Ravin), he feels compelled to help her, plunging himself into the seedy world of teenage crime that pulled her away from him in the first place. Throughout this journey, Brendan plays a hard-boiled type reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's iconic Sam Spade character. Johnson's script invests heavily in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and is filled with other archetypical characters like the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner), the eccentric crime lord (a brilliant Lukas Haas), and the dame in distress. Blu-ray Release date: July 20th, 2009

17 Again
BR - The movie opens 20 years ago at the big high school basketball game, with the usual scouts looking for possible candidates for their colleges. Mike O'Donnell (Zac) is the favored superstar. Just before the starting whistle, he spies his girlfriend in front of the stands and innocently steps over to accept her laurels. We don't hear the words that would change his life, but when Mike returns to the field, he is immobilized and runs off to find her. Cut to 20 years later, Zac has devolved into Matthew Perry. Not a good sign. Blu-ray Release date: August 11th, 2009

Next 3 weeks on the Calendar


Week of August 24th, 2009

Adventureland [Blu-ray] (Greg Mottola, 2009) MiraMax

All the Right Noises (Gerry O'Hara, 1969) - R2 'UK' BFI

All the Right Noises [Blu-ray] (Gerry O'Hara, 1969) - RB 'UK' BFI

British Cinema: Renown Pictures Comedy Collection: (Where There's A Will, Down Among the Z Men, Love In Pawn, Those People Next Door, No Smoking, Not So Dusty) - VCI

La belle noiseuse (Jacques Rivette, 1991) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Children of the Corn [Blu-ray] (Fritz Kiersch, 1984) Anchor Bay/Starz

Duplicity [Blu-ray] (Tony Gilroy, 2009) Universal Home Video

ECLIPSE SERIES 17: NIKKATSU NOIR - I Am Waiting (1957), Rusty Knife (1958), Take Aim at the Police Van (1960), Cruel Gun Story (1964) and A Colt Is My Passport (1967) - Criterion

El Cid (Deluxe Edition, 3 Discs) [Blu-ray] (Anthony Mann, 1961) R'B DE Koch Media GmbH - DVD

Golden Age Noir 2 (1956 - 8 features starring Lee Marvin, Vincent Price, Dick Powell etc.) - Raunchy Tonk

Goodbye Solo (Ramin Bahrani, 2008) LionsGate

Herostratus (1967) and Don Levy Shorts R2 UK - BFI Video
Herostratus (1967) and Don Levy Shorts [
Blu-ray] R'B' UK - BFI Video

The Informers (Gregor Jordan, 2009) Senator

The Informers [Blu-ray] (Gregor Jordan, 2009) Senator

The Jacques Rivette Collection (Secret Defense, Va Savoir and Histoire de Marie et Julien) - R2 UK - Artificial Eye

Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975) Criterion

The Last Days of Disco (Whit Stillman, 1998) Criterion

Man of Violence (Pete Walker, 1971) R2 UK - BFI Video
Man of Violence [
Blu-ray] (Pete Walker, 1971) R'B' UK - BFI Video

Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble (Maurice Pialat, 1972) R2 UK - Eureka Masters of Cinema
Passe ton bac d'abord (Maurice Pialat, 1979) R2 UK - Eureka Masters of Cinema

Sick Girl (Special Edition DVD) (Eben McGarr, 2007) Synapse Films

Sunshine Cleaning [Blu-ray] (Christine Jeffs, 2008) Overture

Trouble the Water (Carl Deal + Tia Lessin, 2008) Zeitgeist Films

Wanted Dead or Alive: The Complete Series (starring Steve McQueen) Mill Creek Entertainment


Week of August 31st, 2009

Blacula/Scream Blacula Scream - 20th Century Fox

Braveheart [Blu-ray] (Mel Gibson, 1995) Paramount

Diary For My Children (Márta Mészáros, 1084) R2 UK Second Run

Gladiator [Blu-ray] (Ridley Scott, 2000) Paramount

Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913 - Kino

High Crimes [Blu-ray] (Carl Franklin, 2002) Twentieth Century Fox

M*A*S*H [Blu-ray] (Robert Altman, 1970) Twentieth Century Fox

Monster [Blu-ray] (Patty Jenkins, 2003) First Look Pictures

Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga , 2009) Universal

State of Play [Blu-ray] (Kevin Macdonald, 2009) Universal Studios

TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Horror (House of Wax 1953 / The Haunting 1963 / Freaks / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1941) - Warner

Werner Herzog - Natural World Boxset [Blu-ray] (includes Encounters at the End of the world, Grizzly Man, White Diamond, La Soufriere & Flying Doctors of East Africa) - R'B' - revolver Entertainment

Withnail & I [Blu-ray] (Bruce Robinson, 1987) R'B' UK Starz


Week of September 7th, 2009

Catwoman [Blu-ray] (Pitof, 2004) Warner Home Video

The Country Teacher (Bohdan Slama, 2008) Film Movement

Creepshow [Blu-ray] (George A. Romero, 1982) Warner

Dead Calm [Blu-ray] (Phillip Noyce, 1989) Warner Home Video

Finding Nemo [Blu-ray] (Andrew Stanton, 2003) RB UK Walt Disney

The Girl Cut in Two (Claude Chabrol, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Homicide (David Mamet, 1991) - Criterion

The Human Condition - 4-disc (Masaki Kobayashi, 1959) - Criterion Collection

Kabei (Yoji Yamada, 2008) Strand Releasing

Model Shop (Jacques Demy, 1969) Sony Pictures

The New World [Blu-ray] (Terrence Malick, 2005) New Line Home Video

The Postman [Blu-ray] (Kevin Costner, 1997) Warner

Punch-Drunk Love [Blu-ray]  (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002) R'B' - Sony Pictures

The Pursuit of Happiness (Robert Mulligan, 1971) Sony Pictures

Requiem for a Dream [Blu-ray] (Darren Aronofsky, 2000) Lions Gate

Silverado [Blu-ray] (Lawrence Kasdan, 1985) Sony Pictures

Straw Dogs [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah, 1971) R'B' UK Fremantle

That Hamilton Woman (Alexander Korda, 1941) - Criterion

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