DVDBeaver Newsletter - September 1st, 2006


Nah-mah-stay! - 12 new reviews this week (4 of which are new Criterion DVDs and 4 of which are significant comparisons). A few of the films covered include works directed by Victor Erice, Jacques Tati, Terry Gilliam, Stanley Donen, Fritz Lang, Norman Jewison, Woody Allen and more. Plus some calendar updates and alternations and this month's feature DVD (is it September already?). One of our more complete newsletters...  


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


DISAPPEARING ACT - It seems that all three newly posted Signature Collections (P. Newman, G. Cooper and M. Brando) have disappeared from amazon.com. ?!? We just called Amazon customer service and they said that these sets are 'Out of Production'. ? Hopefully they will return soon.


BAD PACKAGING: The finally shipped VCI Hammer Noirs 3-pack - a very think case with one DVD holder and 3 discs stacked on top of one another - if I had known this I would have bought the individual boxes for a little more money...  The set contains - Bad Blonde (1953) Man Bait (1952) A Stolen Face (1952) - Blackout (1954) Gambler and the Lady (1952) - Heat Wave (1954). Reviews will be forthcoming...


FEATURE DVD FOR SEPTEMBER: An expected and obvious choice for this months Feature DVD...


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

There Was a Crooked Man... (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1970) Warner Home Video

Illustrated Man (Jack Smight, 1969) Warner Home Video
Operation Crossbow (Michael Anderson, 1965) Warner Home Video
Presenting Lily Mars (Norman Taurog, 1943) Warner Home Video
Up Periscope (Gordon Douglas, 1959) Warner Home Video

Arrangement (Elia Kazan, 1969) Warner Home Video
Band of Angels
(Raoul Walsh, 1957) Warner Home Video

(Michael Crichton, 1981) Warner Home Video
Madame Curie
(Mervyn LeRoy, 1944) Warner Home Video

Neo-Realist Box Set - (Rome, Open City, The Bicycle Thieves, Miracle In Milan, Umberto D, I Vitelloni) R2 UK - Arrow Film Distributors Ltd.

The Ingmar Bergman Collection (30 Films!) - 1. After the Rehearsal, 2. All These Women, 3. Autumn Sonata, 4. Cries and Whispers, 5. Crisis, 6. Dreams, 7. Farodokument 79, 8. From The Life of the Marionettes, 9. A Lesson in Love, 10. The Magician, 11. Music in Darkness, 12. Persona, 13. Port of Call, 14. Prison, 15. The Rite, 16. Saraband, 17. Scenes From a Marriage, 18. The Seventh Seal, 19. The Silence, 20. Smiles of a Summer Night, 21. Summer Interlude, 22. Summer With Monika, 23. Three Strange Loves, 24. Through a Glass Darkly, 25. Torment, 26. To Joy, 27. The Virgin Spring, 28. Waiting Women, 29. Wild Strawberries, 30. Winter Light) - R2 UK Tartan

Cars (Widescreen Edition) (2006) Walt Disney Video

Icons of Horror: Boris Karloff The Black Room (1935), The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Before I Hang (1940), The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) - Sony Pictures

The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller, Vol. 2 (Tarzan Triumphs / Tarzan's Desert Mystery / Tarzan and the Amazons / and the Leopard Woman / and the Huntress / and the Mermaids) Warner Home Video

Columbo: Complete Sixth & Seventh Seasons (3-discs) Universal Studios

X-Men - The Last Stand (The Stan Lee Collector's Edition) (Brett Ratner, 2006) 20th Century Fox

Jan Svankmajer: The Ossuary & Other Tales - Kino Video

Night Train to Paris (Robert Douglas, 1964) 20th Century Fox

All the King's Men (Robert Rossen, 1949) Sony Pictures

The True Story of Jesse James (Nicholas Ray, 1957) 20th Century Fox

Down in the Valley (David Jacobson, 2005) Velocity / Thinkfilm

Rediscover Jacques Feyder (1925) - 3-disc - Homevision

Regular Lovers - R2 UK Artificial Eye

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season Two (5-disc) - Universal Studios

Martin & Lewis: Vol 1 (My Friend Irma / My Friend Irma Goes West / The Caddy / Scared Stiff) - Paramount Home Video

Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection (Christmas in July, The Great McGinty, Hail the Conquering Hero, Great Moment, The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, Palm Beach Story) - Universal Studios

The Fountainhead (King Vidor, 1949) Warner

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



Coming September 19th from Universal (tentative)

The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection (Tarantula, The Mole People, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Monolith Monsters, Monster On The Campus; 3-disc set)

Coming Dec 5th from Warner:

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 from Fox UK:
The Hustler
(Cinema Reserve Collection with Newman commentary) - R2 UK - Twentieth Century Fox

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: Again, I'll preface that these selections are only my taste - certainly subject to your head scratching, verbal abuse and, at times, disbelief. BUT anyway...

Playtime should be at the top of the list for all cinema fans - this film will continue to be discussed decades from now and Criterion have given us one of their most dramatic improvements in the new REISSUE release. For those who have not seen Victor Erice's masterpiece - The Spirit of the Beehive - is an absolute must and the Criterion package is a triumph of completeness. Criterion (again) have give us the only available 16X9 NTSC transfer of Terry Gilliam's Brazil - a fun film that also speaks volumes. I'll continue to champion what I consider to be Allen's best film of the past decade (and perhaps of all time) - Match Point. Even without being a poker buff, one could still get great enjoyment from Norman Jewison's The Cincinnati Kid. - superb performances all round. Those keen on Donen's Charade will surely enjoy Arabesque as well. Some left field, but genuinely good, selection include - Pretty Poison, Let's Scare Jessica To Death, and Jigoku. Ohh and I remain a strong fan and have all available sets including the latest - The Simpsons Season Eight.    


New Reviews:


The Spirit of the Beehive (NEW Criterion compared to Optimum) - Víctor Erice’s spellbinding The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena) is widely regarded as the greatest Spanish film of the 1970s. In a small Castilian village in 1940, in the wake of the country's devastating civil war, six-year-old Ana attends a traveling movie show of Frankenstein and becomes possessed by the memory of it. DVD Release Date: September 19th, 2006

The Beat That My Heart Skipped - In tune with the theme of the film, ”The Beat That My Heart Skipped” is more a variation of James Toback’s 1978 “Fingers”, than a reversion or remake. While characters, situations and plot elements are shared, mood and tone are different, similar to the same melody being played in two different variations and styles.

The Simpsons Season Eight - Matt Groening generated such a massive cult following with his landmark series “The Simpsons” (1989) that the popular TV show recently began its eighteenth season and, as of a couple years ago, became the longest running comedy series in television history. While it’s difficult to overestimate the series’ obvious fame, I think many fans fail to acknowledge the show’s cultural significance over the past sixteen years. DVD Release Date: Aug. 15, 2006


Playtime (NEW Criterion REISSUE compared) - Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the endearingly clumsy, resolutely old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a bafflingly modernist Paris. With every inch of its superwide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion. DVD Release Date: September 5th, 2006

(NEW Criterion Single Disc REISSUE compared) - Pitting the imagination of common man Sam Lowry (the brilliantly befuddled Jonathan Pryce) against the oppressive storm troopers of the Ministry of Information, Terry Gilliam's Brazil has come to be regarded as an anti-totalitarianism cautionary tale equal to the works of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. DVD Release Date: September 5th, 2006

Hangmen Also Die - Lang's marvellously dark adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's fictionalized take on the assassination of notorious Nazi leader and Czech 'protector' Reinhard Heydrich by the resistance movement, killed in Prague in 1942. Donlevy plays the assassin hiding in the city as the Gestapo promise retribution. There's plenty of tense Langian suspense and the story fits his noir disposition perfectly. Brecht was apparently none too pleased with the result, feeling his contribution had been undermined, but the film manages to pull off the tough double of making an anti-Nazi political statement and being thrilling entertainment as well. The lackluster Orbit Media PAL DVD release came out in February of this year.

