DVDBeaver Newsletter - October 20th, 2006
Sekoh! - 20 new reviews this week (5 of which are new comparisons) A lot of also-ran films on DVD this newsletter... and some new Calendar listings and deals...
Check out Beaver's ESSENTIAL FILM NOIR STORE - many more (with more listing) coming soon...
RKO titles still running cheap at Amazon France HERE!
Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.
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NEW Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER!)
Gabrielle (Patrice Chéreau, 2005) IFC
The Beales of Grey Gardens (Albert + David Maysles,2006) Criterion Collection
Band of Angels (Raoul Walsh, 1957) Warner Home Video
Holiday (George Cukor , 1938) Sony Pictures
Angels in the Outfield (Amazon Exclusive) (Clarence Brown, 1951) Warner Home Video
Ozu - Vol 4 (Late Autumn, An Autumn Afternoon) - R2 UK Tartan
Shi gan aka Time (Ki-duk Kim, 2006) KD MEDIA
Hana yori mo naho (Hirokazu Koreeda , 2006) With Eng SUBS - Shochiku Home Video
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Loach, Ken, 2006) R2 UK - Fox
À tout de suite (Right Now) (Jacquot, Benoît, 2004) - Home Vision
The Michael Haneke Trilogy: The Seventh Continent/Benny's Video/71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance - R2 UK - Tartan
The Wong Kar-Wai Collection: As Tears Go By/Days of Being Wild/In the Mood for Love - R2 UK -Tartan
Russ Meyer Box Set (12 films) - R2 UK - Arrow
The Jim Jarmusch Collection 1: Permanent Vacation/Stranger Than Paradise/Down By Law - R2 UK Tartan
The Julio Medem Collection 1: Vacas/Red Squirrel/Tierra - R2 UK - Tartan
The Wild Blue Yonder (Herzog, Werner, 2005) Subversive Cinema
St Trinian's Box Set (The Belles Of St. Trinian's, Blue Murder At St. Trinian's, The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery And The Pure Hell Of St. Trinian's) R2 UK Optimum
RECOMMENDATIONS: I'll be honest - I didn't see much that I would whole-heartedly recommend this week. The comparisons we did do not indicate any strong preference for the new issues. However, number one on my list is - Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season Two boiling over with value. This will have to hold me over till Perry Mason 2 comes out.
Masumura’s Red Angel is a strong film (not for the weak).
Even showing some flaws - The Dam Busters is a solid film experience.
WITH A PINCH OF SALT: - hated by most - it's hard to deny that The Magus has something strange going for it. Perhaps prepare for the obtuse.
HOLD UP: Not that many would shell out the $100+ for the worst DVD transfer in history, but be aware - Criterion will eventually come out with Malle's My Dinner With Andre.
INTRIGUING FARE FROM OTHER REVIEWERS: I'm keen to watch Altman's Streamers, the intense sounding Witchfinder General and Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre.
- De Palma's sleazfest (which I loved in my
early twenties) is debatable whether it is an
homage to the Master, or downright theft.
