DVDBeaver Newsletter - August 25th, 2006


Chíkmàa! - This is one of our more significant newsletters - 15 new reviews (5 of which are comparisons). We lean heavily in the direction of Film Noir again with entries by Fritz Lang, Phil Karlson, Nicholas Ray, Tay Garnett and others (and this is right after a week including Double Indemnity, Fourteen Hours, The Amazing Mr. X, Hangmen Also Die, and Lured). Other popular postings show how Criterion's new REISSUES of how both Seven Samurai and Amarcord stack up against previous and alternate editions. Enjoy !!


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


Coming Dec 5th:

Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 1 - Baby Face, Red-Headed Woman, Waterloo Bridge - Warner
Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Film Collection -
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - 2 disc, The Sandpiper, The V.I.P.s , The Comedians - Warner

and on September 18th:
The Hustler
(Cinema Reserve Collection with Newman commentary) - R2 UK - Twentieth Century Fox


NEW Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!)

Im Kwon Taek Collection - Come, Come, Come Upwards (1989), Sopyonje (1993), Taebaek Mountains (1994), Festival (1996), Chunhyang (2000) - Taeheung Movies

Ginger Rogers - Screen Goddess Collection (Tight Spot, Bachelor Mother, The Gay Divorcee, It Had To Be You, The Major And The Minor and Top Hat) R2 UK Universal

Tight Spot (Phil Karlson, 1955) R2 UK Sony Pictures Home Ent.

It's a Wonderful Life (Special Collector's Edition) (Frank Capra, 1947) Paramount Home Video

Reds (25th Anniversary Edition) (Warren Beatty, 1981) Paramount Home Video

Eric Rohmer's Tales Of The Four Seasons (Four Discs - Autumn Tale (1998), A Summer's Tale (1996), A Tale of Winter (1992), A Tale of Springtime (1990) ) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Three Times (Hsiao-hsien Hou, 2005) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Eric Rohmer Collection ('La Boulangere De Monceau', 'La Carriere De Suzanne' and 'Le Signe Du Lion') R2 UK Artificial Eye

Celine And Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974) R2 UK BFI

Paris nous appartient (Jacques Rivette, 1960) R2 UK BFI

Time To Leave (François Ozon, 2005) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Sátántangó (Béla Tarr, 1994) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Shoeshine (Vittorio de Sica, 1946) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

STRATEGIES: The best way to take full advantage of Amazon is to use PRE-ORDERs - lock in at the discount price by ORDERING - if perchance you decide against the purchase you have until the release date to cancel - at no charge.

AND  if you will purchase more than 35 DVDs (or anything) in a 365 day period (and live in the Continental US) it makes excellent financial sense to subscribe to Amazon Prime! You will get Free 2-day shipping on your purchases!


RECOMMENDATIONS: An incredible week - Notables include Criterion's awe-inspiring Seven Samurai package - my superlatives flow in the review but Criterion remain the brightest existing beacon for exposing great cinema on digital versatile disc... ever. Amarcord also aptly represents their dominance in the area of DVD production. I realize that price is always a consideration but I am ecstatic with my new Japanese DVD Boxsets - Columbia Tri-Star Film Noir Collection Volumes 1 + 2 - we've reviewed the, unavailable in Region1, releases - Tight Spot, Human Desire and Knock on Any Door. These films are heavy fodder for the noir crowd - I enjoyed my viewings immensely and the DVDs are right up to par. We belatedly reviewed the 56' classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers more as an encouragement to produce a new Special Edition or the like of this unforgettable B masterpiece - but watch out many e-tailors are out of stock of the Republic release (the only one in its original superscope 2.0:1 ratio). Switching gears - Duck Season is a warm, humorous and a very human debut feature from a new Mexican filmmaker - you won't be disappointed - go for the Warner Region 1. Back to Film Noir  - I enjoyed Shock although many may find it farfetched and disjointed. On the other hand The Postman Always Rings Twice is one of the style's staples and a must own.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: New Yorker Video aren't living up to Project X's high standard with their releases of Eternity and a Day, The Swindle, and Voyage En Douce although the latter has no competition digitally (that we are aware) - tube worthy releases but standards appear to have dropped a notch.    