Pretty Poison - A one-off minor masterpiece from debut director Black, Pretty Poison stars Perkins as the factory worker and part-time arsonist, who gets more then he bargained for when he teams up with impressionable teenager Weld. Giving new meanings to the phrase quiet waters run deep, Perkins with his psychological problems is no match for Weld's murderous intent. While Perkins initially manages to teach her a trick or two, the roles are soon reversed. Impressively dark comedy, especially noteworthy for Perkins' performance. Black's direction manages to get the most out of the tight script, by regarding his characters with a mixture of horror and fascination. DVD Release Date: August 29th, 2006

Match Point - Match Point is sexy, mysterious, building, eventful and essentially quite unforgettable. The performances are basically one dimensional - aside from the moral slippage of the protagonist - conveniently ready Crime and Punishment in the beginning of the film. Scarlett Johansson has never looked better (as good as any female has a right to look) and her character generously gives to Rhys Meyers - an extremely important cog in the brilliant evolution of this story. Obvious comparisons are made to Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors - the sterility of murder and the cold blanket of its cumulative effect. For me this is a favorite film of the past few years and one I should have added to this article had I seen it first. Nothing short of perfection and we should be enormously grateful to have Allen as a working filmmaker. Don't miss out on this masterpiece. The Dreamworks DVD came out in April of this year.

Let's Scare Jessica To Death - John D Hancock's under-rated thriller stars Zohra Lampert as mentally fragile hippy who, with husband Barton Heyman and friend Kevin O'Connor, moves from New York to an isolated Connecticut farmhouse to rehabilitate. But they may not be the only residents as Jessica starts hearing voices and seeing spectral images... DVD Release Date: August 29th, 2006

Arabesque - Stanley Donen's follow-up to Charade is not quite the tour de force the earlier film was, but even with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren standing in for Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, it's a slick and satisfying entertainment. Watch for the unforgettable Eisensteinian moment when Donen cuts from Loren's mouth to a steam shovel. DVD Release Date: May 8th, 2006

The Cincinnati Kid - Norman Jewison, perhaps the best of the more unrecognized directors, replaces Sam Peckinpah, supposedly because Peckinpah tried to sneak in a nude scene with Sharon Tate into a US cut that was only proposed for the European edition. Fired Peckinpah disappears with Tate and the project stalls. Destined for greatness we have Ring Lardner and Terry Southern's script, taken from Richard Jessup's novel dealing with 2 poker-icons, the aged master and the fresh up-and-commer, meeting for THE big game in '30s New Orleans.

Jigoku - Shocking, outrageous, and poetic, Jigoku (Hell, a.k.a. The Sinners of Hell) is the most innovative creation from Nobuo Nakagawa, the father of the Japanese horror film. After a young theology student flees a hit-and-run accident, he is plagued by both his own guilt-ridden conscience and a mysterious, diabolical doppelganger. But all possible escape routes lead straight to hell— literally. In the gloriously gory final third of the film, Nakagawa offers up his vision of the underworld in a tour de force of torture and degradation. A striking departure from traditional Japanese ghost stories, Jigoku, with its truly eye-popping (and -gouging) imagery, created aftershocks that are still reverberating in contemporary world horror cinema. DVD Release Date: September 19th, 2006

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of September 4th, 2006


All the King's Men (Robert Rossen, 1949) Sony Pictures

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

Night Train to Paris (Robert Douglas, 1964) 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

The True Story of Jesse James (Nicholas Ray, 1957) 20th Century Fox


Week of September 11th, 2006


Death Mr Lazerescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005) Wellspring Media, Inc

Film Noir - The Dark Side of Hollywood (Sudden Fear / The Long Night / Hangmen Also Die / Railroaded / Behind Locked Doors) Kino Video

Great Yokai War (Takashi Miike, 2005) Tokyo Shock

I Am a Sex Addict (Caveh Zahedi, 2005) Wellspring

International Cinema Collection (A Very Long Engagement / Day for Night / The Damned / Gloomy Sunday / Death in Venice) Warner Home Video

Jan Svankmajer: The Ossuary & Other Tales - Kino Video

Laurel and Hardy Collection, Vol. 2 - Disk 1: A-Haunting We Will Go (1942) Disk 2: The Dancing Masters (1943) Disk 3: Bullfighters (1945) - 20th Century Fox

Teen Terror Collection - (Teenage Doll, Teenage Monster, Teenagers from Outer Space) - Image Entertainment




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)

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 headed back to school soon - remember these may be the happiest years of your life - enjoy while you can!