Combining elements of both of Hitchcock's
classic films Vertigo and Rear Window - it drums
in a modern voyeur-complex with liberal doses of
nudity, violence and sexuality to keep our
attentions off the weak performances. SE DVD
Release Date: October 3rd, 2006
The Last Voyage - Disaster for the passengers and crew of a luxury liner when an exploding boiler blows a hole in her side and it's all boats away. A certain realism is ensured by using the Ile de France on her way to the scrap-yard. But with Dorothy Malone trapped in her cabin and gurgling just above the waterline through the frenzied rescue operations, what price anything but absurdity along with the tension? DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2006
They All Laughed - This is a non-musical revamp of Bogdanovich's (equally unsuccessful) At Long Last Love. On the positive side, it looks good and boasts Hepburn in a rare star part at this period of her career. She's one of two women being followed by a trio of private detectives in New York. One of them (Gazara) is after her and two more (Ritter, Novak) pursue a woman (Stratten) who is having an affair. Sadly, the film lacks the light touch it needs and the only (cynical) laugh to be had is the suggestion that Bogdanovich had La Ronde in mind. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kinowelt - Region 2, 8 - PAL) - 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.) Kinowelt DVD Release Date: October 2nd, 2006
Body Heat - Hot and sticky, though never less than sumptuously deodorized, this is a neon-shaded contemporary noir romance: all lust, greed, murder, duplicity and betrayal. As credulously myopic lawyer Ned and slinky femme fatale Matty progress from dirty talk to dirty deeds (a disposable husband, a contestable will), there's the pleasure of unravelling a confidently dense yarn for its own sake, alongside the incongruous experience of finding yellowing pulp fiction classily rebound, or hearing a '40s standard of romantic unease re-recorded with digital precision. DVD Release Date: October 24th, 2006
Kansas City Confidential - An action-packed film noir directed by Phil Karlson with a flare for showing off how violent it can be, but it's hardly a credible story. It's filmed in a semi-documentary style, as it opens when three masked men successfully rob a Kansas City bank of over a million dollars. They use a florist' van to make their escape, where they meet the fourth member of the gang in another vehicle--the Mr. Big who set up the heist. He gives the three spending money and half of the king card to identify themselves when they will meet a month later to split up the loot.
Streamers - The 1980s are known as being a dark period for Robert Altman. Having been branded uncommercial by the New post-Star Wars, post-Jaws, post-Heaven's Gate Hollywood, the creative freedoms he and others like Coppola enjoyed during the seventies, as provided by the studio tit, were largely stripped from him as he found himself unable to find studio backing for his projects. Altman's work in the '80s greatly reflected this ostracization, as films like Secret Honor and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean found him moving away from the freeform mosaics that distinguished his 1970s work and adapting stage plays most of which were chamber pieces restricted to a single set. Streamers, adapted by David Rabe from his Tony-nominated play, is as revealing of this dynamic as any of Altman's work from this period, its drama confined to an army barracks at the eve of the Vietnam war, its characters all existentially and ideologically "trapped" by the tenets and schemata of military life.
Red Angel - A shocking and controversial masterpiece, Yasuzo Masumura’s no-bullshit antiwar film tells of an army nurse (Mizoguchi discovery and Masumura regular Ayako Wakao) in the Sino-Japanese war who sexually services an amputee and falls in love with a drug-addicted surgeon. Shot in black-and-white 'Scope, this 1966 feature can’t be recommended to the squeamish or to viewers bound to the politically correct, but neither its nuanced eroticism nor its passionate, unpredictable moral focus can be easily shaken off. Fantoma DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Season Two - Along with Perry Mason, this is probably my favorite classic TV. Alfred Hitchcock Presents based itself in stories of suspense and mystery. Episodes were often very creative with unexpected twists or revelations. Season 2 continued to boast performers who would later become much more famous, some who already were, and many strong bit players in Universal camp including - Claude Rains, Gary Merrill, John Williams, Barbara Baxley, Ralph Meeker, Jessica Tandy, James Gregory, Cedric Hardwicke, Hume Cronyn and Rip Torn. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
Deadfall - A jewel thief (Caine) falls in love with the wife (Ralli) of his homosexual accomplice (Portman). She has been mentally scarred by her father's membership of the Gestapo, and her husband, a former French resistance fighter, is buggering a gigolo. And then, bugger moi, it transpires that the wife is also her husband's daughter, and they all commit suicide happily ever after. Replete with a Shirley Bassey theme tune and a 20-minute John Barry guitar concerto to accompany the robbery. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