New Reviews:


State of the Union - Ambitious political satire in which Tracy stars as Grant Matthews, a self-made millionaire manipulated into running for the White House by wily newspaper publisher Kay Thorndyke (Lansbury, playing twice her age and doing fine). Soon, of course, Matthews finds himself compromised by the demands of lobbyists and special interest groups. Putting Capra's sensible-shoes view of politics is Hepburn, cast against type as Mary Matthews, the voice of domestic reason. The role was originally intended for the softer, sweeter Claudette Colbert. DVD Release Date: August 22nd, 2006

Tight Spot - The neglected but powerful noirmeister Phil Karlson shows how good he can be in this taut 1955 thriller about a former gangster's moll (Ginger Rogers, no less) who agrees to work for the police. The script is by William Bowers; with Edward G. Robinson and Brian Keith. Part of the Japanese DVD Boxset - Columbia Tri-Star Film Noir Collection Vol.2

Human Desire - Fritz Lang's 1954 American version of the Zola novel (and Renoir film) La bete humaine. Gloria Grahame, at her brassiest, pleads with Glenn Ford to do away with her slob of a husband, Broderick Crawford. Lang mines the railroad setting for a remarkably rich series of visual correlatives to his oppressively Catholic conception of guilt and retribution. A gripping melodrama, marred only by Ford's inability to register an appropriate sense of doom. Part of the Japanese DVD Boxset - Columbia Tri-Star Film Noir Collection Vol.2

Knock on Any Door - This marked the first outing for Bogart's own Production Company Santana and features a powerful performance from rising young star Derek. Attorney Andrew Morton (Bogart) is persuaded to represent underprivileged teen Nick Romano (Derek) who's up on a murder charge. Set within the confines of the courtroom director Ray breaks out to location by the use of flashbacks telling the story of Romano's no-hope upbringing. The excitement and tension is built up nicely, and although it touches on the melodramatic at times, remains crisp and sharp throughout. Part of the Japanese DVD Boxset - Columbia Tri-Star Film Noir Collection Vol.1

Voyage En Douce - The Voyage in question immerses the viewer in the world of these two talkative yet strangely inarticulate friends without offering easy answers or facile insights. The viewer follows where the Voyage leads, as the characters themselves do, and bask in the summer sunlight of the French countryside. There are answers but the questions themselves are ambiguous and contradictory. Chaplin and Sanda, consummate actors, bring a crackling intensity and (at times) affecting vulnerability to their roles. DVD Release Date: August 29th, 2006

The Swindle - In this chilly thriller -- Chabrol's 50th feature-- he teams contemporary star Isabelle Huppert and veteran star (of 80 films!) Michel Serrault as small time con artists. Serrault is charming in a goofy way; an irritable loner looking for laughs. Huppert now aging gracefully displays her usual cold nonchalant beauty. New Yorker edition Release Date: August 29th, 2006

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - There's something strange going on in Santa Mira. Children don't recognize their parents. Husbands have become estranged from their wives. Mass hysteria? Mass alienation more likely. Dr Kevin McCarthy discovers the secret: pod people are colonizing the earth, taking human form but dispensing with the soul. Shot in just 19 days, Siegel's economical adaptation of a Jack Finney story (script by Daniel Mainwaring of Out of the Past fame) is one of the most resonant sci-fi movies, and one of the simplest. It has been interpreted as an allegory against McCarthyism, though it could equally stand as anti-Communist. (In his book A Siegel Film, the director has nothing to say on the matter.) It's still a chilling picture, gaining over Phil Kaufman's smart remake by virtue of its intimate small town setting, and it has one of the greatest endings ever filmed.

Shock - Many will not succumb to the incredulous plot twists and matter-of-fact dramaturgy that Alfred L. Werker's 1946 Shock exports. On the good side it gives us the essence of
Film Noir - generally normal people doing horrible things to get what they want - for the love of money or a woman. The plot is promising - Dr. Cross (Vincent Price), a psychiatrist, is treating a young woman, Janet Stewart (Anabel Shaw), who is in a coma-state, brought on when she heard loud arguing, went to her window and saw a man strike his wife with a candlestick and kill her. This becomes star-crossed with the momentary reunion of her husband - a 2-year prisoner of war. As she comes out of her shock, she recognizes that Dr. Cross is the killer. DVD Release Date: August 29th, 2006

The Postman Always Rings Twice - In many ways a more striking reading of Cain's novel than the Rafelson remake, even though required to pussyfoot on the sexual side. With the opening shot of a sign announcing 'Man Wanted', and Turner's first appearance heralded by a lipstick teasingly rolling across the floor to Garfield's feet, no bed is needed to show what she is selling. A drifter passing through, paralyzed by her black widow sting, Garfield becomes a man without a will, immobilized in the bleak little California backwater and gradually mired in a cesspit of lust, betrayal and murder that turns too late into love. The plot gathers slack latterly; but this is only a minor flaw in a film, more grey than noir, whose strength is that it is cast as a bleak memory in which, from the far side of paradise, a condemned man surveys the age-old trail through sex, love and disillusionment.

Eternity and a Day follows the final days of Alexandre (Bruno Ganz), a celebrated Greek author as he prepares to leave his seaside home for what he feels is the last time. While preparing to depart, he finds a letter from his long-dead wife, Anna (Isabelle Renauld), who wrote about a memorable summer day they spent over thirty years ago. From that point, Alexandre embarks on a metaphysical journey through his past and present with the help of a young street urchin boy that crosses his path. Realizing that after spending his entire life chasing after the words of poems and novels, Alexandre wants one final chance to capture the lost precious moments of the true happiness that he know realizes, even if only for one day. New Yorker edition Release Date: August 15th, 2006

Duck Season - This impressive debut feature from Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke, deserves a place in the hearts of underachievers worldwide. Duck Season is highly evocative of Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise as a comedic black and white study in boredom, but it captures the apathy of my generation with such poignant wit and subtle poetry, that it probably belongs to be placed in a category of its own. Warner - Region 1 edition Release Date: August 29th, 2006

Vicki - One can't discuss 'Vicki' without mentioning its superior predecessor - I Wake Up Screaming. Not to say that Vicki is not a good film noir representative, but it liberally takes (scene after exact scene) without improvement or convincing alternate twist. The performances are adept - Jean Peters, as the model who gets killed; Jeanne Crain, as her misgiving sister; Craggy faced Richard Boone as Lt. Ed Cornell, Aaron Spelling though is no Elisha Cook Jr..... but each seem to do the best with Harry Horner's unremarkable direction. The plot is a far-fetched one but I still like the attempt - Supermodel Vicki Lynn, whose face is seen everywhere, is murdered, and ace homicide cop Ed Cornell cuts his vacation short to take the case personally. DVD Release Date: August 29th, 2006

Gilles' Wife - “Gilles’ Wife” is a film by Belgian director Frédéric Fonteyne, and it reminds me of another film by a Belgian director: Chantal Akerman’s (in)famous “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles” (1976). “Gilles’ Wife” is hardly the equivalent of Akerman’s masterpiece cum endurance test, but the films tackle similar material. Each film depicts a woman (Jeanne, a widow; Elisa, a wife) whose world is circumscribed by the daily rituals of domestic servitude, and who eventually rebels against her repressive environment. DVD Release Date: August 8th, 2006

Seven Samurai - One of the most beloved movie epics of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (Shichinin no samurai) tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride—featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura—seamlessly weaves philosophy and entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.  Criterion's 3-disc REISSUE Release Date: September 5th, 2006