The Magus - An English teacher arrives on a sleepy Greek island to take up a vacant teaching post. The last man to hold the post committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Slowly but surely, he is drawn into a bizarre game engineered by a reclusive local magician. The deeper into the game he is drawn, the more he senses danger... yet cannot seem to untangle himself from the fascinating and compelling influence that the game is having on his mind. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
The Dam Busters - At one time seemingly up as a candidate for culting by those who found the surrounding footage of Pink Floyd: The Wall to taste (this was the movie playing incessantly on Pink's TV). Anderson and RC Sherriff's tribute to Barnes Wallis (inventor of World War II's bouncing bomb) and Wingco Guy Gibson (who spearheaded their use in destroying strategically-important Ruhr dams) slips some thoughtful reservations and some gross sentimentality into its bouncing bombast. With its final cost-counting, it contorts the stiff upper lip into something like a deathly grimace. DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006
Witchfinder General - Not as well-known as Robin Hardy's more eccentric and complex The Wicker Man (which was also packaged and sold by its distributors as a common exploitation flick), this third film by then-24-year-old Michael Reeves (his last film before an untimely death) is nevertheless one of the best examples of the witchcraft subgenre of horror film. Starring Vincent Price as real-life witchhunter Matthew Hopkins (ca. 1619 - 1647), Witchfinder General is an intense and brutally violent film not merely for its time (which resulted in multiple cuts made at the behest of the British Board of Film Censors) but even now, retaining its power to shock much more so than gore films of the same period, as the emotional stakes here are established with beautiful economy.
Santa Sangre - Like some Fellini-esque nightmare, this heady mix of circus freaks (a tattooed lady, an exotic midget, sad-faced clowns) and weird religious and hallucinatory imagery (an armless virgin saint, writhing snakes, zombie brides) is pregnant with disturbing psychological undercurrents. Traumatised at an early age by a violent argument between his knife-throwing father (Stockwell) and trapeze-artist mother (Guerra), former child magician Fenix (Axel Jodorowsky), now 20, escapes from an asylum into the outside world. Reunited with his jealous mother, Fenix becomes her 'arms' in a bizarre pantomime act, a role which spills dangerously over into real life...
Being There - Sellers plays a mentally retarded gardener who has lived and worked all of his life inside the walls of an elegant Washington town house. The house and its garden are in a decaying inner city neighborhood, but what goes on outside is of no concern to Sellers: He tends his garden, he watches television, he is fed on schedule by the domestic staff; he is content.
I Am Cuba - The product of a distinctively Soviet take on the island’s history and aspirations, ‘I Am Cuba’ saw Kalatozov, fresh from Palme d’Or success for ‘The Cranes are Flying’, joined by that film’s cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky and poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko as co-writer. The result is a sensual four-chaptered epic of injustices exposed in Batista’s dictatorial Cuba, elevated by suitably revolutionary camerawork, its confidence a formal expression of faith in the island’s uprising.
My Dinner With Andre - Bring two New York intellectuals together and they'll beat each other's ears off swapping stories about their psychoanalysts. Here Malle celebrates just such an encounter, recreated by the original participants: a sad, never-quite-made-it playwright (Shawn) and a brilliantly successful director (Gregory) who dropped out to 'find himself' in a quest ranging from Grotowski in Poland to Tibet, the Sahara and remoter Scotland. Just two people talking, shot mostly in close-up. Riveting, exhilarating stuff.
Marie Antoinette (PBS) - Marie Antoinette is a two-part documentary that originally aired on PBS channels in the United States. Paramount and PBS are releasing it in October 2006, undoubtedly to capitalize on the release of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette in theatres. This documentary takes the recent revisionist view that Marie Antoinette was mis-understood and inappropriately blamed for France’s general misery prior to the French Revolution. Marie Antoinette argues that Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were simply sheltered teenagers, isolated from reality in general. DVD Release Date: October 10th, 2006
Napoleon (PBS) - Prior to 2005’s Marie Antoinette, producer-director-writer David Grubin created the four-hour, four-part Napoleon. This documentary is also a compilation of re-enactments, talking-heads interviews, and camera pans over paintings, photos, and documents. The best parts of the documentary are Parts I and III, when our attention is directed to Napoleon’s early years as a youth who promises to do harm to the French (which he did by making it Enemy Number 1 in Europe) and to Napoleon’s pinnacle of domination. DVD Release Date: October 10th, 2006
White of the Eye - Late director Donald Cammell's haunting formalistic approach to formulaic material, written by Cammell and his wife China (adapted from the Margaret Tracy novel Mrs. White), elevates what could have been routine '80s trash into that hazy realm of the art film. David Keith stars as Paul White, an audio installation expert whose idyllic life with his wife (Cathy Moriarty, as good as ever) and young daughter (Danielle Smith) is threatened when he finds himself the subject of an investigation into a string of local serial killings.
Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:
Week of October 23rd, 2006
Body Heat (Deluxe Edition) (Lawrence Kasdan, 1981) Warner Home Video
La Commune (Peter Watkins, 2001) First Run Features
The Francois Truffaut Collection - 6 Disc Box Set (Exclusive to Amazon.co.uk) R2 - UK Cinema Club
The Ultimate Hammer Collection 20 disc (She, The Nanny, Dracula Prince of Darkness, The Plague of the Zombies, Rasputin the Mad Monk, The Reptile, The Witches, One Million Years B.C., The Viking Queen, Frankenstein Created Woman, Quatermass and the Pit, The Vengeance of She, The Devil Rides Out, Prehistoric Women, Scars of Dracula, The Horror Frankenstein, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, Straight on Till Morning, Fear in the Night, Demons of the Mind, To The Devil A Daughter) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment
Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963) Criterion Collection
Hangmen Also Die (Collector's Edition, 2 DVDs) Fritz Lang - R2 Germany - EMS
Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films (50 DVDs) - Janus
The Last Voyage (Andrew L. Stone, 1960) Warner Home Video
Rediscover Jacques Feyder (1925) - 3-disc - Homevision
Regular Lovers - R2 UK Artificial Eye
A Shot in the Dark (Charles Lamont,
1935) Alpha Video
Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989) Criterion Collection
Total Recall - Special Edition (Paul Verhoeven, 1990) Lions Gate
Week of October 30th, 2006
The Complete Buster Keaton Short Films - R2 - UK - Eureka MoC
It's a Wonderful Life (Special Collector's Edition) (Frank Capra, 1947) Paramount Home Video
Films of James Broughton (3-disc) - Facets
Martin & Lewis: Vol 1 (My Friend Irma / My Friend Irma Goes West / The Caddy / Scared Stiff) - Paramount Home Video
Most Beautiful Wife (Damiano Damiani, 1970) No Shame
R. W. Paul - The Complete Surviving Films 1895-1908 - R2 UK - BFI
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
Shi gan aka Time (Ki-duk Kim, 2006) KD MEDIA
Woman on the Beach (Sang-soo Hong, 2006) R3 - NTSC - Bitwin
Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of this world-renowned distribution company with Essential Art House: 50 Years of Janus Films, an expansive collectors’ box set featuring fifty classic films on DVD. FILMS LISTED HERE AVAILABLE HERE
For less than $600 you get 46 existing, or upcoming, Criterion DVDs atless than $12 per DVD, plus 4 new discs (3 films) - :
Marcel Carné's Le Jour se lève (1939) aka
Alf Sjöberg's Fröken Julie (1951) aka Miss Julie and
Kon Ichikawa's Nobi
(1959) aka Fires on the Plain
plus THREE DOCUMENTARIES by Saul J. Turell
plus The hardcover book (selling alone for $65).
AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER SAVINGS
The Beales of Grey Gardens (Albert + David Maysles,2006),Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991), Clean, Shaven (Lodge H. Kerrigan, 1994), Hands Over the City (Francesco Rosi, 1963), Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989), The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) Criterion Collection, The Double Life of Veronique 2-disc (Krzysztof Kieslowski,1991) Criterion Collection, Pandora's Box 2-disc (Georg Wilhelm Pabst, 1929) Criterion Collection
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