Amarcord - In this carnivalesque portrait of provincial Italy during the Fascist period, Federico Fellini's most personal film satirizes his youth and turns daily life into a circus of social rituals, adolescent desires, male fantasies, and political subterfuge, all set to Nina Rota’s classic, nostalgia-tinged score. The Academy Award-winning Amarcord remains one of cinema's enduring treasures. Criterions 2-disc REISSUE Release Date: September 5th, 2006


Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of August 28thst, 2006


The Black Swan (Henry King,1942) Cinema Club R2 UK

Double Indemnity (Special Edition) (Billy Wilder, 1944) Universal Studios

Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962) Fremantle Home Entertainment

Fourteen Hours (Henry Hathaway, 1951) 20th Century Fox

Ginger Rogers - Screen Goddess Collection (Tight Spot, Bachelor Mother, The Gay Divorcee, It Had To Be You, The Major And The Minor and Top Hat) R2 UK Universal

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (John D. Hancock, 1971) Paramount Home Video

Lonesome Jim (Steve Buscemi, 2005) Genius Products Inc

Rien ne va plus - aka The Swindle (Claude Chabrol, 1997) New Yorker Video

Seduced & Abandoned (Pietro Germi, 1964) Criterion Collection

Shock (Alfred L. Werker, 1946) 20th Century Fox

The Sun Also Rises (Henry King , 1957) Cinema Club R2 UK

The Swindle (Claude Chabrol, 1997) New Yorker Video

The Tall Men (Raoul Walsh, 1955) Cinema Club R2 UK

This Island Earth (Joseph M. Newman, 1955) Universal Studios

Vicki (Harry Horner, 1953) 20th Century Fox

Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961) Fremantle Home Entertainment

Le Voyage en douce (Michel Deville, 1980) New Yorker Video


Week of September 4th, 2006


Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973) Criterion Collection

Blade Runner - The Director's Cut (Ridley Scott ,1982) Warner Home Video

Brazil Single - disc (Terry Gilliam, 1985)  Criterion Collection

Brazil Three - disc (Terry Gilliam, 1985) Criterion Collection

The Bela Lugosi Box Set: 15 Frightful Films - The Midnight Girl (1925), White Zombie (1932), The Death Kiss (1932), The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934), The Return Of Chandu (1934), Chandu On The Magic Island (1935), The Dark Eyes Of London (The Human Monster) (1939), The Devil Bat (1941), The Corpse Vanishes (1942), Bowery At Midnight (1942), The Ape Man (1943), Scared To Death (1947), Glen Or Glenda? (1953), Bride Of The Monster (1955), Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) - Passport

Godzilla - Gojira Deluxe Collector's Edition (2 DVD set) - Godzilla (1954 Japanese Edition-English subtitles) Sony Wonder

House of the Damned (1963) (Maury Dexter, 1963) 20th Century Fox

Jesse James (Henry King ,1939) 20th Century Fox

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967) Criterion Collection

Pretty Poison (Noel Black, 1968) 20th Century Fox

The Quiet Duel (Akira Kurosawa, 1949) Brentwood Home Video

The Return of Frank James (Fritz Lang , 1940) 20th Century Fox

Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954) Criterion Collection



Criterion's October lineup
Sólo con tu pareja
(Alfonso Cuarón, 1991), Clean, Shaven (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 1994), Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963), Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989)


FASTER? - No patience for the Beaver homepage? - try the streamlined http://www.dvdbeaver-lite.com/ (a text version with all the same intrepid info!)


DON'T FORGET: Craving the stuff you can't seem to get anywhere else? Beavers TOP YesAsia picks are listed HERE


PRE-ORDERS and discounts (30% off or more)

Kicking and Screaming (Noah Baumbach ,1995), Seduced & Abandoned, Seven Samurai - 3-disc, Amarcord 2-disc, Brazil 3-disc, Brazil 1-disc, and Playtime. Plus October's lineup - Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991), Clean, Shaven (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 1994), Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963), Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989)


For those in the Summer season - enjoy while you can!